On Friday, I was talking to one of my best friends who is considering starting a blog or a creative pursuit of her own.
A lot of the questions she was asking me about my experience were questions I wish I could have asked someone, or actually did ask someone, before I finally launched A Touch of Teal a little over a year ago.
Since many of you are also considering creative endeavors or are bloggers yourselves who appreciate the behind-the-scenes content, I thought it’d be fun to round up all the questions I am frequently asked and do my best to answer them here. As the old adage goes, a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.
Should I start a blog of my own?
YES! You never know unless you try, and the barrier to entry is so low (free, basically!). The great thing about a blog is unlike a book, it’s a living thing—it never has to be “done” and you’re allowed to evolve over time. Because you’re constantly pushing new content out, it helps teach you to learn from failure without dwelling to much on the past.
Also, don’t wait until you have the “perfect” idea for a blog hashed out—so much of blogging is learning by doing, so if blogging something you want to do, just do it.
I’m a new blogger. Do you have any tips?
I wrote an extensive post about the four things I wish I knew when I started blogging here. Be sure to read the comments, too, as there is a lot of excellent food for thought.
What’s your favorite part about blogging?
I love that blogging allows me to explore and practice things I have always been interested in—writing, graphic design, photography, the digital space—while creating one finished product using all of those skills. I also love the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet on the way, many of whom I most likely would not have met otherwise.
Do you think A Touch of Teal is worth your time?
Absolutely. If it wasn’t worth my time, I would have stopped long ago since time is my most valuable resource. The creative outlet, the new skills, and the awesome community, both online and offline, are what keep me going.
When do you write your blog posts?
I wish I could tell you I have a three-month editorial calendar and posts already written in-full for this week. But with a full time job and nighttime grad school on my plate, it never works like that.
Instead, I usually decide what my three to four post topics for the following week are going to be on Thursday or Friday, and then begin executing them (taking pictures, finding product links, actually writing the post) over the weekend. (I’ve also been known to write text for my posts on the Notes app on my phone when I’m crunched for time and find myself without service on the Metro.)
Then, I finalize the post the night before it goes live and schedule out all of my social media posts. Sometimes a little pressure goes a long way ;].
How do you figure out what to write about?
I take inspiration from so many places—what’s currently going on in my life, magazine articles, things I read on Twitter, my friends (i.e. this post), pins I saw on Pinterest, other bloggers, lunchtime strolls, etc. I have a list of future post ideas written down and am constantly adding to it.
If you’re currently blogging and experiencing a writer’s block, I always try to think about content I would like to read. And if you’re thinking about starting a blog, but worried you won’t have enough to write about, don’t. There is always something to write about.
Who takes your blog pictures?
Most of my outfit pictures are done by the highly talented Lisa Chiu, and we usually shoot around my apartment, in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood, or in Fairfax’s Mosaic District. Everything else you see is pretty much shot by yours truly (and for the record, I am definitely not as talented as Lisa ;]).
What kind of camera do you have?
What photo editing programs do you use?
When my computer crashed, I lost my bootlegged copy of the Adobe Creative Suite, so now I use the Adobe Creative Cloud and couldn’t recommend it enough. I shoot all the images I take myself in both JPEG and Camera RAW, which is a must. JPEGs throw out 90% of your photo data, making it harder to edit and color correct later than a RAW file.
I start by importing all my pictures that need editing into Lightroom, and then I adjust things like white balance, exposure, and tone. Once I have the image in a good place in terms of basic color corrections, I export it as a JPEG and then open the JPEG in Photoshop. The only reason I move over to Photoshop is because I am obsessed with the Photoshop Actions from A Beautiful Mess, which don’t work in Lightroom. I have the Fresh Collection, so I usually run a few of those (Pearl, Petal, and Chloe are my favorite!) to make the image more visually appealing and resize the image. Then, it’s ready to go!
For Instagram, I used to be really into the filters right in the app—helloooo Mayfair. But recently, I’ve nixed the filters and just been editing my photos right in the app myself. I always turn down the warmth since that makes your pictures look more professional, and usually play with the brightness, shadows, and highlights to get the image looking like I want. Sometimes I also play with the saturation and the contrast, it just depends on the look I’m going for.
On what platform do you host your blog?
I host my blog on WordPress.org through Bluehost, and I bought my Domain name through GoDaddy.
Who designed your blog?
Do you think A Touch of Teal is an extension of who you are?
Yes, I really do think this blog reflects my personality, tastes, and who I am as a person. I also think its the best compliment when someone tells me I write my blog the way I talk in real life, because it means my authentic voice is coming through.
That being said, my blog, as with any online presence, presents a staged and filtered version of my life most of the time. I wish my life was as cool and colorful as it looks on Instagram. And I try not to bring too much negativity to the blog, because no one wants to hear that, or too much of my personal life, because the Internet sticks around forever. But just know that everything I do share is really something that’s true to who I am offline.
How did you start working with brands?
The first collaboration I ever worked on was this Jewelry Layering 101 post with Trend Tribe. They reached out to me, and I was so excited! After that, other collaboration opportunities started coming my way, and I accept the ones that are a natural fit for the content here on A Touch of Teal.
I also do pitch brands myself from time to time when I have a clear idea for a post and really think the company or brand is one my readers would like to see.
Do you have a favorite post?
It’s hard to pick a favorite since I’ve worked hard on everything you see here, but some that stand out in my mind are: How to Make a the Perfect Wax Seal, 13 Things I’ve Learned Since College Graduation, Simplifying Life, and Gallery Wall with Giddy Paperie.
Is there anything you’d do differently when you started if you knew what you know now?
The three things I’d do-over from the start is 1) host my blog on WordPress as opposed to Blogger, 2) start reaching out to the DC blogging community sooner, and 3) put an emphasis on great original photography earlier. Everything else—i.e. all the wtf are you doing, Katie?! moments—is just part of the creative process.
Any questions you have that were left unanswered? Leave them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them!