Thank you to Shop Pink Blush for providing the look for today’s post
Big changes are coming to the Stratton Household. This is my last week at work, and it is extremely bittersweet.
I had the blessing of scoring a job working completely from home, on social media, making a salary pay. And I gave it all up for her.
While so many moms dream of a stay at home job, let me tell you it’s harder than most jobs that are in person. I was supposed to only work 40 hours a week, ya know the norm, but if you are a social media user you’ll understand how hard it is to shut it off and stay logged out. I was finding myself working at 5 am or 10 pm when I was supposed to be clocked out. This isn’t a complaint, because I absolutely LOVED it. But I realized I was putting my baby on the back burner and not being the best mom I could be. If you read my last post, you’ll know that my dream was to always be a mom. To be technical, it was my dream to be a stay at home mom. I didn’t want to miss out on a second of my babies lives and would take happiness over a paycheck any day.
When my best friend, and caregiver for Sav, told me she was moving it threw a wrench in my tracks, but a good wrench. I had been struggling with my work/life balance for the past month or two and this was the sign I needed that told me I need to be home now.
I loved my job and while I’m not longer working there, I plan to take all of the skills I learned with social media marketing and apply it to my blogging life. There are skills and lifelong friendships that can never be forgotten, so for that I am thankful.
Ultimately, my mental health and body have been suffering. I was constantly feeling stressed and torn between working and taking care of a baby which isn’t good for anyone’s mental state. Also without me realizing, I had began to skip meals and not stay hydrated because any “down time” I had was spent working or breast pumping. I am below my pre pregnancy weight and I need to work on getting back up to a healthier me, which is super important since I am providing nourishment for another human too.
People will most likely call me crazy for quitting, which I probably am a little, but being there for her is my number one priority. I was ignoring her cries for phone calls and would feel guilty for having to choose between the two. She now has my full undivided attention, and that’s the best Work from Home job I could ever ask for!
Leaving my career also allows me to have more time for my blog, which is where I feel like it all started. I’m excited to take it to the next level and continue to work with companies. Also, I now get to spend all day in my pajamas if I want to which is super awesome, especially when I have cute ones like these from Shop Pink Blush to lounge in. I don’t have to start work at a certain time, and although I’m now “working” 24/7 my little boss rewards me in cuddles and I no longer have to choose where my time is going.
Here’s to the next chapter of becoming a stay at home mom, my dream job.
Making money online... This is what y'all really care about right?! I will say it's not that simple. A lot of people start blogging for the sole hope of making money. I will tell you it's a part/full time job and you will be investing your time, and occasionally money, before you start making money.
As you know, I started my blog for fun and to update family, and then it turned into this where I share weekly posts about my life and motherhood. It takes a lot to write a post and you have to be willing to put in the work.
From my previous part of this series you already know how to make your Instagram stellar, which will really come in handy for this post. Your instagram has a lot to do with how successful your brand is if you choose it as your main other social media source. It's also super important for one of the programs I will be mentioning, because it is solely dependent on your Instagram. Now, how can you turn your amazing content into profit?
Sponsored posts are my secret. A sponsored post is where a company or brand will send you their product(s) and sometimes a monetary compensation as well in exchange for you writing a blog post about it. I am always transparent in when a post is sponsored, but a lot goes into it before your post even goes live. I have control in what companies I work with, and make sure it's always a genuine relationship. I never want to blog about something I don't support or agree with, or something that doesn't fit my blog's brand.
I work with three websites majorly that have been a huge contribution to my blog's income. I will break them down on how each of them work. I will not disclose how much I make because that's awkward to talk about, so don't make things weird.
Social Fabric may be my favorite because I've worked with them the most and they've allowed me to work with brands like John Frieda, Playtex Baby, Walmart, HP, Coca-Cola, and the list goes on. How it works is you sign up and enter all of your information about your blog and other social media channels.
