It’s been a while since we’ve talked about Blogging 101 around here, so I asked yall what you wanted to know! I decided to answer some of the questions that you all are wondering! So here is the first Blogging FAQ!
I’ve been blogging for 6 and a half years now, and full time for 2 years. I don’t know all of the answers or even pretend to, but I do know what has worked for me and I’m happy to share it! I know that success isn’t measured my numbers on the screen or comparison to others, but I’m always going to live by the motto that I have from the beginning: if one person is helped, changed or uplifted then my job is worth it!
I am so thankful for this space. For God to have given me the nudge to take it full time and for my family and friends support! I’m thankful for YOU – without readers, a blog would be nothing! I am still blown away when I see analytics of how many of you visit daily and how many of you trust my opinion on things to buy or try. I am incredibly thankful!
So, let’s dive right in to those questions!
What strategies do you use to organically gain constant growth on Instagram and your blog?
Answer: I feel like this is a catch 22 question because sometimes I am growing on Instagram and sometimes I am completely at a halt or even losing followers! It’s a struggle to not get caught up in the numbers and when it’s your job it is hard not to let it get you down! Instagram is just one aspect/platform which is an extension of my blog, so I try to not focus on it completely. But, some things that help you grow on Instagram that I have done is weekly shares or follow Fridays with like-minded bloggers, giveaways with brands and/or bloggers, and features from brands/platforms. First and foremost, to be consistent and grow, you need to have great content, consistency and really know who you are/what you share. Don’t share it just to share it. A pretty photo can only go so far – share your heart and what really makes you who you are!
As for my blog, to grow readers it’s important to keep the content consistent. Let your readers know when you’re going to be posting (I’m usually 3 times a week) and then share/promote those posts on all platforms! Create evergreen content that you can pin to Pinterest that will keep readers coming back to your blog! Also, do weekly share swaps with other bloggers on Facebook/Pinterest to get eachother’s content seen!
What do you do if you get stuck for content ideas?
Answer: I hate when this happens! I try to have a content/editorial calendar scheduled out at least a month in advance, but sometimes I’m just not feeling what I’ve scheduled to share. I try to have the photos ready for my post and sometimes the words flow when other times I’m struggling to string together a sentence! If I’m having a really hard time, I just close my computer and come back to it when I’m able to think about something meaningful! I move things around on my calendar often!
How do you get put on PR lists? Are they something you sign up for or do you wait for brands to reach out?
Answer: Brands mostly reach out. Sometimes other bloggers will share the contact with you if you’re close colleagues with them. I would recommend just reaching out to the brands you would like to work with directly to get on their PR lists! Once you’re on them, as long as you use and share the products, they usually come once per month!
Is Reward Style the only affiliate program you use? If not, what are some other good ones?
Answer: Currently, RewardStyle is the only affiliate program I use. I have used ShopStyle in the past and really like it as well as Amazon Affiliates, but it’s just so hard for me to manage more than one network. I chose to work with RS because it was most beneficial for my business.
How do you stay so up to date on sales? Is there a list of all sales to look at or do you look at each retailer everyday?
Answer: I sign up for email lists to my personal email and am emailed when sales are happening! This is really how I learn about most sales, other ones I stumble upon or followers share them with me! Other times, bloggers are given a heads up by their affiliate program letting them know that there will be sales on certain dates!
Do you actually gain and maintain followers by doing giveaways?
Answer: You can! I try to be really picky about the giveaways I do, especially since my followers have voiced that they don’t like the larger ones. I don’t typically lose that many after giveaways and I hope the ones that stick around are the ones that are truly engaging and enjoying my content!
Does blogging and IG make you enough income to live comfortably?
Answer: I never knew that blogging could be a full time job! It takes A LOT of time and A LOT of effort, especially when starting, but it’s been worth it for our family financially! Otherwise, my husband wouldn’t love me spending so much time doing it! 😉 I feel so blessed and thankful to be able to contribute to our family, and it also allows me to stay at home with the girls and ultimately make an income doing what I truly love! My husband also gave me a year of blogging full time to make what I was making teaching or more for me to continue putting the hours into it! I was so thankful (and worked my booty off) to get there! You make whatever you put into it!
Does blogging and IG completely take over your life?
Answer: I think that it can if you let it! I try to take several hours through the day and leave my phone and computer behind. There are seasons that are much busier than others which make it harder to unplug, but for the most part, it’s easy to unplug! I just do what I can to be active with my audience when I can, but also be present with my family first and foremost.
Did you hire a designer to help put your blog together and help with all the technical parts or did you just have to purchase themes and install it from there?
Answer: I did! I used Gina from Bella Creative Studio. I’m so not technology savvy when it comes to the backend!
How do you edit your IG posts?
Answer: This is a whole post that I plan to do sometime soon! I have a specific editing process I use to make all of my photos look cohesive! I use Lightroom, VSCO and the Instagram App the most.
When was your “a ha” moment when you knew you were going to quit teaching and start blogging full time?
Answer: I actually quit teaching BEFORE I went full time blogging! Once I had my first baby, Laikyn, I knew that my heart wasn’t in the classroom anymore. I had been blogging throughout teaching and when I had Laikyn I just continued to share for fun. I was monetizing, but on a very small scale. It wasn’t until after I had Lennyn, my second babe and when I had been blogging for 4+ years that I decided I wanted to really start making it a job. Slowly and surely, I was able to put the hours in and make it into a full time job. It all came with God’s perfect timing!
