9 steps to becoming a more successful blogger

Oh internet, it's been a crazy few weeks, but I'm finally back with a truck load of blogging tips and tricks up my sleeve. Think of me as one of those old ladies that always seem to have a Kleenex or seven stuffed up their blouses. Only what I've got is a lot more useful. Unless you've got a cold, because if that's the case you should probably head on over to granny Kleenex. Wow I'm so out of the loop with these introductions. Let's just get straight to the tips, shall we?

 

Socialise with people in your network

This isn't about the numbers (although it certainly doesn't hurt) it's about forming like-minded friendships. Sure, blogging might not be the hardest thing in the world, but every thing in life has its downsides, so it's good to have someone to talk to. Same goes for the good stuff. When you reach a certain milestone of followers, or even when you just get a really nice blog comment, sometimes only fellow bloggers really understand how good that feels. Plus, these friends won't judge you if you take half an hour to take a picture of your food - hell, they might even snap your outfits if you're lucky!
 

Plan ahead and stay organised

The past month I've been swamped with other life commitments, and it made me fail at blogging. So. Damn. Hard. I mean, I posted three time last month. Three times! Give me all the virtual slap on the wrists you desire. But anyway, that wouldn't have happened if I managed to stay on top of my work over the holiday season because - when you stay on top of things - it gives you a chance to step away guilt-free without sacrificing your work since, you know, you've already done it. Sounds like someone should write a book about that sorta thing. Oh wait, I did. #GirlsGottaEat.
 

Know you and your blog's worth

I see this all the time on forums and Facebook groups, and that is people accepting big ass jobs for next to nothing. Now I know blogging isn't about the money what so ever, but when someone wants you to work for them - whether that's in a 9-5 job or an internet one - you need to make sure the money (or even the product) is worth your time. If something sounds too low to you, it probably is too low. Don't feel like you have to accept every job you get just because it's an offer - sometimes brands will respect you more if you say no. And sometimes - just sometimes - they might even come back with a higher offer. If you're going to be a successful blogger, brand yourself that way!
 

Be yourself, and be okay with that

Fake it til you make it? Sure, that night work for some things in life, but honey, 2016 is all about getting yourself out there. And by yourself, I mean your actual self, not the person you pretend to be on the internet because - let's face it - that person can only take you so far. If you're awkward, roll with it. If you're a selfie queen, own it. And if you're a big fat Minecraft geek with a handbag full of Haribo and an iPhone full of Candy Crush then hell, we should hang out.
 

Stay on top of your emails

This is almost a reminder for myself, since I'm so damn terrible at it. But! One thing I do know is that - on that magical Sunday afternoon that I manage to get on top of everything - it feels pretty great knowing I can start my inbox from afresh. Check that spam box, check that junk mail and make sure you never miss an important message (AKA an ASOS sale) ever again. 
 

Work with each other, not against

There such a stigma that comes with blogging, in that us bloggers all hate each other. When I first joined the community I thought I was going to be the odd one out, but oh how I was wrong. Blogging is still such a niche that us gals and guys have to stick together, not work against each other. 
 

Keep pushing yourself

Even when times get shitty it's important to always, always keep on truckin'. I think I've used that saying about five hundred times this year and - to be honest - sometimes I've felt like throwing in the towel (I'll divulge a little more into that soon) but if you want something in life you've just gotta keep on going. Think about it, when do you see brand new bloggers taking over the blogosphere? You don't - and that's because these girls (and guys) have been tapping a way for a while now. Give it time my friends, and keep on truckin'. There goes the five hundredth and one(th) time I've said that.
 

Stop comparing yourself to others

Some people are always going to appear better than you - that's just how the world works. We're insecure weirdos and nothing will ever change that. But you know what? Sometimes you're going to be that person that someone else looks up to. Either way, comparing yourself to someone else won't ever work in your favour. Let them do them, and let you do you. We're all unique in our own way, so be the best version of you that you can be. I swear there's some sort of inspirational quote here that I'm missing.

