Hey guys! The recent posts I’ve done on various blogging topics seem to be of interest to you guys, so I figured why not do a general Q&A of social media type questions. Below are all questions you guys wanted to answers to, so let’s get to it!
1. What blog host do you use? Or any recommendations on good ones? I personally use WordPress. No real reason in particular, but when I first created my blog it was the host that I was somewhat familiar with. Also, it was somewhat easy for someone (aka me) without any web/graphic design experience to set up. I’ve had someone set up more intricate parts of my blog since then, but I could get the job done to initially set it up. I have the business plan which helps me view my blog analytics and utilize SEO, and lets me have access to any website theme/template. I don’t think this is necessary in the beginning, but depending on what you’re using your blog for it’s nice to have the option. In terms of some other hosts, I know some bloggers use Squarespace and Blogger, but I’m not really familiar with either of these platforms. I looked at Squarespace briefly when I wanted to redesign my blog earlier this year but I wasn’t really obsessed with any of their templates so I just kept my WordPress account!
2. Is blogging and Instagram financially worth your time…do you see a return on all the work you put in? At this point, yes. But it wasn’t always that way! That goes for any business that you are starting–it takes investing a lot of time and money to get started, and then you hope that it pays off and you’ll see a return. The money part isn’t as true for me since most of my posts revolve around more lifestyle, fitness, and fashion (I guess I’m comparing myself to beauty and/or fashion bloggers and I’ve heard them say that it can get expensive when you’re first starting and not making an income…you have to buy the beauty products and clothes to share). But for me, my posts originate(d) in things that I would already be doing or buying, so financially it wasn’t a huge investment, but time was/is a different story. Now I know that even if I am creating a blog post, or a IG post that isn’t sponsored, I am still building my brand, which in turn helps me get those opportunities to work with brands and make an income from it. In the beginning though, if you want to turn your blog or IG into a source of income, you have to trust that the time you’re putting in will eventually pay off. So in that sense, you really have to love it because it can take a while to pay off financially if that is one of your goals.
3. How do you establish a relationship with brands? Do they reach out to you or vice versa? When I first started my IG, I wasn’t using it with the intention of working with brands. With that said, I didn’t reach out to any brands; brands would DM me and say they would love to send me product to share on my page. Essentially, if a brand feels like your page aligns with their brand, they may message you about a collaboration. So, the more my account grew, the more brands would reach out to me. Once I established my brand more, and knew what kind of content I wanted to share, I would occasionally reach out to brands. I would just send an email saying that I loved their brand and asked if they collaborate with bloggers (or influencers), and if so, I’d love the opportunity to work them. (Sidenote. It helps if you have something of theirs that you can reference, ie. “I recently purchased your ‘X’ and absolutely love it!”) While I still do this sometimes, the majority of my collaborations come from brands reaching out to me directly. They will see my page and then send an email with their interest. So, as you can see, there is no right or wrong way to do it. However, if you are starting your IG or blog with the intention of building a business, I would suggest being proactive and emailing brands, or looking for brands that have affiliate programs (so you can start by earing commission).
4. How do you get “free” things from brands (and form relationships)? So, this kind of plays off the last question but to give a little more detail. When you’re first starting your blog or IG, brands will reach out to you to post in exchange for product. Meaning, “Hey! We love your page, and would love for you to pick out a workout set and share it on your page!” At this stage, there isn’t really any specifics negotiated; it’s a casual arrangement/agreement. As your page grows, you will be able to have sponsored content; brands will pay you to share their product. What you charge depends on a lot (your followers, engagement, quality/type of page), but it will get to a point where you won’t just be posting in exchange for product. Anyway, I talk a little more about this topic in this other blog post. But overall, that is how you are able to get product for “free.”
5. How do you find inspiration for your blog posts? Hmmm. Good question! There are definitely times that I feel more inspired than others. In general though, I get a lot of my inspiration from you guys! I like to ask (over IG especially) what you guys want to hear about…or I look at FAQs in my comments and go from there. So yeah! I get a lot of ideas from you guys because I want to write about topics that you guys want to read about. I also get ideas from stuff I do in my “everyday life” that I think you guys might be interested in. For example, my recent blog post on nursing. Yes, you guys have expressed an interest in a variety of aspects regarding nursing, but also, when I get home from the hospital, I am TIRED. A lot of days I’m like, do other people feel this way? So, then I feel inspired to share that with you guys. So yeah, it’s a combination of things you guys express interest in and what goes on in my everyday!
