The Blog Series: What Being on IG Has Taught Me

Here’s what I’ve learned from being an Instagram user for over five years. The good, the bad and the ugly!

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What did we have before Instagram? Can you even remember a time when Instagram wasn’t relevant every minute of our daily lives? Though the app has been active for quite a few years, only recently it has switched to be THE app that everyone has, wants and needs. I’ve been on Instagram since 2013 and though I wasn’t a heavily active user in the beginning years, it has grown to be the platform that my career bloomed from, which is amazing to me.

After almost 6 years of being an Instagram user, there are a few things that I’ve realized and learned. This month for The Blog Series I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you. It’s a little different than my usual posts, but I really want to share the more personal side of Instagram and blogging rather than just technical things! I hope some of this, if not all, resonates with you and helps you stay true to who you are on the ‘GRAM!


1. Numbers should never define your worth. I’ve been through all the roller coaster emotions of not feeling good enough, big enough, important enough and it’s not worth the stress it carries. If you’re in the industry for the wrong reasons and haven’t started as a creator purely because you love to create, then of course numbers are going to be the biggest issue for you. With growth comes more income, but true content creators, as much as numbers help us, aren’t focusing on them the most. Our number one priority, at least mine, is my content and the quality that I’m putting out for my audience to see. My content defines me, not my followers, likes or comments.

Nothing good comes from worrying about your numbers, especially if you’re just starting out in the industry. It makes sense that numbers will be low in the beginning years. Of course there are a few creators who boom right away within the first two or three, but quite honestly, it’s usually not that easy. For anyone. If I ever start to stoop to a low of not feeling good enough or that I’ve had enough growth in the past week, month or year I always remind myself that everyone is on their own journey and timeline. Every single time I tell myself that, it immediately pushes any feeling of disappointment and fear out the door. My main focus is to create content, enjoy creating my content and challenge myself while doing it!


2. Comparison is a b*tch. Straight up! I’ve realized that any time I feel bad about my content it’s for one reason; I’m comparing myself to another image, creator or page. The truth is, there is no other you, and that is your power on the platform. Inspiration and motivation from other accounts is fantastic, but there is a fine line between being inspired and straight up trying to copy someone else’s style, look or photo.

I’ll be honest, it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out who you really are (style, aesthetic, vibe wise), and that’s because the Instagram platform is SO saturated! How many accounts have you come across that look EXACTLY the same? Everything good takes time and the same goes for your personal style. As humans we obviously go through phases, and whether or not you’re “easily influenced”, the Instagram platform affects in ways you may not even realize. What makes you want to buy that beaded bag? What made you buy that $100 face cream? Why are you wearing a 10lb pair of sneakers on your feet? Influence is not all bad, don’t get me wrong, but once you figure out your true style and true self, you’ll see just how much others have influenced you and not always in a beneficial way. WOW, I feel like I just went on a tangent there! My point is, comparison is killer, so stay strong to your own values, beliefs and style (if you already have an idea of it!).


3. Networking is integral. My favourite part about being on Instagram is the networking! I never used to be the type to want to go out, mingle and meet new people but this platform has changed me. And I’m so glad it did! It’s as if I was pulled out of my little introvert bubble. If you’re not a people person but want to grow on the gram and become well known, then you’re going to have to accept the fact that it’s a networking platform. There’s work that comes with the app, and I don’t just mean taking photos and posting them! I met my bestfriend through Instagram and it’s been just over a year now since we met. If it weren’t for IG, I probably never would have met her! It all started with a DM, then a coffee date and the rest is history.

Some of you might argue that networking is optional, but from a creator/blogger perspective I really find that it’s essential to building a community and support system. Though it may not necessarily be essential to growing your following, it helps immensely in other ways. For starters, you can build a support system of people in your niche. My niche is fashion and beauty mostly, so my circle is built of women that are similar! It’s wonderful to have because we all have eachother’s backs. Another great part about networking is that you meet so many people that are higher up in the industry. Think PR Agents, VP’s of Marketing and individuals that are heavily involved with the brands that you love! A lot of my work and event invites come from people that I’ve met through previous PR parties and social gatherings. Networking is no joke people!


