Another LONNNNG over-due post! I would say 70-80% of the messages I get are in regards to how I started blogging and how I have built my INSTAGRAM page. Let me first start by saying I do not have all the answers, I don’t have it all figured out, I truly am just learning along the way and tweaking whatever needs to be tweaked as I go.
So how I got started…
In 2016 I decided to start a online boutique. It was SO much fun, but what I began to notice is that it was taking me away from everything else. My family was getting put on the back-burner, it completely took me away from our health and wellness business we have built since 2012, and I was honestly working non-stop. If you know me, you know I don’t mind hard-work… I have worked since I was 14yrs old. I love to work, but the people and things I was called to first were getting the absolute worst of me. After a lot of prayer I sold the business to the sweetest girls, they are still up and going strong! They are called “Sage & Cole” …. look them up, they carry some really cute things! So, as God began to prompt my heart to sell my boutique I started really noticing these women called “bloggers” I honestly had no idea they were making money, some of them a six-seven figure income! I just saw women using social media to share what they loved and were using. I was one of their best customers honestly. Shoot, I bought skincare, clothes, shoes, anything they were sharing, that I liked… I bought! I have always supported it. I remember one day thinking, “I could do that. I should do that.” Because here’s the reality, we are all selling something… you’re just not getting paid for it. I mean think about it, how often do you tell your friends to go see the great movie you saw, or go try out the best new restaurant you just went to? We are doing it everyday! BUT the theater ain’t sending you or me a paycheck. That’s the difference. With our health and wellness business we have had success because we have always just shared what we loved and used. This looked no different in my opinion. I also need to share that I had a following on my INSTAGRAM PAGE of about 6000 before I ever started blogging. That following had grown from just sharing our life for years on there and also speaking at numerous conferences throughout the years.
So, after I sold the boutique I decided I would start being intentional with sharing and tagging the brands I was wearing and using. I wrestled with starting a completely new page or just making a PSA and letting people know what was coming. I decided to keep the personal page I had and just be ok with people leaving that didn’t want to follow the change. Many left, but so many new have come. It’s bittersweet.
I personally paid to have a website built years ago to share my testimonies of faith on, so I just converted that website over to look more “blog like” I still have the faith category as well! I love sharing about what God has done, is doing and will do in my life. That will never change. If anything I need to share more. Fashion is easy to talk about so I tend to gravitate toward that. I mean you won’t get too many hateful messages or comments about a t-shirt, you start taking faith though and life and everyones got a opinion.
So once I had my website switched over to look more like a blog and made my PSA on my INSTAGRAM PAGE I just started sharing. I remember covering the Nordstrom Sale for 100% free! I wasn’t compensated one bit, but I was (still am) doing what I loved! You will have to be ok with working for free a lot in the beginning, I believe if you love what you’re doing though and understand where you’re going, you’ll be at peace with that. I knew I was working for free at first, but that I wouldn’t one day. You are building a brand/ a business that solely depends on YOU. I’ll never forget sharing the little amount of income I had made with a friend once and him saying, “Wow, for all the work you are doing, you must really love what you are doing.” He couldn’t believe the tiny amount I had made for all the work he had seen me doing just on social media alone. But I loved what I was doing and I still do. I don’t make anywhere near a six figure income, but I know where I am going, I have goals, I put in the work, and I trust the process.
Blogging has allowed me to continue to share what I love everyday! It’s allowed me to make some really cool friends that I may not have ever met otherwise. It’s allowed me to connect with brands that I could only dream of working with! It’s been so fun! In seasons of stressing over numbers I constantly remind myself, “LOVE WHAT YOU DO” Don’t focus on the followers, the likes, the comments, focus on LOVING WHAT YOU DO! Keeping that focus helps take the pressure off the numbers. And the power of ONE. When I first started blogging I got emails daily (get even more now) from companies promising to help me grow my page with new followers if I paid them. I did it ONE TIME almost 2yrs ago, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I paid and right after I had paid, they added like 500 creepy men profiles to my account. So my following grew… with creepy people who all ended up being fake accounts anyways. LOL. I swore I would never do it again and I honestly haven’t. Biggest advice– DON’T BUY YOUR FOLLOWERS! Now, more than ever before, brands are watching for this. It doesn’t take but a second to scroll through someones following and see who’s bought fake followers and who hasn’t or when someone goes from 2,000 to 20,000 overnight. DON’T DO IT. I promise you, it’s not worth it. What’s amazing is that there are so many brands that are now working with influencers UNDER 10k because they know so many people have paid for followers, they see the value in a girl having 3000 legit, real, and engaged followers. Stay the course friends, don’t make the same mistake I did. Do it right, build it right, and it will pay you right. PLUS not long after I did that, one night I lost hundreds of followers, I hoped and prayed it was Instagram doing a clean out and wiping out all those creepy accounts… so I’m pretty sure I ended up losing them all anyway, which I was happy with!
