Blog Talk: My BIGGEST Tips on Growing Your Blog & Instagram

Mar 14

My Biggest Tips on Growing Your Blog & Instagram | Blondie in the City by Hayley Larue
My Biggest Tips on Growing Your Blog & Instagram | Blondie in the City by Hayley Larue
My Biggest Tips on Growing Your Blog & Instagram | Blondie in the City by Hayley Larue

1. Utilize Pinterest

I can't stress this one enough. Pinterest is a HUGE way you can get your blog posts out there, and continue getting traffic to your blog without really having to do anything months & years down the line. Pinterest is also a great way to get people to find your instagram. I've had MANY of my followers write me saying "I found you on pinterest!" - Every single blog post and photo on my blog has been pinned to Pinterest. So if one blog post has 20 photos, all 20 photos will be pinned onto Pinterest. Now, this used to be SO annoying for me to do all the time, until I discovered Tailwind... Where with literally just one click, you can schedule all the photos in that blog post to be pinned to however many boards you want. This has saved me SO MUCH TIME. I pin each photo to 3 different boards, so if I have 20 photos in a post, I would have to pin 60 effing photos, which would take me around 15-20 minutes. And now? 2 minutes MAX. Tailwind also discovers your best times to post on pinterest, so when you schedule your pins, it will post them according to your analytics. If you decide to test Tailwind out, make sure to watch their informational video! It will tell you everything you need to know about how to use it, and I highly recommend it!

2. Step Up Your Instagram Game

Getting discouraged in the blogging game is normal. I still get discouraged! There will ALWAYS be someone with a bigger following than you and there will ALWAYS be someone getting more likes than you. When it comes to your instagram and blog, the following TAKES TIME. I've been blogging for 4 years now and I'm still not even close to where I essentially would like to be. Even after one year, I was still getting like 200 likes per photo - after 2 years, I was getting maybe around 500 likes per photo. From personal experience: I got to a point where I was like "Ok, wtf, why isn't my instagram going anywhere? I think I post great content!" (as I'm sure you have all said to yourself.) Cody flat out said to me, "well, I always tell you we should try new locations, but you never want to, and I think it's honestly what makes your photos not as exciting as others." So we went on some of the accounts of bigger bloggers that are similar, and he goes "See, this photo would not be nearly as good if she wasn't at the location she shot in." and as much as I really didn't want to start shooting where more people would be walking around, Cody was right. It all goes back to that saying, "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."
Then take a look at your feed... Would YOU follow yourself? Do you think your feed is exciting? If the answer is no, then try changing things up. Maybe that means trying new locations, styling your outfits differently, not posting certain types of photos anymore, editing differently.

3. Comment On Other Blogs

Every time I have a new blog post up, I always go comment on other blogs and leave my link at the end of the comment. This will always drive more traffic to your blog, and also get others to comment on your blog. Many bloggers use this tip, so when someone sees your link in a comment, they will probably click it, head to your blog, and comment on your recent post. Yes, this can be annoying to do all the time, but it works. This is the code to use for leaving your link in a comment:

<a href=YourBlogURLHere>YourBlogNameHere</a>

4. Don't Agree To Every Sponsored Opportunity If You Don't Want To Post About It

If you are at the point where brands are reaching out to you to collaborate or your posts are being sponsored, don't just say yes because you get free items and a paycheck from it. If you don't like the product, or you don't think it really goes with your aesthetic of your instagram feed, you CAN politely decline. Not only that, but if EVERYTHING you post is sponsored, you can start to lose your credibility with your followers. When it comes to beauty products, I am VERY selective on who I work with, as far as doing a full on blog post, and social media posts for. Since my blog is mainly about fashion and decor, I usually tend to just feature beauty products on my instagram story, and it's rarely a full on blog post and instagram post. If I posted on my blog and instagram feed about every beauty brand that contacted me, my blog would literally be ALL about beauty products, which wouldn't make sense for me, because that's not what my blog is all about. Since that's not what the focus of my blog is, I do not agree to every beauty product opportunity. Sure, if they want to send products, I will do an unboxing on my story, but again, VERY RARELY will you see it as a blog and instagram post. I only post about what I truly like and want to recommend to my followers. There a bloggers I see that post about product after product, and every post is about how much they love this product... and I'm like, but yesterday, and the day before, and last week, you loved different products for basically the same reasons, soooo which ones do you actually use? You know what I mean? Even when it comes to clothes, if I don't see anything on their website I truly like, I will politely pass on the opportunity. 