 

Give your readers what they want

If you want to give your blog that little step up in success, be sure to give your readers what they want. Now you might be thinking, bitch, I'm no mind reader, but you don't have to be! Just take a scroll through your comments to find out which blog posts are your most popular, and play around with that! You can even check out your Google Analytics to see which of your posts are performing the best. Give em what they want, and they'll keep on coming back for more. Check out my post on how to use Google Analytics to your advantage for a tip or two.
 

What are your current blogging goals? Leave them in the comments below!


18 blogging mistakes to avoid

Blogging mistakes to avoid

Blogging (successfully) is one of those things that sounds pretty simple when you say ut out loud, but when it comes down to actually doing it - and doing it well - there are a lot of things to take into consideration. I'm hardly any form of internet authority or mother-figure here (although feel free to start calling me Mumma Steph) so I'm not going to tell you exactly what you can or can't do with your blog, but if you wanna make it that little bit more special, try steering clear of these blogging mistakes. Or you're grounded without pocket money. Or food. I'd be a terrible parent..


1. Blogging illegally

If there's one thing you take from this post, it's that blogging illegally is a bad, bad thing - just like most other illegal things. The general topic of what you can and can't do with your blog is a long, laborious one, but luckily for you guys I've typed it all out in one of my last tip tuesdays, so if you want to know how to blog without breaking the law, head on over.


2. Not crediting your sources

This kind of falls in line with the laws of the internet, but copyright is a seriously big deal for us bloggers. Contrary to popular belief, just because an image is available on Google it doesn't actually mean it's yours for the taking, so if you are using someone's snaps on your blog (even if it's just an inspiration post) you really should be crediting them. The best thing to do is ask for someone's permission, but if not be sure to pop in a link to their site, just to cover your back.


3. Not using your own images

Think about it, how often does your favourite blog use stock images? Never, is probably the answer you're looking for here. So, if you can, try taking your own photos to illustrate your next blog post. You don't need a fancy camera or the latest update of Adobe Photoshop - all you need is your iPhone, a good eye and a few apps for editing! Plus, you won't have to worry about following any laws if your images are your own!


4. Not declaring sponsored posts

Again, it's a lil bit illegal if you don't declare any paid or sponsored posts, but despite all those boring laws it's actually a really good idea to admit to ads, even if it's just to maintain a bit of trust between you and your readers. The second you start trying to trick your audience into thinking that you absolutely, 100% were not paid for a positive review on toilet paper*, the second you start losing them.

*Unless it really is great toilet paper..


5. Blogging for the wrong reasons

If the only reason you choose to blog is to:

- Get rich
- Get famous
- Get free stuff
- All of the above

You probably shouldn't be doing it. Blogging is something you should start for you, not for material possessions. Sure, I may be earning a few pennies here and there, but I never started my blog with the intention of it paying my bills. So if you're going to start a blog (or if you have one already!) make sure you're doing it because you enjoy it. It could be a long, long time before you start getting anything from it, so for all those months you're doing it for free, you may a swell actually like it.


6. Accepting everything you get offered

Again, free toilet paper? It's useful, but do you really want it? Unless your blog is focussed on loo roll (if so, huzzah! You've found your niche!), maybe not. I tend to operate in a way that I only accept things I want to try or I'd go out and buy myself. That way you can maintain your own personal style and you'll never feel pushed into writing about something you don't like. You'll be surprised at how many brands actually respect you saying no!


7. Putting too much focus on SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is important, but you shouldn't let it dictate everything you do with your blog. If you end up making every single thing on your blog all about keywords and searchable phrases you'll end up with quite possible the most boring and robotic sounding blog. Sure you might rank high on Google, but that;s pretty useless if your audience aren't fully engaged in what you have to say.


