blogging

What Have We Learned From Pipdig?

What Have We Learned from Pipdig? | Writing Between Pauses

I feel like the blogging community has been in an uproar for the last 10 days. But for those who don’t know what’s going on, on March 29, a dev and blogger named Jem posted this blog post, detailing malicious code she discovered in Pipdig’s plug-in and themes. I won’t detail everything Jem wrote about here, but needless to say, the blogger community was quick to discover her post.

Pipdig has been a popular theme provider for bloggers, specifically in lifestyle niches, for the last few years. I know many who self-host on Wordpress immediately went for Pipdig themes as they were easy-to-use, highly customizable, and came with outstanding customer service.

Throughout the Pipdig ordeal, many bloggers originally called to Pipdig’s outstanding customer service as a sign that perhaps Jem was mistaken about the code. (Long story short, code doesn’t lie and many, many developers backed Jem up. In fact, Wordfence, one of the premier Wordpress security blogs, happened to post about the same Pipdig issue at nearly the same time. They also shared some valuable information afterward that showed that even Blogger themes were effected by the code.)

As with any issue in the blog community, it felt like there was lots of back-and-forth for the first few days. A lot of the bigger, top tier bloggers went silent pretty quickly—they defended Pipdig, then dipped out of the conversation. Tempers were lost and a lot of people doubled down without really knowing what they were talking about.

The complication with all of this is that very, very few bloggers (especially in the niche that Pipdig primarily served) know how to read code. They relied on Pipdig to provide them with good customer service, to help them install their themes, and to do so in a way that was trustworthy. And unfortunately, Pipdig betrayed that trust because they behaved in a way that unethical very secretly, knowing that very few of their blogger customers would be able to catch them at it.

For many bloggers, this left them feeling naive—and as if they had been called stupid by the devs trying to explain it to them. There is absolutely no shame in not understanding code or technical language when it comes to code. However, bloggers can be quick to forming opinions without having a full picture and it is natural to want to trust an “industry giant” like Pipdig.

However, my thought is this: there were just too many experts telling me the exact same thing and I knew that absolutely none of them have a horse in this race, so to speak, in that they aren’t Pipdig competitors. Many of them had never really been involved in the lifestyle blogging community beforehand; they really didn’t even know it existed and if they did, they didn’t realize how robust it was, and they definitely were not prepared for the sheer amount of push back that they got. They were just professionals trying to do their due diligence and help people.

At the end of this post, I’ll have some valuable resources for Pipdig users if they still need to switch themes or uninstall the plug-in. As well, there are so many devs on Twitter offering their assistance to help bloggers remove Pipdig products. Again, if you need help understanding what’s going on, I highly recommend reading the Wordfence and Jem blog posts thoroughly.

For now, let’s talk about what this Pipdig fiasco has taught us.

1. The “Blogging Experts” Have Agendas

This doesn’t discount their expertise necessarily, but clearly some of the top bloggers in the lifestyle niche, and those who peddle classes and ebooks for sale that they know everything about blogging, have agendas that aren’t necessarily always going to fit with what is most helpful for other bloggers. I don’t want to name names here, but a lot of the biggest bloggers in the industry were quick to defend Pipdig, then went absolutely radio silent as more and more evidence came out and more and more developers started saying the same things. Many of them still haven’t said anything—which is fine! If that’s their bag, that’s their bag. But it makes you wonder why, exactly, they aren’t saying anything?

These same bloggers will be the first to throw other companies under the bus and tell their followers, or those who buy their advice, not to use them. They will sell their ebooks and online classes and give very strict advice on what to do for blogging, but when it comes to using a service that is maliciously using bloggers to do their dirty work, they go absolutely silent. That’s a bit odd, isn’t it?

The truth is, affiliate networking among hosting and theme providers has become increasingly common. I was actually just reading a blog post about how it is one of the best methods of affiliate marketing to build income from your blog, so it wouldn’t surprise me if many of the first to defend Pipdig (and then go silent) were affiliates who received income from referring people.

