It is so crazy for me to think that two years ago, Something Beautiful became a reality. In one sense I can remember it like it was yesterday, and in another it feels so long ago! I’ve been getting lots of blogging questions from you guys lately, so today I wanted to take some time to answer the most common ones.
How did you start your blog?
I first started following blogs in college (over seven years ago!), and it was secretly something I dreamed I could do for so many years. Flash forward to December 2014, where Daniel and I were having a conversation about our goals for the upcoming year with some of our close friends over dinner. They both mentioned how they had always thought I should start a blog because of my love for fashion, and we laughed at how it had been a dream of mine for a long time but it was slowly becoming a more viable reality.
At the beginning of 2015, our family went through a really tough time and Daniel and I both agreed I needed a hobby that I would enjoy. He suggested I start sharing my daily outfits on Instagram, and so I did! I have to admit that at first it was extremely uncomfortable, and it felt like everywhere I went that people avoided talking about it. I think that’s really what no one tells you about blogging. It’s not a very well-known industry, and people who know you (especially your parent’s friends…haha) may be extremely confused by why in the world you are posting a photo of “just your outfit and not your face.” (Keep pressing through the uncomfortable stage of losing followers that were your friends because it’s worth it!)
Over time, people just accepted it and more and more new people started following me on Instagram. They would ask where pieces of my outfit were from, and over time I started getting asked if I had a blog. In July of 2015 is when I truly decided that I needed to just step out of my comfort zone and make one, and the same friends that encouraged me to blog that night in 2014 took my first blog photos. You can see my first post HERE!
Where did you come up with your blog name?
After I decided that I was officially going to start my blog, coming up with a name was one of the toughest parts. I threw around a few ideas, but nothing really stuck. And then one day I heard a message about God creating “something beautiful” out of your mess, and I knew. God truly did create Something Beautiful out of the mess that we were in at the beginning of 2015, and it really has changed my life!
Do you have another job or do you blog full-time?
I always have a hard time answering this one, so bear with me. In short, I have another job. My family owns a construction company, and Daniel started working for them while we were in college. I started working in accounting after college, and have never left! He and my dad now run the business, and I manage their office and accounting staff. As my blogging career has grown, I haven’t had as much time to devote to the company and have had to scale back my hours to only about 12 hours per week. But I truly love it, and can’t see myself ever “quitting.” Nor do I think that would make Daniel very happy 😉.
Fun fact: My degrees are in Business Administration & Pre-Med (I thought I wanted to be a surgeon!), and I was a high school chemistry teacher from 2014-2015!
Is your husband supportive of your blog?
ABSOLUTELY. I could not possibly blog without his 100% support. He is full-time businessman, blog photographer, Instagram husband, and Something Beautiful partner. So grateful for him and all he does to make Something Beautiful successful.
Do you have a blog and social media posting schedule? How do you plan your content?
Yes! I truly think setting and sticking to a disciplined schedule over the past two years has really helped grow my blog and business. I have a new blog post up every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday (every weekday except Tuesday). When I first started blogging it was only three days a week instead of four, but I have always stuck to a posting schedule. I truly believe it helps your reader know what and when to expect new content from you!
Coschedule has been a game changer for my editorial calendar lately. I recently have really started to be disciplined with my calendar and am currently planning posts about 3-4 weeks out. Visually seeing what big holidays and events are coming up, as well as seeing brand partnerships I have in the coming weeks, has made a huge difference in scheduling shoots and posts!
As far as a posting schedule for social media goes, my advice would be to just be consistent. I post usually two to three times a day on Instagram, which has also increased over the past couple years. (More info on posting advice in a question below!) Also, using a planning app like UNUM or Planoly, helps me layout what photos I am posting next and move them around to see what they will look like on my feed.
How important is Instagram to your blog?
For me, Instagram was how I got started blogging in the first place, so it has always been one of the biggest aspects of my blog. It is also the place where I get to interact with my readers most, and that is truly my favorite part of blogging!! Daniel and I never talk about my “followers,” but we always refer to them as my “friends.” And that’s how I truly feel! I value each and every reader and person who follows me, and totally feel like we’re friends.
Not only does Instagram give you a much more personal connection to your readers as a blogger, but it is also (generally) your biggest promotional platform. My largest audience is on Instagram, and so it is the greatest source of traffic to my site. Whenever I post a new blog post, I always share it on Instagram.
How do you monetize your blog?
There are multiple ways bloggers can make money, but my two largest sources are affiliate links and sponsorships. An affiliate link works like virtual commission where the retailer pays you, the blogger, for bringing them business. For example, if someone were to click on a link for the sweater I’m wearing in this post and purchase it (or something else), Nordstrom would recognize that I brought the customer to their site and pay me a commission for that business. I wrote a much more in depth post about this, and so if you want to know more about it you can read it here!
