In June I attended my first ever blogging social event with black British bloggers: ‘#BBBSocial‘. I had such an incredible time that when I found out Black British Bloggers were having another event, I immediately got a ticket!!
I just want to start by saying a huge thank you to black British bloggers for creating a network that inspires and elevates us! Please please please if you take one thing away from his blog post… subscribe to their newsletter! If you follow me on Instagram or twitter you will always hear me hyping it up and that’s because it’s SO good! I have learnt so much just from their newsletter that I couldn’t include it all here if I tried (well I could try but you would be reading for days). It’s my favourite newsletter, I really look forward to it. They are sent out consistently, always have opportunities for black British bloggers and are insightful! Get yourself over to their site and subscribe now!
On Saturday I had the most incredible and inspiring day with @blackbritishbloggers for #TheBloggerClinic! A very simple yet extremely thoughtful event focusing in on the black British blogging community working together, developing together & growing together.
We started the day with some delicious food provided by Tee’s Kitchen, we were definitely well fed at the event! There were flat bread sandwiches, bbq chicken wings, rolls, jumbo prawn tempura & vegetables spring rolls on offer! If you need an event catering then definitely check them out because it was super delicious and there was something for everyone! Even the chicken wings were halal!
After some networking & food we took our seats and Mariam (the founder of black British bloggers) introduced the first speaker. Jo is a fashion photography who is experienced when it comes to working with bloggers, you can find her on Instagram at @shot_by_jo.
Jo began by showing us her amazing work as a photographer, you can see I’m not exaggerating by taking a look at her website here. Her work immediately stood out to me as being unique, clean & breathtaking! Jo discussed the importance of angles and how moving the camera just a few inches to the left can make a huge difference to the outcome of a photo. She also spoke about how we, as bloggers, are not models and that it is important that you feel comfortable on the other side of the camera. Your followers will be able to see if you don’t feel comfortable. No one wants awkward shots or poses on their Insta or blog! Another key point was making sure your subject is prepared for the photo because unless you’re a wiz with photoshop (and can afford it) then you want to make sure your images are ready to go! If you’re photographing a model you want to make sure their hands are right, their clothes aren’t crumpled in the wrong areas and they look relaxed.
The whole of this event was very interactive including the speakers sessions with us, which was really different from any event I’ve attended. Jo had planned a really great exercise for us, It allowed us to put into practise some of the useful techniques she was sharing. She split the room into 2 groups and kindly lent us her cameras to take some shots. Each group was set a challenge: Group 1 was to focus on poses and making the subject look comfortable and group 2 was to focus on capturing the details. We later swapped over and here are some of the results…
Contrary to popular belief you can also successfully shoot on a rainy day. It’s all about planning ahead! If you know it’s going to be raining on the day of a shoot you need to think about things like lighting and location well in advance. Similarly if you’re thinking about shooting in winter (and let’s face it, blogging doesn’t stop because the weather has changed!) then you need to think about sun light! The sun only comes to say hi & bye in the winter for a very limited amount of time so plan things like: when are you going to shoot? Can the sun reach that space? Will the sun be at it’s most available? Also make sure the location matches the look you’re going for! Can you imagine seeing a gothic themed photoshoot in a Westfield centre? haha.
One of the best things about this event was the Q&A sessions. There was plenty of time to answer questions because we had an opportunity to submit them online prior to the event. I found this very useful because it also got me thinking about what I wanted to take away from the event. Here are some of the questions and answers:
A1. Fake it till you make it! If you tell yourself that you are confident then you will feel more confident.
This makes total sense to me! Have you ever had one of those moments where you think ‘I just have to do it’ it doesn’t matter who’s looking at me or what they are thinking I’m not missing out because the confidence monster is trying to stop me. Jo went on to explain that most of the time you’ll find that people are just curious and complimentary towards you. Go out there and be your best selves guys, you might be surprised by the positive reactions.
A2. Think about props and how you can use them to improve your environment.
The specific example given was about photographing a cushion on a sofa that wasn’t that great. Jo gave some fantastic advice about investing in a few props to improve the sofa. She advised her to buy a really nice throw or even use a bed sheet, which I thought was genius. I also think if you get creative then you’ll find your photo will come out better than you expected!
A3. Invest in a spot light you can find a really decent continuous lighting kit on Amazon for as little as £30.
Lighting lighting lighting! The Bain of every blogger/vlogger/photographer/social media users life. I have been worrying about photography in winter because Afro Glory was only born in February so I’ve never experienced a winter as a blogger. I had been looking at all sorts of solutions including: natural light bulbs, buying a pop up light box & investing in continuous lighting. Not everyone has the budget to just spend £30 to take nicer photos though. If you find this is an issue for you, then why not get in touch with some of your blogger network and see who would like to chip in and buy some lighting with you? Sharing is caring especially in blogger world!