So what do we learn? If someone styles themselves as a blogging expert, and they make income from that styling, they may have an agenda. They may have partners that they don’t disclose. They may not be as authentic as they say. After all, it is still the internet. As much as we think we know all these bloggers, the truth is that we absolutely do not know these people. Just as none of us knew what Pipdig was really doing, none of us know what these experts are up to. Remember to do your own due diligence when it comes to their advice and who they back, because sometimes they don’t have the blogging communities best interests at heart.

2. The Blogging Community Has An Echo Chamber Problem

One big bloggers posts a Tweet about Pipdig and every medium tier blogger RTs it, then every small blogger RTs it, then every new blogger RTs it, and none of them think to actually read the blog post or look at the evidence. Partially because they don’t understand it (again, not their fault), but mostly because they trust those who have been blogging longer, or more successfully, or whatever.

It becomes an echo chamber. The biggies say this, so we believe it, so we all repeat it. And everyone who posted an opinion otherwise—those like me who work with developers, or those who understood code, or simply those who were willing to take an independent third parties word for it because they had nothing to gain or lose from it—was treated really, really terribly.

It goes without saying: Pipdig was a vendor to bloggers. They were not a friend, or an associate, or a best buddy. They were a vendor. They made money off small bloggers, and medium bloggers, and big bloggers. (And some of those bloggers potentially made money from everyone as well!) Pipdig might have had good customer service, but good customer service doesn’t mean anything when it comes to malicious code or unethical business practices. Some of the biggest companies in the have good PR; it doesn’t mean they aren’t shady.

The echo chamber of the blogging world is stunning and shocking even at the best of times. One person posts something and it becomes the opinion everyone must hold, or is afraid to not repeat. We all hate the follow-unfollow game on Instagram; we all blame the algorithm; we all do this, we all do that. It really is exhausting to keep up with the opinion we’re supposed to have. Because we’re bloggers, right? We’re all the same.

That’s right, I didn’t think so. It’s time to stop letting one single, popular blogger speak for all of us and damage the community as a whole, especially when they might have an agenda.

3. Pipdig Became “the Way To Have A Blog”

This is a big controversial, but all the Pipdig themes looked the same. Yes, they were highly customizable for users, but rarely did they ever get customized in a way that separated them from each other. Pipdig sold relatively affordable themes that fit the way bloggers thought their blogs should look.

Just like the blogging community has become an echo chamber when it comes to opinions, many people deferring to other people instead of critically thinking, the blogging community has also fallen victim to thinking they have to do X, Y, and Z before they become “real” bloggers. You need a self-hosted Wordpress website. (You don’t.) You need a Pipdig theme that looks like everyone else’s. (You don’t.) You need to take your photos a specific way. (You don’t.) You need to do this, that, and the other thing just like so-and-so tells you. (You don’t.)

There is no one way to blog. There is no one way your blog should look. It goes without saying, but blogging is highly personal… but we’ve all fallen victim to the pressure to look a certain way, or do certain things, to make ourselves successful.

I would consider myself a slightly successful blogger; I’ve been plugging away at this a very, very long time, so I feel a bit like an elderly person in the game, but I’ve gotten to this point (a small income, some sponsorships) without ever doing anything anyone told me to the letter. I am not self-hosted on Wordpress. I don’t have the same theme as everyone else. I don’t spend hours focusing on Pinterest or any other social media platform. I just let it happen, write posts i believe in, and let Google do the rest.

Getting a Pipdig theme was often treated like a goal post for blogging—and this made them into a giant that people didn’t want to see as an actual business, but rather just a goal. Pipdig was, to repeat myself, a vendor. That’s it. Nothing more. And they used bloggers to behave badly. There is no one way to have a blog so please, let’s not replace Pipdig with some other giant now.

Resources

If you have any additional resources for those who have a Pipdig theme, or the Pipdig plugin, or are available to assist bloggers when switching, send me a note!

Free E-Course: Start Your Blog in 2019

Free E-Course: Start Your Blog in 2019 | Writing Between Pauses

When I started blogging in 2009 (!!!), it was an entirely different world. Twitter had just launched; there was no Pinterest or Instagram yet. It has been quite the ride watching the blogging world change from a hobby to an industry, to watch entire platforms pop up—and to watch people take advantage of those platforms in a way that is super beneficial to them and their businesses.

