One of my most frequently asked questions through email or Instagram DMs would definitely be how I got started blogging or how I created my website. Today I want to share absolutely everything I know (albeit, not much) about blogging.

The Purpose

Three years ago this May, I made up in my mind that I was going to jump in. I had been wanting to start one for a while, but I experienced what most of you reading this post are currently experiencing… fear. The fear of the unknown is what usually holds me back in so many areas of my life. I didn’t want the announcement of me starting a blog to look like I thought that I had the best fashion sense or that I just wanted to constantly take pictures of myself for all to see. I really just wanted to share things that I was passionate about. Fashion and skincare are things that I could discuss for hours with my friends, so I wanted to have an audience that enjoyed the same things! I wanted a place where I could share if I found a great deal on a top or maybe a new skincare product that had given me incredible results. I had no idea what or if it would become anything, but I knew I wanted to try.

Three years later, here we are. I am sharing about everything I mentioned above, but now including something I am newly passionate about.. healthy recipes! But above all of what I mentioned, I want to be sharing the light of Jesus Christ. I hope that by each comment, or each photo, that people can truly see Him through me.

Getting Started

When I decided I was actually going to do it, I literally just opened my laptop and typed into the YouTube search bar, “How to Start A Blog”. I watched several videos, but the one that I actually followed thoroughly what this one by Greg Narayan. He walks you through everything from getting your domain registered to actually creating your blog on WordPress. Also, he has this video that is updated for 2017!

Next, you may want more of a modern, sleek website design than what WordPress offers, and there are tons of websites that offer them. You could buy them or get them for free. Just search what fits your design idea and budget. My website design is very simple, and it is from PipDig. Once you purchase a theme, it downloads to your computer with a file teaching you how to do install it on your website and is fairly easy! Just remember, if you feel like you are in over your head at first, it is normal. Stick to it! I promise it will become easier with time.

Building your Audience

The question of this day and age is, “How to gain more Instagram Followers” and truly, I got pretty lucky. I will, however, tell you everything I know to help you out.

The #1 thing I recommend to people when they ask me this is ENGAGEMENT. That is the big word these days with Instagram. Because of the new algorithm, if you do not like or comment on someones posts much, it is likely that their photos will not show up in your feed. It’s seriously crazy. So building an audience that is going to engage with your content is KEY. In my opinion, the main ways you achieve this are:

  1. ALWAYS be authentic (people can tell if you really don’t like something that you are promoting)
  2. Talk about things YOU are passionate about (these first two go hand in hand, but if you do not truly love the topics you are sharing with your followers, they will see that and will move on to someone who does)
  3. ENGAGE with OTHER blogger’s who have similar content (and therefore, similar audiences) I know that there have been many times I discovered someones blog by reading another blogger’s comments! BUT comment authentically, not just to get your name out there. This is a big no-no for me.
  4. Share about YOU. People want to see a face behind the pretty pictures. It just helps them connect with that page more. Don’t be afraid to let people see you and the real you.
  5. HASHTAGS. Listen carefully, you do NOT need 30 hashtags on each picture. I recommend (and others that I have read about) recommend 4-5 and put them in a comment right after you post the photo so that you do not clog up the caption. My most-used ones are #modestfashion #modesty and then I tag a couple of the brands I am wearing.

Those are just a few tips, but I hope they help you get the picture!

Photography

The great thing about Instagram is that people DO want to see real life. I usually get a significantly more amount of likes on outfit pictures that I just snap in the mirror than my professional high-quality images. Therefore, I tend to post more of those! You also need to carefully study what your followers respond well to!

I use my iPhone 7+ for 95% of my photos (Instagram) and the other 5% are photos I publish on my blog and are taken with either my fuji X-T20 (35mm Lens) or my Canon 80D (with a 50mm lens).

I edit ALL of my pictures with 3 apps. I start out by uploading the picture in the app VSCO and choose a filter (normally A6). I then change the exposure, contrast, warmth, and saturation to my liking. Then I always sharpen the photo a little to give it a pop.

The other two apps aren’t always a part of my process, but the next step would be uploading the photo in FaceTune. My favorite feature in this app is the whitening tool. I don’t even use this for my teeth, but the walls! If I am in a white room or next to a white wall, usually the editing can make it look a little yellow, so this is where I make it a bright white. 🙂 I also LOVE the patch tool. If there is a weird sign or chord on the ground I can take it out using this tool. It takes some practice, but I use it very often now.

The third app is Snapseed. My favorite feature in this app is the selective tool. You can select a certain area in the photo to adjust instead of the whole picture! I like to select just my hair usually to brighten it up! Since I have brown hair, the color and details can get hidden in-picture. 🙂

THANK YOU for reading along, and I wish you all the best if you are wanting to start this journey! Lastly, I want to say please do not get discouraged. Do it because you love it and if it turns into an actual job, that is amazing! I do it now because I love interacting with the people who follow me from all around the world. This blog has been such a blessing to me, and I hope that in some way I can be a blessing to you all.

Have a wonderful day.

XO- Courtney

Hi again, everyone!

