RAWKANVAS Skincare Unboxing Video | NEW SKINCARE BRAND

RAWKANVAS Skincare Unboxing Video | NEW SKINCARE BRAND

RAWKANVAS Skincare 

I am very excited to share with you this skincare haul from a brand new skincare company, RAWKANVAS.

RAWKANVAS is an Australian made, vegan and cruelty-free skincare line that has just launched this month. I preordered their entire line and my package arrived today. After unboxing it I was so blown away by how gorgeous the products look and knew I had to share that with you ASAP.

Let’s spread #goodvibes and visit RAWKANVAS on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rawkanvas/ and congratulate Simona & Shannon on the launch of their new skincare range!

This video is not sponsored nor do I receive anything in return if you purchase the products linked to the RAWKANVAS website. I paid for all these products myself, I love supporting small businesses and have an extra soft spot for Australian businesses.

I ordered the Ultimate Package and then added the rest of the products to my order to complete the entire set. – The Ultimate Package (Dry, Oily, Normal & Combo Skin): http://bit.ly/2pznmen

Order of products as I unboxed them:

Miracle: Jade Facial Roller: http://bit.ly/2uhutxe

Sol: Hydrating Day Moisturiser: http://bit.ly/2jfepqb

Canvas: Resurfacing AHA & BHA Treatment: http://bit.ly/2godqrt

The Foundation: Flawless Retinol & Vitamin C Lotion: http://bit.ly/2h6zdys

The Limelight: Brightening Probiotic Lotion: http://bit.ly/2up7col

Harmony: Radiance Boosting Toner: http://bit.ly/2udyex4

Yester Youth: Regenerating Facial Oil: http://bit.ly/2gmcmqd

Purified: Purifying Cleanser: http://bit.ly/2gpbbe0

Polished: Refining Exfoliant: http://bit.ly/2glvh7p

Luminosity: Brightening Glow Mask: http://bit.ly/2q0qvix

Luna Vitality: Restoring Night Cream: http://bit.ly/2h9oxq8

Refined: Clarifying Detox Mask: http://bit.ly/2ipd0ft

Mask brush was part of the kit I purchased

 

RAWKANVAS Skincare

Have you checked out RAWKANVAS skincare yet? I am so excited to try these products and will start using as soon as I finish testing some other beautiful products (future review to come).

RAWKANVAS has a range of absolutely gorgeous skincare products that do not require a filter and will add some beautiful decor to your bathroom vanity. The colours are vibrant and come packaged in a thick glass jar.

Derminator At Home Derma Needling Device Video | 8 February 2018

Derminator At Home Derma Needling Device Video | 8 February 2018

Soph

Derminator At Home Derma Needling Device Video
Treatment Session done on 6th February 2018

 

Arhhh, I did something REALLY SCARY!!!

I posted a video of my Derminator treatment that I did on 6 February 2018. This was something I thought no way in the history of ‘just going for it’ did I think I would post a video so raw, up close and personal for everyone to see.

The idea of it being on YouTube is giving me knots in my stomach because I feel like it’s so public now! There is a huge difference between posting it on my blog vs online and it’s terrifying, but I’m saying yes to everything this year, it’s part of my personal growth.

Hopefully, this is a video you guys like and may have wanted to see. Okay I’m going to go hide now from the overwhelming feeling of ‘I can’t believe I just did that’

What is in the video

As I mentioned in my video I have a couple of blog posts on my blog and here are the links:

Derminator Device Initial Use: https://goo.gl/vai57h
Derminator Progress Pictures from first use and after skincare: https://goo.gl/NjhU2T

Hello Beauties!

I hope you are having a fabulous week! I did one of my Derminator session a couple of weeks ago, the first one this year actually. I have been receiving lots of queries from others interested (I love it, keep em coming!) and people who have purchased the device itself (horray! – acne scars you have met your match).

So I thought I would put this little video showing me using it and some key points you may be interested in hearing.

Just to let you know ahead of time, I have a large breakout cluster that is in the video and yes I have tons of facial hair.

I know sometimes the facial hair gets pointed out, but I don’t bother editing it because I want to show you guys the real process. That’s the whole point of my blog being called My Skincare Reality, it’s the real stuff that I deal with.

This video is not sponsored or affiliated with Derminator, I purchased this machine with my own money.

I hope this helps someone who may be thinking of trying this device. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me!

Thank you for taking time out of your day to watch my video!

Also if you would like me to film more of these videos as I do my treatments, please let me know.

I always want to hear from you!

I’d love to hear from you!

Have tried any type of micro needling/ derma needling?

Any tips you may have please drop them in the comments section below!

My Blogging Story Part 5 | Programs & Tools I use for my blog

My Blogging Story Part 5 | Programs & Tools I use for my blog

** Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase by clicking on the links provided I may earn a commission from your purchase at no additional cost to yourself. See my Affiliate and Disclosure**

Soph

Programs & Tools I use for my blog

RECAP OF MY STORY TO THIS POINT

August 2017 was my one year anniversary of having my blog and I started to reflect how far I had come within those quick 12 months. Once I started to map what I wanted to remind myself of how and where I started, I began to write it all out on paper.

Initially, my goal was to document this for myself, a journal type of entry. A place that I could personally visit and take note of the outcome from an idea that came to me during one of my many sleepless nights. Turning those negative “poor me” sleepless nights and into something more, something great.

After I started to write out what I had learnt, I took it a step further and realised maybe this may help a person out there who may also have a similar idea. Taking something you are passionate about and turn it into more.

Regardless if your idea is a blog, a YouTube channel, starting a side business, know that YOU CAN do it. It may seem hard even a little deflating at other times but eventually, you’ll get more of the good things happen after you put in work and you will forget the bad. This is the exact stage I am exactly at in my blogging career and mindset.

 

PREVIOUS TOPIC

A quick recap of my previous post: I mapped out the equipment I use for my blog, some money saving tips on what I purchased as well as some items I could’ve skipped on or purchased way later, of course, this is all in hindsight, Equipment I use to blog.

