Insta-Envious? Tips To Up Your Instagram Game!

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In the day and age of mainstream social media, everything is so saturated. It seems as if there is a specific formula to follow in order to receive attention or likes on your posts. Just slap a hell of a lot of hashtags and you’re good to go. The real inquiry is, does your social media following really matter if you are only after the quantity of followers rather than the quality of your work? If you prefer quality over quantity, I have the trick for you.

Do Not Be A Hashtag-o-Phile

I understand that hashtagging your posts will attract more attention to your posts on social media. Really assess your motives for hashtagging if you are an average Jane or Joe. Do you think that you will obtain fame because someone double tapped on your photo of cereal you had this morning? The answer is likely no, and please email me if you have sources to challenge this point, because I am honestly curious.

Stay Away From Default Filters

When we all started on Instagram, we thought it was amazing how we could create vintage-esque pictures just by selecting a filter as if we can generate polaroid-like quality. While the worn quality of photos still is trending, the default filters on Instagram’s app has become incredibly easy to point out, and even gives a tacky impression to your photos.

Photo Editing Applications

Since we have already established how boring default Instagram filters can be, I have some resources to broaden your horizons. A couple clicks through the app-store and you will be given an incredible variety of photo editing apps for both iOS and Android. My personal favorite is Afterlight. For an easy 99¢ this app is all yours with plenty of editing tools to spruce up your photos as well as plenty of more filters that are much better put together than Instagram’s default filters. A free option I recommend is Aviary which provides those basic tools for correcting brightness, contrast, and temperature of your photos.

Light & Composition

It is true to be said that some of the best photos you can produce need the least amount of editing. When taking your photos, you should always keep composition and the amount of light available in mind. Taking a photo with little light will make it much more difficult to edit leaving you with a mostly blurred or grainy image, and flash rarely can give you that same rich quality of naturally lit photos.

Adding Text To Your Photos

Another easy way to make your photos pop is by adding text your photos. Of course, you must do this carefully and with moderation. Make sure you choose a font that completes the message you want your photo to give. You wouldn’t pick a slab font to compliment a wedding photo. Overlaying text takes just as much precision as taking the photo itself. If you are wondering what apps can do this for your photos, my favorite text app is Over. For $1.99 you have plenty of options to add different style fonts and they now even do tiny graphics to add to your photos. You can even adjust text size, color, opacity etc.

In Closing

The main point of conclusion is to have fun with these tools. Try new things and make the most out of your photos. All in all, don’t just post to post. Post something meaningful or something that inspires you to create more. With that, have a good one and start snapping away!

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One Year At ClaytonGerard.com

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Happy Birthday to me! More-so, happy birthday to this blog! Today marks the one year anniversary of writing for claytongerard.com! I had been blogging for two years prior and had an online presence for many years before deciding to launch a blog on my own hosted domain. When launching ClaytonGerard, I had the goal set in mind that I would write regularly and take my work more seriously, and I feel like I have accomplished that. Within a year of taking blogging seriously, so many fortunate opportunities have come my way that I would have never imagined. One specifically has been to attend The Blogcademy where I got to meet so many divergent creatives including the women that inspired me to blog in the first place.

Since making the migration to this home from my original blog, I have taken my business aspirations to new heights and I only plan to grow more as I continue my time on the internet. So with that, thank you all for those who have read and supported my blog in the sequence of its existence. The feedback is always appreciated as it makes me feel as if I have some sort of impact on someone’s life in a positive way which is all I ever want writing for this publication. Have a great week folks!


Photo Credit: Karen Walker Eyewear 

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Ten Link Tuesday: 1.27.14


1. BuzzFeed has presented 23 beautifully inked babes on their wedding day.

2. Paul Jarvis has presented 7 great tips for practicing daily writing!

3. Yesterday was Ellen Degeneres’ birthday! To celebrate here’s how Ellen has taught us kindness.

4. Shauna gives perfect advice as to why you should embrace your early work when you start out.

5. Wondering what Cloud services to use for your work? Swiss miss has you covered.

6. I’ve been utterly obsessed with leg tattoos lately. Here are some beautiful works.

7. Problogger shows you how to shamelessly promote without shamelessly promoting.

8. Are you a horoscope junkie? Here are some snacks to compliment your zodiac!

9. I always love finding travel guides to places I love. Bldg 25 has the perfect NYC guide!

10. *Insert shameless promo here* I just started a Tumblr! Follow for little treats!


Photo Credit: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Lot’s more links here!

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On Embracing Your Hometown

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When it comes to living in a small town, things may feel slow paced, flavorless, unamused, etc. Especially in the Winter months living in a small town can seem exceedingly gloomy. I know for me that being someone who craves to live somewhere bigger, I have dealt with this dilemma growing up in Grand Rapids, which has left feeling disadvantaged where my roots have been planted.

