I went for a tour of my office on Thursday. I’d been putting it off for a while due to the fact that several of my coworkers and at least two of the building’s security guards tested positive for COVID. But, I was assured that professional cleaning and disinfecting was done and so I made arrangements with my boss to have a socially distant tour.
First stop on the tour? My office. That’s right, I have my own office.
It’s big. Real big. And it’s all mine. There’s a wrap-around desk, a wardrobe, cupboard storage and a table/seating area. There’s also a giant west-facing window with a view of the city skyline. Given that we’re on a high floor, I reckon the sunsets will be pretty spectacular as we head into fall and our staff actually goes back to working in the office.
It was a very surreal moment for me. I’ve never had an office before. In the decade I’ve been working, I’ve been had board-room tables, a reception desk, a desk-sized cubicle in the middle of the lobby. Never an office. Offices were always reserved for the men. And now, I have an office.I have four walls. A door. A cork board and a white board! It’s the small things but they mean so much. I wanted to cry when I sat down at my desk and spun around in my chair. I also wanted to take a bunch of pictures of every square inch of the office. Given that my boss was watching me, though, I chose to not do either.
The entire office is quite a maze. Lots of hallways, a maze of offices, a classroom for when we host professional development workshops (when there isn’t a global pandemic). There’s even a games room! A room with a pinball game and a Foosball table and a few other arcade games. The building even has a private gym for tenants… not that it’s open right now. But, it’s still a cool perk.
As I was leaving I told my boss that I was excited to get into my new office in September (COVID Permitting) and do a lot of great work in there. I said that I’d never had an office before and that I’d never worked in an office with this many amenities or luxuries before.
They smiled and said ‘Welcome to corporate, kid’.
It was a cool day for me. And, I guess I have a lot to look forward to (COVID permitting). I might like this corporate world after all…
It’s been four weeks now that I’ve been at my new job. What a difference finding a decent place to work makes in one’s life. Four weeks into this job I’ve been treated better, and with more trust then I ever found in the last decade of my professional career.
I know, I know, I know: ‘Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, Vee’.
I won’t, I promise.
I’m just grateful. Grateful for the opportunity. Grateful for something to look forward too. Grateful that they’ve put faith in me.
In four weeks I’ve taken part in presentations with companies from three different continents, had an article published on an international governing-body’s website, dove head first into a brand new industry and not drown, and… had my first performance review. Spoiler alert: they like me!
In my first performance review (I have to do them every three weeks until I pass the employee probationary period), my boss said that she thinks I am intelligent, articulate, talented and am fitting in really well with everyone on staff. That last one meant a lot to me because, coming in to the company in a ‘work from home’ situation posed a unique challenge for me to try and get to know my new coworkers.
My boss went on to say that she’s so thankful she hired me and that she’s so grateful I didn’t get swooped up for another position between February when I started the interview process and May when they officially hired me.
I’ve been taking a course in software development this week. As much as I hate ‘school’ this course has actually opened my eyes to a whole new subject matter that I think will really benefit me down the line. It’s made for some long days, but I’m grateful for the opportunity.
Here’s to hoping they continue to like me moving forward and that I’ve got a long, fruitful career ahead of me in tech!
Disclaimer: This is bare-bones explanation of this story. Honestly, there could probably be a novel written about all of the skeletons in this family’s closet, but the most important pieces are here. For the purpose of this story, I have not shared the name of the child which I speak. He is no longer legally their child and thus, being a minor, I did not want to post the child’s name on this blog.
I’ve long since had issues with ‘family vloggers’ and people who use their children to make them money on YouTube. It’s one thing to call yourself an influencer and use YouTube to broadcast every aspect of your own life, but it’s a completely separate thing to do that to your child.
A child doesn’t get a say in the matter. A child doesn’t have the frame of reference to understand the ramifications of a digital footprint when they’re eight, for example. Children also (largely) aren’t paid for the work they’re doing to make their parents wealthy via YouTube. Because, if we’re being completely honest, these parents, without the adorable kids doing funny things, would be rather boring and no one would tune in. Parents know their children are click-bait to the masses and they take advantage of that, subsequently not giving their children a dime in the process.
Insert the Stauffer Family.
Myka and James Stauffer have come under fire recently for FINALLY acknowledging to the world that they have ‘unadopted’ their adopted special needs son from China. The phrase they used was ‘rehoming’. But let’s be real here, this isn’t a pet. This is a living, breathing human child who has now been abandoned again. Yeah, the term abandoned is a much better term for it.
It’s estimated that dissolution of adoption happens in roughly 10% of adoptive cases in the United States (Source: Children’s Welfare Information Gateway) So, an adoption not working out is not a new concept. Why then, have the Stauffer’s made international headlines?
