I get a lot of questions, not only in my direct messages, but also in my real life.
“How do I start a blog?”
“How do you make money doing what you do?”
“Where do I start?”
“How can I review products?”
When blogging first started I also had lots of these questions about girls that I followed and I have always struggled with knowing how to answer these questions myself because I feel like it is kind of a loaded question. My job is to make it look easy, but it is far from that on the back end of things and I don’t want to sugar coat that for anyone wanting to start because I wish someone would have been honest with me and told me everything that goes into it.
I mean, look at this gem of a picture & outfit ha ha ha.
A lot of people start their blogs and social media because they are natural at sharing things that they love, but that wasn’t the case for me. I started for a completely different reason. I have always been a really shy person who gets my feelings hurt really easily. I have had really low self confidence and finally one day was fed up with it. Zach was serving in a calling in our church where he was gone 2 weekday nights and all day on Sundays and we couldn’t get pregnant. I needed something to not only consume my time from the negative thoughts that were filling my head but also to help me to learn to stand on my own two feet, be confident in the person that I am, and to learn to take it when people were mean. I one day started taking pictures of myself on our back patio of our town home… it was rough ha. I called my blog Love Me, Dani Marie and would watch YouTube videos for hours upon hours on how to code my own site, start social media accounts, edit my own pictures, etc. This was all when Instagram was just starting so a loooong time ago. I started sharing what was easiest for me to be able to open up to people with, and that was clothing. I posted outfits 5 days a week on my website linking what I was wearing (no affiliate links or anything) and people started to care after about 6 months of me posting. I started to realize after some really mean comments came through my website that I was becoming stronger in my own skin and as time has gone on I am a completely different person than when I started all of this. I can stand on my own two feet for the most part, am getting way better about not getting my feelings hurt, and am so proud of the person I have become. I never started this little space to make money, but to make myself better and it has just evolved and grown on its own to now help support my family.
Let’s chat about some of the myths of bloggers/influencers and some other things now that you know the backstory to my blog.
WHAT IS A BLOGGER OR INFLUENCER?
Okay, I’ll be honest, I loathe the word influencer because I feel like we all are influencing the world in one way or another. Whether it being for good, bad, sharing products, telling a friend about things, etc. I feel like we all share things that we love and want other people to know about, it is just human nature. My sharing is just on a bigger scale so someone put a word behind it calling it a blogger or influencer. I feel like the word influencer gets a really bad rap and I don’t love to be called that. I like to think that I am a content creator for brands, a storyteller, and help to solve people’s problems not just make money ha.
HOW DOES IT ALL WORK?
I can still remember when I got my first email from a company asking me if they could send me some earrings to share with the people that were following me on Instagram. I peed my pants. I couldn’t believe someone wanted me to talk about their product. That was years ago and now things work very differently. Generally now a company will email me, ask me if they can work with me. I chat through every collaboration with Zach and we decide if it is a good fit for our brand and our family. We will never share anything that we don’t truly use in our home and love. That would just be being a liar and stupid. No amount of money is worth my integrity to me. After the first email I generally write them and ask them what exactly they are looking for if it is a good fit for our family. They will send back if they are looking for say a back to school campaign, a baby product campaign, and the scope of work that goes with it like a blog post, Instagram share, Instagram Stories, Tweet, Pin, Facebook Share, video etc. After they send over that email I will send over what I would charge to create all that content and share it. It takes hours upon hours to negotiate contracts, figure out the scope of work, searching through products to use for the post, taking pictures, editing the photos, writing the post, captions, etc., making social images for Pinterest, etc. After that we will put dates on the calendar, have contracts reviewed, sign contracts, and then start to create the content. The brand will generally send over some things for the post such as exclusivity other brands, key points to hit in the post, tracking links, words you can or can’t say, etc. Some brands will have drafts due to turn in ahead of time so we will spend time submitting all of that, making changes for the brand, re-submit the draft, and then finally publish and share! After we share the post it isn’t over, we then submit all the links, screenshot all analytics from every Instagram story, Instagram post, Facebook post, blog pageviews, etc. Then we can submit our invoice and most companies pay 30-90 days after the invoice is submitted so then we sit and wait to be paid for all the work we just completed. SO MUCH WORK goes into it that people don’t see and realize!
WHY DO COMPANIES WORK WITH INFLUENCERS?
