HUGE AG Doll Blogging Handbook

AG DOLL

I’ve realized that sometimes, AG blogging is not fair.  At all.

I can name at least 30 doll blogs that deserve WAY more followers than they have.

I’m here to help you.  My blog has been an abnormal one when it comes to followers.  I currently hold 256 followers.  I’m not trying to brag, just stating the facts. And I’ve always wished that I can dish out my followers like a yummy soup to ALL My blogging friends, until I’m left with none for me.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  Now, I’m not saying that I don’t deserve those followers, all I’m saying is that people deserve more.

This post is full of advice to improve your blog, etiquette for online, and post ideas.

Have fun scrolling through this, but just remember, YOU and you’re blog is amazing, no matter what your follower count is.

Topic 1~ Customizing your blog

This is one of the toughest things to get just right, but guess what, it matters.  A LOT.

First impressions are very important, and the first impression your reader will get will be the customization of your blog.  It’s hard to believe, but in reality, the first thing they’ll look at is not your posts, but your them and header and sidebar.

I know that finding a theme in WP can be sometimes a boring task, as is customizing your blog.  I’ve found that there are a few KEY elements that you must have in a blog design that will make a good first impression on your reader:

A Sidebar

You NEED a sidebar.  It’s just a fact of life.  This will make it so much easier to navigate throughout posts

In a sidebar, I always add the following widgets:

  • Search bar
  • archives
  • tag cloud
  • profile picture
  • email follow button (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • WP Follow button  (ALSO VERY IMPORTANT)
  • calendar
  • posts from my other blog
  • some text about me.

And that’s IT!  I don’t need to see something about some onlinequiz you’ve taken, or how your personality resembles that of a moose, or every single award you’ve ever been nominated for.

Let’s go through why each of these widgets are important, shall we?

Some text about yourself~

This is mine:

Hi there! I’m Samantha!

I’m a tween who’s crazy about AG! I post weekly photo stories featuring my 8 dollies. I like cats, sushi, volleyball, reading, and writing. Be sure to follow, like, and comment! My Dolls are Molly, Emily, Saige, Kit, Maryellen, Samantha, Grace, Amelia, and Paisley.
This may be one of the most important things on your sidebar.  It creates a first impression of YOU on your sidebar.
Posts from my other blog:
If you’re not following my book/writing/personal blog, redheadwithabook, GO DO IT.
See?  You should never feel ashamed to promote your other social media platforms.  It;s a TOOL to get my followers on this blog to follow my other blog too.  (If you don’t have multiple blogs, don’t do this)
Follow Buttons
These buttons are the holy grail of all sidebar buttons.  Not even kidding!  This displays your follower count, and the option to follow your blog if they like what they see!  It’s double important to add BOTH Email and WordPress follow options.
Add an adjectives to make your readers feel accomplished that they followed you.  This is mine:
Yup!  There you have it!  ALL MY TAGS!
SEARCH BAR
This is a deal or no deal for your blog for me.  If I’m looking to see if you have a post about making doll cupcakes, I need to find a way to find that post!
So I search in the search bar and if you have that post, it pops up!  I love the search bar.  And you should too!

On customization

Your blog design needs to be CLEAN!  The background doesn’t need to be the craziest image you can find, it can be a plain color, or a nice simple print, like the stripes I have on my blog right now!  You need to make sure your background isn’t the main focus, you’re posts are!  And if you have a nice, clean background, then make sure your menu is white, or something that MATCHES your background and header.  The key to customization is that everything should match.

YOUR HEADER SHOULD BE ABOUT WHAT YOUR POSTS ARE ABOUT.  It drives me insane when a blogger has a header of, lets say, their cat.  Now, if your blog is about cats, that is fine, but if it’s a blog about dolls, I don’t need to see your cat, I need to see that your blog is about DOLLS.  Can you tell this bothers me?  XD

Some themes that I love for doll blogs:  

~Button, (Currently in use by meh)

~Sela

~Truly Minimal

The above themes ALL Have sidebars, headers, and backgrounds.

That cover’s customization!

Topic 2~Post content, length, ideas

It takes me up to three hours to write a good post.  I’ve been working on this one for an hour so far.  This means you posts should at least take 45 minutes to put together online.  A good post has a layout:

  1. Graphic Feature
  2. Introduction
  3. Content
  4. Conclusion
  5. Signature

This has worked for me fora long time.  I’ll discuss each detail of the layout.

Graphic feauture

This is a super fun part, but also a hard part.  I’ll be giving you a step by step tutorial right now!