A couple of weeks ago, I asked if any of you would be interested in me doing a blog post dedicated to modest skiwear and cold weather essentials in general. I received an amazing response, so I decided I would do it. Of course, knowing me, it took forever for me to actually sit down and write it. In case you don’t know me that well, I am a MAJOR procrastinator and it is one of my least favorite things about myself. ANYWAYS… I know it can be so difficult to dress modestly while skiing and still looking modern/fashionable. It is actually close to impossible for me because I end up looking like a snowball. There is nothing that I hate more than being cold while skiing, so I am here to help you all discover some great winter essentials.

(These pictures are from last year)

Skiing in North Carolina Featuring Sweaty Betty  Skiing in North Carolina Featuring Sweaty Betty

And this photo is from this years ski trip! (it was 8 degrees)

Modest Skiwear | Courtney Toliver

1. Base Layers

Lets talk about the items that we need to put on first. I love Sweaty Betty’s base layer sets, but they can be very pricy. I recommend checking them out here on eBay. Sweaty Betty gifted me the ones in the photo above (taken last year) last winter and they are still an essential when I go skiing. They look so cute and most importantly, are very warm. Here are the leggings I am wearing!

Another awesome option for base layer thermals are these baby blue ones from Amazon. They come in lots of different colors too!

2. Ski Bibs

This is the first year in a while that I actually wore ski bibs and it makes ALL the difference when it comes to warmth.

I am going to link two different options. 🙂

3. Lightweight Skirt

The one I wore last year was a simple swim skirt without leggings underneath and it worked great. This year, I wore this one I purchased from Etsy and I think I liked it more because it has built-in shorts which kept the skirt from sliding! I just slid it on over my ski bibs. I had no problem with it getting super wet or skiing in it in general. It is also my #1 favorite swim skirt and is 100% worth the money.

4. Coat/Jacket

The one I wear is a white Parka from Athleta, but is sold out. Here are some similar options!

5. Ski Gloves/Goggles/Misc.

The gloves you wear make a huge difference as well. I don’t know about you, but if my fingers are cold, I am MISERABLE. These would be great because they have the touchscreen technology and great reviews!

It’s very important to also cover your ears and your neck. This cable knit headband is cute AND warm. It also has a slit for your ponytail.

I also LOVE the goggles pictured below. they’re adorable and have really good reviews. I’m ordering them for my next trip!

6. Snow Boots

I wear either my Hunter boots or Sperry boots to and from the ski lodge, but I prefer my sperry ones. They are warmer and much easier to wear when you have on ski bibs. Also, these are super cheap and so cute!

 

I wish that I had pictures of each item, but I hope that was still helpful. If you have any questions feel free to DM on Instagram @courtneytoliver

Have a wonderful rest of your day!
 

The Perfect Flare-Sleeve Black Dress  The Perfect Flare-Sleeve Black Dress The Perfect Flare-Sleeve Black Dress The Perfect Flare-Sleeve Black Dress

I wish that EVERY one of you could try on this dress or see it in person.

I really liked it when I first seen it on The Laine Boutique, but when I tried it on for the first time I truly loved it. This black midi dress from is the perfect length and the sleeves are so pretty. It is also a super soft material that doesn’t cling and it comes in green as well. My favorite feature of this dress is the structure of it. I love that it has a flare to it, but it is structured through the center which is what makes it so flattering! I am wearing a size medium for reference. Lastly, it is only $25 and you can’t beat that for such a great dress. You all should most definitely check out The Laine Boutique for more beautiful modest clothing!

I paired the dress with some simple patterned black tights and some pointed ankle boots from Marc Fisher. I randomly found a few sizes online at WALMART and you may be able to find a pair here. These were purchased last year, but I have been wearing them constantly this season! My scarf is from Mango, but you could pair lots of different patterns and colors with this outfit. 🙂

 

Dress – The Laine Boutique | Scarf – Mango | Ankle Boots – Marc Fisher Alisa

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Hello again, everyone! Christmas is only two weeks away and I don’t know about you, but I have definitely not finished my Christmas buying list yet! Sometimes I just get in a stump and have no clue what to buy people. That is usually when I head to the internet and search different gift guides!

I wanted to start off buy giving you all some ideas that have to do with the home or technology, because these are usually the gifts I like to buy/receive. I found some good ones this year and I hope they give you some inspiration as well!

1. I bought myself an Amazon echo last year when they were on sale and I absolutely love it! I am still discovering things that Alexa does! This is a great gift for a parent who already has everything. 😉

2. This candlefish candle in scent no. 30 is probably my all-time favorite candle, (okay, it may change quite a bit) and it is such a great small gift! Also, the packaging is stunning.

3. This set of cast iron enamel dutch ovens is the main thing on the list that in my opinion is a perfect gift for someone who cooks. I have these cast iron enamel pots and I have found myself using them multiple times a week! They are such a great quality and they’re only $49 for the set right now! I especially like the smaller 4 qt. pot! I may have bought these in another color for a family member. 😉 You can buy them at Sam’s Club or HERE.

4. Since getting married, I have become kind of a collector of Le Creuset cooking items. They’re pretty expensive, but incredible quality and they also come with warranties! This one is currently on sale!

