Stock Images: Why you should and How you can make your own! Plus FREE Stock Image Bundle! 

create your own stock images free stock bundleSo how many of you guys are sitting looking at your Blog thinking ‘I want better images!‘ or ‘I’m tired of using stock images that aren’t really what I want‘ Well I’ve been there and only now am I on my way to improving the images on my Blog. I knew straight off that I wanted good quality photos for my site, but searching through stock images just wasn’t my thing, and I didn’t really want to pay for something that I felt to be honest I could do myself if I put my mind to it. So last week I gave creating my own stock images a go after being inspired by a post by Wonderlass. (Here’s a link to that post!) I realised with a little bit of effort I could try creating my own images!

So you may ask, ‘Why?‘ ‘Why should I bother trying to create my own photos for my blog?

Well number one, Blogs with ‘Meh’ kind of photos turn me off. That’s the bottom line for me. Do you find yourself drawn to Blogs with beautifully styled photos? Well that’s no coincidence but just because you’re a new blogger or are awful with cameras doesn’t mean you can’t have your own well styled images. Especially if you’re wanting to use Pinterest as a serious platform for promoting your Blog then you better listen up because the only way you’re going to get off to a good start on Pinterest is by having Beautiful Pins that people want to Re-pin over and over again!

So, lets talk a little about Branding. Your brand is basically you, it’s your Online Image, it’s how people recognise you as a regular and consistent blogger. Branding your Blog not only gives you  a very professional look but if you’re working on making your blogging side hustle a career then having a strong brand presence is very important. It shows your readers and potential customers that you’re the real dealio.

Here’s a post that really helped me understand the importance of branding for your Blog: The Strong Brand Mini Course, this is another post by Wonderlass (a Blog I’m clearly obsessed with). I suggest giving it a read over because you can’t really begin to create your own images for your Blog if you don’t know the overall look you’re going for. If you want more information on branding then take a look at Boss Lady Blogger’s post on What to include in your Brands Style Guide! it gives you a great breakdown on what’s important in creating a brand for yourself.

OKAY! So now that you’ve gotten an idea of what kind of style you want for your fabulous Blog now you can begin getting ready to take your first set of images. Now for my images I decided I loved the Flat Lay look and because a lot of my posts are about blogging itself then my go to styling was cute stationary and my Ipad. However I knew that wasn’t enough, so I went to my bestfriend (aka Pinterest) and started creating a board of Flat Lay style inspiration! Want to check out my inspiration? Here’s a link to my Flat Lay Styling Board on Pinterest. YAY!

So here’s where things get technical. I fully believe that literally anyone can make their own Blog images, why? Because well I did it, and I’m not in any way a photographer or an eagle eye photo styler. For my first try though I’m pretty happy with the results although I know for next time how I’d like to improve and make them better! So stay tuned for even more stock photo give-aways!

Okay so the Set up is literally Two pieces of Foam Board (cheap as anything), some coloured card (also cheap as anything) for different background colours, Natural lighting (totally free), and even better news for you blogging newbies and camera shy peeps my humble Iphone (which I already own and I’m sure most of you guys do too!)

Here’s an example of the original photo and the photo after some editing:

image1 (1)

So the before image was taken in natural light and I was using a second foam board to reflect light onto my set up to lessen the shadows (this only helped moderately). To get it to look like the image on the right here are the steps I took:

  • Increased overall brightness (because the image is Dull dull dull…ew)
  • Increased contrast (this part dramatically improves the stark white background look)
  • Lightened the shadows (as the reflector board didn’t reduce the shadows enough)
  • Increased Saturation to make the most of the bright colours! I love a good POP of colour!
  • Also check out that adorable Bunny Illustration, it’s by my friend Bethany who does amazing artwork that’s perfect for in your home or giving as a super cute gift! Here’s a link to her facebook!

The moral of all this is that if you take a photo and immediately disregard it as terrible because it’s not the way you imagine it, wait. Play around with it, edit it even just a little bit and all of a sudden it could become your favourite image of like All Time, okay maybe not but hey it means you have another stock image under your belt for a rainy day!

Now what you do with your new set of fab stock images is all down to you, personally I love the transparent overlay look with writing on top. If you’re wondering what photo editor I use its Picsart, nothing fancy, so it’s great for new bloggers who want a way to make their images more professional looking without having to fork out loads on a DSLR camera or an expensive photo editing programme. It just goes to show how far an iPhone can take you!

