Blogging: Behind the Scenes

Today I’m getting down to the nitty gritty.  I’m not on of those bloggers that has a craft room or a really put together kitchen (I blame being in a rental) or even my very own space in my house…far from it.  We’ll talk about where the magic happens, how I tweak my pictures, and about blog designs.  This is my happy place.


So here’s what things are really like here.  I’m not showing you the mess, everyone has a messy house.  These are just the places I visit most often for the blog.

 
Craft Suuplies
 
This box lives in a cubby in our bookcase. 
It’s filled with random crafty stuff, and Batman tattoos.
 
 
Our hall closet.  There is no rhyme or reason.
Paint everywhere, box of sewing fabrics, and more random crafty stuff.
 
 
Foodie Supplies
 
Oh the baking basket.
She lives on top of my fridge and holds food coloring, sprinkles, and other random stuff.
 
 
Spice/Contraband Cabinet
(see: where I hide candy, marshmallows, and chocolate chips)
Ziploc bags of cookies cutters by type live up on the very top.
 
Louise, my stand mixer.
I’m still trying to figure out an outfit for her.
My basil plant and deep fryer hanging in the back.
 
 
This is what my kitchen cabinets look like during the week.
I tape up recipes I’m going to make all over the place and get to them at some point before the due date.
My cookbook treasure trove.
If you want to know what any of them are, just ask.  
They’ll all make your kitchen a happy place.
 
 
Where I Photograph My Food
 
  Would you believe I took this picture…
 
 
here?
 
Right next to the sink is my favorite place to photograph indoors.
I get side light that’s just a little to the back.  Kind of perfect.  
When the dishes are done, there’s whole other counter on the right too!
 
My favorite outdoor place to shoot is out patio, without direct light.
 
 
I just LOVE this little kid picnic table Mike got for the boys.
It’s kind of perfect, and it’s so easy to stay above the food without standing on a chair.
 
 
The tent is new, and I don’t use it to diffuse or anything like that.
I haven’t been photographing outside since it’s been cold (like AZ cold), so the tent doesn’t really bother me…yet.



Photo Editing


I don’t have any high tech or primo photo editing software.  I’m intimidated by PhotoShop, even though I know I should probably go out and buy it.  Instead I go for the best shot I can, take too many pictures, and pick the best.

For little photo editing needs, I use IrfanView.  It’s free software you can download online.  I resize, change gamma, contrast, and saturation really easily.  Contrast is my favorite to boost the colors.

I use plain old Paint to crop my pictures.  Nothing special, it’s just a little easier than cropping with IrfanView.

I use PicMonkey.com for my watermark, creating buttons, collages, and other design type elements.  A lot of features are free, but your own overlay (watermark) is not.  There are other sites where overlays are free.  I’m just too comfortable with PicMonkey, so I paid the $4.99/mo and will most likely be changing to the $33/year plan.


Organization
 
While I have impeccable organization skills around the house, HA!, I do like to keep my computer and blog pretty tied down so I don’t get lost with everything going on.  Big tip #1 – Have a blog binder.  The binder I used to have is a good place to start.  It was a calendar and held post ideas all in one place.  But I’ve moved on a little from there – it’s become a little more intense.
 
I have a separate blog calendar now, that I’m completely in love with.  I got it from Tiny Prints.
 
The covers are a really sturdy plastic that can easily be wiped clean.  
Mom bonus!
 
Monthly calendar layouts (my favorite, I like to see it all at once).
There are big spaces to write in whatever you need, and Goals/To-Do lists.
Each month has a different color scheme.
There’s even a little cute paper clip.

 

 

There are lots of coordination stickers with pre-assigned events, and even a bunch of blank stickers for whatever you want to stand out.
There is A TON of lined paper too.
I’d show you the pages I’ve written all over, but those are ideas, I’m all being all Secret Squirrel.

 

Don’t forget storage space.
There’s a pocket and removable ruler.

 

 
A mini calendar for the next two years, and a pencil pocket with To/From matching labels.
 


On the computer I have everything filed, and filed, and filed.  It’s an addiction, but it makes me feel sane.



My original blog binder has become the home for all kinds of ideas I print and rip.  I also keep completed recipes in the front pocket so I can just grab them whenever I’m ready to blog about it.

 
I got the best sticker ever with one of my Foodie Pen Pals boxes.
It lives on my binder now.  :)
This 2″ binder is really really full.
I have everything in page protectors sorted by the same categories I use on the blog. 
 



Brand & Blog Design
 

What the heck is a brand?  It’s you, it’s your blog, it’s what people think of when they hear your blog’s name.  Why does it matter?  I never thought about a “brand” when i started blogging.  It’s not usually anyone’s first thought.  But if you want to me remembered and if you hope to make money, it’s going to be important.

When I started my blog I didn’t know exactly what I was going to write about, I just kind of dove in.  I wanted a name that wouldn’t back me into a corner.  Now that I have a niche I have mixed feelings about my blog name.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but WLOW doesn’t scream “FOOD!” when you hear it like Mom’s Test Kitchen does.  Then again I feel like the WLOW name doesn’t limit me to food only, I can do crafts, sew, and talk about goofy stuff – which I like.


Blog design comes into play too.  
Your button is seen all over the place.  
 
In the beginning, I used a Blogger background and the standard template options they offer.  I didn’t have a color scheme in mind, I was running with a white lights idea.
 
 
Then I paid Little Web Writing Hood for a design.  I had some ideas about what I wanted, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted just because I didn’t know what I really wanted yet.
I wanted clean, blues and grays, and that was all I really knew.

 

 

Then I paid Thriftary for a design.  This is when I feel my “brand” began.

 


I saved up all my paid blog post money and took the dive.  I had a better idea of the little things I wanted for my design, but I was no where near ready to do it myself.  Maddie was a dream to work with.  I picked her after being a reader of her blog for sometime and seeing the design she did for her sister.  You can read about the process HERE.


I also got Maddie to design my business cards.  Why not?  She already had all the formats and colors and what not.  Wanna see?  They’re just so cute!


Now, after OBC I took the plunge and did a hybrid design of my own.  I love Maddie’s design and didn’t want to loose the essence of what she did.  So I took a color inspiration:


 
Kept my favorite red accent color and started doodling with PicMonkey.  I kept Maddie’s signature light bulb and I’ve even got Mike’s thumbs up on the new look.  The new look it’s too far off from what I had before, which keeps my business cards relevant (yay!), but it also gives my blog a foot in with the tag line added.  At least I think so.  
 
 
My blog look will change next month with the WP migration, but I have so much pride know all the work I put into the design now!!
 
With the upcoming design, I have a definite color scheme I want.  I lucked out and found a  theme I liked too with matching colors – winning!  I also have fonts I want and a graphic idea.  It’s all a long way from where I was a year ago.  But if everything comes out right this time, this design should pretty much be it for me.  

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Comments

  1. says

    This is an absolutely fabulous post showing the hard work and organization behind your blog. It's very interesting and helpful. I spent an enjoyable hour this morning browsing around and am looking forward to seeing more as a new follower. Have a great day!

  2. says

    Julie, why are you moving to WordPress? Just curious. Have you blogged about it and I missed because I have some of this series that I have to go back and read. This is a great series.
    Paula

  3. says

    Love this, girl! :) Fabulous! Haha! All of my stuff looks VERY similar except pretty soon it will be all neat & organized thanks to that amazing The Container Store giveaway I won, right? Right?? lol! ;)

  4. says

    Great Post Julie the pic of where you photograph cracks me up. If people only knew sometimes what we do for a good pic! Your new color and tag like was the inspiration for the button I have on your blog today!

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