HI YOU GUYS. One of the biggest and most frequent questions I'm asked is how I began monetizing my blog and my social media. Let me tell you, it didn't happen overnight. It was a long roller-coaster of a process that has taken years to build, like most businesses do. The biggest thing that people don't realize when looking at a blogger or a social media influencer is the business-savvy and entrepreneurial spirit that they HAVE to possess in order to be successful in their own right. Working with a company on a social media campaign is so much more than just taking a picture and posting it, there's a ton of rules and regulations that go into every single post I create and it all is very up and down in terms of making some serious money from it.
In January of 2017, my Instagram was hacked when I had just under 3,000 followers. To say I was PISSED would be the understatement of the decade. I contacted Instagram, Facebook, my mom, everyone - and no one could help me get back to my page. Luckily, the person who took over my old page changed my username and I could reclaim "HAYDERZ" as my own. In restarting my Instagram I thought, how can I get back to where I was and how can I make this new page better than what was so that my followers will continue to follow me on a new page with ZERO content.
Thus, my blog was born. LOTS OF HAYDERZ began out of boredom at jobs and internships where I was lacking the creative outlet in my work, so I created my own outlet to write and talk about the things I wanted to. What did I love? Fashion, travel, food, etc. I'd been a huge fan of bloggers back when they originated - girls like Song Of Style and Chiara Ferragni created these huge empires for themselves out of sidehustles and I thought, "why can't I do that?". By NO MEANS am I anywhere near their success, YET, but through believing in my own abilities and the way the influencer market is growing so much in the next few years, I have no doubt in the success of bloggers and influencers to come.
First of all, there's a difference between being an influencer and being a blogger. Most bloggers are influencers but not all influencers are bloggers. An influencer can be someone like a celebrity (ie Robbie Hayes or Becca Tilley from The Bachelor - they aren't bloggers because they don't have a blog, companies simply see the value in their audiences to advertise their products to) A blogger is often someone who has a unique point of view to share with a unique audience to market products to and that's why companies work with these people.
I DIGRESS. So my blog was the original main focus and through photography and best social media practices (ie appropriate hashtags, collabs with other bloggers, networking and putting myself out there) I've been able to grow my social media following into a platform where I can share my life with people. Thus came the vultures (KIDDING) knocking on my door. Once I hit 10,000 followers on Instagram and reached a significant amount of blog subscribers, I began getting inquiries from brands on how I could feature their products on my page - I was so happy that I became a YES guy. I literally said yes to every single brand that reached out to me and thought HOW COOL, I get free products and all I have to do is wear this t-shirt in a photo or recommend this brand to my followers.
"BIG MISTAKE. HUGE." - if you know what that quote is from, we're already best friends. I became so overwhelmed and mad at myself for not appreciating my own time, in that I should have been charging these companies for what was hours or brainstorming ideas, organizing photo shoots, working with photographers and then strategically placing the content into my social media and blog profiles. I completely shut down, got back into my work for a few months and threw my blog to the side.
I focused on creating content that I loved personally and that my followers were really enjoying. Once the summer hit I started to wonder what I'd done wrong and realized that I should be the one reaching out to companies. If I'm gonna reach out to a company, it'll be one that I like and that I'd post about normally, without the necessity of monetizing my posts. THIS is when you guys started getting more engaged in my content because you really realized the authenticity behind my brand collaborations. I've been able to work with huge corporations like McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts because they recognized the unique audience I have and how I could contribute to their success through using my platform to advertise and market their products.
This is my biggest advice to people who want to be an influencer - determine your unique audience. I gained a following from being a fan of other bloggers and influencers in my space, I commented on popular LGBTQ+ persons who had large social followings and from that my profile was noticed by them, their followers and fans. From that, the content I was creating was something that those people enjoyed looking at enough for them to want to follow me and then what kept them following me was the personality behind the content. I think it's these three things that contribute to my success and would be my main advice for people who want to consider themselves social media influencers.
For bloggers, I'd say it's similar but you also need to determine your unique point of view. My blog is focused on my lifestyle so people connect with me and don't necessarily care about the logistics behind what I may be doing. In that, they see the products I love and they may love them, too, but they hate that the things I'm doing may be sponsored because they relate to me on a friend level. This is what Song Of Style and The Blonde Salad have done, too! They've been able to connect with millions of people to be able to integrate themselves into their lives and from that have become a staple in how people live and operate.
One question I'm asked more than anything else is how did I get started, and the annoying answer to that question is that I just did it. I was nervous my friends were gonna make fun of me, people I knew from college or people in general would be like who does this guy think he is? Well now, those are the people I look at and proved wrong. There's obviously so much that goes into every business and I'm not knocking any hustle that anyone has, but for me, blogging and my work as a social media influencer has been extremely rewarding. Work hard, play hard for sure, but hard.
Patience is also key to this industry. Nothing is going to happen overnight, especially if you waiting for something to blow up. It's like my mom always says "a watch pot never boils". Give it time and people will come if you have a unique enough angle and content that people relate to then you'll find your niche, your audience and eventually be able to monetize your brand!
If you guys have any more questions for me about blogging, the influencer world or anything related to this cray cray industry let me know! I loved writing this blog and would gladly write more about this topic if it was of interest to you all!
Thanks for reading!!! (I know I've sucked at blogging lately because I've been so busy with brand collaborations and new work committments but I'm gonna try to get back into blogging more regularly!)