A4. Think about what you want to capture. If you’re a food blogger you want to make sure you get great photos of the food. If you’re a fashion blogger you want to make sure you get great photos of the outfits. If like this post you want to share the atmosphere of the event you’ll probably want to capture things like laughing, food, the speakers, areas set up for specific use, photos with other bloggers and even a photo with the hosts…
That’s me on the left, @boldlybilly in the middle who did the Instagram take over for the event and Mariam the founder of black British bloggers on the right. I love this photo!
To summarise Jo’s talk if you’re in a great place with your blog and ready to take the next steps, why not invest in a photographer to get those professional shots? I personally think it’s a great idea and it takes a lot of pressure off of you if photography isn’t your strong point. You can reach Jo through her website: www.shotbyjo.com or contact her through Instagram!
Our next speaker was Connie from @theclothesfiles
After a wonderful interactive session with Jo we had another incredible interactive session with Connie. We had a very interesting live Instagram session with Connie. She showed us her Instagram account and spoke about how we can improve our usage as bloggers. Connie openly spoke about her top tips for having a successful Instagram account. Having her account for less than 2 years and reaching 12k+ followers… I was all ears!
The first thing she discussed was having a theme and cleaning up your page so it’s not inconsistent. If you make your page look confusing or visually unpleasing people are not going to want to spend time there. Just ask yourself ‘do people know what you’re about when they get to your Instagram account?’ Some of the first things you can do about this is have a theme and concentrate on what your message is. Here is a screenshot of Connie pages:
As you can see there is a clear theme happening. When I say theme I mean colours, filters and images. Make sure you check out Connie’s Instagram for on going inspiration (also how gorgeous are her babies!!)
Using apps like VSCO can really help you get this together as you can use filters to create a similar colour theme and even get an idea of how your feed will look once you’ve posted those images. I personally love UNUM it’s a fantastic free app that lets you:
- Plan your posts including captions, tags and hashtags
- Pretend you’ve posted images so you can predict what your feed will look like
- Schedule reminders to post (this is the best feature!!)
You can also upgrade it to a paid version and you get even more fantastic features!
Have a call to action! What do you want people to do when they see your post? Do you want them to like it? Go to a link in your bio? Buy something? Give some direction to your followers and have a call to action with your posts!
If you’re trying to grow your following make sure you’re being human. People will find it a lot easier to follow you if you are relatable so make sure you’re connecting with your followers.
As part of our interactive session we created dummy Instagram accounts and Connie actually taught us how she goes about posting and the whole process. We chose 3 photos to post and thought about how we could make sure them work together. We then talked about using the right hashtags and making sure you mix it up. Looking for popular hashtags, posting them underneath the image and using the full amount allowed by Instagram were top tips from Connie.
As you can image there were loads of questions but unfortunately I didn’t manage to capture them all as I was so engaged in listening! The only question I did manage to answer was my own..
A1. Definitely 1, no more than 2!
I wanted to know what someone with Connie’s experience would recommend for how many posts to put up in 1 day. As someone who struggles with mental health and regularly needs to take breaks from social media (not because I don’t love you all, it’s because it can be so overwhelming when I’m struggling) I was curious what would be recommended. Sometimes I end up not posting for days or weeks at a time when I’m feeling my worst.
I’m very lucky in that I have a really relaxed approach when it comes to losing and gaining followers on Instagram. It’s not something I monitor with my heart and soul which is why I can take a break when I need to.
I feel like hearing someone who has a fantastic Instagram account say 1 photo a day can be enough has really taken the pressure off. Sometimes I want to post 10 and sometimes I feel like I have nothing to share but knowing that just sharing 1 good photo is enough makes me feel even more relaxed about my Insta journey relaxed!
When the talks and Q&A were finished we were lucky enough to have loads of time for networking and even playing around in the wonderful flat lay area set up for us. The event was so kindly sponsored by @beaskinclinic and they provided us with some wonderful products to play around with when setting up our flat lays.
After listening to both Connie & Jo this was a great chance to have a play around putting all their techniques into practise.
We were also provided with some great products from Aveeno and here are some of the shots I got of their products:
After a few more chicken wings, lots of networking and some more photography the event came to an end. Everything I’ve learned at this event has been put into practise with my own photography and Instagram account. Make sure you’re following along @afroglory_ to see my journey unfold! I also launched my Etsy account! YAY! Please check it out here: Afro Glory Designs
Last but by no means least… Black British Bloggers were running an Instagram challenge int he run up to the event and of course I took part! It was a great way to get me out of my social media break and guess what…
I’ll be working with Jo in the near future and having a photoshoot with her so make sure you follow along and keep an eye out for the photos! I’m sure I’m going to look like a diamond. She is very good with a camera. I also won one of Connie’s tee’s from her clothing brand elle Set. Femme which means she is woman! I can’t wait to wear it!
Please do take a look at my new etsy shop and let me know what you think in the comments below!
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