From Camera to Comments: How I Blog

Well, today’s post should be pretty self-explanatory. You asked for it, and I finally got off my laurels for a hot second and am giving it to you: a glimpse into my supersecret (not really) hot-off-the-presses (hardly) blogging process. Wa-hoo!

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Advanced apologies to those of you who don’t blog and/or don’t care, haha.

I’m a pretty basic blogger. There are really very few frills to my blogging strategy, and here are the 5 steps (yes, just 5!) I’ve followed for pretty much every single post you’ve ever seen on honeyishrunkthegretchen.com:

Step 1: I take photos.

Very rarely do my concepts for my posts come from anything other than the photos I have taken the previous day. I’m not exactly what you’d call a “planner” when it comes to blogging (with a few exceptions, like my Weight Loss 101 series and today’s post, of course.) My blog is about my life, so I do my best to capture that life through the lens of my camera and then just, you know, blog about it.

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My DSLR camera is a Canon EOS 7D. Prior to this camera, I shot with an older (discontinued) version of the current entry-level Rebel model. I shoot with a 50mm EF f/1.8 prime (non-zoom) lens (a FANTASTIC starter lens, especially for food photography, if you’re trying not to spend a bazillion dollars.) All that camera-speak might not make a whole lot of sense to all of you, but for those who might have been wondering, there you go. Occasionally I also include photos on the blog that have been taken with my iPhone, like when I saw Daniel Radcliffe in NYC:

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I <3 you, Harry Daniel.

Credit where credit is due, I’ve learned pretty much everything I know about photography (which ain’t a lot, let’s be honest) from my brother, who is the real deal when it comes to this stuff. He’s actually been doing a series of photography posts on Anne‘s blog teaching how to take better photos with point-and-shoots and cell phones. You should definitely check them out if you’re not into the whole fancyschmancy camera thing.

Step 2: I edit my photos.

I use a program called Adobe Lightroom to edit all of my photos prior to posting them. It’s a fairly user-friendly program, and much, much cheaper to buy than the mecca of photo-editing software, Photoshop, so I highly recommend it.

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First, I go through my multitude of photos and flag (keyboard shortcut “P”) all of the ones that I think look good/are usable. Then, I adjust the settings of my selected photos until they look fly (white balance, exposure, clarity, and saturation are the main settings I toy with.)

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Photo editing is an entire beast of its own, so if there’s interest I can definitely do a more in-dept post at some point in the future. Photo editing seems complicated, but it doesn’t have to be: there are all sorts of things you can do to make editing easier. You can simply utilize the auto-tone functions, use the Lightroom presets, or create setting options of your own. And LR makes the next step superdeeduper easy.

Step 3: I export my photos online.

Most blogs do have the ability to host your images for you. I use WordPress to blog, and there are little media icons at the top of the post editing page that you can click to upload any picture or video files you have on your computer. If you have a blog, you have probably at some point in time utilized these icons.

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HOWEVER! It is my firm belief that if you are doing it this way, you’re doing it wrong. Harsh, but true. IT TAKES FOREVER! Each click of a button takes at least a few seconds, which might not seem like a lot but when you’re using clicks per photo file, it really starts to add up. WordPress’s hosting functionality is really slow, and really inefficient. So I use Flickr as my photo-hosting site instead!

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Lightroom gives you the option to easily export your edited photos directly into Flickr. It takes all of a minute to upload multiple photos all at once.

Once they’re in there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a click to be able to grab the already formatted HTML coding by clicking the “Share” button, and copy/paste it into my blog! I generally also delete the first line of the image code so that my photos aren’t clickable (the “a href” part), because it’s really annoying to me to accidentally click on a photo and lose your place on a page.

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I probably should note that using this method of photo hosting ate up my free account pretty quickly, so I did have to purchase a Flickr Pro account. But it’s only like $20 a year or something, so it’s a pretty negligible cost for the convenience (plus, now Flickr is an extra backup of all my pics!)

Step 4: I write.

A pretty sensible next step, eh? Well, as you may have already gleaned from the screenshots that have been posted so far, I blog entirely in HTML. That means that I manually add (almost) all of the formatting and coding of the text in my posts.

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Why do I do this? Well, it’s for the same reason that I reject WordPress’s media uploading functionality: it is too slow. By blogging in HTML instead of rich-text format (you can switch back and forth with the “Visual” and “HTML” buttons in the upper right of the text window), I actually save time and ensure that all my entries come out looking exactly the way I want them to.

It’s really not as hard as it might seem. I’m pretty much an HTML n00b, so other than inputting links and photos, I mostly stick to using code to bold, italicize, or strikethrough.

Aaaand that’s pretty much it! I do use WordPress’s “link” button in the editing bar because the latest update made it fast and fabulously easy to use (including giving you the ability to easily link back to past posts, and have all your links open in a new window. Yay!)

I also center all my photos by simply adding < center > before and < /center > after each copy/pasted HTML block from Flickr. Occasionally I’ll also change the height and width of the photos manually by doing a little math (schwaaa?!) to make it look better. It might sound kind of overwhelming but I promise you that it’s really not that complicated!

Step 5: I publish.

Most of the time I pre-write my posts the night before they go up. This way, I maintain a consistent posting schedule (between 8:30 and 9:30 each weekday morning, for the most part) and ensure my posts have the most visibility possible for the entire day. But you don’t have to log in at 7 AM just to ensure your post will go out on time.

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I simply schedule the post to publish at a time of my choosing when I save it. Done and done. I’d say that step 5 also includes proofreading my posts, but I think you can all attest to the fact that that clearly isn’t true. Oops.

So there you have it! 5 easy steps to blogging every (week)day. I would estimate that aside from the time I spend actually taking pictures (which is an ongoing process through the day) it generally takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to blog. That includes uploading my pictures, editing them (this is obviously the biggest factor in how long the process takes — lots of photos equals lots of editing), writing and formatting my post. It doesn’t necessarily include marketing the post (through Twitter and Facebook), responding to comments or emails, or other perfunctory “blogger duties” that may arise. Ironically, blogging about how I blog has actually taken three times as long as my normal posts do, haha!

So. Questions? Comments? Criticism? (Heh.) Hopefully this was moderately interesting for at least one of you, haha. Is there any interest for further posts on this subject, or delving into photography/photo editing more? Just let me know. I’m very interested in hearing from you other bloggers on how your methods differ from my own, so lay ’em on me!