After being relatively anonymous in the YouTube spectrum for nearly a decade, The Stauffer’s adopted a special needs child from China and brought him to the United States in 2017. They proceeded to film every aspect of their lives with new adopted son and upload videos to YouTube for profit ever since. These videos of their adoptive child have made them rich. Rich, rich, rich, rich, rich. They skyrocketed from 4,000 subscribers to millions of subscribers amassed from five different YouTube channels. They found a ‘niche’ that people couldn’t help but tune in for, and they exploited it. That niche being a little orphan boy with a beautiful smile and rambunctious personality. People genuinely fell in love with their son and they knew that… and they took advantage of that.
At best, what you could call this is child exploitation. At worst, this story really borderlines on child trafficking, if we’re being totally honest. They built a wealthy empire upon the likes of this child for three years and then, when they decided he was no longer profitable, they put him into foster care.
Backtracking a little bit here, Myka has been trying to become famous through YouTube for more than a decade. She tried fitting into the ‘hot girl with the amazing diet tips’ niche and that didn’t work. She tried fitting into the ‘I’m going to teach you how to cook’ niche and that didn’t take either. She also had her go at the ‘Single Mom, doing it on my own’ niche, but quickly pivoted when she met and married her now husband in a rather swift time frame.
After marrying her husband and quickly having her second child, Myka and James began documenting every step of their lives and their children’s lives on Youtube in 2013. They lead a very modest life, went on to have a third child and documented every single step of it on YouTube, amassing only 4,000 subscribers between 2013 and late 2016.
In late 2016, Myka started an adoption series on her YouTube channel. She had decided that she wanted to adopt and that she wanted to adopt right away. Apparently god had called her to adopt and she needed another child in her life immediately.
Because she had no issues with fertility, three young children and she and her husband were unwilling to adopt an older child, they sought to adopt from overseas. She is on video stating that she specifically chose China as the country to adopt a child from because it would allow her to adopt a child the fastest.
Prior to even adopting her son, she made a 13 part series all about him, how she literally picked him from a catalogue and how he was now her son who she’d ‘birthed in her heart’. It was all very sweet, very hertfelt, very saviouristic.
She took the thirteen part series to explain that the child that her and her husband wished to adopt was one with special needs. He was living in an Orphanage in China, was nearly two years old and (they were told) he had a brain tumor.
Myka also took the thirteen part series to explain that she had this child’s medical records reviewed by doctors in the United States and that the doctors here had warned her about adopting him because his prognosis was quite severe and could cause for around the clock care.
Myka, again on video, said ‘I used to be a nurse before becoming a stay at home mom, so whatever it is, we can handle it’.
Myka and James subsequently used a GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds to adopt their son from China. Though they did not need the money for the adoption, they were happy to essentially ‘crowdfund’ to pay for the process because… why not? The GoFundMe actually garnered the family a lot of attention and the couple were touted as incredible saviours for rescuing this boy from life in a Chinese orphanage.
While the adoption process was still going through, they were already showing photos and video footage of their to-be son for the world to see. And, when they brought him home, their YouTube channel skyrocketed.
Their ‘Gotcha Day’ video they uploaded of the day they picked their son up and he legally became theirs garnered more than 5,000,000 views and was monetized up the whazoo.
And, after they brought him home, they filmed his every move. His every struggle with adopting to a new life in the USA, his trauma from being torn from his home country, his adapting to a new family he didn’t know, they put it all out there. They did it because it got them attention, it got them views and it grew the balance of their bank account.
Keep in mind here, Myka had three biological children and this adopted child from China was responsible for the majority of the content on her YouTube channel. She wrote articles for Bump Magazine, was featured in People Magazine and got a lot of national attention because she was this incredible mom who rescued this boy from China, knowing he had a brain tumor, to give him a better life.
Along the way, Myka and James learned that it wasn’t a brain tumor their son was suffering from. Rather, once reaching the United States, he was diagnosed with Autism. Myka quickly took the opportunity to become the ‘autism mom’ and ‘autism advocate for youtube’ despite the fact that she clearly knew nothing about autism.
People started to notice a change in this family. While everyone were tuning in to see this adorable little boy, the family took to exploiting him for each diagnosis he was given, for every struggle that he had. At one point he was seen on one of their YouTube videos with his thumbs duct taped. Myka later explained in a comment that she did that because they were annoyed that he would not stop sucking his thumb. The channel became more about this little boy and less about the family.
Don’t get me wrong, if you look at her YouTube channel, she did upload other content from time to time… including ‘What I eat in a day to stay skinny’ and ‘Cleaning the whole house because it’s a disaster’, but none of those videos ever garnered the views that her adopted son was getting. So, she continued exploiting him.
Adoption updates. Autism updates. [Son’s Name] first therapy session. Celebrating Chinese New Year for [Sons’s Name]. All of these videos were centered around him. Why? Because people tuned into her channel to see him. They wanted to see him grow, flourish and become his own person. They wanted the best for him. The views turned into big bucks for this family.