So here they are! YOUR FREE STOCK IMAGES YAY!

What photo tricks to you have? How do you get the shot you want? Let me know in the comments and if you have any questions I’m here to answer them!

Want any more Blogging tips and tricks? Try 5 Blogging Mistakes YOU could be making! or 5 Blogging tips for beginners!

 

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Organise Your Life: 5 Top Tips! Plus Free Printables!

organise your life with 5 top tips and free printablesOrganisation: everybody wants it, not everybody gets it. I am quite scarily obsessed with organisation and lists and all things controllable, literally if I can control it, I will. Now this isn’t going to be a 200 page essay in how to organise every aspect of your life (because seriously who has time for that?) but I’m going to share with you some things that I personally couldn’t go without In order to feel like I’m on top of things! So here it goes!

1. Get yourself a Calendar! I don’t care if it’s paper or digital, how people can function without a calendar I have no idea. I have a pretty good memory but sometimes just seeing something written down allows me to take my whole day, week, month (or even your yearrrr nah nah nah nah….sorry literally got caught up in the ‘Friends’ theme tune there) into perspective. If you’re a blogger then keeping a calendar is vital. You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference planning out posts, the times you will be promoting them, the time you have to work on other side projects will make to your blog as a whole. All of a sudden you can see the big picture, you can see how you blog is progressing week by week and you can even plan ahead for what you want your blog to eventually become.

2. Sort out your dolla dolla! Being in control of your expenses is such a key aspect to being in control of your life. Being able to pay all of your bills on time and still have money left over to put towards savings isn’t a reality for a lot of people and yet it can be soo super simple. There are so many ways to cut back on expenses and soo many methods out there to guide you to a debt free life, so make the most of them! Personally for me I like to use a Bill Tracker so I can tick off when each bill has been paid. This means at a glance I can see what’s been paid for and what’s left that I have to save and pay for. Here’s a free template for you to track your monthly bills! I also have a post all about how to stop living paycheck to paycheck and creating a budget that works for you!

3. Food and Diet! Controlling what you eat of course will impact your life. I wish I had more control over the amount of biscuits I eat, but we can’t be perfect! It may sound weird to organise what you’re eating but actually it makes a lot of sense. By organising what you eat I basically mean Meal Planning. If you’ve never tried meal planning then you’ve simply got to give it a go! Even for a month a see how much of a difference it can make for you! Planning out your meals means you save time and money plus if you’re aiming for a healthy and nutritious diet then it makes sticking to it soo much easier! I have a handy printable for you to create your own meal plan here! If you want to learn more about meal planning and in particular how it can save you money then check out my blog post here!

4. Clean and Tidy! Another area that you can keep on top of everything is by staying on top of your daily chores around the house. I can’t focus on anything if I know I have a load of laundry that needs to be put on or of there’s dirty dishes that need put in the dishwasher. I usually do a quick tidy up when I get home from work such as dishes and laundry on weekdays and do a big clean up on a Sunday i.e. change bed sheets, empty all bins (not just the kitchen one), hoover everywhere, scrub bathroom etc. I love starting the next working week on a good note, I love having a nice clean house to come home to on a Monday after the first day back at work again. If you work from home then try to schedule in dedicated time for cleaning, so you can sit down and fully focus on your work without the distraction of knowing you have to go bleach the loo (yum). I know for myself that productivity is much higher when I’m in a clean and clutter free environment! Feeling a bit groggy when you work from home? Try my little trick of opening a window, breathing in the crisp fresh air always helps me to wake up fully and gives me the boost I need! Also it gets the groggy feeling out of the air!

5. To-do list! On top of keeping a calendar like a pro, a to-do list can simply work wonders. This definitely doesn’t have to be anything fancy, literally it can just be a pad of paper with a list of stuff you gotta do. If you want to kick it up a notch obviously you can arrange your list into an order of importance and the more detailed you get then the better it feels when you cross an action off the list. That’s why I love lists, it gives me a breakdown of what needs done and when I accomplish something I can cross it off the list giving me a positive boost that I’ve made progress. If there’s something you didn’t complete, then move it across to tomorrows list and make it top priority, that way you never keep putting off tasks over and over again! So get jotting down them to-do’s!