As I mentioned before I originally used my iPhone to take my photos, but as time went on and around the same time I started to upgrade some of my technology I began experimenting with different tools and programs.

Speaking for myself, the trait of remaining teachable I consider important, it feeds my soul. Everyone has something they know and can teach me. Whether it’s a new skill, fact or give me advice, each conversation we have I walk away with something new.

Hopefully, there are plenty of you who may feel comfortable enough to contribute to this post. I can say with certainty that at least one person may read what you have to share and walk away with that ‘hmm I didn’t know that’, myself included.

The best way I learn

Since I always learn best with items in reverse, I make notes including “if Section A has null or a 0 then that means to you need to click on options and then do x,y,z.” Trust me it’s been a lifesaver many many times because let’s be honest sometimes for some unexpected reason technology can go a little off the mark. Someone added an extra letter or number somewhere and that has now stuffed up your report and your boss needs it now.

When it comes to learning stuff I always have to start at the hardest and work my way back, I never go the easy route. Everyone learns differently and something that might make complete sense to Person A may be completely different to Person B.

For myself I am a visual person, you show me how to do something and I can repeat it, very likely adding a bunch of questions in between, but then I can repeat the steps. When it comes to reading a manual to learn how to do something, the information doesn’t absorb into my brain the same way unless I am doing a straight follow along with the manual and whats on the computer screen. I always have to take my own notes, you bet that includes the ‘click ok’ then click ‘finalise’ etc etc.

Trust me, do not feel silly if this is what works for you, I have had past colleagues disregard their notes for mine all the time. Or I become the designated note taker since anyone can follow along with my instructions, it’s a gift and a burden at the same time. You know, sometimes you just want to be the slacker in a training course but it’s not part of my being.

 

Programs & Tools I use for my blog

Since the main focal point of my blog is pictures I needed to be able to edit my pictures and it wasn’t something I was familiar with. To be completely honest any pictures that I’ve ever taken I have never edited them at all. It’s not because they didn’t need editing, it was only because I didn’t know how and thought, whichever way the photo was taken is the way it should stay.

Before I go any further, a lot of what I may be saying will overlap with my previous post in this series, since we are talking photos. Just FYI in case, you feel like you are reading the same post again.

When the time came to learn photo editing I started at the very very beginning. Mind you I still don’t know much about how to edit the correct pixel or the correct saturation and exposure levels (if those aren’t the right combinations then it shows how little I know!) but I feel like I can get a picture to a decent form.

Part of my beginning blog posts I cringe so much at the picture quality. As much as I want to re-edit them and upload a better version, I don’t because I like to see where I started from and can measure my progress. So I find that by keeping those posts the way they are, help inspire me to keep improving.

What I use to edit my photos

Windows Fotor

When I first started to edit my photos to bring up the brightness, add my watermark etc, I used the Fotor editor that came with my Windows subscription/laptop. From memory, I think I may have paid like $15 for some type of upgrade. I quickly outgrew that, or so I thought…I was expecting to be able to create something truly magical just by using my iPhone pictures and the real basic, auto function on Fotor.

Adobe Photoshop

Now it’s time to talk about one of the greatest beasts I’ve ever battled, Photoshop. Photoshop and I have a love/hate relationship.  If I could go back in time, I would be saying, “Soph, what are you doing?! Photoshop is something you really need to learn and be familiar with, you have never used Photoshop before and using Adobe for work related PDF does not count!” After a few YouTube videos, I thought I was ready to conquer the Photoshop beast…..little did I know what I was about to walk into a lion’s den with a plastic spork!

There are SO many things you can do in Photoshop, customisable features, so many effects and transformations of anything and everything. After a year of using it, I only know how to do some of the most basic things. This is definitely a skill I really want to expand my knowledge on because it’d be a very useful skill to have, it’s just going to be a very slow process. And that is totally ok! As I say very often, remaining teachable is something I pride myself on.

PicMonkey

PicMonkey was a free online photo editor that also offers options to a two paid versions that unlock additional features depending on which service you chose.

When I initially wrote this draft post, PicMonkey was free but has recently changed to be a paid service. It used to offer so many things but I haven’t found a replacement that is free if you know of one please let me know in the comments section below. There are some things I really find easy to use in PicMonkey and have decided to pay for the Premium subscription, which is about $105AUD a year.

https://www.picmonkey.com/

Automated Services to schedule my post

Buffer to schedule my posts

When I was doing research on what I should do for as a startup blogger I came across people discussing a social media manager that you can pre-schedule posts to your social media platforms on your company/blog’s behalf.

There is an auto publication option from WordPress but I don’t like the layout of it. So I subscribed to Buffer and prefer the layout on how it displays on my social media pages using this method.

Is this a necessity as a starting blogger? No, it’s more of a convenience. After trying it over time I wouldn’t recommend this for a beginner blogger, I would recommend going for the free plan instead. Unless you are a high posting blogger and can schedule lots of your content in advance, then I can see the value in it.

Knowing what I know now I can easily justify adding an extra half hour or so to share my post on social media and save the annual costs of Buffer.

I do want to note their customer service is amazing, I had a few problems and they took care of it and were very apologetic so if customer service is on your ‘must have’ list then Buffer gets a big gold tick of approval from me.

Cancelling my Buffer account

After using it for a year I really loved Buffer, particularly for the way it posts my Instagram, it gives that neat spaced look if you like to split up your description to your hashtags. None of all that text in one giant paragraph that is not very pretty to look at. The downside of Buffer is it’s a little pricey so it really depends on your budget and time. BUT!! They do offer a free version that I definitely recommend going with before you make the commitment to paying for the full service.

A few weeks ago Facebook made some changes, making it difficult to use the auto-post part, so I decided to cancel my service. Now I use the free version and it’s been working out well for me. The free account limits some of its function but it’s a good place to start for free at the very least.

If you have a high posting blog Buffer offers a great variety of different options so you can pre-schedule stuff but at this moment it’s not for me. If my blog evolves to that later in the future then I’d definitely go back to Buffer.