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.31.17 AM

The first thing you need to do is get a Canva account.  (ask your parent’s permission first)

IT’S FREE! CANVA IS FREEEE!

Everyone says that picmonkey is the best for graphic features, but I don’t like it that much, due to the slow saving process, lack of many overlays, and lack of texts.

So I use canva.  You will need to sign up with email, but they won’t spam you!  The home page when I log into Canva is all my designs I’ve ever made with Canva.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.31.31 AM

Click on the create a design tab, and choose whatever format or shape you would like.  The presentation format fits my camera pictures perfectly, so that’s what I usually use.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.31.45 AM

Click on the one you choose, and this is your blank canvas.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.32.13 AM

Go to the backgrounds tab, and choose a background.  If you want a picture background, upload a picture in uploads and fit it to the canvas.  I chose this stripes background, clicked on the color square along the top of my screen, and chose a new color.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.32.22 AM

I chose this pretty purple.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.32.43 AM

Go to the text tab, and select whatever size of text you want.  It doesn’t matter which you choose, as you can change it later.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.32.50 AM

I changed the font by clicking the font tool.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.33.21 AM

The new font is a font I’ve been loving lately, it’s called Selima.  Then, I changed the font size to 80. Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.33.34 AM

I changed the color to white.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.33.57 AM

I centered it with the semicircles on either side.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.34.21 AM

Go to search, and search for your overlays.  I searched flower, then clicked on the Illustrations tab to access overlays.  I chose this tulip.  Make sure whatever you schoose is free!  Some stuff is labeled for a price of a dollar.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.35.00 AM

You can also access overlays by clicking elements and scrolling through the Illustrations tab there.  there are more elements, but they’re all pretty self explanatory, so we won’t cover them today.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.35.36 AM

When you’re done, click the download button at the top blue bar.  Click the drop down, and to make it an image, select PNG.  Then click the green download button.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.35.45 AM

It will take about 5 seconds to download.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 7.35.53 AM

There it is in my downloads file!

Hey Guys!

The finished product!  Graphic design for blogging is something that comes with PRACTICE.  So don’t stress if the first few you make don’t turn out too well!

Introduction

This is the reader’s first impression of your POST.  So say hello, explain what inspired you to make this post, describe a funny story that happened during the making of the post, announce some piece of random news they might be interested in, and the intro is done!  This sometimes doesn’t apply to photo stories or lyric photo shoots.

Conlusion

Ask them to follow you, mention a giveaway, ask them to like this post, give them comments prompts.  Sign off with just your name in a heading, or make a signature on Canva.

Topic 3~Photography

I’m am going to speak ultimate truth right about…now.

Doll Photography is hard. Like, really hard.

I would list some of the struggles that go hand in hand with it, but that would go on for a whole year.

So to convince you if you are not yet ready to admit, here is a comparison of my doll photography then vs. now:

image

This was taken in August of 2015.  The camera isn’t steady, the doll is blurry, her hair is messy, and the background is not supposed to be the main focus, but it is.  Plus, she’s not facing the camera.

IMG_5382

This is a very recent photo I’ve taken.  (It’s coming in Part 4 of Wealthy Hearts!)  Paisley is the main focus, their hair is perfect, the background is blurry, and the lighting is just right.  (If I do say so myself)  XD 😛

 

Yeah.  So there.  It’s taken me over almost TWO years to progress from that to this.

You may be starting out, and your photography may look like the first picture.  But don’t be ashamed.  In 2015, I took pictures with an iPhone 4.  And now, I take pictures with a Canon PowerShot 5×120 IS.  If your doll pictures don’t look like picture 2, there is absolutely no need to feel bad about it.

The truth is, your photography is GREAT no matter what.  It’s all in what resources you have.  Because in 2015, I had absolutely no access to a good quality camera.  But this post isn’t about my photography timeline, it’s about helping you get to point B.

With these tips, you will get either Better results or Amazing results, I guarantee.  If you have any questions, feel absolutely free to ask them in the comments, just be aware that I’m not saying I’m a pro photographer, I’m a total rookie.  😛

Tip #1:  ZOOMETY ZOOM ZOOM.  ZOOM.

