Sunday, 17 April 2016

Blogging Tips | 9 Essentials For Your Blog Worth Spending Money On (Even if "It's Just a Hobby")

Blogging Tips: 9 Essentials For Your Blog Worth Spending Money On
If you think your blogging equipment is a bit on the sparse side (comprising not much more than your laptop and phone), you may want to think about investing a little money into your baby. I often read about blogs being "just a hobby" so there's no need to spend anything on them, but there's a perfectly logical argument as to why there are some essentials for your blog that are worth spending money on.

If you think about most hobbies (cooking, theatre going, woodworking, sailing, bird watching, fishing, coin collecting, golf, scuba diving, hangliding, cosplaying, bowling, cycling, astronomy...), they do cost some, or a lot, of money. Equipment, tickets, consumables, memberships, subscriptions - the list goes on and on.

Professional bloggers aside, why should blogging be any different to other hobbies when it comes to spending money on something you do for the pure enjoyment of it?

Blogging's a bit like fishing: For most it's a hobby, but to catch the best fish you need to spend a bit of money on a proper fishing rod and bait rather than relying on a piece of string tied to a stick and your sandwich crusts.

BLOGGING'S A BIT LIKE FISHING: FOR MOST IT'S A HOBBY, BUT TO CATCH THE BEST FISH YOU NEED TO SPEND A BIT OF MONEY ON A PROPER FISHING ROD AND BAIT RATHER THAN RELYING ON A PIECE OF STRING TIED TO A STICK AND SANDWICH CRUSTS.

Astronomy? You need a telescope. Theatre going? You have to buy tickets. Cooking? Food. Golf? Clubs. Cycling? A bike. People splash out on all these things for their hobbies because it enriches the experience (and some hobbies are impossible to do without spending money - theatre going, for example).

In other words, if you want to get the best out of blogging and do it in the best way you can, you need to invest both time and some money. It's no less worthy a pastime than skydiving, sailing, or cosplay. Think how much money comic book collectors spend on their hobby (I should know, I married one).

There are some very simple, very cheap essentials that I think all bloggers should be spending a little money on to make themselves look more professional. I, too, was a hobby blogger once - and I had no intention of becoming a professional blogger because I didn't know such a thing existed. But I always wanted to invest in my blog, and I knew that meant spending some money on it. I was happy to do that because I was proud of my blog and wanted it to be the best it could be.

I HAD NO INTENTION OF BECOMING A PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW SUCH A THING EXISTED. I ALWAYS WANTED TO INVEST IN MY BLOG. I WAS HAPPY TO DO THAT BECAUSE I WAS PROUD OF MY BLOG AND WANTED IT TO BE THE BEST IT COULD BE.

The list of essentials is not exhaustive - there are many more things that would be relevant for some blogging niches and not for others. But this should give you a guide as to how and where your money is best spent.

So in case you think you can't afford some of things, I've put an average or starting price of each thing I've suggested... They may be more affordable than you think. Here are the 9:



1. A custom domain for your blog

This is one of the easiest, cheapest things to get your blog, but so many bloggers don't do it. It's like making your cat eat straight out the tin... Just buy him a nice food bowl! It doesn't cost that much and will last quite a while. It'll show visitors to your house that you care about your cat, plus it looks so much nicer and your cat will love you for it.

Buying a custom domain for your blog is as much of a no-brainer as buying a bowl for your cat. They're cheaper than you might think: A dot com starts at just over a tenner a year. That's just £1 a month...! I have read that as Blogspot is a free platform it's often targeted by spammers, so using a custom name for your Blogspot blog might help eliminating that.

Any blog URL with blogspot, wordpress or tumblr in them look amateurish and will obviously make your URL much longer - it doesn't look great on a business card (see point 8).

Two of the most popular sites to buy domains from are godaddy.com and 123-reg.com. I use the latter, and their tutorial on how to get your custom domain to point to your blog is very straightforward (I've done it successfully on three different blogs now and I hate doing things like that).

