What’s The Point?

What’s the point of starting a blog?

Everyone’s done it. The market is saturated. Blogging is outdated. No one will read it. My pictures aren’t good enough. I don’t know how to write or convey my thoughts. I just suck.

Those are the thoughts that ran through my head the first time I even considered starting my own blog. It was silly to me to even try, considering the amount of people who were already way ahead of me in the blogging sphere. To be honest, I LOVE to write and I always have had a sincere passion for it–but after reading countless others posts and seeing all of their beautiful photos that seemed effortless, I was afraid to even put myself out there to the world and TRY. It was fear that was holding me back–maybe because I cared so much about what other people thought of me, and what other people would say.

Growing up, I was teased a lot for my big nose, and I guess that was another reason I was partially afraid to put myself out there on the internet. As I got older, I learned to embrace myself a little more but still, it was tough to post pictures of my face. I also fluctuated with my weight a lot as a teen and into my college years, so I would go through phases where I felt really good and then periods of time where I felt like crap about myself. My last years of college, I started working out and going to the gym on a regular basis to build up my confidence and feel stronger mentally/physically, and that actually worked. I was amazed at how secure and happy I felt–running, lifting weights, drinking lots of water, eating right and just living life in a healthy and positive way. I would work out twice a day sometimes if I felt like it, and that really helped me clear my head and was a means of therapy for me for a very long time.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I think half of why people don’t want to start something new is because they think it’s too late to start, and the other half lies in insecurity and fear. At least these things are what made ME feel like I wasn’t capable of achieving my dreams–for years I felt this way and I was hesitant to do anything outside of the box, because people told me it wasn’t possible. That being a singer, an actor, a radio host, a model, a BLOGGER–as a full time job, was just plain unrealistic.

Maybe it is unrealistic. It’s unrealistic to someone who is constantly negative about their outlook on life. It’s unrealistic to someone who doesn’t believe in his or her self, and is projecting it out on the world. It’s not reasonable to dream big when you’re so trapped inside of a dark bubble of pessimism that you can’t ever see that there is never a goal that is too big. My motto: if someone else has achieved it, remember that it CAN BE DONE. It is possible if you work your ass off and stay focused, and positive, and strong throughout the entire journey. You will also need a lot of patience, dedication and preparation for failure along the way. No success comes with a smooth road–there will be lots of bumps and unexpected turns involved! 😉

Anyway, back to my first question. What’s the point of starting a blog? The point is that this is your outlet. No one owns it but you. You don’t rely on the power of a huge corporation like instagram or youtube to stay in tact. You own your blog, and that’s your outlet for creativity, content, expression and art. You can be whoever you want to be, post whatever you want to post, and use it without expectations of an algorithm affecting your work. A blog is an open opportunity to start your own online business without the fear that it could die out. It can only grow, get bigger, and better if you put your 150% into it every single day. It’s also just fun to upload tons of content without a necessary “limit” capping off your photos and text. You can write as many articles as you want, as many thoughts as you have, and it all sits in one organized place that you own the full rights to.

It’s never too late to start. Some people may say it is, but those people are always the ones who are too afraid to go for it 😉 And this goes for any dream job you want. Whether you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, write a best-selling novel, or own the world’s best cupcake shop, the sky is really the limit. We have SO much to live for and such limited time, so why not just do what you love, all day every day?

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The Truth About Being An Influencer

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In today’s day and age, the term “influencer” is more frequently used than the term “celebrity”. People are turning to their favorite influencers to look for a more personal and instant connection–someone they can actually relate to, trust, and build a social media “friendship” with, so to say. Influencers are known for their relatable content and often are well trusted because they are there to be themselves and influence by being everyday people, just like their followers. But, as time goes on, I’m noticing that more and more people are interested in becoming influencers not to build a brand for themselves while being genuine. Instead, people are focused on being “social media famous”, which is far from the reasons I believe influencers developed their own space in the first place.

I feel like the new thing is to “be an entrepreneur” or a social media “influencer”. It’s become almost like a trend to not work at a 9-to-5 job and sit in an office cubicle. While having my own career as an influencer is a blessing that I’m truly grateful for, it’s not nearly as “luxurious” or as easy as it seems. Most people looking at my instagram assume I make thousands of dollars a day, can travel wherever I want, and work with any brands I want to work with. So let’s break down the truth – because this is far from it.

