My Blogger and IG Story Pt. 2

My Blogger/IG Story

Before you read any further, if you haven’t read Pt. 1 of my blogging/IG story you can click here.

Let’s jump back in to where we left off… shall we? :)

Once I hired a website designer and finally had the chance to see my blog/website on screen, I was thrilled. As far as I was concerned, it was perfect. My blog has since changed (a ton) but in looking back, it was everything I had always dreamed of. It was full of color, it was organized and I loved finally having a space large enough to share all my thoughts and dreams. A place with more lines than my Instagram posts. As excited as I was however, I was also terrified. What did I know about blogging? All I know is that it was possible to advance your career through blogging, so I was super interested! I was staring at a blank canvas with no clear direction.

My website designer then gave me some homework. She told me that I would need 3-4 blog posts in order to set up my website. It’s hilarious looking back at those first posts now. My very first blog post was all about my obsession with throw blankets… (I’m writing this post with a throw wrapped around me if that gives you any indication of how much I love them) It was a small post based on how much I love throws… cute and funny. You can click here to read it. (remember… it’s my first post. I probably should rewrite some of my posts..?)

The point I would like to make is that many bloggers start off without knowing exactly what they want to talk about. Everyone has their first posts, their first month, their first year.

When looking at that first post of mine, a few things stand out to me. First of all – I didn’t use a professional camera. I used my Iphone for everything. My pics looked good at the time but the Iphone wasn’t what it is today. Now the pics are so much clearer. I used my Iphone for every photo of mine, up until December of 2017. I have no idea why I waited. I think I was simply comfortable with the Iphone.. The thought of using a big camera freaked me out. ;)

Another thing… I had no idea what SEO was in regards to my blog and the importance of having good SEO. For those unaware, SEO makes my blog posts searchable. SEO means Search Engine Optimization, and if you haven’t done it correctly – google/readers can’t find you. For the first two years I didn’t have any SEO and it was hard for me to get my numbers up without it. Click here to learn a little bit more about SEO & how to make your posts searchable. You’ll want to make sure though that you have the right SEO company for your business, you can easily find a local SEO firm though, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding the right one for you.

So to sum it up.. my blog was a disaster. ;) No.. actually my blog wasn’t that bad. I’m soooo happy I ventured into the arena when I did. Even if I had no clue what I was doing. ;) The point I really want to make is – don’t be afraid to follow your dreams but be prepared to stumble and learn as you go. One important thing I have always done in regards to blogging and Instagramming.. (that I have mentioned before) is to reach out to those I admire for guidance and tips. It’s incredibly helpful. When doing so, I would recommend contacting them via email. It’s the easiest way to get a hold of anyone. (DM’s can get swallowed up on IG)

OK, back to 2014.. After a few posts were on the blog I was asked to take part in a blogger home tour. This helped increase my readership a ton…and I gained a lot of confidence from it. The home tours and blogger hops are such a great way to meet other bloggers and a new audience. While I still do the occasional blog hop – I participated in a gift guide blog hop around Christmas this past year, I have been receiving more sponsorships and partnerships that aren’t necessarily home decor related or blog hop worthy. Exciting and fun. I’ll discuss this a little bit more about this direction later on in my story.

As time passed, my Instagram continued to grow quickly and I made that priority one. My blog took a back seat as a result. Instagram basically took over my life. Taking pics for IG (some sponsored. some not), connecting and commenting to others in the IG community had become a major part of my daily routine. There was simply no way to possibly fit in writing quality blog posts like so many others were. At the time, I also found that I didn’t have the self-discipline with it as I did my Instagram. An important tip – make sure you have the time if you decide to start a blog. Writing posts can take hours out of your life, and sometimes – no one may ever read any of your posts. It can be frustrating and lonely. Blogging is a solitary job for the most part. No office, a team to help, etc. The good news? I have found a new love for blogging and it’s become so much more rewarding in a multitude of ways. More on that later.

Instagram. Like I explained in my first post, by the time I started a blog, my IG was growing at a fast pace. For example – I went from 3500 followers in June of 2014 to around 10,000 by August. It continued to grow quickly like this for a long time. There are a few things that contributed to this – larger accounts began to feature me constantly. My home was painted blue, and I had lots of bright colors. People loved it, and so many people shared my photos and tagged me. Accounts like Homegoods, Pottery Barn, House of Turquoise, and other inspiration accounts.