Think to yourself: Did I really need to buy that MAC lipstick this month when I could have bought a custom domain for my blog for a lot less...?

Price: £7-12 per year depending on the TLD (top-level domain, e.g. com, co.uk, org) you choose.


2. The best DSLR you can afford

I read this all the time: You don't need a fancy camera to take good blog photos. You can get great shots with a smartphone or a point-and-shoot camera. While this is true to some extent, you're limiting yourself to the settings available on those cameras and desperately seeking out the very best conditions every time you shoot anything. Hand on heart, I can honestly say once you switch to a DSLR with the right lens, you will wonder why you never got one earlier and how on earth you coped without one before.

Your options will open up and make shooting in lower light conditions, or dealing with strange colour casts, or achieving bokeh (a blurry background) and get a really sharp, crisp image so, so, SO much easier. You can avoid a distorted bobble-head body with short legs you get in outfit shots (though there is a way to avoid it with a point and shoot camera as well). With a basic understanding of a DSLR's settings and a few photographic principles, your photos will go from acceptable to WOW.

I know people may try and dispute this, but you simply cannot get those beautiful, large, sharp, bright images without a DSLR - not on a regular basis, anyway. This is especially true for anyone who lives in a gloomy country - only a lucky few live in California with guaranteed sunshine all year round. Light is your best friend in photography!

I've taken some of my most stunning photos with my DSLR on a dark, rainy, cloudy day when the sun has long since set - the type of shoot where you finish and then go inside, look outside, and realise it's really dark. Those days.

EASY WAYS TO PAY FOR A DSLR


Many retailers like Amazon and Jessops offer 0% credit for large items, so you can spread the cost over several months (usually six) without being charged any interest.

Or get yourself a credit card* with an offer of 0% interest for 12 months to spread the payments even more BUT - for goodness sake don't use the card for anything else unless you're adept at using credit cards. (If you're not, learn: Understanding finance - not ignoring it - is so important... But that's a whole other topic). Take the total cost of your purchase, divide by 12 and set up a fixed payment to pay that off each month. You'll have cleared the balance before they start charging interest.

Go to a finance/money saving website like Money Saving Expert [UK] for advice on which one to apply for and what you should look out for.

*Please note I am not a financial expert - I recommend you seek advice before going ahead with any of these suggestions. I have, however, had a great deal of experience of being in a lot of debt, getting myself out of it, and then using credit cards and balance transfers the sensible way to borrow money without being charged interest. I learnt the hard way.

Cost: £41 per month for a year for a £500 DSLR paid for with a 0% interest card.

Blogging Tips | 9 Essentials For Your Blog Worth Spending Money On

3. Tripod or lights (or both)

These two pieces of equipment could make your desperate need for some more daylight a thing of the past. Lack of light is a photographer's no.1 enemy: It causes camera shake, grainier photos, and flat, grey images. A tripod and/or light (depending on whether you shoot more indoors or outdoors) will change everything for you.

TRIPODS


The beauty of a tripod is that it eliminates camera shake. Therefore, when you're outside and losing light, the shutter speed has to slow right down (meaning the lens has to open longer to let in more light), so you inevitably can't keep the camera still enough in your hands not to move it while the shutter is open. A DSLR with a fast lens (one that can cope in lower light conditions) can take pictures when there's almost no light. These beautiful images were taken in the rain, in almost-dark conditions, with a tripod. They would have been impossible without it.

Buy the best you can afford: I wouldn't recommend paying less than about £50 otherwise it'll be so lightweight you'll put your camera at risk. I recommend Manfrotto (the Aston Martin of tripods): I paid about £100 for my Manfrotto beast in 1992 and it's still as good as new.

Cost: £50-100+


LIGHTS


For indoor photography there are a few types you can buy, from a tiny selfie ring light for your phone to soft box studio lights. Again, they're not as expensive you might think: If you buy a pair of soft box studio lights, split them with a blogging friend (you may only need one) and you can have a professional studio light for just £30.