Sponsorships are when a company or brand pays an influencer (i.e. blogger like me) to wear their products and usually call out that company in particular. Any sponsorship I participate in is always something I would purchase with my own money (and usually do), and is always denoted with “Thank you to ______ for sponsoring this post!” at the end. I will never work with a brand or company that I genuinely do not feel fits my brand. I turn down partnerships daily, and always want my readers to know that my content has always and will always be organic. Your reader’s trust is something you can’t buy and is not worth any paid partnership!
How do you grow your Instagram following?
My biggest piece of advice on this would be to be social! I heard once that it’s called social media for a reason, and really have taken that to heart. I mean it when I say that my favorite part of blogging is interacting with my community, and if you are a new blogger interacting with other new bloggers and girls who are following them is a great way to start! I am a huge nerd and love to learn from experts on every topic, including this one, and there are also several really amazing courses out there on this. When I first started I took this course by Hilary Rushford, but I would also recommend this one by Jenna Kutcher. I personally have not taken her course, but by her content it is probably the one I would choose now!
How many outfits do you typically take for one shoot and how long does it take to shoot them?
The short answer to this question is: five and 1.5 hours. Honestly though it completely varies depending on how much time we have and what is on my calendar coming up. While the photos may look glamorous, you can usually bet I changed in my car and am feeling like a sweaty, disheveled mess about two seconds before that photo was snapped…lol.
What camera/lens do you use? Do you use any special lighting (for indoor shoots)?
For all of our blog shoots, Daniel shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III camera and Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lens. We love this lens and really feel that it has made a huge difference in the quality of our photos, and the great part is it can be purchased to mount on a Canon, Nikon or Sony camera body. If you are just starting out, we recommend this Canon 50mm F1.8 lens. This will give you great detail shots and the low aperture (or f-stop) creates the background blur. Besides that, we use an iPhone for about half of my Instagram photos!
As far as indoor lighting, I rarely use it and would much rather shoot when there is a lot of natural light coming in, but I do own this set and use it when I need to.
How do you edit your photos?
For all of our blog photos, I edit them in Lightroom. We have an Adobe Creative Cloud membership for about $10 a month, which includes Lightroom and Photoshop.
To create an “aesthetically cohesive” feed, I apply to the same one or two filters on every photo. I edit all my photos in VSCO and 95% of them have the C5 filter applied. If the photo was taken with my iPhone, I will then adjust the settings as well, such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc. within the VSCO app.
The only other editing app I use at times is Facetune, and it’s mostly to highlight details in certain products I’m wearing, such as sunglasses, or in one of my most recent photos a handbag strap.
What do you find most challenging about blogging?
Hands down the toughest thing about blogging is not comparing yourself to others! I think it’s true whether you’re a blogger or not, but social media makes it all too easy to compare ourselves with other’s successes, and all of a sudden find ourselves in a hole of feeling inadequate and unhappy with what we have and where we’re at. Keeping your eyes in your own lane can be tough, but is so necessary to maintain peace! There is nothing about blogging that is effortless, and I can guarantee you that “effortless” looking photo she (or I!) posted was anything but. My friend Jessi just wrote an amazing post all about conquering the comparison game, and I highly encourage you to read it here!
Do you have any advice for beginner bloggers?
My biggest piece of advice would be to start blogging because you’re passionate about what you’re writing about and because you genuinely love it. If it isn’t out of a passion to do and share what you love, it will quickly turn into a burden. There may be times that no one reads your blog but you (and your mom!) and you have to be okay with that!
In my opinion, gone really are the days where girls can say, “I had no idea my blog could turn into a way to make a living.” It’s a large enough industry now that a lot of girls hope that through their blog, they one day can make a living. And that’s great! Don’t feel guilty for thinking that, but make sure that money is not the reason you start.
With that, building a successful blog takes patience. I really didn’t see my blog turn into a business until about the last 6-8 months. It doesn’t happen quickly, but if you stay true to who you are and work (really) hard, you can do it!
Being consistent with your posting schedule is also big in growing a blog. Consistency and showing up persistently is how you become successful at almost anything, and blogging is no exception. Like I mentioned earlier, sticking to a posting schedule that your readers can rely on, and showing up on their Instagram feed consistently is huge! Do what works for you and won’t burn you out. If that’s one blog post per week, and one Instagram post a day at first, then stick with that! 😊
Lastly, high quality photos make a world of difference in how readers perceive your Instagram and blog. This is not to say that your photos won’t get better and better the longer you do it (I could cringe at some of my photos from early on!), but everyone likes looking at a pretty picture. Investing in a photographer or nice camera would be something I would suggest saving for in the beginning stages of blogging.
Whew! While this was long winded, my genuine hope is that it would help you if you’re looking for insight for your own blog, or just curious about what I do! And I seriously love hearing from you (in case you didn’t get that already 😉), so if you ever have any questions or just want to chat, please do reach out!!
And lastly, THANK YOU for making my dream a reality, and for wanting to follow along my blogging journey. Whether you’re new here, or have been here since my cringe-worthy Instagram photo days, I genuinely appreciate you, and if I could I would hug each and every one of you! All my love, Daryl-Ann xoxo