Here we are again, in August, and I’ve promised myself I’d be posting more frequently this summer. Instead, I’ve been studying for the WSET Level 2, having the WSET cancelled on me last minute, out tasting wines, attending wine tastings, hosting wine tastings, working a lot, hanging out by the lake, seeing Julius Caesar with an all-female cast (awesome!), eating great food, making great food, starting to run again (up to 5 miles now!), visiting family and friends all over Washington state, and working on other writing projects. Whenever I think about starting back up with my blogging, I think of everything that goes into a blog post, and it feels like so much work, and then it turns into this vicious cycle. So, this is a post that has very little to do with wine and very much to do with what goes into making a blog post.
1) Take great photos. I’m not great at taking photos, but I take my (inexpensive and not very fancy or impressive) camera and/or my iphone with me everywhere and take pictures of everything until I come up with something decent. Unfortunately, my iphone camera has jammed, and the Genius Bar told me that it was a lost cause and I can’t locate my usb cable for transferring my photos from my camera to my computer, so I’ve been out of luck on pictures for a while. (UPDATE: I just shamed myself into ordering a new cord already- good thing it only took writing a blog post about it.)
If getting the lighting right is your problem, then I would suggest making a homemade inexpensive lightbox. If I, the least crafty person I know, can make one, then so can you! The above photo is a test I took when I finished mine, and I think it turned out pretty well.
I’ve also been experimenting with different backgrounds by using poster board and scrapbooking paper as a background. What I’d really like to do is order these photo backdrop samples (just the right size for photographing wine bottles!) or something similar to use as a backdrop, either in the lightbox or in natural lighting.
2) Get serious about your image-editing. And by serious, I mean just use Canva.com. IT IS MY EVERYTHING. This is where I go to create my cover image for each post- they give you easy and beautiful layouts that you can use, or you can build them yourself with their tools. A lot of their stuff is free, especially if you’re using images that you took yourself, and their stock photo prices are probably the best you will find anywhere. Usually I like to start with one of their templates and tinker with it until it’s unrecognizable, but I love a lot of their templates as they are. Either way, Canva is inexpensive (or free, if you use it like I do) and user-friendly. Plus, their design blog is great. I’ve started using Canva over layout software like Publisher, because starting out with a pre-made layout, even if it’s going to completely change, is way easier than starting out with a blank page.
3) Schedule wisely. Sometimes, sitting down and just writing is the hardest thing for me, when I have ten other projects going on. When I’m really on top of my blogging game, I am always two steps ahead and have several posts scheduled to go up in advance. The best thing for me and my schedule is to give myself a chunk of time and just bang out a couple posts at once and then schedule them. Sometimes (like this summer), it’s a struggle to even find one chunk of time, but a little preparation can go a long way. Prep a few cover photos for the blog on Canva before you even write anything. Outline a few posts when you have some spare time. Schedule some roundup posts (people love them!) if you need to buy yourself some time before writing a post.
When I writing a blog post, I usually start off by figuring out what type of post I want to do (wine region, wine varietal, Walla Walla wineries, food pairings, personal post, etc), and then I round up whatever images I’m going to use, which often involves hunting through my camera and phone for a picture I took way too long ago. Then, I get to work and start researching. If I’m doing a wine roundup post, then I have to go back through all the relevant wines I’ve tasted and/or acquire them and then taste them. Then the writing. Then editing. Then sometimes scrapping it all and starting over. Last, I use Canva to finish my graphic, which I then upload to WordPress. After I schedule the post, I preview everything to make sure the graphic looks good and there are no typos.
Blogging takes time and dedication, but I always find it worthwhile when I make the time for it. It gives me a certain focus in learning about wine if I know I’m going to write about it later!