4. Consistency is queen but breaks are crucial. We all have a tipping point. A point where we reach our creative capacity, unfortunately. Thankfully I haven’t had to learn it the hard way, but I can tell you that letting my mind rest every so often has led to much, MUCH better content creation and brainstorming. As much as consistency rules, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to take a break from the app, even just for a couple days, a weekend.

Planning supports consistency and can also allow for more breaks. I never have to worry about posting consistently when I shoot 3-4 looks on a weekend and it always allows me to take a break the next weekend! However, shooting is one of my favourite pastimes so I don’t have an issue with it unless I’m super tired and have other plans. Just remember that the harder you work, the harder you can play. But also, the smarter you work the harder you can play! Plan ahead, be prepared and allow room for breaks!


5. Not everything needs to be documented. It took me a while to figure this one out because I could IG story all day long if it was healthy! I’ve learned that not every part of my life needs to be on Instagram for everyone to see. Enjoying moments with loved ones and friends can be remembered through memories rather than my IG archive. A healthy personal and social life is actually healthy when you don’t feel the need to show everything to the world! Sure, your audience wants to see your “everyday life” but that doesn’t mean you need to show it all! I meannn, what they can’t see won’t hurt them right 😉

If you’ve read up to this point, kudos to you and thank you for reading this post. I hope you found it insightful, or maybe just interesting! If you have realizations and lessons of your own from Instagram I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Until next time..

-Haley

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The Blog Series: How to Pitch to Brands

Ever wondered how to send an email pitch to brands you want to work with? Here are my five tips for writing an effective email pitch!

This month for the blog series I’m sharing all of my tips and tricks for reaching out and pitching yourself to a brand as an IG blogger. It’s taken me a while to gather up the courage to post this, as I’ve never felt I’m quite “there yet” but as blogging is now my full time job and I’ve been at it for almost two and a half years, I figure a little bit of information is better than none!

As a blogger, knowing how to pitch yourself to brands is extremely important. A lot of our work comes from contracts with brands that we love, but in order for these brands to recognize or discover us, sometimes an email needs to be sent! In the beginning stages of blogging a lot of the work has to be found, AKA we are the ones sending out emails and pitches to brands. After a while and usually after some good growth, brands will begin to find you on social and email you first to set up a collaboration.

I still send out pitches to brands regularly as I feel it’s good practice. So if you’re a beginner blogger or have been doing it a while, I hope that this post will be helpful!

#1 Introduce Yourself

The first thing that I include in my emails is an introduction. I state my full name, what type of blogger I am and where I’m from. I think it’s pretty obvious why you need to do this haha!

#2 State Your Intent

Next, I say why I’m reaching out, which is usually to discuss a potential collaboration. It can go something like this…

“I’m reaching out today in hopes of discussing a potential collaboration with brand.

“I’m reaching out because I’m interested in working with your brand.”

#3 Back Yourself Up

If you’re going to ask a brand to work with you, you’ve got to give them a reason to. This can include why you feel you align with that brand and also your statistics! Some of the bigger stats to include can be stated in the email directly, which include your following, reach and engagement rate. Make sure that these are current and completely up to date. Your engagement rate on IG can be found by simply using a Google calculator, like this one.

A big part of reaching out and landing a contract with a brand is explaining to them why you feel you’d work well together. For example, maybe they are a local company in your city and the majority of your audience is located there. This would definitely be an advantage for you and for them as whatever you promote for them will be seen by people in the same area, and therefore it will gain them really good exposure. Another reason why you might feel you’d work well with a brand is if their aesthetic or style aligns with your own. For example, a clothing brand that you reach out to should definitely fit your own personal style. This is key in creating authentic content that your followers will love.