8. Not putting any focus on SEO

Despite everything said above, it is a good idea to divulge in at least a little bit of SEO every once in a while, just to keep your blog ticking over nicely. For those not in the know, SEO basically consists of various ways you can get your site higher on a search engine. Higher on Google = more chances of people clicking on your site. Head on over to my post about SEO tips for bloggers to find our more!


9. Not linking to old posts

Do you see a theme here? The Sherlock Holmes of you will have noticed that I've linked back to a few of my old posts in this article. Why? Because it helps keep my older content fresh, and clicked on! Not all of you will go and scroll through every single post I've ever written (sob), but some of them are still very relevant (or at least, I like to think so), so whenever I can I try to link back to relevant posts to keep them, well, relevant!


10. Not linking out to others

Think about it, having other people link out to your blog feels great, doesn't it? Not only is it flattering, but it can also help your SEO as well as drive more readers your way. So when you can, try linking back to a few of your own favourite bloggers to help them out a little.


11. Bad mouthing others

It's simple. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all! It's not so bad if you're talk about celebrities or people in the public eye (although it's still not overly nice!), but no matter what you should never back chat another blogger or content creator. It can cause drama, awkward situations and - generally - it's just not the nicest thing to read. There's enough negativity in the world - leave it out!


12. Not showing your personality

There are SO many bloggers in our community now that you simply have to show off your personality if you want to stand out. Think about how many MAC lipstick reviews you've seen on blogs. Why do you read them? It's probably not for the description about the colour, but more about how someone wears the lipstick or talks about it! Everyone's unique in some way or another, so make sure you use your own personality to your advantage.


13. Being inconsistent

Being inconsistent doesn't mean you have to post at the exact same time, on the exact same days, but having some sort of 'home base' for your readers means they know when to come back if they want to read something new from you. Take Tip Tuesdays for example! If there's one post I make sure I stick to every week, it's this. 


14. Not engaging with your readers

Blogging is a two way thing - you can't just talk at people without any thought about the people reading your site. If someone takes time to comment, comment back! If someone asks you a question, try and answer it (maybe in a future blog post!?). It just helps you build a relationship with your audience, as opposed to just typing away for the sake of it.


15. Not being reachable

I come across so many blogs that don't have a contact section, and it stresses me out knowing that they might be missing out on some seriously awesome opportunities, or even conversations! Brands will take one look at your site and if they can't find a way to contact you within a few seconds they'll switch straight off. Same goes for setting your Twitter and Instagram to public!


16. Neglecting social media

You can have the most kick ass blog in the world, but if you;re not sharing it then no one will be able to find it (unless you're an SEO queen, perhaps). Sharing something can take literally two seconds, and it can bring a bunch of new readers your way in an instant. I (try) to do it at every opportunity I get. But please, don't spam your links every five seconds!


17. Having a slow website

Think about it, if a website takes thirty seconds to load, are you going to wait that whole thirty seconds? I don't know about you guys, but I'd have clicked off by that time. When making a site it;s important to make sure you don't have too many 'things' running on your site to slow it down. This can be anything from millions of videos to millions of widgets. You can check your speed just by Googling 'website speed test'. You're welcome.


18. Not having a mobile-optimised website

I'm always reading blogs on the go, and nothing annoys me more than when I go on a site to find out that it's not supported on mobile. Sure, you can usually read things on your internet browser on your phone, but it never normally works quite like it should (and it can take a lifetime to load). A lot of sites like Squarespace and Wordpress ensure that your blog is mobile optimised from the get go, but you can check if yours is by searching for 'mobile friendly test' on good old Google.

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Aaaand now my fingers have officially gone to sleep. Hope this Tip Tuesdays post helped you guys! As always please feel free to shove your question in the comments down below, and I'll work on getting a post up about it ASAP!

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8 blogging tips you need to ignore

Blogging advice you need to ignore

Well, this is awkward. So here I am, with a Tip Tuesdays post and what am I talking about? Tips you need to ignore. I feel like this blog post is some sort of Tip Tuesdays inception. Tipception maybe? No? Oh alright then.

