How to Cut Through the “Sponsored” Bullsh*t

Word to the wise – marketing works. It’s the reason that I bought a bump-it back in 2009 (obviously never wore it) and the reason why I have a Vegetti (you know that thing that turns your veggies into spaghetti). So yeah, I’ve definitely fallen victim to “buying into marketing” – literally.

So how do you know what’s real and what’s fake? Especially when it comes to the world of influencers, who’s to say we actually like the brands we’re promoting? Because we all know there is no way in hell Kim Kardashian is really eating Sugar Bear Hair Gummies on the reg.

With that, I thought it would be fun to do a little 101 on how to cut through the sponsored bullsh*t.

So let me just put this out there – I never promote brands I don’t like or wouldn’t use. In fact, I actually turn down a lot of partnerships if the brand or product doesn’t seem like something I’d actually buy on my own. That said, there are a lot of ruthless influencers who would promote dog sh*t to make a buck. So how do you figure out who’s being truthful and who’s being dishonest? Find my tips below.

  • Get to know the influencers you follow. Anyone that follows me will see that I do Instagram Story make-up tutorials semi regularly. My followers know that I’m just genuinely sharing the brands I use in order to help my followers mimic a similar look and am not getting paid to promote the items. Once you “get to know” the people you follow, you’ll understand who is trying to share advice with their audience and who is just trying to make money.
  • Do your own research. If a skincare line is doing wonders for an influencer you follow, that’s pretty promising, but all skin types are different. Be sure to do your own research to look into the chemicals in each product and read online reviews before buying.
  • DM the influencer. Sliding into someones DM’s may seem creepy, but blogger welcome feedback and questions! I’ve had plenty of people text or message me asking “does that product really work or are you just being paid to say that?” I always am truthful and am open to answering any questions my followers have. At the end of the day, we want to see you guys love the products we love, so I encourage you to ask if you have any hesitation.
  • Trust your gut. Do you ever have a moment where you realllllly want something, but your favorite Bachelorette contestant just posted it and you feel like buying it would make you a total sellout? My advise – who cares! If you want it, buy it. It doesn’t matter where you saw it, it just matters that you genuinely like it.

Any additional questions that I may have not answered? Feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll get back to you!

Down in the DM

No, this isn’t a post about Yo Gotti’s song “Down in the DM.” It’s actually another advice column for my aspiring blogger babes. I’m here to let you know that it ACTUALLY does go down in the DM.

I’m specifically referring to Instagram direct message. And NO, creeps aren’t the only ones sliding in your DMs. Brands are too!

Believe it or not, bloggers/social influencers are constantly in contact with one another via DM. Since many of us basically spend all of our time on Instagram anyway, this is a great way to reach one another. Here, we share support for one another, collaborate, discuss upcoming events and the list goes on.

For those of you that are just starting out, I’d recommend utilizing the direct message feature when trying to work with new brands. All you have to do is go to the brands page and shoot them a note. Be sure to tell them a bit about yourself and the type of collaboration you’re looking for. I also generally ask if there’s a press email I could contact. For me, this has proven to be a very successful way to collaborate with new brands. Many times, I’ll reach out or vice versa.

All in all, don’t let direct messages scare you. Instead, embrace them! I promise you’ll find this is an amazing networking tool.

Know Yo’ Worth

Where are all my #boss business ladies at?!

For those of you, like me, who run your own side hustle – it’s time to listen on up. I’m here to tell you to stop getting taken advantage of! Yup, you’re reading this right.

For starters, it’s important to understand just how damn much you do and how much your expertise is worth. Unlike a fully staffed company, often times we’re doing it ALL. We’re the CEO, CFO, social media manager, public relations specialist, coordinator, photographer, web designer and the list goes on.

When you have your own business, you have to defend it. That means speaking up when needed, learning to negotiate, and watching your own back to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of.

This doesn’t mean you need to get paid for every single thing you promote because that’s just not realistic, but at the same time, you need to make sure that the relationship between yourself and the brand is mutually beneficial. I’m here to empower you to know your worth. Below, find some mock scenarios and my tips for (tastefully) speaking up.

Scenario: Your followers/engagement numbers have dramatically gone up, but you’re still getting paid the same amount.
Advice: It’s time to say something. Kindly inform the person you’ve been working with by saying something along the lines of, “I’m so happy to continue working together. However, please know that my following has greatly grown since we initially started working together, causing my rates to go up. Below, please find my revised rates and let me know of any questions!”

Scenario: A brand offers you product to shoot, but asks for you to return it afterwards. You’re also not getting paid for this.
Advice: This just isn’t fair to you. Why are you going to take the time to promote them for free for nothing in return? I’d say something along the lines of, “Thank you for your interest in collaborating. Might you have some incremental budget for a sponsored post since I’ll have to return the items? I’d love to work with your brand, but want to make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial for us both!”

