September 27, 2017

The Blogging Tools I Can’t Live Without

Hello friends! Today I thought I would share a bit of a behind the scenes post, with some of the blogging tools I can’t live without, and find myself using all of the time! Some of them are quite simple, but definitely make my life easier when it comes to staying organized while working full-time and running this blog! I’m also mentioning a few of the software/more technical components of my blog that I use all the time but you might not think of, and the basics of what I use to keep my YouTube channel going. Okay, let’s get started!

The Blogging Tool I can't live without

(affiliate links used for convenience)

Canva– I use Canva at least once a week, to make the main graphic of a blog post (just like the one above). There are so many free templates, and I can add brand colours to make everything match! It’s very user friendly, and I even have the app on my phone! Most templates are free but there are paid options as well. I can also add my own pictures, which is great for YouTube!

Lightroom- Adobe Lightroom is the program I use to edit all of my photos! Ethan and I both used the free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud before purchasing it, but I definitely think it was worth the investment. The program itself is very user friendly, and I find it much less confusing than Photoshop. There are other programs in the Creative Cloud that could be useful, but that’s not really in the budget right now, so it’s nice to have Lightroom and know that we will have it forever.

A Planner and Notebook- You guys know I love my Erin Condren Life Planner, and it’s where I do my rough scheduling for the blog. I use the monthly pages to jot out blog posts months in advance. Then, I copy the schedule to the weekly pages and add them to the back end of my website a few months at a time. I always do the scheduling in pencil because I change my mind a lot! But the planner is my basic content calendar. I also use just a plain notebook all the time! To brainstorm blog posts, take notes of any courses I take, and to make notes for videos I’ll be filming. I always just write the order of things, without writing a ton because I want videos to be more personal and not me reading from a script.

iMovie- iMovie is the software I edit all of my videos in! I find it’s very user friendly, and fairly simple. While I’d love to have software like Final Cut Pro, the price is very intimidating, and I like using a program that came free with my desktop.

Camera- Luckily Ethan and I had purchased our DSLR cameras before I started the blog, otherwise that would be a huge expense to get started. You can use your phone or a point and shoot camera, but I really like using the DSLR’s to take pictures for the blog, and to film my YouTube videos with. My camera is a Canon Rebel SL1, and Ethan’s is a Canon Rebel T5i. I use his more for filming because the screen can flip around, and I like how mine is a little bit smaller. I go through all of the camera equipment we currently have in this post if you want to read more! Below I’m shooting with Ethan’s T5i.

Taking a picture

Lighting (similar to what I have)- I bought an umbrella light kit from Amazon, and it’s working for now! It was around $80 but I have definitely gotten my moneys worth out of it! I decided to go for this style of light instead of a ring light, because the reflection in my eyes is a little more natural than that of a ring light. I might upgrade at some point, but for now what I’m using is working!

the blogging tools I can't live without

WordPress- I don’t want to get too technical here, but while some bloggers use word documents to compose their blog posts, I work straight in the back-end of my blog which is in WordPress. I create new posts for the dates scheduled in my planner, and do this for a couple months at a time. As the blog post approaches, I start to fill out a rough layout (for example with this blog post I started listing all of the tools I could think of that I wanted to talk about), and then I go back and flesh it out. There’s editing software in here, and this way I don’t have to worry about copying and pasting from a word document that would be on a specific computer. The only thing you might be thinking of is the fact that I don’t have an extra copy of each blog post. That’s where the next tool comes in.

Backup Buddy– This is the program I use to back up my blog every single day. I didn’t have a backup for the longest time (which was a huge risk I was taking and wouldn’t recommend it), and then I purchased Backup buddy. For ~$80 a year my blog backs up every day, and I get an email when it’s done. From there I can download the files if needed. For the peace of mind, it’s TOTALLY worth it.

Hootsuite– Hootsuite I use every week to schedule my Facebook and Twitter posts for when I have a new blog post! The only weird thing about Hootsuite is I can’t schedule the posts before the blog post is live, because the link will show up blank. But I’ve made it part of my routine to do it every Wednesday morning. But it’s free (there is a paid option available) and does what I want it to, so it’s all good!

Social Media- Lastly I use social media every day to post something for you guys! I edit a bunch of pictures at a time in Lightroom, and then email them to myself to upload to Instagram! Not following me? I think you should start! 🙂 I’ve linked most of my accounts, but they’re all also up at the top of this page!

