Starting a Blog: What You Should Know First

This is PART 2 of my Influencer Marketing series. Check out part 1 here.

So you’ve been following beauty, hair, nail, fashion, and lifestyle blogs for years, and want to know how they do it? You’ve come to the right place!

Lets talk first about what it means to be a “blogger” or “instagram blogger”. It’s WORK, y’all. I am not going to sit here and say it’s easy by any means, but what I will say is anyone can do it! You’ve got to have a passion, a drive, patience, and MOST ALL you’ve got to be YOU! Some of the bloggers you’ve been following for years have worked incredibly hard to get where they are today. Nearly 10 years ago when some of them started there was no money in this, but there was passion. So most of them are still here giving you the content they do because they love what they do (sure they get paid for it now), but without love and passion for this there’s nothing. I received a few questions about how I personally got started so I’m going to share a bit about me.

I started a beauty blog back in 2010. I went to a performing arts high school and there I fell in love with stage makeup and writing. After losing my corporate job during the recession (2009), I decided to share my love of makeup with the world while continuing to discover my passion. After finishing makeup school and working in the professional makeup industry, I continued writing until I got engaged and decided to go back to Corporate America. Leaving the “blogosphere” was incredibly difficult. I found myself wanting to get back into it, but I was too involved with my corporate career. I truthfully still kick myself in the ass for having stopped. I lost almost all of my following and lost a huge part of myself. This virtual space held a huge space in my heart from the gratitude of my followers and friends, to the brand partnerships I had, to the creative outlet I prided myself for.

Fast forward 2018. My husband encouraged me to start writing and posting again. He knew this love I had was just lingering in the background of my life itching to be recognized again, so I decided to! It’s been an incredible journey since and I am thankful for each one of you who have stayed by my side since the beginning! To all of my more recent followers you are incredible and I’m beyond grateful for you!

How Did You Start Your Blog?
Back in 2010, I came across what was known then as BlogSpot. It is a platform that allows you to create a blog for free. I signed up with my email address and was instantly able to create a blog with their pre-made templates. It is now known as BLOGGER. This platform is incredible for beginner and/or established bloggers. I HIGHLY recommend it if you are looking to start. They helped pave the way for me to learn more about HTML and JAVA Script, too! It is VERY user friendly, and with the advanced technology of what they call Widgets, you’re able to connect multiple platforms onto your website easier and faster!

Did/Do You Approach Companies or Did/Do They Approach You?
A little bit of both, back then and now.
I briefly touched on this in Part 1 “staying on your own brand,” and what I mean by that is finding your passion and sticking with it. If you want to be a Lifestyle Blogger, that’s great, but provide your followers with a little bit of everything. Share your cooking tips, your favorite stores, your children’s outfits or favorite toys {if you have little one (s)}, tell us about your day (good or bad), share DIY projects, give us all of YOU. Brands will recognize who you are through your hashtags, through how much you post, and through your interactions with your followers (be it your responses to their comments on your posts, or your comments on their posts). Those three main objectives are going to drive traffic to your Instagram and heighten the chances of a brand recognizing and wanting to work with you.

“Do You Get Paid Money or Free Product or Both?”
The short answer is both.
The long winded answer is what the brand is looking to provide to you and what you are willing to negotiate with. Most brands will contact you with their promotion which can be free product, or free product and money. You can choose to take the promotion initiative they provided you with, or negotiate. This stems back to part 1 where I stated “know your worth!” Don’t ever be afraid to let a company know who you are and what you bring to the table. Chances are they’re going to know this and want to continue working with you so they will find a common ground.

“How Do You Decide On What You Will Advertise?”

I make this decision based on what I like and don’t like, and YOU should, too! I have never advertised for a brand/company I did not want to work with. No brand marketing agency (or brand) has ever forced me write about anything I did not want to. I have either reached out to a brand to represent them, or have been contacted by a brand to represent them. I will test the product and provide you with my honest feedback. If you ever find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, DO NOT TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY. Do not compromise your beliefs, your style, or your OWN BRAND for anyone or anything!

“What Do Contracts Look Like? Like, Do You Have to Plug a Product So Many Times a Month, etc.”

This is a great question! I wish I had a better answer for you… but IT VARIES. We don’t use the word “contract” often. Although, any promotional “campaign” we agree to is different. I can give you some examples…

1. I have had promotions where the brand is looking for 3 IG posts, and 3 IG/Stories and the deliverable is XX time from the date I receive my products so it gives me time to test them out and create the content.

2. I have also had promotions where I get the opportunity to shop, so they will give me time to shop, test the products, and then post by XX time. It can be 1 month or 2 months out from the time I am confirmed on the campaign. There have been times it is just 3 weeks out. To be quite honest, you usually know within the first week of using a product if its actually worth it.

Note: It is understood with skincare that after several weeks of using the product you will see results, so that could be a longer period of time on the campaign so you can provide honest feedback.

So all in all, deliverables varies from brand to brand and product type.

“Do I Need to Clean Out My IG to Start Fresh?”
I will touch more on this when I complete Series 3 of my Influencer Marketing series. But I will say this…
Keep your Instagram images you hold dear to your heart. Any moments you shared with your friends or family, hang onto them. You can’t put a price on that. Brands want to see the authentic you!
P.S. – But DO delete any posts that don’t serve you or your followers any justice (ie. quote pictures, memes, racy and/or explicit content, or controversial content)

“Can I Promote More Than One Brand?”

