Free Stock Photos to help you beautify your brand - Welcome to the CGScreative Resource Library

Free Stock Photos to help you beautify your brand - Welcome to the CGScreative Resource Library

What do you do if you just can't seem to figure out your camera? What happens when you spend hours and hours snapping photos on your phone for your latest blog post, but all the photos you've taken leave you feeling frustrated?

This is where I step in my friend!

You see, I understand that we can't do #ALLTHETHINGS when it comes to our blogs, and so, I created the CGScreative resource library.

I created the library to help creatives, just like you. When I first started blogging, there was nothing like this available to me, and because we all have to start somewhere, I have made this pretty online space, absolutely free.

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Why you need to build an email list: Email Marketing for Beginners

Why you need to build an email list: Email Marketing for Beginners

If you've been blogging for some time and especially if you've been looking into how you can make money from blogging, I'm sure you will have come across the term 'email list'. I'm sure you have heard loads of other bloggers and business owners talking about 'list building' and how 'the money is in the list' but perhaps you've been wondering not just why on earth you need a list for your blog but also what on earth you'd be sending those people. Can't your readers just follow you through Bloglovin' or Feedburner? Why do you need to invest your time into another form of marketing?

If you're anything like me, you've been pondering those questions. It's time to stop wondering and start doing & so today I'm going to tell why you definitely DO need an email list for your blog or business, plus I'm going to show you how you can start building yours today.

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My Favourite Tools for Blogging - Awesome Programs, hosting, apps and software to help grow your blog

My  Favourite Tools for Blogging - Awesome Programs, hosting, apps and software to help grow your blog

I'm coming up to my 6th year of blogging (what?!) and so I can safely say I know a thing or two about tools that help you blog better. Most of what we need to know about growing our blogs can be found on Pineterest, right? This is all very well, and I don't know about you but whenever I head to Pinterest to search for blogging resources I get sucked into images of beautiful quotes, cute puppies and ways to save space in my home (tell me I'm not the only one?). 

So I thought I'd create this post for you, with a list of all the resources and tools I use when blogging. I've also created a useful printable cheatsheet of all these resources for you to print out to help you in your blogging journey. You can get your paws on this checklist in my *FREE* Resource Library (which is filled with stock photos and loads of other blog & biz resources) and which you can join below.

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Beautiful Free stock photos for bloggers and business owners

Beautiful Free stock photos for bloggers and business owners

When I first started blogging back in 2010 (6 years ago...eeek!) I used to shamelessly copy and paste images from We Heart It, which was kind of the OG of the visual world before Pinterest came along. I had no idea about copy-write (in fact, I couldn't even really spell that word properly) never mind understand the legal ramifications of using someone else's work without giving them full credit.

It wasn't until 2012 when I came across an article from a blogger who had been sued for a HUGE amount of money after using someones photograph on her blog. The blogger had actually given the photographer credit in her blog post, but she hadn't asked him for permission to re-post his image and so she ended up going to court and was found guilty of intellectual property theft! Can you imagine being charged with a criminal offense for using an image on your blog? Madness!

I was terrified after reading that blog post and promptly set out to learn how to take my own photographs so as not to have to worry about image copy-right ever again! I ended up falling in love with photography, and have since gone onto to freelance and now go under the title 'professional photographer'. I understand that not everyone has the time, or the desire, to pursue photography full time, especially if their interests lie somewhere else, in writing for example or making or drawing or painting. This is where stock photographs come in and this is where I wave a little (pink) flag that says I've got you covered and have FREE STOCK PHOTOGRAPHS JUST FOR YOU!

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A beginners guide to Blog Photography & Styling - What you need to get started

A beginners guide to Blog Photography & Styling - What you need to get started

I've been blogging for about 6 years now, and I do so because I genuinely love providing free, useful content for people. This blog is not a diary showcasing my life but rather I hope that it is a platform for you to learn new things (like my blogging tipstravel guides and posts about owning a dog in Korea) as well as a place to be inspired (by my travel posts, recipes and my photography). 

