Our Blogging Journey, Essential Tools + Tips

Sep 24, 2016 | By New Darlings

New Darlings - Blogging WorkflowMany 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.

New Darlings - Blogging Journey + Workflow

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.

New Darlings - Blogging Journey + WorkflowNew Darlings - Blogging Journey + Workflow
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.

New Darlings - Blogging Journey + Workflow

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.

New Darlings - Blogging Journey + Workflow

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!

42 comments on “Our Blogging Journey, Essential Tools + Tips”

  1. Thank you so much for posting this! This is exactly the guidance I have been looking for. I’m a veterinary technician that just moved from Seattle to California with my husband and I have been dreaming of making this same change but am having a hard time figuring out how to do so. You guys are an inspiration!

  2. I love your blog. Can you use the VSCO filters on Lightroom? The design of your blog is very fresh and clean. I need to work on that. It might reuire me to switch from Blogger to WordPress, though. I have to agree with you about the scheduling of posts. I’m terrible about updating my blog. I should probably make an editorial calendar.

  3. Thank you so much for the down to earth post and helpful advice. My husband and I have been dreaming of starting our own brand, creating our own content, and being part of the blogging conversation for years. We finally took the plunge a few months ago and started our first site. Right now it feels like we are working on posts no one sees. But even still, putting ourselves out there is so hard! Hopefully someday we will be successful creators like you guys!!


  4. I read your insta caption and thought that I would have a look at the full post. After reading the first paragraph (switching education to town planning) I felt like you were talking about me! Work doesn’t fit yet I never seem to have time to sit down and draw/paint. I guess I need to make time! I do have one question, do you have any tricks or tips to increase followings on Instagram? I have previously attempted to start a blog but lost heart as I didn’t know how to increase traffic to the page.
    Anyway, I think you are both brilliant at what you do and it comes across so effortlessly which makes me admire you both even more. You have the talent and flair and deserve all your success! R

  5. Thank you for sharing your blogging journey! I started a style blog in February and am loving the journey! I am also an educator and have been looking for a creative outlet and feel I have found that outlet through blogging. I have learned so much and am enjoying every moment.

    I appreciate you taking the time to write this post to help out new bloggers! Love following you!


  6. Thank you for this post! I have been journaling offline for some time and just started the transition to a blog, and it’s very overwhelming! Everything has to be so much more organized and planned. I’m so much more reluctant to publish something online than I am putting pen to paper. I really appreciated reading this and will definitely benefit from your advice! 🙂

    – Jessi

  7. #inspiration

    Love, LOVE your honest and genuine blog posts. I find your writing and photos fresh, relatable and just. I hope one day I can share similar success like you. Many Thanks!

    Much Love, Linds

  8. Hi guy!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! It makes me feel like I have hope too! What you said about your previous work – working with great people, good income – but not filling that creative void really hit home with me. I’ve been feeling really drained by work recently and am trying to rediscover myself creatively again and hopefully building a blog soon, so I really enjoy hearing about others who have felt the same way. Keep up with the beautiful posts ?

  9. This is a great write-up, thank you! My fiancé and I started blogging this summer and we haven’t been able to stick to a great schedule between the all-consuming day jobs (television demands to be made, it turns out) but we keep working on it and hope to expand our material soon into more food and cycling materials. Love your posts the most when they are really personal and specific to your experiences. I also just made my first Madewell purchase last week (jeans, sweater, button downs that are all momentarily too autumnal to wear in Los Angeles…) which I blame you for completely.

  10. Your post is great! It is a real inspiration for people, who just started a blog or think about it. It’s always great reading your blog and looking at your pictures. Did you have ever self-doubt about your blog? Sometimes being a blogger can be really tough. How did you manage it?

    Much love

  11. Thank you for sharing! I’m currently working in education and have been considering starting a blog for some time now for the exact same reasons you did. Hopefully one day I’ll be brave enough to let my creative side go wild.

