Hello! My name is Suzy of suzyshattuck.com and this is my cute husband Steven who I married in 2013. We have a little dog named Boss and we currently live in Boise, Idaho. Just a quick intro to anyone new around here!
I get a lot of messages from girls wanting advice on starting a blog. I wanted to make a post about it so that I can refer everyone here instead of answering each message individually. Sorry if you have messaged me and I haven’t responded, I am SO excited for you and will support you in any way I can!
“How did you start blogging?”
I kind of fell into blogging about a year and a half ago. One day after the gym, my friend and I were in the car talking about how we would love having a space to share all of our favorite things. We were both into fashion, cooking, home decor, and she was super into photography. We talked and dreamed about it every day. Our husbands were super supportive and told us to go for it! We did and it was so fun and it ended up being a success. A little less than a year later I found out that we were moving to Chicago for my husband’s job. I was really sad, but we made the decision to stop the blog because of the distance. A few weeks into living in Chicago, I was feeling a little bit lonely in our new home and needed a creative outlet. I decided in that moment to make a blog of my own and didn’t look back! @websiteheadstart (website HERE) had seen my Instagram account and reached out to see if I needed help creating a website. (This is not sponsored at all, they do not know I am even writing this but if you need help making your own it is a completely free service! I had no idea how to do ANYTHING and they helped me set everything up. It was amazing!)
Well here I am, about 9 months later and feeling SO blessed by all of the support and love everyone has shown! I still have a ton to learn, but wanted to share some of the things I have figured out along the way and I hope that it helps any creatives ready to start their own blog or creative outlet.
- BE YOU and know your value. This might sound basic, but let me break it down. It is super fun collaborating with companies, getting free product and clothing BUT do not be afraid to say no. It is great to say yes to as many opportunities as possible and get your name out there, but people will know if you are trying to just push product at them. There are tons of arguments about this in the blogging world but here is my take. I only say yes to products that I like/actually use/would refer to my close friends. If you feel like you cannot afford to say no because you are just starting, reach out to companies that you do love and offer to post in exchange for product to start out! There are bloggers that rely on partnerships for income and that is FABULOUS! Finding a balance between helping companies and being completely authentic can be tricky, but it is totally doable!
- COLLABORATING. The most common question that I get is “How do I collaborate with companies”. There are tons of way to collaborate so I will just give you a few to start with. An app that I think is great (especially for new bloggers) is the Collabor8 app. It is pretty much like Tinder for blogging. haha You select companies and if they select you back you get to collaborate! Many companies want to trade clothing/product/services for an Instagram post, but many will pay once you have a larger following. The most common way that I get contacted is through email. Make sure to put info in your bio so that companies know who you are and what you are about. Mine says “Lets Collab!” Companies will see that and know that I am open to working with them. If you do not have a blog, but want to focus mostly on Instagram you can post that you are an influencer. If you feel like you are going through a dry spell and are not getting offers send out a bunch of emails! Companies are used to this so do not feel afraid, everyone has something special to offer no matter what size their following is. Be sure to include what you have in mind for the collab (what you are willing to give and what you expect to get), your following/engagement, and the number of photos or posts you are willing to do. Also find other bloggers with a similar style who want to collaborate or host a giveaway with you. This will also give you more exposure.
- FOLLOWERS. This is the second most common question that I get asked about. “How do I get followers/how do I gain them quickly?” First I would like to say, do not get focused and fixated on the number of followers you have. Growing a following is exciting and fun because of the opportunities you will receive, but do not let it consume you. You are fabulous no matter how many people click that little button so remember that! The first way to start growing your following is to ENGAGE. Go and like and comment on posts that you love. It will let people know you are there and a lot of the time they will reciprocate the support. Set aside a little time each day to engage and be present, then set it aside and don’t stress about it! It is definitely a lot of work, but once it becomes negative or frustrating that is when I take a step back to think about why I started doing it in the first place was. (Pro tip: NEVER message someone asking why they unfollowed or refollowed you) I have gotten these messages before and it just makes me sad that people dwell on it so much! Fake it until you make it and do not take offense. 🙂 ) No one HAS to follow you and visa versa. You do not have to follow someone back just because they follow you, follow your little instagram heart! haha okay, so not a pro tip…but just something funny that can happen on Instagram. I want to touch on hashtags super quickly. These can be hit and miss. If you hashtag super popular tags, your photo will get lost in the mix. Find hashtags that do not have a million posts. This can be tricky. Some of my favorite hashtags are #thehappynow #thedarlingmovement #pursuepretty #flashesofdelight #petitejoys #Livethelittlethings #finditliveit #howyouglow #styleinfluencer #fashioninfluencer . Feel free to look at any of the hashtags that other bloggers use and add them to your list! I like to copy and paste mine into my phone’s notepad so that I can quickly copy and paste when I post.
- PHOTOS. I am NOT a photographer and I am actually pretty clueless when it comes to all of the settings. I have a Canon Rebel T5. It came with two lenses, but I purchased a 50mm lens which is what I mostly use right now. Once I take the photos I download them into my dropbox (free service to hold your photos) I then open dropbox on my phone and save the photos to my camera roll. Last, I use Vsco to edit on my phone and that is about it! (My favorites filters are the E filters, but I use a bunch of different ones.) You don’t have to filter every photo, you can also just adjust the lighting or make the photo warmer/cooler. I also like to add grain to my photos on Instagram. (not as much on my website because it can make them look blurry) Great photos will definitely help gain a following and great collaborations, but do not feel like you have to have thousands of dollars worth of equipment to start out! Make your feed cohesive so that people are drawn to follow it, but again that doesn’t mean that hours have to be spent on every single photo!