BUT it’s work friends. SO much more than I could have ever imagined from the outside looking in. I think people have the misconception (I did) that it’s just playing dress up all day, taking pretty photos, and talking on your Insta-Story. It is all of those things AND SO MUCH more! All of the photos have to be edited, you’re praying you even get “the one” photo… especially when there’s kids involved or it’s a paid campaign, it’s getting your hubby to understand WHY he’s having to take all of the photos. It’s editing every post, it’s linking every item you wear, and searching to find that item at the best price so your friends get the best deal. It’s constantly producing creative content to set yourself apart. It’s hiring a photographer for the big campaigns, sometimes it’s traveling to other cities to host events. Y’all I could go on and on and on. It’s a J-O-B and I always tell people, what you put into it is what you will get out of it. Treat it like a hobby, it will pay you like a hobby. Treat it like a business, it will pay you like a business.
I am ALL FOR empowering women, especially SAHM just trying to not lose their identity in a season where you’re wondering “Is this all I was made for?” I get it. I’ve been there. So girlfriend, if you’re heart is stirring to share your voice and your love with the world… DO IT! Here’s the thing, I can not stand when people say “It’s a saturated market” …. biggest pet peeve. Because at the end of the day YOU ARE YOU, NO ONE else can be that. No one else has your story. No one else has your voice. No one else can share what it is YOU have been called to share. Get over the “it’s saturated crap” Is there a ton of women posting photos and sharing on the internet? Yep. Is that ever going to quit? Nope. Are any of those women you? NOPE. I truly believe God has given each of us a voice and a testimony we are called to share, think about how many other women would be set free if we were all doing that instead of listening to people telling us “too many people are doing it” There are specific lives that are attached to yours, walk out in obedience friend, your freedom and others depends on it! And by golly…. what do you have to lose?
Ok. Rant over.
So biggest questions I get?
- Where and how do I start?
- You’re not going to like this answer, but you JUST DO IT. You just start. Quit asking for permission, quit asking for approval, guidance, and acceptance and JUST START. If you have the desire to share your love for cooking, start sharing it! If you want to relate to other Moms that are just trying to make it, start sharing it. If you want to share your passion for fashion, start posting fashion photos. JUST DO IT. Hopefully that’s not too harsh, I get this comes natural for some, I am a doer. If you know me, you know I just do… usually way too much, but I have never been afraid to JUST DO IT. And there are many times when I just DO and then realize I shouldn’t have ever DONE that…. but I wouldn’t know unless I DID it. Get it? LOL. SO quit waiting for someone elses approval, unless it’s Jesus… you can wait for Him to say DO.
- Do I need a website?
- You’re going to get different opinions on this, here’s mine. If you are calling yourself a “blogger” you need a blog. Just my opinion again. The reason I believe this is because God willing, Instagram could crash tomorrow and be gone in a second. If that ever happens, will people still have a place to find you and what you have shared? That’s why I give the answer I give and honestly this is just something I have really seen major value in over the last few months. Keep your website name simple, mine is just my name (www.magenreaves.com) If IG goes down tomorrow, www.magenreaves.com DOES NOT. Because I OWN it. I don’t own or have any control over IG, I do over my blog. You need to have a resource you own because most likely social media will change over years and you need a landing spot that you can control and that stays consistent. With that being said, learn how to build one or pay for someone to build you one. If this is just going to be a hobby I would suggest making your own. If you are looking to earn income I would see the value in investing in someone to really make it nice. You would be SO surprised by how many brands will not collaborate with you unless you have a website and they want it to look professional.
- How does Ricky feel about what you do?
- 2nd Most Asked Question. So, at first Ricky was SO annoyed with me. Ha! He would tell you that and I can understand that. I was constantly asking for outfit photos and he had NO idea why, but he would still do it for me. I mean now he’s pretty much my full-time photographer… all our money goes together so he is compensated for his work (another message for another day) He came around when I started earning income and honestly when he realized how much joy this little space was truly bringing me. Especially coming out of some dark years from our miscarriages, this little space helped bring in some light from a really dark season and he could totally see that. We are very cautious of how much we expose our children, that’s why you don’t see them much on my Instagram page. Ricky would prefer them to not be on there at all, but every now and then when we have a family shoot or collaboration he will let me sprinkle in some of their photos. It’s a hard balance, but I want to make sure to protect them at all cost, especially the older ones who are out in the world more with sports. Rush is still attached to us both so I share him quite a bit, but the older kids are in so many other things and there have been instances where people have come up to them and said “I know you from Facebook/Instagram” which is fine, but it does remind me to be very cautious and to also educate my children on safe places and safe people. Constantly praying and asking for guidance in this area specifically! After a year and a half though I would say Ricky is SO supportive and sees the value in what I do. It’s provided in numerous ways for our family and has given us some really fun memories and moments. Ricky has become quite good at photography too, which is fun because it has been another way for us to work together and spend time together. There are days that he’s annoyed and doesn’t really want to do it, but he’s amazing at sucking it up and doing it anyway! If you want your guy to come around I would say, stay consistent and show him the value and worth in what it is your doing/pursuing.
