My Blogging Routinenedelja, maj 08, 2016
A while ago I got a comment: "Could you do a blogging routine tag or something similar about how your posts are created?" Never say I don't listen to you, dear readers, so here it is. Actually I didn't find a tag, I never even read such a post before I was asked if I would make one, but when I googled it, I found quite a few "regular" posts with bloggers describing their routine. They all followed about the same pattern and so did I. With almost six years of blogging experience under my belt, in the last half year actually writing two blogs, I've developed a very organized blogging routine. I just want my posts to be the best I can make them, so I invest a lot of effort into my blogging and I just hope it shows. I write all in advance, meaning I don't start writing a post on the same day it'll be posted, instead I have tons of nearly finished drafts on which I add some finishing touches on the day that I post them.
Planning and inspiration
I have a few ways keeping myself organized when it comes to planning posts. I quickly note ideas that just come to me on my phone. I have a Sticky Notes widget on my welcome screen, where I note everything that needs to be done, shopping lists and other things. Those post ideas I transcribe into OneNote by creating a new post. I'll talk more about that programme later, but it's the cornerstone of my blogging routine. When it comes to pictures, I photograph the products quite quickly when I get them, in the next few days or even the same day, but all the additional photos of swatches and other stuff happen later. I write what photos I need to take and other blog related tasks in a notebook. It's a simple A4 notebook, I didn't plan to make it a blogging tool, it was actually meant as a picture prop that I bought because it was pretty, but one day simple sticky notes just weren't enough. I've filled almost a half of the notebook in the past six months or so, all in my dreadful handwriting. I tend to make lists and then make a tick when the task is finished. I know people have proper planners, but I don't like those.
I don't need much to be inspired. I have a lot of ideas that just pop into my head doing the most random things like folding the laundry because I can't get my mind to shut off even for a second (I had a dozen ideas just this week and took pictures for five posts just yesterday) , but when I actively seek inspiration to develop the post fully, I mostly turn to Pinterest, especially when my posts on the other blog are concerned.
I think most of you already know that I take pictures with my smartphone. Currently it's Samsung Galaxy S5. I don't have a proper camera, even though by now I really should, but they are too expensive. I've already written a lot on the topic of blog photography and I still do the same thing, so check that series of posts for more information on that. I take pictures on my vanity and I have two lights, both classic desk lamps with Phillips Economy Twister Cool Daylight 23 W bulbs that help me add more brightness and accuracy to the photographs.
All bloggers know there is one unwritten rule - don't touch the products before taking pictures. That's why I do them almost immediately when I get them. I get inspired quite quickly how I'm going to set the background for pictures, so I whip it out in minutes and get to work. I have a whole drawer dedicated to blogging background props (it's actually gift wrapping drawer too), but what I pick often depends on the actual product that I'm taking a photograph of. For the least amount of editing required, I use a marble sticker background (got it in Merkur), a white wicker basket (Jysk) or my white wool sweater. I stopped using just white background because it takes so much editing compared to other textures to make the picture look good. When it comes to products which I know my camera will pick them up as too cool or green, I use more warm toned background. You might be familiar with my winter white and off-white sweaters in combination with a peachy scarf, dress or top, but I often add something rose gold or amber to warm it up more. I recently got a wool carpet (Jysk), which warms up the pictures too. There is a reason all of those stereotypical blogger backgrounds are so popular - they help the camera pick up the colours more accurately, especially if you don't own a fancy camera like me. These are all tricks that make editing a lot faster.
I take full-face photos and lip swatches in front of the window, the curtains are of course pulled away - on my picture I'm just trying to hide what's outside. I use two old organizers for height, a mirror so I can see the screen (I never use the front camera on my phone) and a Nuxe bottle to hold the phone. I don't have a phone on the picture, since I'm taking the actual picture with that camera and I don't have a back-up, but it stands on the boxes. On Galaxy S5 the earphones work as a shutter, so I use those all the time for all my full-face pictures.
TheBalm Meet Matte Hughes in Adoring - just one example of the pictures I had to retake. In this case because I stupidly thought that I can wear black and it's going to be totally fine.
It takes a lot more time to set up and take these type of photographs, especially since my camera isn't the best. It highlights my imperfections, so if there is a tiny bit of fallout from the eyeshadow that I don't even see in person, it's visible on the picture. Hence a lot of attention to detail is required when setting for that. I'm also limited to what I can actually wear, since white makes my skin tone look yellow, mint green too green and black is just a no-no, unless I take a lot of time for editing. That's why you don't see me in that many different clothes, but colour accuracy comes first. My hair is a problem in itself because it's so dark and it affect the colours. That's why I have my hair on only one side on most of my lip swatches because if my hair is up, the skin tone looks yellow, if it's down on both sides it's washed-out, but on just one side, it's a lot more accurate.
I usually take pictures of several posts at once, often ending up with several hundred pictures, which I then immediately transfer to my computer and arrange them in appropriate folders. Taking photos can take several hours when I take them for more than one post, especially for posts that include a lot of product swatches. For one simple post, it can be quite quick, maybe 20 minutes if it doesn't include full-face pictures. I keep all the original pictures until the post is posted, just in case I need to re-edit the pictures or I need an additional ones. I then go through all the pictures, selecting which are best, this surprisingly takes quite a lot of time. All the selected pictures then go through editing, which I often do straight away or later at night. Just in case my computer decides to break down (hasn't so far, but you never know), I always keep all the pictures back-upped on a thumb drive.
