11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger

11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger

When you start your blog for the first time, it can be quite intimidating. There are so many things you need to do for your blog to be set up (if you’re serious about blogging, that is!) and I found that certain things are more important than others. I remember when I first set up my blog and it came time to write my first post, I thought, “what do I even write about as my first post?” mainly because I did haven’t any credit. Nobody knew me. Nobody knew what my content would be about. But my best advice is to just do it! Just start writing. I did, and I haven’t looked back!

In this post I really want to talk about best practices as a blogger. What I’ve learned along the way. These tips have really helped me in the long run.

read about How to Take Better Photos for Your Blog

Aly Dawn Photography 11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger


This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will get a small portion of revenue when you purchase something. Read my full disclosure here.

These tips will get you started in blogging and will also help keep your blog up to date.

1. take a course

Okay, I cannot stress this enough. Seriously. You can’t do this on your own. I really liked the Blog by Number ecourse by Suzi – it really changed the way I blogged. I loved this whole blog course. And the best part is that it’s not that expensive! You get a lot of information on how to start your blog, make money from your blog, blog post ideas, and so much more. Worth the money, believe me! She lays it all out for you, step by step! Go get this ecourse as soon as possible. It’s amazing. I still look back at it from time to time. Review it, make sure I’m doing everything she recommends. Once I started doing what she suggests, my stats have exploded.

2. find your niche

When I first started, I just blogged about anything and everything. Which isn’t always good…unless you have a personal blog, then that’s different. But if you’re looking to make money from blogging, you really need to find your niche! Do you like food? You could start your own food blog where you post your recipes! Do you like helping people learn how to blog? You could dedicate your blog to that. Do you think you are a master at Instagram? There’s another niche. Once you realize your niche, blog about that and nothing else. Which leads me to…

3. update your posts

So, you wrote a blog post about 2 years ago that is totally unrelated to your blog now…what do you do? Should you leave it? My advice would be to revamp it. Either get rid of it or make it relate to your blog now. I’ve already started doing this so that all of my posts look cohesive. Just like in photography, having your blog look cohesive is important, too. You want your audience to know exactly what to expect when they come to your blog. And when you upgrade, upgrade all of your posts. Even if it takes longer, it’s worth it.

4. pin your posts

Make pinnable images for each and every blog post and pin them. No kidding. Also, the Tail Wind App has done wonders. It makes Pinterest so easy. All I do is make a pinnable image, post my blog post, and then I schedule my pin to pin in all types of boards using Tail Wind. I also set up other pins that aren’t mine to post at the best time. Tail Wind seriously does all the hard work for me. I love it! You can do a free trail that they offer – but be warned! If you do the free offer, you’re going to want to do the paid version, too. Ok, I warned you.

Pinterest has been my main source of traffic.

Aly Dawn Photography 11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger

5. be yourself

I’m serious here. When I first started, I wanted to see what other bloggers were doing. I tried to mimic some of my favorite bloggers. And the images I was producing, and the posts I was writing, they just came across as flat and I hated them!! So, my number one advice here is to just be yourself! When I first started, I wanted to be like all other bloggers and have light and bright images. But, that’s not my photography style. Once I accepted this and made blogging work for me and my style, I feel 100% better and actually love blogging. Be yourself. You shouldn’t be starting your blog for any reason except for yourself.

6. guest post

Don’t just write posts for yourself, write for other bloggers! And while I have you here, I am in the market for guest writers, so if you’re interest, please let me know. ūüôā By writing for other blogs, you get your name out there even more. So find a website (in your niche!) that could benefit from what you have to say! Get yourself out there. I wish I had known that when I first started.

7. good pictures

You need good pictures. Pictures draw you in. Make you linger. If you have really crappy snapshots … well … it just looks unprofessional. And it wouldn’t make me want to linger on a site! I know I love going to blogs that have beautiful photography. I’m not saying you need to be a photographer, but you do need to start thinking about how your images will affect your audience. If you’re a food blogger, you need your images to make your audience hungry. You need your subjects to look delicious! That’s what will make them click on your pin. Right? So, practice that photography!