One thing that I have learned from all these years of tapping away at my keyboard is that the images on your blog can make or break your brand. 

These days technology has advanced so much, there really is no excuse for anyone to have poor quality images on their blog. This doesn't mean you have to own the fanciest camera on the market, your cellphone/ipad/tablet will work just fine.

In this post I'm going to be sharing with you what I use to style & take photographs for my blog. 

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The #CGScreative Instagram Photo Challenge - An easy way to grow your Instagram Following!

The #CGScreative Instagram Photo Challenge - An easy way to grow your Instagram Following!

Has your Instagram feed also been taken over by posts asking you to turn on notifications? I know that a lot of people are rather upset by the latest changes announced by Instagram, but I'm here to tell you today that it's not going to be the end of the world for you.

It's also not a huge surprise that Instagram, which is now owned by Facebook, is implementing these changes. 

If you're not sure what the changes mean, here is a easy to digest summary of what has got everyone in a tizz.

Instagram is planning to show us the content it thinks we like, based on our previous actions (ie. our likes and comments). This means that it is now more important than ever to be liking and commenting on those accounts that you really love and want to follow, rather than engaging with accounts that you hope will follow you if you spam their feed enough.

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My top 15 insanely useful tips for bloggers

My top 15 insanely useful tips for bloggers

I've been thinking of ways to condense all of the useful posts I've written on blogging, and so created this insanely useful list for bloggers of all niches and topics. Whether you've been blogging for years or whether you've just started your journey & are feeling a little overwhelmed, these tips are bound to help you on your way.

1. Read, re-read & update your About page.  

When I look at the traffic stats on this site, my About page is one of the most popular pages. And I know that when I visit other blogs, I always click on their about/welcome pages to find out more about who they are as a person. Don't let the thought that is has to be perfect put you off editing yours (or even making one if you don't already have one). I am constently updating and editing mine, adding in or taking out information that is no longer relevant to my blogging journey. Your About page should grow with your blog, as should your profile picture (mentioned above).

Here are some tips for your About Page.

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How to create a custom landing page in Squarespace

How to create a custom landing page in Squarespace

While creating my recent e-course, I've spent a lot of time researching the best tools and resources to use to ensure a smooth launch. Today I want to share with you how you can use your Squarespace site to create your own, customized landing pages without having to make use of a landing page generator site like Leadpages.

One of the benefits of blogging with Squarespace is the ability to create Cover Pages (just like this one that I made for BeautifyYourBlog.


Cover Pages are designed to be super simple landing pages, with just one or two call to actions. If you are looking for something a little heftier to be able to add in more images & your own custom sign up forms (currently if you want to connect Squarespace Cover Pages & their Forms blocks to Convertkit, you need to use a site like Zapier to run an integration) then a custom landing page is what you're after. I've found some super simple tweaks that you can do to a regular Squarespace page to make it look like a fancy landing page.

If, you're like me, and not quite ready to make the jump to LeadPages, then creating your own landing pages on Squarespace is a great workaround, and with just a few coding tweaks you can make it look like an actual landing page, as opposed to the rest of the pages on your Squarespace site which have things like your menu bar & header image. Convertkit (which I just LOVE!) does offer a few options for landing pages, but the customization is very limited, and I like to make my pages look as pretty as can be. That's why I have been playing around with using Squarespace pages as customized landing pages.

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How to Create a Style Guide for your blog + Free Template

How to Create a Style Guide for your blog + Free Template

I know I know, blogging these days is definitely not for sissies. If you have a blog and want to stand out amongst the masses, you have to up your game & make your blog look as fancy & professional as possible.

That doesn't mean spending a fortune, or betraying you own personal sense of style. There is space enough for all of us (from the pastel pink lovers to those who go nuts for shades of neon yellow & black) and it's your own unique sense of style that you should be portraying through your blog in the first place. You just need to do it in the best way possible to make your blog stand out while still looking polished.