Often when I speak about my blog to other people, they want to know how, exactly, I did it. How do you start? What do you start with? Starting any big project can feel like a huge effort, especially when the steps seem hazy. And with blogging, there are so many: what kind of content should I write? What does “choose a platform” even mean?! How can I promote my blog without annoying everyone I know?

One of my biggest frustrations with blogging has always been how secretive people can be about information. Blogging started as purely a hobby world and has quickly turned into a professional for many people; and for that reason, lots of people have started making their own businesses out of selling the secrets of blogging.

I don’t want to tell anyone how to make their money. And there are definitely people out there who know more about blogging than me and they totally deserve to have people pay for their time.

However, the secret is there is no secret to blogging. Getting started is just about getting started.

I recently relaunched my newsletter, the Pause, as a way to talk about blogging every month with people who wanted to learn more about blogging or just improve their own blogs. I didn’t want their to be any secrets when it came to blogging, at least when it comes to the knowledge I have.

I started thinking of other ways I could help people learn more about blogging and start their own blogs (or jumpstart their pre-existing blog) in 2019. And it came to me: a basic e-course that walks you through the process of starting a blogging, writing your first pieces of content, and promoting it to the world.

My free e-course will start May 6 and cover everything I just listed, as well as SEO basics and developing a voice. Blogging is something I love and am incredibly passionate about—I want others to love it too, as a hobby, as a form of income, and as an industry. But I don’t believe in hiding that behind a paywall, which is why this e-course is 100% free. That means I won’t give half the information and advertise another e-course at the end. I won’t bait-and-switch. Just 5 free emails over the course of a week with all the information I have.

This e-course isn’t just for those who have dreamed of starting blogs, but those who already have a blog and want to kick it up a notch.

Sign up today to make sure you get that first email on Monday, May 6!

Round Up: My Best Blogging Articles

Round Up: My Best Blogging Articles | Writing Between Pauses

If you haven’t heard the news, I’m re-launching my newsletter! It’s called the Pause, a no-nonsense newsletter all about blogging, from the perspective of a busy mom who doesn’t really have time to mess with jargon, paid plans that don’t pan out, and much more. If you’ve ever dreamed of starting a blog, or have a blog but feel lost in the massive landscape of blogging advice, this is the newsletter for you. You can sign up here.

Before that, however, I feel like I should put my money where my mouth is. For my day job, I often write about the data of marketing; I like to have evidence for the things I say and what I decide to do. That’s just how I am (aka I have to have a reason for saying something). Sometimes, this is pure data. And sometimes, this is based on experience.

I’ve been blogging since 2009. That’s right: 10 years this year. It feels like it’s been way longer than 10 years, but also not nearly as long as 10 years! 10 years ago, I was 20 years old, living in a dorm, and idolizing Gala Darling. I remember the days of personal blogs that absolutely exploded (Gala Darling being one), people who monetized their personal lives before "being an influencer” was even a thing. I remember the days of lookbook.nu and those websites, fashion blogging using photos taking on a point-and-shoot in my dorm room (or propped on a retaining wall in my college’s quad, which is very embarrassing to think about now).

There are years I blogged a lot (2012-2013), and years I barely blogged (2014-2015). Years where I thought for sure it was time for me to quit blogging (2015-2016) and years where I couldn’t imagine not having a blog (pretty much the rest of the time). I love blogging. And I realized I loved writing about blogging too.

This isn’t a blog about blogging. I find those a little annoying, especially when run by people who haven’t managed popular niche blogs before. That’s why I wanted to restart my newsletter; I feel like that’s a much more personal, easy format to write about blogging without coming off like a jerk.

However, I have written a few posts about blogging—and I wanted to put these all in one place for anyone who is curious about my perspective about blogging. I’m definitely a hobbyist; I think longterm careers in blogging are difficult to come by. However, blogging can be a great resume builder and it can be something you are really passionate about, alongside your current career or life goals.