- How do you get discount codes and know who to collaborate with?
- In the beginning I wasn’t too picky about who I worked with, I honestly was just so excited anyone would want to work with me. Now, knowing what I know, I only work with brands I truly enjoy and see as a good fit for my page. I turn down more than I accept. Most expect you to work for free and in the beginning, I did. I was excited and just trying to get my name out there, so I never charged. I think that was ok starting out, but as I grew I began to set rates for my work. If you’re working it as a job, you should get paid. I mean you do at any other J-O-B. Know your worth and what you bring to the table, tell the brand how and where you will add value. I ALWAYS try to over deliver with paid collaborations, because I want to create a relationship/partnership. It’s great to work with a big brand once, it’s better to work with them over and over again! Some of the brands you work with will give you a discount code to help promote the collaboration, it’s a good incentive for the brand + it’s a WIN for the consumer… hello SALE! I always ask for a code or encourage a code, people are always looking for a SALE!
- How did you start making income & when did your blog really take off?
- So, I had a blog before I was a blogger. I was just never consistent with it. Honestly, I still don’t feel like I have “taken off” I honestly am still anticipating that moment, I guess to some I have, but to me I am still very much in the early growing/learning/building stages. I will say I decided in January that if I was going to spend all of this time and money for this little space I needed to get intentional with the work I was putting in. So in January I told a good friend and Ricky, “I’m going to do this this year” Up until saying that out loud there’s always been this little seed just holding me back from saying “I’m ALL IN” But this place brings me joy, the people bring me joy (not the mean ones, they bring me character building moments) it’s honestly something I am just so passionate about. I started making income when I joined the Reward Style team, being able to link everything I wear is super beneficial. BUT I will say I don’t put all my eggs in that basket, I love the Reward Style Team, it’s been a blessing and honor to work with them, but I also REALLY love building relationships directly with brands. So you can make income both ways. Linking your outfits + working directly with brands. There’s different terms for different collaborations, all depends what you and the brand see as beneficial for each other. Another tip I would give is, support your local businesses. Find local businesses you can partner with and promote. This may take you putting yourself out there and so you need to know beforehand what you can bring to the table. You don’t want to hop on a phone call or walk into a meeting and say “I’d love to work together, what do you want to do?” No, you want to say “I would love to work together, here’s what I have seen work and where I feel I can add value” This goes back to knowing your worth and what you bring to the table. Building relationships with local businesses has been one of the biggest blessings, I get to work with the girls in real life and connect! I also get to support women that are just trying to make their dream come true and you get to be out in your own community. It’s awesome!
- How do you stay organized?
- This one is simple…. I don’t. Seriously, the worst. I have a ton of collaborations I just signed on for and I am panicking already about when each is due. It’s something I am for sure working on getting better at and know I HAVE to get better at as I am growing. The dream is to hire someone to help with all the backend stuff one day, or possibly find a intern. Some kind of person would be SO helpful in these areas that aren’t my strengths. One of my best friends did make me a spreadsheet that has helped a ton…. now if I could just convince her to quit her full time job and come be my person…. HA
- Do you wait for brands to contact you or do you reach out to them?
- BOTH. Constantly looking for brands I want to work with and reaching out, and constantly praying for God to open opportunities only He could open! I have some really AMAZING things lined up moving into summer that truly only He could have opened! I have pitched myself to many companies that I love. Some I never hear back from, some say it’s not a good fit, and some say “Let’s DO this” I recommend constantly seeking out brands you love, but again knowing your worth and what you bring to the table is going to be important when you do.
- Best site to use to start a blog?
- I use WORDPRESS, it’s all I know because it’s the server my guy built my site on. He’s pretty legit, so I trust he picked the best one for me personally. I needed simple and I feel like I can get on here and navigate myself…. somewhat.
- Do I have to stay in a “lane”?