How often do companies have you traveling and how long did it take until they began reaching out to you?
Answer: I am usually traveling at least once a month! It’s dependent on the season and what is going on, but most of the time the brands/networks are reaching out and scheduling press trips, influencer trips, etc. Sometimes I’m traveling just for fun with my family or friends, too! Not every trip is for work!
Who takes your pictures? Is it ever your husband or mom?
Answer: I have a friend that is a professional photographer, Lissa Anglin, and she takes most of my photos. We shoot once a week! I do have whoever I am with (which is usually my husband or mom) snap an iPhone photo of my outfit if I need it! They are both so great to help out!
Does blogging require a whole separate spending/checking account?
Answer: I do have a separate checking and PayPal account for my business, but I don’t think it requires it. It’s just easiest for me to keep up that way and makes it more organized for taxes!
Do you ever find blogging things awkward (like insta stories in public, talking to yourself in dressing rooms, etc.)?
Answer: I think I used to…but now I’m just oblivious to it. I don’t really feel awkward doing it anymore! ha!
How do you get in contact with stores to make commission?
Answer: I use RewardStyle to link most of my items through which in turn make a small commission on items purchased! Other smaller shops sometimes have an affiliate code to track which blogger sells what. It’s a lot of backend stuff that gets kind of confusing!
What are the easiest affiliates programs when you are starting?
Answer: I think ShopStyle and Amazon Affiliates are great for those starting out!
How much do you charge for sponsored posts when you’re just starting out?
Answer: This is dependent on how many followers/engagement rate you have. There are websites that will help you with rates such as Social Blue Book, but you should always have a media kit with all of that info so you can send it to brands and back up your rates!
What platform do you use? Do you recommend a certain one for new bloggers?
Answer: I use WordPress.org, and think it’s a great website to start out!
Do you or any bloggers you know disclose your income?
Answer: I think this is a hard question because it’s dependent on so many factors. All of us make different amounts, and you can make money in so many ways while being a blogger. Affiliate links, sponsored posts, events, in-network partnerships…there are endless ways to monetize, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all income. Also, some months will be more fruitful than others, depending on what is going on for that month! I wish I could tell you an exact amount, but it would only be true for me and it may not be true for the next month. It’s definitely a non-conventional income where you can make anywhere from $1 a month to $100,000,000 a month depending on who you are and what your brand/influence is worth!
How did you get started blogging?
Answer: I sometimes call myself an accidental blogger because I didn’t really expect to ever make it my job! I started for fun back in 2012 as a New Years Resolution, and just really enjoyed it! I’ve evolved a lot since then, but I hope that I’ve always stayed true to myself and my brand.
What’s your number one advice to someone who wants to start blogging?
Answer: Be consistent. Know your voice. Stay true to your niche. BE AUTHENTIC.
How long did it take for you to start growing a large following?
Answer: It’s taken me 6.5 years to get to where I am! You can’t build Rome in a day…and neither can you build loyal and engaging readers without caring about what you do, say and post. I truly love my readers and love talking to yall daily!
How much do you pay your photographers?
Answer: It depends on the photographer, but usually the ones that work with bloggers have a rate that includes promotion/tagging with their photos so it’s mutually beneficial.
As a new blogger, is it worth it to purchase my own camera/hire photographers every week?
Answer: I would definitely invest in a good camera or shoot with a photographer at some point, but as great as iPhone cameras are now, it’s not necessarily needed! I know bloggers who only use iPhone and are very successful!
How do you plan content?
Answer: I have an editorial calendar in Google Calendars.
Are all of your trips sponsored?
Answer: Not all of them! My husband and I LOVE LOVE LOVE to travel so we pay for many of our trips ourselves. I always disclose when a trip is sponsored!
How long did it take for you to start making money?
Answer: I would say that I monetized from the beginning with affiliate linking, but it was a good 4-5 years before I could say that it was an income.
How do you afford to buy all the clothes?
Answer: Just like any business, you have to put in some money to make some money. Clothes, accessories, etc and sharing through buying my own items and wearing them is a large part of my income. I set aside a certain spending budget for myself, my kids, my home, etc per month and if I don’t make that money back and profit, then I re-evaluate for the next month.
Random – how did you find your daughters’ names?
Answer: Ha! I love this. My husband and I couldn’t agree on names (either time) but Laikyn came from a random website and it was spelled Layken. We changed the spelling and finally agreed! Her middle name came from the contestant on American Idol in 2013 named Cree, my mom found it and mentioned it! Lennyn – I was dead set on this name from the beginning! My husband took some convincing! I loved the sisters on the show Nashville and their names in real life are Lennon and Maisy. I LOVED Lennon with Laikyn, and my husband wanted the -yn and named her middle name Kate after his sister, Lindsay.
Okay ladies! That’s all for today! I might have to answer the rest on the next round of Blogging FAQ! Let me know any other questions you may have or if you want me to elaborate more in the comments section below! I hope to always be transparent with you and share my knowledge (or lack thereof) with you always!
Hope yall have the best Monday!