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The Creative Process Behind a Penny & Dash Blog Post

Over the last 12 months, we have published over 100 blog posts on Penny & Dash, which is a staggering amount for us to think about given how quickly this year has flown by. We made a commitment very early on in the game to be very consistent in creating content, and we are quite proud of ourselves for upholding that promise to ourselves and to you guys!

After shooting dozens of lookbooks and writing about our travel adventures this year, we can definitely say that we have a pretty good routine down when it comes to blogging. We thought it would be interesting to walk you guys through the timeline and steps of creating a new blog post, and just what goes on behind the scenes to make it all come together. It may take only a few seconds or minutes to read and scroll through each one of our pages, but hours and hours of work are put behind everything you see! There are even additional posts and hundreds of photos that have never been published because they never made it far enough in our process to make the final cut. Want to find out more behind the scenes of Penny & Dash? Well, here are our secrets!

1. Calendar Vibes In April 2016, we chose to commit to posting 2 times a week, and ultimately decided on Mondays and Thursdays to spread the posts out pretty evenly throughout the week. When it comes to filling in each “release day” on our Google Calendars, we strongly take into consideration the time of year, including the current season, upcoming holidays, and weather forecast. We will always know at the very least what will be released about a week or two weeks in advanced, with the exception of certain holiday posts and seasonal lookbooks, where we can project very far out. For example, for our Spring Trends lookbooks this past season, we filled in our calendar to shoot far before the beginning of March 20 (the official start to Spring), and planned our release for the end of February/beginning of March to be ahead of the trend game for readers. Similarly, we knew we would be creating a Valentine’s Day lookbook as far back as November, followed through as planned by shooting in late January, and released the post a week and a half before the actual holiday. Being organized and knowing what we will need to shoot is very important to us, since it keeps the anxiety down given how often we create posts!

Fun fact: This post itself was actually shot on Saturday, April 1st, since we planned ahead for when we would both be out of town. We took advantage of a beautiful morning, headed to Sel Rrose Cafe, and had some yummy lattes while talking to the barista about our past and upcoming travels.

2. Establishing a Vision for a Post This step is perhaps the most creative step in our blogging process given how limitless the possibilities are when it comes to creating a blog post and themed lookbook. Although we both are pretty similar when it comes to tastes in aesthetics and have certain agreeing opinions, we definitely can and do think very differently sometimes when it comes to a specific vision we have in our minds of what we want to create next. We discuss everything from outfits and backdrops to article topics and necessary props, so you can just imagine the sheer number of disagreements we have on a weekly basis (haha!) We also share articles of our favorite bloggers and Instagram screenshots with each other pretty much daily, which we found has greatly helped to keep each other inspired and constantly thinking about future ideas. When we find something we both absolutely love, we will hold onto the concept/photo, and think of a way to personalize the idea and make it unique and our own.

We are both also very big fans of Pinterest, and have pinned on our own personal pin boards long before Penny & Dash was ever created. Sometimes it is much easier for us to share inspiration when we gather inspiration photos and ideas and stick them into an album to help each other understand what we have pictured in our minds.

3. Scheduling Meeting Times When it comes to looking our daily Instagram posts and occasional Instastories, it may seem like we are together 24/7 and are glued to the hips at all times. Luckily for us, we keep our sanity by seeing each other less frequently than it actually appears, since we have full time jobs that keep us super busy, and also want quality time to spend with our families, friends, and significant others. We often shoot and hang out on the weekends, since we make it a priority to keep some part of Saturday/Sunday or sometimes both to do what we need and want to shoot for the week. We definitely work around each others’ schedules, like when one of us has to go out of town or back home to visit family and cannot be available. Given that we talk to each other everyday, it’s not too tough to know each others’ plans pretty well, and it’s never been a problem for us to plan in advanced! Many times, we will also work around the weather, since mother nature likes to surprise us with arctic blasts, snow storms, and rain whenever we want to do outdoor activities. As often we get together for P&D, it’s always been more fun than a chore for us, since it gives us the opportunity to also catch up with each other in person (amazing how we never run out of things to talk about, right?) and we get to try new restaurants and discover new places in the city together.

4. Outfit Coordination Since we are a duo-blogger account, we have the added component of having to consider how to coordinate our individual outfits in order to create a streamlined blog post. As surprising as it may seem, though we have similar tastes, our individual styles are different - with Jessica falling on the feminine and flirty side, and Melissa preferring a more casual and simple style. Color coordinating is our fool-proof and most often used method of creating an element of unity in our photos as seen in this blog post and a few of our others as well!

Take a look!

Finding outfits to complement each other's was a bigger struggle in the beginning few months of our blog, but since then, we have learned how to create looks that we would both love.