Without further ado, here’s everything I’ve ever written about blogging.

How to Plan Social Media for Your Blog

3 Ways to Achieve Your Blog Goals

How to Write Better Instagram Captions

3 Ways to Improve Your Flat Lay Photos

5 Tips for Starting a Newsletter

30 Ideas for Your Blog

4 Tips for New Bloggers

7 Tips for Starting a New Blog

5 Must-Have Blogging Resources

Should You Use An Editorial Calendar?

Improving Your Blog in 4 Steps

Here Are 5 Steps You Need to Know to Write Killer Blog Posts

4 Tips for Taking Better iPhone Photos

Even better, I have an entire board dedicated to blogging resources on Pinterest. You can check it out here.

If you haven’t signed up for the Pause, of course, you can do that here. The first issue comes out March 2 and it will be the first Saturday of every month after that (unless, of course, you ask for more!)

How I Edit My Photos in Autumn

How I Edit My Photos in Autumn | Writing Between Pauses

In 2017, I shared how I took better iPhone photos—and that included my editing process in the app, A Color Story. (You can read that post here.) My process has changed a lot in the last year. I primarily take blog photos with my DLSR these days (iPhone photos just end up too blurry in blog posts, as you can see from my post yesterday) and then use my phone to take photos for Instagram.

I recently started trying to keep a “theme” on Instagram. I had been planning to use a darker, orange-based filter for Autumn since at least late spring (yes, I am embarrassing) and when I finally got to start doing it, I was so excited. My feed looks lovely and I’ve had quite a few people message me asking about my process for editing.

Instagram 2
Instagram 1

So I thought I’d share a quick blog post about how I edit my photos. The process is pretty simple. Sometimes, it feels like people really complicate their photo editing process. I like to keep mine simple by saving my favorite filters in a sequence in A Color Story; this helps me always get roughly the same look (although sometimes I do adjust things later on).

Let’s start with a basic photo.

Before Photo
Color Story Photo
After Photo

This is the process I use for a low-light photo. These are my standard filters; October is from the Seasons pack on A Color Story, Brent Wood is from the Mood pack, and Cashmere is from the Fawn pack. You can see that it increases contrast, adds a moody feel, and increases the warmth of anything that is golden- or warm-toned to begin with (like my skin and table). I will use this for darker photos as well and photos taken in better light. (I didn’t have any photos in need of editing for this example, so I know it’s not the greatest!) This set of filters is how I got the look on most of my photos on Instagram.

However, I do have a secondary set of filters that I use on Instagram specifically for photos where I don’t want my skin tone or Forrest’s skin tone to end up looking pumpkin colored.

Before Photo 2
Process Photo 2
After Photo 2

In this photo, you see that Forrest’s skin tone was warmed up a little, but not much; the background is darker, the photo is moodier, and in general it looks like it would fit right in on my Instagram. (I love this photo of Fo because he looks like a little alien!) Cashmere, again, is from the Fawn pack; October is from the Seasons pack, and Venice is from the Mood pack. In general, this filter set is just a bit “lighter” on skin tones than my other, making it perfect for selfies.

So that’s it! That’s my process for editing photos for Autumn. Do you switch up your process seasonally?

My April 2018 Wrap Up

April 2018 Wrap Up | Writing Between Pauses

April is... over!? 

You know how I said that March was a doozy of a month? Well, April arrived bigger and badder. I had a lot of ups this month and a lot of downs. I'm going to write this post a bit differently than I usually do for these wrap ups, because I have a lot to talk about!

A few years ago (after I had Fo really), I decided that I shared too much online about everything that happened in my life. It wasn't fair to Forrest to put so much of his life out there. And really, it wasn't fair to myself either. But as I've blogger more the past 6 months, I realized it is hard to draw the line between "hobby blogger professionally" and "being cold"! Does that make sense? 

I'm hoping to use these wrap ups as a chance to share a bit more about me and my life as a mother and professional. 