I hope you guys enjoyed taking a look at the blogging tools I can’t live without! A lot of the tools I use are free, so blogging doesn’t always have to be super expensive! If you’d like to hear more behind the scenes content, definitely let me know!

If you blog, what’s the tool you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments!

Kelsey
July 12, 2017

What I Learned in My 2nd Year of Blogging

Happy Wednesday friends! I thought today I would share some of the things I’ve learned in the past year of blogging, just like I did last year! While I’m in no way a blogging expert, I have learned a lot, and I think it’s always helpful to share with others what I’ve learned. Okay, let’s jump in!

blogging

take a course

I think this is so important! I purchased my first course this year, Building a Framework from Abby at justagirlandherblog.com. I plan on doing a review once I’ve finished it, but I’m almost done! I know there are so many courses out there, and some really expensive ones. I don’t think you need to jump in to a $500 course, but I think it’s important to put a little money into your hobby, especially if you’re hoping to make some money from it. I promise I’m not trying to sell you anything, I’m just using Building a Framework as an example below :). The course itself is much less expensive than others out there, and it really lays out everything to help you start a blog. I wish I had purchased it a long time ago, but buying it when I did helped to reinforce what I do know about blogging and have learned by myself. It’s just adding to what I already know, as well as teaching me a ton of new things.

post to Instagram (or your social media profile of choice) every day

One of my goals for this year was to post to Instagram every day, and I haven’t missed a day yet! I’ve noticed a slow increase in followers the more consistently I post, now sitting at around 120. I definitely still don’t have Instagram figured out, but by paying more attention and posting more often, I’ve noticed a gain in traffic.

I’ve also recently updated my bio to be a little more personal, which I hope will help! Once you reach 100 followers, you can look at insights as well, which can help tell you what time you should post at, and what posts are the most popular. You can also see how many people are viewing your profile and clicking over to the link in your profile. Speaking of which, you can follow me here. 🙂

be social!

I’ve noticed that the more I like and comment on other people’s pictures on Instagram, the more comes back to me. While it’s  nice to live in the bubble that’s just me and my blog, it is fun to build relationships with others on the internet. Find some accounts that are similar to yours, and start liking and commenting! It’s something that doesn’t take a lot of time, and you are most likely scrolling through it already, so try not to forget it! It’s something that I really want to get better at.

blogging

try and build up posts as a buffer

Going on vacation? Happen to get sick? Having a few posts ready to go can come in handy. I love how productive I feel when I’m writing a few posts ahead, so this is something that I hope to work on as well. I’d like to have 5 blog posts ready to go at a moments notice, so if I don’t have the time that week I already have a blog post done. I would encourage all bloggers to do the same!

join some blogging Facebook groups

While I don’t look at all of the posts, sometimes certain posts catch my eye, and remind me of something to look into! They are great resources, and a lot of people are going through the same things you might be! I’m a member of the Creative Superheroes group run by Allison at Wonderlass, and the Building A Framework group I got in because I bought the course. If you have a question, you will get an answer quickly, advice when you need it, and support when you succeed!

find some pictures!

I don’t always have a picture of what I want to talk about, or a picture that will make a good graphic. I mainly use Canva to put together a picture that I use as the main one for a post, and I try to make it as cohesive as possible. You can associate a colour as your brand, and it makes it easy to find and stay consistent! Notice the green at the top? That’s my colour! Canva has tons of free designs, and the interface is super easy to use! And while I wish my desk looked this pretty… I didn’t have time before this post went up to take any stock photos of my desk, so I found these on style stock.co! I definitely want to try and take some of my own though!

don’t be afraid to promote yourself.. but do in a classy way

I will be the first to admit, I am horrible at promoting myself! On my last trip to Walt Disney World I met 2 YouTubers, and forgot to mention to both of them that I 1. have a blog, and 2. am on YouTube as well! As I mentioned above, it’s nice to be in the bubble of just me in the blog. It’s really weird how I’m open to sharing things on the internet, but feel weird promoting myself.

Anyways, I’m not saying go everywhere saying “READ MY BLOG I HAVE A BLOG!” but when you feel it’s right, mention you have a blog. I’ve connected with people just by mentioning my blog, so don’t be scared! (I should really take my own advice here). Comment on other’s blog posts, and when it asks if you have a website, enter your blog! Your name will show in a different color, and people will find your blog. It doesn’t take away from the content someone else is sharing, and makes you look pretty good!

blogging

I hope you enjoyed a little behind the scenes today, and learned a little something about blogging! If you have a blog, what is the most important thing you have learned since starting a blog? If you don’t have a blog, what are you most surprised to learn? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for joining me today! I still can’t believe I’ve been blogging for two years!