Would anyone be interested in a photography class that is designed to help bloggers get better images? Let me know in the comments below.

8. be original

You need to find a reason for people to wander to your blog. There are so  many food bloggers, mommy bloggers, photography bloggers, etc. out there that it can be quite hard to become noticed. But you need to figure out what makes you original, what makes you special compared to those other bloggers. Once you find it, you blog and blog about it.

Aly Dawn Photography 11 Things You Should Be Doing as a Blogger

9. don’t do it for the money

If you’re doing it for the money, stop. You need to blog about something that really truly inspires you and gets you excited and happy. The money comes later after lots of work.

10. schedule your posts

Pick a day, write your posts, then schedule them for that week. This, of course, comes after you’ve managed to put your blog together. Scheduling posts is a legit¬†life saver. I really don’t know what I’d do without it. In this little sit down I’ve already typed up and created 4 blog posts, that can now be scheduled for later times. That’s one lovely perk of being a blogger. It’s totally up to you to make up your hours and it’s the¬†perfect stay at home mom job. Just sayin’!

11. comment on other blogs

Yes. This is similar to Instagram. You write a blog post, you need to go comment and show love on other blogs! That’s a really nice trick to getting some more traffic. Networking with fellow bloggers can do wonders. ūüôā A little hint I came across one day that’d like to pass on … when commenting, write your name out as¬†Name @ Business¬†Name (example: Alyssa @ Aly Dawn) – that way people know you are a blog and will click on your name. Sometimes the @ can look spammy, so you can also try¬†Name at Business Name or¬†Name (Business Name)¬†something along those effects. When you comment,¬†always make sure you link back to your blog!

And just like with my Instagram hints … leave genuine comments. Don’t comment on a post unless you really¬†love¬†it. Be genuine and be nice. Ask questions. You never know, it might get you comments back!

So, that’s it! Those are my 11 things you should be doing as a blogger. What is something you think¬†all bloggers should do? I’d love to hear from you!

 

How to Blog for You and No One Else

How to Blog for You and No One Else

There are many reasons why you would want to blog for you or no one else. I came to a realization lately, that I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was trying to blog for people that probably didn’t care. I wasn’t blogging for me. And in turn, that wasn’t making me happy! Blogging was a chore. Now, I love blogging. But I had to find my why. Why do I blog?

check out my 3 Tips to Get Started in Photography post

blog2 (1)

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

why you blog

If you don’t blog for the right reasons, blogging will be very hard. You need to decide your ‘why’. I’ve had to do this recently. My blog used to be a place where I didn’t like what I was producing. And that’s all because I didn’t have a solid why. I was doing it because everyone else was doing it, it helps with SEO, and I heard it could make money. I sat down and really thought about my ‘why’. My why is I genuinely love helping beginner photographers and I love blogging. But first and most important, I love photography and showing others how I achieve something. I love learning new techniques and I love sharing what I’ve discovered. Figure out your why. Your blog might be based on something different, like food, fitness, style, etc. Why do you take pictures? Why do you love food? Why do you love to be healthy? Why do you blog? Focus on what your blog is about. Write down your why. Let it drive your blog posts. Let it drive your blog.

how to blog for you and no one else

There are, of course, a lot of reasons to blog for you and no one else. If you aren’t happy blogging, why do it? For the money? I think blogging will only make you real money if you truly love blogging and what you’re blogging about. Don’t blog for the money. Blog for you, and the money will come. My three ways on how to blog for you and no one else is below, keep reading or just simply look at the headlines to get the general idea.

1. don’t take pictures for your blog – write a blog post based on your experiences

My husband surprisingly made me realize this. I had a blog post in mind and I thought, “Oh now I have to go take pictures to match this blog post”. The pictures I was producing weren’t my style. They didn’t speak to me. But they fit the blog post. Which is great…sometimes. Sometimes you might have to do this. But don’t always do this. Blog about your experience. Blog about how you do something. Don’t try to fit in. Try to be unique. Who wants to go to a blog that looks just like all the rest? I know I don’t. This was a hard realization to realize.¬†Write a blog post based on your experiences.