I invested in a dimmable ring flash light (about £82) and it is fantastic for head shots, beauty shots and vlogging - it's incredibly flattering (see this beauty post I did with the ring light). Don't forget you need to buy a light stand as well (they're about £15).

Cost: £30-£100



4. A professional blog design

Until a couple of years ago, I thought that all the tinkering I was doing on my blog's design was enough - I'm reasonably confident when it comes to designing things so thought I didn't need to get my blog redesigned. However, I eventually realised that compared to other blogs it just didn't cut it in the ever-growing blogosphere, but I thought that a designer would set me back several hundred pounds.

So I started saving up.

But if someone had told me that I could get a new blog design - a really, really professional, modern one - for £50, I probably would have laughed at them. I've worked for a digital agency that designed websites, and they started charging at about £1,000 minimum. But here's the thing: You can get a multi-functional, modern and professional blog design from just £29 (mine cost £49 + optional extras). This is becoming less of a secret, but the blog template designer whose name you may have seen at the bottom of a lot of sleek blogs? Pipdig.

HERE'S THE THING: YOU CAN GET A MULTI-FUNCTIONAL, MODERN AND PROFESSIONAL BLOG DESIGN FROM JUST £29.

Pipdig sells ready made templates for Blogger and Wordpress, and they are exactly the sort of sleek, modern designs that make the cut these days. There are a lot of places you can go to get a new blog design (Etsy sellers have them for example), and if you want a bespoke design it will cost in the hundreds of pounds. But if that's an impossibility, and if you want a new design within a few days, then it's possible with Pipdig. (This post isn't sponsored in any way - I've just had such a great experience that I want to share this information with you.) I've pointed several bloggers in their direction and they've all ended up with amazing new designs and been super impressed with the service.

Plus two great bonuses: You can have the design installed for free within a couple of days as standard, or you can install it yourself within 20 minutes of buying the template you chose; secondly, the post-sales service is nothing short of spectacular.

Without a modern layout, template and a properly branded "look" to your blog, it may give the impression of an amateurish approach. Even if you don't want to work with brands now you may in the future, so looking professional from the outset is vital.

Plus so many niggling things will be sorted using a properly designed template: Images will automatically fill the width of the post so they're all the same width. You can have drop down menus. You can have post sliders and a full screen page splash (like mine that you see on the desktop version). You can't get those things unless you know some serious coding.

Finally, unless you are a graphic designer or have a background/experience in art and design, I'd get a designer (or artistic friend) to design your blog logo. A poor choice of font for a blog header can make all the difference to a blog looking modern, fresh and professional - or old-fashioned and amateurish. Trends in fonts change as often as trends in jeans, and if you're not design-minded you may not be aware that your blog header font/design is outdated.

Cost: £30-£100


5. Photoshop for editing photos

People always think they can't afford Photoshop. I'm talking about getting Photoshop Elements (PSE) that costs about £50, not the full PS software that designers use that costs in the region of £600. So you can buy Photoshop for the price of a pair of shoes, effectively. PSE does everything that a blogger needs, whereas PS does everything that a designer needs - and bloggers don't need most of it.

I use Photoshop Elements to edit all my photos, and I'm entirely self-taught (apart from my husband telling me about three key things when I first started, but I know ten times as much as him now through practice, trial and error). As well as optimising photos you can use it for consistent text layouts - like the second image in this post.

And out of interest did you notice anything about the lead image?

That's not my desk in the picture. That's not my laptop. I used PSE to superimpose a screenshot of my blog onto the image of a laptop screen on a desk (the image was from a royalty-free image bank).

So although you can get free editing software online, it'll never be as extensive as using your own software that you can add fonts to and use a lot quicker. Believe me, I've tried: Yes you can do the same online but it's really slow (and frustrating!) by comparison, and you won't want to go back once you've used PSE.

