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 Blogging is outdated.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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Buying Followers, Likes, And Comments

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing a ton of people posting about a new wave of influencers and social media creators that are buying their followers and also their engagement (likes, comments, etc.) on instagram. You may have also seen tons of instagram influencers and celebrities promoting “giveaways” and creating these loops on instagram to gain followers.

I’m going to address the whole “buying” followers thing first, simply because I think it’s one of the most painful things to watch as a creator who has been on the instagram platform for nearly 8 years. I started instagram as a way to document my lifestyle and it was my outlet to genuinely express myself and my thoughts. Over the years, it has become not only a great outlet to connect with millions of people from all over the world, but it has also become a full-time business and job for thousands of people including myself.

For the last 8 years, I have invested my entire life into producing content, interacting with my followers, marketing myself, shooting new projects, working with brands, building business relationships, and most importantly, turning my brand into a full-time career that has allowed me to do what I do. To see other people who just started their brands trying to cheat their way through the system is not only disheartening, but it’s also dishonest and morally just wrong. I don’t think anyone who buys their followers could be proud of something like that. That’s not hard work and dedication day in and day out – that’s just laziness and ultimately, a short-term plan that will get them nowhere in the long-term.

There’s no feeling of great success and achievement that comes with faking your audience. I wake up everyday with a feeling of such gratitude and pride to have come so far and to have been so patient through the process of so many years. While I believe that brands are becoming much smarter and educated when it comes to marketing using influencers, there are still a lot of brands that are learning how to work with influencers on instagram and many of them are scouting out influencers that have fake followers, likes, and comments. This ultimately will lead to a zero return on investment for those brands, which loses them hundreds or thousands of dollars. It’s downright scamming people if you are buying your engagement and then charging brands money to promote their products.

The other scam I would like to address are the current giveaway loops happening on instagram. When I initially saw them happening, I thought “what a cool idea – a great way to give back to my followers, and also expand my audience”. It turns out that this “cool idea” is actually just another way of essentially scamming people to follow you, and really has nothing to do with giving gifts to them. I made the mistake of joining a few of these a while ago, and I will never participate again. Sure, there may be a winner who receives some awesome prizes, but the truth is, in the long-run this is extremely damaging to your brand. People are smarter now and know that for the most part, these things are tricks to boost engagement, growth, and much less about the benefit of the audience. If you’ve participated in the giveaway loops before, you’ll notice that 50% the people who followed you will unfollow you because they didn’t win – and chances are, they won’t participate in the next one. Things I also noticed after participating in a few giveaways and experiencing this firsthand, is that my followers would get greatly discouraged and many of them would lose interest in me and my content. They also would find it as a great reason to unfollow my page because I was disrupting my professional content with tacky, unattractive “GIVEAWAY” images. For about a month after I stopped doing these giveaway loops, my engagement had cut in half and I had lost the value of my brand in not only my eyes, but in many of my followers eyes too.

One thing that HAS seemed to work in my favor is to just be genuine and stop caring so much about growing your brand, and start putting more into the people that already do follow you. Investing in my content daily, focusing on interacting with my audience daily, replying to comments and direct messages, liking and commenting on my follower’s own instagram pages just to put a smile on their faces…THOSE are the steps you can take to ensure you will grow your brand into something that’s long-term. If your content is superb and you’re a good, hard-working person, you will grow your brand, I can guarantee you that. You can NOT fake the grind. There are no “shortcuts” to real success. Remember that.

-Lyss

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All Of Your Questions Answered

Hey everyone!

So I decided it would be easiest to have a permanent blog post thoroughly answering all of the repetitive questions I get asked. That way, you can bookmark this and come back whenever you have a question that someone may have asked me before 🙂 I try to respond to as many of you as my fingers will allow me to over instagram but it gets super overwhelming, messy, and often glitchy within the app itself.

I hope you enjoy this and feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments if you have any!

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

  1. What filter and applications do you use for your pictures on instagram?

I use Lightroom to edit all of my photos, and then I add small touches with the in-app instagram photo editing tools. I use my own custom filter I created with Lightroom for my photos. When I first began posting on instagram, I used apps like AfterLight and VSCO, which are amazing apps to start out with. VSCO is free and you can purchase all of their filters in the app, and AfterLight is $1.99. If you are on a tight budget and just starting out, I recommend using one of these apps to gain experience working with editing tools and filters. If you are looking for a more advanced way of editing to match my exact type of feed aesthetic, Lightroom would be the best choice for you. It costs about $120 to purchase for your computer so it’s definitely an investment if you want to become a blogger, photographer, content creator or just to improve your work significantly. You can learn how to use it through Youtube, which is probably the quickest way to pick up on it and start editing with it.