#4 Links

One way to make it really easy for a brand to notice you is by linking directly to your social accounts in the email. Whenever I mention Instagram or YouTube I always hyperlink my pages so that the brand can easily click and visit them. I typically link the accounts in a sentence like this…

“I have a loyal following of # on Instagram as well as a subscriber count of # on YouTube.”

#5 Attachments

The last thing to include in an email pitch are attachments. These can be samples of your photography, a list of your previous brand work and a media kit. I wouldn’t suggest sending your rate card in the first email as it may be taken as presumptuous. If anything, you should definitely include your media kit! The media kit should outline your additional social media stats and demographics as well as a short bio of who you are and what your blog stands for.

If you have any questions about pitching to brands feel free to ask in the comments or DM me on Instagram! I hope this post was helpful!

xoxo,

Haley


The Best Apps for Editing Instagram Stories

Almost every day I get asked which apps I use to edit my Instagram stories so I thought a full post on this topic would be helpful. Instagram stories have become more than just a raw sneak peak into our everyday lives and more of another way to show our creative side. Apps come in handy when we’re trying to express ourselves digitally and there are a few that I’m constantly using. Whether it’s to showcase a new post that I’ve put up or simply share a review of a product, these apps provide multiple ways to share this with my audience.

My aesthetic is very much minimal, neutral and refined so the apps that I use check off all these boxes, but they also have more edgy and bold options too! Below are my top three apps for editing IG stories.


#1 Unfold

This is the OG editing app for stories (IMO) and almost everybody knows of this one now. They have multiple styles of stories that you can choose from, from look-alike Polaroids to digital search bars, there’s something for everyone.

What I really love about this app is that you can customize the font, size and colour of text and background. It makes it super easy to personalize what you post.

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#2 StoryLuxe

I recently started using this app and I love it because of the huge variety of templates it has. Most of the StoryLuxe templates look like film reels, Polaroids and other camera-like images but there are also other options like floral backgrounds, neon and plain black and white designs. This app also allows you to choose from a story size downloadable image or an IG size image so you can use this for IG posts as well!

#3 Storio

This is another app that I only recently started using but I love it because there are more unique story templates available. My favourite one is the “Adele” template package, however it wasn’t free (just a heads up in case you want it as well). A lot of the template packages on here cost something (less than $5) but come with 10-14 different templates. If you’re looking for more unique templates then this app is definitely a great option, just be prepared to spend a little coin!

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If you have any favourite editing apps for IG Stories I would love to hear them! Comment below with your faves 🙂 I hope this post was helpful for those of you searching for good editing apps!

xoxo,

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The Blog Series: Fear of Failure

A fear of failure is something that I constantly struggle with. Even if it’s over something very small, there’s always been a voice in my head telling me that I can’t do it, or that I shouldn’t because I might fail. Fear is one of the thieves of joy so today I’d like to share some of the things that help me overcome it.

This industry can get be pretty harmful to your mental health if your head is in the wrong space, because there is so much competition and comparison (unfortunately). One of the reasons we fear failure is because we compare ourselves to others. So if you want to read more on that topic click here.

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White Knit Set from SSUMJ

Whether you’ve been blogging for a few years, a few months or just started, I hope that these tips will help you smother any ounce of fear you might have.

First we need to understand what “failure” really means in this context, so below I’ve listed a few of the things that I’ve personally feared over the past few years of my blogging journey.

1. I’ll never make enough money to support myself and continue doing what I love as a career.

2. I won’t get any brand deals this month/this year.

3. I won’t get the engagement I need to succeed on my platform.

4. I won’t feel inspired or creative tomorrow.

5. People won’t like the content I create and it’ll show in my numbers.

That got really personal and honestly sharing those things was a little outside of my comfort zone but if it’s going to help you then I’m happy to share! But that’s step one, writing down every fear, no matter how small you may have and be thinking.