2. write about what inspires you

To go along with point number one, you should be writing what inspires you. Did you just try a new recipe that you want to share with your fans? Write about that! Did you just figure out an awesome new exercise? Write about that! Did you just learn a new photography technique? Share your experience and how you achieved your end result. If you aren’t inspired by the content you are writing, do you really expect your audience to be inspired? I didn’t think so.

3. blog because you love it

Very important. Don’t blog for the money. Don’t blog because everyone else is doing it. Don’t blog because you think it will help get your name out there. Blog because you love it. Do it for you, I really can’t stress it enough. I’ve had to realize this and it has helped me become inspired again. It has helped me want to blog again. I blog because I love it. I love blogging and I love sharing what I’ve learned. I want to help other photographers.

blog for you

Don’t forget the reason you started blogging. Feeling a little lost about what to blog about? Try reading my¬†100 Photography Blog Post Ideas¬†post. It’s packed full of wonderful blog post ideas. You can even cater some to whatever genre of blogging you do. Have a question about photography? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below! Are you a fellow blogger? Comment below! I love to connect. Thanks for reading.

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know
Shortcuts make everything easier, am I right? I am about things to make my life easier.¬†Lightroom shortcuts are amazing. They help get your work down in half the time. No joke! I love using these shortcuts to quickly edit pictures. And who wouldn’t want to quickly edit pictures? I love Lightroom for so many reasons. One of them is because of how¬†easy Lightroom is to use. I will be honest, I started off a Photoshop only girl. But one of my friends convinced me to switch to Lightroom and I’m¬†hooked. I don’t know what I’d do without Lightroom! Lightroom shortcuts make Lightroom my go to editing software. I only take an image into Photoshop if I¬†have¬†to. Like if I need to clone something horrendous out! But that doesn’t happen often. I hope you find these Lightroom shortcuts helpful and I hope they speed up your Lightroom and editing time!

check out my Why You Should be Comparing Your Images in Lightroom post for ideas to get you started

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

lightroom shortcuts you need to know

why lightroom

As I stated above, I love Lightroom! It is so easy to use. That is my number pro. It’s also easy to learn.

Allow me to give you 4 good reasons why you should use Lightroom:

  • It’s easy!
  • You can cut your editing down by 50% from using it
  • It allows you to edit your images beautifully
  • You can make¬†presets to make your work flow even faster

And now, without further ado, I give you my handy list of shortcuts! I have tested and made sure each of these work! I use Lightroom Creative Cloud – if you have a different version of Lightroom, and these shortcuts don’t work, let me know in the comments below so I can update my list!

general shortcuts

Press Tab to hide side panels.

Press Shift + Tab to hide all panels

Press T to show/hide toolbar

Press F6 to show/hide filmstrip

Press L to enter in lights out mode.

library module

To switch to Library Module press Ctrl + Alt + 1 (Cmd + Option + 1).

1. show the shortcuts

I just found this neat shortcut. If you press¬†Ctrl + /¬†(Cmd + / for Mac users) it will allow you to view a full list of shortcuts for each module. How neat is that? This shortcut expands beyond just the library module – it’s for each module that you are in. If you want to see a list of shortcuts for the develop module, make sure you are in the develop module! Easy peasy.

2. import + export photos

Here’s a nice little shortcut that can save you about 2 seconds ūüėČ If you press¬†Ctrl + Shift + I (Cmd + shift + E¬†for Mac users)¬†it will allow you to import your photos. I love using this. I sometimes get distracted with all the buttons available that it takes me a little while to find a certain button. With this shortcut, I don’t have to, and it really does help to save 2 seconds of my busy editing time!
Just like with importing, if you press Ctrl + Shift + E (Cmd + Shift + E for Mac users) it will allow you to export your images.

