One of my very first blog posts was Why I Started A Blog. In that post, I talked about my desire to create community. I wanted a blog where I could share about my life and whatever “wondrous” moment I encountered in hopes that I would encourage and inspire others to look at the beauty in their every day lives. I also wanted to be an example of how ANYONE can be creative, ANYONE can find beauty, and how EVERYONE has a beautiful story worth sharing. What I haven’t shared yet is that, last summer, I lost a friend. Not to death or illness – but disagreement. We disagreed about the right things and it was good that we parted ways, but it was so painful. I cried and hurt a lot. Sometimes I still feel a little ache here and there. My husband suggested I start writing again as a means of distracting myself. So I did (reluctantly). 8 months later it is now a side business.
I get a lot of messages from old high school/college friends (and sometimes their moms) congratulating me on my website and Instagram. More than anything, those are the times I realize what my social media account must look like from the outside looking in. It must look glamorous and successful and popular. And while it’s seen it’s success and popularity, at the end of the day, it’s just Instagram. It’s one account via a silly little app that sometimes we can put way too much security in. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of followers I will ever have, to me.. this will always be JUST Instagram. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you guys or love what I do, because I do! In a lot of ways, this and YOU have breathed new life into me. While I am so grateful for your support (which I see more as friendship than anything), it’s just Instagram and I’m just me. Nothing special, just looking around for something to inspire me that I also hope inspires you.
The number one comment I get from my followers via DM’s or Email is: “Thank you so much for responding! I didn’t think you would.” There has never been and never will be a message or e-mail I don’t respond to. I mean that. It’s part of my personal “mission statement”. I’ll take your hello’s over likes ANY day. Occasionally, I’ll get an angry, rude, hurtful message. I still respond. The only messages I don’t respond to are those that are sexual in nature. I know. You would think that having an Instagram that features my marriage 90% of the time, would keep men from sending me those kinds of messages, but… you’d be wrong. I don’t respond to those AND I think the world is a lot better because of it.
Q. Do you work?
A. BARELY. I know… it’s comical. My husband works in finance (HOLLA, let’s be real) so, thankfully, I can work as much or as little as I want. Sometimes I get insecure about it. We don’t have kids and after devoting a full day to cleaning/laundry, there’s really not much to get done around here the rest of the week, but it’s where I’m at right now. Ultimately, I’d love to work in writing, marketing, or advertising. Which is why I love blogging so much. I get to sort of do all those, but eventually I can see myself working for a company. I think the most important thing for me is to let my life evolve rather than forcing it. I could go out right now and interview for 20 jobs and pick the one I like the most, but I’d rather take my time and not force it. I truly believe life will lead me there… it just takes its time.
Q. How long have you been married? Do you guys want kids?
A. I get asked this question the 2nd and 3rd most. Adam and I have been married 2 years. You can read all about our wedding day here. You can also read a little more about how we met here. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been married for 5 seconds and other times it feels like we’ve been married for 5 years but, overall, we still feel pretty green. I’ve wanted children since I was a toddler and I always said I’d have FIVE (help, I’m already tired and sleep deprived) so we try to take that decision year by year. Year 1 and Year 2 was a no on the kids department, and it’s looking like Year 3 is also a no. I guess we’ll see next year (wink*). We are, HOWEVER, planning a big move soon. Lots in our future, I guess… we’ll see how it all comes together.
Q. How many kids do you guys want?
A. Adam and I both agree on 3, but maybe I’ll make past me happy and have 5. (Adam would probably never go for it, though.)
Q. What’s your favorite thing about being married? What’s the hardest part?
A. I got deep about our marriage here. But off the top of my head, my favorite part about being married is having a life helper. I used to be SO painfully independent. It was my biggest thing before meeting Adam and now that I’m married and have a built-in helper/best friend, I can’t imagine why I wanted to be so alone all the time. I loved my friends and hung out with a lot of people but I was very private and did most things myself. Adam changed my mind about that. The hardest part: wanting to be right all the time. It’s my disease. And it starts a lot of fights in our household. Oops.
Q. Where do you like to shop?
A. For clothing: H&M, Madewell, Urban Outfitters, MARSHALLS (I love you, discounted cute clothing). For the home: West Elm and Instagram, lol, I get a lot of inspiration from different people on Instagram. I’m constantly the girl in the comments asking, “Where did you get that?” hoping they notice me. If they don’t, I DM them hard.
Q. How did you grow your following?
A. I’ll start off by telling you how I DIDN’T. I didn’t buy followers or likes… ever. Please don’t do that. PLEASE don’t do that. It’s painfully obvious. I can’t tell you how many times I have found a blogger resorting to those methods and I just cringe. On one hand, to each his own… but on the other… you’re digging yourself into a massive hole. Instagram’s algorithm punishes that kind of activity and the algorithm is sophisticated enough to flag you for it and suppress you in people’s feeds/shadow ban you. This will effectively kill your reach permanently or worse, get your account banned. I’m not just saying, “Do it the honest way.” I’m saying, “Do it the smart way.” That being said, I grew my following by studying the algorithm and LOADS of hashtag research. This might be a huge let down, but I can’t thoroughly explain those two things in a Q/A so I’m working on a blog post solely dedicated to that. It’s coming! I promise.