Are you more prone to buy something from a commercial on TV or from a friend telling you? Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on advertising and a lot are realizing that having people that are someone’s “friend” or that they feel like they can relate to share their product is getting them a lot farther than the commercials on TV. Companies look for bloggers/influencers that are authentic, real, that people chat with and truly trust their opinions. I don’t follow people that I don’t vibe with, do you? I follow babes that are really similar to me and so the chances of me loving what they share is really high and same goes for you and me. If you follow me and I share something I love, you will probably love it too! I mean, I trust my girlfriend telling me something way more than a Superbowl commercial, don’t you? I truly feel like each and every one of you are my friends, when we chat in DM’s I feel like I’m chatting with my besties. When I get to meet you in person it is even that much better! We have an amazing tribe and I truly feel like you are all my dear, dear friends!
THE HARD THINGS ABOUT BEING AN “INFLUENCER”.
There are some really hard things about being an influencer.
I know… I saw it on Instagram…
Nothing bothers me more than when I go to church and someone asks how we are and I start to tell them and they say “Oh ya, I know, I saw that on Instagram.” I know I share a lot of my life on Instagram and that is my choice but I also want people to realize that my entire life isn’t on Instagram either. Instagram is just a sliver of my life.
Do you really know me?
I also feel like people think they know my character from just a few Instagram stories and will send me THE MEANEST MESSAGES. While yes I don’t know them in real life and they are hiding behind a screen it doesn’t hurt my feelings any less.
Waiting to get paid.
This one is hard for the stability of my family. There will be sometimes that I won’t get paid for 6-12 weeks and we have to rely on what we have saved to pay our bills and sometimes even dip into our credit cards. Times get really hard sometimes but my business has to keep running.
It costs a lot to run.
Running a blog costs a lot of money that people don’t realize. It’s paying to have your site hosted, web design, a photographer if you use one, Adobe to edit your pictures, paying people to help you if you are to that point (I have an assistant, web designer on hand at all times in case my site crashes, someone who helps me with SEO (search engine optimization), & nanny), newsletter services, paying for someone to design printables, marketing, etc.
Don’t you just take pretty pictures and get free stuff?
There is so much more that goes into it than a “pretty picture” and honestly it kind of hurts my feelings when people think that is all it is. Yes I am supposed to make it look easy but a lot of time goes into that picture, bribing my kids, taking the time away from my kids to edit it, write the caption, make it cohesive on my feed, schedule it, etc. and that is only for an Instagram picture not even a blog post with social shares! Yes free stuff is a perk but so much goes into getting the “free” stuff that it truly isn’t free. Plus I’m just going to say this, a free t-shirt doesn’t pay my bills either as much as I wish it did.
You’re just in it for the money.
Oh girl, if I was just in it for the money I would have quit a long time ago and if I was what is the problem with that? Would you walk into a classroom and look at a teacher and tell him/her that they are just in it for the money? Everyone needs a way to support their families and this is how I choose to help to support mine. Are the perks of working at home with my kids great? YES! Does it have some pretty dang good perks to it? Hell yes.
I can’t even tell you how many times my kids have had to babysit each other and watch YouTube because I had to get a post up, draft out, or make changes to something for a brand. While I am working at home, work doesn’t stop just because I have my kids there. They have had to learn to adapt and also see the good that comes out of my business. I hired a nanny last year to help with my kids 3 hours a week and that has helped a ton but I also have to be making money from my site to be able to pay my nanny. It all is a big circle!
It is a family job.
Everyone in my family has a crucial part in my blog. Zach and I have weekly conference calls discussing everything from how ad spaces we have purchased are going, budget, post topics, affiliate commissions, and so much more. Both of my kids have to not only be in pictures but put up with me being in and out of my office or computer & phone all day long. My kids both make 10% of every campaign that they are in into a savings account because they are essential working too to be in those pictures. Zach is the best to let me go in my office, shut the door, and just get things done. I have missed out on a lot of family things because I have been working but that is a part of any job.
Being a blogger has been the best thing that has ever happened to me because it has made me such a better person. If it all went away tomorrow I would be okay with it (well kind of because I would have to search for a new job) because of the friends I have made but more so because of the person that I have become! Sharing has become something that I love to do now. I love more than anything when I share a tip, outfit, lunch idea, etc. and you guys message me a picture or tell me that it has helped you or made you feel better about yourself. Isn’t it an amazing thing that in this day and age we can uplift people and influence them for good through our phones miles upon miles away from each other? That we can build communities together to help and support each other? It truly is such an amazing thing that I am so grateful I get to be a part of.