Lately, I’ve been getting a ton of questions about how to grow a following, how I made this blog a business and how the whole thing works. I recently spoke on the topic at my alma mater Southern Methodist University and thought it would be fun to share. If you are curious about starting a blog or just want to know what all goes into being a Digital Influencer, keep reading!
HOW I GOT STARTED
I started my blog as a Sophomore in college, before there was Instagram! I posted my travel and outfit photos for fun while interning at local magazines, online publications and even Chanel. Still didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I was studying Journalism, Fashion Media and Advertising. My sweet boyfriend at the time would kindly take my pictures and when we broke up, I hired photographers (Mary Hafner, Rebecca Patton and Lydia Hudgens) to work with.
Toward the end of my Senior year, Amber Venz of Reward Style and Like to Know it came to me and explained the business her and her then boyfriend were starting to help bloggers like me make money as a Digital Influencer. I used the site and upon graduation decided to keep blogging on the side while working for stylists, interning at Moda Operandi and taking night classes at Parsons School of Design in New York City. When I moved back to Dallas, I kept blogging and it eventually made more money than my full time job… (Big thanks to you guys, Reward Style and other brand partnerships!)
FINDING A NICHE/BRAND
I think as a blogger/brand it is very important to have something that sets you apart. My personal style is all based on neutral colors, mixing high and low price points and living healthy and happy. I consistently show my every day life through my Instagram: where I’m eating, behind the scenes of an event or my workout of the day. I also like to post informative content like personal running tips and printable fitness schedules. You’ll probably notice my logo, colors and fonts all stay pretty consistent.
HOW TO GROW A BLOG FOLLOWING AND MAKE MONEY
It obviously took a while before I could confidently go full time with my career as a Digital Influencer… I’ve been blogging for over 8 years! My main tips for growing a following are to stay consistent, find your personal style, interact with your readers, answer their questions and connect with other bloggers and industry leaders. Use Pinterest! Tag and wear the brands you love on social media. Those brands just might see it, re-post it and/or want to work with you in the future. Let things happen naturally.
Affiliate programs like Reward Style help bloggers make money by giving a commission on sales and help with setting up brand campaigns. I make money through commissions, campaigns, event hosting, appearances and other sponsored content.
CHOOSING PARTNERSHIPS AND SAYING NO
One thing I’m really picky about is working with brands on sponsored content. I will not say yes to a company that I don’t absolutely love or that doesn’t go with my target market. If I’m going to work with the brand or receive gifted items, it is key that I always choose the pieces myself. I only want to work with brands that are relatable and resonate with my readers. It is so important to gain my readers trust, so saying no to certain campaigns is definitely something I do often. My sponsored content is always denoted at the end of the post with #ad or ‘This post was sponsored by…’
I use the notes app on my phone that also connects to my computer for my editorial calendar. I consistently try to post an outfit or fitness post on Monday and Wednesday, Finds Under $100 or a collage on Tuesday and Weekend Notes on Friday. My editorial calendar helps remind me of campaigns and what I’ll be posting.
BEING YOUR OWN BOSS AND WHAT GOES INTO IT
There are definitely perks to being your own boss: choosing your schedule, having flexibility, working from home… Yes bloggers make it look easy, but there is so much more that goes in to it that isn’t shown. We always have to be available and there are no real vacation days.
We handle our invoices, contracts, taxes, FTC regulations, style the outfits, model, set up the shoots, write the content, edit the content, find the links, communicate with the brands, make the media kit, work on SEO, answer reader questions and manage deadlines etc. There isn’t anyone that can do my job if I’m out of town. Holidays (Christmas, black Friday, and Summer Break) are the busiest time for me.
While I absolutely LOVEEEE what I do, there is a lot of dedication and drive that goes into it. Yes it is so cool and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it takes a lot more work than just the fun stuff that you see here. I’m very grateful for my job and promise I’m not just running around all day snapping pics lol. Every post is strategically planned and I hope that you see that in my work!
thanks so much for reading! wouldn’t be able to do this without y’all! xo