So as I'm sure you've seen all over the internet, us bloggers like to make advice posts - and I'll be straight up with you. Why do I do it? Well, first and foremost I do it because I like to help people, and - chances are - if I want to know how to do something, someone else out there wants to too. Secondly? Well, Tip Tuesdays are some of my most popular blog posts. You guys like em, so I keep doing em. I keep doing em that is, until the ideas run dry. Because, hey, do we really need another blog post with a click-bait title just so I can get a few more views? I think we all know the answer to that one.

So anyway, that's why this post is a little later than usual - because I literally couldn't think of anything I'd want to advise you lot on. Then it dawned on me to maybe advise you guys about what advice you shouldn't listen to (because we all know there's enough of that on the interwebs..#guilty).

As always, different things work for different people, and sometimes it's good to just find your own way, buuuut people are lazy, I'm lazy, you're probably a bit lazy too (no judgement) so if there's an article out there that will tell us how to do something, chances are we'll read it. Just like you're reading this now. God, you're all so lazy! Says the girl who's stayed in her PJs all day. Again, no judgement. Let's get straight onto those top tips for ignoring tips..shall we?

Blog every day

Sure, blogging more often will up the chances of increasing your traffic, but only if you maintain a certain level of quality. I don't know about you guys, but I'd much rather wait a few days for an amazing post than be inundated with a bunch of articles that only exist to gain a few more views. Just remember that it's quality over quantity no matter what. If you're not happy with it, don't post it!

Be controversial

Okay so maybe this worked for me that time I wrote about the downsides to going to London Fashion Week, but that was just a bit of luck. If you start writing controversial posts just for the sake of it your readers will soon catch on, and it'll start getting boring for them, and fast. Of course opinion pieces are a great way of making your blog more personal, but maybe keep those controversial opinions for topics you feel really strongly about, not just because you want to shock people.

Write for everybody

There is no such thing as pleasing every body, so when it comes to choosing who you write for, choose whatever feels natural. Does my blog appeal to middle-aged business men? Probably not. So I don't even try to write for that sort of audience. The truth is is that it's near impossible to take over the blogging world like Chiara Ferragni or Kristina Bazan, so instead try to hone in on what it is that you know..and rock at it.

Comment on other blogs (a lot)

A few years ago this worked wonders for bloggers out there. I mean, it's simple. Comment on big blogs and their readers will find yours, right? Well, kind of, but not to the extent you're probably after. Of course you might get a few hits on your blog if you do comment away, but it's really not worth the time and effort. You're better off spending your time doing something more worthwhile, like creating kick-ass content. Or napping.

Keep blog posts short

Some people like short blog posts, some people like long blog posts. Hell, some people even like posts without any writing at all. What I'm trying to get at here is that there is no exact formula for which blog posts are the most successful. You could write 100 meaningful words or 5,000 words that don't even make sense. It all comes back to the importance of quality blogging - it's what you say that matters, no matter how long or short.

You don't need good SEO

Okay so maybe you don't need good SEO, but it'll seriously help you and your blog if you do implement it as soon as possible. Some blogs do amazingly well without a keyword in sight, but oh, just think about how much better you could do if you just improved your blog's SEO even a little bit. Not sure how? Prepare yourself for a shameless plug. Here are five tips SEO tips that will increase your blog's traffic.

Blog for you, not your readers

Hopefully you started (or will start!) a blog for the pure enjoyment of doing it, not just to get free things and more followers on Instagram. However if you do want to grow your audience it's vital to actually listen to what it is that your readers have to say. Of course you shouldn't write a blog post you have no interest in, but if your readers are looking for something in particular (and if you have the urge to write about it!) make sure you do. They'll appreciate it!

