Everything You Wanted To Know About SoNailicious: Photography, Nail Art and Instagram Success

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What camera do you use? How do you take your photos? How did you get so many followers? Are these even real hands? …  I get asked so many similar questions that I thought it’s the right time for me to put together an FAQs page. So here it is! Everything you wanted to know about my photography, blogging tips, nail care favorites and more.

I’m doing my best to provide as much details as possible for every question. Of course, if your question is not on the list, please ask in the comments and I’ll respond ASAP!


Photos set up 1
Photos set up 2

1. What camera do you use? Canon EOS 600D – you can get it here or here.

2. What lens do you use for your camera? Right now, I use 40mm ‘Pancake’ lens – it’s fantastic! Sometimes I use a 50 mm.

3. Who takes your photographs? In general, I take the photos myself. All nail photos I take myself, but in some cases, for events and more complicated photo shoots we have professional photographers.

4. How do you take your photos? I have a special space set up in my office on my desk. I take all photos in front of the window so I get plenty of natural light. The two of my main ‘poses’ are in the mini gallery above – on the desk and the wall. Also, see photo below – see where Mr Hand is? That’s exactly where I take 95% of my nail photos. I don’t use any light boxes or any special equipment.

5. What do you use for the backgrounds for your photos? The colorful backgrounds are usually press pack packaging, my clothes or coloured paper – anything that matches my manicure can become a background.

5. Your photos on the site look so pretty. How do edit them? To explain the whole process of editing photos would be too time consuming here. But the basics of photo editing and what I do for every photo (whether it’s for Instagram or the site) are explained well in this photography tips post.

6. Your Instagram photos look so pretty. What app do you use to edit them? Here’s the full list of all photo editing apps that I use.


sonailicious photography set up

1. Why did you get into nail art and nail polish? I’ve been doing my own nails since I was 12. Plus, I’ve always loved drawing and even went to Art School. So I think when my love for blogging, nail art and art skills collided, the idea for SoNailicious was born. More about it in my Nail File.

2. What’s your advice for new nail art bloggers? Do what you really love, don’t afraid to be different & stand out from the crowd! Do not imitate anyone, you have your own unique personality and your own talents so show them. Work hard, learn and grow.

3. How to get into networking with other bloggers? How do you make friends with the big players? Be genuine. Make friends with PEOPLE who you genuinely like not with people who have a certain amount of followers. Building relationships online is the exactly the same as it is in real life. It happens naturally – you have mutual interests or you just click. The same thing online, you have to click.

4. How were you able to build your online presence and Instagram following? Re: online presence. It’s a great question and I’ll write a separate blog post about it to give a detailed answer. For now check out these great tips for promoting your blog. Re: Instagram. I highly recommend to read these articles 10 Tips For More Instagram Followers and How To Grow Your Instagram Quickly. Finally, for more social media tips sign up to this dedicated Newsletter (just for Social Media articles and news).

5. How did you get the big brands to notice you? When you start hitting big numbers, brands and PR companies will notice you. But building your relationships with brands is exactly the same as with any other person. You have to be genuine. Start talking online about brands that you genuinely love and they will notice you. As I mentioned above, I’ll publish a blog post dedicated to blogging in the near future with even more useful tips.

6. Can you check out my blog/follow my Instagram/like my Facebook? Maybe I already have! I really wish I could look at everything but I just don’t have time. Make your blog/Instagram/Facebook a real stand out and thousands of people will start looking at it, not just me!

7. You have so many Instagram accounts how do you find time to manage them all? Yes, currently I manage 4. @CrashingRed, @SydneyCoffeeSnob and @SoNailicious_Boutique, each of them dedicated to a specific niche but @So_Nailicious is my main area of focus. Plus, I don’t watch TV at all (GOT excepted), that gives me plenty of time to Instagram :)


maria vlezko sonailicious

1. Where is your office? It’s in Sydney, Australia.

2. Your hands look like a dead person/mannequin. Seriously, are these hands even real? Yes, these hands are real and I’m still alive thanks.

3. Do you paint your nails everyday? Yes and no. Sometimes I paint my nails 5 times a day, sometimes I wear the same polish for a week. Especially, when I test driving new ranges or brands like I did for Maybelline SuperStay gel polish range.

4. Can you do my nails? Yes, recently we decided to take personal appointments for nail art only. To make an appointment simply email bookings@sonailicious.com.

5. Do you do celebrity manicures? Yes, this is something that just started happening recently and I’m pretty excited about this new direction.


sonailicious best nail care

1. What’s your favourite top coat? Right now, Essie Good To Go. But if you need more, check out this list of the best 5 top coats that humanity has ever made.

2. What’s your favourite base coat? I’ve been using ORLY Nailtrition for over two years now and my nails really love it.

3. Your cuticles always look so nice. What do you do to maintain them? It’s pretty simple, I just use cuticle oil regularly and never cut them. I like Essie Apricot Oil and use ORLY Cutique to remove all dead skin. Also, read this cuticle care post to learn how to make your cuticles feel and look happy and soft.

4. My nails are so short. How can I grow them long like yours? Believe me you can. My nails were short and weak not very long ago. Take a look at this article where I share my best tips for strong nails. Also, take a look at Atima’s @NailsbyNemo best tips for long nails

5. How many polishes do you own? Over 1,000.

6. What’s your favourite polish brand? I love Essie, OPI, Isadora, Ulta3 (my fave budget brand) and recently became addicted to indie brands – Mint Polish, USA and Sea Siren, Australia. Which I guess explains their frequent appearances on SoNailicious. It amazes me how the women who founded those brands singlehandedly managed to produce such good quality products.


sonailicious nail polish stash 1

1. Who designed your site and your logo? The set up/functionality ideas were mine. Logo (it’s trademarked now!) and all branded materials were designed by Joseph Pole and the site was built by a professional web designer. If you need their details, email me.

