Prep Series: Outfit Post

Prepping for a blog post requires a little legwork if you want it to launch without a hitch. We’re polling our ambassadors + TBC members to see how they get organized and prepared for the most popular types of blog posts in our new Prep Series. First up, Rachelle of Pinksole is talking us through prepping for an outfit post. Attention, fashion bloggers!

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First things first: before you can shoot, you need an outfit to shoot in. (Duh!) I don’t have a boyfriend/friend who takes my photos or a professional photographer to shoot my outfits; I tend to shoot after posts myself. It’s a one-woman show for me!

One thing I always do after getting dressed is snap a clear pic of my outfit in a long mirror where I can see every single item I’m wearing. This helps me gauge if the outfit is blog-worthy and how it might look when captured in high-res.

I post 1-2 outfits per week, so when it’s time to shoot I have several pics in my phone to go through and choose my favorite looks. I also shoot 2-4 outfits at a time so I can bank photos to use throughout the week.

Consider the following when prepping your outfit post:

Location.
I have roughly three spots where I like to take pictures; they are open and not crowded. If you have no idea where to go, my advice would be to drive around your area and scout locations. Look for peaceful + quiet spots, and backgrounds that fit your aesthetic (this could be fairly plain or very unique depending on your personal taste).

Great shooting locations: parks, public gardens, and in front of walls (white, brick or stone, solid colors, etc.). You are looking for beautiful places that aren’t too distracting (you want the focus of the shoots to be you, after all). When taking pictures I try my best to avoid street/road signs or random people in the background.

Gear.
I am usually armed with my camera (make sure to charge your battery or have a spare battery with you to avoid having to drive back home!), my tripod (I got mine at Best Buy) and my remote control (I got mine ages ago on eBay for $10). I have a Nikon D3200 and shoot with a 50mm prime lens.

Shoot.
This boils down to an important skill: know your gear and know your angles!

While this took a lot of practice, now I pretty much know my angles and what I want my pictures to look like. It’s worth your while to spend some time practicing what angles work for you using your camera on the tripod. This can actually be done at home; you don’t need a pretty background because you’re just learning what works re: your body, different outfit types (think flowy maxi dresses vs. fitted denim– they require different posing techniques!), the camera height/angle, etc.

Set the tripod at several different heights and learn your preference. I personally like my tripod to be set just a tad lower than my waist. Pose several different ways; straight-on, slightly at an angle, etc. Try exaggerated poses like really focusing on getting that chin down/chest up/shoulders back; even if these things feel weird, sometimes they translate better on camera. Figure out what trouble spots you may want to minimize (make your legs look longer by posing with one leg crossed in front of the other; accentuate and define your waist by angling your body and putting a hand on your hip, etc.). The first time you do this, you will be uncomfortable and it might take some time before you master it, but I promise it gets easier. I actually like shooting by myself now because I do it a lot faster.

You should also get really comfortable with using your camera, tripod, remote, etc. Learn the settings of your camera beforehand, not while you’re shooting. If all else fails, shoot in auto-mode until you learn to properly use your DSLR. YouTube is your best friend for learning how to use your camera! Google around, hit up Pinterest, or take an online class. Knowing how to adjust your camera for each shoot means more quality images for you to use on your blog.

Time.
I love to shoot early in the morning or right before sunset; these are often called the “golden hours” because the lighting is really flattering. An overcast day is even better because you can shoot out in the open and not worry about direct sunlight, which is really hard to shoot in. Clouds and indirect light are good! I hate direct sunlight– a shaded area with plenty of natural light is key.

Get comfortable.
One of the hardest things about an outfit post is shooting in public, where people tend to stare. I definitely experience this when shooting my own pictures! All I can say is make sure to shoot in a safe location and don’t ever leave your gear unattended. While it does take time + practice, learn to ignore people around you and just do your thing. Of course, this is easier said than done, but I’ve reached that point! The more you shoot, the more comfortable you will get!

Happy shooting!

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Rachelle blogs at Pinksole and is an ambassador of The Blogger Collective. 

Blogger Babe of the Week: Christina of Simple and Delish

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christina-simple-delish1Christina of Simple and Delish

Hello, TBC! I’m a lifestyle blogger who currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On my blog you can find everything from recipes, travel guides, home decor, product reviews, and a little bit of fashion in between.