The truth is, a prosperous career path does not come easy to anyone. You can be given certain tools or leverage, for example, coming from a wealthy background or having a famous parent, but if you don’t have the passion, the work ethic, and the skill set, the tools you are provided with are pretty much useless. In fact, I’m so thankful I didn’t have any sort of leverage to begin with because it taught me how to work my ass off and be strong mentally in the business world.

I spent all 4 years of my college life building my following on social media without a dime in my pocket from it. At the time (about 6 years ago now), Instagram was still extremely “new” to brands, and they would laugh if you asked them to pay you for a post. The influencer space did just not exist yet. On top of going to the gym at 5 AM, attending 7 AM classes until 3 PM in the afternoon, completing all of my assignments which usually took up most of my night, and going to practice for the a-cappella group I was a part of, I spent the remaining few hours I had left in the day marketing my brand and building a following for myself. I gave up my social life for my phone, which a lot of people thought was an “addiction”, but to me it was my future business. I was pushing out content on my Instagram daily and working as much as I could allow myself to without getting burned out.

Since I was not making any money from social media yet, I didn’t have money to spend on anything really other than college related things like my meal plan and books. I didn’t spend much on food, let alone travel (I actually rarely ever traveled, I don’t even remember if I did at all). My parents never ever spoiled me with money like some of the other people at my school. A lot of kids my age growing up had their parents’ money to spend on drinking, going out, driving nice cars, looking fashionable, etc. My family didn’t have that type of money, which actually taught me a lot about how to have a strong business mindset. I was by no means poor, I always had a bed to sleep in, food on my table, and a great education throughout my life, but I didn’t have parents to be financially dependent on. That, to some people, can be seen as unfortunate–but to me that was such a blessing because it TAUGHT me how to become a business woman and make money for myself doing what I’m sincerely passionate about!

So how did I start and BECOME an influencer? This is no easy question to answer, and there’s really no short version of this story. Building a social media brand for myself took me over 6 years, tons of patience, hard work, lack of sleep, and sacrificing the “fun” in my college years. While most people spent their nights going out to the college bars, I was in my dorm room working on my instagram page, looking at trends, researching how to grow my audience on social, and networking with other content creators who were building their accounts just like I was.

For the first few years I was working on my instagram, I received nothing more than a few free boxes of yogurt from a food brand and some free workout clothes (which at the time was extremely cool to me!) But after a market started to develop, fitness companies were reaching out to me, asking me to promote their products for $100-$400 per post, depending on what it was. Fitness companies took advantage of the instagram market the earliest, and were paying creators like me daily to promote their companies. After years of working hard to build an audience for myself, I was getting paid up to $400 per day to promote products, which was awesome at the time, and I was able to save a lot of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the value of my brand because the whole influencer space was SO new. I don’t think any creators at the time (at least that I knew of) really understood how much value we had. IF I HAD KNOWN THE VALUE, I wouldn’t have promoted these companies. We were just doing this because we loved it and were having fun building our platforms, and I was finally making money while doing it!

As more time went on, I learned a ton about the social media market and the power of digital advertising. It was then that I decided to create my own fitness guides and sell a product I actually believed in and knew was effective. I was super nervous to release my own program, but it felt right at the time because it was something I actually was passionate about. I always kept it super real with my followers, and I was as connected as I could be to them. I was always interactive with people who engaged with me, and I felt that the power of a social media community was only going to become stronger and more powerful as time went on. I was so excited that I was able to help people become healthier while also creating a brand for myself. I went on to sell my own products for about 2 years, using instagram as my main marketing tool, until my life and my brand took a turn into a brand new direction.

After meeting my boyfriend Meir after college, we decided to team up and work together. We spent time marketing my products through social media together, but over time, I realized I wanted to venture into more of a lifestyle and travel brand and not be tied down as a “fitness” influencer. Everyone knew me as the “fitness” girl, and to me, it put so much pressure on me because I feel like I’m so much more than just a girl who works out in the gym and sells fitness guides. I never wanted to be limited to a category, I wanted to just be myself and be free from that title. I was so torn on how to transition my brand into something different, especially because I didn’t want to disappoint or let down my followers who were so loyal to me and my fitness image. At some point, I decided I’d have to make that leap into the lifestyle / travel space if I wanted to be happy, and those who loved me for me would stick around and understand.

