so the other day as i was driving around i realized i had the entire contents of a DIY shoot in my passenger seat. my back seats were filled with bundles of tulle, clothes and shoes from a style shoot and my trunk was stuffed with supplies for an interior shoot. it was at that point i fully realized it…i’m running a blog. out of my car.

things with designlovefest have happened so fast, and creating all this original content hasn’t been easy. it is getting easier, but there are so many things i had to figure out on my own (and so many i’m still figuring out!)

although putting in all this effort has been so rewarding, i would have loved a resource when i was starting out. some advice and tips on the things i was trying to do, and some sage guidance on what pitfalls to avoid.

i wanted to start this new column because it’s something that would have helped me tremendously, and there are just so, so many things i’ve learned that i want to share. from producing your own shoots, to staging and styling, to working with brands and managing a team of contributors, so many elements go into creating your own brand and business. i really hope to demystify some of these things, and i want to know, what are you wondering?

please comment with your questions and i’ll try to answer as many as i can. i will be sharing things from my point of view and sprinkling in wisdom from my friends, contributors and other experts on the subjects at hand.

this week we’re going to cover DIY shoots and what you need to make it happen…

• have fabric on hand to lay down for overhead shots. it can be a tea towel, tablecloth or just scraps. i’ve shot on curtains, rugs, you name it. when you’re taking tight shots, all that matters is that it looks clean on camera. everyone needs a neutral canvas or linen backdrop.

• i like to shoot between 7 and 10 am to get the best natural light. it’s important to find a bright, but shady spot. try to work in direct sunlight. this means looking around for whatever room gets the best light…sometimes it’s my bedroom, sometimes the living room. do a couple tests in each room…sure, you can fix the brightness in photoshop, but it’s best to start with that beautiful light!

• it’s much easier to style when you can do it in frame. by this i mean looking through the lens to see what the photographer sees, or have it set up to see the shot immediately on a laptop. you get much more control and can ensure the final product is the best it can be when you can adjust as you shoot. a lot of the times i shoot a quick photo on my phone to show the photographer the angle that i am envisioning. they can take it or leave it.

• think details! kim, who photographs all our make it posts says, “I’ve learned that it is really important to capture each step of the process as you’re doing it, even if you don’t end up using each photo. Most bloggers are naturally visual people, so the more visual details the better!”

• while you can certainly shoot with an iphone, having the right equipment helps. says kim, “I always use a wide lens because it’s easier on the eyes to see a wider perspective of the process rather than basic close-ups. oh, and one more thing, GET COMFORTABLE WITH A TRIPOD!!” this will help make sure the framing is consistent in each shot. kim definitely learned to love the ‘pod through working on our DIYs.

• keep a kit on hand. we have a big tupperware bin filled with the essentials that come to every DIY shoot. the canvas blanket, scissors, pens, glue, etc. this is helpful for cleanup too – just throw it all back in the bin! and speaking of supplies…we like to invest in good looking ones. for instance, having gold scissors around is going to make your photos look snazzy. see!

• based on pinterest research, people pin the finished shot the most (by far!) so put in the most effort when you are styling that shot! people like to pin the finished project or an environmental shot that incorporates the item. when you are choosing the shot to use, look at the image small. does it read clearly in thumbnail form? then that’s the one you want to use! pinterest is just a bunch of tiny images and you want to make yours read in a sea of photos.

• for ease of shooting & time saving, it’s best to prep the project so it’s ready to shoot in different stages. for example, natalie shows up ready with several different versions on the craft: finished, half-finished and all the supplies to make it. you don’t actually want to be making the craft the day of!

• a lot of effort goes into actually posting / linking / adding graphics / writing the DIY posts. i require that the photos are due at least 2 days before the post date so I can prep everything in advance.

• plan out your ideas! i am always thinking about how i can style the environmental shot the night before so that i am not wandering around aimlessly, wasting people’s time when they come over to shoot. natalie is usually setting up her steps for kim to shoot while i am in the other room styling the finished shot (have a backup plan too!)

check out some examples our our make it posts here. have a burning question? comment below!

top photo by: kimberly genevieve & instagrams by designlovefest


Add your own

    Asilosofy says:

    Nice tips!

    Lynne says:

    Great post – really helpful; am going to change my camera lens as I do find it hard to get everything in the frame of my DIYs.

    Charlotte says:

    It’s obvious you put in a lot of effort, this will be a great series to follow along with!

    rachel says:

    I am so excited about this series. This is so very helpful- great, simple, practical ideas. Thank you! Thank you!

