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Taking your Own Blog Photos #BehindTheScreen

blogger, blog, photography, selfie, blogtips, blog tips
Say Cheese! Are you ready to upgrade your selfie? Did you guys know I take about 90% of my blog/IG photos on my own?

Yup. That's right. Most of the time I am my own photographer, on top of about 1 million other jobs that I do to keep Yes, Plz up and running (all worth it for you guys, btw!).
blog, blogger, blog tips, photography, selfie

When I first started blogging, one of the hardest things possible was finding someone to take my photos. My friends and family are 100% supportive of my blog but to be honest sometimes I don't like them to take my photos.

After RJ has been working all day and we haven't had any time together, the last thing I want to do is bug him to take a million pictures of me. Plus, most of the time I have a very specific angle/shot/vibe in my head that can be hard to portray.

So, I figured out how to take my own photos.

At first it was difficult. But then it was fun. And now it's the norm.

So, there's two ways I do it! And if you don't have a fancy camera, don't you worry. It's still possible.

And if you're not a blogger, this still works well for family photos, solo trips or whatev. (I shot our Christmas card by myself this year!)

if you only have an iPhone.. 
-Buy a tripod. They're cheap! There's a bunch of different ones & if you're a blogger I suggest on buying multiple. I have two phone tripods (this & this) + one camera tripod (it's larger). The top of my phone tripod removes and can attach to my large tripod if needed, but most importantly you just need one medium tripod to start out. 

-Grab a Bluetooth Remote. This is mine. It syncs to your phone via bluetooth and enables you to take photos from across the room. GAME CHANGER. 

-Learn the Toe Tap. So sometimes, you can use the bluetooth remote by hiding it in your hand but sometimes (when shooting recipes etc.), you can't use your hands. Here's my secret tip:
the toe tap
put the bluetooth remote on the floor and use your big toe to tap the photos. Crazy but it works y'all. 

Here's some posts I shot via toe tap & on my iPhone: 

if you have a Canon.. 
*I have to preface this option may be available on other cameras but I only have a Canon so I can't speak for what I don't know. :) 
-Buy a Tripod. I have a large tripod for my camera. It has three different sections on the legs so I can make it many different angles, heights, etc.  

-Download the Canon App. There's two apps but I use Cannon Camera Connect. This allows you to control the camera like a remote. IT'S MIND BLOWING. You can change settings, focus, etc. The app will walk you through set up or if you have any specific questions, I googled a ton. You can also use this app to download photos straight from camera to phone if you're out and about & want to IG right away. 

-Toe Tap. Same as above.. use your hand when possible or resort to the toe tap! Just wipe down your phone after, ha! 

Here's a few posts I shot via toe tap & my Canon: 

When shooting yourself I do have a few extra tips. Always take a few photos then make sure the lighting, focus, etc. is right. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to shoot a whole post and later find out that all the pictures are unusable. Once you know the settings are right, then take more photos than necessary. Besides that it's actually pretty easy! 
I take almost all my photos, the only times I don't are if we are out somewhere and I don't have my tripod, if no people are in the photos or if I'm with my BFF Nat who's a photographer. 

If you try this method, please let me know! If you have any questions at all, hit me up on DM or comment below. XO 

Ooey, Gooey Snickerdoodles

Every Christmas season I get with my Mama to bake some holiday cheer! Cookies, treats, candies.. #OhYesPlz
We usually bake a ton to give to neighbors, family and friends. We love to bake these peppermint trays too. They make the perfect lil' plate to gift your goodies on. The best part is you don't have to worry about getting the plate back or gifting a cheap disposable plate. 

Since moving away, I haven't given up our Christmas baking tradition especially since these Snickerdoodles are oh so yummy. 

Sponsored, Ad, Collaborations -- What Does It All (REALLY) Mean? #BehindTheScreen

When I write a post for you guys, it's always the truth. This is my blog, my thoughts, why would I want to lie about something? If it's something I really don't want to tell y'all, I just won't tell y'all, ya know?

No one is forcing me to blog and no one will ever control my thoughts on here. 

There's only a few times I might leave something off of my site.. if it's something super personal (very few, if anything, falls into this category) or if it involves someone else/isn't my story to tell

With that being said, you may see me write things that are sponsored, an ad, a partnership or a collaboration. Over the years, these words have sorta gotten a bad wrap. I wanted to clear up a few common misconceptions..  What do they really mean? And why are you seeing them? OR I'm getting questions from girl's new to the bloggingsphere.. How do I get paid?! 

So this is a two part post. Since blogging is pretty new, mysterious and somewhat foreign, I figured this post could be very interesting depending on if you're a blogger or not! The first part I'll be explaining all the technical terms, how they work and why I do them. Part two will be more of how they come about and more things on the blogger side of things. 

If I fail to cover anything, please feel free to comment below, DM me on Insta or shoot me an email. 

part one

Very often you'll see girls (including myself) post about items, brands, etc. and their post (blog post, IG post, FB post) will contain the tag or words 'Ad, Spon, sponsored, collaboration, partner, [c/o], care of' and maybe a few others that I can't think of. All in all, they basically mean the same thing.. you are promoting a product in exchange for something. 
Sometimes this something is just a free product, some times you're also being paid to promote this product. Usually words like care of, or [c/o], solely mean free product. Spon, sponsored or ad mean you're also being paid. Collaboration and partnership can mean either but often a partnership is a predetermined amount of time that you will promote that person (and none of their competitors) for an extended period. Honestly, the verbiage usually doesn't matter as long as it's being stated. (from past experience, the brand determines which of these words you can use and where they need to be placed in your post, usually at the very beginning). If you don't specify which posts you're being paid for there can be big legal consequences. 