So how do you do that I hear you ask?

Well, apart from hiring a fancy smancy graphic designer to do your branding, you can start by creating your own style guide for your blog. I would still suggest getting a professional to create your logo (although you could definitely create something yourself using a free online design site like Canva).

Once you have your logo, it's all downhill from there! You can then work on the rest of your branding yourself and take your blog from drab to fab. Having a style guide as a reference for your branding will make your life so much easier, and will help you to keep your blogs look & feel cohesive.

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Creating a Media Kit for your Blog - Designing the perfect Media Kit + FREE Template

Creating a Media Kit for your Blog - Designing the perfect Media Kit + FREE Template

Media kits.

Those scary things that only the big & successful bloggers have.

Those intricate pieces of design that must have cost a fortune for a graphic designer to whip up.

Are these the things that come to mind when you think of the term 'Media Kit'? Some might view media kits in this way, but I try and view a media kit as a simple 'CV' for your blog.

If you have no idea what a Media kit is or why you need one, then click here for a great post by Glamorous Glitter 

No matter whether you are a newbie blogger with only 5 fans on Facebook, or someone who has been around for a while and has thousands of followers, you need a Media Kit.. You might be a mix of the two, having been blogging for years but struggling to grow your readership & social media following. No matter where you are in the blogging game, having a media kit shows you take your blog seriously, that you are professional, and that you mean business (even with your 5 Facebook likes!).

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How To Take Better Photos For your Blog Using Your Phone + Free Checklist!

How to Take Better Photographs for your blog using your phone

You don’t have to have a fancy camera to take beautiful photographs for your blog. You can use your phone’s built-in camera, and with a few tips, you too can produce pretty photos to take your blog to the next level. Even though I own professional photography gear, sometimes I just want the ease of snapping a shot right in the moment. And a lot of the time when inspiration strikes, I don’t want to be fiddling around with settings and then end up missing the perfect shot. A lot of the images I produce for my blog are styled and I don’t have the time to get my camera, set it up, export the images to my computer, edit and then finally upload them to my blog. I find that using my iPhone and a few, easy-to-use (and free!) apps, I am able to produce pretty pictures that only take a few minutes to put together. Today I want to share with you how you can do the same.

All the images below were taken on my iPhone 4S and edited with VSCOCam to give them a grainy, film-like texture.

1. Clean your Lens

As with any camera, if your lens is dirty, your photographs aren’t going to come out very clear. It’s such a simple tip and yet has made the biggest change on images taken with my phone. Think about where you phone goes, and now think about the last time you wiped your camera lens clean. If this gives you the shivers, like it did to me, then whip out a piece of cloth and get wiping!

2. Natural Light

Wherever possible, use natural light. I take the majority of my photographs (using both my DSLR & my iPhone) during the day and try as much as possible to maximise the soft, natural light that comes through a window. Harsh midday light is just as hard to work with as a flash, whereas natural light, the kind that streams through a window, produces soft, clean images.

3. Click to Focus

On the iPhone camera app (the standard camera app that comes with the iPhone), there is a yellow square that automatically appears when you want to take a photo. This is your focus setting. You can allow the phone to automatically adjust the focus, or you can over-ride this by clicking where you want to focus when you take a photograph. This is especially useful when you want to create a slightly blurry background, with something in the picture in focus. I often use click-to-focus when I am photographing macro-type shots of make-up and stationery.

4. Self-Timer

I only found out about the self-timer feature on my iPhone when I updated my IOS to the latest version. This is especially handy when you want to take a ‘selfie’. Don’t forget to click to focus before you take the shot to ensure that your face is perfectly in focus and not blurry. 

5. Use a Tripod

Using a tripod (or any home-made version of a tripod) will stabilize your camera and help to avoid camera shake. It can be so frustrating when you set up the perfect shot, click to focus, and then bump the phone by accident and the photograph ends up coming out blurry. I often just use a book and wedge a drinks coaster underneath the phone to adjust the angle (and then set up the self-timer to get the perfect shot).