Between 2017 and 2020, the Stauffer’s also proclaimed they were going to adopt another child from China because they loved their son so much and wanted to rescue another boy. Also during this time, they went on to have another biological child, meaning that they had four biological children and one adopted child.
Between 2017 to 2020, Myka’s channel grew from 4,000 subscribers to more than 700,000 subscribers. The family vlog channel grew to 350,000 subscribers and her husband’s YouTube channel grew to nearly a million YouTube subscribers. They bought a 6,4000 square foot million dollar hom and multiple $90,000 SUVs, took vacations to California and Flordia, Myrtle Beach, London and more… staying in swanky hotels along the way. They were ‘living the life’ all because they were the saviours of this adorable little boy.
It’s worth noting here that after seeing doctors in the United States, their son was diagnosed as being non-verbal autistic. So he largely did not speak. That didn’t stop the family from click-baiting multiple videos with titles like [Son’s Name] Finally Speaks, we’re so happy! and so on and so forth.
They knew what was making their money, so they kept it up for clicks.
All of the sudden in January 2020, this little boy seemingly disappeared. For a woman who’d been exploiting his every move, every tantrum, every struggle, every doctor’s appointment, every piece to his life since 2017, it was odd… to say the least.
Where did he go?
People asked for months.
People asked and comments were deleted.
People emailed and were hit with responses from the Stauffer’s lawyers.
People commented on their YouTube channel and they got blocked.
Where was their son?
The couple went on a luxury several week long vacation in February to Indonesia and boasted on social media about staying in a room that cost $9,000 a night.
But where was their little boy?
All of their biological children were still appearing in videos, but their adopted son was… gone?
No one knew. Every time someone kept asking, they would get blocked.
Screenshots started to circulate of the Stauffer’s complaining about their adopted son on adoption forums. (Probably wasn’t the wisest thing for them to use their real names to complain about their adopted son given the YouTube fame they’d skyrocketed into)
Footed started to circulate of Myka being really sinister towards their adopted son and people who were sharing them were getting letters/dms and emails from the Stauffer’s lawyers.
Where was this little boy?
Well, his birthday is June 1. And, as the majority of their following really started to realize he was missing and had been for a long time, getting closer to his birthday the questions started ramping up. They were getting so frequent that the couple couldn’t possibly delete/block everyone fast enough.
On May 26 the Stauffer’s uploaded a video to Myka’s channel explaining that they had ‘rehomed’ their adopted son. They fake cried throughout the video, had disingenuous jump-cuts and proclaimed that they couldn’t tell anyone they abandoned their son because of his privacy. They also proclaimed that they were lied to by the adoption agency and the Chinese government about the extent of their son’s special needs and that numerous doctors had told them to put their son up for adoption.
The whole video was incredibly contrived. Nothing about it was genuine.
Let’s keep in mind here that ‘god called on her’ to adopt a child with special needs. Let’s also remember that doctors warned her about the severity of this boy’s special needs and she is on video stating that it ‘went in one ear and out the other’ because she was a nurse and she could handle it.
Let’s also keep in mind here that they were on video proclaiming that they couldn’t afford the cost of his therapy, whilst also bragging on Instagram about staying in a $9,000 a night hotel room in Indonesia and living in a multi-million dollar home wearing a $10,000 watch on her hand…
Everything about this story just disheartens and disappoints me to my core.
Honestly, people struggle for years to try and adopt. They have to go through home studies and family vetting, have every aspect of their lives combed through to ensure they’re a safe fit and a good family to care for the child they’re adopting. And rightfully so. But there are so many people who try so hard to adopt a child and hit continuous roadblocks. Somehow, this couple, with a criminal past, managed to jump through all of the hoops of an international adoption within a matter of a few months to bring home a little boy from China.
The crowdfunded his adoption, exploited his life every step of the way and, when he was no longer profitable to them, they ‘rehomed’ him.
Imagine what it would feel like, psychologically speaking, to be one of the other four siblings in that home who this year just watched their parents give away one of their children. They’re all under the age of ten, and probably so young that they could be wondering if they screw up next, will their mom and did abandon them…
Knowing that the announcement of their ‘rehoming’ their son was going to get them a lot of views, they selected to have the video monetized on YouTube. It was quickly demonetized, I’m not sure if that was a YouTube choice or if someone reported their video as content that should not be monetized. It’s just telling of the parents that, after abandoning their son, they’re still choosing to profit from his story.
Myka Stauffer has also been filing copyright claims against people who’ve been using her video announcing the ‘rehoming’ of their son, as a measure to further profit from the story from content creators/people who are telling her story in a light that she might not like.
The adoption community is worried about whether or not China will penalize future adoptive parents who genuinely want to adopt because of the actions of the Stauffers.