Tailwind – Pinterest

Tailwind is something I literally signed up for last month and am still finding my way around it. Before I share how it has helped my blog, I will explain what it actually is or at least the best of my ability.

Pinterest isn’t what we define as our traditional social media site, it’s a search engine, similar to Google but with images. Many times I’ve looked up and found some delicious recipes, visited that gourmet chef’s (people who make cooking look easy) website and followed them for future posts. Where Pinterest plays it’s role is by helping to drive traffic towards that awesome chef’s website for me to revisit and repin their other masterpieces.

When making Pinterest pins it’s important to make them pop and want people to notice it and see, that not only are you awesome at making that family passed down chicken soup recipe but you have some other great recipes they may be interested in.

How has Tailwind helped my blog?

It has helped with traffic towards my blog for others who are interested in similar type of content, discovering some incredible bloggers and blog support groups.

Whenever we pin something on our own boards we help that pin spread around to others who may also be interested in that post.

The way Tailwind works are based on being part of Tribes and pining one another’s pins to help one another spread your content around. You are able to schedule pins to be pinned on your board at all different times of day, even when you are sleeping and for days in advanced.

The only thing I don’t like about Tailwind is their app, maybe it has a child lock on it and that’s why I can’t work out how it works, but I really struggle so I have to do it through my laptop. 

Another similar type of place you may have heard of is BoardBooster, but I haven’t tried it or know much about comparing the two services.  

If you’d like to know more you can check out my Tailwind affiliate link. There is a free trial you can sign up for and it doesn’t require a credit card! If you are looking to up your Pinterest game definitely worth checking it out.

They also have recently started to expand their services to include Instagram, I haven’t looked into it and am not familiar with it.

Video Editing Software

Windows Movie Maker

When I started to make videos to share on YouTube I used the free Windows Movie Maker that was preloaded on my laptop. This worked well but I found there were some features that I really wanted but it didn’t have. The biggest example was the zoom in feature if you have seen some of my videos I like to zoom right into certain parts of my video so you can see the product up close and personal. With Windows Movie Maker I was able to do more of a pan in option but it wasn’t enough and didn’t always work the way I envisioned.

I was 75% happy with it, found it very easy to use and a great starter video editor for some basic editing. A fantastic user-friendly program that taught me how to cut out parts that I didn’t want to use, change the speed to slow motion or a faster speed, add music/voiceover etc.

However, I wanted to zoom in as close as possible for some product shots, I wanted more out of it.

 

iPhone/iPad using iMovie

Following up after a good research session, I realised that some of the features that I wanted but weren’t available on Windows Movie Maker were actually available on my iPhone/iPad iMovie. The entire time I’ve had an Apple product I had never once opened iMovie!

Since I don’t have an Apple computer, I believe iMovie is a default program that comes already pre-installed, so it’s possible if you have a Mac you may be able to do some awesome editing just from using what you have. For me, I was trying to do some of the editings on my phone and it was too small to be able to really pinpoint what I could change and the possibilities, so I mainly used it for zooming in and out.

I know of many YouTubers that use iMovie exclusively for their video editing and most of us probably wouldn’t even notice it, so if you have it try that on for size before you spend big bucks on a video editing program.

Try to keep in mind, go with what you have available first and use it as often as you can to get that practice, you’ll only get better and master a skill that may come useful later.

 

Err, that wasn’t one of my best ideas

I began to use my iPhone/iPad to edit my videos but soon after I was running into walls of not being able to customise other parts of my videos the way I wanted.

So the “genius” part of me thought I’d edit my videos using both methods combined, Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. If you ever wonder, “what the heck did I learn from that Soph girl’, make it this – don’t combine programs like that. It will end in tears and they will most likely be yours, trust me I have been there many times. Everything just fell apart on me.

I’d use the iMovie on my iPhone first edit the parts of the video, doing the zoom in parts and what not. After that, I’d have to export it to my computer with iTunes (which is my sworn arch nemesis) then use Windows Movie Maker to add the subtitles and the finishing touches. My next step would be uploading it to YouTube. I found that this was a very extensive and time-consuming process I was losing quality and above all, so much time.

 

My rant about finding a good video editor

As you can imagine I was pretty frustrated and began looking for a video editor, something that was all in one. My must have list wasn’t too much to ask for, I wanted something that was easy to use, not crazy expensive, and something that can be my Windows Movie Maker and iMovie all in one.

Some of the options were very expensive and when watching tutorials it looked very complex so those were out the window. Photoshop took me to school on that lesson, don’t skip the line and go all the way to the front of the line, build up and learn works best for me!

Feeling pretty defeated I got to the point that I thought my only solution was to buy a Mac computer if I wanted to do YouTube videos. Which was out of the question, that wasn’t something I really wanted to do. it’s silly thinking I needed to buy a new computer just to go and spend even more money on buying an expensive software. Pretty sad that I thought that was my only option, I’m going to blame it on over-researching everything!

Eventually, I came across Movavi and checked out some of the tutorials, it looked fairly easy to use, most importantly it was affordable AND available for Windows and Mac.

So I purchased the Suite and Photo Editor bundle and I started to test it out. I’ll admit I regretted purchasing it because I was so stuck in my ways from the other two editors I was using before and just wanted to give up.

After I had a big whinge to my husband with my frustration, he is always my voice of reason. He told me, just take some time and set aside a day to devote towards learning how to use the program. Whenever I have overcomplicated an outcome in my mind he is always there to listen to me and then point out the obvious solution, I’m pretty lucky like that.

In my mind, I felt as if I was wasting time learning how to use a new program that I could be blogging instead. I felt so intimated by my lack of editing knowledge and I started to second guess doing videos for my blog.

 

Movavi

Eventually, after many tears (yes, all from me) I decided to take my hubby’s suggestion and give Movavi a proper try. I began to edit an old video testing out the different options and working out which buttons do what etc. After a few tries and starting over I decided I could give it a try with a new video I wanted to work on. A few blunders, many “undo last action” and an entire day I was able to produce a 5 minutes video only using Movavi.