 

Kelsey
August 3, 2016

What I Learned In My 1st Year of Blogging

Hello everyone! While I still can’t believe my blog has been live for over a year (can someone please tell me where that time went?) I thought I would share some of the things I’ve learned about blogging.  I feel like I should start out by saying that after a year, I still don’t feel like an expert. But, I have read a TON about blogging in the past year, and have learned so much about my hobby!

What I Learned In My First Year of Blogging

Be Consistent

When I decided to start this blog, I knew I wanted to start out by posting once a week on Wednesdays, and the post goes up at 6am. It has worked great for me. I know exactly how much time I have to work on a post and have developed a routine. Plus, my audience knows exactly what to expect. In my social media profiles, I say when post will be published to reinforce it. The week of the blog’s birthday I put up 2 posts and sent out a newsletter (which you should sign up for below), and I felt like I was going non-stop. It made me realize how happy I am with the balance I have now. If you are starting a blog, don’t set the bar higher than you can reach, unless you are committed to making it happen. Don’t say you are going to post 5 days a week unless you know that you can get it done!



 

It’s a slow process

Don’t rush yourself. It takes a lot of work to keep up a blog, social media, and everything else. You aren’t going to suddenly have 1 million pageviews overnight. And that’s okay! Trust me, you probably don’t want 1 million people looking at your first post.  Yes there are bloggers out there making thousands of dollars in a month, but they’ve most likely been blogging for a very long time. Blogging isn’t a get rich quick thing, it takes a lot of time. Focus on where you want your blog to be, and don’t compare yourself or your blog to others.

 

there is always room for improvement

It’s true- I always feel like my job is never done, there is always something to be done! In my notebook, I keep a list of things to do, update old posts, add an About Me section to the sidebar, and so many other things! I know that if I commit to working a bit at a time I’ll be happy, but there is always more that can be done. I know that I’ll never be “done” learning, and if you are starting a blog, you should accept that fact too!

remember- it’s yours!

I really do think it’s important to not compare yourself to others. Create goals and focus on what you want to achieve for yourself. Take advice from others, but don’t take it too seriously. It will be different if you are creating a business (you want to take that seriously). I am writing this blog for me, so I’m not going to let others tell me what to do with it. I will take suggestions of course, but not let something I created become dictated by someone else. In my tea talk post, I explained a little about this.

Schedule in advance, but be open to change

This is such an important point for me. I generally brainstorm months worth of posts in advance and put them into my planner, but definitely change my mind from time to time! I tend to look at the types of posts because I do a mixture of “personal” posts and Disney themed posts, and I try to strike a balance between the two. But sometimes I get an idea and run with it, so some things get pushed back. For example, last week’s post I was really excited about, so it went straight into the schedule! Currently I have posts planned through the end of the year, and have a notebook for anything A Disney Obsession related. I keep a list of post ideas and video ideas, then when I have about a month of posts left in the schedule, I sit down to brainstorm. Personally I like knowing that I have a lot of material to cover, and find scheduling works for me. Especially when you are getting started, create a schedule for your posts! If you run out of ideas, go back and update an old post, and make sure to let everyone know it’s been updated!

host a giveaway, asap!

Oh how I wish I had known this a year ago. I recently hosted my first giveaway, and I couldn’t believe how much traffic it brought to my blog! I was completely blown away. While I think it has a little to do with what you are giving away, I think it attracts readers in a big way. I hope to host more giveaways in the future!

Don’t forget social media!

It is so easy to get caught up in all of the things you have to balance when owning a blog, but social media is really important. I think the platform that you choose to focus on will depend on the type of blog you have, but you definitely need to post regularly to get anywhere. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not on social media as much as I should be, but it is something I want to work on. For me, Instagram is the platform I tend to post to the most (and that’s still not even a lot). For Facebook and Twitter, I use Hootsuite to schedule posts. Wednesday mornings when the blog goes up, I schedule a post for the early afternoon and know that it is taken care of. I’ve tried to make it part of a routine so it’s second nature and I won’t forget! Speaking of which are you following me on social media? You should be! All my social media links are at the top of the sidebar 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed some tips and tricks I’ve learned in the past year! I have learned so much from reading other blogs so I figured I would return the favour!

 

Let me know if you’d like to see more of the behind the scenes process behind the blog, if you find those things interesting! If you have a blog, what is the most important thing you have learned? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading, and supporting my hobby!

 

Kelsey