The autism community is angry after all of her videos are being re-watched and scrutinized for her lack of empathy, acceptance of her child’s autism and willingness to help, care for or treat his needs
The general public (30,0000+) who enjoys watching family YouTube videos signed a ‘Change.Org’ petition to have her remove all images and videos of this little boy, since he is no longer legally their child and she has been still profiting off of videos and Instagram ads about him since abandoning him.
Myka has, since the video where she says she ‘rehomed’ her son, gone on to proclaim that the little boy, who is now five (was four at the time), expressed to them that he no longer wished to be a part of their family. She says that they unadopted him as per his wishes. When people called bullshit for that comment, she deleted it and had her lawyers send a statement regarding the child to major news outlets stating that the couple would no longer be speaking of this child.
Because when a non-verbal, autistic child says ‘Mommy I don’t like you I want a new mommy’ the obvious choice to make is to put your child up for adoption.
From my perspective, I can’t understand how a couple specifically seek out to adopt a child with special needs and then proclaim to millions of people that they unadopted your child because he had special needs. Those old videos still exist… the ones where they proclaim they specifically wanted a child with special needs. The videos where they proclaimed any and all special needs that could arise were fine with them because they could give a little boy a better life. With the sheer vastness of wealth they accrued in recent years, they could easily afford any and all treatments and therapy that would/could help the boy. (For reference, they’re on video bragging about making $47,000 for one YouTube video… so do the math there)
This whole situation just saddens me.
This little boy has now been abandoned three times in his short life. I can’t imagine the horror that must feel like. While he might just be better off without the Stauffers, I can’t help but feel sad because they did him so wrong.
I wanted to link to a few articles about this story, but the majority of articles use this little boys name and photos in their articles. If you want to read more about this story and this couple and why they’ve come under fire, please google ‘Myka and James Stauffer’.
They story hasn’t just made it all over national headlines in the USA, but it’s also made it to Chinese News Outlets, Australian news outlets, The Netherlands news outlets and more.
Honestly, after a decade of lying to the internet, there’s a pretty huge digital footprint from this family. One quick google search and you’ll start to realize that not everything is adding up about what they say on the matter.
As some of you may know, from time to time I will have one-on-one chats with fellow bloggers to try and give them some extra tips and tricks to the trade in hopes that it’ll help them in their blogging journey.
I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel when they send me notes about just how excited they are when they make improvements and good things happen for them!
A couple of weeks back I got an email from a fellow blogger that I have previously worked with and she was expressing her excitement that, for the first time ever, her blog hit 100 views in 24 hours. I was excited to hear her excitement, but I was also excited for her because I know what a talented blogger she is and I also know what an interesting person she is. She has a lot to share with this world and a lot of value to bring, and I know that as people continue to find her blog, they’ll see in her everything that I see in her.
This afternoon I got an email from a fellow blogger that I have previously worked with and he was expressing his excitement that his blog has reached 200 followers and the interaction he’s receiving on his posts is increasing daily. I was elated to hear his excitement, but I was also excited for him because, after so many years of pouring his heart and soul into his written work, his blog and sharing his story, people are really starting to find him and resonate with what he shares and who he is.
It makes me happy to see fellow bloggers finding success and being appreciated for what they do and the content they create. I feel a great sense of pride in myself when people ask me for advice, and I am grateful that people trust me enough seek help from me. But, more importantly, I feel a great sense of pride in seeing these bloggers succeed. Because, the bottom line is, there success is because of them, not me. All I did was remind them of what they’re capable of.
Digital marketing can sometimes seem silly, but I promise you that if you really take the time and effort to pay attention to the small things, it’ll make a world of difference in your blogging journey. If you’re ever feeling disheartened, burnt out, or you’re just plain struggling with your blog, remember this: success is not a limited resource. There’s room for every blogger at the top, so keep focused. Your time will come!
To sum up the entirety of the story quickly, my cousin is manipulative and decided that she was never going to get another boyfriend as attractive as her current boyfriend so, by her logic, she might as well find a reason that would make him have to stay. So, her plan was to get pregnant.
I did manage to get in touch with her boyfriend to try and let him know about her plan but, by the time I’d done so, she’d manipulated him into believing that I was a liar and that he shouldn’t listen to anything I had to say, the conversation was brief.
Well, she’s pregnant.
Her mom(my aunt) phoned my mom the other day to share the news of how excited she was to have her first grand child on the way. My aunt said that no one is allowed to know because she’s only five weeks along. So… my cousin told me her plan was to get pregnant in late November. It’s now February 4 and she’s five weeks along. If you do the math… it took her very little time to execute on ‘Operation Trap My Boyfriend’.
When my mom told me that my cousin was pregnant the discussion came up about what my cousin told me in November, how this was her plan. My mom’s response? ‘No, that’s definitely not true. She has PCOS, she was told it would be difficult to impossible to conceive naturally’.