5. If you know of someone who likes tea, this is an amazing gift! It is a little personal tea steeper that is so simple to use. You just add the hot water and tea in the large section and once it’s done steeping just set the tea maker on top of the rim of your mug and it will automatically pour out. I have no idea why, but it is SO fun to use.

6. This beats pill is one of the most used things that I own. It is has incredible sound, the battery lasts a long time, and it is extremely portable! It’s $149 but usually you can find a deal around this time of year!

7. Seriously, who doesn’t need a new pair of headphones? My apple ones always either were lost or broken, but I have these wireless Sudio headphones and I have been obsessed with them. They have an incredibly long battery life and they are more comfortable in your ears that regular ones. I also love how these come in a cute leather pouch! Use code COURTNEY for 15% off!

8. I received this Rowenta Steamer as a wedding gift from Ansley’s brother and his wife and it has made my life much much easier. The water lasts quite a bit longer than my other steamer and this one heats up SO quick. I truly don’t remember the last time I ironed something!

9. Instant Pots are one of those things that may have been sent from God himself. They’re a great gift to receive and are always so quick and useful!

 

Thank you so much for reading this post. I will be back soon with two more gift guides and until then, bye!

Final Wedding Planning Update - Our Videographer + more!

Wow. I don’t even know where to start. Our wedding on October 18th, 2017 was the best day of my life. Ansley and I have not been able to quit talking about how amazing it truly was. I’ll just start out with the fact that I thought it would be a disaster since the few days leading up to the wedding were the most stressful of my life. I had heard that no wedding week could go perfectly, but I didn’t expect SO many things to go wrong. Let’s just say at one point we didn’t think we could even get married due to the fact that I left my birth certificate at the New York Passport Agency (that’s a whole different story). Basically, I also realized how forgetful I am and I seriously need to work on that.

Looking back at everything now, I am happy that things went the way that they did because it honestly made us appreciate and cherish our day so much more. It was finally happening and everything went PERFECTLY the day of. We both have agreed that we would re-do that day 1,000 times if possible. From the incredible music, to the weather, to all of our family and friends being there, it just couldn’t have gone better.

Final Wedding Planning Update - Our Videographer + more!

One of the main reasons everything went so well is because I had such an incredible team that all worked together perfectly. Each of these vendors came into our path for a reason, I truly believe that. They were all so professional, patient, friendly, and most importantly, very good at what they do. I have introduced you all to our incredible photographer, Donny Zavala, our stunning and talented florist, Kelly Lenard, and my wedding planner who is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and handled our crazy schedule like a champ, Cortney McClure of Linen and Rust, and the highlight of the evening: Cal Morris, the violinist. I have not introduced you all to a very big part of our day and one that several of you asked about: our VIDEOGRAPHER: NST Pictures.

After looking around at different cinematographers, I just didn’t know if it was important enough to me to spend the extra money on and I knew the photographs were going to be incredible and I thought that maybe that would suffice. One day, my Mom, who has a special talent for finding things on social media, came across NST pictures and said that I had to check them out. I did just that and I knew instantly that they were a team of incredibly talented people and I loved the style of each video. What stood out to me the most is that they have actually filmed at our venue, Oheka Castle multiple times! I was so excited that they were familiar with the venue. You can click here to see their previous films there. Allison and Slavatore’s wedding is definitely one of my favorite films they have done.

Aaron was our cinematographer for the day and he was a pleasure to be around. He was never too pushy or in our face during important moments, which was very important to me. There are some moments that are just more special in cinematic form and I know that Aaron captured those moments perfectly. I cannot wait to see our film and to share it with all of you, soon!

Final Wedding Planning Update - Our Videographer + more!

Let’s talk about the dress since it was my favorite detail next to my handsome husband. 😉 This dress was designed by Chana Marelus. Chana is a designer who lives in Israel and her beautiful sister Nellie (I hope I spelled that correctly) lives in Brooklyn, NY. We flew to NY in April while she was having a 20% off trunk show in a NYC penthouse. This was the second dress I tried on and I instantly fell in love. I didn’t need to see any other dresses. Chana and her team were all so kind and they made us feel right at home. I cannot wait to get pictures back from our photographer to show you all more details of this dress!

Final Wedding Planning Update - Our Videographer + more!

A BIG Thank You goes to WeddingWire, a company that I have been working with throughout this entire process. The staff there is so friendly and they have went above and beyond to grant any needs that I have. Their website has so many useful tools that helped me tremendously throughout the planning process and they made finding groomsmen suits,  and vendors such as Oheka Castle and NST Pictures possible. If you are newly engaged, in the middle of the journey, or even in your last stretch, I highly recommend checking out the WeddingWire website. They will more than likely have something to make your job easier.

Final Wedding Planning Update - Our Videographer + more!

Last but not least, I am so thankful for parents who wanted this wedding to be perfect just as much as I did. I cannot imagine  loving them more and I am blessed beyond words to have them in my life. Thank you Mom and Dad for everything. I could never put my gratitude into words.

I will be sharing more about our perfect day soon, but for now, I am going to continue to enjoy our honeymoon in Italy! Arrivederci!