Q&A: Blogging and Instagram
Lately, I’ve been getting variations of the same questions via DM on Instagram . This blog post seems like a better way to answer them so I can answer in paragraph form instead of a short quick answer via IG. For those of you that are newer here, I do have plenty of Blogging tips and posts with loads of insider info. There are really insightful posts like my post on How Bloggers Make Money, or How to Prep for a Photoshoot! I always try to keep what I do as transparent as I can and share whatever information I have with you.
When I first started blogging (which was forever ago), there was no info out there and it sucked. It took me way too long to get to where I am now simply because I didn’t understand or know what the heck I was doing. Fast forward through all the annoying times of trying to figure things out with no resources and here I am now passing on any info I can give to you. I opened up a questions form on my stories and let you guys ask away! So here’s a little Q & A about Blogging and Instagram from all the questions I got from some of you via stories:
Q: How should you start first? Instagram, Personal Blog, finding a photographer?
A: It really depends what you want out of it! I always recommend having a blog no matter what. While Instagram is fun, you never really know how long it will be around. Remember this: You do NOT own Instagram. If, for whatever reason, one fateful day it gets taken over by aliens, guess what? You’re screwed. I guess we all are in this boat though haha. When I got my instagram hacked, I thought my IG had completely disappeared and I was so thankful I still had my blog.
Having a blog gives you a place where your audience can always find you. If one platform gets taken away, it’s always great to have a backup. This can be your hub to your IG, Youtube or whatever other forms of social media you want to have. That being said, if you aren’t sure how seriously you want to commit, maybe just start on IG and then go from there. As far as a photographer, maybe try to get friends to help or local photographers who are trying to collaborate. It also depends on what kind of photos you want. If you’re happy with iPhone photos then you can have anyone shoot those. Cell phone cameras are so damn good nowadays its insane. I wouldn’t stress on the photographer at first.
Q. How and when did you get started?
It’s been so long I honestly lost count but somewhere around 10 years now. I started my blog as a creative outlet and a way to start a creative portfolio. I wasn’t sure how it would be a “portfolio”, but I knew it had potential. I was out of high school and I had studied fashion and then graphic design in college. I was torn between if I wanted to be a fashion stylist, fashion designer, graphic designer or just say screw it all and be a photographer. This helped me blend them all together.
My blog was horrible in the beginning. I look back and cringe. The editing was a mess (I’m not being hard on myself guys. I’m talking neon colors even on my skin tone. What?!). Honestly, I wasn’t good at any of those things! I was studying graphic design so I was still learning and always experimenting, I had a crazy sense of fashion at the time and had no idea how to blog. Eventually (maybe three years into it?) the blogging world started to take off and I started to take my craft more seriously. By then I had learned how to do things a lot better and really focused in on what I wanted the space to be.
Q.How did you get your blog up and running?
A: When I first started there was Blogger/Blogspot and I just used one of their templates. After a while, I bought my own domain, set up a WordPress account and got to it! I’m actually finishing up drafting a post with more detail on this exact subject which will be live this week so stay tuned!
Q. How often do you take photos? Do you do batch shoots in one day?
A. It really depends! Sometimes I go months traveling every other week and then I can also be home for months. There are times that I have a lot of sponsored content with due dates and other times I don’t have any at all. If I am traveling, I normally shoot as much content as I can during my travels that can last me weeks and then I don’t have to shoot for a bit. Other times, if I have a lot of sponsored gigs with deadlines, I can go out and shoot various times in one week.
Batch shooting is not something I do very often anymore. I think it takes away from my creativity and my car becomes a mess haha. However, sometimes it is necessary. For instance, this past month I’ve been stuck at home 24/7 because my husband broke his knee. I haven’t been able to go out and shoot my normal content so I went out two days out of the month and shot a LOT of content. It’s been holding me over for now! In general, my schedule is all over the place. It just depends on what is going on at the moment which is always changing.
Q: Everybody gets trolls and haters now and then, but how do you deal?
A. Ugh, TROLLS!! Trolls are extremely annoying. I always try and keep in mind that 1, I can’t please everybody and 2, this person is not a happy person. People who troll are bored, unhappy people just looking to fight or trouble. Honestly, for me, I just ignore them or even delete the comment if it’s extremely inappropriate. I really don’t like drama in my community so unless it is incredibly offensive I just ignore it. You can’t reason with trolls.
Q: What would you have done differently if anything?
A: Oh man, so years ago I spent a LOT of money on my website thinking it would help make my page grow faster. HUGE MISTAKE. This was before Instagram was huge. The company pretty much robbed me and didn’t even do that great of a job. I wish I had used all that money for other things like equipment and marketing or maybe just hiring a freelancer to do SEO. It was a big slap in the face and a (much-needed) learning curve for me. I didn’t know enough about the blogging business at the time. I’ve learned so much about where and how to spend money since then, where to save and how to associate with people that can do things for me and save me time (such as making websites for a more affordable price from places like Upwork.com ).
Q: Which lightroom presets do you use?