2. What camera do you use to take your pictures?

My first camera was a Canon 70D. I know a lot of you are just starting out, and so I always tell people I use this camera because I still do! It’s my backup, but it’s still an amazing camera and it’s fairly lighter than the one we shoot with now. A year ago I upgraded to the Canon 1DX which is quite large, heavy and intense. I love it, but it’s best if you’re a pro looking to do more video content. I think the Canon 70D is perfect for starting out!

3. How do you grow your instagram following?

My 10 best tips to grow your instagram following can be found here on this blog post.

4. How do I reach out to brands?

Reaching out to brands has become easier than ever nowadays, especially because most brands have their own instagram pages. I simply send them a direct message and ask for their email so we can discuss collaborating. A lot of pages feature a contact button that you can directly email the brands as well. If you are writing an introductory email to a brand, be sure to link your page in the email you are sending and always offer them something of value. For example, if you are just starting your page and would love to try a product for free, offer them an instagram post in exchange.

5. How many followers do I need to work with brands and get paid?

This all depends on who you are, what your content is like, your engagement, and your type of audience. The amazing thing is, brands want to work with influencers of all sizes, big and small. Some brands actually prefer smaller influencers (5,000 followers-50k followers) because they often have a higher engagement and connection to their audience, and they also charge less for a post! Don’t be afraid to reach out and make an effort to work with brands just because you are not as “big” as other people are.

Also – I would focus on creating good content before reaching out to brands. Brands like to see that you are putting in a little effort into your page to make it look pretty and to make your audience active. Once you have built up a solid foundation of content, start reaching out to brands for free products. The key is to give a little before you get paid for anything. I didn’t get paid for the first 2 years I was working on my instagram.

6. Where do you live?

I live in New York City. I was born on Long Island which is about an hour train ride outside of the city.

7. Is it expensive to live in New York? Why did you choose to live there?

It is very expensive to live here, but it helps if you have roommates of course. You are paying for the location and the experience. It is amazing to have restaurants and little bodegas on every corner open 24 hours. There are hundreds of coffee shops, cute boutiques, markets, and parks to hang on every few blocks you walk. The city just feels so vibrant and energetic at all times and I feel like it has helped shape who I am a lot. You have to get used to it for sure, but I love it!

8. Where are your favorite places to take pictures in NYC?

Some of my favorite places to take photos are:

  1. St. Cloud Rooftop in the Knickerbocker hotel
  2. The Press Lounge at ink48 hotel
  3. The Roof at Public Hotel
  4. FlatIron and Madison Square Park area
  5. Times Square at night (the lights are amazing)
  6. Grand Central
  7. Jimmy at the James hotel rooftop
  8. Nomo Soho and surrounding area
  9. Top of the Rock and Bar 365
  10. Bryant Park

9. What are you passionate about other than being an influencer?

I love to sing. It’s been something I’ve doing since I’m 5 years old. I love performing and even though I get nervous in front of crowds, I’ve gotten a lot better at speaking and showing who I am in front of people as I’ve gotten older. I also love to write. I think writing and expressing yourself is such a powerful, beautiful thing.

10. What is your job? What do you do, how do you make money, etc.?

You can read all about my job and what I do on this blog post here.

11. Did you go to college? What did you study?

I graduated from Binghamton University in 2015 with an English degree and minor in Global Studies.

12. Did you know you were going to become an influencer?

I honestly had no idea what was in store for me when I began my social media career. I used instagram as an outlet during college. I didn’t go out too much, and I liked to do my own thing. I was always low key and simple, so when I started my account, the only people who knew about it were a few of my closest friends. Then, as it grew, my college wrote an article about me in their newspaper and suddenly everyone knew me on campus as the instagram girl. It was pretty crazy, and strange because people started to make fun of me. Back then, instagram wasn’t as popular yet and everyone was just like, what is this girl all about?

13. How do you stay on track to achieve your goals without giving up?

I wouldn’t want to look back in 30 years and regret not pursuing my dreams. I know in order to be happy with my life, I need to at least try to pursue what I love. Failure isn’t an option anymore in my head. Anything is possible with the right skills, mindset and attitude. If you remind this to yourself daily, you’ll realize that it’s the truth! This is the truth I live by and it helps me push forward even when I fail.

14. What’s the worst failure you’ve ever experienced and how did you learn from it?

I lost a lot of money at a time in my life when I was careless. I felt like a failure. I had gotten scammed essentially, from someone that I don’t know online, and I felt so pathetic in that moment. I cried a lot that day to say the least. It’s okay to feel upset or disappointed, but don’t let those feelings stop you from bouncing back and starting over. Take a lesson learned out of your failures and use those failures to teach you how to succeed. I see everything as an important lesson, whether it’s a big or small mistake, it always helps to view it from that perspective.