1. Big Blogging News

I've been blogging for ages, really, but it's only been in the past 2-3 months that I started getting fun "blog emails." I don't want to talk about this too much as it starts to feel a bit like an echo chamber (and to a non-blogger reading this, it is so boring to hear bloggers write about this so I apologize in advance). It's nice to feel like I'm finally achieving something because I do work on this blog a lot. 

There was also a Twitter thread recently that I added my thoughts onto (you can read it all here) and it really underscored for me the importance of blogging for a purpose. I love my blog, but my purpose here is to educate and inspire. I don't just want free stuff. I want to write content that others want to read and for me, that means taking myself (and my personal life) out of it. I'm here to review products, to provide advice, and to help people figure out what works as a mother or young professional, lover of makeup, or whatever! I'm not changing the world.

One sponsorship I'm really proud of this month is my collab with Smile Brilliant. I'm still hosting a giveaway from them, so if you haven't entered yet, click here

2. Motherhood Never Stops Being a Challenge

Without going into too much detail, the Friday before last, we had our first big medical scare with Forrest. He has had croup before, where we rushed him to the ER at about midnight. And he's been quite sick before. But on that Friday, he'd gotten pushed at the park (still not happy about it) and fallen forward with his arms outstretched. He seemed fine initially; we went home, he napped, and I tried to get work done. When he woke up though, he was inconsolable. Finally, I got out of him that he was hurt and he needed a doctor. I called our pediatrician and just as Danny got home from work, my pediatrician called me back personally and said, "Put him in the car and get him to me now please." (In case you're wondering, I love our pediatrician; she's absolutely wonderful and made time to check his arm.) She immediately saw he wasn't using his arm properly and wanted us to get x-rays. 

Cut to us running around the entire city of Eugene to find an x-ray tech that was open. We kept getting to places immediately after they had closed or being told that they don't do outpatient x-rays. We ended up driving across town and getting into an office after a nurse from the hospital called and begged a fellow x-ray tech to stay late. (Bless that nurse!) Forrest got his x-rays. He had to wear a tiny sling for a few days (which was a horrible challenge). On Monday, our pediatrician called to tell us his elbow wasn't broken (thank goodness), but severely sprained. Rest and time helped and his little "broken wing" is better now. But it was scary!

I always think I can handle, or anticipate, the challenges that happen. But that Friday, I was not expecting to spend several hours with a sweaty, sobbing toddler trying to get someone to x-ray his arm! 

3. Learning to Live Slow

I impulse bought this book at Target three weeks ago. Let me say: I feel like I've learned so much from it already. I've stopped to use one of the mini-journals it comes with, but I'm so excited to read more. This book is all about taking the time to really wind down and think, to live a little slower, and to stop stuffing our lives with activities and jobs in order to feel like we are always "busy." It's about really letting yourself feel your emotions. Even writing about it, I feel myself calming down!

I get chronic migraines and tension headaches; I've gotten tension headaches since I was 20, but the migraines are new, within the last two years, really. They aren't fun and at this point, I know they are caused by my stress and anxiety. I'm hoping this book can help me start alleviating some of the anxiety that I feel (that often leaves me either unable to stop working or paralyzed at the thought of starting a task). 

4. Other Bits

A lot of highs. A lot of lows. I feel like that's been the past few months. However, my hope for May is that I can go a month without a serious medical or home expense (I bought new tires and a new dishwasher in March; I had to also buy another new piece of car equipment in April; my savings account is crying). 

However, this past weekend, Danny and I went on a solo trip to Portland. It was really nice to be able to just spend time with him and not worry about anything else for a change! 

I have a lot of exciting blog posts coming up this month, as well as some really fun personal stuff. 

How was your April? Did you have a good month? 

Is Instagram Even Worth It?

is instagram worth it.png

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been doing a thread of observations I've made since switching from a personal account to a business account. Most of the thread is based on numbers, a disparity between follower counts, and more technical bits. I'm planning to write a full blog post about that next month (I need one more month of data to really inform my conclusion on it), but I wanted to ask, and perhaps answer, a question about Instagram today: 

Is doing all this work even worth it? 

