A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of not only attending Smak Parlour‘s Galentine’s event, but also speaking on the panel with a few other local babes! A lot of people who didn’t get to attend the event seemed interested in the info I’d shared, so I figured why not put it all together here.
How did you become an influencer?
Honestly, I think becoming an “influencer” or content creator was a natural progression of my choice in internet presence over the years! I’ve participated in nearly every major social media or creative blogging platform that existed over the years, from Xanga and Livejournal, to Flickr, Tumblr, and definitely Myspace. It’s funny, I’ve always had a desire to share pieces of myself in a creative manner, but only within the last few years truly felt comfortable opening myself up in a raw enough way that I feel others can connect with. [click_to_tweet tweet=”I’ve always had a desire to share pieces of myself in a creative manner.” quote=”I’ve always had a desire to share pieces of myself in a creative manner.”]
How do you keep your content so on brand?
The simple answer is: I keep my pictures “on brand” or cohesive by using the same Lightroom preset and shooting nearly every picture in bright light!
I truly think the best advice I can give to someone for keeping their content on brand, first and foremost, is to shoot all your photos in the same (or as close to the same) light. Once you’ve done that, it’s so much easier to take your chosen preset (or filter if you’re not using Lightroom) and paste it between photos. If there’s not much that needs to be done in way of adjusting (exposure, shadows, tones, and so on) your pictures should overall flow together, regardless of the content pictured!
I also don’t subscribe to the idea that you should aim for the same few colors in your backgrounds/clothing/subject matter, but that’s only because I’m already anal as hell with my pictures, and I know that would make me 10000% worse.
I will note, that I’ve been into photography since high school (at least 10-15 years), so much of what I’m able to accomplish comes with skills that I’ve picked up after a lot of practice. If you’re making little steps on the daily to better your skills, you’ll absolutely reach the level you want to be in no time.[click_to_tweet tweet=”If you’re making little steps on the daily to better your skills, you’ll absolutely reach the level you want to be in no time.” quote=”If you’re making little steps on the daily to better your skills, you’ll absolutely reach the level you want to be in no time.”]
(related post: Taking Better Instagram Photos)
What apps do you use to edit your photos/stay cohesive?
The apps featured above are the ones I most frequently utilize for content creation in general. Rather than just share what I use for editing, I figured it’s easiest to explain ALL my faves.
LIGHTROOM CC: This is the FIRST app my photos go through when I start the editing process. I use a modified Tezza preset (because I found that better than paying $$$ for her app) on my photos, and then crop everything down to a 4×5 ratio. (Y’all, I don’t care what anyone else says, SHARE YOUR PICTURES IN 4×5 RATIO, PORTRAIT MODE. This takes up as much space as allowed, and will get the best response from your audience. You’re welcome.)
RETOUCH: You know the stray stick or electrical outlet that manage to sneak into photos? I use Retouch to completely get rid of them. I think those little objects being in a photo can take a good photoshoot from professional to amateur REAL quick, so it’s important they disappear. Frankly, I’ve also used this app to remove people, lawn chairs, and entire rock formations (I literally removed a CLIFF from the bottom left of THIS photo), because I’m anal as hell about my edits. You don’t have to be quite like me, but it’s definitely worth downloading.
FACETUNE: I mostly use Facetune to do minor nip/tuck adjustments or to brighten my smile. I’m all for authenticity, but I’ve got zero desire to share a picture where it looks like I have a triple chin because I smiled funny.
MEXTURES: If you’ve ever looked at my feed and wondered “where does that gritty dust effect come from?”, this is your answer. (If you’ve never wondered that, this is still your answer.) Once I’m completely finished editing my photos, I like to go in and add a little grit on top of my usual Lightroom grain, to polish everything off and bring the look together.
UNUM: I use this to plan out my Instagram feed in advance, because I’m picky A.F. about how the tones of my photos flow together. It’s like a tile system that you can use to drag and drop your photos on. Some people also use Planoly or Preview, this is just the “planning” app that works for me.
UNFOLD: Have y’all caught the cute little film strip photos people post on their stories? Those are made with this app. You have to pay for the different photo packs, but at something like $2 for 10 slides, I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth a hundred times over by making my Instagram stories look extra cute with this app CONSTANTLY.
STORYLUXE: This is the lighter, more airy, FREE version of Unfold. There are a few options you can pay for, but I haven’t and I still use it just fine!
PICSART: If you’re following me from Instagram, you’ve likely seen some of the fun phone background photo collages that I’ve posted recently. Well: they’re made with this. You can also use the brush tool in PicsArt to make fake bokeh or even fake snow like I did HERE. Mostly I use this for fun.