What is your favorite thing about blogging?
I love how accepting everyone has been. It’s a group of really talented, creative woman (and men!) who want to see each other succeed. Plus, reading other blogs allows me to find fun inspiration for my home and closet.

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What do you find the most challenging about blogging/being a blogger?
Making time to create great content. My day job keeps me really busy during the week, which only leaves me weekends to put posts together. I also live alone, so I am always running home to ask my mom to take outfit shots for me (thanks Mom!). If you’re ever wondering why my outfit shots are far and few between– this is why.

If you had to eat only one food for an entire year, what would it be?
French fries. My motto in life is never let a French fry go uneaten. You will never see one left on my plate.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
I would want to fly! This way I could travel the world in an instant and avoid the lines at the airport.

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Thanks, Christina! We love your French fry policy. 🙂 Go and check out Simple and Delish!

 

Featured Post: What It’s Actually Like Being a Blogger

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No matter what kind of blog you run, there are certain things all bloggers understand that your non-blogger pals just don’t understand. Rebecca from Sunny Rebecca is sharing What It Is Actually Like to be a Blogger.
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Being a blogger means you’re willing to stand outside in the middle of winter in a dress, or wear fall sweaters and boots when it’s sweltering out– all for the tiniest hope of a decent picture. It means you force your friends and family to wait before indulging in a meal so you can instagram it for the foodies who follow you. Being a blogger is something that has definitely given me joy and if I’m completely honest, more of a life purpose.

The thing about blogging is that we’re led to believe that bloggers are perfect. Before I started my own blog, I would read blogs and think the blogger had an incredible life by always wearing the nicest outfits and going to interesting places. Now I know that’s not true. We only show the best parts of our lives or even stage things to make a picture look better and more presentable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown everything off my desk to snap a quick picture and then dumped it all in a pile on the floor. The pile doesn’t make it into the Instagram photo, but the mess is still there. Bloggers make it look easy and effortless, but in reality, that’s not true. There’s a whole part of blogging that usually isn’t shown on the blog and today I want to share that. This is what it’s actually like being a blogger.

As a blogger, you have to be willing to put in quite a bit of time. That means making trade-offs. Instead of going out with my friends, I sometimes decline and decide to stay in so I can get my post up on time. It means I have to mass produce posts when I’m going away or have a busy week ahead. For example, this week I have commitments that will keep me busy from 7am to 8pm every day. The time flies by and I end up being lost in all the things I need to do, so I have to schedule posts ahead of time if I don’t want the blog to go dark.

That brings me to my next point: being a blogger also means you have to prioritize. Schoolwork always comes first for me, but then when you bring your social life, family, free time, extracurriculars, and blogging into the mix, you have to figure out what is most important to you. I think this is probably one of the most important things about being a blogger– you have to stay balanced. Have you ever seen those triangles where one point says sleep, another says school, and the last one says social life, and it tells you that you can only pick two? It’s like that, but in reality, there’s more than three things you have to juggle in your life, even if you’re not a blogger. You have to figure out what your priorities are in order to get anything done.

Being active on social media is a big part of blogging. Yes, we’re all shameless self-promoters, but hey– what works, works. Although the social media activity of a blogger consists of raving over red Starbucks cups, cute stationery, and a ton of blog promo, there’s a community of its own among the to-do lists and sale excitement. The blogging community is something absolutely incredible. I’ve met so many amazing bloggers that just get it. They’re people I can relate with and connect with. Being a blogger may mean you’re obsessive with your social media and promoting your posts, but along with that is also meeting new people and branching out.

There’s also a huge learning curve for being a blogger. I find I’m always learning new things. Maybe it’s about SEOs or Google Analytics or MailChimp, but I’m finding out new things to help me grow my brand. Lately I’ve been watching webinars and looking into mini-courses for creating a successful blog. I’m looking for new information that can help me reach my fullest potential.

Explaining to someone what you do and why you do it can sometimes be awkward and nerve-wracking. It took me over a year to tell my friends about my blog. I used to block people that go to my school on my blog’s social media so they wouldn’t find it. But over time, I realized I shouldn’t care. When I told my friends about it, they told me it was something really cool and not something to be ashamed of. One friend told me she wasn’t that surprised because she felt like I was the kind of person who would have a blog. And eventually, I realized it shouldn’t matter if people I know find my blog. This is something I should be proud of and unapologetic about. Being a blogger means having the confidence to put yourself out there.