Editing takes a various amount of time, could be a minute a picture, but it's not uncommon that it takes a lot longer, especially when there are several products in the picture. It all depends on how the camera picked up the colours. I don't have a fancy camera with a ton of manual settings, so editing is my main point. Lightening up the pictures is easy, but colour correction takes a lot more experience. I strive to show you the colour of the product as accurately as I can, so I fix the colour if I need to and then check that it's all as it should be on at least two different screens. For those posts that I do for the other blog in the style of 10 Commandments of Concealer or my wishlist posts it takes a really long time to make them, a lot longer than normal editing. I also add a watermark and edit the pictures properties by adding Mateja's Beauty Blog for author rights. I know people find watermarks ugly, but my blog has been stolen 11 times (yes, you read that right), so I want to protect my work.
I rely on an Microsoft Office programme called OneNote for drafts of my posts. I write all of my posts there, which also serves as a back-up in case anything ever happens to my blog. It saves everything online as well as on the computer, which means that you can access your posts anywhere with internet through OneNote Online and on your computer without internet. All you need to have is a Microsoft account, which is basically your Hotmail. It works the same as Blogger, except there is no fear you'll accidentally post something and you don't have to re-upload your pictures when you fix them, so you don't fill up your online albums for nothing. Here I see better what pictures look good and which don't, so I do additional editing for those. I have a lot of drafts, those close to the top are already finished while the ones on the bottom I've only just taken pictures.
Every product I get I immediately add to my New in post, I note the name of the product, where I got it and price, also some basic information, while the rest is added once I make my mind about the product, but never on the same day I post it, as these New in posts, as well as for example Empties are finished long before that. I keep new products in special baskets or boxes that I keep near the computer, so I can test everything and don't forget about certain products when I'm writing. As I said each post gets written in advance. I tend to write several posts in a day when I feel inspired and then re-read them and edit them endlessly before they are posted. This one for example which is one of the long, themed ones I've been working on for several days, tweaking it once daily, adding, erasing text and fixing errors. It's just something that has roots in my education. I was taught that when you write an essay, you should leave it for a few days and only then go read it again because you can see your mistakes and add what you might have forgotten, since you're essentially reading with fresh eyes. I have a lot of posts that can be posted very quickly, probably enough for a few weeks that's why I can post so often. Even if I don't feel like writing, I always have posts that are basically finished and it just takes a lot of the pressure off blogging. The pictures are all also already edited way before, so all I need to do is read the post again, which I do many, many times to see as many mistakes as I can and then press post. I don't think I can't really tell you how long it takes to write a post, since I write them in such a way. For a nail polish it doesn't take long, maybe an hour or two, by that I'm talking about everything from photos, editing and writing, but for posts such as this one, it's days or even weeks (like for example Three Reds which took me a couple of weeks to do, mainly because of pictures).
After I press post
Starts the sharing. I pin an image on Pinterest, then head to Facebook to share the link and whatever is posted on Facebook is linked to Twitter, admittedly my least favourite social media, which I never check, so my posts are the same as on Facebook, which is also not my favourite media. Sometimes I share an image on Instagram as well, directing people to my blog via my profile blog link. I tend to do all these things just once and don't repost links everywhere later, simply because I find it annoying. If I write a lip colour post or nail polish swatch, I immediately add it to my Swatch Gallery and I add every post I write to my Directory. I strive to keep things very organized, so readers can find things easily.
I try to reply to every comment on my blog, except if it's a type of comment that's in the style "I love this nail polish colour" because what significant can you reply to that? But it doesn't mean I don't read them or don't appreciate them. I want to let people feel that their comment really matters and a lot of new information is often added in comments, which is helpful for other readers. As far as Instagram goes, their comment system is abysmal, so I don't like to reply there, even though I do to most, but I sometimes miss comments simply because there are already so many likes that I can't wade through looking for what picture it actually was. Sorry about that, it's not intentional if I miss you. The whole follow-for-follow / check my blog / links posting in the comments is my pet peeve, so I either erase them or don't answer. I never posted my link or begged for attention on any other blog, it's common courtesy not to do so.
So maybe not the simplest blogging routine, but very efficient. If you thought blogging is easy, boy do I have news for you. It's easier to have several posts ready that you wrote when you really had that surge of inspiration than constantly feel pressured to post something just because you think you have to. I never just put a product aside to deal with later, I rather deal with everything straight away (I was that kid who did the homework straight after coming home, so I could have all the free time later. I think that explains a lot about me). My posts on the other blog are more time consuming that on this blog, mainly because I write more theme posts than here. Review posts are much easier to write than something in the style how to discover your undertone, which took me two weeks to do and I have to find inspiration using a more limited amount of products than on my blog, so I don't have many pre-written posts there.
I'll finish off with this little rascal, since we're already discussing blogging behind the scenes. He's been hogging my keyboard and mouse pad for the past week, as apparently this is the best place to sleep. I had to edit out many empty spaces, commas and pluses during writing this post because he feel asleep on the keys, but I don't mind such an adorable distraction. I hope this was interesting to you, to see what's happening behind the scenes, though might have made it a bit long and too boring.
Have a great day!