It took me over a year to transition my brand into something much bigger than just fitness. I spent months strategizing how to incorporate more of my travels and everyday life without scaring my audience away. I know a lot of people definitely unfollowed me, but I know some of them eventually came back and re-followed me too. I answered every message I had from girls who looked to me for fitness inspiration and were distraught that I decided to change my image. I made sure I was still making an effort to show people I’m exactly the same that I was before, but I’m just showing more of what makes me truly happy. That was all I could do. And it was the best decision I ever made for myself.

Meir helped me re-focus my brand and my goals, and I am forever thankful that he walked into my life. He was always super passionate about photography, and when we decided to work together, I knew we were going to make an incredible team. He has such an amazing eye, and is so naturally gifted with the camera. We strategized how we were going to push out content and change everything in an authentic and personable way, and after almost 2 years now, we have achieved more than I could have ever imagined! We have been fortunate enough to travel often, live in New York together, work with some of our favorite brands, and most importantly do what we LOVE! 🙂

Despite the fact that our job is such a blessing and all I could ever want in a career, there is a huge misconception that it just “happened”, that I got “lucky”, or that we, as influencers, don’t work hard. We just snap pretty pictures and call it a day. But this couldn’t be more far from the truth. Influencers are some of the hardest workers I know. They built a personal brand with a loyal following that LISTEN to what they say, which is pretty incredible in itself. Most of the influencers I know have also spent years building their following. There are a tiny percentage of people who blow up overnight from the internet, but 99% of the time, people don’t become overnight sensations. They work HARD to get to the top in their field. Influencers spend hours a day planning their shoots: from their outfits, to their hair, to the location, to finding the right photographer, to collaborating with other people, to finding the right brands to work with, and the list goes on and on. Yes, we are a fairly “new” community, but we are powerful business men and women who take our jobs just as seriously as any other business people would. So yes, we deserve to make money from our platforms because it is our line of work.

TRUE OR FALSE INFLUENCER EDITION

  1. Brands approach us first and want to pay us immediately to get promoted on our page. The truth is, it’s more of me taking my time to pitch brands, reach out to brands, set up personal meetings with brands, and email brands. Sometimes brands don’t have that much money to spend, or they take months to choose their influencers. Brand partnerships actually take a LOT of organizing, planning, time, patience and contracts before proceeding. It rarely happens quickly.
  2. Influencers make thousands of dollars per post. This depends on each individual influencer and what they offer in terms of exposure, return on investment, and uniqueness. Some influencers do make this type of money, but some influencers do posts for free and pretend they’re getting paid (yes, that’s true). I don’t discourage smaller-tier influencers promoting brands for free, simply because it builds a resume and can show brands that you have experience creating good content for companies like them. It builds trust and credibility in the long-run.
  3. Influencers have stylists, managers, and people who do and plan everything for them. In some cases, yes this is true. Large-scale influencers sometimes have a team of people assisting them with brand deals, styling, photoshoots, blog posts, etc. which to me, is amazing and inspiring. Having a team means your business is growing, which is always a positive thing. However, most influencers I know (even the big ones) do not have a team helping them out at all times. They usually have a photographer helping with their shoots, but most of the work is done by the influencer themselves.
  4. We get everything for free – travel, clothes, makeup, you name it. While a lot of brands love gifting us influencers, I would say 80% of the products I own and experiences I’ve had are on my own budget and paid out of my own pocket. I always appreciate gifts from brands, but I typically prefer choosing my own things, planning my own trips and styling myself the way I want. I like investing my own money back into my brand. I think this goes for a lot of influencers as well.
  5. We take pictures for a living. Yes, we do, but it is SO much more than that. Being a digital content creator is a strategic job. It’s knowing what to post, where to be, what to say, when to post, being relevant, connecting with people, and communicating your message through a screen. It’s a full time job to say the least.

The next time you scroll through your feed, which will most likely be right after reading this article, I want you to consider the amount of work that really goes into building a social media presence. It may seem like a lot of fun (and it is), but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it takes time, patience, and a ton of execution. It was definitely not an easy or short journey for me to get to where I am today, but I couldn’t be more grateful for all that this process has taught me.