Giveaways will boost your following

This works on a short-term basis, but it's definitely not something that will genuinely boost your following in the long-run. If you ask for your readers to follow you as an entry requirement, sure, you'll get more followers, but it doesn't mean they'll hang around. The trick is to use a giveaway as a reward for your existing readers, not something you should use to persuade others to follow you. Make them want to follow your blog, free things or not.

Are there any other tips you think I've missed out?

 

Things every blogger needs to know about Google Analytics

Google Analytics was always the bane of my existence. In reality, it still probably is one of my least favourite things in life (not dramatic at all there, Steph), but, with all that being said it's something that us internet people have to use sometimes. Annoyingly enough though, it's not exactly the easiest thing to use, so, in classic Tip Tuesday form I've decided to try (emphasis on the word try) and make a little beginners guide on how to get sh*t done on the old GA. But first, let's go through a few of the basics.
 

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free service run by (you guessed it) Google that allows you to track the amount of people that click onto your blog or website. It tells you pretty much anything including what they like, where they're from, and how long they stay on your site. The only thing it doesn't tell you is who their favourite character on Game of Thrones is. But hey, give it time.
 

Why should you use it?

GA sounds so damn boring. You know it, I know it, we all know it, but you should probably be using it either way. Why? Because, even if you're not interested in all of this, Google Analytics allows you to see what gets more traffic and maybe what doesn't do so well. If you're looking to grow your following in any shape or form, or even just keep your readers coming to your site then it's good to check out every once in a while. That way you don't have to go and spend time posting things that your readers may not enjoy! That being said, do not get too sucked into the drug that is GA. Sometimes posts just go viral, sometimes posts suck. The main thing is that you enjoy what it is you're doing, regardless of the numbers!
 

Which days are most popular on your blog?

Knowing which days are the most popular can be useful for so many reasons, but mostly because it can help you figure out which day you should post on to reap the full benefits. You can look at this manually by selecting the a start date and an end date, or you can just be completely lazy and click this link to find out when your most popular day to blog is. Just make sure you're signed in with Google Analytics before hand! It doesn't show you the actual days instantly, but in short, 0 = Sunday, 1 = Monday, and so on. Try posting on different days to help figure out which is your most popular - you might be surprised!
 

What is the most popular time to blog?

Not only is it good to know the best day to post, but it's also good to know the best time. Generally speaking, everyone seems to say the best times to post are early in the morning (just before people are heading off to work or school) or late afternoon (when everyone is finishing work or school). I'm a bit of a weird one, and my most popular time to post is at around 1pm for some unknown reason. I found this out by doing the exact same thing as above, only with time instead of days. Again, you can just click this link to find out your most popular time to post on your blog. Thank me later.
 

Where do your audience go?

Hey you! Yeah, you! I know where you're going after you read this. And by that, I mean I know where you're going to end up on my site (or if you leave it). I won't actually know if you instantly click onto some porn site or something straight after. Although I'm not sure why you'd get that urge after reading this post...anyway!

If I see people landing on my homepage and leaving almost instantly I'm going to know something isn't quite right. Maybe my homepage doesn't entice people enough to click on anything? Who knows. If I see people going from my homepage to this blog post, then onto my post about need-to-know blogging terminology, then onto another tip tuesdays post then I'll know I'm doing something right, because it means someone is staying on my site and exploring because they're finding it interesting in some shape or form. If you want to increase the amount of time people stay on your site, be sure to include internal links on your blog (basically links that link to other posts you've written) or widgets that will direct readers to some of your newer or more popular posts.

(Go to: Behavior > Behavior Flow)
 

Where do your readers even come from?