6. Avoid the Zoom

Especially on the iPhone built-in camera, when you use the zoom it decreases the quality of the photograph. Rather use your own built-in zoom (ie. your feet!) and position yourself to be nearer, or further away from your subject. Unless you have a snazzy new phone, like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the iPhone 6, I would suggest avoiding all use of the zoom.

7. Background

Using a white background when shooting any product produces beautiful, professional looking shots. The white offsets all other colors and is always complimentary. It looks crisp and clear and really helps to make your subject stand out. Textured backgrounds also work well for product photography, but I find they can also distract from your subject. I have yet to take a photograph on a plain, white background that I didn’t like. 

How to take better photographs for your blog using your phone

8. Angles

Play around with angles. Have fun and go crazy with high and low, close up and far away shots. Use your body to zoom in on particular items if you are styling photographs for you blog. It’s okay to cut off parts of items, and this works particularly well when I shoot make-up or stationery. Consider the two photographs below. The one on the left is the full image, and the one on the right has been cropped therefore removing parts of the image. Can you see the difference? None of the props have been changed and the lighting is the same. The only difference is the angle.

How to take better photos for your blog using your phone

9. Apps

There are so many amazing apps you can use to really make your images pop, from overlaying text to added film effects or textures. My favourite go-to apps are:
– VSCOCam for editing the colour, brightness, cropping, straightening and adding film-like overlays.
– Studio for adding text and graphics.
– ABeautifulMess for hand-drawn overlays and creating collages
– Instagram for connecting with other creatives and sharing my images.
*All of the above apps come in Android and IOS versions.

10. Delete

There really is no point in having 10 of the same image. Be thorough and delete any and all of the ‘extra’ photographs so as to avoid wasting storage space and also to avoid having duplicates. The amount of times I upload the ‘not quite perfect’ image into a blog post and then realise I have to go back and search for the right photo is just annoying. And then I realise I often delete the perfect one and end up having to re-create my images again. Deleting all the nonsense saves you time and will make your life that much easier when it comes to blogging.

How to take better photographs for your blog using your phone

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Taking photographs should be fun, and with all the great apps out there that are free and easy to use, blogging no longer has to be boring. With just a few minutes of practicing and playing around with your phone, your photographs can look just as good as the pros, and will take your blogging to the next level. I hope you found these tips useful. If you’d like to find out more about the apps I’ve mentioned above you can pop on over to my blog where I have reviewed the Studio App {Click Here} and the ABeautifulMess App {Click Here}.

To help you remember all these tips I've created a FREE printable checklist. It's in my FREE resource library, along with a whole bunch more resources AND free stock photographs just for you. Join the library by clicking the image below:

15 easy marketing ideas for bloggers + FREE checklist!

15 easy marketing ideas for bloggers plus a free checklist

Today I want to share with you 15 easy ways for you to get your blog out there. Some of them may seem obvious, and others not so much. I have been doing these things for a while now, and I have really noticed an increase in my readership here on my little corner of the web.

Blogging should be about sharing your passions with others, it shouldn't be something you have to force yourself to do. If you don't enjoy blogging, change what you're blogging about. Post a survey to your readers and ask them what they would like to see on your blog, so you can get some more inspiration for content. I have a constant internal battle with this though.

Sometimes the number of likes I get fuels my passion for blogging, and I feel drawn to post what is currently trending. But most of the time, I know that this blog is me, it is about me and what I like. It may be a small niche (searching for the  pretty-ness in everything is not everyone's cup of tea) but if I stick to blogging about what I like and what I find interesting as opposed to what I hope other people will like, then that's real.

And that makes me happy.

15 Easy Networking Tips for Bloggers

1. Network. Network. Network. In other words, use the social media accounts you have to actively engage with your followers.