(related post: Growing Your Instagram)
How do you get connected with other influencers?
You seem well connected?
This is actually something that I’ve heard people say about my personal life as well–that I seem to know everyone. Honestly, I think (and this may not be the cut-corners answer that people want) I’ve connected with so many people by just talking to them. I don’t go out of my way to do anything special in particular, but I’d say the following are the top ways I’ve met people:
It’s important to remember: behind the screen, and behind the apps, there are actual people who more often than not are down to talk; whether about the cute outfit they’re wearing in that Instagram photo you love, or about the blog post they spilled their guts into. So, hit up their DMs and REACH OUT!!! I know that it can be totally terrifying hitting “SEND” on a message, but y’all, there’s nothing to lose and a whole friend to gain.
There seems to be this big elephant in the blogging world, where no one wants to share what techniques work for them in terms of finding success, because how dare someone else be successful as well. I find this mindset kind of bizarre, especially because I’m the absolute worst at keeping secrets, and as soon as something CLICKS for me, I start shouting it from the e-rooftops. My thought is that if one simple editing step, a preset, a facebook group, or list of hashtags is all that stands between you and your “success”, it might be worth it to reevaluate, because you’re essentially hanging on by a string.
Besides, that friend you helped out often comes back and offers their own advice, or promotes you to their audience. Connections and wins all around.[click_to_tweet tweet=”Behind the screen, and behind the apps, there are actual people who more often than not are down to talk” quote=”Behind the screen, and behind the apps, there are actual people who more often than not are down to talk”]
I think nearly everyone has a skill they can offer up in exchange for something someone else specializes in. For example, it’s no secret that I’m above average at taking photos, and because bloggers often need someone to snag that shot, that’s usually my go to! I’m almost always down to trade photos for photos (because who wants to always use a tripod), but sometimes PR, social media skills, or editing works too!
If you’re reading this and thinking “I’ve got nothing”, I bet you’re wrong. Look at what you do on the regular, just in your daily life. I’m sure there’s something you’re capable of doing a little better than the next person! Reach out to others and see if they’re down to barter.
Going to events:
Y’all, I know it can be scary to go to a blogger event, because people absolutely will be dressed to impress (or at least to get a good photo), but do. it. anyway. Not only will you get the chance to meet brands and build connections that may later want to pay you, you’ll meet like-minded people who just get why you scroll through Instagram to find that perfect set of hashtags, how solid a hair flip photo is, and how to get low and nail the picture even if it takes 50 tries.
Also, how many times have you met someone in person and been like “Whoa, this isn’t who I thought you were from the internet”? As amazing as e-friendships can be, it’s totally important to take it offline if possible. Seriously: happy hours, brunches, store openings, photoshoots, whatever’s going on in your area, go.[click_to_tweet tweet=”You’ll meet like-minded people who know how to get low and nail the picture, even if it takes 50 tries.” quote=”You’ll meet like-minded people who know how to get low and nail the picture, even if it takes 50 tries.”]
What are some goals for 2019?
I think my biggest goal for 2019 in terms of blogging is growth. Growth in numbers, growth in myself and my confidence, and in general, growth in my personal brand.
I’m sure I’ll make it to 10k Instagram followers in the next year (woo, swipe up~) because I’m focusing my energies and manifesting it as so, but I more importantly want to create a stronger and bigger community off the major social medias (that can disappear at any time y’all). I’d like to truly build TGS into a full-time paying job, where I feel comfortable letting my current full-time job drop to part-time.
What is the most beneficial advice you received
during your career as a blogger/influencer?
I think some of the best advice I’ve read as a blogger is to:
Stay in your own lane. There will always be someone out there doing things differently (or better) than you, but in spending your energies focusing on them, you take energy away from your own brand. That’s a huge loss.
Not waste time being afraid. Y’all, don’t wait months or years to make the jump into blogging if it’s something you’re interested in. In holding yourself back from making that leap, you’re also holding yourself back from potential growth in all areas of your business. I held back for years (hello, I’ve been blogging since Xanga existed) on really committing, and all I did is cost myself so much time where I could have been really fine tuning my craft. Don’t do that to yourself.
Cater to the audience you already have. I wish I could remember the source for this, but it’s brilliant. Y’all, don’t spend so much time focusing on the audience that you want that you completely forget about the audience you already have. Instead, talk to people and create content as if you’ve already hit 10k/50k/100k.
No one wants to be at a party where the host is spending the whole time trying to get more people to come. Instead, make the party so amazing that your audience can’t help but invite people for you.[click_to_tweet tweet=”Make the party so amazing that your audience can’t help but invite people for you.” quote=”Make the party so amazing that your audience can’t help but invite people for you.”]