    Helena says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is really helpful! I would love to hear your thoughts on how to figure out where to take your blog (e.g. finding your niche), and then how to focus. I always find blogging seems to become a chore when I focus on a specific subject, as I get really bored with just doing one thing.
    How did you figure out what your ‘big goal’ is and how to get there?
    Really appreciate your help! x

    Kenzie Lee says:

    This is such great advice! I’m so excite to see more of these columns!

    X Kenzie


    Thank you Bri! This is so so helpful. xx

    Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing your advice! It’s very thoughtful of you to share what you’ve learned with all of us who are starting out. I’m excited for this series.

    Ces says:

    Thanks for this new column! I’ve always wondered how you do your shoots. I have a really dim and poorly lit apartment so I’m always forced to go elsewhere when I want to practice using my camera. Do you have any suggestions for people who use bridge cameras? I got it as a present and I can’t really afford to buy a nice DSLR one. Looking forward to your response! – Ces

    Thank you so much – this is fantastic advice. xo!

    Kaylee says:

    hi bri!
    i’m excited to see where this column will go; i’m currently branching off onto the freelance path and your blog is a big inspiration to me!

    if you’re someone like me, who knows design but is clueless when it comes to CSS and wordpress functions, how would i deal with developing a web presence? would you recommend just sucking it up and paying someone to design a site for you? what about displaying a portfolio?

    looking forward to the coming weeks!

    xoxo kaylee oxoxo

    Bri, this is a wonderfully helpful post. Thanks for sharing how you do it! Can’t wait for more in this column!

    vicki says:

    yay!!! such a great post and blog column!
    I would love to know more about the prepping that goes into planning the posts before the photographing stage, more about prepping for videos, the overall management of a blog as big as yours with staff, your 9-5 routine for your blog, also im not sure if this fits into this series but how to improve your blog photography or tips depending on what your photographing food/outfits/interiors. 🙂 xo

    Kimber says:

    What kind of contracts do you use with your contributors? There doesn’t seem to be a standard example on the interweb. This step of the process seems so official and I’m holding off because I don’t want to mess it up!!

    Love this idea for a series – would love to hear more about working on blog posts in a more collaborative sense. I know you’ve talked about pitching previously but would be great to hear more about how you incorporate collaborators, whether you pay/trade, especially for photography/styling etc and how do you balance collaborator contributions with your own vision/direction in a way that moves everyone forward. thanks for starting this one!

    alicia says:

    Very excited for this new column.
    This post was great and an awesome start. I probably wouldn’t have though of having the actual product in all it’s different stages ready at hand. Your right, you DON’T want to be crafting it as your shooting it. Save yourself all the troubles you can!
    I’m excited to read more about contributors and managing that aspect of the blog as well as working with brands.
    Thanks again for doing all this amazing stuff!

    Leigh says:

    These are awesome tips! I don’t do many DIY posts, but would love to start now that I am buying a home and have so many projects in my head!

    This is a very exciting new column! You’re always the most imaginative and on point when it comes to advice/blogging.

    And thank you for sharing what you’ve learned – you could easily not, but it says a lot that you care about this community enough to spread the love.

    Maybe a post about any exercises or methods of brainstorming for new posts/columns. I always struggle with finding a new column that fits my niche and has plenty of content.

    Kimmy says:

    My question is to you is: how much would you charge for sponsor ads on your blog? What would be a good ideal price? I want to make sure I don’t underprice an ad space just because I want to have sponsors, you know….

    Shawnee says:

    Fantastic advice! Thank you for writing this, Bri!!

    Kristen says:

    Great tips! Thank you so much for this!!

    Katie says:

    So excited about this series! Today’s advice is great 🙂

    Chick Tyler says:

    This is a wonderful new column! Thanks so much for making it!

    Erin says:

    I love this new series and am really excited to learn more. I’ve blogged on and off for few years and really want to be more consistent and have great content. Lately I just do everything with my iphone due to time, but want to commit myself to more and this series is just the inspiration to help me put together a plan. Looking forward to more posts!!

    Eliza says:

    I love this column! As a relatively new blogger, it’s so helpful for a veteran to share tips. Maybe could you write about organizing posts and such? Do you schedule ahead?


    Samantha says:

    What a great column! What are your thoughts on using models if you’re not necessarily super photogenic? I like to use my sister, my roommate, etc when it comes to style posts.

    Susan says:

    Bri, you are awesome!