2. Reply to every comment on your blog/Facebook/Instagram feed. 

3. Comment on other blogs, often! This seems obvious, but it really does help to get your blog noticed. When I see a reader has commented a couple of times on my blog, I am more likely to search out her blog (if they are a blogger) or spend some time finding them on twitter/Instagram and sharing some love on their accounts.

4. Email bloggers whom you admire, tell them that you like their blog. Be real. Don't just write something like 'Hey. Love your blog. Here is mine...etc'. Be honest with what you like about them, then just leave a simple link to your blog at the end of your email. There is nothing nicer than getting a email from a happy reader who wants to share her love for your work.

5. Start a Facebook page and use it for your blog rather than your personal Facebook page. I could tell from the decrease in engagement I got from my posts on Facebook after the first few weeks of spamming my friends and family with my blog posts on my personal page. 

6. You don't have to be a wizz at every social media platform. Rather choose one that you can commit to as opposed to having four accounts with little to no activity. Choose a platform that you genuinely enjoy using. Social media is fun, it shouldn't be a chore, and you shouldn't dread your time spent on it (on the other side of the coin, make sure to schedule in 'breaks' from the screen to ensure a healthy balance between real life and the online world).

7. You don't have to blog every day. This is tiring and you lead to you producing mediocre content rather than interesting and engaging material. But try to post at least 2 to 3 times a week to keep your content fresh.

8. Email other bloggers and ask about doing a guest post on their blog. This gives them new content and you get a chance to reach new readers. The worst they can do is not reply. At least you've put yourself out there and most likely they will at least click through to your blog and you might gain a new reader.

9. Ask questions at the end of your blog/Facebook posts. People are more inclined to respond to a question and comment, you are inviting them to actually do something as opposed to them passively taking in your content and moving on to the next post.

10. Use Facebook for short, catchy posts like quotes and photographs. People are visual, and drawn to interesting graphics and images as opposed to long lines of text. When you do use text, break it up into easy to digest chunks (the same goes for your blog posts). With Pinterest, people are being exposed to so much great content all the time, us bloggers have to work harder to make our blogs appealing to people. Why would someone go you your blog for recipes when they can go onto Pinterest and have thousands of red velvet cake recipes at their fingertips in seconds. No matter how many hours you spent prepping that post, you need to work on being different. What can you offer your readers that Pinterest can't? You might have a great sense of humour when you write your recipes, something that they can't find on Pinterest..put those thinking caps on!

11. Carry business cards with you...everywhere. You don't have to have a massive following to be allowed to have a business card. It makes you look professional, and you can quickly whip one out to give new friends you meet (people qill quickly forget your web address, even if you think it's the easiest name to remember).

12. Find other bloggers in your area and connect with them on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. This means following all of their accounts and not expecting them to do the same (don't announce to the world that you've followed someone in the hopes that they return the favour). Follow them because you genuinely want to read about what they are up to, then engage with them in an honest and real way and they will in all likely hood follow you back.

13. Meet up with other bloggers. Don't be scared off by the fact that they might have 893 likes on Facebook and you have 12. We all start somewhere. I have met a lot of new friends this way (and I'm sure a few of them thought I was some crazy stalker when I first got in touch with them lol). But gently does it. You should be getting to know them through their blog and twitter accounts first before ambushing them into a coffee date.

14. Take your own photographs. Always. And when you can't find the right photograph, make sure you properly credit the rightful owner or email them for permission first. Rather have a blog post delayed while you get permission for using an image than get into legal trouble like this blogger. Oh, and Pinterest, just like Google, is not a source (read this great post on sourcing images from Pinterest). 

15. Have patience. You should be blogging because you like blogging. Not because you want to become famous. Although that's nice too.

Want a handy, printable checklist of all the tips mentioned in this post? All my blogging resources are waiting for you inside the CGScreative Resource Library which you can get free access to by clicking the image below: 

Happy Blogging friends!