This is the ultimate secret to doll photography, the big change.  YOU DON’T HAVE TO HUMANLY GET UP AND MOVE CLOSER TO YOUR DOLL.  Technology in lenses allow us to be a lot lazier than that.  😄

I have taken all of my recent pictures several steps away from the doll.  It’s a miracle.  Here is how to take absolute advantage of the zoom on your apple device/camera:

  • Set up the doll
  • take a few steps away from her
  • if you have a camera, make sure it is set to the mode that makes it easy to focus
  • zoom into the doll, but not too much!
  • focus on her so that the background is blurred, but the doll is clear.
  • take the picture, just be sure to hold the camera very steady, or else the photo won’t turn out

 

The photos above have been taken using this trick.  It looks best in a wide area or field with hills, but since some of you might not have access to that, your backyard would be the next best thing.

Tip #2:  Pay attention

This one just takes practice and time.  Sure, sometimes it annoys people when your doll is completely blurred, out of focus, or  her hair hasn’t been brushed.

But let’s be honest, EVERY SINGLE doll blogger has done that.  

If you look in the archives on any doll blog, I can guarantee that they have a “bad” photo or two.  Or thirty seven.

So here is a quick checklist when I’m going out for a photo shoot:

  • Is my doll’s hair frizzy or in a bad hairstyle?
  • is my finger in the way of the shot?
  • Does my doll have shoes on?
  • Does her outfit match?
  • Have I changed her completely from the last photo shoot?  (hopefully yes)
  • Could I spice up her outfit with a hat or a piece of jewelry?
  • I need to hold the camera STILL.
  • is there anything distracting in the background?  (person’s foot, bright car, etc.)
  • Is my lighting correct???
    Tip #3-Lighting

image

I’m slightly embarrassed by the first picture.  That one is one of the most horrid I have ever taken.  First, Saige is on a human CHAIR, the background is horrible, she is in her meet dress, she is barefoot, her hair is a mess, but worst of all, she is in direct sunlight. 

Okay, so this problem is the key element to getting better at your doll photos.

Patience.

You have a brilliant photo shoot idea, you get your doll dressed, and (hopefully) tame her hair, and…

It’s 3:00 on a sunny afternoon.

There is no shade, no overcast, and lots of sun.

Okay, I’m just going to say this straight out, SUNNY PHOTOGRAPHS TURN OUT REALLY BAD.  At least mine do.

So here are the weather conditions you need for a good photo shoot:

  • overcast weather, or a shady spot
  • not actively raining, your lens could get damaged
  • not in front of something horrible, like a screen door or a mesh pool fence

IMG_5278

This is a very recent photo, it’s under the shade on an overcast day.  The background has some red in it, making it compliment Paisley’s eyes.

 

Tip #4:  Focus

You need to focus on your doll.   Focus is basically when everything but you subject is blurred.  So above, Paisley is in full FOCUS, and the background with leaves, and a rustic fence to the woods is not.

If you are on an iPhone, just tap the doll, and all the sunlight will flow to her, and HOPEFULLY, she will be in focus.

If you are on a camera, you need to figure out which camera setting is best for focusing.  So on my camera, I set it to portrait, because I’m usually taking a portrait style photo of my doll’s face.  Then,  I set it to Macro, instead of normal, but manual focus sometimes works as well.  Then I click the button HALFWAY, it makes a beep sound, focuses, and that signals for me to take the picture.

That’s doll photography!

Topic 4~The LAW

I had to learn this lesson the hard way.  Lets say you need a funny gif.  So you look up a funny gif on google.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 8.54.02 AM

You found it!  Yay!  Go ahead and download it.

BUT, click on the visit page button.

Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 8.54.12 AM

Apparently, this is where it was originally posted.  Copy the url.

tenor

via

Link back to where the image was originally posted, and put via to show it isn’t yours.  This is THE LAW guys.  So follow to law.  You just have to do this.  You can’t just say “I found all these images on google so credit to whoever owns the”  No.  Just no.  If you know the person from their blog, and would like to use an image,just ask them. BUT YOU MUST GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.

Topic 5~Comments

Comments are something WordPress and Blogger are very good at managing.  Clean out your spam every once in a while, and be VERY thankful WP made sure those comments in the Spam folder were caught by the spam detector.

Online interaction is something you should talk to your parents about.  

But I have some basic tips for etiquette!

When it comes to comments on your own blog, be sure to reply to the comments that are extra sweet and ALL of them that are over 2 sentences, or the ones that ask a question.  It can be rude not to respond to comments that people took time to write.  If someone just says:  “Cute!”, you don’t have to resond, just like their comment to signal to them that you read their short, but sweet comment.