    Ayo says:

    Love this column and really looking forward to future posts! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    Stephanie says:

    LOVE the idea for this column! I attended an Alt Summit class on editorial calendars last night. It was really helpful and seems like a great tool for planning and organizing a new or existing blog. I’d love to see a future post on your editorial calendar planning process. Do you have one? How do you develop it? Does it help you with sponsors or advertisers? Any other thoughts would be great!! xx

    Super helpful! Do you have any tips in shooting yourself? Like if you don’t have access to a photographer but want to do style shoots.

    Beth says:

    Such a great idea! Thank you for being so willing to share what you’ve learned! I am interested in how to go about hiring contributors and how to pay them? Hourly, by the project. etc. I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do on my blog, so that seems like a great option. Thanks!

    Amanda says:

    Thank you for all the great photo tips. I am a one woman show, and I will take all the help I can get. My question is about getting advertising on my blog. How do you get sponsors for your blog, and what should I charge? Thank you for sharing your experiences.


    Jada says:

    Love this, will def be reading this column 🙂

    Stevie-Ella says:


    I’ve been spending ages trying to figure out how to do all sorts of bits and pieces on my blog. Looking forward to this series!

    megan good says:

    Yay for the new column! I loved this post and will definitely be applying a lot of these tips to my next DIY project….and I’ll probably be buying some pretty scissors soon too.

    Renee Bell says:

    love it! thanks for sharing 🙂

    Jane says:

    I never thought about DIY’s as having the steps all ready to be shot in one go. Such a time saver! (Even though I don’t do DIY, I will look to apply this tip elsewhere!)


    This is exciting! I’d love to hear more about the behind the scenes action!
    I too would like to know your advice on the DIY vs Brought wordpress designs. I have been using blogger and long for a wordpress upgrade but find it really hard to navigate even though I can HTML code. Am happy to pay for a class but there’s not many creative ones in the UK. Unless you know of any???
    Also love to know about photographing larger objects, how to get the balance between a plain lifeless background and one that’s too busy or distracting.
    Basically I’d love to know what ever you’d like to share that will help make all our web presences better!

    Pink Ronnie says:

    Pure awesomeness, Bri. 🙂
    Ronnie xo

    tiffany says:

    great information, thank you so much, it’s very needed!


    Andreina says:

    Hi Bri! It was a nice surprise to see this new column! You have being a great insperation to me, specially for your blogshop international adventure, your master use of social media and your continuous flow of original content! Wow! So, as for now, I would really like to know what was the turning point for your blog? Was there something you did that took your blog to the next level and a reader more engaged? Actual numbers wouldn’t hurt jeje

    Thanks Bri! Have a nice day!

    This is a really awesome post!! I can’t wait for more insights!!

    Esther says:

    Great tips for starters! 🙂 Thanks for sharing and do continue to share more awesome tips.

    lei says:

    i basically want to know everything about running a blog from your point of view. because you’re awesome! what about working with photographers/other stylists? i know a lot of your collaborators are your friends, but were they friends first or collaborators first? if any of them were collaborators first, how did you go about setting that up? do you and your friends pay each other to work on stuff? because i feel like after a while the money would just keep getting transferred back and forth…maybe. i’d love some insight on this please!

    Jocelyn says:

    Bri I commend you for sharing your blogging secrets with the rest of us. It’s rare to see someone so transparent and just want to say thanks for that. I am really excited about this new column. This is the kind of stuff I have recently been trying to figure out. I would love to hear more about your daily blog routine from how far out you plan, how you manage posts, how you prep and set up, etc. Would also love to know how you go about working with contributors and photo shoot locations. Do you pay them/swap creative skills? Do you go to your post locations/shops and make agreements on when you will come in and shoot? Thanks for all the help Bri!

    Thank you for the new column. From the first post we can see that we will be provided with great tips 😀 Thanks a lot!

    I am so excited to start reading these posts. You are TOTALLY right, when a person is starting out they really need advice and to have a place to go to for that is tremendous!

    Here’s a question. If you can’t get the right lighting from the sun, do you have any tricks using flash or any other lighting goodies we might be able to find around our home? Shooting with a wide angle lens is a GREAT tip. I’ve never attempted that and now I sure will. Would you recommend any other settings on a camera that DIY’ers should stick too when taking photos of their project?

    I’ve always done the complete DIY from start to finish and photographed it at the same time. I honestly couldn’t breathe when I was done from rushing and running ramped around my house screaming at my husband “get out my way I have to be done before the lighting changes!!!!’ I’m not sure why I never thought about prepping all of that prior and creating stages of the DIY. Such a great tip. Thanks so much Bri, I am so HAPPY to have a go-to column now for some much needed guidance!