I know some have wonderful success on Instagram. And that's great for them! But the vast majority of bloggers and small business owners, from what I can tell, struggle to make Instagram work for them. 

It's hard to exactly know how to fix the platform. What causes some people to grow so quickly and others, who are doing the exact same things and sometimes posting more meaningful content, to grow so slowly or not at all? Is it just purely luck? 

A huge issue seems to be, of course, the move from chronological order to an algorithm based on your personal likes and whose story you've watched. While in theory that sounds great, in reality what happens is that you end up seeing photos from 5-6 days before on your feed... instead of the stuff that people just posted! That means that when I post a photo, most likely no one who actually follows me is going to see it for at least 24 hours to 2 days; posting anything topical becomes really difficult, to say the least. 

There are other issues within the blogger community that make growing difficult. Following and unfollowing is a big issue and can feel like such a downer. That's not the only thing, there are absolutely more, but it can all feel like a huge weight when you're just trying to do the best you can and see results. 

It's no wonder, truly, that people go to the extreme lengths of buying followers. It absolutely won't help your brand at all, but it will make you feel a bit better about struggling to grow!

In the past 2 years, I've doubled my followers. From 300 to 600. For some people, that's pretty significant; but in that time, others have started Instagram accounts and climbed to thousands of followers. I definitely do want that kind of success or those numbers (being famous scares me!), but I do wonder just what exactly I'm doing wrong. I've improved my photos. I've upped my hashtag game. I've done everything I can aside from turn into one of those emotionless Instagram accounts that's all about aesthetic. (No offense to Instagram accounts with themes.) 

So, knowing that I'm not really alone in feeling this way, I have to wonder: is Instagram even worth putting this much thought and effort into? It's still listed as many people's favorite social media, but when it comes down to numbers, I don't see evidence for it contributing to blog traffic--just potential for sponsorships! That's where it gets difficult, isn't it? 

I might decide to let Instagram go and not try--but in the end, that hurts my ability to work with brands. It's brands that want a large Instagram following, really, and it's something that a lot of bloggers just can't provide. What happens to us? What happens to the people who have a large Twitter following, good traffic, and a bumpin' Pinterest profile... but not a great Instagram presence? Do we get left behind because where we thrive isn't where brands want us to thrive? 

It's a lot to think about! So I'm turning it over to you: what do you think? Is Instagram worth the hassle? Am I overthinking this? 

4 Tips for Blogging Through the Holidays

4 Tips for Blogging Through the Holidays | Writing Between Pauses

Whether you blog professionally or for a hobby, I think we can all agree that sometimes keeping up posting, scheduling social media, and promoting our blogs can be really difficult. Especially during the holidays when things can get hectic and stressful fast. 

Every November and December, I inevitably experience a few moments of just not being able to get to my blog or stay on top of things. It seems easier to let my blog slide--which I inevitably regret when I'm doubly behind come January, having missed posts that I desperately wanted to have up before the new year. 

I've been scouring the internet and collecting the best advice to stay blogging through the holidays. Here's what I've found. 

1. Auto-Schedule In Advance

I think these days, auto-scheduling is the law of the land when it comes to blogging. Back in my Locked Out days, I would sit down, write a post, and post it then and there. That was it! These days, I usually have at least a week of blog posts scheduled out. When it comes to the holidays, or filling in gaps where you'll be on vacation, scheduling comes in handy. 

Alongside scheduling, that requires you to have your content worked out in advance. I have a running editorial calendar for each month so I always know what I need to write and when it will be posted. 

2. Take Part in Blogging Challenges

Honestly, getting my Blogmas content ready for December really helped me step it up this month! It's only the 13th of December, but I have content scheduled through Christmas and beyond. Taking part in Blogmas (or other blogging challenges) is a good way to write content in advance and always have something to motivate you to keep going. 

3. Write Shorter Posts

This is a big one. Not every single blog post needs to be super long, involved, and heavily researched. Short, quick blog posts that share a quite inspiration, a thought, a few tips, etc. can be just as meaningful. A prime example of this is the fact that my post from Blogtober about my 4 favorite teas is one of my most popular blog posts of all time. 

