Boost Your Blog // 6 Places to Find Photo Props

If you've ever been super envious of those perfectly styled blog photos you see all over Pinterest, I've got the solution for you!  You don't have to spend a butt ton of money to build your library of styling props you just need a keen & creative eye.  
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First off, make sure you have a rough idea of your blog's style.  You can start by understanding and creating a style guide and creating a brand board of inspiring images over on Pinterest.  When you do this you're less likely to say 'hey that looks nice!' to something that may not fit in with your blog's (or other social media outlet) vibe.  Understanding the vision of the posts your write and the presence you want to create will help you say yes to better photo props.

I have six places I like to find my photo props, so here's my list:

Thrift Store

Right now thrift store chic is super huge as it has been for quite a while now!  You can find pieces like wooden cutting boards, baskets, & fabric for bigger background pieces but you can also find smaller accent pieces for your photos.  I like to look for colorful glassware & dishes to use in photos as well.  This is also a great place to find classic seasonal pieces that will stay relevant year after year.

Clearance Shelves

The Target clearance shelves are my jam!  Not only can you find discount seasonal items that may be relevant the next time that season comes around but you can also find really cool textiles to use as backgrounds.  Be sure to snatch up small rugs, table runners, scarves, etc that will be great to add color & texture into your photos.  You can also check the clearance shelves of Micheal's' for knick knacks, desk accents, and more.  I found quite a few variations of succulents at my local Mike's recently! 

Target Dollar Spot/Bullseye's Playground

This is another great place to get affordable seasonal decor.  While I like to pick up fall or summer or spring decor in this area to save money I also like to find smaller specific holiday things there too.  I'm not one to decorate that much for any holiday but Christmas so having an affordable Halloween prop stash is great.  Find things that can translate into multiple holidays - like silver can be for Christmas or Halloween, red can be used around Valentine's Day or Christmas, etc.  I found some fake apples in the Target Dollar Spot for the fall back in September!  So shop often & shop early!  You can also shop seasonally here to find specific color schemes to fit in with your aesthetic.  If your blog has a lot of pastel vibes shop during the spring.  If your blog has a lot of jewel tones or has a boho vibe, shop during the early fall.

Dollar Store

Another place to find affordable seasonal decor is the Dollar Store!  I've done a nice spring decor DIY featuring some of their seasonal products and this guy will last me many spring seasons to come.  You can often find some nice little accent pieces that imitate pieces found in higher end stores.  Their floral sprig collection is awesome too!  I also look back in the automotive section to find soft, fluffy polishing cloths that you can use as a faux fur background.  I use a piece of Dollar Tree foam core board with a plank style removable wallpaper vinyl as a backdrop for nearly all of my photos and YouTube videos.

Your Own Closet

In one of my first IGTV videos, I talk about using the fabrics from your own closet as backgrounds. You can style any cardigans, dresses, or fuzzy sweaters as fun accents in your background.  Beach towels would work nicely too.  Drape different fabrics different ways to create layers and textures.  Use your own bedspread for amazing flat lays, add jewelry as an accent.  You can see that I used jewelry to create some fun stock photos for you all in this post.  

Scene Creators 

Don't want to have a closet full of props to make your flat lays?  Well there is something cool out there I've recently found that can help you create amazing flat lay scenes...they are called Scene Creators!  You can find them on a ton of digital design websites - The Hungry Jpeg, Creative Market, Etsy, Design Bundles, etc - and some of them will even work with online design platforms like Canva & PicMonkey.  These guys allow you to mix & match digital elements on a background to create your flat lays.  This is perfect for a consistent theme and really great if you're more of a digital blogger.  If you don't really need to take or style you blog photos and you just need a nice, clean, on brand photo to overlay the post title, this is a great way to create consistent flat lays!  I'm playing around with this idea for that reason - I don't always need to take a photo but I don't always like the stock images I find.

Once you have your props on hand you'll be more likely to create a cohesive vibe to your blog's look.  Its also great to be able to have a pile of your own stock photography to choose from when you may not have time to shoot.  If you've got only a few shots get creative with your cropping to use the same photo more than once.  Get your design on by using this PicMonkey tutorial to create a blog image template to use over and over again.  You can also check out this Canva tutorial over on the YouTube channel on creating blog graphics.

Keeping your blog fresh can be fun, but it also can be daunting. I've created a FREE resource that can help you get back on track (or just remind you to stay on track) that shows you 5 ways to revamp your blog! This 10 page book will give you great tips on reviving old posts, automating your process, and keeping you on the right foot. You can download it by signing up for the newsletter above.

Ready to do more with your blog? Check out all the Boost Your Blog posts right here.