3. set ratings, color labels, and picks/rejects

I use these shortcuts on a regular basis!! They help me when I cull my images. To set star ratings, simply press 1-5. I usually rate my images a 1 if I am unsure and a 5 for keeper. Of course, you can come up with your own work flow. To set color labels, press 6-9. This will change the boxes around your images to certain colors. My favorite is 9 Рblue, which is my favorite color! I change all my editing, finished, and ready for export images to blue.
Here’s one of my favorite tricks for Lightroom! I love setting my images as¬† picks/rejects. How you do this is simply press¬†P¬†for a pick and¬†X for a reject. I ‘reject’ any images that are for sure ones I need to delete. Missed focus, doesn’t tell a story, etc. Then I can go to¬†Edit > Select by Flag > Rejected¬†and have all of the ‘rejects’ highlighted and then deleting them all. Really quick & easy and now all of my complete rejects are gone!

4. different view modes

I love using the different view modes in the library modules. If you press¬†G¬†it will enter into Grid Mode, showing all of the images in that library in a grid. Get to look through a lot of images. If you press¬†E it will enter into Loupe view, which is basically viewing one image at a time. If you press¬†C¬†it will enter into compare mode, where you can compare two of your images. This is great if you are trying to get your editing to be consistent. If you press¬†N¬†it will enter into Survey mode, which will allow you to press as many images as you’d like to survey and make sure they are consistent. I love this view. After I am done editing, I press all of my images and then¬†N¬†to see if they all look the same. Then if I need to tweak any, I can click on that image, switch to develop, and edit, then switch back to Library to see if the changes look more consistent with the other images.
If you press¬†= or –¬†it will change the size of your grid thumbnails.

develop module

To switch to the Develop Module, press Ctrl + Alt + 2 (Cmd + Option + 2).

1. crop shortcuts

By pressing¬†R it will bring the crop tool up, allowing you to crop right away. Then while in the crop tool, you can press¬†X to rotate your crop view from landscape to portrait, and vice versa. Then if you would like to change the¬†overlay of the crop, simply press¬†O. This will cycle through some different crops, like the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Spiral, Golden Ratio, Golden Triangles, and more. While you’re in some of these crop overlays, you can also press¬†Shift + O¬†to rotate the crop view.

2. adjustment shortcuts

Press¬†Q¬†to pull up the Spot Removal tool. Pressing¬†M will bring up the Graduated Filter. Pressing¬†K will bring up the Adjustment Brush. Pressing¬†J¬†will show your clippings, highlights or shadows. Pressing¬†[ or ] will change the brush size (I sometimes find it annoying that Photoshop doesn’t have this shortcut!).

3. edit in photoshop

Sometimes you have to take your image into Photoshop to ‘clean’ it up a bit. Lightroom, sadly, does not have the best cloning tool. If you press¬†Ctrl + E it will pull your image into Photoshop for you to edit it there.

4. create a new preset

The shortcut to create a new preset is¬†Shift + Ctrl + N. If you aren’t making your own presets to help cut down on editing time, I highly recommend it!

 

What are some things you struggle with and would like to know about Lightroom? Comment below! Also comment what your favorite shortcut is.

Lightroom Free Shortcuts Printable

Along with this fancy little guide, I’ve created a FREE Shortcut Printable for you to print and hang near your computer. After you start using and implementing these shortcuts into your workflow, you’ll start remembering them instantly.

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest
Learning how to compose your images is a great next step in improving your photography. There are so many ways to improve your photography. I recommend learning manual exposure first, if you haven’t already. Learning manual exposure drastically improved my photography. After you learn manual exposure, the next step is learning how to compose your images better. Learning composition is fun – trust me! It will help take your images from snapshots to work of art. I’m going to go through all the composition ‘rules’ (they are more of guidelines to experiment with) that will help take your photography to the next level.

check out my 5 Easy Steps to Getting a Blurry Background post for ideas to get you started

