I often get messages asking for advice on everything from how I started up my blog, to editing my Instagram feed, and everything in between that brings my little corner of the internet to life. I thought it might be interesting, or perhaps just useful for you guys if I curated all this information and stuck it in one place. So here goes, everything you need to know about how I edit my pictures, stay inspired, and come up with fresh content ideas whilst juggling life at the same time…
Inspiration for new content can be tough at times, it’s very much trial and error and not being afraid to explore something new. I do find that I have moments where I come to the conclusion I’ll never think of anything new ever again – blog closed, ‘cue violins’. This is why it’s important for me to utilise the resources available to me and jot down any ideas as they pop into my head. This tends to be when I least expect it – it could be half way through a conversation with someone or, most commonly, 1am in the morning when my brain decides to party instead of switch off for the night and sleep. At the moment – my schedule allows for around two posts a week (sometimes three if I’m lucky). I like to space these posts out a little and update Instagram inbetween. As many of you might be aware from previous posts, I still work four days a week so posting twice a week is just what works best for me at the moment.
Pinterest and Tumblr are amazing sources of inspiration – I can plan my shoots and go to town on the mood boards, everything is at your fingertips – whether it’s flat lay inspiration or new pose ideas to get you more camera confident. Alas, the poses I try and copy usually don’t look half as good (ain’t no model), but can make for some memorable comical situations. If you’re taking blog pictures for the first time – try not to be too hard on yourself! I used to get my boyfriend to take pictures on my crappy phone camera and would only ever look at the floor (still a strong signature pose for me).
I also like to keep our coffee table filled with books and new magazines so that I can browse these throughout the week – they also add a personal aspect to any Instagram images. I think it’s nice to show what you’re reading/currently influenced by alongside say a new favourite beauty product – it adds a little more depth and personality rather than just an overly staged image. I think having a personalised work space is important too. Surround yourself with things you love, it’s the best way to channel your inspiration and and thoughts into your own unique content. Of course, nothing ever feels completely new, there’s a million blog posts out there for possibly every topic you could ever imagine, but I try not to let this overwhelm me and instead concentrate on putting my own spin on things. Never be disheartened if you find yourself struggling (I once considered a post on socks??) – take a step back and something new will always pop up when you least expect it…
Creating the imagery
It makes me laugh a little to myself when people compliment the photography on my blog and use words like ‘glamorous’. Usually, shoot days consist of me and Adriana, shooting in the freezing cold conditions/getting rained on, and willing for it to be done with so we can retreat with coffee and a mountain of snacks. For me, the photography side was never something I wanted to sign up for. I love photography, I admire lots of photographers and have a hefty collection of photography books, however, there’s just something about being the subject of the image that daunted the hell out of me – especially when you’re an awkward person with awkward limbs to match. Most of the time I just look down and hope for the best or try to prance around a little and hope Adriana catches something half decent. I’ve found that this has worked so far, and you do get used to seeing your own face and how you actually look – some days that’s not so bad and other days you become over critical and want to throw in the towel. This is natural and I’ve learnt now to try and not be so picky when it comes to my imagery – obviously I want them to tell some kind of story, but I try not to let it get to me if they don’t always work out how I imagine.
I’m getting more comfortable at people walking past and looking at me like a complete alien just for taking pictures in the middle of a side street – people do sometimes make funny comments or stare but I’ve kind of learnt to tune that out and just have fun with it. Don’t let an off day throw you off, chances are you’ll love the photos when you look at them again in a weeks time with a fresh mindset. I guess my top tip for keeping on top of Instagram and having a steady flow of images would be to cease opportunities as they present themselves to you. If you walk past a nice doorway or find a cute cafe spot, take some images or get the person you’re with to document your outfit. Banking images is a lifesaver – it’s just something that I do naturally now and means that I’m never usually without something to share.