Yeah, she doesn’t have PCOS.
‘Where did you hear that she has PCOS?’ I asked my mom.
‘[Your aunt],’ my mom said.
So, my cousin convinced her mom that she had PCOS and was going to have a hard time having kids if she ever wanted them. Her mom then then in turn convinced my mom that she had PCOS. Who wants to bet that she convinced her boyfriend that she had PCOS so they didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant?
*Note – It is worth noting, I am aware that PCOS makes it difficult to get pregnant, not impossible. I am also aware that there are women in this world who use PCOS as an excuse when they don’t have it. Nevertheless, I digress.
Apparently, the boyfriend is happy. Apparently he’s, and I quote from my mom, from her mom, from her, ‘he’s over the fricken moon’ with excitement.
Also, apparently, the boyfriend is from a religious family. And, religion being something that baffles me to my core, his family is completely okay with him living with his girlfriend out of wedlock, but, his family is not okay with them bringing a child into this world out of wedlock.
According to my aun they might get married to appease the family, and then have a ‘real wedding’ after the baby comes.
Of course all this is hearsay at this point because I have since been… ex-communicated from her life for trying to tell her boyfriend of the plan. So, the information I am being provided I am taking with a grain of salt.
Breaking this down for my own brain: Cousin plans to trap boyfriend by getting pregnant. Cousin tells me this plan in November. Aunt delivers news that cousin is pregnant in February. Cousin’s boyfriend comes from a family that believes you cannot bring a child into this world out of wedlock. So… cousin and boyfriend could potentially be getting married in a ‘quickie ceremony’ to appease religious family.
I wonder how cousin’s boyfriend(and his family) feel about divorce?
I also wonder how cousin’s boyfriend will feel when they inevitably have a fight that leads to him learning she intentionally got pregnant. Because this will come out. Things like this always have a way of coming out.
I stand by what I said in November… getting pregnant to trap a man is the worst idea ever. Even if they do get married, even if they do try to stay together for this child, this entire situation is going to put some serious strain on their relationship. And imagine how this poor child is going to feel when their fights happen. I feel like ‘plans like this’ always come up in fights over the years. I feel like this child is destined for a life of tug-of-war parenting.
Her boyfriend is a cop. I don’t know him well, but I reckon in being a cop (and now from learning he comes from a religious family background) the concepts of honesty and integrity are important to him.
I wonder how he’s going to feel when he learns how manipulative his girlfriend is.
Also, this poor child that’s going to be born into this.
Just to share the random ways in which people can find you and your blog, I’m sharing some of the searches people have used to find me via Search Engine over the past year. (If you don’t know, this means someone has gone to Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc… and searched these things and my blog has come up in their search results)
Ice Carving at Lake Louise
Life in the Rocky Mountains
Grow through what you go through
The Struggles of being Male
Vitamin B12 Deficiency personal stories
Yolo so you don’t waste your life
What causes people to do bad things
When your day is a shit day
How to decorate inside a teepee tent
Job hunting rant
Natalia Grace bone density
Natalia Grace on Dr. Phil
Another year around the sun
Millennial Job Interview
How do you spell milenial?
Feeling the need to call HR
Natalia Grace still has baby teeth
Whats it like to be homeless
I hope this serves as a reminder that you really can’t fathom the extents to which your posts can reach. You can implement SEO and try to be strategic about it, but sometimes people are going to type a random sentence into a search engine and somehow, your blog will appear. I mean… I’ve never written a darn thing about teepees on my blog but somehow that’s how someone found me.
What are people typing to search engines to find you?
I would like to preface this post by saying that some people prefer to leave their photos unedited. The #Unfiltered look is big on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even WordPress, so if you don’t have any desire to edit photos, please don’t. Please ignore this post. It’s not a requirement. It’s not even an ’ement’. This is just something that I’ve done over the years, that I know a lot of people who use social media do and I wanted to share some shortcuts with you. That is all.
Okay, so I’ve heard it said many a times that a picture is worth a thousand words. To that notion I say that if my photo’s going to be worth a thousand words, I better make sure they’re important words being portrayed through my images.
For nearly a decade, there wasn’t a photo that I posted, sent or printed without edits. Many edits were small… editing out a logo here, blurring a child’s face there… just small things to ensure we were in compliance with FOIP (the Freedom of Information Protection Act) in Canada. Some edits were major… reconstructing the facial shape of someone as a means to ‘filter’ distinguishing marks, fudging the dollar amount written on giant cheques (though I regret to admit to that) and changing out the people who were holding the cheque, or even completely photoshopping someone out of one location and into another. Over time I became a master at turning a photo into pretty much anything that I wanted it to be. And that says a lot because I am very picky when it comes to photos.
Luckily, from a blogging perspective, the editing (if one chooses to do so) need not be nearly as complicated as what’s practiced in the corporate world.