Yes, absolutely.
Certain campaigns will ask you not to promote other brands in your posts, and also not work with a competitor during your campaign with them. These stipulations are normal and not out of the ordinary. Always take the time to review the campaign, and expectations to ensure they suit your brand and lifestyle before taking the opportunity.

“Can I Work With More Than One Agency?”

Yes, for the most part.
Most agencies will allow you to work with others, unless you choose to stick with just one. There are larger scale influencer marketing agencies for Macro Influencers that are contracted. This style of marketing is on a grander scale and may have restrictions.

“How Do You Get Kids Collaborations?”

These types of campaigns/collaborations will happen depending on your brand. If you are a mommy/daddy blogger, your chances of such collaborations are much higher. Targeting your audience is incredibly important. Children’s lifestyle brands want to work with lifestyle bloggers who are promoting to their target audience.

“How Do I Get Followers?”

Engagement. Engagement. Engagement. Being “recognized” (if you will) will come from hashtags, and primarily your engagement. Talk to your fellow bloggers, new bloggers, seasoned ones, too! If you love their outfit, tell them. If you love their pictures, tell them. They will tell you, too!

Note: You will show up on people’s feeds if they follow a hashtag you used on your post. This will advance your chances of someone viewing your image, liking it, and potentially following because they like what they see and want more.

How Do I Come Up With a Name?”

Discover who you are and what you want to tell the world and after that… your name will flow. Make a list of things about yourself, your style, your likes… this will help start the brainstorming and throwing out adjectives can lead you to adding one or two or three together and BOOM your name is discovered!

Example: If you are planning to write about being a mom and conquering the day (like most of us) think of this as a victory! If your name is Shae… TheShaeVictories is a possibility. Why? Because it leaves you open as a “Mommy Life Style Blogger” — tell us about what motivated you today, what funny things your child (ren) are doing, what new product your using and loving, what fun activities you are up to.

“How Can I Get Help Besides The Internet?”
Ask. Ask bloggers via DM. You’d be surprised how many popular bloggers have either written about this, or will write something up really quick to help motivate you! You can also search bloggers websites, too!
Google is a good place to start as well… these blog posts have been written time and time again and it never hurts to get different perspectives.
I am writing this from my own personal knowledge and experience in hopes to provide a stepping stone for your creative outlet. I didn’t have this when I started and now that I have some experience, I can share it with you.

“How Does The Income Thing Work?”

We’ve talked about this a few times already… so I am going to answer this a bit differently…
As a new blogger, there may not be income FOR A WHILE.. years even. Sure you can make some money here and there, but as a career it takes A LOT of time. Blog because you WANT to share your life with the world, and remember EVERYTHING YOU SAY AND DO WILL BE OBSERVED UNDER A MICROSCOPE, ANALYZED, AND SAVED FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. So be prepared for this, REMAIN authentic, respectful, and consistent. As I’ve told you before no one should ever go into blogging for the money!

“How Often Do I Have to Post?”
Post every single day. SOMETHING. ANYTHING. But EVERY SINGLE DAY. Your posts shouldn’t be surrounded by campaigns or collaborations. Engage with your friends, family, and followers consistently.

“Tell me more about Instagram Stories.”
Instagram Stories are all the rage right now. The algorithm changed for us in April and its been a learning curve for many of us since. Instagram Stories allows us to engage with our followers in a more personal way aside from likes and posts. It’s becoming a personal space that some people find it difficult to work with because you are ON. You know? Whereas a post is more impersonal because of editing and filters.
What I say is engage on IG stories as much as you can. It’s VERY similar to these reality shows we all love, right? “Day in the life of…” “Shop with me…” “Look at my new stuff…” “Heres a video of my funny kid…” “Ugh, I don’t like this product it made me break out…” “Bomb lipstick let me show you…” Etc. Etc. We ALL want to see it! Showwww us!!

“Who Do You Trust When They Want to Have You Brand for Them?”
This is all a learning experience. It is important to ALWAYS google a company, or representative’s name. If you receive an email from John Smith from Blah Blah Inc. Check his email address, and google him. It doesn’t hurt to make sure you are talking to a real person before you decide to move forward with a collaboration. You should ask questions about the brand, their expectations, and so on. Show you’re interested, and want to learn more before making any final decisions.
If you are working with an agency they will more than likely have done this filtering process for you and have direct instructions on the collaborations and expectations from the Brand, but if you are curious ALWAYS ASK! Remember, you are representing a brand, but your posts are a reflection of YOU.

“How Do I Use Hashtags?”
Well lets start by saying, don’t OVERUSE the same ones.
Hashtags are the gateway to followers, friends, and brand partnerships. Key words are important, although overusing them can have you banded from being “searchable” through the hashtag. Yes, that’s a REAL thing.

When searching for hashtags to use google will be your best friend. You can search “popular fall hastags” or “mommy hashtags” etc. Whatever you’re looking for, google has it! It’s always best to keep them fresh and different, BUT on target with your image post. If you’re posting about shoes, don’t hashtag “#newrecipe” – this is just common sense, but I felt like you should be reminded hehe.

Your questions were AWESOME and have inspired me to continue on this Influencer Marketing series I am creating. I’ve got more on starting your own blog, important apps to use for bloggers, and editing information! Stay tuned!

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