Blogging is fun, but it can also be doggone hard work. It takes tools, time, love, and a whole lot of effort to build and grow a blog. Here are some of the resources and tools that are used to create, share, and grow here at Dalmatian DIY. I’ve also included extra information and handy links for readers who are interested in taking their own adventure into websites, social media, photography, and more.
Creating and Sharing our Blog
The Early Years
When Dalmatian DIY first started, it was created and hosted on Google’s free Blogger platform (dalmatiandiy.blogspot.com) using a free Blogger template that I incrementally customised over the years to suit my needs. Thanks to a whole lot of fabulous readers, the time came when we outgrew blogspot. I transitioned to a custom domain, but stayed with the underpinning hosting platform of Google’s blogger.
In hindsight, I should have taken the big plunge all at once. As time went on, the blog continued to grow and I wanted more flexibility over formatting and sharing. It was also time for a complete structural refresh, especially to make things better for our mobile readers. With some trepidation, I took the big step of changing the entire construct of our website, from branding to platform. I don’t regret starting with Blogger, though. It’s a great tool (especially if you learn a little bit of coding) and free is hard to beat as a start-up, but it is painful transitioning. If you dream of growing big, perhaps you’d like to start with bigger boots and grow into them, if your budget allows.
When Dalmatian DIY outgrew its old construct, I decided to rebuild and refresh the entire blog. Our website is currently operating using WordPress via SiteGround (referral link). I can be a tad obsessive about researching options before deciding, but thus far I’m really happy to have made the choice to go with SiteGround for my hosting and more. Their packages made the transition much simpler and smoother.
Blog Resources and Tools
- SiteGround – Website Hosting, Security, Optimisation (referral link)
- WordPress – Website Platform and Construct
- Blossom Themes – Website Theme Design
- Elementor – Post Construction Tools
- Yoast SEO – Site Optimisation
- Google – Adsense, Analytics, Gmail
- Dropbox – Free Download File Storage (referral link)
Imagery is a big part of what we share here on the blog and our social media. From the camera to the phone, I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a whole lot of pictures of our pets. See below for information on my photography resources and tools.
Social Media and More
Getting Started on Social Media
If you’re a pet-lover looking for like-minded friends or a photo buff looking for a place to share, social media might be the right fit. It can be a great place to hang out and make connections, with or without a blog. We’ve met so many furfriends near and far on social media.
For most people, social media requires a lot less time, commitment, and investment than running a dedicated website. Different platforms fit different niches, styles, and individual preferences so experiment with what works best for you personally. Don’t try to do it all (although you might want to nab your preferred names and handles, just in case – you never know where you might grow). Social media can be a huge time suck. Balance your time and be gentle with yourself.
Join Dalmatian DIY on Social Media
If you’re not already following the fun, I’d love for you to join Dalmatian DIY on your favourite social media platforms. It’s a great way to stay on top of our latest news, posts, updates, special events, and get a behind the scenes look at life with the blog dogs of Dalmatian DIY. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Hope to see you here, there, and everywhere! You’re what this whole blogging adventure of ours is all about and sharing with you is the reason that Dalmatian DIY exists. Thanks for being part of our crazy blog dog world and for all the love you share with Oli and Humphrey.
Note: We love using Pinterest, for both sharing and discovering new things, but it’s good to be beware whilst exploring. Pin or click with care. We often (frustratingly) see our own images on “fake” pins. There are a few users who take images from legitimate pins, and then use them to create identical pins misdirecting people to unrelated websites. It’s far too easy to accidentally save or click a bad pin.
Getting in Touch with Dalmatian DIY
We used to have active reader comments on the blog, but along with the real comments we got an incredible amount of spam, self-promoting comments, and some nasty links. Even with filtering, sometimes things are missed or sometimes valid comments get inadvertently caught up in the process. To keep the blog safe for our readers, we’ve opted to disable comments and redirect the active conversation to social media.
If you’re looking for information or have questions, our direct email (contact us) or reaching out to us on social media are great ways to get in touch, except for Pinterest. If you leave a comment on a pin to our page, we may not see it for quite some time. Perhaps never at all if the comment isn’t on our own pin. We also no longer read any DMs on Pinterest. There was just way too much spam, so now they’re simply muted and ignored unread It’s better to reach out through one of the other methods above if you’d like a reply. Woofs!
Fun with Photography (and PhoDOGraphy!)
Invest in Furfamily Photos
Before I start talking about DIYs, I’d like to take a minute to talk about the importance of treating yourself to something special. As someone who dislikes being in front of the camera, I know first-hand how easy it is to miss out on capturing those moments and memories together. Treat yourself to some professional photos of you pets, and of you with your pets from time to time. They’ll be treasured. I haven’t done this nearly often enough over the years and plan to try and do better in the future myself.
Find a photographer whose work you like and make sure the formats they offer will work for your needs. For example, I love high quality photographer’s prints for displaying or gifting, but I also like being able to share photos online and with family overseas, which can be difficult if packages are print only. Found a good one? If it’s not advertised upfront on their website, check whether they would be comfortable working with you and your pets. As much as we adore the furballs, dogs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Don’t Let Equipment Stop You from Having Photography Fun
You don’t need fancy equipment to take nice photos (although admittedly it sometimes helps). I enjoy photography and have both the camera gear and software for other purposes, not specifically for creating this blog or for photographing our pets. If you want to explore photography but can’t afford fancy equipment, that’s perfectly okay. It’s your vision and skill matter in making a great photo, whether it’s on a camera phone or DSLR. Play around and keep developing your underpinning photography techniques.
I have great equipment, but I still turn to my mobile phone for quick snaps. My iPhone gets quite a work out on random opportunity shots. It’s chock full of dog photos (of course). The phone is almost always with me, whereas lugging heavy camera gear is reserved for special outings. Without the convenience of mobile phone photos, I would have missed out on so many great photos with our boys.
What’s in My Camera Bag (and Beyond)
My camera equipment and software has evolved over the years, but, at present, my go-to is my Canon 5D. I have a fantastic Manfrotto tripod and basic monopods for mobility, but I generally don’t use this gear with the dogs or for the blog. My collection of gear includes a variety of different lenses, extensions, and other accessories. I sometimes use lenses for specific purposes. Other times, I prefer a broad range zoom as an all-in-one compromise. It’s much easier to travel or hike with a smaller camera bag and less gear. Especially if I’m also wrangling dogs! See above about how much I use my mobile phone when out and about. Haha!
I have a Lowpro Slingshot backpack that is my go-to camera bag for outings and hikes. I often use this if I bring a camera on an outing with the dogs. The boys recognise it and get excited about imminent adventures when they see it. The single strap makes it convenient to flip it to the front and safely access equipment on the fly. I also have a Lowpro Passport Sling, which I use for a more discrete look whilst travelling, and an ultra discrete Kelly Moore B-Hobo purse camera bag. It was a gift many years ago and I love it (and it still looks fabulous).
In addition to learning hands-on, I have a Diploma in Photography and a Cert IV in Digital Design. I use Adobe Photoshop for any edits and I confess that I still love the quick ease of Picasa for making colleges for the blog. Within Photoshop, I do most of my editing manually, but I have a few Topaz tools (referral link) and have a number of actions both bought and self-recorded to streamline my workflow.
Explore the Blog for Photography Projects and Inspiration
You can find all of the photography related posts in our blog archives under the Photography archive tag. This is mostly DIYs with photos, as we don’t post a lot of dedicated photography content here at Dalmatian DIY. We also have a board on Pinterest dedicated to pet-related photography with all sorts of inspiration, tips, and and resources.