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For some reason, writing down thoughts on a piece of paper or even typed out on a document brings them out of our heads and into reality. It makes them easier to understand and overcome. However, they’re not there to look back on every single day, that’s probably not a great idea.

Step two is to figure out how fear holds you back or affects your life. This is like a self-reflection and will help you in preventing those negative kickbacks of your fear. Maybe you procrastinate when you’re scared or you hold yourself back from starting something you want to do (ahem, blogging, IG or YouTube). Whatever it is, write it down.

I’ve also commonly seen bloggers create something, a YouTube video for example, edit it and finish it and then not post it because they feel it’s “not good enough” or “not up to their standards”. I’ve seen this way too much recently! If you put in the hard work and effort you should be able to post it without an ounce of fear. The reality is that you are your worst critic and no one else will see the “flaws” of your work like you do, or even at all.

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Step three is to make a game plan on how you will combat those negative fears of failure whenever they pop into your head. Below is a list of ways you can do this!

1. Positive thinking. It’s easier said than done but it is possible. This has been a huge goal of mine for a few months now but let me tell you, it really works. When one negative thought pops into my head I basically have a conversation with myself (in my head LOL) and tell myself to cut it out. I think of positive outcomes rather than negative ones.

2. Create a Plan B. If you’re really so scared of failing, just make sure you’ve got a backup! Then you won’t be stuck if you do actually fail and you’ll also feel more confident making the decision. But hey, failing is not a bad thing so don’t be too hard on yourself if plan B becomes plan A.

3. Analyze the possible outcomes. Often we fear the unknown and what’s on the other side of making a big decision, so analyzing all of the possible outcomes will paint a picture of the worst case scenario! It may even put your mind at ease knowing that the “unknown” is now known and written down.

I hope these things help you overcome your fears of failure and if you ever feel like chatting about this topic more I’m always available through DM on Instagram or through the comments 🙂

xoxo,

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The Blog Series: Creating a Media Kit

Since I just did a big update on my media kit, I thought I’d talk about why you should have one and how you can create one. Essentially a media kit, sometimes referred to as a press kit, is a document that shares information about you and your business, brand or company. A media kit usually includes text and images, but it depends on who it’s for and what you want the person on the other side to see. Today we’re going to focus on the blogger and influencer side of the media kit!

Why You Should Have One

If you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, specifically a blogger or Influencer, then you should certainly start creating your own media kit. A media kit will allow you to showcase your aesthetic, talent, services, rates and statistics. It comes in very handy when reaching out to brands for collaborations or partnerships. After all, you definitely don’t want to be writing a lengthy email with tons of numbers every time you reach out to a brand. Having a PDF formatted media kit makes it easier for you and easier for the brand.  A media kit is like a first impression, so it’s very important to continuously fine tune it and update the information on it.

How to Create One

Since the beginning I’ve been using Canva to create and update my media kit. There are tons of free templates that you can use and customize to your liking and the site allows you to save your document as a PDF or JPG. Choose a template that best reflects your style. For example, my media kit reflects my minimal style meaning it is very straightforward, clean and has neutral colours. Whatever your style is, there are options that allow you to change the colours and fonts of each template.

What to Include

I still don’t think I’m a professional media kit creator, however I do have an idea of what should be included in one. See below!

  • Bio/About: Introduce yourself in one or two short paragraphs.
  • Audience Reach: Numbers are very important to brands so include your most up to date monthly unique visitors, monthly page views, social media followers etc.
  • Demographics: Include the top cities, countries and genders of your global audience.
  • Mentions/As Seen On: If you’ve been featured in a magazine, website or post, include these to show that you have great exposure.
  • Previous Partnerships/Work: Include the names or logos of brands you have worked with in the past.
  • Services/Pricing: Be specific on what you can offer a brand. Do you offer Instagram posts, stories, YouTube videos or blog posts? For each one, you should have a rate and a short description telling a brand what is included in that price.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to comment below or use my contact form to get in touch!

xoxo,

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