Before I get to the edition notes, I will say that things are a lot easier if you take good photos to start with. Take advantage of natural lighting where possible (the sun). Make sure the lens is in focus before you take the photo. If there are people in the photo that differ vastly in heights, do something to balance that height difference. These are all small steps you can take to vastly improve the quality of photos you’re taking from the get-go.
Okay, onto photo editing:
*Note – This information is from the perspective of photos being taken on a phone, since smartphones are everywhere and you use your phones to upload to social media platforms.
The number one thing that I would recommend a blogger do to edit photos is download Adobe Lightroom to your phone. There is both a free and a premium version of this app. Please do not purchase the premium version, you will not need it. Everything you need to make a photograph beautiful, you can find in the free version. Free Adobe Lightrom will allow you to:
Auto adjust the lighting to your photos
Manually adjust the lighting to your photos
Edit the colour balance of your photos
Sharpen, blur, correct, create frames or vignettes for any effects that you might like
Attempt to correct the focus as much as possible (if it’s an extremely blurry photo, it’ll likely just make it less blurry…)
Allow you to select between ‘presets’ created with specific intention to do all of the above steps in one
Examples of before and After using Adobe Lightroom:
The number two thing that I will recommend with respect to photo editing is to stay away from Facetune. Facetune is a demon that is changing the way that we see ourselves and other people. It contributes to low-self esteem because people are creating unrealistic standards of beauty and attractiveness based on what they can make themselves look like with a few minutes spent editing in Facetune. There’s a big difference between editing out a zit and changing one’s waist from being 30 inches to being 13 inches.
Now, all that being said, photo editing is all about you and what you find to be the magic factor in photos. If you like black and white images, Lightroom gives you the option to convert all of your images to black and white. If you like bright and light photos, Lightroom gives you plenty of functions that help with turning a photo that was taken in a dull/dark room into something that really pops off the page.
I am someone who likes bright photos. I want the colours to carry, the details to shine and even the dullest of days to look like a postcard. I’m providing some examples of my photos below and as you will see, even on a dull day (first, middle and last photo) it’s still possible to make the photo look like a postcard.
These are some of my photos from various locations and times over the past year. I’m not sure if you can tell just from looking at them, but they’ve all been edited to very much carry the same tone to them. I wanted the whites to be clean, the greens to pop, the skies to be the bluest that could be while accurately depicting what a camera on my phone couldn’t catch on the day the photo was taken.
I used what is called ‘Adobe Lightroom Presets’.
I know what you’re thinking and I hear you. ‘Presets, Vee? That sounds so extra. Who would bother?’
These presets are used by people far and wide on social media. If you’ve ever looked at someone’s Instagram page and seen similar tones to all of their images, it’s a safe bet they’re using a preset for their photos.
The ‘Preset’ is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a preset collection of edits for LightRoom to apply to the photograph in one step. It’s a matter of hitting one button in LightRoom and your photo is brighter, more vivid and depicting the image you want to convey in a matter of seconds.
Extra. I know.
But, if you’re particular with photos, it is a big time saver, helps with branding, makes your photos aesthetically themed and ensures you always have a beautiful photo, even on the dullest of days.
The presets that I use I developed several years back to cover my basis when I needed to turnaround press-releases in a hurry and always seemed to get sent shitty looking photos. They’re a ‘formula’ that I keep a tight secret around and will stay in the vault to one day be passed down to my children and grandchildren. (joking)
If you would like to delve into the option of presets, you can do one of two things:
You can make your own. I highly recommend this option because it allows you to draw out the aspects of photos that you most appreciate.
You can purchase some.
I highly recommend, if you download Lightroom yourself, that you try option one before option two. I say this because creating your own presets will allow you to create edits that you find most important in photographs.
It’ll also give you an appreciation for the photo editing process. It’ll also make you appreciate the photos you’re taking that much more and it’ll cause you to stop and think about your photos as you’re taking them. You’ll find yourself stopping to think ‘can I get better lighting if I make my subject face the window instead of against’, and various other thoughts of what’s going to make your photos better. Then, when you’re taking better photos, there’ll be less editing to do.
After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, you might as well make those words important.
If you tried your hand at creating presets and you didn’t like it, or if you’d just like some help and believe you’d like to purchase some Lightroom presets, the place to do is on Etsy. Using your phone type ‘Mobile Lightroom Presets’ in to the search bar and you will be innundated with different presets made by different designers.
I’ve seen them range anywhere from $3.00 USD to $350 USD. And let me be abundantly clear, you do not need a $350 package of Lightroom presets. There’s a lot to choose from, so it’s a matter of you taking a look at what you find most aesthetically pleasing and what’s the price you’re ultimately willing to pay.
