Blogging, Instagram, and social media tips are probably my most asked questions. I work full time utilizing social media marketing, and obviously dedicate time to the internet on my Instagram and this blog of mine. Social media is probably my favorite thing ever and I love helping others learn from what I have experienced! More often than not, I am asked how do I make money off of my Instagram and blog, and before jumping into that you have to start with the basics: The Art of Instagram.
I've been on Instagram for years now, and embarrassingly still have a lot of my first photos still published (I'm working on it! haha). I've learned a lot through trial and error, mean comments, and just growing into my own style over the past few years. Having a tailored Instagram is your key to success because this is where a lot of your audience, and brands, will first look.
Your username, profile picture, and bio all are your first first impressions to the audience. That little bit is going to determine if they are going to click your profile and see what you are all about. I've changed my bio plenty of times, but here's what you need to include: name, a few facts about you, what they can expect from your profile, and a website link if you have one.
I recently changed my profile to business (you can change it at anytime) so I can track my analytics more closely. This shows me weekly which photos do the best, how many people saw that photo, and the jump and fall of followers.
Probably my favorite part of Instagram is creating a cohesive theme. Obviously, this will vary depending on your brand. Some profiles strive on bright colors, others are purely black and white. I wanted my theme to look bright, natural, and really capture my lifestyle. I am drawn to cooler tones, but mix in warmth as well so it's not cold. A great way to visualize your theme is using apps like Planoly where you can see how everything looks together. Before I post any photo, I add it here to make sure it would look okay. Sometimes having similar photos next to each other can look really odd, so seeing it before you post can make sure you always keep your theme cohesive. I also edit every single one of my photos with about the same effects so they all flow together as well. I love using Facetune to get my whites white, and vsco cam for the filters. Creating the theme is the fun part, so get creative and really capture your brand! I also created a video a while back on how I edit my photos.
Getting Likes & Followers.
Okay, here's the most important part right? Joking, but brands and companies pay close attention to the actual engagement on your photos. There is an epidemic of big Instagrams buying followers and likes, which looks good from appearance, but you can easily tell when their audience isn't authentic. If you have 50k followers, but only get 100 likes on your photo... Do the math, that's not a great return rate. While my Instagram is currently sitting below 4,000 followers, my photos get anywhere from 150-350 likes. So, how do I do that?
1. Engage with your audience. Like their photos, leave comments, reply to their comments, follow them back. Don't have just an empty shell of an Instagram, dedicate some time to giving back and be on the personal level with them. I will go to an Instagrammer I really like and go through who's following them. I will like a few of their photos, leave a comment sometimes, and if I really like their feed I'll follow. Especially if your Instagram is a similar niche to the person you went to, you will majority of the time get a new follower out of it! This is a great way to branch out and get a wider audience.
2. Use hashtags. Hashtags are a huge help and I generally take advantage of using the max of 30. I save different hashtags in my notes on my phone, so depending on the photo and what the subject is I always have related hashtags. Make sure you use hashtags that aren't spammy (#likeforlike #followme) because this can get you shadowbanned where your photos won't show up in the hashtags or in your follower's feeds. If you are doing an outfit post, search #ootd in the explore and see what related hashtags come up and use those if you need some guidance. Also, pay attention to the number of people that have been using that hashtag as well, if it's a million plus your photo is less likely to be seen because so many people are using it.
3. Comment/Like pods. These are a lifesaver and so fun for connecting with other instagrams. A pod is where you have a group message of up to 14 accounts on Instagram. Whenever you post, you share your photo in the group message and everyone in it will either go like it or go like and comment on it. It's not as authentic as having normal followers, but it does bump you up and encourage your real followers to leave comments and like the photo. It's also great if your photos aren't doing so well in the first 10-30 minutes because this will determine if people are going to see it at the top of their feeds or not. You can find pods by joining facebook groups like Instagram Comment Pods and find people that have a similar niche as you.