I think one of the main things I get excited about with GA is finding out where everyone comes from, and how they actually come across my blog at all. Now, we live in a world that's now pretty much built on social media, so it's no surprise to anyone that that's how a lot of people will find your site. But the best thing about Google Analytics is that it tells you exactly which social account sends traffic your way. Almost half of my traffic comes from social media, most of which is from Facebook, so this shows me that Facebook sharing is definitely something I need to keep doing to help grow my readership. Despite having a similar following on Twitter, the number of people I get coming from there are nothing in comparison. So this gives me two options. I can either try to focus more on Twitter to build my influence on there, or I can put less emphasis on it and focus on other social channels. I've found the best way to grow your audience is to simply focus on the most popular social accounts. They're doing well for a reason!

(Go to: Acquisition > Overview)
 

How much time do they spend on your site?

Yup, if Google Analytics can track where you go, you can bet it'll tell me how long you've been on my blog too! This is good for showing you which readers get bored and perhaps why. I mean, you're not gonna read this blog post in ten seconds, so if I see you clicking on here and clicking off in an instant, I'll know you maybe got bored or just weren't interested. Generally speaking around thirty seconds tells you that you're maybe boring your readers a bit (sorry!) and around the four or five minute mark is when you'll know you're doing something right. Sure, five minutes sounds like nothing, but bare in mind just how short your own attention span is. Five minutes is a lifetime in GA terms.

(Go to: Behavior > Overview > Avg. Time on Page)
 

Who even are your readers?

Sure, you might think your UK beauty blog has a predominantly British female readership, but please, check out your GA demographics, because it can actually be kind of funny. I recently found out that I have a nice handful of guys (not literally, might I add) that come to my blog on the regular, which I never expected what so ever. It's things like that that help you re-evaluate your blog's content and angle, and can even help you decide whether or not you want to implement some form of language translator on your site. If you want to get more of a certain 'type' of reader, be sure to cater for their needs (which you can find out on GA too!).

(Go to Audience > Demographics > Overview)
 

Wait, what even is 'bounce rate'?

Your bounce rate is basically the percentage of people who only view one page of your blog. For years I had a bounce rate of about 70%, which isn't great, but after creating my own site and adding a bunch of interesting content for you guys to click on, my bounce rate has made it's way down to about 6%, which means that around 94% of you will look at at least two pages of my blog. This is usually a good thing, but it can also mean that your blog might be difficult to navigate. Have your readers share their thoughts on your blog if you're confused about the two!

(Go to: Audience > Overview > Bounce Rate)
 

And hey..about those trackbacks..?

Trackbacks are simple. They pop up when someone else has mentioned you on their website, or when you've written a guest post on someone else's site that links back to your own. Being able to see trackbacks are useful because it shows you just how much traffic you received from that website. If you want to get even more traffic, look back in your lil trackback list and perhaps consider writing for some of those sites again, or at least say thank you to the people that mentioned you! You never know, they might do it again.

(Go to: Acquisition > Social > Trackbacks)
 

So there we have it, another blog post that's going to take you about 400 years to read. Hope it helped some of you!

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How to take better blog photos

Fashion blog photography tips
Blogging photography tips
How to take great pictures for your blog
How to take great pictures for your blog
How to take great pictures for your blog

So (I swear I start off every blog post with the word 'so' - should probs start reading the dictionary a little more for better introductions..) I've been posting a little less than I'd have liked to lately, but it's all been kind of leading up to the post. Almost. Basically for the past few weeks Ollie and I have been working at taking better photographs - and by that, I mean I've been pinning loads of stuff on Pinterest and Ollie has been trying to put up with me being an indecisive biatch with every photo he takes. Who even likes having their photo taken anyway? Can't I just make a fashion blog for my cats? Working on it.

But anyway, hopefully you'll have noticed a slight improvement in the photography on the blog lately. And if so, good! If not, well, just humour us for the minute. I say us, because today I've managed to persuade le photographer / boyfriend / father of my cat-children to get a little more involved with the production of an actual blog post. He's been taking photos of me since day one, so I think it's only fair to you guys to get some advice from him, as opposed to me. I mean, I like to think I can take a few nice snaps on the odd occasion, but I am in no way a photographer. In short, Ollie has taught me everything I know. In return, I've decided to show him the ropes with this blogging business. Oh yes, ladies and gents, the boyfriend is creating a blog. We are officially one of 'those' couples.