Finally, I felt accomplished something huge! After that, I started to get a little faster and more confident.

Movavi’s software costs about $80AUD as a one off fee, it gets updated and you have the option to upgrade to the next level which adds even more features. Late last year I updated to from Version 16 to Version 17. It does cost about the same to upgrade between the two but by no means do you have to upgrade or even do it annually, if that is how they release the newer versions.

This is available for both Windows and Apple computers, so it’s a great affordable option to upgrade from the default editor that comes with your computer without breaking the bank.

For anyone who wants to step up their video editing skills but not ready to spend that huge editing software cost then I recommend Movavi.

 

https://www.movavi.com/

 

Movavi Photo Editor

As mentioned above I purchased the Movavi photo editor but I haven’t used it as yet so I can’t review it. The idea of purchasing this was because I wanted to cancel my Adobe membership and replace it with this, but I’ve been downloading stock images that need either Illustrator or Photoshop, so I keep Photoshop until I get the time to go and research more about what I can do with my stock photo and the different types I have.

Plus when I bought the Movavi Video Editor to purchase the photo editor was only like $30 or $40 more (I can’t recall exactly).

Providers to help Build your email list

MailChimp

Now this one is something I’m still getting the hang of and need to work out how to make the best use of it.

The reason I bring this up is, MailChimp is something that is part of my default signup/newsletter part of my blog. So basically what this means is whenever someone signs up for notifications of a new blog post or if I send a newsletter out to anyone subscribed, it goes through MailChimp. I sign into the website, create a newsletter template and send out that campaign.

There is a lot of options that can be done, but I need to invest some time to learn how it works. I don’t know if there is another program that does the same thing as MailChimp but it’s seems to be a very popular one on many website subscriptions.

Adding a section on your site for readers to subscribe to your blog is a good idea. That way you can send any special announcements, a monthly/weekly newsletter etc you have a mailing list at the ready.

https://mailchimp.com/

 

MailerLite

This is a brand new email subscription I have literally signed up for like a week ago, so I can’t comment on it yet. I’ve had someone who is way more experienced than I am in the blogging world, recommended MailerLite in place of MailChimp. I will let you guys know how it goes after using it for some time.

You can sign up for a free account with you have less than 1,000 subscribers and seems to be fairly affordable to add as you grow your subscription service. Because I know I will, you’re going to be great!

There is also another good one that comes highly recommended and that’s ConvertKit but it does cost and I’m not at the stage that I can justify paying just yet. One day I will be ready to have that option but I may love MailerLite and won’t have to worry about changing elsewhere and just grow that way.

https://www.mailerlite.com/

Just Start!

My number one advice to someone who is thinking of starting a blog or anything similar is: just go for it and use what you have. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money to gather all this equipment or get the best of x product before you start.

You have been bitten by the creativity bug, don’t let the chance pass you by. If you are waiting for something, in the meantime start writing, begin preparing everything you feel like you need. Have backups of everything. Think you may want to wait to write that blog post until you have saved up for a camera to take decent pictures, start typing it out your blog post on a word document so when you’re ready to go you are that one step closer.

Want to do videos? Start practising multiple times a day recording yourself so you can feel comfortable. Start by trying to edit a photo, a video – just start. Don’t be scared and give in to those negative thoughts that creep up saying you can’t, you’ll fail therefore you must not try. Tell that voice to shut up, you don’t have time for him/her you’re too busy creating.

I want to hear from you!

Do you have any suggestions or any type of advice to offer other bloggers about programs to check out? I’m really interested in finding out what others use and how they use it.

I’ll be updating a version of this post as time goes on, I have a few new programs that I am planning to try and will share my experiences with you.

Mintd Box Subscription Unboxings | December 2017 | January 2018 | Omorovicza Haul

Mintd Box Subscription Unboxings | December 2017 | January 2018 | Omorovicza Haul

Soph

Mintd Box

Hello and welcome back to my blog!

In this video, I have shared a few unboxings of the Mintd Subscription Box for December 2017 & January 2018. I also included a small haul I purchased from The Gift Store that contained Omorovicza products.

I am currently on the month to month basis subscription. Mintd Box is a UK based company but luckily they ship internationally and I can get it delivered to me in Australia for an extra shipping fee.

Usually, the monthly boxes arrive rather quickly but the Omorovicza package took like 6 weeks to arrive, which I don’t understand since I paid double the shipping since I purchased two items so, in theory, it should’ve arrived in the same space of time. It was shipped before the January box was sent to me and yet arrived like 4 weeks later.

Please note this haul is not sponsored in any way, these items have been purchased by me with my own money. Personally, I just like to share my hauls so you guys can see what new products you can expect to be reviewed on my blog!

My Subscription

For further details on the prices please see further down on this post the cost breakdown. This is an expensive subscription box and I don’t blame you if you didn’t wish to purchase it. Hell, I don’t even know what possessed me to subscribe!

What I personally enjoy is the fact that it’s skincare and well being. For those who may not know, I don’t wear makeup and find it difficult to find subscription boxes that don’t include makeup.

So far my experience has been good, I have received some great products. After the cost breakdown of purchasing each item separately, it’s worth over double the price of the subscription box.

One thing I really dislike is the shipping fee, but I am a grump when it comes to paying for shipping period. Regardless, paying an extra $14 AUD for shipping on top of the price is steep. I am not sure if I will continue on with the subscription box, but watch this space.

Please make sure to sign up for my newsletter to be notified when a new post is live!

I’d love to hear your thoughts or feedback on any of these products in the comments section below!

