iPhone case from Iconemesis
Just this morning I was reading LLYMLRS blog (lovely girl and one of the first blogs I ever read) and she posted a list of ideas for blog posts, one of which was to show what goes into the making of each article, and I thought that was a great idea! Writing this post feels like I am baring myself, but at the same time I feel super excited to share all this with you. As a blogger, I would love to read such posts on other blogs to see if I can find ideas for improvement, and I think that as a non-blogger it could be interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes.
So, is blogging really such a time consuming job? Judge for yourself!
1. Select an outfit to be photographed - either this is an outfit that I am already wearing out or in some cases it can be an outfit that I am hoping to wear in the future. Usually while deciding on an outfit, I need to consider which clothing items haven't made an appearance on the blog yet, as well as which items have been gifted to me by a company and urgently need to be featured in my photos.
2. Find a photographer - I do not have a single photographer who takes ALL of my photos, so it always varies between my friends and family members. I have taught my little brother how to take my photos, so usually I pay him for each shoot that we do. Unfortunately there are days where I can't get anyone to take my photos, and I don't like doing tripod posts in my room, so I am quite dependent on this.
3. Find a location for photos - when I am at home, there are plenty of nice places to take photos in the area, but during the last 2 weeks we had a massive heatwave and therefore didn't manage to find a suitable backdrop in the shadow. You know how people say "Oh, it's sunny, let's go take photos!" - well for me that is the biggest nightmare, because the photos always turn out way too bright and I am quite picky with having good quality pictures for my blog. Normally I go into the shadow, but I face the direction of the light so that it hits my skin better. If I'm in a public place like the city centre, quite a bit of time usually goes into finding a location that looks good, but isn't too busy. Passers-by are not used to seeing someone bending down and photographing your feet, so it can be kind of awkward. Also a lot of people try to be in your photos to photobomb and stuff, so finding a quieter spot can be quite beneficial.
4. Take photos and select 5-9 that make the cut - personally for me, selecting the final photos is what probably takes the most time. I usually have about 100 photos on average for each look, and narrowing that down to only a few is very difficult. I need to make sure that I am staring in different directions, that my poses are different, that my clothes and details are shown the way I want and so on. Once I have picked the photos, I give them names, so that they can be found on Google a lot easier. If you click on any of my photos, you will see they are named "Kristiana Vasarina.jpg", "Luxembourg fashion blogger.jpg", "Missguided playsuit.jpg" and so on. This is because Google can't "see" the photos visually, so by giving the photo a name I make it easier for people to find what they are looking for. I will talk about more SEO tools later in this post.
5. Editing the photos - let me tell you, you simply cannot have great photos without editing them. Even if the camera settings have been adjusted perfectly, you will always find that the photo needs some more depth or shadows and such. I always adjust the curves in my photos (these are the brightness, highlights and shadows) and normally I add a slight filter or a color tone. I have a favorite online program called PicMonkey which I use for all my editing. They offer lots of options for adjusting your photos, plus you can even create your own texts and banners. I paid extra to have the full package, but even without that you still have plenty of options for editing your photos.
6. Establishing image order and adjusting the widths - I probably put way too much thought into the order of my photos. You will almost never see two vertical photos in a row, I will also normally (try to) avoid having two detail shots in a row and so on. I like having my favorite photo as the first one, because that is the photo that usually shows up on Bloglovin and GFC when there is a post preview. After establishing a nice flow of photos, I also like to end the post with a close favorite photo just to make it more memorable when the reader is done looking at the photos. I also resize my photos manually using HTML, so I first upload them at a width of about 2000-2500 px (photos of feet are usually only about 1000px or lower, as I don't want people zooming in on my feet haha), and then I adjust the width to 720px in the HTML code.
7. SEO image and post optimization - I cannot stress enough the importance of SEO tools as a blogger. After educating myself on the ways to optimize your blog for search engines, I now feel like an article would be wasted if I didn't apply some of these techniques in order to use the full potential. SEO is all about making your blog easier to find on Google. I already mentioned about me naming my photos, but just doing that is not enough. There are various SEO tools that you can use but I usually stick to the same ones - I do however suggest you have a research session of your own, to find what suits you best. For example, post titles are very important. Witty texts and song titles will not always be too helpful for people finding your posts, so, again, it is sometimes best to "describe" the post. You can do this in various ways, for instance, either mention some of the brands featured, maybe a special item that you are wearing, or the occasion what the look was for. Using straight up simple titles such as "How to...", "Pros and cons of...", "My guide to..." is also really good! To make my images appear more on Google, I add an alt tag to each photo using HTML code. This is to further "describe" the photo and it is what essentially boosts the image on Google. I tend to use the same descriptions as the names of the photos, as to not complicate the process.
8. Find all the correct links - in each post I strive to link all clothing items, the online stores and other blogs that I may have mentioned, because not only does this make life easier for my readers, but it is also another SEO tool. This type of "interaction", by mentioning items and websites, helps Google recognize you from your own little online bubble. Linking items in my outfit posts is also my main source of blog revenue - I work with RewardStyle and ShopSense, which are both websites that generate unique links for each item. If I use the RewardStyle link, then I will get commission when a reader has bought the item, however if I use ShopSense links, then I get paid when the reader has simply clicked on the item. Having said that, it is important to evaluate each item and decide whether my audience is more likely to buy it or simply look at it. My statistics show me who my audience is - the gender, main age groups, country and such. Sometimes finding the same or similar items can be a massive hassle, because I want to ensure that the items I promote are in stock and that it is generally a site I would recommend from my own experience. My usual rule is that I only link to items that I would suggest to my friends and family.
9. Write up text and publish - by this point I am usually quite exhausted, which is why the chit-chat tends to initially focus on the outfit, but will soon enough wander off into another direction and I start talking about my personal life and whatnot. The text is usually the easiest part and I also do admit that I sometimes slack on this, simply because it feels like I am finally so close to the finish line (aka "publish post" button). After I have written a decent amount of text (or way too much), I finally add the post labels (the category links under each post), and click "publish". Horaaaay!
..but the party does not start there.
10. Social media - after publishing your post, it will reach your usual audience, which typically consists of your GFC followers, your Bloglovin followers and also those super sweet and dedicated readers that type your address into the search bar each day. If you want to grow your audience, social media is extremely important, so promoting your post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is always a good idea. I definitely do not do this as much as I should, but I will work on that! When I link my post on Twitter, I always use the relevant hashtags, for instance, #fbloggers #fashionblogger #ootd and so on. I also @tag any brand that I have featured, because generally they love seeing people wear their stuff, so there is a high chance that you will get a retweet. Same goes for Facebook and Instagram. So promote, promote, promote! (but keep it within limits - nobody likes a pushy self promoter).
I hope you all enjoyed reading this and congrats if you made it this far! I just want to stress that I am not a full time blogger, nor am I an expert at all this. I am still learning every day, so these are simply the things that I have learned so far and do in each post. If you have any advice, I would love to read it! ♥