Juggling life & blogging
This is the tricky/most stressful part of blogging, and I’m sure many, if not all, other bloggers would agree – especially when it’s not your full time job but tends to feel like one. It’s hard to switch off from blogging and in a sense, I don’t think I ever really do. It’s very much a lifestyle for me, and something that constantly has my mind ticking away with thoughts, new ideas, and I guess sometimes worries too. It can be hard to balance a healthy amount of blogging time against social time, and I’m often that annoying person to family and friends that can’t get off their phone. It’s definitely an issue – I constantly have it by my side in case I need to jot down new ideas in my notes, and I’m forever checking Instagram/emails when I don’t really need to. I work four days a week and fit blogging in around that as best as I can. In turn, this makes the chance of any kind of digital detox almost impossible. To keep on top of my content schedule, I have to shoot once a week and work on editing posts a little bit each evening, as well as on weekends. I find that if I have a really productive Friday, this frees up more of my weekend to chill out, get brunch with my boyfriend, lie around in my pjs, and watch films/be the lazy 24 year old that I am inside.
Although I’m very busy, I’m actually quite content with my routine at the moment – I feel a lot less stressed out than I did towards the end of last year and I’m really enjoying having that extra day to sink myself into new content ideas and focus on my passion. I never know what’s around the corner for my blog, but first and foremost, it’s a hobby that keeps me driven and allows me to express myself.
Apps & editing (the technical stuff)
This is probably the category that I get asked about most – of course, I do edit my images so that they look slightly polished/freshened up for any content I publish. This is just something I picked up over time, either from asking other people, or admiring photography accounts and doing my own research. Although my outfits are entirely my own and a true representation of what I wear each week, there are obviously days when I’m sat in lounge pants with my fringe scraped back, sporting a huge spot on my chin. Those are the days I don’t document – for me, Instagram is just one version or one aspect of someones life and it’s entirely up to that person how much, or how little, they share. I’m most at home just sharing fashion related content, but I’m also a really big skincare and beauty addict – something I want to reflect more on my blog this year.
With regards to editing, I don’t tend to spend too long on my Instagram images as I kind of know aesthetically what I want to portray – I find that I stick to quite minimal/brown tones with bright/clean white backgrounds if I can. I just think that this happens to represent my outfits best, and makes for an overall ‘scrollable feed’. As cringe as it may seem, it’s part of the package, and I actually find Instagram really fun and enjoyable to update. It only tends to feel like a chore when I’m feeling deflated or uninspired, this is why I try to always have a little bank of saved/edited images a back up/fail safe option.
For my Instagram, I rely heavily on Afterlight and VSCOcam as far as apps go – I usually upload the raw image (either taken on my phone or camera), then adjust the lighting/contrast/shadows etc, until the image looks like it’s ready for a wash of filter. I then upload the same image to VSCOcam and select my favourite filters – I love any of the minimalist ones on there and my most used would have to be J2 and J5. Another great little app that has changed my Instagram life recently is UNUM – a trusty little scheduling app that lets you plan out your grid and pre-write/save any captions. This is great for when I’m on the go during the week and don’t have as much time to devote to posting/thinking up witty captions. I also like to add any images to my UNUM grid that I have scheduled for the week ahead, that way I feel way more prepared and can concentrate more on planning out future content. It basically allows you to be a few steps ahead of your game – which pretty much makes for a happy blogger.
I live in a flat that lacks any natural light unless it’s an unusually bright sunny day – so having some great editing apps ready to go on my phone is a must! I recently upgraded to the iPhone 7+ and kind of regretted it whilst walking home afterwards. I thought it was way too big and that I may as well be carrying around an iPad in my back pocket. Having said that, I absolutely love it now and completely adjusted to it’s features after a few weeks. The camera is amazing, which means even if I forget my Olympus camera, I know that I can still snap something half decent. There’s also a significant increase in the battery life which is very blogger friendly indeed – although, I don’t think its necessary to upgrade if you already have a great camera.
