From corporate recruiter to “influencer”: What I’ve learned about blogging, social media and making money
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Hello friends I still can’t believe it’s been a year since I started The Recruiter Mom. When I thought about writing an anniversary post I asked you on would you rather me answer reader questions or hear about blogging and social media and all the crazy stuff I’ve learned, the latter won. I had intended on this post going out right at my blog anniversary but unfortunately my blog anniversary also coincides with the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and Prime Day so this got pushed to the back burner.
I am going to get a few questions out of the way because it does help you understand my journey on this blogging adventure. First, the name The Recruiter Mom as you can read in my about me page I worked for the same company for close to 15 years with the majority of that time as a corporate recruiter. In the spring of 2018 my husband (who I had met at work about 14 years prior) was promoted to a level within our company that no longer allowed me to work there.
When I was forced to resign it was with so much joy for the amazing promotion that my husband received and this lingering sadness that my identity as a working mom and corporate recruiter was gone. It was after I stayed home with my daughter over the summer beating off some major identity crisis my husband said to me
“Make your goal to make about $1,000 a month. If you could do anything that made you happy what would you do?”
My response, “Shop all day”
So he said “Then figure out how to get paid to shop”
I thought about it and knew that I loved sharing cool new things with people (I had even put together Christmas shopping lists for former co-workers) but had a REALLY hard time with who I saw as influencers on social media.
In my mind they were all 20 something size 2s that had never had a “real” job and THAT. IS. NOT. ME.
I’m almost 40, size 10/12 and a mom of two kids, I did not fit the mold of the typical “basicinstablogger” but then that started making me MAD. I didn’t see anyone talk about work clothes or how things fit if you are trying to hide a belly that has had many one too many tacos (or glasses of wine).
That is when I decided to start a blog honoring what I consider my two worlds coming together, the fact that I will always be a recruiter and my new primary role as stay at home MOM.
FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM OR BLOG
About 7 years ago when I friend told me to try out Pinterest I started following some women that I loved their style and they felt very relatable, Living In Yellow and Sheaffer Told Me To. What I came to find out is most of those that have been doing this business for over 6 years started as bloggers. It was the hey day of the “family blog” or like Erin standing in front of her door showing what she had just gotten in her Stitch Fix box to get referral credits (yes Erin I’ve been a reader for that long).
In this new landscape of social media there are truly 3 very distinctive categories that I can see as influencers and you almost have to choose at the beginning what your focus is because if you try to do it all YOU WILL FAIL (or go bonkers) the big influencers that you see doing all three successfully have a team that is assisting daily. Although I would say that many of the influencers (like myself) are hybrids meaning that they do at least 2 of these categories pretty consistently.
1. Blogger that uses social media to advertise the content on their blog
2. Facebook page that shares “deals” while using a combination of product stock photos and some personal photos
3. Instagram influencer that uses curated images on their feed and IG stories to grow their audience
The reason you really need to pick your focus from the beginning is because you will get so many different “tips” and what you should and shouldn’t do but unless you understand the perspective that influencer is coming from then you could be traveling down the wrong road.
I knew that the model I wanted to follow was blogger, I was interested in building a space that was mine online and I could write posts. I honestly have no idea why since I’m not the best writer and you WILL find errors on my page but I enjoy figuring things out and wanted to build something of my own.
And I did… The Recruiter Mom website (aka blog) was built from the ground up using a $40 theme off of Creative Market and YouTubing my way through learning plug-ins, widgets and formatting. If you go down this route here are my 3 biggest tips:
1. Build your website on WordPress.org and buy and inexpensive yet pretty theme off Etsy or Creative Market. At this point WordPress is one of the easiest to configure widgets for affialte programs and pretty much the standard in the blogging world.
2. Create a content calendar take a look at holidays, “national” days, sales and season changes for content ideas. Build a basic framework for how many posts you want to create per week and then ya know… do it.
3. Find a good conference or learning opportunities to refine your craft. I attended Thrive conference in Austin which was the biggest game changer in my networking and understanding of my business. If you can’t afford (or have the time) for a conference these podcasts are great resources: Thrive Blogger Podcast & The Goal Digger Podcast.
The Facebook Deals Page
The Second type of influencer is the Facebook “deals” page, my friend Jen runs a very large & popular one called Kids Steals & Deals. I have been following her page for years and typically you will find stock images of products from various retailers that are on sale or have a great deal. Since Facebook is the preferred social media platform for women ages 35+ this outlet was utilized by many big bloggers as a next step to then share quick deals that are too timely (aka that day) to put in a blog post.
This is the second area that I took The Recruiter Mom into, I wanted to share quick deals and when I polled my friends they indicated they spend most of their time on Facebook. The Recruiter Mom Facebook page is where I share my blog posts, outfits with links and Instagram photos. There are many bloggers that hybrid into FB deals so this is a common combo especially if your target audience is in that 35+ age. If you go down this route here are my 3 biggest tips:
1. If you find a deal on someone else’s page please credit them, tag their page and then use your affiliate link.
2. Understand disclosures if you are using an affiliate link you can use “Commission Link” or “Affiliate Link” if you have been paid for a post using #ad or #sponsored is required by law. Within my groups of bloggers we normally will use #ad when we have been paid money for a post, #sponsored when a product was gifted (but there is no specific wording in the FTC Guidelines)
3. Amazon Affiliate program has A LOT of rules epically on how and where you can share links. Even if you see another blogger do it doesn’t mean it’s compliant. If you break these rules you can get banned from the program so if in doubt look it up. I didn’t even know all of these when I first started and definitely made some mistakes.
