Guest Post: How to Have a Professional Looking Blog on a Low Budget

Note from Lifestyle Queen Bee: When I first decided to start this blog, my goal from the very beginning was to monetize it so that it could be a source of passive income for myself. When you’re first starting out, sometimes you don’t have a ton of extra cash (if any at all!) to put into building & growing your blog/business. Not to mention all the research you typically conduct trying to figure out the best platform for your blog, your niche, etc. Today, Guest Maurine Anderson is helping cut all the guesswork out as part of my monthly series ‘Bougie on a Budget’, helping you figure out how to make your blog look amazing on a shoestring budget.


There are a ton of successful bloggers out there who make hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and who have access to just about anything that can make a blog look more professional—better camera equipment, high-end web design, talented graphic designers, etc. But let’s be real…most of us who run blogs don’t exactly have a ton of money that we can devote to giving our blogs that high end, professional feel. So how do you get a blog that looks professional, even when funds are low? Here are a few tips that I’ve found help give your blog a more professional feel, without a hefty price tag.

[ Sharpen Your Photography Skills ]

If there’s one skill that’s going to make the difference between a mediocre blog and a great one, it’s photography. High-end photography goes a long way in adding a professional look to a blog. Photography equipment can be expensive, so if you don’t have an SLR camera yet, start by mastering the art of smartphone photography. This article has some great tips on getting better photos from your phone’s camera. And once you’ve captured your photos, use an app like VSCO or Snapseed to finish them off before uploading.

Side note: If you do have an SLR camera, then start mastering using it if you haven’t! Play around with different compositions, focal lengths, apertures, shooting in natural lighting, etc. until your photos have a more artistic feel to them. Use the free photo editing software that came on your computer to give your photos the finishing touch they need (even if it’s just cropping).

[ Create an At-Home Photo Studio Space ]

On a related note, putting together a makeshift photo studio can really go a long way in improving the quality of your photos. Maybe your home office sees a lot of natural sunlight during the day, for example, and you need a place where you can shoot your food photography. Go ahead and set up a little studio space in there, complete with backdrops and small props for all of your blog photos. Or, maybe you don’t have a ton of space in your home, but you have some extra space in the garage. Create a semi-permanent studio in there (after insulating the garage, of course). It may seem small, but when you know you have a space where you can take high-quality photos for your blog, you’re more likely to take those photos and add to your blog in the first place.

In case you’re wondering how to put together your own at-home photo studio, these are a few things I keep on hand in my own little studio “arsenal” for food photography:

  • Roll of Kraft Paper
  • Marble Look Contact Paper
  • Wooden Board Painted with Chalk Paint
  • White and Blue Tea Towels

[ Size Your Photos Correctly ]

This is a small tip, but it’s worth mentioning while we’re still on the topic of photography. Before uploading photos to your blog, be sure they are of the proper width first. Your photos should be exactly as wide as the text area for your blog posts, and all images should be exactly the same width, regardless of orientation. You’ll be surprised at the impact that standardizing your photo width makes!

[ Go with a Clean Blog Design ]

Though there are definitely successful blogs out there that run on extremely intricate blog designs, many professional bloggers use remarkably simple designs for their blogs. These blogs feature lots of white space, use just one or two fonts, and leave plenty of room for showcasing photos. So if you want a professional looking blog without investing much, go for a clean blog design. Many blogging platforms have great and simple designs that you can use for free or very little money.

[ Purchase a Domain Name ]

Okay, so this one will cost you some money, but it’s a modest price to pay for the professional look your blog gets in return. If you haven’t already, consider buying a domain name for your blog (e.g., It looks much more professional than a blog with the platform in the URL (e.g.,, and as long as your domain name isn’t too common, it will cost you only about $15 per year.

If you’re looking to get started with your domain, sign up with Bluehost (that’s what I use!) for an incredibly affordable rate of only $5.95!

If you have been on the fence about starting a blog, I hope this post has inspired you to get started!

What tips do you have to blogging on a budget?
Share in the comments below!