Scenario: A brand wants you to take professionally shot photos, but the fee their offering you is less than the fee of your photographer.
Advice:
This happens a lot! In this instance, honesty is key. I’d say, “I’m more than happy to work with a photographer to capture these images, however, unfortunately my photographer fee is higher than the price you’re offering. Do you have someone in house you can provide? If not, is there any flexibility on the fee for the campaign?”

That’s all folks. Have any more questions that aren’t answered above? Sound off below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

How to “Model” Without Actually Being One

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Ok, so you can look at me and see I’m not one of the Gigi Hadid’s of the world – I’m 5’3 and curvy. Yet, being a blogger and “social influencer” has made me have to commit to getting in front of the camera and strutting my stuff, which isn’t always the most comfortable thing in the world.

Sure, you may look at my feed and see photos of me smiling or better yet – “smizing,” but what you don’t see is the 100’s of outtakes of me awkwardly talking with my mouth open or standing in the most uncomfortable/stiff positions.

So whether you’re thinking about getting in front of the camera for your own site or even posing for a Christmas card that your mom is forcing you to take, check out my tips below on faking it til’ you make it.

Modeling Tips 101: From One Non-Model to Another

  1. Wear what flatters you. Sure, bodycon dresses are in, but if you’re like me, you sure as hell aren’t about to go prance around in one. Pick something that makes you not only look good, but feel good.
  2. Remember that for every 100 photos you may only like 1. And sometimes that one shot is the money shot, so don’t let it get you down when you comb through a sea of unflattering photos.
  3. Be you! Are you smiley? Channel it. Walk around with a resting bitch face? Own it. Don’t be someone you’re not. It will come across really unnatural and forced.
  4. Work with a photographer that makes you feel comfortable. If you don’t feel yourself around the person you’re shooting with, it will translate into your photos.
  5. Look in the mirror before your shoot to see what poses make your body look the best. For example, putting one foot out in front of the other elongates your legs.
  6. Have fun! Natural, fun photos look the best, so don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re never going to be Tyra Banks at this point, so just loosen up and work it the best you know how.

Again, I’m not a professional model, but this is what works for me, so I hope they help you, too! Ps. I’ve linked to my outfit details below and also want to shout out my gorgeous rings “Mr. Wilder” and “Mr. Evan” rings from Sisters and Their Misters because when you don’t have a man on your arm, why not have two wrapped around your fingers! Check them out – I’m obsessed!

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How I Edit My Instagram Photos

I get a lot (and I’m talking A LOT) of questions weekly regarding my blog and social media presence. Because of this, I feel like I always have to repeat myself to different people at least a few times a week when asked. So I thought, “How could I streamline this process?”

Sure, I could charge people while acting as a consultant, but that just doesn’t seem right to me because when I was looking to get into this crazy world of blogging so many people (sometimes even strangers) helped me by offering up free advice. Knowing this, I’m going to start sharing tips and tricks via my blog for all of you to reference.

So low and behold – my tips on editing your Instagram photos and creating a cohesive feed.

What do you mean by “cohesive feed” you may ask. Take Marianna Hewitt’s Instagram for example, all of her photos have a certain look & feel, which feature blush, white and grey hues. For me, she was a huge inspiration when starting my blog, but you can’t simply copy someone. What works for them may not work for you.

For example, I’d love to have an all-blush wardrobe but my clothing budget just doesn’t allow for that and it’s unrealistic for my lifestyle to only wear the same colors. Plus, I love mixing it up and my style can vary from day to day. I’ve said this before, but some days I feel like a punk rocker and others I feel sophisticated and feminine. For me, I had to find a balance that worked to incorporate different colors, yet still looked unified.

After doing much digging and research, I landed on a few apps that I love and use for all of my photos. I’ve included a little breakdown on each below!

Snapspeed
This app is amazing for fixing lighting in one concentrated area vs. the entire photo. For example, do you ever notice part of your photo can tend to have weird shadows or photograph a bit darker? With this app, you can select certain areas to lighten, brighten or even change the saturation on. This comes in handy a lot!

VSCO
Almost every blogger I know uses VSCO to get that streamlined look I’m talking about. You can download or purchase filters. To make sure my photos stay uniform, I only switch off between two filters – A1 and A6 (they were purchased). You can play around with the app to find the colors which work best for your taste preference.

Facetune
While most people use this app to edit selfies (i.e. whiten teeth, remove blemishes, etc.), it’s also really helpful for landscape photos or flatlay photos. I actually use this app for all sorts of weird things like taking wrinkles out of a piece of clothing with the “smoothing” tool or adjusting colors of the backgrounds of my flatlay photos.

Again, what works for me may not work for you, but it’s helpful to get a sense for what other bloggers are doing while you try to navigate your own personal “social media style.” Any questions? Sound of below in the comments and I’ll reply back. Plus, let me know what else you want to see my write about!