This is probably the one you associate “influencer” with (and yes I thought it was only appropriate to find a Starbucks pic to go with this). This is the individual that posts typically 1-3 times per day on their IG feed and multiple IG stories per day. If you are on Instagram then you are fully aware that the affiliate Reward Style or LiketoKnow.it is king. This is an app that made shopping a photo from Instagram easier through the ability to take a screenshot or use the direct link and then go onto the app to shop the products the influencer has linked to that image. Notice I DO NOT say that you shop what is in the image because that is up to the influencer they link it so it can be all the same items, it could be similar items.
If this is the route you want to take first I would encourage you to read the book Influencer by Brittany Hennessy. Starting off some of it will be over your head but it is the one of the most insightful perspectives from a woman who hires influencers for brands she gives the real inside scoop. If this is the route you want to take here is what I have learned:
1. The Algorithm: OMG you will hear about the IG algorithm until you are blue in the face. How to get your pics seen (more likes, shares and comments) how to ensure that your hashtags are being seen (yes blocked hashtags are a REAL thing, it happened to me) when to post, who is commenting, do you look like a bot it’s A LOT.
2. Do you. There is no perfect feed, there is no right way to do Instagram but if you want to get to 10k as fast as you can then you are most likely participating in large giveaways and/or ads. I hate to say this but it’s true, Instagram is highly saturated with influencers so you will at most be discovered at a rate of 10% of new viewers. So to ensure that your posts are being discovered you need to get in front of new people. Hashtags help but it’s the giveaways and ads that get you to 10k faster. Then to maintain 10k and grow you will see A TON of IG influencers do a monthly giveaway for their followers to like and/ or comment on every post that month, why you might ask…
3. Engagement RULES… this is the law of IG. Take a look at your peek times, typically its 9am and 8pm for Instagram (CST if you are West coast it’s earlier) once you post a pic the algorithm will figure out if it’s worth sharing by the first hour of interaction so commenting on others posts and them commenting on your will boost the success of your post. This is where the rise of the tailwind group and engagement groups happened. If you are engaging in these IG can block your posts if they think it’s inorganic engagement. (welcome to our hate of the algorithm)
This was one area that I didn’t fully understand going into this gig but figured out quickly, this is the “getting paid” part. Most influencers start off with affiliate links, although getting accepted by affiliate programs can be difficult. Here is what I have learned:
Sign up first for the ones you will get an almost immediate acceptance into, Target, Amazon, Share A Sale and Brand Cycle. Now from there I would say the 2 biggest that you want to work towards are Shop Style Collective and Reward Style (app is LIKEtoKNOW.it) both of these affiliate programs give you the “big” retailers and typically with better commission rates than the previous programs.
Now once you are accepted into the larger affiliate programs there are tiers of “performance” that will enable opportunities to receive collaborations from brands and unlock more reporting and/or higher commissions.
I wondered for a long time what “performance” these affiliate companies look for and finally I got to ask an expert and it really comes down to the analytics straight on your dashboard.
Earnings (aka commissions)
Blog Analytics including Monthly Unique Visitors & Monthly Page Views
It finally made sense, it doesn’t matter what platform or how you make it happen but it all comes down to driving more and more people to buy what you suggest = influencer.
Now I am sure your next question is going to be, um ok where do I find these people?
FINDING A TRIBE
This might be the easiest and hardest part of this industry. I was given amazing insight early in this journey and that was, what makes you unique? What is your voice and who are your people? I realized that I wanted to help busy women find fashion, kid stuff and home ideas to make their lives easier. I wanted them to see me as someone they could relate to when it came to size and budget. As I mentioned at the beginning I want women to feel like when they see an outfit on me that they are easily able to envision how it would look on them and therefore take the guess work out of sizing. I feature a variety of price points and always incorporate workwear on my blog since that is such a big part of my history.
I am blessed to have found a tribe of over 6,000 women that follow me on Facebook and over 10,600 on Instagram. Every week I get messages that blow my mind thanking me for showing fashion on a body they can relate to. These women have become the greatest tribe I could have ever asked for.
I also have to mention my most loyal “follower” Bailey, most days he is the one that is laying by my side while I talk to my friends online. I speak to my followers but there are a lot of things that only other bloggers can understand and even care about. I am so lucky that I have been embraced by a group of AMAZING bloggers and influencers that have shared their knowledge, love and support. I started to list everyone and honestly it was a long list so just know that you will see their names pop up routinely on my social media pages so follow along and you can meet them too!
After I started this point I realized I will already need a part 2 discussing photography, Instagram giveaways, legal language and more. If you would like to hear more leave a comment below!
Professional photography by Regan Morton Photography she is based in Austin and available for family, events, business, blogger and more!
// FOLLOW ALONG //
This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.