Recently I asked you over stories if you had any more blogging and influencing questions, so we’re covering a few more today! If you missed the previous posts you can read part I and part II there. Of course, a lot of IG and social media has changed over the years, so even if you read the past posts, hopefully these questions will also give you some new insight on how to navigate blogging and influencing today. Also, I’m going to speak to what I know about IG and blogging but not necessarily TikTok. I haven’t grown a following on there and it’s not part of my business so I can’t really speak to it/give advice. However, if you’re starting off today I would absolutely recommend getting on TikTok as you can repurpose your Tiktoks for IG reels and vice versa. It’s not that much extra work to post on both platforms when you’re already making (video) content. TikTok is much easier to grow organically on (like what IG used to be). However, IG is still incredibly important because (IMO and from what I’ve seen), the communities influencers are able to create on IG are strong(er) and that is something that brands value when looking for influencers for their campaigns.
-How to naturally grow a following? This question is tricky because I feel like IG and social media in general has changed so much over the last 5-6 years (from when I started). Now, IG is a business where in order to get organic reach and get new eyes on your account to grow, you really have to rely on features like reels unless you want to “pay to play”. In the past, it was much easier to get new eyes on your account through just posting and using hashtags but over the years that has definitely dwindled. Meaning, businesses have to rely more on paid ads to get new eyes on their account and creators have to rely on features like reels to reach new audiences. Of course posting consistently to your feed and stories with value is important because if you reach a new potential follower with your reels, if they go to your page and see that you don’t post consistently or your reel doesn’t align with the content you’re sharing on a daily basis, they probably won’t follow you.
That being said, I think now the best way to naturally grow a following would be:
– Post consistently; at least 4x a week.
– If possible, have half of your posts be reels that align with the content you’re sharing. Don’t necessarily be trying to do viral reels/trends if they don’t pertain to the content your sharing. You want your reels to be targeted so the right people are seeing them. Quality > quantity.
– Focus on connecting with your audience and proving value. I know that probably sounds like a broken record, but that is what brands look for when deciding who to work with. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you have tons of views and followers if the content your sharing isn’t creating a true connection with your audience. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be funny, be entertaining, or use trending audio, etc. But it just means to focus on building a relationship and connection with your audience and giving them value vs. just trying to put content out that you think will go viral, is trendy, etc.
– If you can find a cool way to collaborate with people in your niche, then this is a great way to get new eyes on your account. Maybe you do an IG live together, or a story takeover, etc. IMO, I wouldn’t recommend doing big giveaways with a bunch of other bloggers. This is something I’ve done in the past and I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with it (in fact, I get why people do it because it is so hard to grow organically now). However, from what I know, brands don’t love when influencers do a bunch of giveaways like that because it’s not necessarily the best quality followers. They would honestly rather you have a smaller, more engaged following. More followers doesn’t not necessarily equal making more money. To put things in perspective, I know influencers with 30K followers who are making more than influencers with 150K+.
-Is blogging on it’s way out? I question whether people read blogs anymore. I can tell you from my analytics people definitely still read blogs. Especially people who are constantly on Pinterest looking for certain topics- if you have your blogs pinned on there you will see your blog traffic increase a ton. The other thing with blogs is that you OWN it and you can (read: should definitely) create an email list. You don’t own IG, TikTok, FB, etc. so if it goes down, our account gets banned, the algorithm f*cks you, you don’t have any control over that. Whereas with a blog and email list, you have direct access to your followers and subscribers. Now, that isn’t to say that everyone should have a blog because I get not everyone enjoys writing or wants to “be a blogger.” But if it’s something you enjoy, I would 100% recommend having one. I talk about site hosts to use here. And if you don’t want to blog per say, I would create freebies or tip sheets around the content that you share so you can acquire emails. That way, you have direct access to your followers when you need it. Examples of what I mean by freebies/tip sheets are on my resources page.
-What is the hardest part of working as an influencer? I will say upfront that in the grand scheme of jobs, IMO, blogging and influencing is great once you get it going and are able to establish it as your full-time job. But getting it to that point is one of the hardest parts. Then of course, like most jobs, there are obviously cons/harder parts (even after it becomes a full fledged business). So let’s talk about all of those!
So getting started and getting it to a point where it can be your full-time job is one of the hardest parts. It requires a lot of time and effort. I share more about that in this post (How to Turn Your Side Hustle into Your Full-Time Job) but you are essentially working two full-time jobs, which is the same that goes for any side hustle that you are trying to take full-time. This also requires a lot of patience because are you are typically working for free (or for very little) with no guarantee that it will turn into anything. For the first three years of blogging and posting to my IG, I made nothing. And at the time, I didn’t start it to turn it into a business, it was literally just a hobby so that made it a lot easier because I didn’t have any expectations. But if you’re starting now and do want it to turn into a business, you have to be patient and know that it won’t just happen overnight. Again, same advice goes for anything you’re just starting – not just blogging/influencing.
I would say now the hardest part is feeling like you have to be “on” 24/7. I’ve gotten a lot better about this over the years – I used to freak out if I missed a day of posting or didn’t show up on stories (which though is honestly probably what it took to get my business to the place that it’s in). But in the last year I’ve definitely taken more time off the app and I think that’s been healthy. But overall, it’s still a job that requires you to be present/active the majority of the time. Nights, weekends, vacation – you’re expected to share because after all that is your job.