4. Step Away from Social Media

I think the most important thing to do is that once you get content scheduled, a few promotional tweets scheduled, and everything ready for the week of the holidays... step away. Don't worry about it. Do everything else that you need to do, but don't worry about your blog! Step in and check in the evenings, make sure all your social media is going fine, but it's ok to take a break and enjoy the holidays too. 

4 Tips for Taking Better iPhone Photos

4 Tips for Taking Better iPhone Photos | Writing Between Pauses

While I do own a DLSR camera, I find myself often too busy to actually use it. Lugging a large camera downstairs to take photos, all while trying to get everything done quickly, isn't super practical with a toddler. For that reason, I often use my iPhone to take photos and then I edit with A Color Story. I wanted to share my process and tips for taking my photos using my iPhone. For beginner bloggers (or really anyone!), it's totally possible to take all your photos with an iPhone--no expensive camera needed! 

1. Light Matters

Taking Better iPhone Photos

My usually process for taking photos is to get as close to a window as possible, but to avoid any direct sunlight. That means, my bedroom window in the morning or kitchen patio window in the afternoon: I get a good amount of light in these two spots, but because of the direction of the sun, it's not a super harsh direct light. Why should you avoid direct, bright sunlight? It will cast a harsh shadow over your photos that your iPhone camera can't correct and will ultimately make your photos look washed out. 

2. Pick a Consistent Background

Taking Better iPhone Photos for Blog

You may notice that I typically use a plaid background for my photos. Why? Mainly, I just like the look of it. While the typical white marble or white fence backgrounds are popular among bloggers, I didn't want to have to go buy a specific prop just for photos. I use my favorite blanket scarf! A lot of why I do this is to have a specific "style" of photo of my own--and also, I know how photos on my favorite background will look and I have worked out a way to do the best editing with this background. To me, this just makes it easier to take photos because I know how to edit them right off the bat. 

Some people like all white or solid color backgrounds for this reason, but for me, the plaid helps me angle things in a way that I like. 

3. Use an Editing App

Taking better photos with iPhone

As I mentioned, I use A Color Story to edit my photos. I find this the easiest app to use, mainly because I love the look of A Beautiful Mess's photos and their filter packs are affordable and really good for a variety of photos. Below, there is a step-by-step of how I edited the above photo. I took this photo in indirect sunlight outside. 

Step 1
Step 2

Step 1: I use the Disco Ball filter from the Good Vibes pack at less than 50%. Disco Ball increases the brightness, but doesn't increase shadows; it also makes everything a little "whiter". I like this filter to start out because it evens out the color really well. 

Step 2: I use the Palm Springs filter at less than 50% next. It's also from the Good Vibes pack. Just like Disco Ball, it brightens and whitens--but Palm Springs also gives a nice airy, light look to the photo while keeping it very clear. Contrast increases slightly. At this point, I'm just looking to make sure the white in my background is looking white instead of gray or cream. 

Step 3
Step 4

Step 3: I switch to the Seasons pack. Seasons is a pack you have to pay for, but at only $2.99, it's super affordable and I love these filters! FIrst, I use the December filter at around 50%. December increases contrast and shifts the color to be more blue or neutral (depending on how yellow everything is looking). I love how it punches up greens and blues in photos! This helps my photos look nice and vibrant. 

Step 4: I then apply October at less than 50% (I prefer closer to 30%). October is an extra step that I don't always use. It increases red and warm tones (notice how the red looks a little more vibrant and the orange in the leaf is more intense); for this photo, I just felt like it needed the warmth punched up a little more about I applied December. 

That's my exact photo process! It's easy to use and play with to get the look you want for your photos. 

4. Practice Makes Perfect

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There are still times when I don't get photos right. For example, in the photo above, I love the light and contrast--but the white of the scarf still looks gray and dingy; as well, the color of the flowers could be brighter in comparison to the red-black-and-pink tones of everything else in the photo. However, by practicing consistently and working to take better photos, I feel like I am always improving and getting better at my technique.