When commenting on other blogs:

You can ask someone for a follow through a comment. That is not rude.  BUT, be sure to say a few sentences about the post before asking, because if you don’t, that’d be pretty rude, wouldn’t it?

IF YOU DON’T LIKE THEIR POST, the don’t comment.  Don’t be mean to people.  It’s pretty simple.

Always, Always, ALWAYS use correct grammar.  Here’s what to do if you catch a grammar mistake:

Say you commented:  “I lard this post, it’s so sweet!  Great job!  Your dolls are so pretty!”

You meant to say love, not LARD!  So, simply leave another comment saying:  “*love”

This says you caught your own mistake!

If you are NEW to this blogger, simply leave a link to your blog at the end of your comment, so maybe they can follow you!

Odds are, if you don’t comments on other blogs, other blogs won’t comment on yours.  So be social!  

Topic 6~  Your follower count

To increase your follower count:

  • ask another blogger to post your blog link on their page about other blogs, (if they have one
  • You can ask someone for a follow through a comment. That is not rude.  BUT, be sure to say a few sentences about the post before asking, because if you don’t, that’d be pretty rude, wouldn’t it?
  • Just keep posting quality content!
  • trade blog buttons
  • make blogging friends
  • HONESTLY, IT JUST TAKES TIME!

Topic 7~Extra Stuff

Schedules

Quality over quantity is something I struggle with, but it’s very important.  I think that posting two times a week is a good habit, but make sure that those 2 posts are your best work.  If making a schedule helps, then that’s what you should do.

Apology posts

Apology posts should not exist.  Really, it should just be Apology paragraphs.  If you’ve been gone a few weeks or months, simply write a short paragraph at the beginning of your post, and then continue with your content.

Email and Social Media.

The only social media I have is Pinterest.

But email is REALLY important for you blog.  Discuss this with your parents, and ask them permission for a blog email.  To create your email username, put you blog name, and then the standard gmail ending.  For example, mine is agdollawesome@gmail.com

Email is important if you ever win a giveaway, if you need to ask someone a question that you don’t want to display in the comments, and for chatting with your pen pal!  (Love ya’ Mya!)

Grammar

Loren did an awesome post on correct blog grammar HERE!

Well.  I think that covers it!  Don’t you?  If you have ANY questions, put them in the comments, and be sure to check out my brother’s new page Here!  Be sure to leave him a really nice comment!

samantha

 

 

 

34 thoughts on “HUGE AG Doll Blogging Handbook

  1. Hi, I really liked your post today. That was helpful information, especially about taking doll photos(something I struggle with). I love your blog, in fact I am reading it instead of doing homework.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not an AG blogger, but this was really great! The reason I don’t use Canva and use PicMonkey is because I have more freedom to design with PicMonkey — ESPECIALLY with my own downloaded fonts. I think Canva is more user-friendly, and has lots of templates and stuff. If you design your own things, PicMonkey’s good. 🙂 And ooooooh, I should probably start crediting… XD I think I’ll just link the actual image/gif to the source, instead of doing a “via” link. (And you could say “Thanks!” if someone says “Cute!”. 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks you May! I disn’t know you could upload fonts with Picmonkey! Could you tell me how? That’d be AWESOME! Yes, I suppose I do do that, but I’m just trying to encourage bloggers with less experience to take time with comments. Thanks for your thoughts May, always love to hear them!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, you have to download the fonts to your computer, and then when you’re putting text on your graphic, you just go to “your fonts”, and all the fonts on your computer will pop up. And you’re welcome! ❤

        Like

  3. This is great and really thorough! Great tips! Yes, pictures are So important, but it can be hard to be patient with them sometimes D; . Commenting back is so good, too. I don’t like when I comment on someone’s blog and don’t get a response.
    Just one thing about commenting on people’s blog’s asking for a follow, is when I get asked that, it feels awkward because I tend to wait to follow blogs until I know I definitely enjoy the blog (or maybe I’m just not interested in the asker’s blog), but I don’t want to just say no, so I might not respond to that part (But I could totally check out their blog if they wanted!). Just thought I’d mention my thoughts on that 🙂 .
    Again, great post! 🙂
    ~Gracie

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Gracie! Yes, if the blog isn’t too great in quality or it looks like the blogger isn’t trying their best, then I bookmark it and check it every week until it forms into a blog I actually WANT to read! Thanks for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing, well thought out post! I love Canva, too–free is always good. 🙂

    I will have to keep these tips in mind for when I actually do start an AG Blog…I just have a FB Blogger page right now where I post occasional pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Q & A Answers!

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