Finding Your Niche.
Speaking of niche, you need one. My blog is lifestyle, military, & motherhood. That's my brand and the things I share and write about. Having a niche determined will keep a theme for one, but also help you and brands work together. If your niche is cooking, a cosmetic brand will more than likely not want to work together because you aren't going to benefit each other's audiences. Determining what you are going to blog and share photos on is essential, so when you do reach out to brands you both know your audience will already be receptive to it. When you are first starting out, it will be so tempting to sell your soul to anything (trust me, I almost did a blog post on menstrual pads... Almost). But, keep on brand and on your niche and it will take you so far!
The guts of your Instagram. What pictures are you going to post? Are you a travel blogger who will be sharing sites and foods you eat? Are you a mom blogger sharing baby fashion and the latest baby gear? Your content is so important because hello this is social media and this is your core to success. I majority of the time use my phone camera to take my photos, and normally have it in square mode because I have the intentions of using those photos for Instagram. I do have a canon rebel camera, and recently upgraded to a Canon Rebel t5i. Always take photos with natural light and if you are taking selfies, take them in front of a window. If you have seen my Instagram, I love flatlays. I have a white foam board from Walmart and left over marble contact paper that make great backgrounds for my look and theme. Flatlays are a great way to stay on brand and include different props that can portray a message to your audience.
Overall, make sure your content has a purpose. Think: what do I want people to feel/ think/ or do when they see this image? Do I want them to check out my latest blog post? Do I want them to like it because it's funny and relatable? Do I want to sell this product? Always have a purpose for what you are posting. Also, think of how a brand and company is going to see you. Refrain from vulgar language and drama, this is your business so make sure you conduct yourself professionally! If you need to, make a private personal instagram where you can share that and personal photos that may not fit on brand.
I hope this gives y'all a great starting point on this whole journey to blogging and Instagram! It's a lot of hard work and so much goes into it, so I don't want it to be overwhelming and too much info at once. Y'all know I am expecting my baby very soon (literally due this Saturday!) so I apologize if I am not able to get the rest of this series up right away. But, when the other posts are live I'll link them here to make it easier to go to the next! I hope this helps give you a great starting point for your social media success.
I am 10 days away from my due date, and I am a whole ball of emotions. I am excited, scared, ready, nervous, overjoyed all in one. Creating and carrying life these past 9 months has been the biggest blessing I could have ever been able to experience. I have loved pregnancy, but I know I am going to love motherhood even more.
I have dreamed of becoming a mother for years now. If you read my first post about us trying to conceive, you'll know that we prayed for this journey for a bit now. We put off trying for a year until we were stable financially, then it took us an entire year to earn the title of parents. Now that the time has come, I couldn't have imagined a more perfect time for this calling. I feel like that waiting time taught me so much patience, but also gratitude for every little ache and pain I experience.
This pregnancy I've been extremely blessed. Not just because of the little pregnancy symptoms, but because of the blessings that accompanied. My husband and I are closer than ever and seeing his excitement over our little girl fills my heart like no other. I can't wait to see him develop in his role as a father and I know for certain S is in for a lifetime of love and being cherished.
But, I'll be the first to admit I am absolutely terrified. I feel so under qualified to be a mom and I am sure a lot of moms felt the same way with their first. I want to make sure she always feels loved, important, and safe. Parenting doesn't just stop at taking care of their basic needs, but for when she goes off to school and faces her first bully, will I be able to guide her correctly? For when she falls and hurts herself, will I be able to be strong enough for the both of us and help her? For when she experiences her first heartbreak, will she come to me and seek comfort and guidance?
As a mother, I already feel so protective of her and just want to protect her from the world and all the negative things in it. But, also as her mother I hope that I can raise her to be able to protect herself and steer away from the apostate.