December 2017 Box – Enchanted

Paid £65 plus £7.50 shipping | Items individually: $304.50 AUD

(there was a price increase starting January 2018)

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

January 2018 Box – Recharge

Paid £70 plus £7.50 shipping | Items individually: $271 AUD

(there was a price increase starting January 2018)

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

Mintd Box

The Gift Store Haul

Omorovicza Cracker & Omorovicza Discovery Set 

Cracker Paid £25 ($44.50 AUD) plus £7.50 shipping | Discovery Set £59 ($105 AUD) plus £7.50 shipping

Mintd Box

Mintd Box Subscription Price & Options

Month to Month

£70 | $125 AUD

Plus Shipping (per month):

£7.50 | $14 AUD

You can also get this on an every other month basis for the same price, except billed once every two months vs once a month

3 Month Prepay

£205.50 | $364 AUD

Plus Shipping (per month):

£7.50 | $14 AUD

6 Month Prepay

£411 | $728 AUD

Plus Shipping (per month):

£7.50 | $14 AUD

12 Month Prepay

£822 | $1,455 AUD

Plus Shipping (per month):

£7.50 | $14 AUD

Where you can sign up: Mintd Box website | Click Here

My Blogging Story Part 4 | Equipment I use to blog

My Blogging Story Part 4 | Equipment I use to blog

** Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase by clicking on the links provided I may earn a commission from your purchase at no additional cost to yourself. See my Affiliate and Disclosure**

Soph

Equipment I use to blog

 

RECAP OF MY STORY TO THIS POINT

August 2017 was my one year anniversary of having my blog and I started to reflect how far I had come within those quick 12 months. Once I started to map what I wanted to remind myself of how and where I started, I began to write it all out on paper.

Initially, my goal was to document this for myself, a journal type of post. A place that I could personally visit and take note of the outcome from an idea that came to me during one of my many sleepless nights. Turning those negative “poor me” sleepless nights and into something more, something great.

After I started to write out what I had learnt, I took it a step further and realised maybe this may help a person out there who may also have a similar idea. Taking something you are passionate about and turn it into more.

Regardless if your idea is a blog, a YouTube channel, starting a side business, know that YOU CAN do it. It may seem hard even a little deflating at other times but eventually, you’ll get more of the good things happen after you put in work and you will forget the bad. This is the exact stage I am exactly at in my blogging career and mindset.

 

Previous Topic

A quick recap of my previous post: I shared the steps I took to set up my blog’s social media and how I converted what was in my mind to the internet Setting up my blog’s social media.

Now that was sorted the equipment I use to blog experiment began!

Naturally, I am not a tech savvy person, to this day I have absolutely no idea how to use iTunes, and I have owned an iPhone for a very long time! Technology is not a strength for me but I chip away a little at a time and try to improve.

Speaking for myself, the trait of remaining teachable I consider important, it feeds my soul. Everyone has something they know and can teach me. Whether it’s a new skill, fact or give me advice, each conversation we have I walk away with something new.

Hopefully, there are plenty of you who may feel comfortable enough to contribute to this post. I can say with certainty that at least one person may read what you have to share and walk away with that ‘hmm I didn’t know that’, myself included.

Equipment I use to blog

Now that I had my blog’s backend sorted and my laptop at the ready, now what?

Seeing as I was planning to review products I needed photos to write and post but I didn’t own a camera. But I did have an iPhone, I had been using my camera phone for ages and never felt the need for a separate camera.

At that point, I thought that was enough for me to take product pictures and started to take photos of some of my skincare products. Everything from what the packaging of the product, to a sample of what the product looked like.

Something I never really thought about needing was lighting. Sure I heard YouTubers talk about it but I wasn’t shooting a video I just needed decent snaps. As time went on, I began taking photos outside and realised they were looking better.

After I had taken a few photos, I uploaded them to my laptop and used the default Windows photo editor, Fotor. Since I have never really used an editing program to touch up pictures I just went with some of the auto choices and made sure to watermark my pictures. Whenever those old photos come up I laugh about why I felt the urge to watermark them, they were bad and no one would’ve wanted to reuse them.

Please note

I know all this equipment I use to blog may seem excessive and I definitely know you don’t need to have all these items to have a blog. If I knew what I know now (goodness, I sound like my parents with that sentence!) back then this list would be much shorter.

Please know that my intention when you finish reading this post is solely for the purposes of knowing what my personal experience has been and areas, where I feel I should’ve focused on. My personality is very much ‘go all in or not at all’ and I this may be a prime example showing that.

To be able to give you further examples of what I recommend please see my tips towards the bottom of the post.

What I started with – Phone Camera

Before I ever bought any kind of equipment I only used my iPhone and if you look at my initial pictures you’ll be able to pick up on that straight away. Not that the quality of picture shouldn’t have been good, it’s just that I had no idea how to actually use my camera properly to take pictures beyond snapping photos of my dogs. Even those snaps have improved!

It’s so embarrassing to admit this, but I didn’t know I could take a picture on the ‘square’ setting, which is the correct size picture for an Instagram post. I always ended up cutting half my pictures off and I could never work out how all the skincare peeps took perfect Instagram sized photos, I accidentally stumbled across that setting one time by pure accident. If you repeat that to anyone I’ll deny it!!

Lightbox Kit

When it came to lighting I only used natural light, which didn’t come until much later but I was just snapping pictures with my flash and the horrible yellow lighting that is in my bedroom or bathroom.

As I said, I never understood why YouTubers kept going on about lighting, I thought why not just turn the light in your bedroom on? Ah such a newbie, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

As with many of my import decisions in life, I took to the internet and figured this little light box on eBay would be my end all to lighting and background. It included multiple colour cloth backgrounds (blue, red and white) and a “light kit”. Very similar to this set up below.

Photo sourced from Google

 

Mine came with 4 lights and the same funny looking tripod. This was not a good pick up and regret buying it. As soon as I turned the lights on for longer than a few minutes they would get REALLY hot, I’m talking about a potential fire hazard hot!

As simple as this setup looks, it always ended up a literal balancing act, sometimes having to bust out my good friend duct tape. It was way too much of a hassle and decided this wasn’t going to work for me.

I’m not saying this if you come across this option not to buy it. Just don’t buy the one that the lights come from another country even if it has your country’s electrical cord. The best way to go is to make sure you purchase from a vendor in your country and has authorisation to sell electrical products to your country’s safety standards.