Cost: £50-60


6. Tickets to blogging conferences

I cannot stress enough the importance of attending blogging conferences - it will totally change the way you approach blogging and connect you to so many amazing people and so much valuable information and inspiration. Yes, all of that can be found on the internet but once you've made a real-life connection with someone, your online connection becomes so much stronger (or has the opportunity to start from scratch), plus you only find the information you seek online. Conferences give you information you didn't know you needed. Some of my best blogging pals are those I've met in real life, and they're now not just blogging pals but real life BFFs.

The Blognix Retreat in February this year was truly one of the best I've been to: Two days at a country hotel, with amazing food, amazing company and inspiring speakers. If you're a UK blogger and they have one next year, I cannot recommend it enough. You can subscribe to Blognix here to get details about the next event.

For this reason I've been planning an event (or two) for older bloggers myself for quite a while now - it's finally happening with a meet up next month in London. The more you attend, the more you'll want to attend.

Cost: £0-£150+


7. Courses (on or offline) such as photography, SEO, Instagram

If you wish you could take better photos, book yourself on a course. Ask for it as a group birthday present from your family if you can't take the hit in one go. Jessops run photography courses in the UK that start from £119.00. But YouTube is a treasure trove of information: If you want to know the odd thing about how to the settings on your camera, you're bound to find a tutorial on YouTube that someone's made.

On the other end of the (cost) spectrum you can sign up to online courses on various sites and blogs for as little as $10. Some mini courses are free. Some that I've subscribed to are the Makelight photography courses (I may have a photography degree but you should never stop learning), the 10 day IFB Instagram course (they also do an SEO course) and a 7 day blogger bootcamp hosted by Dana of The Wonderforest (free to new subscribers). Another blogger whose courses I think are probably amazing would be Sarah of Yes and Yes - I subscribe to her emails and her advice is absolutely spot-on. If I needed to invest in a blogging course with knobs on, it would be hers.

Cost: £0 to £500+


8. Business cards

Business cards are something that bloggers often forget to get made up if they're going to events. It may seem old fashioned in a world where people do everything on their phones, but giving someone a business card will ensure you're remembered more than if they just look you up on Twitter and click "Follow". Even if you're a hobby blogger, get business cards made up if there's any chance of you running into brands or other bloggers at events. Which you will, of course, after having read point 6...!

I always use Moo, and so do a lot of other bloggers. Their website is fun and easy to use, and they have hundreds of ready-made designs that you can just drop your details into.

Cost: £15+ (for the minimum quantity, usually 50 cards)


9. Extras that value to your blog

Finally, there are lots of things that would be either valuable to your blogging niche or valuable to the way you like to work that are worth investing in. Iconosquare is great for Instagram and giving you detailed analytics. You can use InLinkz or Linky Tools to host regular link ups and increase traffic to and interaction on your blog. CoSchedule helps you plan your social media to save time. Mailchimp is a free service for sending out newsletters, but only up to 2,000 subscribers - after that it's a paid service. But if you've built up that many subscribers they're worth paying for.

Cost: Varies depending on service. For example, Iconosquare is $4.90 a month. InLinkz is $2.99 a month if you want visible thumbnails (which you do).

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Finally, I've thought about doing a second post to accompany this one: Essentials for your blog that are free or cost next-to-nothing. Let me know if you think this is a good idea!

WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR BLOG? AND HAVE I PERSUADED YOU TO INVEST IN ANY OF THESE THINGS YOURSELF...? COMMENT BELOW, OR TAKE IT TO TWITTER @NOTLAMB!