What is your favorite thing to photograph? Do you have a prop library?
xoxo, Moe


Daily Actions to Use Your Word of the Year

Each year for the past quite a few years I've chosen a word to work with for the 365 days of that year.  Some years have been more successful than others.  Most years I choose a word and then say 'oh shit, I guess I picked that word 360 days ago.  Yikes!' near the end of the year.  But some years I've been super intentional.  
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Words I've chosen before have been Focus, Explore, Forward, Mindful, & Authentic.  I think that Mindful (2017) and Authentic (2018) were the first words that I really, really worked with a significant portion of the year.  In 2017 I did the Ali Edwards One Little Word journal class which was very helpful to work with my word consistently.  In 2018 I created a Journaling Challenge to help myself find my word and connect with it in the beginning of the year.  I intended to repeat the challenge in 2019, changing the prompts a little for that year but I honestly can't remember if I completed it or not.  Unofficially I'm going to say my word for 2019 was GROWTH, better yet how about TRANSFORM.  I grew a whole damn human and grew myself too.  If the word of the year is about transformation, boy 2019 was a transformation.  I wasn't able to do this in 2020, but the prompts are perfect for anytime of the year!  

In this post though, I want to share with you four simple exercises to connect to your word.  You don't have to get elaborate or feel intimidated.  This is to help you take actions each day while only putting in the effort to create the actions once!  Here is how to connect with your word and work with it consistently all year.

Define it

First, define your word.  Put this at the front of your planner or on your mirror or on your fridge or in your car or at your desk.  Put the definition in multiple places.  Just be sure you put it where you'll see it everyday.  When you define your word you get close to what it actually, truly means.  This will help you to decide which aspect of the definition you want to apply to your life.  Maybe there is a meaning you didn't know existed.  Maybe the official definition is surprising to you.  When you define it you'll have a literal grasp of what the word means and then you can find out what it means to you.

Choose 3 areas to apply your word

Since you'll want to work with this word each day choose three areas of your life that you want to improve with your word.  Start with a broad area you want to improve like family or home, personal, work, or health.  Then narrow that down with three more (or fewer) focus areas for each section.  When it comes to creating your focus areas, ask yourself how your word of the year can be applied to your broad areas.  My broad sections this year are family, personal, and online.  Then I asked myself how I'd find HARMONY in these three ares.

  • Harmony with my family means spending time together as a family of three, giving more, and nurturing our partnership.  
  • Harmony in my personal life means focusing on my spirituality, moving more, and finding time for self-care.  
  • Harmony for my online presence means prioritizing creating content for my blog, my Etsy shop, and my YouTube channel.

Create daily actions

After you've narrowed down the areas of your life you'd like to improve or focus on with your word, create a list of a daily action (or a few) you can take to apply the word to your life.  For example, to spend time with my family I can plan healthy meals, eat at the dinner table, and intentionally shut out technology (phones, computer, distractions, etc).  Once you create your daily actions you'll be more likely to take the steps to implement your word rather than just choose it and be done with it.  Creating these daily actions also gives you something that you can track.  Use a habit tracker in you planner or in your phone to remind you to take these actions daily.

Reflect monthly

Once you've outlined what you'll attempt to do each day to incorporate your word into your life, be sure to set aside time each month to reflect.  Maybe you keep a journal each day of how you implemented your actions.  You could even do a monthly or weekly habit tracker.  Take time when your planning the next month in your planner or calendar to ask yourself how you'll take these daily actions in the future.  Remember, everyday is a new day and don't think a missed day or a missed week is a failure.  Resolve to do better.  Outline how you will do better.  And then do better.  The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday....and it's ok if you fall behind.  Just do the next thing!  Just keep going!

Bonus: Create a Vision Board

A bonus activity to connect to your word of the year is to create a vision board.  Choose your word and define it on your board.  Then create some branches off of that word with your three areas.  Under these areas clip pictures from magazines or your Pinterest boards that represent success in these areas.  Be sure to include some images of yourself succeeding at those areas too!  When you see yourself on your board you're more likely to identify with it!  In fact I have a whole post on creating a successful vision board right here.

Connecting with your word of the year can be a make or break type of deal.  Spoilers: if you don't feel like you connect with your word, go ahead and change it!  This whole thing is about growth so if you outgrow your word or if it isn't serving you, change it!  Doing the January Journaling Jump Start can help you to find a word that you can connect with by asking you questions about your current state.  But if that state changes...feel free to change your word.  It's your life to live!

I love breaking down my word in the these manageable chunks because I'm more likely to take action if I have an outlined action to take.  Saying to myself 'I'd like to find Harmony this year' doesn't really help me to find it.  It's about creating space for your word to occupy through daily actions and behaviors.

If you want some inspiration for a vision board or working with your word this year check out my Vision Planner video over on my YouTube channel.  You can also find a ton of Word of the Year posts on the blog especially this one on Mantras.  Mantras are my favorite way to work with words each year!  I shared on Instagram my mantra for my word Harmony, you can see it here.  Read more about my vision planner here.

What is your word of 2020?  How did you discover it?

xoxo, Moe