 

Three piece lighting set

I finally ended up figuring out why everyone was going on about lighting and I ended up purchasing a 3 piece soft box lighting setup. Similar to the set shown below, minus the background rack and background colour sheet.

In place of a table, I used my rarely used ironing board, it sure as heck wasn’t being used to iron, as my table top. For my background, I used my wall as the background setting.

 

Photo sourced from Google

 

Immediately I noticed a difference in the clarity of pictures I was getting from my iPhone and I had the bonus of taking the pictures any time of the day. When I set up the lights I couldn’t quite figure out how to balance the one that hangs over the top and it’d end up falling over so many times. More times than I can count it would fall over in the middle of me taking pictures. I’m incredibly lucky that the globes didn’t break after multiple falls.

Fortunately, I was able to get it to work, but it wasn’t as easy I thought it would be. The initial set up I had was a hot mess and I can’t even begin to describe it properly because it was so bad

At the moment I have the overhead box hanging from the ceiling with a plant hanger hook and some command hooks that hang from the ceiling. It’s tied together with this wire/rope my husband had from hanging a very heavy clock. The tripod that came with that light I ditched and use it as a spare tripod for my camera, simply by purchasing a ball head attachment.

Downside

The downside of this set up is how much room it takes up, the lights aren’t easy to move around if you want to move to a different space each time. Coupled with the amount of space they take up it’s not an ideal option for everyone.

They are great lights and I use them for about 90% of the time to take my product pictures.

You can find a similar version of the lights I purchased via Amazon.

 

Canon EOS 80D

Several months had passed and I thought it’s time to graduate and purchase a proper camera. Keep in mind I still didn’t know how much I could actually use my mobile to take great pictures and decided that the lack of quality was due to my camera, not the user.

You are probably laughing thinking ‘this girl didn’t know she needed to do some basic tweaks that a 2 year old could work out’, as long as you are laughing with me and not at me, we cool!

When it came to deciding what camera to get I had no idea which to purchase, the choices are really overwhelming. Hopefully, I can help break it down and you may find it helpful in whatever direction you decide to go.

Continuing on to which camera I decided on after searching for a DSLR. One camera that I kept coming across was the Canon 70D, it seems to be pretty popular amongst YouTubers, from the research I was able to gather, the 80D was the upgraded version of the 70D. I figured if I’m going to buy one I might as well pick up the latest version to buy myself time to learn how to use it before the next version comes out and I’d have to upgrade!

 

Photo sourced from Google

 

Currently, I still don’t know how to use it to its full potential, so it stays on the auto settings, it works for me right now so I’ll continue with those settings until I take the time to read the manual and watch a couple of YouTube videos.

Initially I didn’t plan to do YouTube videos at all, actually, I was totally closed off to that idea but things have changed. If you watch my unboxing videos this is the camera I use, with a few exclusions.

Fortunately, I have the spare space to have a permanent space to have my box lights with this camera at the ready anytime I wish to film or take product pictures.

Familiar with camera equipment?

If you have experience, knowledge, tips or anything you’d like to share about cameras, could you please leave details below in the comments? I still need loads of assistance in this area and would appreciate any advice you may have. Personally speaking, I love that I have so many options to do so much with my camera but the problem is I don’t know how to get to those options to try new things.

Places you can find this camera:

Canon EFS 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Telephoto Lens

My next camera accessory was purchasing a different size lens, which leads us into this one.

This is something that really has ended up a waste for me right now. I rarely reach for this lens, other than taking a photo of the sign across the street from my house letting me know that my shire was going to do some earthmoving work. Perhaps that should count since I have a hard time walking, so it saved me the pain of having to walk over.  Any takers for support on this?!

It’s not a bad lens, it’s just not one that is suited for what I am currently using it for, it will come in handy in the future I just don’t know when that will come.

 

Photo sourced from Google

 

What I should’ve done

What I would’ve been better off doing was purchasing a lens that went smaller than the 18mm lens my camera came with. When I take my product pictures I try to get as close as I can to product’s descriptions to show as much information as I can straight off the package.

Another lens that I hear is good to have is the Sigma 50mm (or maybe it’s 55mm), lots of YouTubers use that lens to shoot their videos because of the bokeh, giving the background that blurry effect and a better focus on the person. Since I don’t do sit down videos it’s not something that I need anytime soon.

Places you can find this camera:

Canon Powershot G7X Mark II

As I started to have more ideas to add to my blog I decided to purchase a small compact action camera. This one was a bit tricky, I wanted something portable but not lose quality. So I purchased the Canon Powershot G7X Mark II that could easily be used to do so much and carry it easily outside.

Photo sourced from Google

 

My whole purpose of this camera was so I could take video of products in use, while either mixing stuff, opening packages, record up close shots of products etc. This camera is probably my favourite, it’s very easy to use and the pictures look great plus the fact that you get great video helps a lot.

Another cool thing is the way you can connect this to your phone via WiFi,  giving you the opportunity to take some great time lapse videos or to step up your Instagram game. You may know this camera is fairly popular with Vloggers on YouTube, loads of people use this camera since it’s so compact and it has the flip up screen.

Places you can find this camera:

Ring light

You may recall from earlier in this post I was complaining about the hassle the trio of soft light boxes would give me. Well, this ring light was my answer! The kit I purchased is very similar to the one shown below.

Photo Sourced from Google

 

I use this ring light and love it, it’s very light, portable and it bends easily into different angles.

There are a few tips I have if you are looking for a decent priced ring light, there are some that are very expensive and I’m sure they are a way better quality but that isn’t the priority for me as things stand.

Firstly from what I read getting the ring light that has LED lights, I believe it’s like 200+ little pieces of light, is better than getting the globe that comes in the perfect circle. From what I read the LED version lasts much longer and it doesn’t get that burnt look with a yellow tint. You may have seen what I am referring to with a globe that is in your bedroom after constant use they start to get a yellow haze around them.

You can find a similar version of this ring light via:

 Selfie Ringlight

This is a great option if you don’t have the extra space to have a full lighting set up or perhaps you want to take a selfie wearing your sheet mask, this works great. It is a rechargeable USB light that clips on to your phone.