Q. What’s your best advice for a new blogger?
A. 1. Be yourself! I have been unfollowed time and time again. People don’t like what I say, unfollow! People don’t like the photo I posted, unfollow! I imagine I’ve rubbed a lot of people the wrong way… because that’s what people do to each other, and that’s fine! I can sleep at night knowing I was 100% myself. I may have been annoying, unattractive,… I mean, whatever. It was ME. And that’s honestly the only way a blogger should ever blog.
2. You don’t have to post every day. I don’t. I post every 2 or 3 days… honestly, I post if I feel inspired to. That’s a promise I made myself. I refuse to post to “keep up” with my followers or other bloggers. I post for me and I post for you… when and only when I feel inspired to. I still grow every single day! I still get the likes that I normally get. Some people think that if you post more, you grow your engagement more (likes and comments) but I haven’t found that to be true. So take the pressure off and post quality content rather than quantity content.
Q. What do you think was/is your biggest influence for gaining followers? Do you think blogging is absolutely necessary?
A. I imagine this question refers to building an Instagram following. Some of my FAVORITE Instagram people don’t have a blog, and they have a massive following. Like hundreds of thousands of followers. I find blogging to be essential FOR ME because I have a lot to say (insert laughing face emoji) and I can’t get it all in a caption, but having a blog – is not necessary at all. You can still get sponsored without a blog, you can still grow a substantial following without a blog. And if you feel like an Instagram account alone fulfills your creative juices, then go for it! The thing that matters most is being real, having a cohesive feed, content that makes people think or talk, and doing it in a way that is a natural part of your life and fulfills you… otherwise you WILL burn out.
Q. What has been your best blogging resource? What did you find to be the most effective in gaining an audience?
A. I hear a Pinterest account is an AMAZING way of funneling interest to your Instagram, but I have dedicated zero time to my Pinterest (oops). I try to stay way from Pinterest, actually, because it leaves me feeling so inadequate and like I don’t have the right house, clothes,.. you name it. But if you’re not like me, I’d say look into uploading all your Instagram pictures onto Pinterest and making sure they lead back to your IG account when someone clicks on it. What helped me the most at gaining an audience was my website AND my hashtags. More on that in an upcoming post I’m working on.
Q. What do you now know that you wish you knew when you first started EatPrayGrow?
A. Know your worth. I regret the first company I ever worked with, JORD wood watches. Although I still love their product, they take advantage of bloggers left and right. They will not pay you and their contracts with bloggers expect a lot more from them than they are willing to give to you. At the time, I thought I had made it BIG. I was so excited that a company wanted to work with me AND that I got a free watch out of it. I didn’t know my worth. They target small bloggers because they know they’ll get this kind of reaction out of them. These bloggers with small audiences won’t ask for much… because they don’t know yet that they should. Unless JORD is offering you what you’re worth (small following or not), I discourage any and all bloggers from working with them.
My standards are a lot different now. I require payment plus free product (whichever product they want me to promote). A lot of brands, MULTIMILLION dollar brands, have walked away from me because I asked for a payment. I do this, not for the money, but because I want to stop the cycle. Every time a blogger accepts less than they are worth, they are communicating to these brands and big companies that it’s okay to take advantage of bloggers like this… and so the cycle continues. I may not make a huge difference being just ONE blogger, but I know I’m doing the right thing and I hope to inspire any blogger reading this to take on that kind of defense. But in the end, you have to collaborate with your conscience, do what’s right for you! If free product is enough for you, great. I’ll celebrate with you. But if you ever feel a big company is undervaluing you, don’t let them. Say no or ask for more.
Q. What camera do you use?
A. Iphone 7 plus! HA! This always surprises people. ALL of my photos are iPhone. I don’t own a fancy camera and I’m not sure when I will… sharing photos from my iPhone fits more my everyday lifestyle and I can NOT for the life of me figure out a Nikon or Canon. So I just don’t.
Q. Do you fill in your eyebrows?
A. Okay… I actually get this question every time I show my face in my stories. I don’t fill in my eye brows guys (insert laughing face emoji). I’m sorry. I know. I’m annoying – but those are my God given eyebrows. I don’t do a single thing to them, except groom them obviously. I’ve thought about using Glossier’s Boy Brow, because I want to feel like a cool girl, but then I think… yikes, that might be too much eyebrow for me. Mmmm better not.
Those are pretty much my most frequently asked questions. If I missed any, comment below or send me an e-mail and I’ll answer anything for you.