If you told me three years ago that I would be running a successful blog/Instagram as a hobby, I would have laughed so hard. It’s not something I saw myself doing and especially not doing it this consistently. For years I loved following bloggers, shopping their looks, and scrolling through Instagram for inspiration, but I never thought it was something within my reach. It was only when I ran into some issues with postpartum depression/anxiety that I found myself longing for some type of hobby, but not just any hobby-something where I could express myself and everything that encompasses that. My feelings about being a new Mother, my interest in fashion and beauty products, and some of the knowledge of my day job as a Social Worker. I toyed back and forth with the idea of starting a blog and I had a lot of doubts on whether I could do it, but something inside me kept telling me I should try it. I researched it for months, figured out all the behind the scenes parts (which took way longer than expected) and got started in February 2018. In the past two years, I have learned A LOT and I thought I’d share my biggest takeaways. Whether your thinking of starting a blog or if your just curious, I hope you find these tips helpful.
Say No Often
This may be surprising, but I say no more often than I say yes to collaborations, but it took me a while to get to this place. When I first started getting asked to collaborate, I was so excited! Someone actually wanted to give me something for free or pay me to to feature their product?! I felt like I had made it. I soon learned that this is very common in the world of influencer marketing. I also learned that a lot of these emails are mass emails that are sent to hundreds of influencers at the same time and are not truly a personalized experience. I would say yes to different campaigns just because I felt flattered that someone reached out to me or because they were so nice to me. Don’t get me wrong, those are not bad reasons to say yes, however, some of these products were not products that were very relevant to me and my life. And also, people say no to companies all the time. When I promoted these products, it just didn’t feel authentic and my audience could tell–these posts got the least amount of likes/commments on Instagram.
Set up Several Different Income Streams
Most bloggers make money from several different income sources and they vary in how profitable they are. I’ll be talking about the three that I make money from: sponsored posts, affiliate posts, gifted products/exchange of services. First are sponsored social media posts. These are posts you see on Instagram that may have hashtags like “ad” or “sponsored”. They are posts that the brand has requested and is paying the influencer for promoting according the brand’s specifications. How much you get paid for these posts depends on how many followers you have, the engagement rate you have, and what the brand’s budget is. I have something called a media kit, which is basically my Influencer resume and I have prices quoted for the services I offer. Brands will often counter my rate with their own rate and we negotiate something that is mutually beneficial. I have learned that as a rule, always start a collaboration my sending a media kit is a good way to get a conversation started and set the stage. It’s hard to predict how many sponsored posts I will get in a month, so I would say sponsored posts make up about 25% of my income from blogging.
My most surprising form of income is through affiliate income. Affiliate links can be setup a number of different ways, but most commonly, a brand sets up a virtual “store front” exclusive to an influencer and each influencer will receive a percentage of the sales purchased through this site. Their is usually a discount code offered as an incentive for customers to use the influencer’s site. A few months into blogging, I was brainstorming brands that I generally like and would love to work with and I thought of Primally Pure. I had used their deodorant for a few years and had also started to use their skincare products and I was a big fan. I signed up as an affiliate with them, thinking this would be a fun brand to promote and something that I could speak authentically about. Little did I know, that after a few months, this would become my number one source of income! And it still remains my number one source of income.
Gifted or service exchanges are exactly what they sound like. Instead of being paid to post about something you just get the product in exchange for your post. With these kind of posts, evaluate how useful it would be to your life. For example, I am very likely to say yes to a meal delivery kit because that saves me time from grocery shopping and helps me provide meals to my family (something I already do). I can’t stress enough again how important it is to only say “yes” to products/services that will be authentic to you. Just because it is a free product doesn’t mean you should say yes to it.
Batch Write Content
I learned this genius tip from Jenna Kutcher. Instead of typing out a post every single day you want to post, take a moment when you have some extra time and write your captions for the whole week. I use the planning app calls PLANN which lets me write out and save captions with specific photos and then I schedule the app to remind me when to post (although I usually post the same time every day). I also love this app because when I’m feeling like I have something on my mind I need to write out, I can immediately do so in the app, instead of having 60 notes saved.
I would like to add, I don’t ever force myself to write anything. If I don’t have anything to share, I won’t post or write. There was a time when I did push myself to create when I wasn’t feeling creative and that was a bust.
When social media becomes overwhelming, take a step back and get off Instagram. This Instagram/blog is my hobby and a hobby should never be something that becomes overwhelming or is no longer fun. I think it’s important to remember, if your audience is loyal, they will understand and respect you. You will not automatically lose all of your followers and the algorithm will not blacklist you. Every time I do take a break, I feel 1000 times better when I return and what I post ends being so much more authentic.
Allow Yourself to be Multi-Dimensional
I know there is a big push to fit into a “niche” for your blog/Instagram and everyone always asks what you blog about, but I encourage you to allow your social media to show all the dimensions that you have, even if they don’t all fit together perfectly. This is a unique industry, where we have SO MUCH of a voice and there really is no perfect way to “be an influencer”, so BE YOU!
Thanks for reading along, feel free to ask any questions of anything you may be curious about below.