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

1. rule of thirds

Let’s start with the easiest one!
You are more than likely already implementing this rule in a lot of your photos. Divide your photo into nine even sections. Two horizontal lines & two vertical lines – this is known as the rule of thirds. At the intersections of these lines is where you would place your subject. This placement is so natural. It’s a beautiful (and easy) way to compose your images. By following this rule it gives your image more balance and is more appealing. I love using this composition rule. It is one of the easiest ones. I am naturally drawn to composing a shot in the rule of thirds, I really have to pay attention and focus if I want a different composition. Remember, these are just rules that don’t have to be followed 100%.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

2. leading lines

The next way to compose your images & add impact is utilizing leading lines. Leading lines refer to any lines in your images that lead your viewer straight to your subject. This is a great composition rule that will add impact to your portfolio. Once you start seeing the lines, they’ll come naturally and you won’t even realize you are implementing them. In the image above, the lines from the counter tops lead straight to the little girl. Leading lines are great ways to add impact to your images. If you use them correctly, they will lead your viewer straight to your subject. But be warned: if you use them incorrectly, they can cause the viewer to wander all around the frame. Make sure you have your leading lines leading where you want them to, and not out of the frame, for example.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

3. fill the frame

One of my favorite ways to compose an image is to fill the frame. You fill your picture up with your subject. This composition is perfect for when you want to focus on the details or get rid of distractions in the background. I think this composition rule is beautiful because it helps you to focus on your subject. I love filling the frame with people’s faces. Get nice and close and fill the frame with your subject’s beautiful face! It helps your viewer to know exactly what the subject is – because your subject is the ONLY thing in your frame! This composition rule can really help simplify your image.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

4. color

I think color is the one compositional tool that people often overlook. You can use color to compose your image by adding a pop of color. Look at a color wheel and use colors that are across from each other. Converting an image to black & white can also be a compostional tool.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

5. texture

Adding texture to your image can add interest. The viewer goes straight to the texture. It helps bring a photo to life and creates a 3D look. This is perfect for portraits, wedding rings, flowers, even people can have texture.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

6. center composition

A center composition can add symmetry to a photo. Usually beginner photographers use a center composition for everything. When using a center composition, I want you to really think about how and why it would add interest to your photo. Look for symmetry.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

7. framing

I love framing. Framing is a great way to make an image look more appealing. There are many natural frames in nature. You can use windows, doors, trees, anything that creates a frame within the frame.

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

8. negative space

Negative space is a great way to compose your images to simplify them. It will draw your viewer straight to the subject. I love using negative space to also get rid of distractions. You can also use negative space to fill the photo with sky – that is always appealing, in my opinion!

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9. reflections

I love the way reflections look in an image. This technique is especially beautiful in landscape photography. But everyday reflections can add so much depth and symmetry as well. Images with reflections in them always cause me to stop and stare a little longer.

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

10. depth

Adding depth to your image is fun. Basically, when you having things in the foreground (front) of your image, it helps give your image depth – or make it look more life like. It can really help to bring your images to life when you add depth. Try ‘shooting’ through objects to create foreground blur.

I hope these 10 composition rules have inspired you to get out and practice! But remember – these rules are just ‘rules’ or guidelines, that once you know how to use them, they are OK to break and experiment with. Don’t ever feel like your image is good enough if it doesn’t have one of these rules in them. Remember to practice all of these compositional rules – practice is what will really take your images from snapshots to amazing works of art.

7 Steps to Successful Blogging for Photographers

7 Steps to Successful Blogging for Photographers
When you first start out in the photography business, blogging might be way in the back of your mind. I can tell you that for the longest time I tried to stay away from blogging. I honestly thought I would hate it! I thought that it was a waste of time, why blog? When you start your photography business, there’s so many things you have to focus on, so sometimes it’s easier to just forget about the blogging side of the business. But I am here to tell you that you shouldn’t. Blogging is extremely important to¬†any business. Keep reading for 7 steps to successful blogging.

check out my 100 Photography Blog Post Ideas post for ideas to get you started

7 Steps to Successful Blogging for Photographers with FREE blog planner

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

my blogging journey

I started my photography blog in hopes to get more clients for my photography business. I wasn’t ready to start a photography business. I didn’t have a portfolio. I really wasn’t very good at photography, either! But I had high hopes. My blog has taken a different approach since that initial start. I now know my¬†why to blogging. I think it is important for you to figure out your why. Why do you want to blog?