15. What are the best places to eat in New York?

Some of my favorite spots include:

  1. Joe’s Pizza for pizza
  2. Cafeteria for lunch and American eats
  3. The Smith for continental food
  4. Momoya for sushi
  5. La Pecora Bianca for coffee and small breakfast bites
  6. Two Hands for brunch
  7. By Chloe for vegan eats

16. Where is your favorite destination spot?

My top favorite is Greece (Mykonos and Santorini)! I went this year for the first time and it was so insanely beautiful. I can’t wait to go back.

17. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an influencer?

The top 3 tips I always give to people who want to become an influencer is:

  1. Understand what you want to be known for. This was something I had a lot of trouble figuring out throughout my career as a social media personality. I started out with fitness, and then transitioned over time into more travel, lifestyle and just being myself. I think if you stick to what you’re good at, you’ll succeed.
  2. Invest your time into your content. Content is key to growing a fan base and making people want to keep following your journey. I used to wonder why my engagement was so “low” and no one would comment on my photos. It was honestly because they sucked and I had no idea, hahaha. I had to dig through people’s accounts and research what worked for them. I had to research how to improve my photography skills and how to edit properly. It takes time.
  3. Be active and engaged with other influencers. There’s no better way to start than by being active in the community you want to be a part of. Instagram makes this easy. Leave unique and supportive comments on your favorite influencer’s photos. Send a hundred DM’s until you get a reply. Some influencers will read, respond, and even message you back. I know that I do! 😉

18. How old are you?

I am 24 years old, and my birthday is in less than a month! I always thought 25 was SO old, and now I’m like, wait…I’m just getting started with my life! It’s okay to set your own timing and path. A few of my friends are getting married already, and my brother’s both have kids! I know those things will come for me at a later time, but for now, I just want to feel free, and pursue my dreams. I’m much more career focused than relationship & “settling down” focused right now, which is not a bad thing. I think 25 is YOUNG. With social media, I can relate to the younger generation, and I can be a role model for them. It’s all about perspective 🙂

19. What are your goals for the future?

My future goals is to be an even more successful influencer by reaching more people and connecting with them, and showing people that it’s possible to achieve any dream you set your mind to. I also want to be a successful singer and go to the Grammys. I have a feeling 2019 will be the year. 19 is truly my lucky number! <3

I’m going to end this post on number 19. If you have any other questions for me, feel free to write them in the comments!

Xo,

Alyssa

 

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20 Fun Facts About Me

Where Do I Start…

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Hi! My name is Alyssa and I am a lifestyle and travel creator based in New York City. I’m 24 years old and started creating content about 2 1/2 years ago. I am so excited to hit the refresh button and start a new blog, filled with my travel adventures, my daily style, beauty and wellness tips, and all of my personality in one place. For most of my life, I felt a bit lost, in the sense that I really felt like I had no direction of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take myself into the future. I was often pulled in different directions – one minute I would want to pursue one thing, and before I knew it, I’d lose interest in it and try something new.

It took so much time for me personally to figure myself out, but I always had a passion for writing, taking photos, and just sharing my advice with my friends and family. So, a blog wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to allow you all to know me a little better.

20 Fun Facts About Me

1. I love public speaking (I am not shy by any means!) but I am also introverted at the same time, meaning I like my space, m time to be alone, and I get a little intimidated to approach people first. People often say I look super intimidating and they don’t have the courage to approach me but I feel the same way!! Never be afraid to say hi if you see me around 🙂 I love meeting you all.

2. I played every sport as a kid and did so many activities: everything from soccer to the chess club – because I had so much curiosity. Some of my favorite sports were basketball, volleyball, tennis, and horse back riding. I also grew up surrounded by musical theater and often performed in plays, and took singing lessons for over 10 years!

3. I still sing, and I tend to keep quiet about it but it’s something that I would love to keep doing and pursue more, aside from blogging and creating content 🙂

4. I have two older brothers who taught me a lot more than they probably know. I feel like I was always independent because I had two older brothers who helped me be a confident girl and even how to handle relationships with guys.

5. I have a hormone imbalance disorder called PCOS – poly cystic ovarian syndrome. It affects a lot of women who are in their menstrual years and it’s not really spoken about as often as I believe it should. It causes very irregular menstrual cycles, fatigue, depression, anxiety, acne, and weight gain. I have learned to control it immensely through diet and exercise and I was able to stop taking medication for it, which I am grateful for.

