Category

Blogger Tips

One question that I get asked a lot is how I make my Instagram stories. So I figured talking through my process in a detailed blog post should help some of you who’ve asked in the past. For those of you who don’t already follow me on Instagram, I tend to create short professional films as a way to express my creative side. I’ve heard some folks say but why spend all that time creating something that will disappear after 24 hours? Well, it would seem that this is no longer the case as Instagram now archives stories and lets you keep them on your profile after the 24 hours has elapsed. I’ve also heard some folks say stories are meant to be filmed in realtime and natural, but I couldn’t disagree more. Nothing that allows for a medium of expression is meant to be a certain way unless you deem it so, even then you are allowing yourself to have a perception that will often stifle creativity and not let you stand out from the crowd. And the latter is just what you need to succeed in an ever growing industry such as blogging.

Going solely off the number of social media followers I have, I wouldn’t class myself as a big blogger. Sooner or later you’ll realise that the numbers is only a part of it and content ultimately remains king. Hence why I’ve been able to leverage my Instagram stories as a means to booking certain campaigns that might otherwise prove difficult. I was even paid by Instagram to create two unique stories for them to showcase on their community platform. Okay, enough of my waffling. Let’s get into how I go about it.

The Story

In many ways you have to be a creative at heart to tell a story. Before filming, I tend to have a rough idea at the very least what the underlying story is and how I intend to capture it. I play it in my head over and over again which always helps when it comes to planning.  Sometimes I already know the music that I intend to use for the story and use it to drive the storyline. A good example of this was when I booked a party collection campaign titled “The Art of The Party”. I knew how many looks I was going to showcase and the settings I hoped to utilise in order to drive home the party feel. That helped me pull the concept together. Without a story, all you have is just some footage. So try to spend sometime working on a story as it’ll set the tone for the whole process.

The Equipments

I shoot all my stories on my DSLR camera that is the Canon 5D MK III together with the Sigma f1.4 50mm lens. The footage is always captured in portrait style as that is the format that best works with mobile devices when uploading to Instagram stories. It is important to note that you can also get quality footage using your mobile phone depending on the brand and model. The latest iPhone and Samsung models tend to do a pretty decent job.

For stabilisation, I use the strap of my camera by wearing my camera on my neck and pulling it away from me until my arms are fully stretched out. I then swing from left to right to give the feeling of motion. When it comes to steady footage, I usually just place the camera on my tripod and record.

Software

My go to editing application is Final Cut Pro. I use it to stitch the footages together to create the story. For those of you who don’t know how to use Final Cut Pro, there are tones of tutorials on Youtube that teaches you the basics. As the application isn’t free, you might want to take advantage of any free editing apps that already come with your computer such as iMovie and Windows Movie Maker. It is very important to scale the video to the format for Instagram stories which is 1080×1920. The footage you shot in portrait style should first be rotated a portrait style then scaled afterwords. If you shot your footage in landscape style, you can still scale it to fit Instagram stories format. This video does a good job of showing you how to go about it. I tend to colour grade (apply a filter) the footage as well in Final Cut Pro using the free luts that come with the mLut plugin extension which you can download here. Alternatively, you can do a search on Youtube to find out how to colour grade with other applications you might use for editing.

Music

Finding copyright free music that you like can sometimes be an arduous task. Performing a search on places like Google and Youtube can help point you to some copyright free music which you have to listen to and get a feel for it before deciding if you like it. Sometimes I go for songs covered by other artists which don’t usually have a copyright attached to them. Once I’ve found a song I’m happy with, I usually download it and import it into Final Cut Pro so as to apply it to the footage to complete the story.

15 Seconds Splits

Instagram stories currently limits one upload to a maximum of 15 seconds. Which means if your story is longer that 15 seconds then you’ll need to split it accordingly. I use the app called CutStory to do this. It is a free app that will split your stories and save it to your phone ready for upload to Instagram. The free version puts a watermark of the app on your videos but this can be undone if you pay for the pro version at £1.99.

That’s it guys! I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’d encourage you to read a similar post written by Carrie Santana da Silva of @wishwishwish, who also creates amazing Instagram stories. She shares how she goes about it which might seem a lot practical for anyone creating stories using their phones.
***If you want to edit like me, you can! Get my Lightroom preset or grab a copy of my eBook here.***

January 8, 2018
5 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
How to transition into full time blogging

For those of you who have been following my blog, you’ll know that I recently transitioned into full time blogging. Before I quit my full time job as a financial accountant, I was a little scared of not being able to get steady campaigns to keep me busy let alone meet my financial needs. Since then, I’ve found myself pretty busy balancing my blog and keeping up with campaign deadlines. I have worked with brands like Instagram, Pandora, Haig Club and very recently French Connection, to mention a few. Considering I don’t have what many folks today would class as a huge following, the question I keep getting asked is “how do you do it?”. Having made an assessment of my behaviour towards my blog in the past year, I’ve come up with 3 key things that I believe have led to the successful transition into full time blogging.

How to transition into a full time blogger

1. Perfect your craft

Before even considering quitting a job that is the source of your livelihood for something that can sometimes be  uncertain like blogging, you have to make sure you possess the skill set required to perform the job. This could be developing your writing skills as well as improving the quality of your imagery. I spent a lot of time in the last year honing my photography skills. I remember dedicating my evenings and weekends to this cause. I barely had a social life but it was the sacrifice I was willing to make in order to get to where I want to be. The result of this hard work will become evident in your work as you continue to develop your skills. There is no compromise with this especially if you want to stand out in your niche. If you’re looking to improve your photography skills, be sure to pick up a copy of my eBook “The Blogger Photographer”.

2. Learn to manage your time

Time management is a must. Without it you’ll fall behind on personal goals you’ve set yourself not to mention campaigns you’ve already agreed to. This best way to go about this is intelligent planning and prioritising. Don’t say yes to every blogger event or campaign you get invited to. Carefully sift through them for ones that align with your long term goals and dedicate time to them accordingly. Remember you’ll also need time to perfect your craft like we discussed in one above so be sure to make room for that as well. You’ll need to spend a vast amount of time creating content to build your body of work which you can reference to brands when putting forward a proposal. No brand wants to work with a blogger who rarely puts out content. The more you put out, the more you grow in terms of skills.

3. Establish key contacts

This is one of the most important thing you need to work on before going full time. Key contacts here would include other bloggers (people you can gain insights from and in some instances collaborate with), and PR/brand contacts (to propose campaigns and potential collaborations). Finding fellow bloggers to connect with is easier than most people think. When approaching a blogger, be it online or in person, make sure that you’re both in the same niche and stage of growth if not you could be perceived as a social climber when targeting more successful bloggers. This is not to say you can’t do the latter, just make sure your goals align and the quality of your work does too. Finding PR/brand contacts has become quite easy too thanks to LinkedIn. You can also build relationships at blogger events. To make sure you get invited to blogger events, consider switching to an Instagram business account so brands can email you directly, alternatively you can leave your contact email in your bio. Using hashtags local to you in your posts also helps. For example, I’m a Manchester based blogger and one of my key hashtags is #ManchesterBlogger. I’ve been able to build long term relationships with bloggers and PR/brand contacts by applying these things.

I hope you’ve found my blogger tips on how to transition into a full time blogger useful. Let me know in the comments what other topics you’d like me touch on. How to transition into a full time blogger***If you want to edit like me, you can! Get my Lightroom preset or grab a copy of my eBook here.***

November 9, 2017
3 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest