Side-hustle staples: The tools you need to start blogging & creating photos

So you want to start a blog/Instagram account and have no clue where to start?

I started A Pop of Colour back in 2011 and although it’s been eight years, it certainly doesn’t feel that long! I’ve had numerous people through the years ask me for advice on where to start, and although it seems like a lot of work (and it definitely is!), to me, it’s fun work and I’ve gotten so many opportunities through the years that I wouldn’t have been able to get without doing this.

So where to start? Well, first decide what you want to talk about and your blog’s overall theme. On here I mostly chat about beauty, with lifestyle and travel occasionally thrown in, but on Instagram I mainly theme my feed around lifestyle and travel with beauty and fashion thrown in. Once you have your theme down, then it’s time to create your actual platform. For my blog I use WordPress to manage my site, which is one of the more popular hosts. Before creating a WordPress site, I highly recommend purchasing a domain and then hosting WordPress through there. Although you can get a free WordPress site, your address would be yourblog.wordpress.com, whereas if you host it on WordPress.org, you can attach your domain directly to it.

Olay products flatly using items from Staples Canada

Once you’re up and running (you’ll need to purchase a hosting account as well, I did everything through Go Daddy), choose a theme (you can buy one, choose a free one, or get someone to customize one for you) and then you can start to customize your site. Although I chose to design my first logo through InDesign so many years ago, I highly recommend using Canva to customize a logo special for your site. They have so many cool templates that you can play around with for a truly unique look.

Okay, so once your site is ready to go, it’s time to publish your first post! Since I write a lot about beauty, I create a ton of flatlays, which also get published often to my Instagram account. A flatlay is a collection of items that is stylized in a way that is appealing to the viewer. Although it looks super easy to create a flatlay, it definitely takes a ton of practice and having a collection of the right items certainly helps as well.

Setting up a flatly using items from Staples Canada

When it comes to shopping for these prop items, I typically like popping into a stationary store like Staples Canada to get all my items in one place. Not only will Staples have an assortment of items for the actual photo itself, if you are in need of an actual camera and laptop to create everything, Staples is also a great resource for that as well. I work on an Apple MacBook Pro and use a Canon Rebel T5i camera (you can shop the T6 or T7) with the lens kit and a 40 mm lens. With that being said, a lot of times I use my iPhone 8 Plus to take a lot of my flatlay images and use apps on my iPhone to edit them. Staples Canada sells all these items, so if you are looking for a one-stop shop, then I highly recommend popping in.

So what items do I recommend for flatlays? Well surprisingly you don’t need too much stuff! In fact, most of my images feature the same props, I just style them all differently. Also, the way you edit the photo also really helps to make the image unique. For the majority of my images I will also put down a marble wrapping paper which doubles nicely as a marble countertop or floor. Usually then I will put another texture over top to add some dimension to the image. A lot of times I will use a white fur rug or if I want to change it up, I will throw down a poster board in a fun shade to add a little oomph to the photo.

Marble wrapping paper and grey board from Staples Canada Setting up a flatlay using items from Staples Canada

Other prop items I love adding in is a cute book or journal, as well as fun pens, flowers, or cute little items. The idea here is that the items complement that the objects that you are highlighting in the post. So for example, in the Olay photos above, I used a couple notebooks,  a pink pencil case, a notepad, and some highlighters in fun colours that can also double as pens. Since I already had a marble background, I put down these cute marble notecards on the grey part so they tie everything in. Other items I like to include are some bigger items, like the FujiFilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera, as well as a cute phone case.

For a different flatlay, I used a couple of the same items from the first one (the marble card, post-its from the notepad set, the pink pouch, and the phone case), and then swapped in a couple different notebooks and some twinkle lights to add some pop to the whole photo.

Flatlay of NYX lipsticks with items from Staples Canada

Once I have my shots, I usually edit them in Adobe Photoshop for my blog and then Adobe Lightroom for Instagram (I came up with my own filter), as well as VSCO and FaceTune to make the marble a little whiter and add a little more detail on the items that the photo is centred around. And then that’s it!

I know this sounds like so much work, but once you get the hang of it, it really doesn’t take too long. Also, having the right equipment and props definitely makes things so much easier. You’re going to want to spend as much time getting practice taking and styling your shots, so Staples Canada is a great place to pop into to pick up everything up all in one place.

I know this sounds like so much work, but once you get the hang of it, it really doesn’t take too long. Also, having the right equipment and props definitely makes things so much easier. You’re going to want to spend as much time getting practice taking and styling your shots, so Staples Canada is a great place to pop into to pick up everything up all in one place.

So what are you waiting for? Stop procrastinating and get started!

Setting up the perfect flatlay using items from Staples Canada

Do you have any tips for creating the perfect flatlay? Which programs do you use for your photos?

Please note, this post is sponsored by Staples Canada. All opinions are my own.

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