With blogging you’re able to write down your thoughts, ideas, and insights in how you work. You’re able to show what you do, why you do it, and how your audience can achieve the same effect. For a photography blog, this is extremely important. I know I’ve gone to countless photography websites where I wish I could get some insight into¬†how¬†they achieved that image! If I had just an inkling of an idea, I would be able to experiment and explore my own style of photography easier.

Allow me to give you 4 good reasons why it is important in our field of work:

  • It helps optimize your SEO – it helps search engines find you, and who doesn’t want to be found?
  • You can grow your email list and get more customers that way.
  • It gives your talent and business credibility.
  • It helps you compete with the competitors – yes, they’re blogging and so should you!

my 7 steps to successful blogging for photographers

1. consistency is key

I believe this is something I have struggles with. I think it’s important to explore different things and to figure out what works for you. But once you figure out what works for you, keep it consistent. Keep your work consistent, too. When writing your post, keep the format the same. In all of my posts I have an introduction, I write words about the post, then I dive right in to my points (if it’s a list post, like this post is), I always have at least one image. This helps my readers to know what to expect. They can look at my format and automatically know that it’s my site and not anyone else’s site. Consistency will help you get more readers to come to your blog over and over again. This will help you be successful in your blogging.

2. know your target audience

If you have a photography blog, but are blogging about how being a mom is hard…that doesn’t really fit into your target audience. Same goes for if you have a photography business and the reason for blogging is to get more clients. You don’t want to blog about how you saved money that month. That will get a different set of eyes than what you are after. Instead, you want to blog about all of your client sessions. Showing potential clients what a session is like with you. For me, my target audience are beginner bloggers & photographers who want to learn more and increase their knowledge.

3. come up with a schedule

Figure out what will work for you in the beginning. Make a schedule. How often will you blog? This goes along with being consistent. Will you post twice a month? Twice a week? Write down how often you will blog and try to keep at it. By being consistent with your schedule, your audience will know how often you update your blog. It’s no fun going to one of your favorite blogs and finding out they haven’t had any new material in over a year. Keep your audience excited to come back to your blog by posting regularly.

4. share your posts

Social media is growing! If you are not on all the popular social media sites, get on them now. My favorites are Pinterest & Instagram! Work on building your audience on there, and eventually it will pay off by linking your blog posts to those. Share your blog posts on any of the other platforms, too, like Facebook, Google +, & Twitter.
Google + is an excellent one to have because it is directly related to Google, and who doesn’t want their blog posts to reach more people on Google, right? The more you post, the more successful you are.

5. be yourself

When I first started blogging, I tried to be like all the other bloggers I saw out there. They ALL had beautiful and bright photos. And when I tried to do that for myself, I found myself hating my posts. I hated the images that went along with that post, too! When I switched back to being myself, I became more successful. I was able to blog about the things I loved and I was able to share the images that really spoke to me.
I think we sometimes forget how important it is to be ourselves. Part of being interesting is being unique.

6. readability

Have you ever stumbled on a blog that had so many errors it hurt to read? Obviously, bloggers aren’t perfect. But, if you are blogging, PLEASE make sure you try your best at proper grammar! That will help get readers to come back again. Readability on your blog is so important, I highly recommend the Yoast SEO plugin on your site. I am actually using it right now! It helps you with how readable your post is and how to make it better for SEO purposes. This plugin is¬†essential and will help you become a more successful blogger in no time.

 

7. make a planner & stick to it

Once I started planning out my posts using my planner, I was able to stay consistent and was therefore more successful. Luckily for you I have created a planner, free of charge! This planner includes a post page and a weekly planner. Print as many as you want out and put them in a binder. Fill them out and get organized. Staying organized will help you take charge of your blog and be a successful blogger in no time.