10+ Places to Find Free Stock Photos

When I first started blogging, the most frustrating thing was trying to find good stock photos. I know the “blogger” thing to do would to take all your own stock photos. To be honest, though, I just don’t have the time or energy for that right now, and I’m sure others are with me on that. In my time blogging, I’ve come across dozens of sites for free photos. For this post, I’ve narrowed it down to my top 10 for you. (To my best knowledge, you do not need to give credit to the author when using these photos.)

1. Lock and Stock Photos

2. Kaboom Pics

3. Stock Snap

4. Jay Mantri

5. Magdeleine

6. Foodies Feed

7. Picography

8. Skitter Photo

9. Stock Pic

10. Get Refe

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My Favorite Instagram Accounts

Hi there! I’m having a particularly lazy week, so I thought I would take the time today to share with you my favorite Instagram accounts. Instagram is probably my favorite social media platform. (With Snapchat being a close second.) I spend a lot of time on Instagram on a daily basis, and I follow a lot of pages. It was difficult to narrow it down to just a few favorites, but here they are!

1. Helene In Between – She was one of the first bloggers I ever followers, and I just love her photos. They’re simple & cute, and she always manages to tell a story of some kind. I’ve loved following her, and her hashtag #PhotosInBetween.

2. The Dainty Squid – Kaylah, another favorite blogger of mine. She has an incredibly unique style, and while I am not stylish at all, I love seeing hers! She collects all kinds of weird things that I enjoy seeing, like teeth things, and gloves. She’s a badass photographer, and goes to all kinds of cool, abandoned places. (All of which are now on my bucket list) Plus, she’s got a lot of succulents, which I am currently obsessed with.

3. The Daily Tay – Yet ANOTHER favorite blogger. Taylor is HILARIOUS. She’s pretty obsessed with her dog, Harlow, and while I’m not much of a dog person myself, I’m actually starting to fall in love with hers. (Amazing, right?) I can’t really put my finger on why I love her photos so much… Maybe because she’s quite often holding a glass of wine. Probably. Yeah, that’s why. Oh, and even though she’s funny on Instagram, she’s about a million times funnier on Snapchat. Seriously, go follow her right now.

4. Succulent Obsession – Succulents have become my latest obsession, so it was pretty obvious that I had to start following a bunch of succulent pages. This one is hands down, one of my favorites. There’s a lot of different colors, things to plant them in, different ways to arrange them. Way different than a lot of other succulent pages. It makes me want to go out and buy ALL THE SUCCULENTS. I would if I could.

5. PNWOnderland – I love looking at photos of the Pacific North West. It’s gorgeous up there. While I’ve never really had the chance to explore the area, I think the PNW is absolutely gorgeous. The photos make me want to take my Jeep through every inch of those states. It’s definitely another bucket list item!

6. Hot Pink Pineapples – I can’t remember how I discovered this account. Probably via one of the many blogging hashtags that I follow. I love it because it’s just so BRIGHT. I mean look at this photo. IT’S SO PINK. And all of Cyn’s photos are like this. I have no idea where she finds all these places, things, and buildings that are so freakin bright, but I absolutely love it.

A photo posted by Cyn (@hotpinkpineapples) on

7. Jeep Hood Shots – I don’t know if I have any followers here that are into the whole off-road thing, but I certainly am. I follow a handful of accounts that post photos of very nice Jeeps, but one of my favorite accounts is Jeep Hood Shots. They are all photos taken from the view of the driver/passenger seat. It’s amazing the views you can see from the front seat of a Jeep.

So, there you have it.
What is one of your favorite Instagram accounts to follow? Maybe you’ll inspire me to follow it too!

Ps, follow me on Instagram!

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4 Must Have Photo Editing Apps

photoeditingapps2

For those of you who don’t know, I’m kind of a photographer by nature. Not that I’m any good, but I’ve been known to take a LOT of photos. With the invention of smart phones, and their cameras, photo editing apps have become my absolute favorite apps. Right now I only have ten photo related apps on my phone, but there were times I have had many more. For blogging, all things social media, an eye catching photo is incredibly important. These apps can be a great way to get the job done.

1. Afterlight – This is my number one favorite photo editing app. It has everything you could possibly need. I almost NEVER post a photo to social media without it going through Afterlight first. You can edit the exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, saturation, etc. There are a CRAP ton of filters.. I counted 43, but the app store is telling me there are 59. (I don’t know who’s math is wrong.. Just kidding, it’s mine.) It includes things like texture overlays, light leaks, a pack called “instant film.” I told you – it has everything. Hands down, best app ever. It’s $0.99, and TOTALLY WORTH IT.

2. Over – In my opinion, this is the best app for adding text to photos. It is also $0.99, with packages available to purchase within the app. You can change the font size, (obviously, what app wouldn’t let you do that?) line width, spacing between the letters, rotate the text, and opacity of the text. My favorite feature is the drop shadow, making the text look less flat. They also have packages of cute little stickers and overlays you can purchase, but I’ve found them to be better on other apps. I strictly use this app for text.

3. A Color Story – This is a free app with purchases available inside. I went ahead and bought the bundle pack of all the filters for $8.99 and have found it to be an great investment. This app seems to have different types of filters from Afterlight. For some reason, they seem like more “blogging” type of filters. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it does in my head. The filters are mostly light and airy, really making colors pop in your photos. As like any photo editing app, you can adjust things like exposure, brightness, contrast and saturation.

