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.
I am sure some of you might be growing tiresome of me talking about this little one, but honestly when you have waited for something for so long, it's so hard not to talk about it! Our life lately has been pretty monotonous, with us both working full time I have been struggling with still putting my heart and soul into this blog! I love blogging more than anything and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon, I just need to figure out how to balance my time better!
J is still enjoying his job and has been flying a lot after work. I work from home for an online college so that takes up the majority of my day, and I am also working to finish my Pharmacy Technician program! We are staying pretty busy and cherish every moment we get together.
I am so so excited to begin the nursery process! We probably won't get a crib for awhile because I plan on having a co sleeper in our room. But, I'm excited to start the closet, set up the changing table and dresser, and add in the cute little details that will make the room more of the baby's. I have always had the theme picked out if it was a boy, and J came up with the cutest idea for a girl, so I am just ready to know what we are doing and get to it!
While we do know the gender, we are waiting until this next appointment to announce because I have a fear of it changing on us! There have been a lot of mom's reporting that it changes or they got it wrong, and I don't want that to happen so we are waiting to have it confirmed by the doctor.
I am now 15 weeks (16 weeks tomorrow!) and have filmed a pregnancy update. I also have a maternity clothing haul filmed, but I'm debating on if I want my lookbook to go up first or not.
Those of us who struggled to get pregnant, know the overwhelming disappointment of a negative test. You over evaluate every little potential “symptom” and think: this is it. This will be the month I get pregnant.
Then it doesn’t happen. Your monthly cycle shows up, or even worse you test and you know the answer before it comes and the three minutes are up. (This happened twice to me, not kidding) Seeing only one line on a test seems like the silliest thing to cry over, but in that moment it feels like you lost something. Like this was supposed to be the month, and that chance is gone now.
After trying for about 10 months, I decided I was no longer going to test, track my days, or put any excess energy into it. I was trying to feel content with life being just me and my husband and focusing on buying a home. We had also finally planned our belated honeymoon for our 2 year anniversary, and were getting so excited for it! It was the week before Christmas and I started getting my usual period symptoms, so I prepared for it to come in the next few days as usual. When it never came, and I had a week of those symptoms, I tried to push any glimmer of hope out of my mind. I didn’t want to have that feeling again, especially with Christmas coming up so soon.
We enjoyed our Christmas weekend and that following Monday my family came up to celebrate with us. That Monday morning, something in me just had the urge to take the dang test. I slipped out of the bed quietly, unwrapped a test as quietly as I could as to not wake up J, and took it.
I set it down on the counter and before it even left my hand, I saw a line immediately as the dye ran across. My first thought was it was the test line, but the test key shows the test line as the second. I just stood there in utter shock as tears filled my eyes.
J and I had always planned to test together, I wasn’t in to the whole idea of doing it alone and surprising him after, but honestly I was just expecting the usual negative result. I finished up in the bathroom and walked to the bed and said his name and woke him up. I was standing there shaking, test in one hand, and he probably thought I was a crazy woman! I showed him and started tearing up even more and you know what his response was? “About time”.
That’s exactly how I felt too, but of course decorated with more gushy, emotional words per usual. I got back in bed and cuddled up with him, just beaming that it had finally happened: our prayers had been answered, this was the day we prayed for. I am still in shock that we are having a baby, and I don’t think it really sunk in until I saw our baby on the ultrasound screen. The nurse put the wand on my belly and immediately on the screen, we saw our baby for the first time. She played its little heartbeat (a fast 175), and I could not believe my ears. I am finally carrying another life, something that seemed like such a distant hopeful dream at one point, was now a reality. I was pretty composed seeing the baby, just in utter awe that we made that. Then, the baby started moving around and moving all of its limbs and that’s when I snapped back to reality and teared up.
For those still waiting for that day, my heart goes out to you. While we tried for a year, J pointed out that we shouldn’t look at it that way. It happened exactly when it was supposed to. The day we prayed for couldn’t have been as perfect if it happened any other day. I feel like I have appreciated this pregnancy so much more than I would if we got pregnant as soon as we started trying. It made me appreciate my time with J, focus on improving myself, and getting the most out of life.
I hope to change the direction of our blog a little bit, because as you know, this is The Strattons. I created this blog to document our lives together, and now our family is growing by one more! I will actively be sharing this pregnancy journey, doing week updates when major things are changing, and I just sharing the overall joy of motherhood that I so heavily prayed for.
Two years ago my forever began and we started on our journey together. We were just two people who fell in love, and now here we are celebrating our two year anniversary and I am so humbled by our journey.
Three years ago, I fell head over heels for a soldier who I thought was way out of my league. He was leaving for a deployment, and I was left wondering if that was a once in a lifetime love or if I would get to see him again.
Thank goodness it was the latter. Our relationship began with much heartache with long distance and soon after we took on the roles of husband and wife. I could not imagine a future without him in it, and luckily he felt the same.
We shared our vows and then started school two days later.
We then formed into broke college students, eating frozen dinners and ramen, and doing our math homework together... And let's not forget learning how to live with another person who doesn't know how you function and what your quirks are.
Then, we got the great opportunity to move to Colorado and I became a stay at home wife while he went to work. We got our puppy before the move and that was our life! About halfway through the year, we got word of another deployment, so I went home to Texas instead of being up here alone. Our homecoming reunion was so special and sweet and I'm so happy he's back home.
Fast forward to a year after that and we finally bought our first home together. We are know settled in our forever home and have grown so close over these few years of marriage together.
Thank you for stopping by The Strattons Blog! Here are snippets of my life, motherhood, and the military!