Another thing that helped was that I made a conscientious effort to be on the App constantly. Pretty much 24/7. Where many devoted that much time to their blogs, I devoted this time to Instagram. (This was before stories, so it was all about commenting and liking!) I noticed that the more I commented and liked on a personal basis, people would respond and follow me. I think they found me to be genuine and my posts and comments came from the heart – which they did. That has played a huge part in how I gained so many followers. To be real, I do this to this day. I try and spend a certain amount of time each day to comment and like on other people’s posts – not only to see what others are up to and sharing, but also because I want to stay active in the community regardless of the number of followers I have.

Another thing that really helped me was when I began branching off from sharing only my home. I decided to share photos and accounts that I love.. besides just my own. There are so many amazing accounts full of beauty, not necessarily home decor related either. I began to share photographers, travel spots I loved, gardens, architecture, and so much more. There are so many special moments that people shared on IG that I loved. I found that featuring others made me happy. It was at that moment that I decided I would always have a mix, no matter what.

From that point forward, from August of 2014 to January 2016 I grew my following from 10,000 to 100,000. As quickly as that may seem.. it was a steady increase. I would gain, then lose a few, gain, then lose a few more. I always tended to gain more than I lost (thank goodness) and that helped significantly. I paid attention to what people liked to see from me. I did my homework and kept pushing on..

For me, it has been extremely important to keep my Instagram honest and authentic. I have never bought followers or likes.. although I know many do it or have done it for business reasons, etc.. I just won’t.

Back to the brands. When I started my blog back in 2014, Homegoods reached out to me rather quickly. They had been following me on Instagram for a while (when I was a tiny 3400K account) and they featured my photos a couple of times. I was obsessed (and still am!) with Homegoods. I would shop there constantly, purchase something, take photos of it styled in my home, then I would post the pictures on Instagram and tag Homegoods. They in turn would repost, and knew from my posts that I was a genuine fan.

When they first reached out to me I was floored. It was my first brand collab! They sent me gift cards so that I could shop and feature all the items I found on my blog and Instagram. They even asked me to occasionally write on their blog as a guest blogger too, and they paid me for it. It was my first paid collaboration. I was so excited.

The hardest part to beginning working with brands? There just aren’t very many paid opportunities. You need to prove yourself first. For about a year, there wasn’t any money thrown my way.. which is why I tell people to always start blogging with a part time job or to make sure it isn’t your sole income. It’s not a free for all money situation at first. But when you do get paid, you feel like you’re on the top of the world!

It’s important to know that many of the Instagrammers and bloggers who you may admire.. may be struggling more than you know. It’s tough learning how to navigate this business when noone talks or shares about how well they are doing. It’s a huge hush hush industry and I’m not sure why. None of us are the same. We have different talents and attributes that we can offer to brands so why treat it like a competition? It’s a great big world out there… there is plenty to go around for everyone.

From 2014-2015 I worked primarily for product exchanges in return for content on my blog and Instagram. Things such as home decor, rugs, lamps, pillows, bedding, etc. were sent to me. I staged them in my home and talked about why I loved them. The more my numbers grew, the more UPS packages arrived at my door. Brands such as Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, and Boll & Branch were sending me products that I loved. I pinched myself. But when it came to actual money? It was still small amounts and not often. Fashion bloggers and Instagrammers reign in that department. People love clothes and will fork out for shoes but when it comes to their homes? They never want to spend as much. That was also a hard fact to face.

A different direction…

One day, back in 2015 I received a DM from another IG friend who I had gotten to know through the app. She was a talented Interior Designer who I adored and she asked if I could help her photograph an install on a job she had just completed in the Bay area. She’s now a huge IG influencer with over 700k followers. At that time however, she only had 40,000 followers and I had a whopping 75,000! Suffice it to say… I drove out to meet her and my life changed in an instant.

Part 3 is coming next week but this post is getting too long to finish! Ahh I hate ending on these cliffhangers with all of you but let me reassure you that it will be worth it ;)

Let me know in the comments if you are looking forward to a part 3 – and if anything is interesting to you about my journey!



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56 thoughts on “My Blogger and IG Story Pt. 2

  1. wow so exciting… seems like your vision came to life in a positive and great way. Love your posts and stories.. you are very authentic and that is what people gravitate too. Looking forward to reading part 3 :)

  2. This is so wonderful. Thank you for sharing. It’s very generous of you. I’ve always wondered how collabs work.

    My dream job is to make my living as a writer (possibly writing content for others) but it’s overwhelming to figure out how. I have a blog but I don’t post often. I need to work on that. I’m so open & vulnerable in my writing that I get nervous sometimes.

    I have a public Facebook page dedicated to my lifelong passion of royal watching. It has over 30K followers but the FB experience is very different, I’ve found. Not better or worse. Just different. I keep my identity private there tho.

    Right now I use my IG (@lulu.says) to just share my day, insights & connect with & inspire people. And hopefully to make them laugh a bit too.