These last 10 days before her due date are going to be a true test of patience, but also allow me to prepare some more. I have had a feeling she will come early, but at this point I am fully assuming she is just going to stay in here forever. I've experienced more intense contractions, but nothing consistent or strong enough that made me feel like this was it. I am scared for labor but just thinking about the aftermath eases my nerves and I am just so ready to hold our baby girl.
Thank you all for joining me on my journey to motherhood. I know many blessings are to come and I can't wait to share the next chapter with you all! I have nested, rested, and I am ready to bring this new life into the world. I am ready to take on motherhood because I know I have an amazing community of both family & friends who I can turn to for guidance.
The nursery is done! This has been a long time coming, especially with us having to hold off until we moved into our new home. Let me tell you, putting together a nursery at 8 months pregnant is not recommended. My husband, mom, and in laws are given full credit for putting this nursery together.
When J and I first found out we were having a girl, we had no idea what to make her nursery theme. I had a plan for a boy, but was completely lost on a girl. We stopped by Buy Buy Baby as we often did in the early pregnancy, and J stopped in front of the nautical/whale themed nursery items and said this is it. I stopped with him and it just clicked. It was so perfect! It's not 'traditional' for a girl to a lot of people, but as a huge lover of blue and green, it seemed so fitting.
I am so happy with how everything turned out. She actually has a really big room, which makes me excited for her to grow into and probably eventually share with a younger sibling. My goal for the nursery was to not have it too themed, where the items could grow with her onto toddlerhood and beyond.
Caddy: ikea / whale hamper: gift
This caddy is stocked with diapers on top, the second rack holds extra pacifiers, car seat strap covers, and some small items, and the bottom is full of blankets. This is going to be super handy because I can just grab the diapers out of the open top! Also, this whale hamper is super adorable and a baby shower gift from my aunt and uncle, and it's right outside of her closet that is full to the brim.
Crib: Wayfair / Sheets: Babies R Us / Pillow: Amazon / Wallpaper: Lowe's / Blanket: gift / Curtains: Walmart
This may be my favorite corner ever! This sweet bassinet is from my mother in law and is so precious. I may end up moving it downstairs so she has something to lay in when I am in my office or in the tv area. This mermaid wall art was decoration from my baby shower my mom threw, and is so darling (and my favorite colors!).
All of these books are a hodpodge of gift from our baby shower, hand me downs from when I was a baby, and some my husband thrifted years ago for his future children. I can't wait for her book collection to grow even more throughout the years. I have a few trinkets from my childhood, one being a unicorn I got from my grandpa that is super special! I then have a cake tray that holds a soothing whale, our baby monitor (review coming very soon!), and her initial. The top shelf are stuffed animals and dolls and a sweet canvas of our gender announcement I got from our baby shower.
Bench: flea market / pillowcases: Amazon / toy bin: Target
This bench was a purchase I made in high school and has probably had a home in every single room of our house at one time or another! It is absolutely perfect for her nursery and matches the colors perfectly. Underneath I have stored all of her toys. I am going to do my best not to have a crazy abundance of toys, but I'm sure all parents say that!
Beach Wallart: Lowe's / Changing table: inlaws / Changing pad: Wayfair / Cover: Target / Mirror: thrifted
This changing table was actually supposed to be my inlaw's bathroom sink but things thankfully didn't work out! lol I picked it out with my mother in law, and when she didn't have a use for it they brought it over because I knew it would make the perfect changing table!
Above I have diaper wipes, bows, and a vase full of pacifiers. This mirror I've had in my room since high school and the color went perfect with the beachy vibe. This bucket was used for our baby shower, and it makes the perfect holder for rolled up diapers! I will eventually have my slider in the corner for when I'm feeding.
Now all we are missing is baby girl!! I am so ready for her to arrive. I am currently 36 weeks, so to think I only have 4 more weeks at the most before she is here... Just blows my mind. Thank you everyone for being patient as there was a bit of a gap between my blog posts lately.
I would LOVE to hear what nursery themes you have done, or what you plan to do!