Well, it seems like we are reviving all sorts of content here on A Touch of Teal this week, as it’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared some insights for fellow bloggers.
I think I’ve fallen out of this habit for a few reasons. One, it seems like there are so many articles out there on blogging, it’s hard to feel like I’m contributing with original content. But I know I have a unique perspective to add, and blogging does take up a big part of my free time, so it would be kind of weird not to talk about it, right? And then there’s the big elephant in the room—not everyone who reads my blog actually has a blog of their own. Are these posts even relevant to them? (TBH, they’ve probably clicked away, but hey, that’s cool too!)
But I think the main reason I let this section go for a while is I simply wasn’t inspired to write this kind of content. And if we’re being real, I wasn’t really inspired the past few months to write any kind of content. Blogging seemed much more like a chore and one more thing on my endless list of to-dos, rather than a fun creative outlet, which is the whole reason why I started this bad boy in the first place. I didn’t start it to make money or work with brands or even go to events—all of which are great things to come out of this blog, but simply stated, I started this blog to use InDesign for something other than making fence wrap or crane signs. Somewhere along the way, I think I became too caught up in the keeping-up-with-the-Jonses element blogging brings about, and now that I’ve gone back to creating content that I want to and not what I think people want me to, I am enjoying blogging much more than I have been in recent months and am thinking of way more cool and new ideas than before. Funny how life works like that.
In addition, over the last month I’ve had way more free time than I have had in a year due to a month-long break from grad school—we’re talking 10-12+ hours of my life back. At first, I didn’t know what to do with my time. I bought raw chicken for the first time in forever and actually marinated it. I became a regular at the gym again. I even briefly considered a weekend gig at a vineyard, but then I remembered I probably couldn’t enjoy the wine on the clock so that was short-lived. But back to my roots, I started putting more time into this blog, especially on weekends, and really feel re-engerized about the direction and the content.
So today, I wanted to share with you the top 5 blogging tools I use week after week. Some are expensive, some you can pick up at your local CVS for less than five bucks (seriously). And while there are probably hundreds of other articles on this same topic, I wanted to throw my hat into the ring and give you a glimpse into how I work and how I use these products because I found most of them through fellow bloggers (#payitforward). I’m always looking for life hacks when it comes to blogging, so if you have anything you live and die by, holla at me in the comments!
ADOBE CREATIVE SUITE / I don’t think I could do what I do without the Creative Suite, and if you’re looking for a skill to beef up your blog or “real life” resume, I would highly recommend getting comfortable with Adobe products. I’ve taken several Nicole’s Classes to better my own skills, and love that you can work through the lessons on your own time and pace.
Until my computer crashed last April, I had the entire Adobe Creative Suite (CS5) installed on my computer and worked off of that. When I restored my computer, Creative Suite was nowhere to be found nor did I have the product keys anymore. So I bit the bullet, and bought a monthly subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Because I’m a student, it only costs me $20/month and I use it nearly everyday.
A lot of folks find it intimidating, but I promise it isn’t as hard as it looks. I’ve always been most comfortable in InDesign, and use it to make collages for A Touch of Teal—in fact, here’s a tutorial on that here. I tell my interns at work that InDesign is basically a Microsoft Word, but it lets you do everything you want to do and can’t figure out how to do in Word. For all the photos on my blog, I usually bring them into Lightroom and edit there since I shoot in RAW, but if I am shooting a staged flatlay, I’m much more comfortable editing in Photoshop—here’s a tutorial on how I edit my photos to have a pure white background. And I use Illustrator to generally improve design pieces I’m working on, such as live-tracing all the icons see on this map. I’d love to start doing more Adobe Creative Suite tutorials here, so if there’s anything in particular you want to see, let me know in the comments below.
EYEFI MEMORY CARD / I actually found out about this memory card through my friend Lindsay, and have never looked back! Basically, it works like a normal memory card but all the pictures you take on it sync to an app on your phone. You can then easily save down the ones you want and share via social media on the go. I find it especially helpful for when I take trips and don’t always have access to my computer right away, but still want to share high quality photos—for instance, I used it for when Monica and I had a picnic at the Dallas Arboretum. A fair warning that it isn’t as fast as a normal memory card, so I’d recommend only using it for a few shots and not your entire outfit shoot.
NIKON D330 / Besides blog design and hosting, my camera is the most expensive purchase I’ve made for my blog, but let me tell you, it is worth every single penny. I’ve loved learning about photography over the past year, and being able to experiment with different angles, lens, and editing styles. This camera has functionality that a point-and-shoot just doesn’t, and I think the high quality photography on A Touch of Teal really helped to take my blog to the next level.
The number one thing I would say about purchasing a DSLR is that learning how to shoot in manual was invaluable. If you’re going to spend $500 on a camera, I think it’s critical you know how to use it. I set aside a few hundred dollars of my camera budget for a DSLR class that I could take in-person since I know that’s how I learn best—I took this one in case you’re interested. Even though the class was only three hours, I learned enough of the basics that I could more easily supplement my skills with online articles and real life practice. And while I might not be a blogger forever, I definitely think photography will always be a hobby of mine.
WHITE FOAM BOARD / Sometimes the best things in life are free. And based on the cost per use, my white foam board is basically free. I use it for all my flat lays on Instagram and the ones you see here on the blog. It’s not fancy and it’s not a professional product photography studio, but it gets the job done and most people would never know. It also doubles as a great light reflecter if you ever need one.
Recently, I’ve also added a marble pastry board to my collection of faux backgrounds to do flat lays and cocktail shoots on. But, if you want to save yourself $40, you could easily take another white foam board—or the back of your existing one—and cover it with marble contact paper. Easy and cheap, and a great way to get a high quality look when you’re living on dreams and spaghettios in an apartment building with counter tops from 1993. (Tell me I’m not the only Martina McBride fan out there.)
DROPBOX PRO / Can you tell the aforementioned computer crash really rocked my psyche? After the fateful incident, I immediately went out and bought an external hard drive to do regular Time Machine backups. (I lost nearly all my pictures from 2014, so when my grandchildren are going through my pictures when I’m old and gray, they’ll probably think I was a recluse that year. Though given how many nights I spent at Dupont’s Sign of the Whale, that might not necessarily be a terrible loss. But I digress.)
Recently though, I started worrying about my external hard drive crashing. Or it being stolen. Or my apartment building going up in flames. So I caved and bought a Dropbox Pro account so I could know all my digital stuff was safe in the friendly cloud. And because you can access Dropbox Pro from nearly any computer, it’s made it so much easy to grab an image when I’m not at home or access my homework when I forget to print it before class. It’s been about a month now, and I couldn’t be happier with it!
*** SHOP THIS POST ***
White Foam Board
Nikon 35mm Lens
Nikon 50mm Lens
Eyefi Mobi Memory Card
Zella Live-in Leggings
Lands End Striped Tunic—mine is from 2008, here’s the current version
Tory Burch Fitbit Leather Wrap Bracelet
Double Stud Pearl Earrings
Kendra Scott Jordan Ring
OPI Alpine Snow
OPI French Quarter for Your Thoughts
Clip Corner Nail Headboard
Pottery Barn Essential Duvet Cover
The Blush Label Bombay Pillows
Photos by Alicia