    I agree that it’s all about being authentic & engaging. And the relationships we forge there are deeply meaningful.

    I only follow two lifestyle/design/fashion bloggers: you & Kathleen Barnes. I used to follow more but I stopped. Only the best for me!

    Both of you are so positive & down to earth & honest & relatable in your refreshing candor & winsome charm. I’m so excited she’ll be moving to SF soon. I hope you’ll do an event together. I’d love to come & hug you both. ?Lulu

  3. Wow , I’m looking forward to Part 3!!! Thank you for teaching us the ropes :) I love your IG and you are always so kind ?
    Kids are grown and Iam now starting the second phase of my life. I am finally producing Art. Years of family and friends encouraging me and the guilt of my mother who passed away 5 years ago …. she told me I was wasting my talent! So I hear her voice and I know she is looking down still ecouraging me to push along with this new journey of mine ? Thank you ! I

    1. That’s so great Margie! I wish I could paint. I’m sure your mom would be so proud of you… Thanks for the positive comments and keep following your heart. xx

  4. Thank you for sharing – I am trying and I do try to comment on people’s posts but so far not getting too many followers . I have moved states and have been buying for the house so maybe I should start tagging. Should I make my instagram public? It is my personal one but i only share my home, vacations, cats ,night out etc or should I do a seperate one ?

    1. Absolutely! How can anyone know who you are or what your post about if you don’t share? I never follow anyone who is private for that reason. ;) Btw, all I posted at the start was my home, dog and family… wait… that’s still true. LOL Hugs and don’t give up! xx

      1. Thank you ! Ok I will keep my original Instagram as that’s what I share and I will start tagging what I buy and I will make it public – thank you for your insight !

  5. So interesting!! Can’t wait for part 3! I started blogging over 10 years ago, then stopped, then started, then stopped! IG too! I was an original gal- but always had my acct private to protect my kiddos. Huge mistake. No one could find me and now I’m back to starting fresh. The problem is I don’t really have a home this time worthy of followers like I did 10 years ago. But that’s ok… at least my mom watches my stories! ???‍♀️

  6. To be honest, yours is the very first blog that I followed. I just love your positive outlook and happy posts. I learn something on almost every post. Your work leads to others I enjoy as well. Gardens of IG is fab. I want my garden to look just like theirs, alas…long way to go! Keep up the good work!

  7. Oh Kristy – you are always SO incredibly generous with sharing your knowledge and first hand experience. I found this post absolutely invaluable, and am dying to read the third instalment. I think I am probably where you were in about 2014-2015, and although it’s exhilarating and exciting at times and I am of course incredibly grateful to have even got this far, I’m also finding it frustrating to know how to strike the correct balance in order to keep growing. I’m currently trying out speaking on instagram stories, but find I’m losing as much as i’m gaining, which kind of knocks the confidence. Boy, how I wish you could be my personal mentor – if you ever did an e-course, i’d be the first to buy into that!! Thank you for a great post as always. Paula xxx

  8. Yes a part three please! I loved your first blog!!!!!! My daughter and I started a blog in October and it was a lot for this 64 year old grandmom to learn. My daughter does the Instagram and I do most of the blog. We have decided that after six months we will change things up. This adventure is definitely a “learn as you go” situation. Abby and I marvel at all you do Kristy and Emma.

  9. Hi Kristy, I would like you ask you if you would read a blog that is written in English, even though it is not my native language. I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, and I want to have readers from around the world, but would it be authentic? If I write about the brands in my country – it won’t be relevant to you…
    What do you think? I would love to hear your opinion.
    XO Tal ( from Israel)

  10. Can i just take a minute to say what an inspiration you really are! I have loved following you Over the last few months, getting to know you and your lovely family and your beautiful home….which can I say is to die for! I am from all the way over in Scotland so it is nice to know that the sun does shine elsewhere lol! It’s really interesting knowing how you first started your blog, and after following your dreams and taking that first push, how far you have come now. I have always been interested in starting a blog but I guess it’s having the confidence in the fire place to take that initial plunge and just do it. But reading this you make it sound like anyone can do it, so perhaps there is hope for me after all. I can’t wait for part 3 of this blog post. Thank you for a great post, You truly are a wonderful and inspiring person

    Lauren xxxx

  11. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to you for this post! Super helpful and encouraging – and just what I was looking for. Thank you for sharing and I’m looking forward to part 3!

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s all so interesting and I particularly appreciate your authenticity. I’m looking forward to Part 3!

