How I Come Up With Post Ideas

IMG_5150.JPG

I mentioned in my Spending Ban Update that once I stopped buying so many new products, I instantly ran out of ideas for blogposts. Over time I've finally gotten my groove back and have for the most part been able to still churn out 4 posts per week. I just have to look harder for inspiration now - I figured the places I look for post ideas would make a good post in and of itself!

Take a look through your collection | Just like buying new products helped spark post ideas, looking through my collection of products works, too. When I sort through and take stock of all I have, it's easy to see patterns pop up. Sometimes I find a product in my vanity that's still hyped up that I haven't reviewed yet. This is how I came up with my post The Fall Lip Edit - I found all six of the lipsticks I mentioned floating around in my purse, so I knew they were ones I was using quite a bit. 

IMG_4834.JPG

Use real-life events | Rather than sticking to reviews of new products, I like to try to relate my posts to what's going on in my life. My Makeup for Sick Days post from yesterday was inspired by my catching a cold a couple weeks ago. If you're traveling, pop up a post of what skincare/makeup you're bringing. If you go to parties every weekend, talk us through your staple products that last all night long. When you relate it to your own life, it's so much easier to come up with content.

Look at analytics | Every once in awhile I love poring over my analytics - I look at what posts have been the most popular, if/where they're getting seen, and what people are searching. The site search section is my favorite - I can see what people come to my blog looking for, so if it's something I don't have, then I can easily fill the gap. This is how I decided to write about my Charlotte Tilbury Lip Collection - a lot of people had been searching "charlotte tilbury lipstick," and I didn't have a post with my whole collection for easy reference.

Look at your Instagram photos | I've been working hard on making my Instagram more interesting, and it's been helping to generate post ideas, too. Sometimes I'll look back on a selection of makeup or skincare products I've posted and realize it's something I can elaborate on. For example, this photo I posted of the skincare products I was using inspired my Green(ish) Skincare Routine for Clear Skin post. I realized I hadn't really talked much about most of the products in the photo, so it was the perfect time to talk about them all together.

Check out the Bloglovin' Explore pages | I don't use Bloglovin' to read blogs much anymore, but I do go on from time to time to see if there's anything I've missed lately, and I also like to check up on the Explore pages. It shows what posts are popular at the moment, and it helps spark some inspiration - maybe there's something I can put my own spin on. Sometimes just seeing the title is enough for me to think up my own post.

How do you come up with post ideas?


Four Blogs to Follow

I've been reading blogs for such a long time, longer than I've been writing my own. I love having a read through other people's blogs - seeing them working so hard and being so passionate is super motivating and inspiring. There are tons of blogs I try to stay up-to-date on, but right now there are four from which I make sure to never miss a post.

Cindyhyue

Cindy's blog is a work of art - her photos are gorgeous, every post is informative and well-thought-out, and I just love how she lays out the photos and text in each post. She makes me want pretty much every product she features because she manages to make it look so gorgeous in photos. We have really similar taste in products, so I always have a browse of her blog if I'm feeling spendy - lately she's got me wanting to try all things Tatcha.

Amelia Says

Amelia's blog is another one that's just beautiful - I just love how she plays with light in photos! She's a huge Glossier fangirl like me, and like Cindy, we also have similar taste. She writes the most detailed, well-researched posts on skincare ingredients that are super interesting. You can really see the amount of work and creativity that she puts into every post, so it always leaves me coming back for more.

The Minimal Journal

Caitlin's blog is one that I've only started reading recently, and I can't believe I didn't start earlier. She brings such a refreshing attitude towards beauty, focusing on a more pared-back approach rather than the "buy everything" mentality you see a lot nowadays. She's another one with lovely photos, and she always posts the most beautiful looks. She's really talented, and I love how she pairs a more dramatic eye with fresh skin - those kinds of looks are right up my alley.