What ways do you like to stay organised?
What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re up for receiving a whole bunch off FREE STOCK IMAGES then you can subscribe here! I’ll be sending out a lovely care package for all you lovely folks! 

5 Blogging Mistakes YOU could be making!


Some people think that once you start a blog you instantly gain viewers, comments, likes and loyal followers but we Bloggers know that that’s simply not the case. A lot of hard work goes into the background of blogging…and I mean A LOT of hard work. Blogging is a whole new skill with a whole new language you need to learn. Monetisation? Networking? No follow links? SEO? The list goes on…literally for like ever. It can be hard enough to get to grips with the basics never mind advanced blogging strategies. So I thought why not share some common mistakes I see made on a daily basis, to make the difficult a little less difficult. Here’s just a couple of mistakes you could be making as a blogger, don’t worry though if you’re doing these things because they are easily fixed and if you don’t view them as a problem in the first place then continue on blissfully, these are simply things I’ve noticed along the way! 

  1. Content, content, content, content. Is there a such a thing as too much content? Well, in short Yes. Blog posts require a lot of time and as a new blogger you may be excited to get all your thoughts out there and start posting nearly every other day! Now in a way it’s great to be full of ideas and have content flying out of your fingertips but speed and quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. For every blog post you create there should be a certain amount of work that’s gone on behind the scenes such as high resolution Photos that fit in perfectly to the post and also a fair amount of publicising your content. If you are creating a lot of content, save it, and try spreading out your posts. Now you can use the extra time to focus on making sure you are reaching the right kind of people and creating high quality posts that make readers want to come back for more! 
  2. Sharing but NOT Caring. Do you find yourself pasting links to your site on Facebook, Twitter, other random blog sites? Do you get much of a return? Probably not. Miraculous page views would be amazing but skipping on publicising your post properly wont get you any closer to that dream. To build genuine interest try finding other bloggers who could benifit from your blog, ask similar bloggers for feedback on your site to make continual improvements. When posting to Facebook or any social media platform actually make the effort to tell people WHY they should go to your site. If you don’t even sound excited about your own post, why should anyone else be? You really have to be your own No.1 Fan! 
  3. Me, me me. Blogging is important to every single blogger, if it wasn’t there would be no posts to read! What strategy do you use to promote yourself and your brand? We all want a bit of the limelight but that doesn’t mean we can force our blogs onto others by aggressively sharing links online as much as you can. This could work, but isn’t it exhausting? For me helping fellow bloggers is the best way to promote yourself. Try leaving a comment on someone else’s post and give them positive feedback. It’s a win win, you get the benefit of the feel good factor because you’ve been nice and helped out a fellow newbie blogger and on the other hand they’re probably 10times more likely to visit your site and could even leave you a comment. (This works much better than posting ‘like for like’ or ‘comment for comment’ which could temporarily boost your traffic but in the long run you don’t gain much reward for all the effort you’ve gone through to go like back a whole load of blogs).
  4. No Niche Syndrome. It’s true that in the blogosphere you can blog about pretty much anything you want, like anything, from your neighbours cat keeping you up at night to a painful ingrown toenail. As great as it is that we can all be so open with each other on the internet is that really what you want your blog to be about? This isn’t for everyone because not everyone’s sole purpose is to make a full time living out of blogging but for those who do, if you want to make meaningful blogs that are fresh and useful then that’s exactly what they have to be: Fresh and Useful. Fresh as in no one wants to see the same ole content repeated over and over again and Useful as in what can I as a reader actually gain from reading your posts? Find your Niche! Who are you writing your blog for? What solutions are you giving people? What ways are you providing something that no one else is? These are all questions you should be asking yourself before you hit ‘publish’, heck before you even start writing the title of your next article!
  5. Stay active! Don’t you just love it when someone spends time writing you an encouraging comment? Well why not thank them and you could even give their page a look over! We’re all in this together and receiving positivity isn’t near as rewarding as giving it out first hand. Keep up to date with your posts and make sure to respond to comments/questions, no matter how small! Being nice doesn’t cost a dime and everyone loves a giver. 

For more tips for Beginners click here! 5 Blogging Tips For Beginners!

So what ideas can you put into practice? What other tips have you got for new bloggers? What obstacles have you had to overcome to get where you’re at today? Share in the comments below 🙂

If you want more great tips you can Subscribe here! And receive an invite to my blogging community on Facebook!