    Jackie B. says:

    I am so happy about this new series and great first post! I am the worst when it comes to deadlines about diy or anything seasonal and somehow end up posting after the events. Nice to see you have a 2 day deadline prior to post going live, I am definitely going to start using that method! Thanks Bri! -jb.

    PS- I am finishing my Vday posts (see!) on both of my blogs today if you want to have a look —>

    Nina says:

    Bri,, thanks very much for your tips!! I would be waiting for the next chapter. It´s really helpful 🙂

    BriGeeski says:

    Thank you for the post! I am really looking forward to this series. I as well as many others want to know more about sponsors, advertisers, collaborations with others and how to manage it all. I am teaching myself most things but it would be great to have a place like this to learn these steps. Thank you for all you do, you are an inspiration.

    Kait says:

    I would love to know more about the difference between DBA and Trademarking your “brand” as a blogger (or freelancer, for that matter) and what is most important. Thanks for adding this column, I’m sure it will be very helpful!

    Jamie says:

    This is a really post. Super helpful! I always enjoy getting a backstage pass, especially since your posts are always executed beautifully 🙂 Thank you!



    MFree says:

    Great tips and looking forward to this column. It seems so obvious to invest in good looking tools, ie scissors but I certainly don’t have them. Next flea market visit I’ll definitely be on the lookout. Thanks!

    Lauren Lou says:

    Bri! I am so excited for this column; it’s going to be amazing! You are so generous to share your knowledge and tips you’ve learnt along the way with your readers! All lot of other people would keep their secrets heavily guarded for their own benefit – boo to that!
    I’ve just started blogging, focusing more on content creation rather than curation, and I know my work is going to get so much better as a result of this column.
    Can’t wait. Lauren Lou xx

    khali of BSS says:

    I love this post idea so much!!! So looking forward to the next one and the next one. I will think up some questions right away. xo

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    Let me congratulate you miss, for giving me one more reason (as if I didn’t have enough) to applause your working style, your sharing attitude and your new column.
    Also, the first topic you covered is very interesting because I haven’t found many resources or tips about it comparing with other topics. You rock 🙂

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    Katie Meyers says:

    As always, you share some phenomenal advice in your posts, Bri. Thanks for sharing the love with the blogging community!

    Melissa Beaird says:

    This is absolutely stellar. Thank you so much!
    Do you have any advice for people who aren’t even sure of exactly WHAT they want to post?

    Sara says:

    This is absolutely the best idea! Blog tips are always needed and appreciated. I will definitely use these on my own blog, too. Thank you!

    nina says:

    This is a great column, especially for those of us too far around the globe for Blogshop to visit right now.
    Everybody’s already asked the artistic Q’s but I would ask how much info is too much when it comes to sharing personal stuff. I err on the side of never sharing personal stuff beyond a few photos and i’d like to share some of my journey, marriage, weight-loss and that, but i don’t know how to without blabbing it all.
    Hope it’s a topic you’ll consider 🙂

    For my blog, I happen to do the project/photo shoot/editing in one day and I have to tell you, it’s stressful! Sometimes it works flawlessly, but there have been a few times when I’ve lost the light before finishing or I’ve made a mistake and ruined the project. I don’t really have time to do my projects in advance because of my job, but if ever I do, I’m sure they’ll be a lot better 🙂

    tahsin says:

    this is awesome bri! keep it coming please and thank you :)!!!

    next up – how to plan ahead and still stay current, and tips on how to balance it all? perhaps? thank you!

    Jerrica says:

    Do you have any suggestions for photography DIY shoots by yourself? When I’m using both my hands I’m curious how to get the perfect angle when using a tripod and timer when I can’t see what’s in the frame!

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    ambera says:

    where is your tomato dress from? i want one sooo bad!

    Thank you so much for doing this post! It was so helpful, I have already added it to my Pinterest so I always have it as a reference. Will definitely be adding parts 2 and 3 as well. Keep it up!

    more info says:

    Your method of telling everything in this post is truly pleasant, every one be capable of easily be aware of it, Thanks a lot.

    This Advice column has become SO incredibly helpful & I am so thankful you offer this to all of us creatives out there!!

    My big thing I am struggling with right now is, if your business is taking off while you are still a college student, how do you determine if it’s best to start your career now, or wait until you finish school, and then start your career when you could’ve started it a couple years previously?
    Blogging is huge right now, and a portfolio stands out! Are portfolios becoming more important than a piece of paper with a degree?
    Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks again!!

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