Catherine

P.S. LIKE THIS POST? YOU MIGHT ALSO WANT TO CHECK OUT ALL MY OTHER BLOGGING TIPS POSTS, LIKE:
7 INSANELY HELPFUL TOOLS AND RESOURCES WEBSITES YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOU NEEDED
- 6 IMPORTANT THINGS TO INCLUDE ON YOUR BLOG
- BRANDING FOR YOUR BLOG IN 5 QUICK, EASY STEPS

Linking up to: Let It Shine, Fitness TuesdayBrilliant Blog PostsFriday's Fab Favourites
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59 comments

  1. So very helpful, dear Catherine.
    I would love to attend your meet up in London. Do let me know more when you can. I have a blogger friend coming to Málaga on the 20th, see if I could be everywhere
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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    1. Thanks Sacramento - all the details will be in the email this week (make sure you've subscribed)! x

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  2. Wonderful ideas here Catherine. I don't have any version of Photoshop yet, but I think I should. And a better camera - that's my next big purchase. xox

    Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. I think once you get those two things Patti, you'll wonder how you ever coped before...!! x

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  3. Great post Catherine, plenty food for thought! I'd be very grateful for the extra post as I'm learning as I'm going, so learning from someone who has been through it is really invaluable. Thanks again I'm going to start incorporating your tips ASAP.

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    1. No problem sweetie, glad they've helped! I think a post about freebies is definitely in the pipeline judging by everyone's reactions x

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  4. Catherine, this is so helpful and informative! I've been using Picmonkey for my photo edits but you've convinced me to upgrade to Photoshop elements.

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    1. I'm so glad, Susan! PSE is a great piece of software and terrific value for the price x

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  5. Many thanks for this, Catherine. I'm currently embroiled in Susannah Conway's Blogging From The Heart e-course and, as a fledgling (hobby) blogger, I need all the help I can get. Thank you for the encouragement!
    Barbara
    http://iblamejupiter.wordpress.com

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    1. E-courses are a great way to get your blogging knowledge up to speed, Barbara - well done for investing in one! Hope it goes well, thanks for the lovely comment x

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  6. Very, very helpful and informative. Thank you!

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  7. Hmmm haven't got everything but at least most of it (Sylvia is always giving me kicks up my backside to improve..). Not doing too badly. Room for improvement though.
    Greetje

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    1. Haha I love that Sylvia is always giving you kicks up the backside, Greetje...!! ;) But really, she's incredibly supportive - she was the one that told me to sort out a newsletter: 18 months later and I have 1,600 subscribers! But I know you're pretty on the ball, well done you :)

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  8. I've known for a long time that I need to invest a bit more into my blog, and you have made excellent points! I'll look at least into a few of them! :-) Thanks!

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    1. Oh I'm glad, Andrea - good luck with implementing all the bits and pieces! It'll be worth it :) x

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  9. Really helpful as usual Catherine. I'm working on most of these things. A blog re-design is next and it will be with Pipdig!
    Steph
    x
    www.pricelesslifeofmine.com

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    1. Oh pipdig is fantastic, Stephanie - everyone says such good things about them. You'll wonder why you didn't do it earlier like I did, I could have kicked myself for putting it off for so long!! x

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  10. Catherine, this has given me the push that I needed. I was contemplating a new blog design and now I am going to invest!
    Can I ask a question?
    What is the best way to let people know your favicon and blog design will be changing?
    I am not sure what to say or how to say it!
    Thank you Catherine for (yet another) fantastic set of tips!
    XXX
    Samantha

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    1. Social media!! In the run up to my redesign I mentioned it in the 2-3 posts prior, plus a whole post about the change is always a good idea (see mine> http://www.notdressedaslamb.com/2015/12/how-to-redesign-your-blog-for-under-100-pounds-not-dressed-as-lamb-gets-a-makeover-new-colour-palette.html)

      When you say your favicon, do you mean your profile picture? (Your favicon is the tiny image you see next to your blog name in your browser tab.) There's no need to say your favicon has changed, but if you're changing that then it might be because you're changing it to match your profile picture (avatar) - in that case put it on Twitter and FB a few times - I used a "old and new" image to show what it changed from and to. That's the beauty of social media...!