With 17,034 listings to go through, though, I thought I’d provide a couple of suggestions if you decide to purchase presets:
A good Lightroom preset package will have 3-4 Presets. Don’t buy a package that has 99 presets (and they are available on Etsy) because you don’t need 99 presets
Realistically, if you wanted to use a preset, your criteria should be to have one preset for outside photos, one for inside, one for without people and one for with people
Don’t get sucked in by the ‘gimmicky’ presets like the one titled ‘Peach’ in the screenshot above. Might it look nice if your presets always make you look like you have tanned skin? Sure. But, it’s winter and unless you live in California or Florida, people are likely going to see through the artificial tan your adding to your photos. Try to select a set of presets that will be applicable to all of your photos year round, whether you’ve got a tan or you’re in the deep of winter
To finish off this exceptionally long description of how to edit photos, I would like to add a reminder to please leave face structure and body shapes alone in your editing process. You, your friends, your family and any subjects your taking photos of are perfectly beautiful just the way they are.
Yes, we all have insecurities, but that doesn’t mean that you need to edit the length of your fingers to make it look as though you have larger hands. (If you understand this reference, we’re soulmates) Insecurities will NEVER be fixed by making it look as though they don’t exist in photos. That and there’s a big difference between bringing out the beauty of someone and completely changing their entire being. People are beautiful just the way they are.
If you like editing, if you want to get into editing or even if you don’t like editing, thanks for reading and for making it this far. Go forth and do good, grasshopper. I have the utmost faith in you.
I’ll probably be posting a lot today. I tend to post more when I’m sad, and today I am really sad. I guess that’s life though. Some days you’re up and some days you’re down.
Also, I have a lot to say.
Also, I just like this place.
Alright, I’ll stop justifying myself and start.
The song ‘Find Out Who Your Friends Are’ is ringing true today. Actually, it’s been ringing true to me for most of this year. When I got fired, I thought that I had friends at my job. I thought that I had people who would be there for me, people who cared, whether I worked with them or not. To my shock, my being fired was met with dead silence, or messages of ‘That sux!’ from the people I worked with.
‘That sux!’? Yeah, it does suck getting railroaded because your boss is breaking the law. You knew what was going on, you saw that I got railroaded and you’re still going along with it.
The people that were there for me when I got fired? Knight. My two best friends in Vancouver, volunteering to get on planes and telling me to come live with them. The people that weren’t there for me? The friends I thought were friends at my work. Guess our getting along was contingent on my being their coworker.
Nevertheless, I’ve heard from former coworkers four times over the past ten months, the most recent of which being today. Each time it hasn’t been to check on me, to reach out, to see how I was doing or any of those things. When they reach out, it’s been to ask me how to do things, or how I did things.
Each time my response has been: “That sounds like a problem for Clint (former boss)!”
Today one of my former coworkers texted me with an offer of a trip. When I said ‘No thanks’, they responded with ‘Shoot, I was hoping you’d say yes so that I could ask you for something!’.
Go figure eh?
I don’t like associating people who only offer something when they know they need to ask for something from you. To me, when you give something, there are no strings attached. When I give something there is certainly no strings attached to it.
I was not shocked, nor surprised to hear that they wanted something from me. The song reads:
You find out who your friends are Somebody’s gonna drop everything Run out and crank up their car Hit the gas get their fast Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far.’ They just show on up with their big old heart
And with people like this, they’re always asking ‘What’s in it for me?’
All I can say is, I know who my friends are. I know who’s been there for me, always, no questions ask, nothing required in return.
Oh, also, to my former coworker who wants something from me today… go ask Clint. No amount of trips or money or anything that you could possibly offer me would make me want to do anything for your office. Leave me the fuck alone.
Switching gears entirely…
I wrote a Guest Post for a friend’s blog. If you haven’t heard of ‘Rethinking Scripture’, please go and check out Dwain’s blog, and read my guest post. I’ll admit, it might be a little sad. But, people tend to appreciate my ‘Dear Self’ letters, so if you want to see it – this week’s ‘Dear Self’ is on Dwain’s blog. Go to Rethinking Scripture >
So, I’ve been working in the Marketing/Communications/PR realm for a decade. I’ve held numerous positions with numerous companies which delved into the world’s of digital marketing, print marketing and television marketing.
When I speak these thoughts, please know they are my own personal opinions so please take them with a grain of salt. If you disagree with them, don’t take my word as the only, and please do what is right for your blog.
Your ‘ABOUT ME’ page is the most important page on your blog. If you don’t have one, you need to make one. And if you do have one, you need to make sure that it’s a page that will simultaneously tell the readers about you and your niche/niches, whilst enticing readers to come back.
The ‘About Me’ page should be the second item on any and every menu. This is because when people who don’t know you come to your page and read something they like, the next page they’re going to look for is to find out more about you and see if you’re someone they could see themselves following. If your ‘About Me’ page is hard to find, then you’re missing the opportunity to tell potential readers who you are.
