Yakkety Yak – In Which I Sat Under the Teaching of a Camera-Wielding Yoda

Yakkety Yak...Let's Chat

Earlier this year, I saw a notice in the Curiosity Quills reviewer newsletter about an offer for a free course.  It was to teach basic blogging tips.  I thought this sounded interesting so I investigated.  It was a photographer who was contracted to do stock photos, cover art, marketing and promo stuff who was teaching it.  Intriguing perspective and it was free, so yeah, ‘where do I sign up?’

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I wanted to share a summary of what I learned from Katie.  Most veteran and experienced bloggers will already know these things, but some was new to me.  Katie had a nice way of making each week a different topic and breaking down the material to five days a week so it wasn’t overwhelming or too much time taken up each day.

Here are some of the topics:

  • Legal use of photos and graphics.   Fair use.  She shared a nice free use site Pixabay.  I could use the pictures without wondering if it really was ‘free use’.
  • Creating a graphic to use with posts using a picture from Pixabay and free photo editing at PicMonkey.
  • YouTube lessons in photography. How to get rid of glare.  Easy light making/blocking sources from around the house.  Interesting arrangements and settings.  Creating my own picture file.
  • Branding for blog, site, social media pages.
  • Unique content for blog and social media.
  • Being Creative
  • And more

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I think the part I found most helpful was something unintended.  It was not that the lessons were new ideas for me; they weren’t.  Shari has been a good mentor over the years as have many of you.  But what I found most helpful was that it forced me to analyze and consider why we do what we do and are we doing it well.  Also, I’m not a big picture taker, but I found the photographic assignments easy and relaxing.  I now have a file of odd objects from around the house and yard to create my own pictures for posts and I have a better idea of how photography can be used to enhance things at a book blog.

What I discovered as I read the lessons and completed the homework and chatted with Katie and the other students, was YES, we do pretty well.  Blogging is a hobby for both of us so for the amount of time we have to put forth (and financial on Shari’s part), we’ve done well with what we have.

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Now I’m going to fan girl on Shari.  Hope she can take it and not blush too much.

  • Legal use of photos and graphics?   Shari is careful.  What you see on the blog in the form of pictures or graphics other than what is part of a guest post are legally acquired and mostly purchased.  I love that peace of mind.
  • Branding? Check check.  Shari maintains the blog and several social media links.  They are all consistent so people will recognize Delighted Reader and know what it is about without too much trouble.  The focus is clear and specific.  Regular reviews and posts can be recognized even if people saw them out of context because of the consistency and templates used.
  • Unique content. As I did my homework assignment and had to list our unique content, it was a solid list.  Delighted Reader is a book blog so there are marks that are true of any book review blog, but within that, what you see posted is ours and not a copy of others.  Shari made the decision some time ago that even tour participation would be limited to those that allowed for unique content.
  • Being Creative?   I enjoy when I get the ‘I was thinking….’ emails.  Shari likes to change things up with occasional events (The Great Pick Up Line and Stranded With a Book), fun challenges (Series that Never Ends, Bad Boy…), Holiday Recommends, Yakkety Yak.  And she lets me go at it, too.

So, it was a productive class for me.  I don’t tend to be the creative type.  I can piggyback ideas on someone else’s germ of thought, but coming up with my own is not my gift.  It was fun to go over each aspect of the blog with new, informed eyes and have the comfort to pick up my camera and use it as another tool for the blog.

Now, that I’m in the mode to learn tricks and ideas with photography on the blog, I’d love to hear how you use your pictures for blogging or for your social media pages.  Do tell!  J

 

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • That’s neat you got to follow a free course about blogging. It’s great there were some new things you learned during the course. I don’t know much about creating graphics (I gladly hire someone to do that for me) and when it comes to photography I am probably doing things wrong too, so that part sounds very informative. And the rules around fair use and copyright can be so confusing at times I often just play it safe and only use pictures I made myself as then at least I know I can use them.