6. I went to college and studied English, with a minor concentration in global studies and cultures. I was always super interested in writing and reading, and I always had so much to say on paper so that’s where the idea of an English major stemmed from.  I honestly was super confused if it was the right path for me and I questioned myself a lot as a student because I wanted to do something different and I wanted to stand out. I didn’t want to be a teacher, I wanted to be a creator and an entrepreneur.

7. On that note, that entrepreneur mentality has always run through my blood. I wanted to work independently since I was 5 years old. I used to collect hundreds of plastic bottles and caps and cash them in, and sell all the things my parents would buy me on eBay. I would get gifts and just sell them and put all of the money in my savings. I would also have my own little garage sales and lemonade stands every weekend in front of my house. It’s so funny to think about now. When I was 10 years old I told my mom, I’m going to be someone different. And I think she really believed in me even from that age when I had no idea what I was really saying.

8. I’ve only had two very serious boyfriends, and one of them is the guy I’m currently dating and working with. You may have seen him featured in a lot of my content already on instagram 🙂 I want to make a separate post about this topic, but my first relationship was very different from my current one and I have learned so much through these relationships.

9. My favorite foods are penne vodka, pizza, avocado / sweet potato sushi, and okay, I’ll throw in a healthy one – sautéed veggies and brown rice in a wrap is my go to clean dinner most nights. I really have an undying love for Italian food but I gave up meat completely, I don’t eat fish, and I try to avoid dairy as much as possible. I would say my diet is mainly vegan but occasionally I still have dairy based products. I’m working on just cutting it out completely because it makes me feel super bloated.

10. My favorite desserts are endless, I have such a strong sweet tooth! I really don’t like candy, I’m more of a cake and cookies type of girl. My sweet tooth diet consists of chocolate lava cake (that warm kind with the exploding chocolate sauce), red velvet cupcakes, and chocolate chip cookies. I also have recently been hooked on this new vegan cookie dough I found at Whole Foods. So so good.

11. All of the places I’ve traveled to so far will be talked about throughout this blog, but my favorite place so far has to be Greece! Santorini and Mykonos were both so individually magical and I can’t wait to go back next summer. I found that September was the perfect time to go, the weather was gorgeous and it wasn’t as crowded!

12. I have two dogs that are my heart and soul, MAC and Tosh. I don’t have them at my New York apartment with me; they live with my parents on Long Island now. They are brother and sister and were named after Macintosh, the computer model. My brother thought of their names because he works at Apple, and he’s a computer nerd hahaha.

13. I love makeup, and I am a total makeup junkie even though I don’t post much about it on Instagram. I love experimenting with all different skincare as well. I’m going to make a different post about this with all of my current must have products! I can’t live without mascara and bronzer!

14. I have an obsession with coconut oil. I use it for literally everything: conditioning my hair, moisturizing my skin, and cooking with it in my foods. I truly believe it heals everything.

15. The number one thing I can’t stand is when someone is the opposite of who they portray themselves to be on social media. I find that being myself is such an amazing way to connect with people and I’m not afraid to be genuine. And show my true self in good and bad times. I find a lot of people put on a show .. but that doesn’t really last.

16. My favorite place to shop right now is Free People, Forever 21, H&M and Zara. I am not a huge fashionista and I never was super into luxury fashion! Although I think dressing well is important for my content and it just makes me feel great when I do. But I like to keep it as affordable as possible when I’m shopping.

17. I get really bad anxiety when I fly. My job consists of traveling everywhere and I know this may surprise some of you but I get the worst nerves in the air and I’m terrified of turbulence!! I feel safest when I have both feet on the ground.

18. If I had to pick one place to live for the rest of my life it would 100% be New York City. People always ask me why I love New York so much and it’s simply because of how much is always happening here and the amount of entertainment and vibrance it offers at literally any time of year. It’s really just amazing. Christmas and summertime are the best times of year!!!

19. My lucky number is 19 and here’s why: my birthday, my moms birthday and my brothers birthday all fall on the 19th. If that’s not crazy enough for you, my grandpa passed away on the 19th, the morning of my birthday. I would say 9 Times out of 10 I am assigned hotel rooms “19”, numbers in line that are 19, and I’ll be in the most random places and just see “19” on the wall, or written in the bathroom stall, or someone’s tattoo walking by, or a neon sign in a diner, etc. My entire existence has been linked to this number and it’s kind of scary but amazing.

20. My YouTube channel is YouTube.com/Effortlyss. If you didn’t know I had a YouTube channel, now you do!

I hope you got to know me a little bit better from this question and answer post. I’d love to answer even more of your questions, so feel free to comment some more below if you’d like! 😉

Xoxo,

Lyss <3

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