Although being a blogger can be stressful at times, it’s worth it. Yes, it may be totally tedious to run back and forth from behind the camera to in front of it perfecting a shot, or spending way too much time trying to get a great backdrop. But it brings a whole new type of joy when someone comments on a post telling you they enjoyed it, because it means you’re creating content that people love. (Bonus: you love it, too!) You’re blogging because you love it, even though it’s sometimes hard. And you know what they say: nothing worth having comes easy. So you do it. You snap a million pictures of your latte art and make everyone groan when you say, “Wait, one more picture!” Being a blogger means you do what you love, no matter how difficult it is or what anyone thinks about it, because it’s worth it in the end.

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Rebecca blogs at Sunny Rebecca and is a member of The Blogger Collective.

Blogger Babe of the Week: Tayler of The Morrell Tale

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Tayler of The Morrell Tale

Tayler is an anti-niche blogger at The Morrell Tale where she writes about whatever she 31wants, but mostly motherhood, books, recipes, and religion. She lives in Salt Lake Valley with her husband and son. Tayler loves reading, running, videogames, cooking, and learning.

What is your favorite thing about blogging?

My favorite thing about blogging is the community. I have gotten to know so many wonderful women through blogging and have gained many dear and close friends whom I have never met in real life. And, since I live in Utah, many of my blogger friends have become friends in real life since we all live so close to each other.

What do you find the most challenging about blogging/being a blogger?

The competition is definitely the hardest part of being a blogger. Nowadays, many bloggers are concerned with monetizing and trying to be a #girlboss and the next big thing, filled with click bait. I remember when blogging was writing from your heart and talking about your daily life. Sometimes I miss that.

34If you had to eat only one food for an entire year, what would it be?

Either salad or pasta. You can have so many different varieties and they are so tasty!

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Hands down, it would be flying.

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Thanks so much to Tayler! We wouldn’t mind being able to fly either! Head over to The Morrell Tale and say hello!

Blogging with Kids

We asked our ambassador, Laurel from THE HIVE, to write a piece on how to manage blogging + being a mom. She just had her second baby in February, so she knows all about work/life balance. And Laurel rose to the challenge!
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Managing a blog can be hard work. Keeping content consistent, making time to take better-than-average photos, writing your own original material, and sharing your live posts all over the social world can take quite a bit of time! Before I had kids, time was something I really took for granted. I only thought I was pressed to find the time I needed to make my blog decent!

About the time I decided to get a little more serious about my little ol’ blog, we found out I was pregnant. My husband and I welcomed our little boy into the world in December of 2014 and I began to realize what a dear and precious commodity time really was!

Since blogging is one thing that is important to me (along with quality time with my husband, my day job, having daily quiet time, etc.), I knew that in order to keep those activities and relationships as priorities, I’d have to make time to keep them up.

One thing having a child taught me was some valuable time management skills. I learned to make every minute of every day count! And during the first few weeks of mommyhood, those valuable minutes went toward napping while the baby was napping (since a full night’s sleep was not in the cards for those first couple of months). But after I started feeling more rested and able to settle into a routine, I made the most of the time I had while the baby was sleeping throughout the day. If it was during daylight hours, I made sure to get whatever photos I needed staged and taken (photos taken when it’s dark outside just aren’t quite as pretty). If I had a few minutes while it was dark outside, I’d catch up on some copy writing and post scheduling. And feeding times were made for sharing content on social media. 😉

A few things I found particularly helpful when learning to manage my blog as a mama include:
  1. My awesome husband. If I was really on a roll with a post, he would be give the baby his bottle or bathe him while I finished up. I definitely would not even have a blog still running if I didn’t have a great hubs!
  2. My sweet friends and family. They took turns offering to give me a few hours here and there to myself. A word of advice to any new mommy: if someone offers to hang out with your child and give you some time to run errands, work out, blog, sleep, etc., take them up on their offer! People genuinely want to help new mamas! And new mamas need a few hours out of the house every now and then to maintain sanity.
  3. A general editorial schedule. Without a blog schedule to know what I wanted to post and when, my sleep-deprived brain would have not been able to keep up with blog stuff. It helped so much to be able to look ahead and see what I needed to be thinking about getting photographed and written over the course of the coming week.
  4. Don’t overdo it! A newborn baby is obviously the top priority. But do not put added pressure on yourself to keep up posting 4-5 times a week. If you need to drop to just one or two (or even take a few weeks off), I can promise that your audience will understand. You are now in charge of a tiny human. Your focus has shifted and that is okay. Just put a little note up on your blog + social accounts letting everyone know you’re scaling back a bit for a time, and the rest will take care of itself.

