A year and a half ago, I had this crazy idea to create my own little corner of the internet to share my favorite of fashion, lifestyle and beauty. Six months ago, I brought that crazy little idea to life and started Little Looks & Big Pictures, and I am SO glad I did!
I was so hesitant to throw my ideas and personal styles into the blogging world, hence the year-long waiting period before I actually launched it. I spent a whole year loving the ideas I had in my head, but not loving the idea of actually publishing them. I was so concerned with the ‘what ifs?’ What if no one reads it? What if I run out of ideas? What if no one likes it? Oh, and HOW do I even create a website, a brand, a consistent voice, and the whole package of a blog successfully? Well, many tutorials, blogging help sites, videos, and trial and error tests later, I have begun my journey in figuring it all out! 🙂
The first step of figuring out the blogging world and my first piece of advice is to just make the blog! Yes, spend some time thinking about the name, your content focus, and your design theme, but don’t spend a year thinking about all of the little details and worrying about your readership before you have even published post one. I worried too much about trying to be successful right away. When you first start, most things won’t be a success, but everything will be a great learning opportunity, and you don’t learn it until you try it. So be confident, put your ideas out there, and have fun with it!
Now, step two is to give yourself the right tools to work with. Today I am going to share with you some of the tools that have been game-changers in my first six months of blogging. When you start out as a new blogger, you don’t have to have the top-of-the-line tools, especially if you don’t have the funds for that either. Here are some budget-friendly tools that have helped me TREMENDOUSLY the past six months.
Camera: Nikon D2300
My camera was my biggest investment in my blog, but by-far my best and favorite investment. I LOVE my camera, and this tool goes beyond just my blog– I love having a high-quality camera for everyday life, too! The Nikon D3200 is a great camera to start off with and the bundle pack gives you two lenses to work with (and it is on sale right now!). I have loved learning photography tips and tricks and this camera has been a wonderful starting point for me. Eventually, I will want to upgrade, but right now, this is getting the job done very well!
Camera Bag: Lowepro Rezo Camera Case
Take good care of your camera and keep it protected! I love this brand of camera cases and this one is on a serious sale!
Wireless Adapter: Nikon WU-1A Wireless Adapter
Okay, real talk: this handy little thing is a life saver. You would not believe how many times you take an amazing picture on your camera and all you want to do is post in on Instagram, but you don’t have time to download the picture to your laptop/computer and then send it to yourself or you’re on the go and this just isn’t possible. A lot of the newer and higher-end cameras have wifi capabilities, but unfortunately the Nikon D3200 does not. However, save yourself a couple of hundreds of dollars and buy the D3200, and then throw in a $39 wireless adapter. This tiny thing plugs into your camera and allows you to connect your camera to your phone! Once you download the Nikon App to your phone, you can view all of the pictures on your camera on your phone AND you can turn your phone into a camera remote, which is amazing when you are taking pictures yourself! That gives you a little two-for-one deal and it is SO worth the money.
Photo Editing Apps: Snapseed & Facetune
These two apps are the dynamic duo! Facetune can fix any imperfections or it can even get rid of wrinkles in your clothes! Then, you can adjust your lighting, tones, and details in Snapseed. I don’t know what it is about Snapseed, but my pictures always turn out looking brighter and airier than any other photo editing app! I swear by it!
Instagram Planning App: UNUM
Wondering how bloggers have such beautiful Instagrams that are well-balanced and color-coordinated? They plan it all out! I am very much still learning this skill and by no means have that beautiful Instagram I am striving for, but UNUM is an amazing app that allows you to plan out all of your images and move them around to find what is most visually appealing. Then, you can go right over from the app to Instagram to publish your content.
WordPress.org is an amazing software that gives you so much freedom for your blog! The software itself is completely free, but the catch is you have to pay for a domain and hosting, which is around $5-$10 a month. A lot of people start off with WordPress.com instead, where you can create your own blog on their website without a having to purchase a domain and pay for hosting, but you cannot monetize anything on your site and your creative privileges are very limited. This infographic explains the difference between WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com so well! Definitely check it out! If you are wanting more freedom and to eventually make money from your blog, I’d recommend WordPress.org!
I read so many reviews on which hosting service to use, and all signs pointed towards BlueHost. I have been using them for six months, and it is so user-friendly and headeache-less, which was exactly what I was looking for! If you haven’t started your blog yet, or are looking to use a different hosting site, check out BlueHost!
I love finding cute and unique props to add into photos, like my gold plate I show here, or fake flowers I use in a lot of my pictures, like here and here. Be as creative as you can with props– in fact, the pink background in the picture at the top of this post is actually a dress haha! These are my favorite places to look for props:
- From paper to decor, they have it all! Check out their newly expanded home decor section and find scrapbook paper to compliment your props.
- I especially find great props in their dollar section!
- TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Homegoods
- Retailer store home sections (Macy’s, Nordstrom, NordstromRack, etc.)
- Garage sales or antique sales
- Find inexpensive potentials and then give them an upgrade with a new coat of paint.
- Your own cabinets/closets
- You’d be surprised the kind of props you can find around your house! For example, here I used a cookie tray with parchment paper on top and I think it added some texture and depth to the photo.
I recently started applying to several affiliate programs and I am excited to see what happens with these! Here are the programs you can apply to, even as a new blogger:
- ShopStyle Collective
- This program is AMAZING! You know all of those product widgets you see on blogs? A lot of bloggers create those here! So not only do you have the opportunity to make some money, but you also have a program where you can create amazing widgets that show off a wide-range of products.
- I just recently got accepted into this program, but so far I LOVE IT! It is amazing for networking with other bloggers and learning about the blogging industry! This program, at least initially, is much more about education, preparation, and networking than immediate money-making, but that is fine by me! It has been such a wonderful tool so far.
- Blog Meets Brand
- Influence Central
- The last several I mentioned I am also new to and I haven’t had much action come from them yet, but hopefully it is helpful for you to see what is out there and what programs accept newer bloggers with smaller numbers. Monetizing your blog takes time, and this is just one example of that!
There are so many amazing resources out there to help you keep learning, from blogs, to books, to e-courses! Here are a couple I love:
- Melyssa Griffin (formerly The Nectar Collective)
- Elle & Co
- Uniquely Women
- Andrea Bolder
- It Starts with a Coffee
- Helene in Between
I haven’t read these yet, but here are a couple of books that have my eye! If you’ve read any of these, please let me know your thoughts!
- Lifestyle Blogging Basics
- Blog, Inc.
I hope this collection of tools, ranging from electronics to learning resources, helps you with your new blog or inspires you to create one! Blogging has been such a wonderful creative outlet for me and the possibilities that stem from it are endless! So take those amazing ideas you have and put it out there!