A: I use my own presets for both iPhone and desktop. The desktop version just launched yesterday so you guys can use them too! They are so good I have been using these exact ones for months and have gotten such an amazing response! Shop them here.
Q: Do you think it’s better to use a host site like WordPress or purchase your own domain?
A: Hmm. I use WordPress and love it because you can really customize it. If you are trying to do blogging professionally I would definitely recommend having your own domain.
Q: What were some of your biggest challenges when you got started?
A: My biggest challenge was probably finding my voice and trusting myself. I would let a lot of people tell me how to do things (who barely knew what blogging even was) and I would listen instead of listening to my own gut and what I believed in. One strong lesson I’ve learned is that you need to believe in yourself first. If you don’t believe in yourself then no one else will. It’s been something that has taken me years of work and I finally feel like I have found myself only in the past few years.
Q: How do you pick where to shoot photos:
A: One of my favorite things about blogging! It’s really always different. When traveling I look for landmarks or anything that will show off the culture of the place I’m visiting. If I am back home I choose my locations based on what I’m trying to accomplish. To show off my outfit, I will find a spot that compliments it and doesn’t take away from the outfit but adds to the story. I sometimes will just shoot randomly on the go to capture the day to day life and keep it real. In which case I try to find a pretty and interesting backdrop that’s kind of neutral. In general, I try to always find that good light. Lighting is key and I’d daresay it’s more important than the backdrop!
Q: How do you choose what outfits to wear and where?
A: I typically try to share what is “in season” and what I’m into and feeling inspired by at the moment. If I’m in the city I will shoot an urban style. On the beach? Something beachy. On vacation? Something that compliments the city I’m in. Like I mentioned above, I make sure that background compliments and doesn’t take away from my outfits. If there is a story or mood I’m trying to convey I will keep that in mind as well. When working with a sponsored brand collaboration (like a shoe company for instance), I will plan my outfit around the shoe and make sure the outfit doesn’t take away from the shoe and helps it shine.
Q: What Camera do you shoot with?
A: I shoot mostly with my Canon 6d Mark iii. You can also check out the latest post I wrote about what camera equipment I use including lenses and extras that help me out.
Q. How do you deal with creative block? Do you get it often?
A: I used to get really heavy creative blocks because I would go so hard on creating content back to back and never take breaks. I find that the best way to stay creative is to allow for room to breathe so those ideas can just flow. Now I take days off way more often than I used to and I feel my content has gotten better because of it. The response from you guys (engagement, shares, feedback) has also definitely improved!
Sometimes just going out into nature, disconnecting and focusing on something else also inspires more creativity in me. Being stuck to your devices 24/7 with no breaks is no way to live. Another trick is I write a lot of my ideas down and have drafts everywhere. That way I can use one of those for a “rainy day” when I really just cannot even.
Q.How do I even start an Instagram like yours? I really want to but have no idea what to do.
A: First, find your niche. What is special about you that you want to share with the world? Second, find your voice and share your personality! Third, use hashtags like crazy! Make sure they are relevant to your niche and try to switch them up here and there so you reach a wider audience. Fourth: Engage, engage, engage! I also wrote a post in the past on growing your Instagram and getting good engagement. Looking back, I hate that I named the post “How to beat the Instagram Algorithm” because I don’t believe anymore that you need to “beat” it, rather instead accept it and use it to your advantage! Either way, this post is still very relevant and helpful!
Be as authentic as you can. Promote brands and a lifestyle you truly believe in. Faking it is pretty obvious. If you are true to who you are, then you have a much stronger chance of reaching the audience you will resonate with and resonates with you.
Q. Do you do any engagement pods? Do you think they really help?
A: No. I used to a few years back, but I found it defeated the purpose of IG and what I was trying to build. With engagement pods, you have to constantly be liking and commenting on other accounts that are similar to yours. These girls would be posting all day! It was so much work that I ended up not having time to engage with my real, true following who were there because they actually liked me. I had so many comments and likes from girls who were only doing it to get a like back. Instagram is so much more than just numbers and likes. If there is no truth to that comment/like then it doesn’t mean anything to me as I’m trying to build a strong community of people who are interested in my content and what I’m sharing. Once I stopped doing comment pods the true engagement with the community began.
Q. In the beginning, how did you afford all the clothes and photographers?
A: I did a bit of fashion styling for local photographers and a few magazines back in the day and learned that I could “pull” clothes from local boutiques. Knowing this info helped me realize I didn’t really need to spend. Local boutiques that were pretty cute and had trendy clothes were happy to lend me clothes in exchange for a shoutout and content. Forever 21 is no longer a store I frequent, but I would go here often to purchase clothes that were way more affordable plus got pretty savvy at thrifting.
As for a photographer, I had my husband and a good friend who would help me a lot in the beginning. Collaborating with local photographers who wanted exposure was also in the mix. Once I had a slightly larger following I started to email brands and ask to pull from them (not even gifted, just “borrowed” and they were happy to do it). All I asked in return was that they would reshare my pics and tag me which many of them were happy to do.
Hope you guys found this to be an interesting read! If you have more questions leave in the comment section below and I’ll respond!
As always, thanks for reading!