17 July 2020

Starting Out: How to Establish Your Brand & Create Effective Imagery



It's not easy trying to find the right words to match a photo you've taken or vice versa but, the process doesn't have to be stress inducing either. Often I find myself going for weeks without taking a single photo for the blog but, suddenly the sun shines bright enough to light up my entire house and, inspiration strikes - just like magic. Before you know it, I've come up with an entire weeks worth of Instagram or blog content and, I feel motivated to write. 

For a minute though, let's just get back to basics. You've started a blog, you've invested in a camera or, at least a good phone. Now what? Well. It's time to really get thinking. I say begin considering your identity a long with the writing itself. The photography aspect comes last. 

Start by defining the blogger you want to be and focus on creating an about me page you feel proud of. Look at other bloggers you admire, not just their social media platforms but, also their own blogs. Read their bios and match yourself to the aesthetic you feel calls out your name. Usually there are two ways you can go with your about page - you're either discussing yourself, your hobbies and interests or, focusing more on your brand and what your blog offers. Define who you want to be at the beginning and everything becomes less complicated. Are you offering a service or are you a casual writer creating content focusing on your life? 

Example 1: Hi, I'm Kate and welcome to the Little Crunch blog. I'm an avid foodie, introvert at heart and, lover of days at the beach. I'm forever changing the colour of my hair and perfecting my morning routine...

Example 2: Hello, welcome to the Little Crunch blog. Here you can find resources, support and honest advice to help you achieve a lifestyle you can love. I'm talking personal development, mental health and slow living, whilst sharing my very personal experiences from my humble home in Devon.

See the difference? 

One serves you and, one serves your target audience. 

So, who is your target audience? 

Whether your blog is just a hobby or, you're creating a brand for yourself in the hopes to become self-employed or, a major influencer in the game, understanding who you're trying to connect with is crucial. This step makes everything else far less complicated, allowing you to create content that serves a purpose for your readers. 

For me, my target audience is other women in their mid / late twenties. Women who struggle with mental health, who want to escape modern day pressure and, seek a little calm in their lives. Single, with children, living with a partner or, even still with your parents - that doesn't matter. It's the mindset I'm focusing on. When I sit down to write I think about the content I would want to read as a 27-year-old woman, who feels at a cross road in life and is trying to get her shit together. I think about making content that can last too, so that even when I get older, other women when they arrive at 27 might read my blog and find solace.  But, for you that might be entirely different. Your focus might specifically target parents for example. 

When I started this blog I had a specific vision in mind but, of course over time my brand has changed. Yours will too as you grow and keep learning. I still have a no bullsh*t approach to writing, hoping to create thoughtful and impactful words. But, when I started I didn't realise that personal development or slow living would become such vital subjects either. I was in somewhat of a dark headspace so, I wanted to create 'moody' content but, as time passed and happiness resumed my focus shifted.

What I did know from the very beginning was that purple was my favourite colour (this sounds pointless but, I'm getting to something!). I had purple hair and I wanted purple accents across my blog and branding - fitting for a moody blog, right? I strayed from this for a short while and switched to green but, ultimately purple is my colour. You might not realise this yet but, thinking about the colours you find pleasing or, even the colours you dislike, is quite important in creating a cohesive brand. If you want to create impact and recognition across every social media platform, your blog colour scheme must be transferable. When you're creating pins for Pinterest or sharing writing on your Instagram highlights, make sure to stick to a few colour choices and avoid any unwanted confusion. People should look at your social media and think yes, I recognise those colours and I know this blogger or, I like this aesthetic and want to visit this blog.

And, this leads me back to the photography. Okay, so not all of my photography is purple. As it turns out I hardly own any purple items but, that's okay. Other colours I pick out, which you might notice on social media include yellow, light pink and blue - as these showcase the calming vibe I'm looking for and, are also easily transferable when creating graphics on Canva Pro.

You see, the photography is the fun bit. Where your brand, writing and imagery collide. 

When I think about my blog and brand I think about simplicity. I think about the wording and creating subtle impact. My photography doesn't radiate positivity but, it does provide a clean message. You can look at my Instagram feed for example and guess the type of blogger I am, there's no room for hesitation. This means that you'll either discover my content and think not for me or hit follow and, maybe even visit my blog. This is a strategy you need to develop too. Think honestly about the creators you follow and the photography style they use. What do you like? What don't you like? How will you be different?

Full transparency here - I don't like stock photos. I understand why people use them but, personally I think blogging is an opportunity to hone so many skills. Blogging to me isn't just about the words, it's so much more and stock photos take away from that. Getting to know a brand where stock photos are used frequently is confusing. What's worse? When it's easy to recognise the difference in quality, ultimately creating a huge lack of consistency. Even worse than that?! Heading over to someone's Instagram page and seeing photos completely separate from the ones used on their website. So, if you're going to use them please make sure you're doing it well, that everything across the board looks sleek and professional. Consider mixing stock photos on Instagram with graphics made by you through Canva for example. Make sure there's no room for scepticism.