Then, based on your niche and demographic there will be "shoppertunities" available that you apply for. I love this process because you are selling yourself to the brand and sharing your idea on how you would incorporate their product in a post. You fill out a few questions, sharing why you want to work with them and also a breakdown of your idea. (So if you are doing a recipe, you would list out the ingredients and steps.) You see how much you would get paid when you are applying which is great to get an upfront pay and it stay the same across the board. You can apply here: socialfabric.us and please put me as the referred by! Tips for being successful in this are to really have creative ideas. Think about what your blog demographic is and who your audience is. For example, I worked with Playtex baby for their bottles and worked in into a what's in my diaper bag post, while another blogger may have shared a DIY baby blanket and tied in the baby bottle. There is so much you can do, usually the brands will have a general outline and direction, but you can get pretty creative with it.
Linqia is a bit different because they come to you. You sign up on their website and fill out everything including your topics you have on your blog. Then, you will receive an email inviting you to different campaigns they think you'd be interested in and you say whether you're interested or not. If you are, it'll be evaluated again depending on if there's still openings and then you're accepted. Please note, it's not a consistent once a month email, it literally happens at random as they come. So don't feel discouraged if you go months without anything, but you can always reach out to them and see if there's any campaigns you could be considered for. In this blogging business sometimes you have to take the first step and reach out, there's nothing wrong with that!
From there, it will open up the campaign and you'll see its description, what needs to be included in the post, and also how many clicks you need. Yes, clicks. This sponsored post isn't guaranteed upfront money and you have to reach a certain number of clicks to get a certain number of money. The upside is, you get money for your clicks, even if it's under the target amount. Say you need 50, but only get 20; you will get paid for those 20 clicks to the link they provide you and are tracking. So even if you have a high number of blog page views, you need to have a good audience that will actually be clicking your links within your post. It sounds bad, but it's honestly a lot of fun and I've been able to work with brands like Hello Fresh. Sprouts, and ThredUp and had a great time making those posts. You can sign up here: Linqia
The good thing is if you exceed the number of clicks they set for you, they will generally bump up how many clicks you need for your next campaign, which means more money for you. Also, if you do a video (like I did for Hello Fresh and more recently Hill's Science Diet) they give you a flat fee on top of the potential pay.
Social Native is a more recent program I've signed up with and is quickly growing as my favorite! This one is for Instagram posts. I LOVE the opportunities they provide because you can literally work with anyone. One of my first posts was a promotion flyer for a movie where the image was provided, but since then they have all been where I take my own photo which I enjoy more because hello, themes are important!
With Social Native they email you campaigns, and tell you what the brand is looking for. So sometimes it will say what needs to be included, which hashtags and who to tag, what you can't say, etc. Pretty straight forward. They normally provide product or a budget to purchase the product, and then give you payment on top for posting. It's super easy to work with and I enjoy all the different opportunities there. I have worked with Vans, Rachel Ray's Nutrish, and Makeup Forever. This is a great opportunity for those that may not want to start a blog just yet, or if you are still working on it, and want to just get your feet wet. If you want to apply I can invite you, so shoot me an email at email@example.com and write your email so I can easily copy it to invite you.
This is why it's important to have a good Instagram, BUT you also need great social media channels across the board because Linqia and Social Fabric both require you to share it on all of them. So, if you don't already have an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest... Set them up now! ha ha They will help your overall social media reach, and I also recommend trying to have the same name across the board if you can. Unfortunately with a name like "The Strattons" it was taken on a few of the platforms, so my tip for you starting out is get your name on all of them now if you can. I am just not creative and couldn't think of a better blog name, but I still wouldn't change it even now.
There are a TON of programs out there, but these are my top three and what I can tell you the most about based on experience. I'm signed up with a few others that have been great but these are the most popular and successful for me. What you need to remember is, you need to have amazing content and really build up your blog/Instagram before you can expect to be chosen for these sponsored posts. Try to only mention brands and companies by name on occasion, because a lot of the times they will be competitors and you want to keep things as simple as possible if you plan on doing sponsored content for companies.