So about those photography tips (how have I already written about four million words?). It's midnight, Ollie's playing a zombie game on his Xbox and I'm here in a fake-tan-stained-top (you know, just to give you a quick visual run-down). Apart from this not-so-little intro, all I'll be doing today is typing away whilst he talks. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.

Ollie's tips for better blog photos:

Okay, so one thing to remember with photographing for blogs is that it's all pretty subjective. You're not shooting an editorial for Vogue so not all of the standard photography rules will apply sometimes. One thing that I've noticed with other bloggers is that sometimes photos can be overexposed and overly enhanced - which is a really easy and common mistake to make.

(Side note from Steph: I do this all the time..)

One thing that I've learnt whilst taking photos for Steph is that blog photography really makes you better at working with what you've got. Steph and I never go out with a planned location - she just throws on an outfit - then we head out and find whatever looks right to us. It doesn't always work out, so be open to move around to find the perfect setting and shot. One thing we've always done is we've kept a little catalogue of ideas and locations that we can use over and over again if we're struggling to find the right spot. These are places with decent light that are usually fairly quiet to take photos in. Another good idea is to dedicate some time in the day to take a bunch of outfits, just to make sure you have enough in your 'stash' for those rainy days.

One thing you have to always remember is that fashion blog photography is usually all about advertising the clothes. When Steph posts an outfit I'm sure you guys want to actually see how something looks on her, just incase you want to buy it for yourself, so it's always useful to show off what it is you're trying to advertise, whether it's a pair of shoes or makeup.

In terms of bloggers being models, it's important to come to terms with the fact that most bloggers aren't models. Steph will be the first to admit that she's awkward in front of a camera, but it's just something you have to push through to get good photographs. Steph and I have this little agreement that, whenever she's looking a bit, um, weird, I'll help her with her posing a little, since I'm the one that can actually see how she looks on the camera. For bloggers/models, I think it's useful to do a little bit of research into various poses, just so you can bust a few out when needs be. 

Shooting the pictures

So in an ideal world a DSLR camera is best for most photography, but obviously not everyone can get their hands on one. Thankfully these days there are so many good point and shoot cameras on the market that do a really good job of creating DSLR-style photos, without costing a shit load.

The best thing about DSLR cameras is that they give you complete creative control, since you can adjust pretty much anything. If your camera allows, be sure to shoot in manual so you can play around with the settings, but if you're not familiar with how to use it in manual then stick with auto until you're comfortable enough with creating your own pictures.

A lot of DSLR cameras will allow you to shoot in RAW, which basically means the image is un-compressed, giving you more room to change light levels and generally alter your image to your preference. Use RAW if you can, but if not just go with the highest file size your camera allows.

Which lenses to use

So next we'll talk about lenses. There are so many different lenses on the market but I've decided to talk about three of my favourites that are good for this style of photography. The first being an 85mm lens, which is best for portrait and beauty shots. Then we have the 35mm which is good for wide shots of landscapes and such. Next is a 50mm is a good all-rounder - I've noticed a lot of bloggers use 50mms and crop in to them to make them look similar to how an 85mm would. It's a cheaper alternative than buying an 85mm most of the time. If you want a lens that does a bit of everything, Steph and I use a 24-105mm L lens.

Camera settings

When it comes to what camera settings you should use, everyone has a different style. If you're not familiar with how to use your camera in a manual setting you can watch a video on it here. That being said apertures of around 5.6 usually work well for portrait. Low apertures such as 1.2 can create a really shallow depth of field (that blurry background that all bloggers love) but sometimes the depth of field can be so shallow that not all areas of the photo are in focus. Some people do want this look though, so it's good play around.