However, I'm aware that my photos might not be perfect and, they're not trying to be. I like the balance I've found. I won't lie, I sometimes find the creative process a challenge but, it's all worthwhile for authentic content.

Moving on. 

Regardless of whether you decide to invest in a camera or want to use your phone don't threat, your photography will develop overtime. People won't expect you to be perfect and, getting things wrong is part of the learning process. It's just important to get going and find out what does and doesn't work. 

My one piece of advice when it comes to photography is this - don't think about Instagram. Think about your blog and how your photography will match the theme you're using and the colour scheme you've designed. Think about the title of your blog post and how your specific image can add context or value. Once you've created the perfect photo(s) for your blog post, then think about making more to fill your Instagram grid and to use across Pinterest too. After a while this entire process will become effortless. You'll have a filter or Lighroom preset that you'll use and, it'll all fall into place.

Want to know why I chose this photo for the header of this blog post specifically? It's simple. The image itself and the advice. It all sounds complex and confusing when you're new but, by just looking around at what those other big rocks and little pebbles are doing in the blogging world, you can establish exactly what your approach is, who you want to be and how. 

Now that's the tea!


10 comments

  1. This post has raised some really major points. I agree with you on stock photos; I don't like them but I do sometimes use them if I don't have the time to take a photograph and edit. I do need to make the time to do so in the future though. I love the detail around defining yourself; it's made me realise I probably need to have a rejig of everything and the wording on my site. Thank you for sharing this post, it's really informative.

    Paige // Paige Eades

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    1. I think when they are used well there's nothing wrong with stock photo but, for my own brand I like to try and use my own imagery.

      I'm so glad I've inspired you to have a rethink about defining your blog / brand too by the way. Always here if you need any help x

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  2. I loved reading this Kate as you've brought up so many points! I prefer to use my own photo's for my blog as I like to better my photography skills by using my own photo's rather than relying on stock photos. I need to have a good look at the wording on my website now so I can say I'm reaching my target audience! x

    Lucy | www.lucymary.co.uk

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    1. Thank you Lucy. Photography isn't easy and I certainly struggle sometimes but, I think the end result is always worth it.

      Your blog is so wonderful Lucy and I'm always here if you need any help / advice, where I might be able to use my business grad brain haha x

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  3. The bit that you talk about the difference between the two types of About pages - it's funny, I've been blogging on and off (mostly off, tbh) for almost 10 years now, and I think I am finally understanding the difference between the two approaches. I am trying to get around to writing for the target audience, and I am enjoying blogging all over again. :)

    About the stock photos... I totally get where you're coming from but of late, I've had a lot of things going on, so I've not had the time and mindspace to create good photos. Finding good stock photos is an art, I think... I'm lucky to have a couple of subscriptions where the aesthetic totally matches mine, and it does not feel all that stock-y. :P

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    1. I'm so glad I've been able to help you establish the language to use in your writing. There are so many ways we can approach our target audience and the examples I gave are just basic but, so important to understand. If we're trying to engage with other interior design bloggers for example there's absolutely no point talking about our favourite food in our about page and vice versa. There's a lot to learn and I'm always tweaking my blog as a result.

      Stock photos are so widely used and when done well I don't have a problem (don't forget this is just my opinion) but, personally I like to see consistent imagery that match the theme of a blog / brand and, when I don't see that I feel a little deflated. Photography isn't easy though and, I'm no pro - my camera is very basic. Stock photos can be an amazing tool when used properly to add impact.

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  4. This is an interesting post. I use stock photos because I am not creative with photography and find it really hard to get things right. I do have some of my own on my blog, but I find that it looks terrible. It's interesting that you raised the point, I might have to learn a bit more and integrate with my own pictures over time.

    Em | www.loveemblog.com

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    1. That's totally fine - stock photos can be a wonderful thing when used to add real value to a blog post. It's just my opinion that I prefer to see more personal blogs using their own imagery across social media. Basically, the type of imagery you use / create totally depend on the aesthetic and goal you're trying to achieve I think x

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  5. This was great babe! And I am your target woman for sure 😉 I love using my own images but I’m starting a new project and I think I may have to use some stock images! But I’m hoping it works out xxx

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    1. Thank you Kirstie! And yes, you are lovely! I'm so excited to see your new project take shape. I feel a little bad stating my stock photos opinion now because honestly when they're used well I don't have a problem at all. I just love seeing a more personal touch from a blog x

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