  13. It’s very interesting. We don’t realize what is going on behind the scenes of the bloggers and the Instagram accounts. Thanks for posting. I look forward to the next one

  14. I’m looking forward to part 3 of your story. I’ve been following you since before the name change! I love the behind the scenes info on how it works with collaboration. I’m hoping our non-profit, HorseFriends @HorseFriendsNC a therapeutic riding program for individuals with special needs, will attract some corporate sponsors. I’ll need to start liking their posts!

  15. Yes!!! Part 3!! Please!!! This is fascinating and I just love reading and feeling like you’re speaking right to me! Thank you fir being so real!! Xoxo

  16. Kristy – this is a great series and thank you for doing it. Anxiously awaiting part 3! I’m wondering when you feature others photos, do you ask their permission first or simply credit them? Thanks!

    1. Some say you should but every other photo on IG and Pinterest belongs to someone else. ;) Even the large magazines have reposted my pics without asking so I don’t care. As long as you give credit to all parties listed – designer, architect, photographer, etc in both caption and photo, I let it go. :) Most are flattered that you have reposted their image. Hugs!

  17. Thank you, thank you for sharing. I have always wondered if influencers do not share because they want people to think they are doing better than they really are OR they are afraid other influencers will go after their accounts. Since it is such a new industry, there are a lot of unknowns. Thanks again for being a pioneer and sharing your story.

    1. Probably a little of both but to be honest, everyone and their feeds are diff so there really shouldn’t be any competition. You have something different to offer than me and vice versa. :) People need to get a grip and get over it. This isn’t High School. ;)

  18. Thank you for sharing! It shows how genuine you are! I also would like to know when you repost other’s photos, do you ask for permission first or you just give them credit? Thanks!

    1. Thanks Suzy! Always give others credit when reposting in both photo and caption. Otherwise I don’t worry. If someone asked me to remove their photo (this has never happened to me) than I would simply do so. ;) xx

  19. Thanks for sharing your story Kristy. I look forward to the next installment. I went back and read your first few posts – I can’t get over how different your house was. Clearly I only started following you in this house but it seems so funny to me to see you in such a different environment. This house seems so reflective of your personality. Not at all a criticism – just a comment. It is like learning about a new friend’s life before you knew them. :)

    1. Crazy how much our styles change over the years. I love mixing thing up which is pretty evident in my first posts. ;) Life is so much more exciting.. Hugs!

  20. I loved reading all about your journey and can’t wait for the next post! You’re so genuine and it really does shine through! An inspiration :)

  21. Absolutely looking forward to part 3! My favorite part about your post was when u said u don’t understand why more people don’t share information and that everyone has different talents and there’s so much to go around! That attitude is so refreshing and why I continue to read and follow u! Love your positive spirit!!

  22. You are so inspiring Kristy!! I love following your daily inspiration and learning more about your life! Your little family is the sweetest! Happy easter!!

  23. This is such a great post! You are right when you say that this seems to be a hush-hush topic. So I really appreciate you taking the time to walk through your progression over the years, especially about working with brands. I am just now starting to get companies reaching out to me; however, none of them at the moment seem to be the right fit for my niche of the internet. So I keep turning them down in the search for something more authentic. Anyways, I really appreciated reading your perspective and journey and, as always, your authenticity through it all.

    1. Stay true to yourself Colleen and the right brands will come your way. Like and comment on their feeds and make sure to try and reach out when you feel the timing is right. It never hurts to be your own advocate. :)

  24. I LOVE this series of posts!! Son helpful! Gives me hope and inspires me to get busy and just post what really inspires and represents me.

  25. I am so enjoying the story of your journey! You are so inspirational and genuine! Thank you for sharing your story! It is very interesting and I am excited to read part 3!

  26. Kristy-
    Hi! I just recently started following you and love your content, especially because you are not a twenty- something, but a fifty- something – a beautiful one at that.

    For 10 Years I have wanted to start a blog and I think this might be the time!

    Question- do you think I need a blog or is just an IG account fine, especially if I want to get the attention of companies?

    Please do a part 3!

    1. I forgot my second Question

      Do you have to watermark your photos, either on IG, or your blog?

      Has anyone used your photos and claimed they were theirs?

      1. I used to watermark as most did in the past but no one seems to do so anymore as it ruins the overall look of the photo. On the blog I make sure to run all my pics through photoshop so my name is embedded within. Whenever anyone uses my pic without credit I always let them know and they usually fix the issue ASAP. ;) Hope that helps. :) xx

  27. Looking for part 3! Love this series! I’m about to launch my blog next week and really appreciate when successful bloggers share their stories. It gives insight on what to expect, which is very helpful when you’re so new to this. ?

      1. Kristy–did you ever post part 3? I absolutely loved part 1 & 2! So inspirational and validating for newbies and those who just enjoy following you! xoxo Mary