In terms of ISO, I'd suggest keeping this pretty low (around 100-200 if possible). This is because a higher ISO can result in a lot of noise/grain in a photo which results in a low quality looking photo. Again though, some people will desire this look.

Onto shutter speed. If you use a low shutter speed your images may not be as sharp as you might want. However too high can make the image look almost harsh. You also have to take into consideration what your subject is actually doing. For example if you're taking a photo of someone running you'll want to use a higher shutter speed to make sure they're in focus

One thing that's important to remember is to ensure you don't overexpose your image (basically making things too white).Once you've done that, it'll be near impossible to regain the information you've lost from doing it. It's a lot easier to brighten something if you have to.

Another thing Steph and I have started ensuring we do is having the style of outfit match the location. For example in Steph's outfit here she's wearing quite simple clothes, so the background reflects simplicity too. We've also decided to put a focus on her jacket, and so we've taken a few extra shots of our surroundings that matched the colour of her outfit. It just helps to break everything up a little, giving it a more editorial feel. It's also useful to take way more photos than you actually need, since it's better to have more to choose from than not enough.

Lighting and weather

Steph and I always take our photos outside, and I always like to use natural lighting purely because it's less effort (who wants to be carrying around millions of lights all day?), and it tends to give more of a natural look than a set up studio. The one downside to working with natural light however is that you have no real control over it, so it's good to time your photos perfectly.

When it's really bright and sunny it'll limit the settings you can use on your camera, and it can also create harsh shadows on your subject. If it is really bright, trying waiting until early evening so that the sun is a little lower in the sky and less harsh.

The best light for us is a fairly bright day with a bit of overcast, since it creates even light..and it means Steph doesn't squint as much in pictures. Golden Hour is something a lot of photographers look for in natural lighting. It's basically the point in the day when the sun is about to set. The light is really orange and looks awesome on camera. But again, you have to time this well otherwise it can get too dark.

One thing I will say is to try and avoid shooting in the dark, since you'll have to raise your ISO to compensate, which means you'll get that unwanted noise and grain.

Bloggers and poses

Taking photos isn't just a one-sided thing, so I should probably talk a little about the bloggers in the photos, and what they can do to help their photographer.

If there's one thing that helps how you look in photos, it's your posture. No matter how stupid you might feel you look, over-exaggerate whatever you're doing. Trust me, it never looks as dramatic and over the top in the actual photograph. Sometimes it can be useful to have a coffee cup or handbag to make it look more natural when posing. Standing in front of a camera face on with your hands on your hips is never a good look. And obviously, try and have fun while you're doing it. And ignore anyone else around you. People like look, screw em.

Editing your snaps

When it comes to how to edit your blog pictures, if you're editing in RAW a great place to start is with Adobe Lightroom, because it means you can properly balance your photo create the exact look you want. In Lightroom things to consider editing would be brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness. These are just the basics, but who knows, maybe Steph will rope me into to doing another blog post on that sometime.

A good thing about Lightroom is that it doesn't destroy pixels unlike most other photo editing softwares. Once balanced (and whatever else you want to do!) you can edit in Photoshop to get rid of blemishes etc. One thing I'd recommend is to make sure all of your photos look like they're from the same set. Eg. make sure they're all edited in the same style and coloured in the same way.

Uploading your pictures

And finally, when you're uploading photos onto your blog make sure you check out what is the largest file size that your site can support (whether it's Squarespace, Wordpress or whatever). This is because photographs can lose their quality when they're uploaded to the internet, so it's best to upload in the highest quality possible to make sure you lose the least amount of details.

Oh and one last thing - make sure your pictures are in focus before you head back home. 

 

Leave any questions in the comments and I'll try and get back to you ASAP! Hope this helped.

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Missguided faux suede biker jacket *
Iris & Ink Valerie t-shirt *
Monki culottes *
Steve Madden sandals *
Filippo Loreti Rome Gold watch *

Photography by Ollie Lello