LQB Blogger Interview: Dawn Craven

As I get closer to my one year blog anniversary, one thing I have truly enjoyed was getting the opportunity to (virtually) meet so many talented, amazing bloggers! My monthly blogger feature was something that was slow to start but has picked up tremendously so thank you to all the past features & I’m excited to share all the great ones scheduled! Today, I’m introducing you all Continue reading “LQB Blogger Interview: Dawn Craven”

Guest Post: 4 Common Beauty Myths Busted

Note from Lifestyle Queen Bee: Happy Thursday! It’s been a busy week for me with finishing off some subcontract Virtual Assistant work and sending out proposals & setting up Discovery calls with some potential clients that I am thanking my lucky stars for these amazing guests posts! Today, my guest is Aurora M and she’s here to debunk some Continue reading “Guest Post: 4 Common Beauty Myths Busted”

Guest Post: Website Lurking – 3 Metrics You Should Be Watching

Note from Lifestyle Queen Bee: This month has been one of the best I’ve had since launching my blog last June! Between networking on Facebook & Instagram, implementing my Pinterest strategy & constantly tweaking my blog to perfect it, I’ve been seeing better traffic on my blog & social media accounts – so much so that this entire month is filled with guest posts (with the exception of 3 posts) & there’s no signs of slowing down! Today, I’m featuring Brandy Kennedy from Chyc Studio who’s sharing a fantastic post on the 3 Continue reading “Guest Post: Website Lurking – 3 Metrics You Should Be Watching”

Guest Post: The Ugly Side Of Running An Online Business & How Mindset Is Important For Success

Note from Lifestyle Queen Bee: As a blogger who treats my blog very much like a business, self-care is a major priority to me and something I try to encourage others to practice regularly. While I am a lover of pretty, sparkly things and tend to write & heavily feature these things on my blog & social media accounts, it’s also important to use my blog as a platform to discuss important issues like depression. Today, my guest is Lori Smith from the blog, Write Word Studios, who’s talking all about depression in business and ways to not only identify that this may be happening to you but how you can help address the issue.

Let me start off by saying, I’m going to get painfully real here, but it needs to be put out there. This article is about the not-so-pretty side of business few talk about, at least, not in depth.

I belong to several Facebook business/blogging groups. All are full of super helpful and supportive people. There’s always someone with an answer to all your questions, and plenty of ears to listen when you need to vent. You’re probably asking yourself, what does this have to do with the ugly side of business? Well, in these groups I’ve noticed a particular post that is a recurring theme with online business owners. It goes a little something like this:

“Guys, today has been the worst day ever. Nothing has gone right. I recorded a video, only to find out the lens cap was still on my camera, and I now have to record it all over again. I feel like a complete idiot. I wrote what I feel is the most awesome post, but it’s so personal that I haven’t been able to click publish. It’s hard to put yourself out there, and I have all this self-doubt about my writing. I’ve been at this for a year now, and I’m just not where I think I should be. I seriously have less than 1k page views monthly. I can’t help but compare myself to others with 10k views or more. I’m failing. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I’m crying more than I’m working. Maybe I’m not cut out for this entrepreneur thing. Every day I sit down at my computer I’m becoming more confused, and unmotivated. All I want to do is lay in bed with the covers over my head. My family doesn’t get the whole blogging thing. They just keep telling me I need to get a real job. I don’t know what to do. At this point, I’m ready to give up because I just can’t do this anymore. I’m so DEPRESSED.”

Note: This is not an actual post

Sound familiar? Can you relate? This, my friends, is the brutal reality of running an online business. Feelings like these don’t just happen once. They happen often.

Being self-employed is hard. When your doing it all on your own, and have bouts of depression, it’s even harder. It’s like an uphill battle on a slippery slope.

Stress is a known trigger for anxiety and depression. If you already suffered from depression before starting your entrepreneurial journey, the added stress can have a profound affect on you and your business. There’re times you might find yourself walking away from your desk more days than you spend at it working. What’s worse, is the toll it can take on you.

This Is Where It Gets Real

I can personally tell you the toll it takes. I suffered from depression before starting my business. Dysthymia to be exact. I’ve been living with it for almost 20 years. It’s not pretty. Matter of fact, it’s downright ugly because it robs you of your spirit. You have days of complete emptiness and feel like nothing but a hollow shell.

The stress of running a business has left me feeling drained at times. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t how my life is every day. It’s just that there are times when depression hits me out of nowhere. But I’m here to tell you there are things you can do to help it and still be productive.