It’s an inexpensive way to buy a ring light for those winter nights when there is never enough light to take a good photo of your skincare routine.

You may also see these come in little sets where it includes the micro, wide or fishbowl lens for your mobile. Again another great option to be able to use your phone to take good pictures.

Photo Sourced from Google

 

You can find a similar version of the selfie ring light on Amazon (cashback available through Cash Rewards). I picked a little kit up from JB Hi Fi last month and it is awesome!

 

External Hard Drive

The most recent addition to my collection is an external hard drive to hold all my blog pictures and videos.

Photo Sourced from Google

 

I bought the 5TB size so that I would have enough to last me for ages. One thing I worry about so much is losing my material so I am constantly doing backups of my content and pictures.

To begin with, I was using my Windows OneDrive, which gives me 1TB since I have a Windows Office subscription. That worked for me and allowed me to store so much, the problem though was it would have to sync my content constantly across all my devices (iPhone, laptop and iPad), chewing up access to the internet. Not being able to watch Netflix is a deal breaker for me.

The downside to this is it needs to be powered, so if you are just chilling out on your couch with your laptop you have to be ready to be restricted with having a power cord. There are smaller size hard drives that don’t require power, which is a fantastic option but I wanted something with a lot of space.

Amazon (cashback available through Cash Rewards)

Flat lays

Now that we’ve covered most of the technical stuff I use, let’s move on to the props I use. I don’t have a whole lot of information to share but I can give you some tips that I have recently learnt.

One thing that I would suggest is getting multiple large white foam boards so you can use them as your flat lay or lean one against the wall and one on a flat surface. It will help give you the white background that you may want or you can use a photo editor to change the background colour. Even better if you get different coloured foam boards for additional variety.

Another option is to buy shelf contact paper, there are many colours, textures and designs. You can cover the foam boards or big pieces of cardboard with the contact paper to give yourself more colour options. Since it’s getting towards back to school time here in Australia, I’ve recently discovered using the binder contact paper you purchase to protect books, you can buy a few colours and set up your own variety pack.

Placemats make a good flat lay background.

Another trend I have been obsessive about is poster size sheets in every colour. I’m talking about the size of papers that people make signs for in sporting events. You can combine them to make one beautiful and colourful background/flat lay or use one colour for each day of the week.

Props

Something else that I like to suggest is using flowers and plants, real or plastic ones will work depending on how you set them up. I’ve purchased a number of different types from eBay for a few dollars. I’d imagine the dollar stores would also have some options for many floral arrangements.

Even adding some multi-coloured leaves can make a huge difference. If you struggle to find some you like, you can paint them yourself and boom just like that the options are limitless.

Different coloured stones or rocks also can add more colour to your pictures but still look stunning.

Small, inexpensive knickknacks are also great! Think coasters to place a little product to show a sample, pretty stationery that consists of rose gold paperclips, so many choices.

For most of my little bits and pieces, I love Kmart, it’s so easy to go in for one thing and walk out with the most random stuff. Some of the bowls, serving platters or plates I use to showcase samples are from Kmart and they only cost a few dollars.

There are so many little trinkets and items that can be used as props, all you need is a little creativity. I’m the first to admit I lack that skill and am not a crafty person.

What I do to contra my lack of creativity is looking on Pinterest for ideas and then I take different parts and make it to my liking.

Saving on purchases

Saving on purchases

You may have read some of my previous posts and know I am a big advocate of saving as much money as possible and exchanging money saving tips with others.

Cash Rewards

I want to give you a few tips in case you may be interested in purchasing a camera from Ted’s Cameras, Amazon, Good Guys or another camera shop, is purchasing on eBay.  The majority of my online shopping is done through the Cash Rewards website. Cash Rewards is Australia’s version of EBATES, I have ended up with an extra $50 here or there that have built up over the course of a few months. You can sign up (no pressure) using my referral link when you sign up and spend $25 I get a $5.00 credit at no extra cost to yourself. Once you sign up, you get your own referral link to share it with others.

My husband and I use it for everything, from purchasing gift cards at a discount, our online grocery delivery to takeaway meals.

The point in me bringing this up is because I purchase most of my equipment I’ve purchased via Cash Rewards. I go to the eBay site and from there find some of the camera shops, including Ted’s Cameras official eBay store.

Sometimes eBay runs some great discounts where you can save 20% on tech items but you are purchasing the items from the store’s official eBay store so the warranty, etc remains valid. My Canon 80D I bought from Ted’s eBay store saving 20% and getting a percentage cash back from Cash Rewards.

This is also why you see me referring to purchasing a lot of items from eBay.

EBATES

EBATES may be something you hear so many people go on about but think that it’s only valid in the US & Canada, that is not completely true! If you purchase something using EBATES as long as the store you purchase through ships to your country, you get cash back.

For example, I use EBATES to purchase items through lookfantastic.com so I use EBATES to make that purchase and the items ship from the UK to me in Australia. I can also use Look Fantastic’s discount codes for my purchases as well, so I don’t miss out on anything. The same thing goes for Sephora purchases.

You can sign up for EBATES using my referral link, as soon as you make a purchase over $25 you get a free $10 credit to your account.

Since I have family in the US, I purchase gifts for them to be shipped directly to them in the US, I use EBATES so I make a little extra coin that way.

 

** NOTE THAT THESE SITES PAY ON A TIME DELAY, SO YOU WON’T GET YOUR CASH BACK UNTIL A COUPLE OF MONTHS**

If you know of any other money saving tips please share in the comments section below.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Do you need all this stuff to start? Absolutely not!

As I mentioned above you don’t need all of this stuff to start your blog or online presence. Not everyone has the interest or the budget to purchase all of this but you can and will be just as successful using what you already have. Sure you may want to update your equipment as time goes on and I hope some of my tips below may help.

Starting a YouTube channel?

Some of these tips may also be useful to those who are starting a YouTube channel.  This might work for others who may run a food blog, recipe selling business, a cooking channel, a fashion blog, fashion business or fashion channel etc.