- Branding. Think about what you want to share with your audience. My brain is the equivalent of a kitchen drawer dumped onto a trampoline. I have TONS of random ideas and I love way too many things. haha. For that reason I decided to make more of a lifestyle blog that encompasses many categories, but there are definitely things that I post about more often than others. I started by posting my daily outfits. These outfits were not sponsored, just items that I loved to show my personal style. Comparing your content to others will only cause you to lose your personal touch! I love to look at others to get inspired, but I have to remind myself that diversity is awesome and to not get upset if I feel like others are more successful than I am.
- ORGANIZATION. If you feel like you have a ton of ideas but are lost on how to incorporate them into your blog, make a schedule. Plan out your month and when you would like to post about what. I like to leave some flexibility so that when I am inspired mid month, I can incorporate that in as well.
- Apps and websites that are good to know about starting out:
- VSCO (photo editing app)
- Collabor8 (app to find collaborations)
- Influenster (you can get selected for campaigns and in exchange for a review/post you will get beauty, hair, and tons of other fun product!)
- Wix is a great website that you can use if you are building your own website, super easy to use!
- Revfluence (website to find great collaborations)
- Social Native (another website that will send products in exchange for posts and they also pay a small amount! (usually $20-100 per)
There are TONS of great websites, so explore and do some research! A lot of people starting out want answers and the easy way. The truth is that it is TONS of hard work and searching to find answers that work for YOU! Pinterest has a lot of great posts about tips and tricks as well as just googling questions you might have.
QUICK INTERMISSION. I love blogging because you can really do it anywhere. Here are some of the places that I have lived since I started!
(The yellow ones don’t stop) YOU GUYS. LOOK AT STEVEN IN THE BACK. hahah this was at a time where I was still trying to balance blogging and giving him quality time. hahah he has been so patient and I got him some pizza after so its all good.
Okay back to the info.
8. Change your Instagram account to a business account. This keeps track of analytics for you. This will make it easy to forward them over to companies as well as keep track of your progress!
9. INSTAGRAM CAPTIONS: Show your personality in your captions! If I have a serious photo of myself I like to balance it out with a fun caption. (I never like to take myself too seriously 😉 I also like to ask questions every once in awhile to get engagement going. Always be you, but also realize that your audience is looking to you, so get a good gauge of what they want to see as well.
10. OTHER FORMS OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Second to Instagram, I feel that Pinterest is the most valuable to my blog. This drives a large traffic to my website and is great for gaining unique web views. Make a pin every time you do a blog or Instagram post, connecting it to your website. The more present you are on different types of social media, the more your following will start to grow on its own. Eventually you can make a blog Facebook page and Twitter is also another fun way to show your personality and reach a broader audience.
Last question I am asked a lot: “How do you balance having a blog and having a job or going to school?” I am a list person. I make a schedule or list every day, even if it is not blog related. Find a time each day that you can dedicate to growing your blog and content. I usually wake up early if I need to blog because Steven is still asleep and I work best in the mornings. Some set aside time every day while other set aside one day a week to work on everything. You will be able to find your balance! I try to stay strict and productive with the time I set aside so that I can dedicate my other free time to family…and let’s be real…muh dog. hahah I have talked with girls who struggle because their significant other isn’t as supportive as they would like them to be or they get in fights about how much time is spent on the blog. I really like to try to keep my blog out of my relationships so that the people I am around feel valued and like they have all of my attention. It is funny to me because if I ever take a photo while out I usually get a comment like “Oh, time to post on the blog”. When in reality, all of my blogging is done completely separate from outings with friends/dates. It will take awhile to get the hang of everything but I am always amazed by what I can get done by even waking up thirty minutes earlier every day.
I am so grateful for a supportive husband who helps me out whenever I need it! I cannot stress enough balancing your time so that significant others do not feel that you are only spending time on your blog and social media. This will really make a smooth transition into the blogging world and you will avoid unwanted tension. I have had a few girls message me about wanting to blog and post but that their husbands hate it. I think that it is important to get into what EACH OTHER loves. I make sure to show an interest into Steven’s hobbies so that when I spend time on my blog he can show interest as well. I always make sure to have my phone away when we go out to eat (even if I want a quick pic of the food..which is rare because I eat is ASAP. haha) I then keep it away for the rest of the night. Im no pro, but have found that this really helps out in my relationship! Once I started making money everything shifted a bit. Now that I was supplementing income, Steven could set aside more time to help out. It’s a learning experience but super exciting at the same time.
I know that this post is SUPER basic, and in the future I will go more into depth about turning your blog into an income, but I wanted to address all of the beginner questions. Comment with anything else you want to know and I will answer. 🙂
Thank you all SO much for your support. Steven and I move around a lot and I feel so blessed to connect with people over social media and that we can continue to inspire each other no matter where we are.
Remember that you have something that no one else does and a completely unique view on life. Tell yourself every day that you are going to rock it and you will! Consistency is key. Feel free to leave your blog website or Instagram account below to connect with others!