My blogging platform & camera
When I set up my blog, I decided on WordPress as my publishing platform – I used to use Blogger back when I had a secret blog in uni and just decided that I can do more of what I wanted on WordPress. I’m not particularly tech savvy, so it took me a good few months to feel comfortable with making changes/installing widgets and all that lark. My boyfriend happens to be a whizz at all that stuff (he’s a web developer) and self taught himself HTML from the age of 13. As you imagine, this comes in pretty handy when my site crashes or I need help altering the layout. I often have ideas about the way I want my blog to look and he’s able to teach so that I learn for myself – having said that, there are so many useful tutorials online so if you nerd up there’s no reason that you can’t achieve your dream blog. It’s always important to remember that these things don’t happen over night – work on it a little each day and don’t try to build up everything all at once. The main focus for me when musing design ideas tends to be minimal and accessible. I want the content to always be the main focus, and the site in general to be simple and easy for readers to navigate. An easy way to brainstorm ideas for your blog is to list the things you look for/enjoy when reading other peoples. I’m constantly taking inspiration from other bloggers/websites, and then combining this to create something that feels like my own.
As mentioned, I do work regularly with photographers to create the imagery for my blog – that’s something I can’t take credit for! However, I did invest in a little camera last year to up my Instagram quality, and for personal use too. I love photography, and I wanted to be able to reflect this more in my content – after researching for months, I bit the bullet and purchased the Olympus Pen EPL7. A really hyped up but really great little compact camera with a sleek/vintage look to it. I often use my camera for mirror selfies when I can’t get someone to take my OOTD for instance, so I knew that I wanted something aesthetically pleasing and that suited me. This camera is perfect for me and I don’t regret it at all – as it’s so popular, there’s lots of information about it online, meaning that I really trusted myself when parting with the money. It can be hard to get hold of, but if I find some links online then I’ll pop them below for you – I picked mine up in a local Jessop’s store, it was the last one so it felt even more like fate!
I hope this was somewhat helpful at giving you a little insight as to what goes on behind the scenes – as you can probably tell, the process is pretty simplistic so far and there’s definitely more that I want to achieve with regards to improving the standard of my blog/content. I’d love to hear what tech equipment/devices/apps you guys couldn’t live without? I’d really love to start shooting some more content on film again, and I’d love to learn more about typography – I think it adds such a personal touch to blogs and I’m always very envious of people who are amazing at it. Something else I have in the pipeline is a video section for my blog (hopefully), where I can create things such as outfit trailers, look books and maybe even a few beauty tutorials! I have to say that March has had me particularly inspired, and I’m very much looking forward to working on some new projects…
Photography by Adriana
Top c/o – House Of Sunny | Jeans – Vintage Wrangler (similar here) | Shoes – Mango
My camera – Olympus Pen E-PL7 | Leather wrist strap – Tap & Dye
Apps mentioned – Afterlight | VSCO | UNUM
This was really interesting and helpful – I didn’t realise you had a full time job as well, you do so well to keep it all up! Steph x
I love how you refer to blogging as a “lifestyle” because it definitely is one for me! I work a full time job and blog in my free time, but my head is always buzzing with content ideas and I’m always on the hunt for photo opportunities. It can be a bit draining, so taking detox breaks is very necessary!
so nice bag
I can’t wait to see a video section! And make-up tutorials- I adore your makeup and don’t understand how you manage it so perfectly. I love seeing your blog/instagram grow and this little look into the process is awesome 🙂 also I’m so glad to finally be able to follow you on Pinterest! xx
Thank you! Glad it was interesting for you as I was a little worried it would be just quite dull to read ha, thank you for the lovely comment! xx
I love your blog so much and it’s so interesting to me how similarly we think of blogging. Blogging, to me, is a lifestyle too and I do pretty much everything you mention here ahah! xxx
Thank you for the sweet comment – glad you liked it! xxx
Hello, I just have a question about your blogging platform, do you use workpress.com or wordpress.org?
I currently have a basic free WordPress.com blog but am thinking of taking my blog more seriously. I have heard that WordPress.org is better but you have to pay for a host site (whatever that is) or I could possibly just pay for a basic plan on WordPress. I love the asthetic of your blog (it is quite similar to my own, but mine is a primarily film/literature blog which I want to double as my professional contact page) however I don’t know what is the best way to achieve this in an affordable way.
Any advise would be appreciated. Thanks!
I use WordPress and have never wanted to use anything else – so easy to use and I rarely have any issues with it xx
Hi Alice! How did you go about choosing your hosting? I see a lot of bloggers using Bluehost, but then I know there our others that are good as well. I want to start a blog, but am getting stuck on this. Any advice would be amazing. Thanks!