One thing I can’t advise on is the audio quality of your videos. When I do my unboxing videos and demo videos I always delete the audio and replace it with free copyright music. Any videos I plan to do a voice over for I will use my headphone’s microphone

Starting a Podcast?

For those who may want to start a podcast at this moment, I don’t have any audio tips for you other than I’ve used my iPhone’ and Beats headphone’s microphone to record voiceovers. The audio quality to me seems to work just fine, but I know that YouTubers or Podcasters purchase microphones specifically aimed for better quality.

With the plans & goals I have for my blog this year I have started a wishlist and a microphone is on the list. Perhaps later this year I’ll be able to give you some feedback on what I chose to go with. Although there is something special about laying in bed or on the couch and recording your voiceovers or podcasts. Making your surroundings as comfortable as possible to relax and get into your zone to open up.

MY BUYING GUIDE RECOMMENDATION

My Buying Guide Recommendation

Given the things I know now these are the steps I would’ve taken at the different points during my blogging stages. I’d like to give you some tips to help you not to feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed is the last thing you need when you are trying to start your hobby, passion, business.

Rookie Level

Photos:

Continued using my iPhone and learnt how to use it to its full capacity

Lighting:

Natural Light as much as I could and purchased a selfie ring light

Props:

Either buy a few inexpensive items, plastic flowers or go around the house and gathered random pieces I already have.

Also, another great tip is shop what is outside of your home or a place you pass frequently. This brilliant idea didn’t come to me until much later and is still developing.

Outside my house I have lots of leafy green trees and coloured stones, I’ve been adding those to my line up.

Backgrounds:

To start with I am all for using what you have, maybe it a fuzzy pillow cover, use a rug that you already have, use your floor if you have a nice clear carpeted area, beautiful titles, or if you have hardwood floors.

You can also buy inexpensive pieces of fabric, coloured poster size sheets, foam boards, contact paper to cover a piece of cardboard, etc.

My tip here is to try to get something that has a matte finish so that the light doesn’t bounce off a shiny or glossy background and giving you that horrible flash/light glare.

If you don’t have any of these things try using a table you already have and glam that up a bit, whether it’s a glass surface, a desk or your counter space.

Skilled Level

Photos:

Purchase a better quality camera if your phone isn’t working out. You can take your phone capability very far but you may run out of memory quickly before you have time to clear out your photos/video to a computer or cloud.

Lighting:

There are a few options available here, personally, I’d purchase a ring light because you get so many different options at your fingertips. If you still are unsure about this one, invest in some adjustable LED lamps. I found a little desk lamp at Kmart for about $5 and it adds clean light when used in conjunction with my selfie ring light.

Props:

Same as above level, and add to it.

Backgrounds:

Another same as above level and add to it. If you don’t have any of the items I listed above why not use the grass in your backyard as your background for a flat lay? Or if you have a brick exterior get a barstool/table and add a foam board and take the picture with your foam board as your “counter” and the brick as your backdrop.

Intermediate Level

Photos:

This is where I’d upgrade to my Canon Gx7 camera, the quality is awesome. Now I’m not just saying buy Canon, there are plenty of other brands that offer great quality pictures from Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, GoPro just to name a few.

A major thing I’d like to point out is if you are taking video is to look for a camera that has a flip out screen so you can make sure you are in focus. Unless you have a seperate screen that is hooked up to your camera so you can ensure you are in focus.

Lighting: 

Definitely a ring light or if you have the spare space purchase a set of soft box lights, it’ll provide you with the flexibility to film/photograph any time of the day.

You could also add these lights along natural light and it’ll make a huge difference.

Props:

Add more variety so you can interchange things frequently and people who come across your pictures can see it’s not the same picture each time.

Backgrounds:

There are a few additional things I suggest here. There are lots of free stock high-quality pictures you can download for free or pay a small fee. Use those as your background if you are good at editing your photos or get them printed at a printing shop in a poster size.

For example, a very popular design you’ve probably seen lots of places is the beautiful marble design, get that printed in matte to use when taking a flat lay. Keep in mind though, with the marble in particular, that you can buy contact paper with the same design and it’ll cost less than getting it printed.

That is just an example, there are lots of flat lay shots that already have all the props in the photo and you can just add your product to it.  I have also seen some very beautiful pictures of a window background that I use when I take photos of products that are standing up.

 

Seasoned Level

Photos:

This is when I would’ve introduced my Canon 80D if I felt like I outgrown the Canon Gx7 version.

As I said you don’t have to get a Canon, there are loads of great camera brands. You may also decide to upgrade your lens or add the different lens for different occasions, you may take more pictures outside and want a lens that has a longer range than the one I purchased with my kit of 18mm to 55mm.

As a matter of fact, I’ve heard of some people recommending to buy the camera body and then invest on a great lens. It’s much more expensive that way but depending on what type of projects you are working on you can change it as you go.

Lighting:

I’d stay with the same lighting set up I’ve mentioned or combine it with panel lightening. Just be aware when you have all your lights on it’s going to get really hot, so make sure you have a source to help cool you down.

Props: 

If you are shooting videos you may want to change up your surrounding, this is where you see lots of YouTubers adding their background with beautiful pictures, LED lit up vanities, including a wardrobe rack with some of their most beautiful clothing pieces, a beautiful wardrobe that they customised, etc.

Backgrounds:

Personally, I am not great at DIY projects but if you have the skill you can buy pieces of tiles or samples of flooring pieces from the hardware shop and use that as a flat lay option. I’d love to be able to do the ones where you get pieces of wood, paint them and get the look of flooring as my flat lay. My ideal DIY project, in particular, a white distressed flooring or the grey coloured flooring looks gorgeous to me. The options are limitless!

I also have large pieces of MDF that I use a lot of the time since I don’t have a solid coloured desk at home, it’s all glass.

You can purchase the background racks along with the different sheets of paper that you can change as often as you need or learn how to use a green screen. My tech skills don’t extend learning how to use a green screen and what needs to be done to change your background to virtually anything.