      And good luck with the new blog design, I think it'll be an awesome new chapter for you!! x

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    2. Thank you Catherine, your continuous support really is invaluable! I am looking forward to this post about freebies too. XXX

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    3. I have taken the plunge and bought a new blog design! I was going to install it myself but found errors on my template (when I saved), broken links and other things I did not recognise. Anyway, I have asked them to install it for me. Hopfully they will sort out any mess. I will be live in 48 hours...exciting stuff! Thank you so much for this suggestion. I am honestly stunned at how cheap it was and how easy it all seems. Looks SOOOO slick too. XXX Samantha
      P.S I will fiddle with my favicons and avitars afterwards.

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    4. OMG I can't wait to see it!!!!!!!!!!!!! xx

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  11. this is so helpful chick. ive thought about doing an online photo course for a while but wasn't sure if they were any good. I also didn't realise a tripod would help with photo taking in dark light, was working full time I am always chasing light!
    Lauren

    livinginaboxx | bloglovin

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    1. Oh gosh yes Lauren - you need to eliminate camera shake when shooting in low light so a tripod is essential, with a remote is even better! If you're very green on the photography I'd definitely recommend a photography course, go by reviews if you can x

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  12. Of course we'd be interested in essentials for our blog that are free (since you asked)!
    You are such a master in this blogging, and it is quite impressive that you share your "secrets"---I really appreciate it!
    jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. Aww Jodie thank you, it's my pleasure! I'll definitely be doing a freebies post, so watch this space! x

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  13. fantastic suggestions and I really do need to get photoshop element... I use picmonkey royal right now but I think I could step it up a bit. The rest I have already invested in and they really do make a difference

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    1. You'll notice a massive difference with PSE, Linda! Picmonkey is great but you are limited - I tried it for the first time *after* using PSE, and I found it very frustrating. So you'll be amazed, I guarantee it! x

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  14. Your blogging tips are ALWAYS so helpful Catherine, and luckily I was able to tick off on much of what you have mentioned. Yes to the follow up. And yes to every single nugget of wisdom you shed on us. We are able to become better all because of you, so thank you!

    Love, Ann

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  15. Another great helpful post Catherine. I am working on that domain by the way! The photo s hop sounds interesting too, and I'm still practising on the bokeh x

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    1. Laurie I'm so pleased - and yes keep practicing, your one setting (a large aperture) is all you need to create it! x

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  16. Then I finally got myself a custom domain, www.tonespabergolsen.com and about time too :-)

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  17. What a fantastic post this is. I am saving up now for a camera and thought about purchase businesscards, but I thought it was perhaps overdone.Now I'm going to make them this week! Here in the Netherlands its different. You know we have that, just act normal,attitude. Which is a shame I think.
    www.nancysfashionstyle.com

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    1. You won't regret getting a DSLR, Nancy! And yes to the business cards - there's nothing "overdone" about wanting to stay in touch with bloggers you meet at events, in fact it's essential to developing those relationships!

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  18. Geez, Catherine, is there ANYTHING you don't know?! You really are like a walking encyclopaedia of blogging; we've all learned so much from you. Thank you for this post... looks like I'll be doing Photoshop Elements soon too. Sadly, I bought it a while ago, but never use it because I need a good couple of hours to sit down and figure it all out. You've just given me the kick I needed!

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    1. Hehe there's plenty I don't know, Lisa...!! But thank you, and yes get cracking with that PSE!

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  19. Hi Catherine, I am new to the world of blogging, but know I have to do it. I just looked into pipdig, and I have a question. Do I have to use siteground as my wordpress host company? Pipdig says on the website a free setup if we use site ground. And to use their themes, we need a Wordpress.org, not Wordpress. com. Can you uncomplicate this?

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    1. Hi Jaye, I'm afraid I can't help you at all - I'm not on WP! I don't even know what siteground is. What I have heard is that you don't want to use .com, you want to use .org as .com has a lot of restrictions or something, not being able to upload a template might be one of them. Sorry I can't help you further!

