So a few weeks ago, I jumped in headfirst into a new series we wanted to share here to help new bloggers or answer some common questions for those interested in starting a blog. The first series was The Basic SEO for Bloggers, which was inspired by a mentor group I led with Jose for The Haven Blogging conference a few weeks ago. I always walk away from that blogging conference inspired to produce more content and grow my blog. This year, Jose and I felt the calling to help reinvigorate the platform of home decor blogging and what better way to do that than to share some huge tips that we have learned from blogging over the past 11 years. Before we get started today’s blog post is all geared towards… well gear, I want to put a disclaimer out there. Professional blogging is a technology-based industry, so things that have worked in the past or currently for that matter will always change, so please stay tuned for updates to these posts and new content to better equip you with new ways to grow your blog and share your content. Our experience is based on home decor and lifestyle bloggers, so a lot of the answers and tips we give will be based on that environment.
So this week’s post comes from some great feedback we received on Instagram when we shared our first blogging basic tips last week. Last week we shared SEO tips, which is a very gray area for bloggers trying to find ways to organically get discovered, primarily through google search results. We wanted to take a few steps back to the basics and share the gear you need to get your blog up and running. We hope to debunk some common misconceptions in order to get started. If you already have a blog, we are going to share some affordable tools that will instantly pay off and take your content to the next level, and for those seasoned bloggers, we have some things we are using today that we think will help… So let’s get started!
I need to make a big investment to start a blog
NO! That is the biggest thing I want you guys to take away from this blog post, it does not have to be a huge investment to start blogging. I would say the best investment you can make for your blog is getting a good phone [which most of you probably have already]. Personally, I use the iPhone 11 Pro Max and I absolutely love it. All of my Instagram content is taken on my phone and about 70% of the photos on the blog are taken with my phone. There is SO much you can do with phones today & you do not need to invest in a bunch of cameras, equipment, and techy gear to have a good blog. Any of the gear we are talking about in this post is stuff I have added over many years and is not necessary to get started. If you have the desire to start a blog & your phone you can do it! You got this & I am cheering you on!!
I need a desktop/laptop in order to be a blogger
This will probably be the only other item I would highly recommend getting [after a phone]. Technically you do not need to have a computer to start a blog. You can access, type, and add media to a blog post from your phone… However, the ease of use when using a computer for your blog, responding to comments, changing design is much more user friendly from a computer. I find that anytime I am doing things for the blog, it is much easier on my computer & I prefer doing it there!
I need a DSLR or Mirrorless camera in order to have good pictures for my blog… right?
Yes and No. No, you absolutely do not need a “big” camera like a DSLR or Mirrorless for your blog. Thankfully, technology in phones has come so far that your phone will do a wonderful job for you and your website. Today, our blog posts images are about 70% iPhone photos and 30% are from our Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera.
The advantages of the iPhone are generally it is always on you, charged, and ready to take a photo. If you use Lightroom Mobile you can set up Lightroom to auto-import from your camera roll, so your images are instantly ready to be edited for social media and your website. With the newer iPhones, you have limited control over your aperture to adjust your depth of field. For home decor bloggers this is perfect and can easily fulfill most of your needs for content. If you are an iPhone and Mac user like me, there is nothing better than being able to quickly airdrop your media from your phone to your computer, or use the iCloud to gain access to them quickly and efficiently. There is a minimal learning curve to using the phone camera getting you capturing perfectly exposed and focused content right away. I would easily argue that the higher-end iPhones over the last two models and maybe a few further back rival some of the entry-level DSLR and mirrorless cameras in picture quality.
The disadvantage to phone cameras is that you have some control but it is limited. Focal lengths are limited and zoom you lose the quality of the picture quickly. You can purchase different lenses on DSLR and Mirrorless cameras to better equip you for your shooting environment. The pixel count on the iPhone is typically about half of the bigger lower-end camera which impacts quality and editing.
I highly recommend using iPhones to capture your content for new bloggers to seasoned bloggers.