- I think the only “lane” you have to stay in is the one that keeps you true to YOU. Don’t buy what everyone else is buying, unless you really love/need it. Don’t look like everyone else, just to try to fit in. Don’t try to be anything but YOU! Don’t lose yourself along the way! My page is filled with majority of fashion, but I have a huge love for home decor, so I sprinkle that in when I want. I share food on my insta-story, not really in my feed… because mines not that cool LOL. I just do me and if I am inspired to buy something because someone else shared it I do my best to always give credit to that person. I’m sure I have dropped the ball a few times because I see thousands of post and story, but I am a huge believer in giving credit where credit is due.
- Info/Resources on getting started?
- The only thing I can say I have looked into is by Juls Solomon, “Pitch it Perfect” & her podcast. I honestly just am the type to DO things and figure them out from there, lots of trial and error, but I learn best that way. I’m not a huge researcher unless it’s something very specific I can’t figure out. I know there are other great tools out there, I would check Pinterest for sure!
- How do you grow?
- Consistency is the biggest thing I would say. Know when your followers are engaged and post then and make it around the same time everyday. Times are different for everyone. For me, around 7am and 7pm are typically the best times for me to post. On my busier days I usually don’t worry about posting in the morning, I just wait and post in the evening. I try to engage for at least 30min or so after my post as well. Engaging with other bloggers and people in your niche is big too, supporting other women will go beyond what you can imagine! I have seen people say to go “follow” then “un-follow” people. DON’T DO THAT, it’s just downright rude. I follow people I like and get inspired from, regardless if they follow me. I comment and support their page, regardless if they do mine, because I truly enjoy their content or style. Be genuine in that, I truly believe it speaks volumes and will carry you further than you think. Along with consistency, I would say good photos… I said GOOD photos, not professional photos. I would say 60-70% of my feed is iPhone photos and then I mix in professional photos as well. Using the same filter/preset will help to keep your feed cohesive, which just helps it to look nicer. Giveaways are something I would have said a few months ago, but honestly I feel like they have become a waste. I personally am really over them. I might do 1-2 a month, but besides that I think I’m done with the bigger ones. I personally enjoy doing them by myself or teaming up with like 4-5 girls, the smaller ones are better in my opinion. Truly though, just stay the course, trust the process, be willing to go to work, understand it will take time, but it will be worth it.
- How long does it take to write a blog post?
- Truly just depends on the topic and content I need. I would say 30min- a hour for sure. There are some topics though that I wrestle with or just draw out so it also depends on if you have a deadline as well.
- How do you make your pictures look professional? And how do you decide where to take your pics?
- As far as professional goes, some of my pics are professionally shot, but majority are my iPhone. I use the iPhone XS, camera is LEGIT. Then I use the Lightroom App to edit, within the last 2 months or so I FINALLY created my own filters, I have two-four that I apply to every photo and pick which one I like the best to share. Learning how to edit helps SO much and I honestly find so much joy in that part alone, it’s a way I get to be creative. Locations are another thing I LOVE! Ricky gets so annoyed with me I’m sure because anytime we are out driving I am looking for neat locations. I try to make junk look cool, what others see as garbage I like to make look pretty… a lot of my photos are in old run down places and dark creepy alleys. Between editing and locations these are two things I work the hardest in when it comes to my content. I currently don’t sell my presets and I honestly rarely give out my locations because they are the two things I work the hardest for and just the two things that are pretty special to me. Find what you like though when it comes to both, with edits do you like the brighter or warmer tones? With locations, do you like just a plain wall background, lots of greenery, etc. There’s no right or wrong with either, it’s just another way to let your creativity and personality shine through.
- Number 1 mistake you see new bloggers make?
- Buy followers. I touched on this a little bit above, but just to add more to it, I recently have read NUMEROUS places now where brands are starting to work a lot with “micro bloggers” A micro blogger is someone who has under 10,000 followers. Majority of bloggers buy enough followers to get to 10,000 or above so they can get the swipe up feature. I recently saw a girl go from 2000 to 20,000 followers overnight… hmmm how did that happen? The thing is, brands see this. They know who’s buying and who’s not. SO there’s actually WAY more power in having 2000 legitimate people following and engaging than there is 20,000 fake accounts that aren’t going to ever like or comment… because they aren’t real. So brands see this happening and are now collaborating and partnering with more micro bloggers because the people are real and they’re engaged. Don’t do it friends, I promise, it’s not worth it and that’s coming from experience.
For the sake of your sanity I’ll end this here. If you have any additional questions comment them below or feel free to email or message me on Instagram. I’m sure I could create a part two to this post. I truly hope that helps. Don’t forget to just enjoy the journey! It’s fun, it’s work, and it’s good.