Stop asking what’s in it for you and start asking what you can give. I saw someone on twitter the other day complaining that they commented on four blogs and no one came back to comment on their blog so they weren’t going to comment on anyone’s blog anymore.
Firstly, I can appreciate the hustle of just starting out. I can. And I am sure they are a very nice person. But when you say stuff like that you sound like a bit of a whiner, and also, verrrrrrrrrrry entitled. Please don’t just expect that if you comment on someone’s blog they’re going to come and leave a comment on your blog. They could, they might, but they’re not required to.
What if they don’t like what you write about? Or share about? Should they be required to comment on your blog solely because you commented on theirs? And if they are required to comment on your blog, solely because you commented on theirs, are they really going to leave that great of a comment?
If you want to bring something to the blogging community, then bring something to the blogging community. But stop asking ‘what’s in it for me?’ What’s in it for you? An opportunity to share your thoughts, an opportunity to connect and communicate, an opportunity to share and to hear other perspectives. But it’s worth noting you’re not entitled to any of those things. And you likely won’t get them if you’re going to complain and whine about it.
Layout of your blog matters. It always matters. If you’re just blogging for you, as an online journal and you don’t care who sees your blog, or if anyone ever does, then your layout only matters to you. But, if you’re blogging to find a community, grow an audience, hopefully become an established place for people to come and hear/see your thoughts, then your blog layout really needs to be clean, simple and easy to use. While you might like that neon green look, or the eight giant photos at the top of the page that need to get scrolled through to get to your actual content, most people likely won’t. And if you want their attention you need to make your blog layout appeal to them.
Think of it like the age old lesson they teach in real estate: a home with white walls is a whole lot easier to sell than a home with neon colours on the walls. This is because when people walk into a home with neon walls, they have a hard time seeing past the colours and cannot possibly picture themselves living there. A few people may walk into a home with a neon green kitchen and think ‘Yeah, I love that I want to live here’. Probably 90% of people can walking to a home with a white kitchen and think ‘Yeah, I love that and want to live here’.
It’s a simple fact of life, neutral colours appeal to more people. Neutral colours appeal to even those who loved the neon. So if you’re looking to grow an audience and want people to find your blog and fall in love, make sure that your layout is one that is neutral, one that can appeal to the most eyes that see it.
If you’d like to see what I speak in action – view the website of Nike, Nordstrom and even the WordPress homepage. All of these websites have something in common – they’re neutral to allow the content to speak for itself.
People focus far too much on getting readers to “click here for more” when they should be focusing on spreading their posts as far and wide as possible. I see a lot of people complain about how people just don’t click their ‘read more’ buttons. Well, I mean… I don’t really blame them. Unless you’re an established blogger, or my best friend, I’m likely not going to kick your ‘read more’ button either.
Without an established, guaranteed audience to read your content each day, the only thing you’re doing is making it harder for people to access your content. The more clicks required to actually view a single post of yours, the more potential audience members you’re going to lose in the process because they just can’t be bothered with clicking further.
Imagine someone clicks on a post and really likes what they’re reading. They then have to click back to your homepage to click another post to be able to read that. I’ve seen some layouts where you have to click on a photo to get the ‘read more’ button to click on that to actually read the text. In a world where there are 75 million blogs on wordpress alone, you’re really making it easy for people to just completely move on from your blog and forget it ever existed.
And hey, if you think ‘If they’re not going to click to read more then I don’t want them on my blog’, that’s fine, I respect that opinion. If that’s how you truly feel, though, then stop complaining about a lack of audience. Because if you really want to grow your audience, you need to make it easy for them to view your content.
Social media is not mandatory, but you will find more success with blogging if you have social media accounts for your blog. Social media is a beast that, if you use properly can benefit you immensely. I’m talking bringing hundreds, if not thousands, of organic hits to your website just with the sharing of a link to twitter, facebook and pinterest.
For reference, I have had a Pinterest Account for maybe 2 or 3 weeks at this point and the only posts I’ve actually posted to Pinterest are my travel posts. I have more than 3,100 hits to my Pinterest Account and more than a tousand referrers from those hits to my blog. You can say that 33 percent turning into actual hits isn’t that big, but I’d still say that 1,000 organic hits from Pinterest is more hits than I had before.
You do not have to have social media accounts. Not in any way, shape or form. But, if you make them, and you use them properly, they can drive organic traffic to your blog that you haven’t previously had. So I would strongly encourage you consider it.
If you don’t like what someone has to say, don’t leave them nasty comments. It’s a fact of life, you’re not going to agree with what everyone says on their blog. If that’s the case, find a new blog. You don’t need to leave them nasty comments calling them names or telling them they’re an idiot. You can simply just move on.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve said, feel free to ask.
If you’d like to read more of my posts about blog marketing, click here>