Also, keep in mind that sponsored posts are just one avenue to making money from your blog. Affiliate networks, ads, guest posts, and so many others are all ways you can bring in money but I have found most success with sponsored content based on how my audience responds.
Another great thing, is you aren't restricted to just working through a third party to get these sponsored posts. You can go out and hustle yourself by contacting companies you want to work with and having them send you a product and/or payment for talking about them on your blog or Instagram. If you would like to see a blog post all about how I reach out to brands, and have successful email conversations with them, please leave a comment below and I'd be happy to give examples! This blogging world is so fascinating even now to me, and I feel like the possibilities for success are limitless. I love sharing what I've learned with others because I feel like there is room for everyone! I wish I had someone giving me tips and not having to spend 1-2 years figuring it out on my own ha ha!
I hope this gives y'all a good idea if you are in the stage of monetizing your blog and or Instagram. I definitely don't recommend striving to have sponsored posts until you've built up an audience and your content. The brands do look at your blog to make sure you are a fit and you have to have some sort of establishment already for success. I'm not saying you need to have a million followers at the moment, but definitely have good blog content and an audience that is active in your posts. If you guys would like me to take a step back and do a post on building up your blog and Instagram please let me know and I can definitely do a run down on the basics!
Top c/o Shop Pink Blush. This is the perfect top for postpartum and if you are nursing! I've loved this brand for their maternity clothing, but they have great clothes for the everyday mama. You can shop this top by clicking here. Thank you for sponsoring today's post and for making the transition to motherhood a good one.
Growing up in a small town, I always imagined a certain kind of future for myself and my children. I pictured my kids growing up with their grandparents just minutes away, being able to attend grandparent days, school events, the works. Call me delusional, but I planned on staying in my hometown my entire life and never imagined a world where I'd live anywhere else.
That all changed when I met my husband who's in the military. Suddenly, I found myself states away, later to be pregnant, and alone. I no longer had my safety net (otherwise known as mom) and I felt scared. All of a sudden I was going to transition to becoming a mom, without the one person who had always been that role in my life. How could I become a mom without my mom?
My mom, thank the Lord, was able to be present for my baby's birth and stay that first week with me. There I learned from the woman herself how to take on this new title.. She taught me how to breastfeed and not give up, how to take care of her, and basically reaffirmed how lost I would be without her. (Don't let her know I said that, she would never let it go if she knew!) But most importantly, she taught me that I can do this. My mama, after all, raised me right: to be independent and keep faith.
Being a mom is the biggest blessing and she raised me to adapt in any situation and prevail. I may not physically have my mom here with me or the ability to drive a few minutes and have her help. But, I do know that I can call her at midnight for advice or just because I need to hear my mom's voice.
When you are growing up, you don't really appreciate your mom as much as you should. You don't see the behind the scenes stuff that goes into becoming a mother, until you become one yourself.
Becoming a mom is so scary, because now we all of a sudden have to live up to everything our moms are, and it's a lot of responsibility to take on that change; and to do it alone.
Moving away from my mom, was very hard on both of us. While I know my mom was heartbroken to lose her best friend (yes I consider myself that!) I know deep down she feels proud because she raised me and did a darn good job at it too. If you are a new or expecting mom, know that the feeling of being alone and scared is perfectly okay. Being so close to your mom makes leaving so much harder, but with that closeness comes comfort that she did her job. You built a strong relationship that even a few states between you couldn't take away. Now it's our turn to carry the torch because she prepared you for this and we will do the same for our children.
Don't fear motherhood because you are definitely not alone. This is a community and when they say it takes a village, they aren't kidding! Befriend other mothers and surround yourself with good people. Being away from your mom is hard, but it gives you the opportunity to be independent and grow in your new role as a mother.
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.