How To Become a Successful Influencer, Part 1

January 22, 2019

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We are coming up on our 10 year anniversary of blogging in a couple weeks and while I didn’t start this blog with any intention of it becoming a paid gig, let alone a full time job for both Chris and I, it has become just that. A full blown career that has become rather successful and we decided we’d like to pass on some of the knowledge and experience we’ve gained to anyone else hoping to make it as a blogger, instagrammer, or influencer in the digital world. For this week’s CLJ Q&A video, we’re answering all of your questions you sent in about blogging as a career. There were so many that we decided to divide it into a few videos. We’ll get to the how we make money, but you gotta learn to walk before you run, you know?

In this first session, we cover:

How did you get started? :50
Was it hard to convince Chris? 1:38
What do you do for insurance, benefits and retirement? 3:49
How do you gain a following? 5:10
What if your story isn’t unique? 13:10
How often should I blog? 17:15
Do you need to blog? 19:34
What’s better; content or the look of the blog? 23:04
How do you keep going if you aren’t gaining readers? 23:38
What technology do I invest in? 26:05
What part of you job don’t you like? 28:03
Is it too late to be successful? 29:28

One of the questions asked about what tech I used, so I wanted to share links to my favorites here, too. Photos are critical to success and the number 1 thing I credit to growing my instagram following organically (read more about that here).

1. Canon 70D : I have only upgraded my camera body (from a Rebel) to the 70D (still a pretty affordable camera) one time and have found the best results by investing in some lenses. This camera body has been a great tool.

2. Tripod : This is one, heavy duty tripod. It has served me well for years. I pull it out every time a room doesn’t have a ton of light or the sun starts setting before my work day is through. A tripod is essential for shooting poorly lit spaces because it keeps your camera really still so you can extend the shutter speed (for sometimes seconds!) and make it look like it’s noon outside.

3. iPhone X Max : The new iPhone camera is everything it’s cracked up to be. I shoot with it about 50% of the time now.

4. Memory Card

5. Lightning to SD Card Reader : This is a great tool if you don’t have a phone with the best camera. Use your real camera and this tool to access the photos from your camera card directly to your phone for editing and posting!

6. MacBook Pro C Hub Adapter  : Most laptops these days don’t have a port for an SD card, so one of these comes in handy.

7. Canon 50mm Lens : This was the first extra lens I ever got. It’s reasonably priced and will make SUCH A DIFFERENCE in your photos if you want to create some blur in the background and focus on one thing. Absolutely a must have.

8. Canon 10-18mm Lens : I recently got this wide-angled lens that has very little distortion and it has been a life saver for shooting interiors.

9. Canon 24-70mm Lens : A splurge, but arguable the best lens money can buy.

10. VSCO : As far as photo editing apps go, I have a few go-to filters in the VSCO app I won’t quit. As far as filters go, I always recommend turning them down to at most 60% opacity (if not less). I love A6 and J6 here.

11. Photoshop : We have an Adobe Suite subscription and I use photoshop quite a bit for lens and color correction. I’m self taught, but I would love to take a class to really dive into everything possible here. There’s also a free Photoshop Fix app that comes in handy to edit out rogue dog hair tumbling across our floors from time to time.

12. Lightroom : I use the Lightroom app on my phone all the time. Lots of people are making a killing selling lightroom presets and I’ve purchased a few ones that I love (they are no longer sold, or I would share). Presets are very similar to filters, but with a lot more flexibility when you want to adjust lighting, shadows, highlights and colors after you apply the preset.

13. A Color Story : I love this photo editing app so much and I almost always run a photo through A Color Story even if I used any of the above apps because I can select which area of a photo I want to adjust in their tools. I can make a spot in the ceiling brighter or make a plant a little more green when a filter desaturated it. This is my favorite.

If there are any must-know questions about making a career out of blogging you have, feel free to leave them in the comments and we’ll try to address as many as we can in future Q&As in this series!

What do you think?

  1. Lauren Doorlag says:

    Loooove this! Thank you for sharing, and for being so candid! I feel like this is some of the most straightforward and transparent info I’ve gotten on this topic!

  2. Becky says:

    Your photos are beautiful, but the truth (from my perspective) is that you are super talented. I follow several dozen home decor/diy bloggers and yours is my favorite and has been for years. Your content is original, your voice is genuine and you’re family (including you Chris!) is loveable. If you believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you should know I copied your kitchen as closely as possible (I can send pictures if you’re interested!) Please done ever change the name Chris loves Julia. It’s endearing and full of hope (marriage surviving home renovations is challenging!)

  3. This was so helpful! Thank you for candidly sharing your advice! My question is how to treat blogging as a career before you’re earning money. I’m a stay at home parent and don’t have a lot of time to pour into blogging. I’ve been doing it for 10 years so the passion is there! But I feel that I can’t hire help (childcare) when I’m not making much money. Thoughts/advice?!

    • Julia says:

      Continue treating it as a business/brand by making deadlines for yourself and sticking to those deadlines. Making a content calendar. Staying up until you’re ready for the next day. We didn’t have a nanny for our girls until pretty recently, instead we worked during naps and bedtimes.

  4. Jessie says:

    Hi! Love everything about y’all and your site/IG. And I love Color Story- but don’t think I’m using it to its full potential. Any chance you could do a IG story showing how you use it?

  5. Noreen says:

    Brilliant video, really helpful, especially to someone like me who’s just started a blog. Can’t wait for the next video!!

  6. Dianne says:

    So glad to see you in front of the camera again. It makes you real (to me). Thank you.

  7. Alana Mayer says:

    This was super helpful and insightful. As someone who is just beginning to think about starting a blog, this was very inspiring. Love your work!!

  8. Love this video and resources! Thank you for taking us behind the scenes with this!

  9. April says:

    Honest question… how much value is there to your business in answering emails/messages? I understand there’s an appeal to being engaged with your audience, but are you concerned you’d lose followers if you were to dial it back? Do people really feel entitled to a response when you’re receiving hundreds of messages a day? Ugh, the thought depresses me.

    And yes, I do acknowledge the irony of throwing one more message on the pile with this comment. No response needed! :-)

  10. Thank you for this! I’m not even really interested in turning blogging into a job but I still love hearing about how people make their careers work in unique situations, so I loved every bit of this. And thanks for your candor, too!

  11. Emily says:

    I have lots of questions for Chris about food if you guys have not filmed that one yet. Like how does he grocery shop? Choose what he is making first then shop for it or shop and cook based on what looks good at the market? How many days worth of meals does he buy each time he goes to market? How do you store different produce items, which stuff in the refrigerator and which stuff on the counter? Are there certain staples he always likes to keep in the kitchen? Fresh, dried, etc. Where does he buy meat and produce? Things he always keeps on hand in the freezer? Favorite foods of your children?

    • Chris says:

      Lots of good questions! A bit deep to answer here but we’ll have to add some of this into our videos and Chris Cooks posts.

  12. Thank you so much for this. I’ve been very slow in gaining followers but have been trying to change up engagement ideas lately. But bottom line even though it’s slow going I enjoy what I’ve been doing and have been having some local success with it. This was very thoughtful and I appreciate you taking the time to help!!

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