6. How do I get my husband to take better pics of me? (LOL). Okay I think this question was part joke/part serious but I kind of want to address it. Here’s why! So, in the beginning, Stephen would take most of my photos (as he does now), and it was not the best LOL. I would compared him to other IG accounts where the blogger’s boyfriend or husband was a professional photographer and I’d be like WHY CANT YOU GET THOSE PHOTOS?! As you can imagine, it wouldn’t make for the most pleasant photo sessions (oops). I guess my point is, don’t expect your significant other to take professional quality photos, if they aren’t a professional lol, BUT you can “train” them haha. When Stephen would take photos, I would go through them and be like “See this angle? That’s good. This angle though? That’s bad?” And now, I would say that the majority of the photos he takes are good. Let’s put it this way, with the exception of maybe my one friend (thanks Ali!), I would hands down pick Stephen to take my photos any day of the week 😉
7. What kind of camera do you use? Do you need an expensive camera? The answer to this question is I use an iPhone 7 Plus. I used my iPhone for a long time, and then I got the complex that in order for my feed to “do better” (get better engagement) that I needed a professional camera. So, Stephen and I bought a DSLR and took photos with that, and the photos didn’t do any better than my iPhone photos (maybe because we didn’t really know how to use it, but still! lol). So then I thought, well maybe I just need an actual professional photographer…you know, someone who knows what they’re doing. But still, even after using a professional photographer, my engagement wasn’t any better. So, we went back to using an iPhone. THEN I read recently from several big bloggers I follow that as a general rule of thumb, iPhone (aka mobile) photos actually do better on the platform of IG. Regarding the blog, more editorial style (ie. professional/DSLR) photos do better, but as far as IG mobile photos are the way to go. So what’s the bottom line? You don’t need an expensive camera. For IG, a cell phone with a good quality camera is all you need.
8. Do you typically par for the photographers you use when you take professional-style pictures? And if so, how much/how do you find them? While I touched on this in my last question, I do use a professional photographer sometimes..mostly for my blog or for certain sponsored posts on IG. In regards to my photographer, I found her over IG! I looked under hashtags for photographers in my city and then narrowed it down to a couple photographers who I felt like their style of photography aligned with my brand. I sent a DM to the first photographer that I wanted to work with and asked if she would be willing to do a shoot in exchange for me sharing her photos on my page. We basically met up and ended up talking for 2 hours (love her!) and then met up the next week for a shoot. After this initial shoot, I paid/pay her for future shoots. In my opinion, what she charges me is super reasonable. She will shoot me for 2-2/12 hours, give me 20 images and charge me $200. Other blogger friend’s that I’ve spoken with say that this is a great price and I agree! So yeah! That’s the answer to that question 🙂
9. What filters and editing apps do you use? So the main editing app I use is VSCO. In VSCO I use the A5 filter for pretty much all of my photos. I recently started using Snapseed for some photos, but the tuning I use through this app is super minimal (sometimes I’m like, can you even tell a difference?) I also use Facetune. After editing with VSCO and Snapseed, I use Facetune for some final touches! I especially love the details feature in this app–it helps make details (for lack of better word) really stand out. I also will sometimes use the “smoothing” feature on my face and give myself some botox 😉 Hey, just being honest!
10. I want to start a blog…should I make a new IG, or change my current IG handle? It depends! I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I originally made a separate IG but now I don’t even use my personal account! What was my “fitness” IG is just now my main/only account. But, I didn’t want to inundate my personal feed with my fitness stuff; I wanted an account solely dedicated to fitness. So in that sense, I would say, if you’re creating an IG specifically to promote your blog, and your personal life isn’t part of that content (like you aren’t doing a “lifestyle” blog), then create a different IG handle. Overall, if you want to create an IG account to promote your blog and to use from a business perspective, you want all your content to be directed towards building your brand.
11. How do you find time to blog while being a nurse (or while you were in nursing school)? Well, while I was in nursing school I wasn’t trying to blog full time, or blogging at all for that matter. Really during nursing school I was just posting to IG for fun/to keep me motivated and accountable. In regards to finding time now though while working as a nurse, it’s challenging. I recently cut down my hours a little bit at the hospital because balancing both my blog/IG and nursing was proving to be too much…I was getting spread really thin. So having some extra time away from the hospital helps, but pretty much every day away from the hospital is a full work day for me regarding the blog and IG. It can still be stressful and kind of exhausting, but one recommendation I would have is to make a to do list and prioritize things each day, week, and month. This will help you set a realistic timeline and expectations for yourself. Overall I think it’s good to have the mindset to be consistent and diligent in making content but remember that there is no “deadline.”
Hope these questions were helpful! Anything that I missed? Did you guys like this post? Let me know! As always, thanks for reading 🙂