Firstly, happy 2nd birthday to Oat So Delicious! This has been my little baby over the last 24 months, and although I’ve wanted to give up and pack it all in, you can’t give up on your baby, can you?
I can’t actually believe I’ve been blogging for two whole years. The months have gone by incredibly quick and I’ve learnt A LOT in that time, made many mistakes and had a couple of very proud moments! I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my blogging journey and share what tips and tricks I’ve learnt along the way.
Invest in props over time
I think this is the first mistake I made when I started blogging – buying lots of colourful, pretty photography props before fully identifying my style as a food blogger. The first 6-12 months of blogging should be very experimental, where you try to figure out your identity and style. It is not the time to buy beautiful (and expensive) ceramic/marble crockery that you don’t know how to style or photograph!
With so many great high street stores now bringing out affordable homeware ranges, it’s very easy to buy photography props without breaking the bank. My favourite places to shop are TK MAXX, H&M Home, Oliver Bonas and Anthropologie – however, if you have one near you, antique shops are my number one place to go!
Now I’ve found my own style, I’ve learnt a couple of do’s and don’ts when buying props.
Matte crockery – less shine in photos
Tarnished cutlery – no reflection
Neutral napkins – you want to enhance the food, not distract the reader
Interesting chopping boards – a range of shapes, sizes, textures and colours
Patterned props – too distracting
Props all the same colour – you want depth in your photographs
DIY your own backdrop
I have tried and tested many backdrops over the past 2 years, from a white sheet hung from my windowsill to a white foam board – all without much success! I believe the easiest way to make your photos look more professional is a simple but effective backdrop, which is why I decided to DIY my own.
One of my mottos in life is if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the shops/current market, it’s time to do it yourself!
I recently stumbled across a fantastic DIY backdrop tutorial by Bea Lubas and I can’t tell you how happy I am with the outcome! I simply bought a large piece of plywood from a hardware shop (cut in half), some tester paint pots and a sponge – that’s it!
I’m so pleased with the final outcome and its beautiful marble effect. The best bit? It’s completely custom made and therefore no one will have this exact version!
Research, research, research
This is quite self-explanatory as I’m sure many bloggers naturally research out of pure curiosity, however it’s such an important part of the learning process. With so much free content online to soak up, you could spend hours and hours reading articles, watching styling videos and reading e-books.
I’ve recently purchased my first DSLR camera and I’ll be the first to admit I have very limited knowledge around camera settings. I began my search knowing I wanted a relatively inexpensive camera (under £400) as I knew I wouldn’t know how to use the functions that came with an expensive model.
After spending many hours on the internet, signing up to free courses, reading articles during my lunch break at work and thoroughly digesting the terms and phrases to do with cameras, I started to understand what everyone was talking about! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a novice and it will take a lot of time and practise before I can confidently use the manual settings on my camera. But for now, a bit of googling has made me confident enough to make my first blogging investment, wahoo!
My favourite topics to research around food blogging: photography settings/techniques, lighting, food styling and where to find props.
Accept old recipes won’t have professional photos
I’ll happily admit that I don’t like the imagery on 50% of my blog posts.
Everyone has to start somewhere, right? I would never take the images I do today without learning from previous photography mishaps. It would be easy for me to delete my first 12 months of posts as I’m not happy with the photography, but how can I improve if I don’t acknowledge how far I’ve come?
If you’d like a little giggle, check out some of the first images I posted on my blog – they may look awful but I still love the recipes and would make them again in a heartbeat!
Rooibos Vanilla Tea-Infused Porridge
Raspberry & Almond Oat Bars
Peanut Butter & Raspberry Swirl Blondies
A good phone camera is great for beginners
Up until this week, I have used my Huawei P20 Pro for all of my photography, both on my blog and social channels. I 100% stand by using my phone to take my images, as the camera on Huawei phones are incredible and have a handy food photography setting which I love!
It’s also a very cost effective way to start a food blog, allowing you time to decide whether you want to fully invest in a professional DSLR camera.
Here are some of the images I’ve shot on my Huawei P20 Pro;
Find your ‘inspirational bloggers’ and learn from them
This one is really important to me, as I believe you grow the most when learning from other people’s experiences.
Many of the professional food bloggers/food stylists I follow offer free content, workshops and courses to their followers to help them achieve their photography/styling goals. I find these bloggers truly inspiring as they’re willing to share their wealth of knowledge to thousands of people, rather than keeping those tips and tricks to themselves – how selfless is that!
My inspirational bloggers are;
The Little Plantation
They produce stunning recipes and imagery and I have learnt many tips from them!
Credit: Bea LubasCredit: Delight Fuel
A small following doesn’t mean you can’t achieve big
My last and most important point in this post is that follower count, page views, likes and comments do not define who you are as a blogger. Nor will they limit you in terms of your goals and achievements. If you want to succeed as a blogger – you will. It’s a combination of putting the hours in, learning from your mistakes and persevering.
Some of my proudest achievements have been winning ‘Best Free From Blog’ at the HBC Blog Awards, becoming a Perkier brand ambassador and working with international brands such as Panasonic – all achieved with under 5K followers!
Dream big, even if you think you’re small.
If you’d like to see more of my day to day recipes, give me a little follow on my @oatsodelicious for daily inspiration!