Many moons ago, I found myself writing an email to a blogger I admired. I was particularly frustrated with my career at that point, where I worked in education. Why? I can’t really say. I was getting paid well, had a roof over my head, and worked with really kind people who I enjoyed being around. Still something just didn’t feel right. There was a creative void and I didn’t know how to fix it. So, I found my way to my keyboard and poured my heart out. I asked for advice, not on blogging, but how one gained the courage to quit a consistent “9-5” job and trade it in for a place in the creative world, where everything felt like a gamble. I always wanted to pursue the arts: painting, printmaking, photography. Coming from a very traditional family, that wasn’t in the cards, so I followed the path I was put on. There wasn’t much support in the creative realm from those around me, at least not in the sense of making art a career. For leisure it was fine, but not for a “real job”. No way. When I didn’t get a response from that blogger I emailed, not even one line of encouragement, I couldn’t help but take it personally. It may sound silly, and maybe looking back it was, but it was the truth. I moved on with my job, we got married, and we continued to create art together on the side: painting and making music on weekends.
When we moved to Arizona, that’s when things began to change a bit. We were on our own and found ourselves marching to a different beat. It was one that was familiar, yet tucked away for some time. We starting blogging (or instagramming for that matter), while we were still working in education. We had a desire to share our personal style, our new life in Phoenix, our favorite local spots, and our travels. It was a way we found ourselves connecting with locals in a new-to-us city and a way to share and gain inspiration. When we started blogging three years ago, we never thought it was something that would turn into a career for either of us. Before we dived into the world of social media, we were both big readers of blogs. Everything from fashion to home décor grabbed our attention each morning, over our cups of coffee. We enjoyed getting a peek into the lives of others all across the U.S. Today, we’re happy to be able to create content and share a bit of our own story with others. It felt like a long time coming, but being surrounded by others who yearned for creativity no matter the medium, was really encouraging. We feel extremely lucky to be able to work with brands we love and work in a creative environment together. We are passionate about sharing that in any way we can. Now, ironically enough, we are on the other end of those emails. Very often we receive messages from people who are interested in starting a blog and are looking for some tips or a place to start. We are definitely not pros and are still learning every day, but we’re happy to share some of our essential tools and things we’ve picked up along the way.
WHERE TO START?
We talk about this a lot with friends. Whether you’re looking to start a blog or a printmaking business, having the right tools makes the job a bit easier. Our phones, cameras, back-up batteries, and laptops are always with us. We mentioned a while back that we picked up the new HP Spectre. We’ve been using it for about a month now and brought it with us on our Seattle trip. It’s been great for editing and running multiple programs at once. (Does anyone else have an addiction to opening numerous tabs?) We’re always multi-tasking, and this laptop has held up to it all. It’s lightweight, which makes throwing it in your bag a breeze for editing on the go.
When we started taking photos and sharing them on Instagram way back, we were using a SONY point and shoot, along with our iPhones. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was easy and compact enough for us to snap photos while we were out and about and we had fun with it. In 2014, we started sharing more formal blog posts and shortly after upgraded to a Canon Rebel t5i. It was a great starter camera for us and we find ourselves still using it often as a second camera. It has a touch screen, which makes changing settings and zooming in and out really simple, as it mimics the ease of a smart phone. For quite some time we used the kit lens it came with, before investing in the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens. This has to be one of our favorite lenses and we use it for a lot of our blog photos. We recently upgraded our camera body to a Canon 6D, which has a full frame sensor, allowing you to capture more in the shot. We use the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II lens often when traveling as well. You definitely don’t need an expensive camera to blog, but having one that can deliver high quality images that you’re comfortable with is helpful and saves time with editing.
Within the last year we started using Lightroom to edit all of our blog photos. We know, we’re pretty late to the game, right? Well, it’s been a game changer. Lightroom has cut our editing time down in half, by allowing us to edit photos in bulk and create our own filters which is biggg! When we first started using Lightroom, we didn’t really commit to it. It was unfamiliar and using apps on our phones seemed easier. As we began to edit more photos in bulk, Lightroom just made more sense to us, so we gave it another shot. VSCO film pack 01 is our go-to for filters. It has a large array of classic filters that create a clean look. From there we tweak different presets to create the feel we’re going for and save it for future photo sets.
For collages and creating decks, Photoshop is our favorite. You can import product images from websites, remove the background, add text, etc. We mostly use it for gift guide and round-up posts, like this one.
Wordpress has been the platform of choice since the beginning for us. We set up a clean, minimal design with Brandi and her team at Alchemy + Aim and have felt really comfortable with the layout. We’re not too tech savvy when it comes to the backend stuff, like website maintenance, VPS hosting, etc… so having a great team you can count on is important.
SCHEDULING/ORGANIZATION + ADVICE?
Staying organized is something we all struggle with, in every field, at some point or another. There are some weeks where we have all of our blog posts planned out, just waiting to be published. Other posts are a bit more random and personal, with content written the morning of after some caffeine had kicked in. 😉 We brainstorm broad topic ideas on things we’d like to share for the month, such as fall fashion or a new playlist, but always leave room for lifestyle posts and day to day photos. Finding the right balance is something that we are constantly learning and adjusting as we go. In the end, write about and share what you love, be consistent, and be kind. We truly believe that hard work and not being afraid to learn from others are so important. We have been incredibly lucky to meet some truly amazing people through blogging. If you create content that you’re passionate about and proud of, good things will follow. Have fun with it!