DSLR or Mirrorless
The advantages of using DSLR or Mirrorless cameras are their ability to provide you with the tools (lenses) to capture nearly anything you want in any environment, but that can come with a cost. We currently use the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera, with a 20mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm lens. Our main lens is the 24-70mm f2.8 lens and it is outstanding in nearly every interior shot we have ever done. Rarely we will use the 20mm lens for a wider shot in close quarters, but could easily get everything we need form the 24-70mm. The bigger cameras are a lot better in low light situations when compared to the iPhone. You can shoot in Raw format for your photos which gives incredible editing power. While there is an auto mode on every camera, their power comes from the ability to manually adjust settings for your capture.
Disadvantages of these are there is a learning curve in order to get the perfectly exposed shot with the desired depth of field. Their cost is something you cannot overlook, and the extra step of transferring photos comes in all shapes and sizes.
Seasoned Bloggers tip: If you are ready to take your content capturing to the next level get a semi-pro camera with a lens that has an aperture of f2.8 or lower. Use a tripod and tether shoot, meaning connect your camera to your computer while you are photographing your space. This will allow you to use slower shutter speed to let as much light in as possible, keep your ISO low, and also you can get a higher aperture to get everything in the room in focus if that is something you are looking for.
Takeaway: We use both in most cases, but I could easily produce all my content with just my iPhone. The big camera comes in handy when I am trying to showcase certain products or shooting space with lower light.
Tripods can come in all different shapes, sizes, and prices. I think everyone should eventually purchase a tripod and that goes for those who are using just a phone, a big camera, or like us using a mix of both. They make some really good phone tripods that can come in handy for shooting a room. But really shine if you want to capture time lapses, talk to your camera for social media shares like IG stories, or create more video-based content. For those bloggers that have or are interested in selling items on their website. A tripod is a great way to showcase products, leaving the camera in place and quickly changing out the products you are selling.
For those that are using the bigger cameras, tripods are a great way to steady the camera, use lower shutter speed, allow for you to change your aperture, or shoot in lower light environments. They also will do all of the things I shared above for those using camera phones.
I would definitely invest in a hard drive. These two can come in all different shapes and sizes, but I would do your best to get the biggest one you can afford. I cannot stress enough to put every image you shoot onto a hard drive and keep that hard drive very organized. If you are shooting photos with a big camera put all of your images into organized folders right onto the hard drive. If you are shooting with a phone, send the images you used for your blog post, to your computer, and to your hard drive to be saved in a safe place. Keep the images original and unedited if you can. This will come in handy when a company wants to feature your content years down the road but are requesting to use the original hi-resolution images.
Not a must, but deserves Honorable Mention
Electronics Traveling Organizer
This isn’t a must, by any means, but deserves an honorable mention for bloggers. We purchased an electronics organizer to help keep our extra, camera batteries, dedicated charging cables, tethering cables, memory cards for our cameras, and our hard drive.
When it comes to blogging, adding elements of video and sharing on social media in a video format are great ways to capture and grow readership. We have and use a phone gimbal from time to time. This is another great way to capture time-lapses as well as panning time-lapses. Also, for videos that you want to create a cinematic feel to that isn’t too shaky, like doing a video room reveal, a gimbal can be a great way to showcase a space without distracting handheld video movement.
Tethered Cable for Photoshoots
Tethered shooting is the way the pro’s do it. We have had a few professional photographers over to the house for magazine shoots and they all have tripods with a tethered cable for their computer (that is also on its own tripod). The power of this is remarkable, they can see in a full-screen view of how the image looks in comparison to the small viewer on the camera. They can edit right on the spot, and make adjustments as needed. Check your camera and computer ports or what cables you need. Typically they are a USB-b or USB-c.
Adding lighting is a very tricky thing. It can absolutely help shoot a darker space or a space with horrible casted shadows and dark spaces… but you need to properly learn how to use lighting because it can make a beautiful space look off and unnatural. We have used this in spaces that need a slight fill light in some dark shadowing areas regardless of how good the natural light was, but we don’t recommend this for new and novice bloggers. For those bloggers looking to share on Instagram stories or in a more video format on their blog, a ring light is a great tool to help add a professional look to your face.
These are some of the very basic and essential items I would highly recommend for bloggers from all walks of life. From experienced bloggers to those just considering starting a blog I hope this was helpful. I truly think anyone can start a blog and anyone can create compelling content that will serve an audience in some way shape or form, you just need to find what your niche is. We will continue to produce regular blog basic and essential tips and tricks to you here in this series on the blog and we truly hope this helps. As always thank you for stopping by the blog today and every other day!