How to create better blog photographs on a budget

How to create better blog photographs on a budget

You can create fabulous photographs for your blog without spending a penny. Yes, for free. When I started blogging I had no idea how important, or difficult, it was to create stunning images to enhance content and engage readers. As you can probably tell it's something I am still working on! (Seriously, have a look at what I did a year ago to recently). I look a lot at what other people create online and try to figure out how they managed it. At first I was a little disheartened because a lot of what I see on popular blogs comes from bloggers who have come with amazing skills in photography, along with equipment and software that I'm frankly not able to invest in to the same level. I had to figure out some alternatives for creating blog images on a budget instead. Here are my 5 golden rules.

How to create better blog photographs on a budget

Use royalty and permission free stock photos

You can't paste any photo you come across from the internet into your blog. There's lots of copyright law involved but basically it boils down to the premise that you can't use anything unless you have specific permission from the person who owns the image (which in itself can get complicated). The good news is there are lots of sites which have stocks of photos that you can use without having to worry about permissions or credits. This page lists 30 of these sites.... most involve no fees either! I also am a fan of Creative Convex, who will send you lots of lovely photos like this just for registering for the newsletter.

How to create better blog photographs on a budget

Use natural lighting

I struggle with this one. I work long hours, live in England, and have a house full of shadows. Finding a place with good natural light is difficult. If on the rare occasion there is a good day I take photos for a lot of posts in one go, which means I sometimes have to wait a long tme before publishing a post I wrote a long time ago. But, it is much better than having to edit photos taken in artificial light. Some bloggers use light boxes and reflectors....I do have mirrors and some big pieces of white card that I use to help at times (Unsuccessfully tbh) but really the best thing is a bright day.

See the difference here... same dress in the day and in the evening....

Picture one in the day - no edits at all

Picture two on a winter's evening. Edited a lot to get to this.

Use what you have

What I mean is I haven't gone and bought a new camera. I do occasionally use our 'good' digital camera (Sony NEX 5) but mainly use my phone (not an iPhone btw, a 1+ running android). I use tea towels, chopping boards and fabric for backgrounds. I have managed to find a couple of good walls too now (see above)... they require some furniture moving occasionally but give a good blank canvas to any dressmaking successes I am trying to share.

Here, using a tea towel....

How to create better blog photographs on a budget

Here, using a chopping board...

How to create better blog photographs on a budget

Use free apps

I have tried to keep the investment in my blog to a minimum; it's only in its first year and I was never sure if I would like it or if I would be good at it to start with. So, spending out on Photoshop was not really an option for me. Also, you need to know a fair bit about the software before you can get good results from it.

Instead I used apps and websites that let you edit photos for free. The main ones I use are:

PicMonkey - this will resize your photos for you so they are the optimum size for web viewing (camera photos are way too big to load quickly). You can play with key editing features and a whole lot more that I haven't gotten to, all for free. There is a paid version if you like it so much you want to upgrade (I haven't yet). Fair warning - the free version can be a little clunky at times.

Canva - I use this primarily for blog titles and graphics as its free and so easy to use. It even has its own design tutorial to show you all the things you can do with it (forgotten now I'm ashamed to say). I've been experimenting with just using this as a photo editing app recently and have been impressed. I recently needed to create some images for a magazine article (!) and Canva was the only free way I could create the requested specification for print. One thing I really like is that I can save my specific colours and use them in fonts and overlays to create brand consistency.

How to create better blog photographs on a budget
(this is the print version optimised for web)

VSCO - this is new to me but I'm liking it a lot so far. This app is free for my android phone and gives me the ability to edit photos to a standard I'm happy with, that can be immediately shared on a variety of platforms and social media.

Pixlr - I used this to substitute Photoshop for a logo I was going for. It was for a different blog so never saw the light of day but I have to say I can see how it is a good substitute for Photoshop. If you know what you are doing (I did not).

Photoshop 30 day trial - By nature of it being a trial I only used it once, but I timed my trial carefully. I used my trial to create my header and favicon logo, and I edited about 100 pictures in one go using this. I needed lots of tutorial support from places like the Wonder Forest to help but it can be done.

Optimise photographs for sharing and for multi-purpose

Think carefully about the photographs you are taking. Can they be used on more than one platform or for more than one post? If you've gone to the effort of finding natural light, brilliant backgrounds and have created something really good then recycle it, or make sure when you are taking photos you are covering your bases at least.... Make them work for you!

Key question...

Can it be used on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest?

Each of these platforms is a driver of traffic to your blog, so you need to be producing images that are optimised for them all. This isn't easy because Twitter and Facebook like landscape images (as do many blogs), whilst Pinterest is portrait based and Instagram is square. (Here is a handy pin for you with the best image sizes for each).

Basically remember this when you are photographing, and try to take photos in more than one format. For instance if you are going to post landscape images that's great but trying to find one or two portrait or squares at the same time will help you create promo images on other platforms.

How to create better blog photographs on a budgetMulti-purposing also means creating your own stock images, or finding images that you can use across multiple posts. If you know you regularly post about one topic why not take one super awesome photo that you can use for every post in this thread, changing only the title on it? This means that you can create a brand consistent image as well as not having to reinvent the wheel every week. The image above is one I have ready for any sewing based post I want to use on any platform.

So those are my top 5 rules for creating better blog images....mainly for free! What are yours?


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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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