4. Photofy – This is my most recent favorite app! (Also free) Of course, like the others, you can actually edit your photo. (Exposure, brightness, saturation, blah blah blah) But what’s fun about this one is it has TONS of these stickers and overlays. I find myself spending way too much time looking through all of them. There’s lots of categories and they have stickers for just about every occasion. I typed in “camping” and found this awesome quote to put over a photo from my latest camping trip. Then you can change the color, size, and add a drop shadow to it. (Drop shadows are my favorite!)

Let’s talk. Do you use any of these apps? I’d love to hear about your favorites!

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4 AWESOME Books for Blogging and Social Media

The Internet can be so frustrating. On a daily basis, I find myself cursing the very thing that I love. One minute, I’m obsessed with watching a client’s business/social media accounts grow, and the next I’m on the verge of punching my computer screen. There are tons of tutorial videos, eBooks, and even other bloggers that can help with so much of the blogging/social media frustrations. Maybe I’m a bit different, but I prefer a physical book. Something I can hold in my hand. I like having them for reference; being able to put post it notes on certain pages, make notes, use a highlighter. Saving links to your “favorites list” and using the highlighter on Kindle just isn’t the same. (Although the Kindle can be awesome!)

Today, I thought I’d share with you a few books that have been very helpful to me over the last two years.

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1. Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community
This book was written by Joy Cho, blogger at Oh Joy! In Blog Inc, she goes over all the basics of blogging. Everything from the platform and design you choose, to social media, to how to actually make money via your blog. It’s a short book, but it really gives you a good idea of what actually goes into starting and running a successful blog. It’s quite cheap and definitely worth the read if you’re a newbie!

2. Likeable Social Media
This is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE BOOKS. Probably of all time. About two years ago, I decided I wanted a career in the area of social media marketing. This was one of the first books I discovered and I absolutely LOVE IT. I recommend it to anyone who wants to better their social media skills, at all.

Dave Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable Local (a software company) as well as chairman of Likeable Media, a social media marketing firm. His take on social media marketing is BRILLIANT. He focuses on how to build community, define and target your audience, and even goes into detail on how to deal with haters. It’s beautiful! If you only buy one book ever to help in your blogging/social media career, this would be the one to buy.

3. SEO Like I’m 5
This book was actually recommended to me by my mom’s friend, who went to a fancy college and got a fancy degree in marketing. (Which I clearly did not) She is a very smart woman, and in a list of books she recommended, this was one of my favorites. It’s pretty easy to read, and gives you the basics on search engine optimization. I’ll admit, in the very beginning, SEO was kind of hard to grasp. (Man, I feel lame typing that) But this book helped a lot. The title alone gives you a sense of, “I don’t get it, explain it as if you’re talking to a child!” It helped… a lot.

4. WordPress For Dummies
I realize not everyone uses WordPress, and not everyone is a fan of Dummies books. But I fall in both categories. I’ve always used WordPress, (even for personal websites before I launched my blog) but it was always such a pain to try and figure things out. Like I mentioned earlier, I can watch tutorials online and read other bloggers’ posts with their own tips, but nothing compares to having a hard copy in my hands as a reference guide. Any time I ran into a problem with WordPress, I’d grab my Dummies book and quickly found the solution. I am a big fan of Dummies books, and this one is absolutely a big help. Whatever platform you’re using, I’d suggest having a Dummies book on hand as a reference.

Let’s talk. Do you have a favorite book related to blogging and/or social media? I can always use more recommendations!

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4 Tips to Help You Succeed on Instagram

instagramtips

Instagram is by far my FAVORITE social media platform out there. I was a fan from day one. It’s pretty easy to use, but in order to be successful on Instagram, I think there are certain things you need to pay attention to.

1. Write a good bio.
Make sure there is enough information in your bio to let people know who you are & exactly what you do. Don’t forget to add your website, too!

2. Content.
This is obviously a given. Post content that people WANT to see. Avoid out of focus, dark, or other crappy quality photos. Don’t be afraid to go crazy with photo editing apps, either. I do it often. (You can find my top 3 favorites here.)

3. Engagement.
The best way to get people to engage is to ask a question. Try to avoid asking a yes or no question, but instead, a question that motivates someone to tap the “comment” button and type something in.

4. Hashtags.
This might also be a given, but I see so many people using the WRONG kinds of hashtags. I believe that in order to grow your Instagram organically, and avoid spam followers, you have to use the right kind of hashtags. In my experience, vague hashtags are the ones that drive in spam. Hashtags like #beauty, #love, #ocean tend to be the types that spam accounts are targeting. Instead, try to use more specific hashtags for your business or blog niche.

I run a successful Jeep community online, and when it comes to hashtags, I tend to stick to the ones we as a community have created. When I stopped using #jeep, the amount of spam I saw dropped dramatically. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself!

In the blogging community, a lot of favorite bloggers have created their own hashtags, and they definitely bring in real followers! Helene writes about them here.

5. Why the new Instagram algorithm shouldn’t scare you.
Again, this is just my opinion… But I believe that if you post content that people want to see and are interacting with, the new algorithm shouldn’t scare you. Yes, I agree that it sucks we don’t see photos in order any more. That was a bit of a luxury. But as far as your followers seeing your content goes, just continue posting what they want to see, and they will see it.

Follow me on Instagram to see pretty photos like this one! (Don’t worry, I post pictures other than of my Jeep… Sometimes.)

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