This panel covered two things I’m definitely interested in learning about: DIYs and doing DIY posts (which I would love to run more!) and Pinterest (I don’t use it quite often enough — gasp!) Panel headed by Melissa EsplinChelsea CostaJill NystulJenny Batt, and Chris Gardner.

Best practices for DIY posts

The point of a DIY post is not how to do something, it’s to show it’s possible to do something. Inspire your readers!

The panelists had a point they argued about — all agreed that your feature photos have to be beautiful but they disagreed on whether the rest of the step-by-step photos should be beautiful as well. On one hand, you want to be taking photos quickly as you go so the project doesn’t turn into a week-long project for one post. On the other hand, making sure all of your photos are gorgeous will make sure your post has maximum shareability.

Use a notebook to sketch out every photo you’re planning to take, because you’re designing the entire project and post. And make sure to always have your camera on hand, even when buying materials — you can take pictures of the packaging so you remember all the exact details of your materials, since it’s very important to be 100% transparant about the materials and process.

You can also do DIYs in bulk — they often can be a huge mess, and doing a bunch of projects at once can save you cleaning time!

In terms of materials, two are crucial: A tri-pod (so you can have yourself in the photos, since it’s important to have humans in the DIYs — you’re telling a story of real people making a story.) And a UV filter — it’ll protect your lens not only from UV rays but also from random splatters and DIY messes.

When it comes to DIYs, it may seem like everything has been done — do some research beforehand, solve unique problems, and use unique materials.

Styling 101

Make sure to choose a style that fits your personality and brand, and be consistant throughout your DIYs. Styles can be happy/fun, classic, somber, etc.

Don’t be afraid to switch out materials for the photos, such as a pretty pair of vintage scissors for the photos when you actually use a plain pair.

Show that DIYs are messy — it doesn’t have to be perfect. Add text to the first beauty shot in the post, it’ll make it more shareable on Pinterest. Make sure to save your photos with searchable keywords.

DIY Photography

You can use a DSLR, or even a cell phone — just make sure to pay attention to quality/resolution, make sure it’s well-lit, have a quality backdrop, and keep in mind orientation and framing.

If you’re using a DSLR with manual settings, use this great cheat sheet.

Lighting: If you’re using natural light, keep in mind the time of day. You can add more light by bouncing it (a cheap piece of foam core works fantastically), or a flash on a cord (not attached to the camera — you should usually highlight from the side of what you’re photographing.) For backgrounds, plain foam core works as well.

In terms of format, vertical images look great on Pinterest, horizontal images look great on blogs, so try to have a combination.

Always strive to take the best photo possible, but post-production (in Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.) is useful for touchups — cropping, color-balance, exposure, adding filters, etc.

Pinterest 101

Pinterest traffic peaks from 5-7am and 5-7pm EST. Post your posts to a general “blog” board as well as any other board that applies (such as “confetti”, “birthday’s”, etc).

When picking a photo to pin, keep in mind: Clear, Cropped, Concise, Colorful, and Close.

Have a “hover pin-it” button on your blog to make it easy for people to pin your posts.

Keep tabs on what people are pinning from your site by inserting your URL in Pinterest like this:

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