What Makes Your Hometown Flavorless?

When it came to being younger,  I just figured everything in my town was boring. I was under the assumption that we had a few museums, libraries, and public venues and that was… really it. I figure now that the reason I did not know what was within the streets of Grand Rapids was… well… I never explored the city! It wasn’t until I got my license and utilize public transportation that I started to venture my city more often. Before deciding that your hometown is just awful, assess why you think your town is a snore.

What Makes Your Hometown Flavorful?

Once I developed a regular relationship with exploring my town, I began to find more and more things that make my town completely wonderful! I make it a mission to find something new in my city every time I am out and about. From a new coffee shop to a wall-mural, something new makes me just enjoy walking the streets of my town.

How Can You Enjoy Your Hometown?

Obviously the first step is to leave your house. You will not enjoy your town anymore if you are just loathing from the comfort of your own. Do not limit yourself to your hometown’s downtown. You would be surprised at how much you can find in the suburbs too if you look hard enough.

Secondly, do your research. Rarely, the size of your town does not determine if there are community events. Grand Rapids is lucky enough to have Art Prize which cultivates thousands upon thousands of tourists each year. Grand Haven, a small coastal town about half an hour outside of the city hosts the National Coastguard Festival which turns Grand Haven from a small beach-side town into Venice Beach’s long lost twin for a Summer weekend in July. The point is, every community has some sort of festival worth participating in.

Calder Plaza 8Summer 2013 at Calder Plaza

Write About Your Hometown

There is a reason that my column Best of Grand Rapids came to fruition. I realized that I liked finding new places in Grand Rapids and writing about my experiences in these newly found treasures in my town. You do not have to be a professional writer, blogger, or what-have-you. You could simply make a scrapbook where you take photos around your town to formulate your own personal Travel Guide!

Explore Your Region

If exploring your hometown still isn’t doing for it for you, see what your region has in store for you. Make it a mission to visit the country that surrounds your city. Little dives and general stores are my favorite things to find in the country. The gas money is totally worth it. If you are on a budget and environmentally conscious and are of reasonable distance, I say definitely take your bike out and go as far as you can to explore. Just don’t forget your bike lock!

In Closing

It can be easy to get lost fantasizing about the life of Carrie Bradshaw strutting the streets of New York, or Audrey Hepburn as Anya Smitty adventuring the streets of Rome. While these fantasies are fun, instead of letting them discourage you, make the same adventures in your own town. Let those fantasies channel your own aspirations to make your surroundings much more pleasurable. With that, have a good one.❤

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Ten Link Tuesday: 1.20.15

D’été Cocktail. For Vogue Paris June/July 2014. By Thomas Lagrange #UNIQUE_WOMENS_FASHION

1. Gone over the edge already this month? Here are some secrets to getting over a hangover.

2. A powerful exercise inside Google Analytics to set you up for a successful year of blogging!

3. For you Ink junkies, this tattoo studio has a blog with killer good ink to drool over.

4. Here is a sneak peek into the closet of Tavi Gevinson!

5. Looking to clean up your workspace this Spring? Here are 5 ways to prepare yourself.

6. Mercury is in Retrograde again… and here are 10 magical ways to make the most it.

7. I am absolutely in love with This Girl Can’s campaign video!

8. Speaking of body positivity, Target is releasing a plus sized line! The newest line since 2008!

9. You can now flag your aunt’s rediculous amounts of unprecedented Facebook posts!

10. I leave you with this piece of cosmetic humor/art.


Lot’s more links here!

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Best Of Grand Rapids: Bartertown Diner

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This past week, I started my second semester in college. This semester, I have much more break time in between classes which is a wonderful thing because it gives me more time to explore the city. In a turn of events, I found Bartertown Diner on my way to find another restaurant that was actually closed for renovation. I was rather lucky when I found out how awesome of a Grand Rapids diner this is!

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I was quite enamored by the table settings at Bartertown. I enjoyed the mix between the contemporary menu, seating, and table tops with the various vintage salt and pepper shakers. They were different on every table! For as much as I could rave about the design aethstetic of the diner, the food really had to raise the bar.

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Being someone who grew up on a diet of carbs and heavy carnivore-inspired proportions, it has been a struggle to make the switch into developing more organic dietary habits. I ordered the taco plate which was so good, which I have to say for being organic, I would actually go out of my way to eat it! Organic food can actually taste good! On the note of organic food, all of their ingredients are produced locally which is a plus in my book.

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In an interesting turn of events, I found a new hole-in-the-wall diner that is my favorite stop at the moment downtown. Much better to get out for lunch than to stay stowed away on campus. I can’t wait to do some more exploring this semester and see what I can find! Have a good one.

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