The Effects Of  Depression On Your Business

Why am I disclosing all this? For one, I’m honest to a fault, but my main goal is to open up the discussion about this topic. Get people talking.

It needs to be put out there so entrepreneurs can recognize the signs. They need to know how it can affect their business, and learn ways to manage it. Even if you never suffered from depression before starting a business, you might find yourself suffering from it now. If you are, it may be getting in the way of operating your business.

Depression can affect you in many ways. It can make it difficult to manage the daily activities of running your business:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Inability to work
  • Lack of focus
  • Bad decisions or indecisiveness
  • Disorganization

Can you relate to any of these difficulties? Have you felt this way in your business before? You’re not alone.

The Ugly Side Of Running An Online Business & How Mindset Is Important For Success | Lifestyle Queen Bee

Writer’s block can also be a symptom of depression. If you can’t write, then you can’t move things forward with your business. Any momentum or excitement you had could come to a stand still. A lot of times I think we all pass things off as “I’m just tired”, and you may be. However, being tired, feeling like your brain is in a fog, lack of motivation, isolating yourself, are all signs of depression. The proverbial response of “I’m fine” when you’re not, is denial.

If your not recognizing the symptoms, your business will suffer. Plans and goals could get stalled or worse never followed through with at all. Building a successful, thriving business is hard enough. When you’re suffering from depression, it may seem impossible. It’s only impossible if you don’t acknowledge that there’s a problem and take steps to manage it.

What You Can Do About Depression

First, when you have any feelings that are not in line with your normal personality, be honest with yourself; don’t dismiss these feelings. Accept that you may be suffering from depression. This does not, I repeat, this does not make you weak; it makes you human.

We tend to think that if we aren’t strong, confident, and functioning at 110% every day, we are failing. This is not true. Everyone has off days, no matter who they are. The key to those who are successful and those who aren’t, are the ones who accept their faults. They’re the ones who find ways to overcome their problems by doing something about them.

Depression is most often treated with anti-depressant medication. For some, medication alone may not be enough. If you find that you need additional ways to help manage your symptoms, there are alternative methods you can try.

Big Disclaimer Here: I am NOT a medical professional. If you suspect you may have depression, seek help from a physician. Any suggestions below are alternative things that I have tried and have helped me. Keep in mind, what works for one person may not work for someone else. It bears repeating, DO NOT self-treat. If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, consult a medical professional.

Alternative Ways To Manage Depression

  1. Exercise – Exercise can reduce stress and anxiety. It releases endorphins and serotonin which aid in boosting mood. Try yoga or running for an endorphin high
  2. Get Enough Sleep – Not getting enough sleep can cause  exhaustion which you guessed it, can lead to depression. Getting a good night’s rest is essential to your overall well-being. Eight hours of sleep a night is ideal, but find what works best for you. Try for at least 7 hours
  3. Stay Involved – Isolating yourself is a common response to depression, but can only make you feel more depressed. Make it a point to connect with others. Just having lunch with a friend can help your mood
  4. Set a Routine – When you’re depressed, one day can melt into another. Setting a routine will help with stress and make you feel more productive. Get up at a set time each morning, and go to bed at a regular time each night
  5. Writing About How You Feel – Expressing your feelings through words can help you work through any issues. If you’re not comfortable talking to someone about your feelings, keep a journal.
  6. Music – Music therapy is now used to help ease the symptoms of depression. We all know that music can affect
    our mood. Listening to your favorite music can help you relax and let go of feelings.
  7. Meditation – Meditation helps reduce stress by focusing on staying in the moment. When you become overwhelmed, you get stressed. This stress, in turn, can trigger depression. Negative emotions can take over. The practice of meditation can train your mind to push out these toxic thoughts.

These are all things you can try to aid in alleviating your symptoms of depression. They can be helpful in balancing your mood, and if you can balance your mood, you can manage your depression.

But what about achieving success when you suffer from depression? Is it possible? This answer actually lies within you. I believe there’s one thing that will not only help with your depression but is the key to success in your business, and in your life. That’s your mindset.

Why Mindset Is The Key To Success

I think we can all agree that your thoughts can have a profound affect on how well you manage life. When you have negative thoughts swimming around in your head on a consistent basis, you internalize these thoughts. If you think you’re not worthy or not good enough, then these feelings can become part of your self-worth.