Thirteen Thoughts

Paula's blog has been one of my favorites for awhile. She writes a mix of beauty, lifestyle, and blogging tips posts that are always so well-written and interesting. I'm sounding like a broken record here, but her photos are absolutely beautiful as well - you can really tell they're hers when you see them. I especially love her tips posts - they're actually some of the only tips posts I read because she comes off as genuinely helpful and not at all preachy. I've learned some super useful camera tricks from her!

What are some of your favorite blogs to follow?


Tips for Taking Flatlay Photos

I've had this idea in my drafts for awhile, but what's put me off is that I know I'm no expert, and there are plenty of other people who can take prettier flatlay photos than me. Still, flatlays are pretty much the only kinds of photos I use and are definitely the style I'm most comfortable with. So I guess I might have some useful tips to offer.

USE A NEUTRAL BACKGROUND

I'll start with the obvious one: most flatlay photos you see on Instagram or on other blogs have some sort of light, neutral background. This allows the products to be the main focus and not clash or blend into the background. I usually use a plain white background, but on my Instagram I sometimes use my white ruffled bedding or white marble. I've found it's super convenient to pick up some white posterboard from a craft store. If marble's your thing, too, you can buy some marble-printed adhesive - I applied this to one side of my white posterboard, so I can flip it depending on if I want a plain white or marble background.

CHASE THE LIGHT

This is the last obvious one, I swear (I hope). I find that you can get the brightest, airy-est photo when using natural light. Find the brightest spot in your house and try taking your photos there. The posterboard mentioned above comes in handy too, as you can move it around the house to find the perfect spot.

MOUNTING PUTTY IS YOUR FRIEND

I don't know how many rolls of Scotch tape I went through before I bought myself some mounting putty. It's perfect for products that tend to roll around, like lipsticks. It'll ensure your subjects stay exactly where you want them.

COORDINATE COLORS

This doesn't always work out if I'm photographing specific products for a blog post, but if I'm just taking a pretty picture for Instagram I'll take the colors of the products/packaging into consideration. I often go for soft pink shades when in doubt (like this photo from last week). It really makes for a more cohesive picture. When selecting props, I'll also take color into consideration (like adding in a book or magazine that includes similar colors, as seen here and here).

KEEP YOUR PROPS NEARBY

I have a little basket I keep most of my props in, and I keep it near where I'm almost always taking my blog photos. It makes it super convenient to pick the most perfect props and switch them out for others as needed. I keep little decorative plates, pretty cards, magazines, and washi tape in mine, for example.

EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT FORMATIONS

When I'm taking my photos, I rearrange them over and over, taking multiple photos of each to make sure I catch the perfect arrangement. Most of my flatlays have the products placed about the frame (seemingly) randomly, so it's important to try out different positions to find the picture with the most aesthetically pleasing flow. You can also experiment with more negative space, or more crowded pictures. Personally, I like to fill up the space in my photos, but I've seen some really stunning ones that use more negative space (like Holly from Bloomin' Rouge).

MIX BEAUTY AND LIFESTYLE PIECES

This is something I'm still experimenting with to find the perfect balance, but I find it can really make the photos more interesting. Choosing a main piece to focus on is key here to not overwhelm the photo, but adding in some books, plants, and clothes can really breathe new life into it.

I really hope these were helpful and not too repetitive. Do you have any flatlay styling tips?


Follow

Blogging Goals

Since the new year is coming up fast, it's really making me think about what my goals for my little space here will be in the next year. My first year of blogging has been such an amazing experience that I want to make Year 2 as best as it can be.

Improve my photos | This is probably a big one for everyone, right? I follow so many blogs that have absolutely amazing photos, so it really inspires me to improve mine. In the coming year I hope to branch out with the style of my photos, as I've heavily relied on flatlays the whole time I've been blogging. Don't get me wrong - I love a good flatlay, but lately I've just been wanting to try something new. I don't have a DSLR but I hope to still figure out how to use my camera on something other than the "auto" mode.