So why are we doing them?
Well the why is easy. There is a lot that goes into a blog. Even if you are just looking at the basics, coding everything yourself, etc. there are still costs. Most likely you have more costs than just the basics. In case you have no clue what happens behind the scenes, here are a few things a blogger may have to pay for: website, website hosting, website design, website maintenance, photography services, content needs (props, clothes, etc. depending what kind of blog you run), the list goes on. So with all this, you are spending money and sponsored content helps replace some of those funds. In addition, blogging takes a lot of time. At this very moment, I'm writing this post at 11:30 pm after working my 'main' job, so like myself many bloggers hope to do this full time. Not only would that lead to more time to produce better content, but I could be on a normal schedule! (I hope none of this sounds like I'm complaining, I obviously love blogging SO much. I just want to explain everything fully.) 
So long story short, when you are being paid for blog posts it helps fund your blog. 

So how do they work?
There are a few different ways that paid content can come about. You can pitch post ideas to brands or brands can reach out to you. Basically, you can email a brand and say "I have XYZ post idea coming up and I LOVE your product. I use it everyday and would love to tell my readers more about it." or maybe a brand will think you're a good fit, see you using their product or read a post where you mention it. They will contact you to find out more information about your rates, schedule, etc. 
Once you have your ideas approved and dates in order, you receive the product, shoot the product, write the post and submit it to be approved by the brand. 

this is what's so important to me..
I will never just accept a collaboration, ad, etc. just because of the money. Like I said before, I don't want to lie to you guys and I don't want you to come here just because I'm shoving something down your throat that I don't actually love. 
Would I love to accept every offer that comes my way and make as much money as possible but in the long run I know I will be happier and feel better if I stay true to myself and to you guys. 

I felt it was important for me to tell you guys this because you know I like to be transparent. I've actually had some very exciting opportunities lately that you will see very soon and I don't ever want you to doubt my voice. I have probably turned down just as many collaborations as I've accepted. I like to feel I know you guys and know what you like! 

Yes my goal is to write for Yes, Please daily full time one day and I'm about half way there! The next step is hopefully growing stronger relationships with new brands and seeing where it goes. It's scary but I know if I keep a positive outlook, stay true to my style, my voice & my audience and continue to work hard that it will all go according to plan. 

part two

I wanted to answer a few FAQs that I've been asked recently about all this jazz & hopefully it will be helpful to any of you gals out there hoping to also blog full time! 

Q. What do you do if you collaborate with someone and when you receive the product it's not good?
A. Since collaborations are usually unpaid, I do often receive products to try. I always let the brand know I will provide them with my honest feedback. Sometimes you guys never see these products at all. I don't like putting negative vibes out there! If I don't like it I just tell the brand why it didn't work for me personally. If I think my opinion could save you guys time, money, etc. I will usually let you know that it wasn't my favorite and why. Honesty is the best policy, just be polite and they'll understand. They will appreciate the constructive criticism that can hopefully better their product for others. 

Q. I'm a new blogger. When should I start charging for posts?
A. This varies for everyone and I don't think there's any right answer. Personally, I didn't feel comfortable charging until I knew I could provide the worth. Some bloggers say charge no matter what but I don't always necessarily think that's fair. Brands work hard for their money and you don't want to be robbing them just for free product. If you don't think you're at the place to charge brands, work on ways to save money on your end (do your own coding, grab a friend 'photographer' or look for collaborations for products you would already be purchasing to save money). Personally, I have been blogging for over 4 years and just got my first paid collaboration last year. 

Q. How do I find collaborations? 
A. Like I mentioned earlier, the best way to come about collaborations is when a brand reaches out to you. I feel like when someone takes the time to reach out, they already like your blog/voice/style and are more willing to work with you. Another great way to find collaborations is through different media agencies. They do a lot of the leg work to find brands looking for influencers. There many, many, many agencies. This is when Google becomes your BFF! A few of my faves are Fohr Card, Bloglovin' Activate and SoFab. 
This post is getting pretty lengthy, so I'll wrap it up here! I'm open to answering any other questions you have. I'm seriously an open book. Don't forget to head to Instagram to enter to win $150 + a HUGE box of all my bestie & I's favorite things. XO 

| Bedding | Sheets (the BEST ever) UGG Moccasin Slippers

Cozy Christmas Front Porch

Since this is our first year with a front porch (something I've always dreamt of!), I was so excited to decorate it for the holidays! Christmas is the most fun holiday to decorate for, so obviously I had to go all out. I loved it so much that it became the backdrop for our Christmas card!

Skinny Chicken Enchilada Soup

Hello December and helloooo soup season! The best season of all right?! Especially when it's a Mexican favorite that is light, filling and oh so cozy. #YesPlz

Meet the love child of my favorite chicken tortilla soup and a strong craving for enchiladas.

Cranberry Moscow 'Mule'tide Punch ft. Canada Dry Ginger Ale + Other Holiday Hosting Faves

Dr Pepper Snapple Group® sponsored this post. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

I am SO excited to share our first glimpse Christmas decor with you guys and what is more fun than a lil' holiday party (aka the PERFECT Christmas cocktail) to go along with it!? There's so many things I love about this year, but one of my most favorite things is having friends and family over for good food, good drinks and a great time.

Now that we're officially in the holiday season, I'm always thinking about a few things: convenience, budget, time. Sure, these things aren't fun but they are key to surviving the holiday season. If I'm having a party, I want to make sure I'm not slaving away in the kitchen all night or spending a fortune! 

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