    That’s interesting you even learned an unintended lesson and analyzed why we do the things we do on a blog. Those graphics you made and that picture looks great, it’s awesome to see the direct result of what you learned there.

    When it comes to branding I try and use the same logo/ style everywhere. My pony for Lola’s Reviews and my Lola’s Blog Tours banners and graphics I had made for me for Lola’s Blog Tours. The message and goal of my review blog isn’t as clear as yours as I basically read everything and put on there what I want. On Lola’s Blog Tours I try to focus on the message of organizing quality tours for an affordable price, but that’s only something I’ve recently tried and focus on.

    And that’s a good point of how much of the content you see on book blogs is unique content. I do pretty well for my blog in that regard as well, with my reviews, discussions, recaps etc. And if I do a tour I try and add some original content or with cover reveals my person opinion to give it a personal touch.

    I rarely use photography for my blog, so I can’t really tel you much about that. I mostly take pictures for my recipe posts and for my Sunday post, but that’s it. For those I mostly focus on making sure I have enough light as my camera is pretty bad, so taking good pictures can be a trouble sometimes. I try and have a bland background so the focus is on the object I am photographing, either my dinner table or the kitchen counter usually. But it does make for more boring pictures sometimes.

    • Actually, that is great advice about the neutral background so the centerpiece would get all the attention. I noticed when I was photoing one of my flowers the other day that taking it with other flowers and plants in the foreground and background took away the focus.

      I think you do a great job of branding and with unique and specific content.
      Even though your blog is less focused on specific reviews or posts, you are very consistent with what you do post and when you post it which is a type of focus, too.

      It was fun to take the class and see someone else’s perspective and get her advice.

      • Thanks! Using a neutral background can be a good things sometimes, but like the photograph you showed here with the book you get the feel of the book much better thanks to the background you picked and the items you rearranged around it. I guess it also depends on what you’re photographing and it you have a background that fits or not.

        Good point I never thought of it that way that my blog has focus by posting things on specific days and I guess reading all genres is a theme as well, even though it’s not as narrow.

        It really sounds like a fun and helpful class and getting another perspective can really help sometimes.

        • That was one of the lessons that we were supposed to not just match the book in color scheme to the objects and background, but try to find objects that hinted at the books elements, too. Thanks for noticing.
          Very fun class. 🙂

  • I use pictures a lot on my blog and right now I only use pictures that I take or pictures from an author’s website of their books when I write a book review. I’m not the best picture taker but as long as what I’m taking can be seen and it’s not blurry, I call it a success.

    • And using your own means you don’t have to worry about accidentally snitching someone else’s. I think you take fun pictures. I enjoy your Picture of the Week posts. 🙂

  • Great summary of the course. I write on two different blogs and the blog owners both do a pretty good job of all the things you mentioned. I think it is great that you mention the pictures. I think that is the thing that many bloggers have issues with. I’m also like you in that I’m not a very creative person.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    • It’s good that you can analyze both the blogs where you post and see that they do a good job, too. I think they do as well. The picture taking and how to use it was the part that I learned the most from.

      Haha, fellow uncreative people unite! 🙂

  • I am absolutely not creative! I have often wondered if I could even handle having my own blog and the answer always comes up no for me. I, like Melanie, write for two different blogs both of which are done very well. The picture part would be scary for me. What kind of camera do you use? All I have is my IPhone so I would probably be useless! Very interesting post!

    • Yes, I’ve seen your associated Rabid Reads blog and like the way Carmel does things, too. What other blog do you review for?

      I have a digital Nikon camera that is smarter than I am I think. LOL. I used that one for my class projects, but I use both it and my phone for my other pictures. The phone is harder for me to focus with so I prefer the camera.

      • I write for Pure Textuality and actually have for a couple of years longer than for Rabid Reads. It’s where I review some paranormal, but lots of contemporary romance and thrillers.

        • Okay. thanks. That makes sense since the genre focus is different. I’ll have to look it up and drop by for your CR and thriller reviews. 🙂