Tweak my blog design | Similarly to the first goal, I also want to improve the design of my blog. Switching my blog over from Blogger to Squarespace breathed so much life back into it, and I really think it better reflects my style and me now. Still, I think it can be better. I'm terrible at remembering to categorize my posts before they're published, so one thing I want to do is get better at that and be able to have a space where my posts can be found by category. I know there's so much more that I can do with Squarespace, so I'm looking forward to playing around with it more.

Read & comment more | When I first started blogging, I read so many and always made sure to leave thoughtful comments. Lately though, that's fallen a bit by the wayside and I miss catching up on all my favorites. There's no other reason for this other than I love reading blogs and getting inspired by others, but it is worth mentioning that I do notice an increase in engagement on my own blog when I engage with others more.

Join in more blogger chats | I was really into joining lots of Twitter chats earlier in the year, but again, it's fallen by the wayside. It's a little tough since most are scheduled in GMT, so when a chat starts at 8pm there, I'm still at work. But I really miss talking to other bloggers and hearing firsthand what they're loving. I'm hoping to get back into at least the chats on Sundays.

Seek out new inspiration | For the next year I'm really hoping to branch out with my content a little more. I love writing about beauty and that will always be the main focus of this blog, but I'm hoping to add in a few homeware posts here and there, and maybe a recipe or two since I'll have my own place and own kitchen in the new year. By the end of this year I've felt a little burned out thinking of new post ideas (one reason I'll always admire daily bloggers), so I'm hoping by looking for new sources of inspiration and incorporating new types of blogposts that I'll always be inspired in the coming year.

What are your blogging goals?


Follow

How I Edit My Blog Photos

I've been wanting to share this post for awhile because I always get lovely comments complimenting my photography on the blog. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing with a camera (though I am trying to learn so I can manually adjust the settings on my camera instead of just using the auto setting), but I do sort of know my way around Photoshop, so I thought it would be useful to see what I do to enhance my photos. For reference, I have a Canon PowerShot SX40 HS and despite not being a DSLR it really works for me! 

As you can see, the original photo (my birthday haul, for those of you wondering - I didn't end up writing the post to go with the picture but figured this would suffice for those of you who requested the post) isn't too dark, but it's not that bright, white, airy look that I quite like and prefer. Since I'm not too good with my camera (and it always appears brighter in the camera's viewfinder than it does once I import them), I opt for brightening my photos with Photoshop (I have CS5.1 but any version will do).

The first thing I do is roughly adjust the brightness & contrast by going to Image>Adjustments>Brightness & Contrast. I generally raise the brightness to somewhere between 30-50 (in the summer I'll keep it around 30, but in the winter it's definitely necessary to raise it all the way to 50). I love using the contrast adjustment to really make the colors of the photo stand out, but I usually keep it in the 10-15 range, never setting it above 20.

Sometimes I'll mess with the Levels (Image>Adjustments>Levels), mostly to lighten up the midtones a bit (moving the middle slider to the left) but usually I move right on to curves (Image>Adjustments>Curves). I only do slight adjustments here, because most of what I've wanted to do has been done with the brightness & contrast sliders. I usually lower the left section of the curve slightly (to deepen the darker tones) and raise the right section (to brighten the whites).

The last adjustment I make is that I always play with the color balance (Image>Adjustments>Color Balance - notice a theme here?). I like my photos to have a subtle pink tint, so I usually increase the red slider to about +7 or +8, slide the magenta slider to somewhere slightly lower, like -5 or -6, and increase the blue ever so slightly to +2 or +3.

One last thing I'll do is crop the photo - a lot of times I'll crop it a little to begin with, but after editing I can really see what I want in the frame and what can be excluded. The last thing I do is save it to my folder of edited blog photos with a name that better describes the content than the default "IMG000.jpg" name. 

And that's it! Not too difficult, and definitely something you can do in other editing programs - when I edit my Instagram photos in Afterlight I usually follow these same kinds of steps! I hope this was helpful.

What are your best photo-editing tips?


Follow