Toxic thoughts can be detrimental to your business as well. Depression facilitates negative feelings. When you’re depressed, everything seems worthless. These feelings can leave you paralyzed unable to take action. So you can see how important mindset is in being successful as an entrepreneur.

To succeed in business, you need 3 things:

  1. You need to be passionate about your business – Having passion will see you through the rough times
  2. You need to develop a strategy – Throwing random ideas against a wall to see if they stick will get you nowhere fast. You need a good solid strategy that will get results
  3. You have to execute – If all you do is make plans and never take any actionable steps to implement them, then success will only be a dream

According to psychological studies, repetitive positive thoughts can re-wire your brain and strengthens areas of the brain that stimulate positive feelings. When you feel good, everything runs much more smoothly. When you feel bad, life seems to stop. Your mindset – how you think and feel about your business – will determine your success. Positive thoughts are necessary to maintain the passion for your business. You need a positive mindset to develop result driven strategies, and take the steps to execute those strategies.

What You Can Do To Change Your Mindset

  • Start Your Day Off Right – When you first get up in the morning, put any negative thoughts in check. Instead of, it’s going to be a bad day because it’s raining, think about the good things the day can bring. Don’t check email first thing after getting out of bed as this can send you down a rabbit hole. Start off your day thinking only positive thoughts
  • Control Your Engagement in Social Media – Social media may be essential for marketing your business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t control how much you’re putting in your head. The price of being connected too much can have a negative impact on you. Everyone seems so perfect on social media. We end up comparing ourselves to others. Remember not everything is always as it seems. Be thankful for all you have. There’s also those feelings with media of FOMO (fear of missing out). Stop focusing on everyone and everything else. Set a schedule for your social media engagement and stick to it
  • Practice Gratitude – Write out a list of things you’re grateful for on a consistent basis. Write down your achievements as a reminder of things you have accomplished. If you have any favorite quotes, put them where you can see them every day. Focus on all the positive things in your life
  • Recharge Your Energy By Breaking Up Your Day – Your focus can drift when working for extended periods of time. Your mind can become exhausted. Yes, your mind can get tired too. Not to mention what sitting for long periods of time can do to your physical health. Take frequent breaks. Take a walk outside. The sunshine can help lift your spirits and energize you. Try the Pomodoro Technique to increased productivity and keep your mind fresh
  • Review Your Goals – When you’re going in a million different directions every day, you can become overwhelmed. This can lead to negativity. Looking back over your goals can help you stay focused. You can see everything you’ve accomplished which reinforces positive feelings.

In Conclusion 

Depression is not the easiest subject to talk about. The stigma attached to it is harsh and nothing more than judgmental ignorance. Those who have never experienced depression, tend to have a negative perception of it. For many, though, depression is their reality. It can’t just be shaken off. They become experts at hiding it. Some deny they even have a problem. This is not the way to handle it. Try whatever it takes, whether it be medication or the alternative methods above. Find what works for you.

You can function in a productive way if you acknowledge your depression and do something about it. Life doesn’t have to be miserable. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your business to TRY.

Thanks so much for contributing such an important & informative post to my blog, Lori! Depression is something that is very real and that many suffer with in silence. Posts like this not only benefit those who are going through these difficult times by providing some coping mechanisms but also help those who may not recognize the signs in themselves.

You can read more from Lori on her blog, Write Word Studios or by following her on social media:

Would you love to contribute to my blog? You can submit a guest post or be a feature blogger!
Head over to the Collab page & let’s get started!

LQB Blogger Interview: Nicole Noworyta

Hey guys! Today, I’m featuring fellow blogger, Nicole Noworyta from the blog, The Free Spirit.

“Nicole is a Canadian girl on a quest to explore the earth while trying to save it at the same time. A recent graduate trying to find her place in the world, a vegetarian, a traveler, an environmentalist, and a dreamer; she finds a way to make all her dreams work simultaneously. Nicole writes, a travel and sustainable fashion blog, giving readers a unique insight into exciting and ethical travel, while providing information for travellers to inspire their next adventure.” Continue reading “LQB Blogger Interview: Nicole Noworyta”

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