It also helps that my day job is part time and my little boy is in a Mother’s Morning Out program close by. But if blogging is important to you even if you work full time, there are ways to make time for it! You might just have to rearrange a little but it is do-able.

I just had my second child on February 1, so I’m currently trying to figure out the balance between blogging and my new role as mama of two! I learned so much with the first baby that I feel like I’m just honing my mothering skills this go-round. Although it’s not always easy, I love blogging and will continue to make time for it because it is such a wonderful outlet for me!
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If any of you other blogging mamas have tips, please share! I’m in no way claiming to be an expert at this! I am always up for suggestions too! 😉
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Laurel blogs at THE HIVE and is an ambassador of The Blogger Collective.

Blogger Babe of the Week: Megan of Jet Set Brunette

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IMG_2383Megan of Jet Set Brunette

Megan is a travel blogger from Columbus, Ohio, who recently packed her bags and drove 27 hours to Phoenix, Arizona, for her next adventure. She travels quite a bit for work and leisure, so Jet Set Brunette is where she shares her trips. In her free time, Megan enjoys planning her next crazy journey– be a weekend getaway in Vegas or a week abroad.

What is your favorite thing about blogging?
My favorite thing about blogging is being able to express my trips through more than just pictures on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve found that the post-college life can be a bit dry at times, so blogging gives me another outlet to be creative.

IMG_2614What do you find the most challenging about blogging/being a blogger?
Content. No doubt. I try to think about what would interest my readers. However, sometimes I start typing a post and immediately feel it applies to no one but me! I want my blog to be helpful more than anything, but it can be hard to stay on track sometimes.

If you had to eat only one food for an entire year, what would it be?
Gelato. Mint chocolate chip to be exact.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
To fly… Really fast. Then I wouldn’t have to sit through 15-hour flights from LA to Sydney (which I am currently doing).

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Thanks so much to Megan! Go visit Jet Set Brunette!

Featured Post: Why You Should be Using Trello for Your Blog

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Have you heard of Trello? If not, we’ve got good news for you! Lauren of The Arizona Prepster is sharing with us why you should be using Trello on your blog.

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In my Five Apps Every Blogger Should Have post, I mentioned the website/app Trello and so many of my readers were interested in it. I figured I would share with y’all how amazing it is and how I use Trello! I use Trello for both my blog editorial calendar and for school, but today we’re covering how it applies to my blog.

I should explain Trello first. Trello uses lists and cards to keep you organized. You create lists and then every individual item you are working on is its own card (or in this case, each post you’re working on = its own card).

Your lists and cards live in boards, and you can have multiple boards with many lists and cards. Within your board, you can even view the calendar (if you add due dates to your cards) to help keep you on track .

Here is my editorial board:

My post ideas, Ebook ideas, etc., are the lists, while the posts are cards. The colors on the cards are labels. You can create these labels to mean anything and use them to help you organize any way you want. For example, my labels are published, date assigned, in-progress, scheduled, in-house post, guest post, and newsletter content.
Cards are where the real magic happens. This is where you put all of the information for a post.
Here’s my card for this post:
Look at all of the information and things to check off. Like I said, this is where the magic happens! You can add members, labels, a checklist, a due date, and even attachments to your cards. You make these cards work for you!
The calendar feature is very helpful. It shows the cards on the calendar, so instead of viewing it in list form, you can see where everything is in relation to a specific week, month, etc. (Note: this is only useful if you add a due date to your card.)
Here’s what my calendar looks like:

I really love the calendar feature. It lays everything out nicely, plus you can move the cards on the calendar and it changes the due date in the card itself.

Quick note: one feature on the card is “members.” This is where you can add other users and collaborate on cards (posts). I don’t use this feature on my board, but Hope does on The Young Hopeful‘s board so we know all about our upcoming posts. This keeps us updated, as we get notified when anything having to do with our card changes.

Trello is so easy to navigate and helps keep you organized– it’s a great blogging tool!

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Curious about editorial calendars? We’ve got a few Blogger U’s with your name on it: 101 and 201.

Thanks so much, Lauren! We love staying organized!