Since I’m both a graphic designer and a beauty blogger it seems only fitting to share some of the tricks of the trade with you and maybe give you a few ideas on how to make the best of your blog. In this first part I’ll talk about the basics of setting up a blog and a few tips on how to take better photos.
A few days ago I invited the lovely Gemma Rose (aka Gem) to participate in this special post and, lucky me, she agreed for her blog to be featured! So, without further ado, these are my tips and tricks for blogging like a pro.

The basics

If you are new to the blogging world you’ll need a host and a domain name. Both can be either free or paid, though the easiest thing to do is to get the free bundle at first and depending on how serious you are about blogging, upgrade to a paid plan later. You have quite a few options when it comes to free blogging platforms, the most common of which are Blogger.com, Tumblr and WordPress. You can open an account with any of these providers in just a few minutes – and then you are ready to roll. Or so you would think…

Choosing the right theme for your blog

Before typing your first post you need to choose a theme for your blog. There are literally thousands of free wordpress, tumblr and blogger themes out there, but how do you know which one is the best for you? Do you need a simple, minimalist theme or a design-heavy one? Usually the answer is in the type of content you will publish. For “wordy” blogs you can go for a more daring theme, but if you’re into sharing photos every day then opt for a clean, monochrome, minimalist theme.

Customizing your theme with easily readable fonts

Now that you’ve chosen a theme for your blog it’s time to customize it and give it a personal touch. First step: choosing the right fonts. Let’s take Gem’s blog as an example.

gemmaroseblog_ie1

The header is really sweet and matches her personality, but while the handwritten font used in the header looks lovely as a single design element, when used in the body copy it becomes hard to read. So, rule no. 1 when choosing a font for the body text: pick an easily readable font, like Roboto or Open Sans. Rule no. 2: no matter how much you love a certain color, don’t use it everywhere! In this case, pink on white for the body text makes everything harder to read. Choose a medium grey instead (not black – that’s too ‘contrasty’).

Let’s see how that front page of Gem’s blog would look like with Open Sans as the main font instead of the current one and a medium grey font color.

Choosing the right fonts

Way easier to read, right? So remember, make it easy for your followers to read your blog! (You might notice I changed the font in the menu as well).

Choosing the right background

Gem’s blog is wonderfully pink and the background is picked really well – overall it’s lovely! But *you knew this was coming*… one thing to keep in mind when using a background is to design it seamless, so that it looks good on any device and at any resolution. Again, if you have an image-heavy blog, I would say opt for a single-colored background, usually white. Either that or have the background image set at a low opacity. Here’s an example, with the low contrast, seamless background the content becomes the main focus for the reader.

low contrast background

So, do you still notice anything distracting? I do, it’s the faded blue upper rim of the template that doesn’t really fit in, so let’s get rid of that shall we?

template done

Now we have a fresh, pinkish theme that will make the content pop. On to the photography talk!

Photography 101

There’s a lot (a very great, huge, ginormous lot) to talk about photography, but I’ll keep it brief in this post. The most important thing about photography is not the camera you are using but the surrounding light. You can take some really nice pictures with a standalone entry-level mirrorless camera if you have good lighting conditions or you can take some pretty average pics with a $1000 Nikon D7100 if the light isn’t right. That being said, always remember to take your pictures in as much light as you can find. Another thing to be aware of is taking contre-jour pictures. Contre-jour means against daylight in french and refers to the technique of taking pictures with the camera pointing towards the light source. If you are going to shoot in contre-jour light, your pictures will be darker than usual and the details will be lost.

Sometimes contre-jour photography works, other times not so much (most of the time it doesn’t). Let’s see an example:

photography good vs contrejour

So, the rule of thumb is to take pictures with as much light as possible while trying to have the source of light in front of you (or at the side) and not behind you.

Should you invest in a better camera?

There’s no denying that a mid-level or high end camera will help you take better pictures, so when do you know you should upgrade? I personally started with a rather nice camera, a Nikon D3100 and the standard 18-55mm lens that came with it. I upgraded to a better camera and purchased 2 new lenses only when I felt like the equipment I had no longer matched what I wanted to do.

If you want to invest in a good camera take a few weeks to research and find your options. There’s lots of free advice online so take your time to learn more about what kind of equipment you will need. For instance, if you want to upgrade your beauty or fashion photography (street photography included) you can get this nice body and lens bundle from Nikon: the D3200 together with the 18-55mm lens comes at only $479 on Nikon’s official site. If you already have something similar, then consider upgrading to a full-frame DSLR and purchasing separate lenses.

In any case, research is the key word in here as the prices can vary greatly in online shops. If you want to find out more about fashion photography and the cameras that are best for that, check out James’s Chardon photography post on Kayture.

So, that’s about it for today, if you have any questions, shout it out in the comments section.

Love,
Ana