  12. I can’t thank you enough for being so open and forth coming with your photo taking process and journey. I too started out by reaching out to a favorite blogger of mine with a heart felt letter and no response and it did hurt a bit lol. If I could ask one question it would be, what was the turning point for you in helping you guys gain your large audience/following that you have today? Thanks again you two for sharing yourself’s so candidly and beautifully and most of all honestly.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words and introducing us to your blog. Love your take on creating a new life in a new city and the variety of what you share, Elishia. We can definitely relate! Looking forward to seeing your story unfold. 🙂

  13. Hi! Thank you for sharing this. I love your story and admire that you followed your creativity and made something that you both love. I am from NYC and moved here a few years ago and love your style and look forward to your posts. I love to write and paint and wanted to start sharing my experiences of parenting and adventures of life but wasn’t sure where to start. This post gave me some great tips! Thank you!


      1. Thank you !!! I just reread this post again :). It was so helpful!

        Thank you for all that you do. Love all your posts and congrats on your new home!

  14. I loved reading about your guys’ journey to blogging full time. I’m where you were several years ago, I started blogging back in March and I never dreamed it would turn into my passion like it has. I work a 9-5 office job where I’m not happy at all and I long for the day when I can turn in my resignation! <3

    1. Thanks so much Jessica! So happy to hear you’ve been enjoying blogging so far. It really is an amazing way to meet people and explore your own creativity. Best of luck with everything! xo

  15. How fascinating — thanks for sharing your blogging story with us, Robert & Christina! I love your aesthetic and reading your blog!

    I’m in the process of launching my own blog so this was perfect timing. Thanks for the tips & inspiration and keep up the great work!

  16. Hello from Manila, Philippines! I really love your blog. Thank you so much for posting this blog entry. Something that I can totally relate to. I am now at the crossroads in my job where I am torn between staying or letting it all go. I have no idea really on what the future holds but somehow, your words made a bit of encouragement. 🙂

    1. Hi Paula! So glad you enjoyed the post. It’s hard to be in that “in between” stage and feeling, but we know exactly how you feel! Follow what makes you happy…sending good thoughts your way! 🙂

  17. Thanks so much for sharing! I just started blogging a few months ago, and your story provided just the encouragement to keep up the good work! I find the planning is the hard part, I came down with the flue last week and since I didn’t have anything planned it was quiet on my blog for a couple of days. Gave myself a really hard time about it at first, but decided to see it as a lesson. However, it’s good to know that successful bloggers like yourselves not have everything planned out weeks in advance as well. Thanks again, I love your blog!

    1. Congrats on starting your blog! We are learning every day how to balance things and deciding what we would like to share. Definitely don’t feel guilty for taking some time for yourself, especially if you aren’t feeling well. Good luck with everything and thanks so much for following along with us! xo 🙂

  18. Thanks for sharing your journey and all the helpful advice! Love your blog and the images you capture of your daily lives!

  19. Thank you so much for posting this! As someone who has just recently started a blog, I found this really helpful. Not going to lie, I come to your blog for layout inspiration constantly because your blog is so aesthetically pleasing to me. Because I’ve just started my blogging journey, I have a few ideas for upcoming posts and am trying to schedule time so I can get the writing done, but I’m worried in the future I’ll run out of ideas. What do you do to get those creative juices flowing and come up with such great ideas for posts? Again, thank you! I love being able to follow your journey!

  20. Thank you so much for this post, it was so helpful. I read your blog consistently, and my husband and I have been wanting to start a blog this year for very similar reasons- this post was very helpful. Love your stuff!

  21. Great inspiring story 🙂 thanks for sharing. I know some people, that are in the point where you were ! Will show them this 🙂

    cheers from

  22. This was exactly what I needed! I have been having some struggling moments with my blog and also with the idea of starting up my own handwriting business. You, know, with all the unknowns. Thank you for the encouraging advice.

  23. Hi! Love your work! My husband and I are also bloggers. And the fact that I’m from Phoenix living abroad, makes me love your work even more as it brings a piece of home to my heart! Love your story and the tips you shared! So inspiring! Thanks so much! Appreciate all you both do! Robin

  24. Thank you for this posting! I too am in the process of starting my own blog after quitting my corporate job. Can you provide some insight on building a following on both your blog and social media? Thank you!

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