I think the other hardest thing (for me) is just continuing to focus on providing value and showing up for my community even if things don’t “perform” as well. Like, I could definitely do more “attention-grabbing” content or try to make trendy reels for the sake of engagement, but that just isn’t what I’m interested in. And with IG changing so much over the years (and especially the last year) it feels like you have to resort to creating that kind of content and “play the game” that IG wants you to play. So finding that balance between creating content that IG will prioritize but still making it feel authentic to me and bringing actual value to y’all can be hard sometimes.
Lastly, I really don’t love how influencing revolves so much around “image” and “the aesthetics” of something or someone. I think that IG and social media has gotten better in some ways about not being as curated and “picture perfect” but there is still a lot of “let me show you how great my life is” and I think a lot of it is unrealistic. Like, these birthday parties for 1 year olds with a million balloon installations, over the top decor, gifts, etc. I just don’t think that is realistic for the majority of people. And that isn’t to say that people can’t share that but it just feels like it is expected to be the new “normal” and I’m like, that just isn’t real life for most people. I don’t love being part of that culture, and don’t want to contribute to that but it can feel difficult at times when you feel like that’s what people “like” to see or it’s what performs “well.”
–How did you build your audience starting out? To put things into perspective, when I started IG stories didn’t exist. No IG stories. No IGTV. No reels. So really the only way to build your audience was posting IG photos consistently. For the first 3+ years I posted every single day. When I also started I was doing BBG (my account used to be solely fitness if you’re newer here), and so a lot of my initial followers came from that community. If I were starting my IG today, refer back to question 1! That is what I would do to build an audience.
–Why do some influencers hide hashtags on stories when it’s sponsored content? I can’t speak for everyone, but my best guess is that sometimes it can feel like if someone knows it’s sponsored they automatically stop watching your stories and we want someone to give the stories a chance before they automatically click out. The other thing is sometimes brands make you do like 4-5 tags/hashtags on each frame and I feel like it can be distracting from the actual content. Influencers definitely shouldn’t be hiding them (I’ve seen this before too when it’s sooo small you can barely see it) but I understand wanting to make them more discrete. It can be frustrating when you’re sharing something that you feel like your audience will genuinely love but they won’t even watch the stories because it’s sponsored. It is also up to the influencer to establish trust with their community so their followers know that they won’t just promote whatever for a paycheck, but I think regardless a lot of people see #ad or #sponsored and are automatically turned off (hence the hiding hashtags on stories).
-Something you wish you knew when starting? I’m going to share two things – one related to IG and the other to blogging. As far as IG goes, it is all about the quality of your community and their involvement/engagement. Like I said above, I know influencers who have 30K followers who make more than influencers with 150k+. Part of it is because of how involved their community is, their ability to “sell” to their community because they’ve established trust, and also because of their content (more on this in the last question related to having a niche). But really, you don’t have to have a large following to make a comfortable living. So instead of focusing on the follower number, focus on really attracting the right people and then fostering that relationship with them and building a strong community 🙂 That being said, this doesn’t really apply to me as “something I wish I knew when starting” because when I started out I really was just focused on the community aspect but as years passed I felt like I had to grow to get better brand deals, to be more successful, etc. and that just isn’t the case. So I think this is something important to know whether you’re just starting out of if you’ve already grown an audience. Bigger isn’t necessarily better.
As far as what I knew about blogging, I wish I would have started using Pinterest a long time ago. A couple years ago I started having someone manage my Pinterest account (so making all of my blog posts into pins and pinning them) and my blog traffic quadrupled. The great thing about Pinterest is that since people use it as more of a search engine, blogs that you wrote 3 years ago can still be discovered/read.
-How to succeed when you don’t necessarily have a niche? So contrary to popular belief, I actually think having a specific niche can be more detrimental than helpful. Don’t get me wrong, I think you need to have an overarching “theme” to your content, but when you have such a specific niche, you really limit yourself regarding brand partnerships. Now if your goal is to be an expert in one field and offer a course, coaching, or a product in that area then by all means, niche down! However, if you’re looking to work as more of an influencer/blogger and the goal is to work with brands I actually think it’s more helpful to not be super niche. For example, if you’re a food blogger you end up kind of pigeonholing yourself into only working with food brands. However, if you share food and recipes but also weave lifestyle content in, or tips/hacks for easy recipes, how to live a more balanced lifestyle, etc. you open yourself up to more opportunities. For me personally, when I was posting only fitness content the brand collaborations I had were solely around healthy snacks, protein bars/powders, athletic wear brands. But now that my content is lifestyle and I focus on easy and relatable ways to elevate your everyday life – I have brand partnerships in food, home, tech, beauty, finance, etc. So in my case, it helps to be a “jack of all trades and a master of none” 😉 And you do not need to be as broad as I am, but my point is, I wouldn’t recommend being super niche unless your focus is on creating and selling your own products within that particular niche/space.
Ps. Just a random tip about niche- if you’re someone who wants to be a travel blogger or you want your content to focus on travel, I highly recommend finding ways to incorporate lifestyle in there as well. Travel (ie. hotels) are an industry that typically do not have budgets to work with so a lot of those partnerships are in exchange for trade (ie. the hotel room is free or discounted, but you do not get paid on top of that). So just something to keep in mind depending on what your goals are!
Alright guys, hope this helped! Let me know if I can answer anything else 🙂