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  20. As always, great tips in easy to read language that makes sense! God, so many bloggers give tips that are either incomprehensible or miss out vital steps because they assume you have enough knowledge.
    I've just bought a DSLR and I'm still grappling with it after my idiot proof point and shoot! I'm not sure my photos are any better with the new camera but it's all a learning curve.
    Thanks for sharing these tips.

    http://petitesilvervixen.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Oh Jacqueline that's a really nice compliment, thank you! Though that's a bit upsetting that other bloggers' tips are not very clear...?!

      Your photos should definitely be better with a DSLR - don't forget to achieve bokeh you *must* be using a fast lens (see links in the post for that), so if you've only got a kit lens it's likely to be slow and won't give you any bokeh at all. Must be a standard 50mm lens too otherwise you might still be taking unflattering wide angle shots, which is the mistake most people make...!

      Make sure your aperture setting is f1.4, f1.8 or f2 for lovely blurry backgrounds, otherwise the background will start to get too sharp :(

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    2. Thank you for this Catherine. I'm such a techno-idiot so I appreciate hugely your tips!

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  21. Great tips, Catherine! I can't praise Pipdig high enough and I'd always use them again. Great value for your money.
    My business cards are from MOO as well and I am very happy - need to stock up for my next blogger meet up ;-)
    I am using PSE as well, it is perfect and the price is amazing compared to the full PS version which we don't need.
    My next investment will be a new camera and a photocourse!

    xx
    Annette | Lady of Style

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    1. Wow you got it all going on, Annette!! ;)) I'm always on the lookout for new camera equipment... There are so many different ones I'd buy for all sorts of different things! And yes re. pipdig - he is flippin brilliant x

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  22. Really amazing tips! I'm slowly improving my blog with blog design etc but next I am going to get my own domain, I hate using blogspot.com after.

    DarlingSophie

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    1. Yes it doesn't look attractive, does it Sophie...?!! Thank you hun, hope the tips help x

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  23. This is a great round up! I do go back and forth on how much value the conferences/workshops are...sometimes the best ones end up being free:)

    Heidi || Wishes & Reality

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    1. I've always found them to be absolutely invaluable, Heidi - but you have to also make the effort to get to know people and keep in touch afterwards (I'm not saying *you* don't, I'm talking about bloggers in general). I find that you can get 10x more out of it afterwards by growing those relationships...!

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  24. Well that was such an interesting blog for a 'newbie' blogger, lots to think about, but great to read, it's like a whole new world!

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    1. That's good to hear - hope the tips help, sweetie!! x

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  25. Great to know I have invested in almost all things you've mentioned. ;) Should get those lights though, would be sooo helpful, lighting in my house is awful.
    Really nice to hear these tips from a succesfull blogger! Thanks for sharing.
    Madara
    lookforsmile.com

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    1. Lights are a godsend, Madara: I know they say natural light is best - IT IS - but it's not always available to all of us. The right lights with a soft box can look just as beautiful, and it's better than having no pictures at all!! x

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  26. Oh wow, thanks for the tips Catherine. Will look into these. I recently bought a domain name and own a DSL camera but all the others I haven't done yet. I have been talking to the hubs about lighting. I will show him this post as he takes all of my photos.

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  27. Some great tips - thank you. I'd love to go to some blogger conferences but as a total newbie I am just too nervous!!! Which is ridiculous as I am 47 yrs old!

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    1. Home Bird at the 30-40+ blogger meet I held on 16th May there were MANY bloggers who felt that way but took a chance and came - they said it was the best thing they ever did!! Because I KNOW that many older bloggers have never attended a meet or event before I purposely made it as relaxed and welcoming as possible, and that was the feedback I got from everyone it seemed (even the most nervous ones).

      Life's too short - don't regret something you had the chance to do but never did!!

      C x

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  28. Its a great work man.You are sharing post in an understanding level.I really wish to thank you for sharing it to us.

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  29. Thankyou so much catherine for all your tips, very useful, from a new blogger:) Viv

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