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The Number 1 key to building a successful blog and Instagram following is great pictures and you don't need expensive equipment to get them.

The Number 1 key to building a successful blog and Instagram following is great pictures. In fact, I think most outsiders think blogging is easy - snap a few pics, write a caption, hit “post,” when in reality so much work goes into getting the perfect picture.

I personally don’t have any professional photography experience and grew up in the era of disposal cameras (remember those?). God bless those simple days when our every move wasn’t documented for the whole world to see!

Now with the over saturation of social media channels it’s more important than ever to have scroll-stopping high quality photos that stand out from the competition in all the best ways. Or, at the very least, look like they belong alongside the competition!

To capture my perfect Instagram photos, I don’t have a fancy DSL camera or high end editing software. What I’m working with is an iPhone and a couple of apps. I’m going to show you my step-by-step process of how to get the perfect photo without dropping mad money on equipment so you too can make your blogging dreams come true!


A handyman is only as good as his tools and the same can be said for bloggers. Luckily for us, it's a great time to be a blogger since quality apps and tools are available for free and cheap. These are the three apps I recommend the most for anyone needing quality social media content, but with a tight budget.

Lightroom is the most important app you need to download to edit your photos, and it's free! It's a key application in Adobe's Creative Suite which means it's professional grade and synchs well with other Adobe products. In short, Lightroom allows you to easily manipulate photos by adjusting color, light, tint, and more.

In my other life as a real estate marketer, I've been using Adobe products for photo editing and materials design for over a decade (dang, I'm old). The good news is you don't have to take a college course to understand this app. If you take some time exploring the app and Google some tips and tricks, you'll be working at lightning speed in no time.


Presets are by far the easiest and quickest way to edit your photos in Lightroom. Presets are exactly what they sound like - pre determined values for photo elements such as exposure and saturation. You'd be amazed at how with just one click you can transform your photos from drab to WOW.

Presets are common and easy to find, though they vary in quality and price. You'll also want to make sure you're downloading presets that fit YOUR brand. I cannot stress this rule enough. If you post primarily warm, bohemian spaces or settings, you need to find search for presets that will enhance those photo features. If you're brand features a lot of outdoor photos, look for presets that make the colors of the sky and foliage pop. Bright, white, airy spaces more your thing? Look for presets that increase brightness and make the whites shine.

You'll also want to make sure you're using presets that fit YOUR brand. I cannot stress this rule enough.

I have a few different groups of presets because certain ones work better with different rooms in my home. Below are my personal favorites, though I encourage you to research other options so you can find the ones that work best for YOU. Presets aren't free and they vary in price, so study each preset closely because once you buy them you can't return them and unfortunately, you can't try them on for free!

  1. The Light and Airy Presets by the Light and Airy Photog

  2. Studio McGee Mobile Presets

  3. IG Style Mobile Presets by 123 Presets


After you download the Lightroom app and choose which presets you want, it might seem a bit overwhelming, but I promise it's not a big deal when you get the hang of it!

You're going to download your presets in what look like picture files. You'll open them in Lightroom and then save them as a new preset and give it a unique name. Once that's it, you're done. Each pack you download will come with specific step-by-step instructions that will walk you through how to install them.

After you save your presets and upload the photos you want to edit, you're officially done with the hardest part. The rest is a cake walk. When you're ready to edit photos, you'll open the app and choose a photo. This is what the screen will look like:

Swipe the toolbar left to find the Presents option. Click it. All the presets you installed will appear in the drop down (or drop up in this case).

Simply click a preset and watch your photo magically change. I always click a few of my faves to make sure I'm really using the best one for the shot. You can see in the images below how the same photo varies with each preset.

After you find the one you like, click the checkmark in the bottom right hand corner and then you're ready to export to your phone gallery. That's it. How easy is that?


Like I said above, presets are just light and color values saved for quick editing. If you want to customize your photo without the presets it's easy too. Just not as easy. The main three tools I like to use for editing are Light, Color and Detail. Within these tools you'll be able to edit exposure, color tint, saturation, brightness of whites, blacks, shadows, and highlights. Here's a little video to show how you can use the light tools to manipulate your photo.

I hope this tutorial gives you the tools and the confidence to be able to edit your photos to perfection. Remember, your pics don't have to look like mine or anyone else's. They need to look like YOURS and fit with the brand you're trying to build. I can't wait to see what you do!

Until next time!


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