5. Photo Time! With hundreds of thousands of photos being shared every minute on social media, it is that much harder to grab someone’s attention through a picture. Due to the high level of market saturation of the blogging industry and the caliber of content being created by bloggers, we definitely feel the pressure to perfect not only our ensembles, but also our makeup, props, location choices, etc. As mentioned previously, each shoot takes a couple of weeks to plan and though we would like to have all of our photoshoots be smooth-sailing, it is often not the case. There have been countless instances where the camera stopped functioning, the tripod was forgotten or broke in the middle of a shoot, and our personal favorite - mother nature not cooperating, causing us to freeze our behinds off or getting rained on. Nonetheless, all of these “surprises” definitely give us some good stories to tell and funny lifelong memories to cherish, and when our photos turn out as good or even better than what we envision, it makes it all worth it!

Our number one question of all time is actually, "Who takes your photos?", and we admit that we would be curious ourselves if we looked through our own newsfeed without knowing any of the behind-the-scenes. The answer??? We take 98% of the photos from this blog and on Instagram ourselves, using a trusty tripod from Amazon! Sometimes, we may have a friend or stranger help us out with a photo or two in indoor locations or in crowded areas, but we honestly feel the most comfortable and in-our-element when it's just us two. And you guessed it, when there's a shot of 1 of us, the other is behind the camera. It's been such a fun experience dipping our feet into photography, and we've definitely improved our skills after much trial and error through the months. We have so much more we want to learn, and are always looking to improve our photo game. We began with a a mirrorless camera Sony A5100 since we loved the compact size and flip up screen. Though we loved the Sony camera, it was difficult to upgrade lenses since they were extremely expensive so we decided to upgrade to a DSLR - Nikon D3400. We do still use both, since each of us carry one of the camera with us throughout the week to capture any "on-the-go" moments.

6. Edit Photos

When it comes to editing photos, we have definitely experimented a good amount over the past year by testing which edits were our favorite for the aesthetic of the blog. Since the beginning of Penny and Dash, we have tried and tested various photo editing tools, starting from the free phone app Snapseed, to eventually upgrading to Adobe Lightroom. Along the way, we have tried the light and airy theme, and oversaturated and sharpened theme, before finally settling on a more natural edit. However, even a few weeks shy of our 1 year blog anniversary, we still haven't found our "perfect" edit just quite yet and are still making a little tweaks here and there. Consistency to our photos is extremely important to us, since it helps our Instagram feed and blog to be cohesive. It's definitely been a fun and creative process to edit photos, and this part of our blog creation process is one of our favorites! 7. Discuss Post Topic With over 100 articles written and published in the last 12 months, this step by far has been the most challenging for us, since we often times have trouble brainstorming great topic ideas to write about. Dozens have been discussed that are eventually scrapped, and the ones we love, we promise, have already been published on P&D. Corporate and Casual Classics have been a fundamental part of our lookbooks, and although challenging, it’s been extremely fun and rewarding to come up with new things to vent, write, and offer advice about over the last year. If you have any topics you want us to cover, feel free to leave us a comment below or let us know on social media!

8. Editing the Blog Post Before we launch the new post, we will review and edit the layout and writing to get it as close to perfect as possible. Though it seems that no matter how much we edit, we do have grammatical and spelling errors every so often - shout out to our friends and family for always being our grammar police and letting us know when there are typos or any other errors in our posts!

9. Launch! Mondays and Thursdays are actually pretty exciting because we love sharing new content, and it gives our weekdays a bit more life since we look forward to our launches. Our posts will usually be ready to go, with photos uploaded, articles written and edited, and all it takes is a couple of routine steps on our Wix platform to publish our post. We categorize every post we write, so you can find them under the right sections on P&D. The blog launch always comes first, and we will do both usually check desktop and mobile versions to make sure formatting is correct before we share it on social media (Instagram & Facebook)!

10. Follow Up and Engagement

When it comes to the world of blogging, the most exciting part for us is actually getting to engage with others who have similar passions in profession and personal growth, as well as the world of fashion! We spend a good amount of time responding to comments and messages on social media, and make a conscious effort to really form connections with those who take the time to leave a few sweet words or share inspiring messages with us.

And that's a wrap! We hope you've enjoyed learning a bit more about the process of how a blog post comes together for Penny & Dash, and we thank you so much for your support and for reading! We've put an incredible amount of time and love into this, and it's been nothing short of a magical experience for us. Our one year anniversary is coming up very soon, and we couldn't me more excited about this milestone, and to share something incredible when that time comes. It's only the beginning of something even more beautiful.


Outfit Details

Jess: Blouse - Zara (similar), Blazer - Zara (similar), Lace Skirt - TopShop, Wedges - DSW

Mel: Jumpsuit: Madewell, Turtleneck - Forever 21 (similar), Pumps - Forever 21 (similar),

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