Xx,

Alyssa

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10 TIPS TO GAIN INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS

MY TOP 10 TIPS TO GAIN INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS QUICKLY

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This is by far one of the most frequent questions I get asked, so I decided to make a detailed blog post about it. Here are my top 10 tips on how to grow your instagram account. The overall key is to STAND OUT amongst the rest. Instagram is my full time job, and it requires a ton of time invested, hard work, and commitment to create the content each day. I spend hours a day working on my content, so if you are ready to make this commitment, you will have a much higher change of great success! 😉

  1. Find your purpose. Set a goal for yourself of exactly how you want to brand yourself. I struggled with this idea for awhile and it made it a lot harder to grow and to get people to WANT to follow me. Do you want be known for your photography, your recipes, your workouts, your makeup tips, your music, etc.? Once you figure this out, it’ll be easier to strategize an actual plan for your future and it will establish a clear path for you to follow.
  2. Create a list of what type of content you want to put forth, and how you are going to add value to other peoples lives. I highly recommend putting out both photos AND video. These are both amazing ways to engage your audience with your content, but as video is becoming more of an engaging platform, I would invest time into making short video clips to allow your audience to get to see you on a more personal level. Video tends to bring higher engagement simply because it shows the real you and people will spend more time watching you then looking at your static image.
  3. Write thoughtful captions to engage your readers and the people who see your content. I always see the same repetitive captions on everyone’s photos over and over again and it gets old really fast. Put your thoughts into each photo or video you are sharing and be real. Be authentic to yourself and don’t copy others words, and more importantly…
  4. DON’T REPLICATE PEOPLE’S WORK. This is a problem I see occurring a lot and people wonder why it’s so difficult to grow. Stop copying other bloggers and influencers, and think of your own creative twist. It’s so amazing to get inspired by others work but ultimately the goal is to be someone new, refreshing and unique on the platform where there are so many replicas. Think of how you can create similar (not the same!!) content but with your own unique twist so you are standing out and offering people something new and different. The more creative you get with your content, the more likely people will follow you and define you as your own special self 😉
  5. Invest in your content. It is all about the small details. Dress up with accessories and find a spot that no one has photographed before to shoot at. Spend time planning your outfits, your hair, your location, your captions, whatever it may be. Find props that will accentuate the photo and bring out the colors, for example, a cozy red sweater and a red cup to match the fall colors in Central Park. Also, invest in your equipment. If you are shooting on a mobile device, that is an amazing start – but make sure the lighting is nice so you are able to edit and play with the colors in different photo apps or even better, Lightroom / Photoshop.
  6. Follow, like and comment on other people’s work who you admire. I think engaging with people who you aspire to be like is also an amazing way to grow because their followers may see your comment, and check out your page. If your pages are similar, they may choose to follow you. Sometimes different comments that have a personal feel to them really stand out to me and I’ll check the person’s page out when I read it.
  7. Don’t be afraid to collaborate. Send a direct message to someone who you feel would be an amazing person to work with and collaborate with. It’s always worth a shot. Also, using instagram stories to mention other accounts that you love, and do a “share” exchange of accounts is always great exposure and can attract a mutual exchange of followers to both of your accounts. Find people in your niche and reach out!!!
  8. Tag bigger accounts that repost other people’s work. There are hundreds of accounts that tag and repost other’s content to support their growth, so do your research. For example, there is a huge fashion page with over 8 million followers called American Style that reposts some of my work and I grow from her because she is so big, but she also benefits because she loves my content and receives a ton of engagement on her own page by reposting me. If your content is good enough and fits well with these bigger account’s pages, they may repost you and send their followers to your page.
  9. Use the appropriate hashtags and geotags. I am always researching different spots and tags wherever I am, especially when I travel, and I get to discover new accounts this way ALL the time. Don’t overdo it on the hashtags, but be relevant and use them in an efficient way to categorize yourself. For example, if your feed is all about travel, use the hashtag #travel and #adventure on some of your photos that correlate.
  10. BE YOU!! People can sense when you’re not being genuine, and true to yourself. Don’t force something that isn’t you. If you’re a fashionista, dive into fashion content. I forced myself trying to wear luxury clothes and designs 24/7, and I really don’t have a passion for that, so I started focusing on what I LOVED, traveling and creating scenic photos, and the results were so much better for me. 

I hope some of this tips will help you as you begin posting your content and building your instagram brand! Let me know in the comments if these are posts you would like to see more of, more tips, advice, tricks etc.! 

Xoxo,

Lyss <3

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