2. Why do you feature brands that are not cruelty free? Well, we’ve already published a fantastic article about cruelty free polish brands. So everyone can make their own choice. Personally, I support cruelty free brands and we feature plenty of them on SoNailicious – Mint Polish, Sea Siren, Illamasqua, Ulta3, Orly, Kester Black, etc. If you’ve been reading SoNailicious for a while, you would note that the above mentioned brands are featured on our site more frequently than any other.

3. We sell product X and product Y. Can you write about us? We’d love to feature all products, but technically that’s just not possible. We have a very strict editorial calendar and our first priority is our readers’ interests. If we see real potential, we’ll find the way to feature your brand one way or another. However, if you’re interested in promoting your brand, please see the Advertising section or more details.

4. Are you going to start making YouTube tutorials? Yes, we’ve been looking at it for the last 2 years. But I’d rather like to do something really interesting and dramatically different rather than just producing something that will dissolve into the gazillions of existing videos.

5. How can I become a contributor? At this stage we don’t have any contributor spots left, but you can always submit a guest post. Please feel free email your pitch directly to editor@sonailicious.com. Also, if you’re in Sydney – we have 2 intern spots opening up shortly. So subscribe to our Newsletter (if you haven’t yet) to be notified when we announce it.


nail art book

1. Is it available in hard cover? At this stage, it’s only in e-book format which has certain advantages. It’s ecologically sound, you can store it on any device and it can travel without you anywhere without adding weight to your luggage!

2. There are tons of free YouTube tutorials. Why did you write a book? This book showcases 30 tutorials for most of the existing techniques, including designs that are unique to SoNailicious. There are no YouTube tutorials for those designs. Plus, it’s rather more convenient to have your own book where you can find any tutorial in one place rather than searching the Interwebs trying to find what you need.

3. How did you write and publish the book? It’s a very long and difficult process, I can’t say it was easy. I prepared all the text and tutorials and a professional designer compiled it as an e-book with a program called InDesign.

4. Where can I buy your book? Well, right here, right now!

Hopefully you found the answers to your questions in this post. If not, please ask in the comments and I’ll respond as soon as I can!

– Maria, xx

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  • Loved this post! Very informative and encouraging!

    • Thank you! I spent a lot of time putting this post together, so it’s great to hear you enjoyed it!

  • It says that your Youtube channel does not exist, maybe someday you can give us a room tour!

    • Thanks for letting me know! I have no idea why Google decided to delete SoNailicious YouTube account with our video and all subscribers. Without any notifications :( Anyways, I sent them a request to restore it. The link is working now: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDhhlQCriDVA9rj1saosdFA but there is still nothing there. Hopefully soon everything will be restored and yes! As soon as we’ll recover all our subscribers – Room/Office Tour, for sure! Photos just don’t show how nice it is :) xx

  • Tetiana James

    This was the most informative post ever! thank you for sharing with us, Maria! I love reading every single topic you post because there is always something new to learn from you. I have few questions for you:
    – what is your favourite nail art brush you use on the daily basis?
    – where do you find ideas for you nail art? who does inspire you?
    – what do you use for nail art? nail polish? acrylic paint?
    – i know you already have 1000 nail polishes but there is never enough lol. Where do you usually buy them? (Essie, OPI etc)?

    • My pleasure Tetiana! I really enjoyed putting it together :) So here’s the answers to your questions:

      – What is your favourite nail art brush you use on the daily basis?
      All my nail brushes are from the RuNail range, you can see them here: http://www.sonailiciousboutique.com/category/nail-art-tools. But my favorite is a very thin and long one, it’s sold out on the site. It’s similar to this one: http://www.sonailiciousboutique.com/product/striping-nail-art-brush-0 but longer and thinner. I’m planning to do a post about brushes in the future, so you’ll get to see it soon!

      – where do you find ideas for you nail art? who does inspire you?
      I mostly inspired by fashion (hence, the Nail Art Fashion Week!) and by actual colours. When I see new polish colours, somehow a pattern appears in my head. I’m a big believer that being original counts, so I put a lot of effort in coming up with my own ideas and designs. Plus, I really enjoy inventing my own looks. Though, I don’t mind from time to time (very rare!) recreating other nail artists designs – found on Instagram or Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sonailicious/

      – what do you use for nail art? nail polish? acrylic paint?
      Only polish.

      – i know you already have 1000 nail polishes but there is never enough lol. Where do you usually buy them?
      Priceline mostly, but whenever I see a pretty colour I just buy it.

  • This is so informative and helpful Maria.. I got my queries answered and learned a lot!

  • Kathryn J

    This was a really interesting post. I just started following you recently, so this brought me up to date nicely! I was particularly interested in your photography tips and info, and I’m looking forward to the blogging and nail art brush posts you mentioned. Meanwhile … I’ll be reading through the links you shared! :)

  • Brenda

    Love this post. So many great ideas and thanks for the followup links. I am curious about how you maintain 4 IG accounts, do you have a special program that helps to go back and forth or do you simply login and out each time?

    • Hi Brenda, yes I have to log in and out each time. Sadly, there is no such app or program that would allow to manage multiple accounts from one spot. Hopefully, in the future :)

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