You want your followers to trust you; be authentic.

5. Edit Your Photos

I get asked on the DAILY about how I edit my photos, and I think this is one of the most important parts about your instagram, and how you can get people to stay and want to follow you once they discover your page. When you think about it, when you are obsessed with someones feed, it usually has a lot to do with their aesthetic and the way their photos turn out, right? You want to make your feed aesthetically pleasing, so one thing that was a HUGE game changer for me was when I started using Lightroom. No, not the app. You can never get the same effect by editing on an app. I used to do this, and that was one thing that I realized that was holding my instagram back from being better... So I purchased the desktop version of Lightroom, and it has been my BFF ever since. (If this is going to be your business, you have to be ok with making purchases to benefit your business - also, tax write offs!) Once I started learning more about Lightroom and creating my own presets, that's when I noticed my feed start to change. More people started asking me what I was using to edit, and I began being reposted by bigger accounts - which meant, more exposure, and a growth in my following. (If you search on google, there are a good amount of free lightroom presets you can download to get yourself started.) I went through such a long period where NO ONE would repost my photos, and I was too stubborn to realize I needed to change something I was doing, like I mentioned in Tip #2. I just kept doing what I was doing, and it wasn't working for me anymore. I obviously thought my feed was perfectly fine, but that's because it was mine and I looked at it with a very narrow mind. Don't think that just because your current amount of followers like what you're doing, that you don't need to change anything up. Take a screenshot of your feed and then take a screenshot of a feed from an influencer you love who has a larger following. What is different from their feed and yours? I'm not saying copy them, I'm saying, why do you think this person has so many people following them and why do you think other accounts who repost have noticed their photos? If your photo was mixed in a feed with 1000 other photos, would yours stand out? The pages that repost photos are tagged by people all day, everyday, so try something different to make YOUR photo stand out.

6. Don't be shy on Instagram Stories

When you use instagram stories, your followers get to know you in a more personal way. You will notice that Vloggers on YouTube have HUGE followings over fashion bloggers, and even if they have the same amount of followers, they get TONS more likes... because their followers literally feel like they know them and are friends with them, just by being able to watch their daily antics. In a journalism class I took in college, we were talking about how people feel like they have a closer connection to news reporters because they look directly into the camera, making the viewers feel like they are talking directly to them. When it comes to reality TV, viewers love seeing how their daily life works... Kind of the same thing with Vloggers... which is why I think it's really helpful for Bloggers to utilize instagram stories. Connect with your followers in a different way than just through photos and writing - a video and talking in real like is obviously MUCH more personal.
Also, be your TRUE self! I used to hold back my cussing on my blog a couple years ago, because I was like "oh, gotta keep it professional," when in reality, I cuss all the damn time - so when I first got onto Snapchat, I started acting like my normal self, cussing like I normally do, making fun of Cody when he would use his juicer and make a mess in the kitchen I just cleaned, etc... and I would get such great feedback from my followers on there about my snapchat stories and how funny they thought they were. Even in the comments on my instagram photos, I would get people saying like, "Omg I was dying at your snapchat story today!" or "I saw this on snapchat!" The snapchat fam was like more exclusive in a way, and even I felt closer to my snapchat fam than my instagram fam! lol. Now, of course, instagram stories has kind of taken over, and I personally love it more. Am I the only one who feels like Snapchat is dying? (I love their filters more though.) Anyway, getting yourself in front of the camera and being you - people love getting to see that different side! While your instagram feed and blog make it look like your life is perfect, since they are all planned out, still photos... show the real life, real time stuff on your stories. People love it.

7. Full Length Photos on Instagram

Ever since Instagram came out with the option to do full length photos, I have ALWAYS, ALWAYS done full length. I NEVER use the square. Photos that are in the square format rather than full length, usually get less likes. I've noticed this by studying other accounts. It's all around just a smaller photo, and when you are scrolling through your feed, the full length one will stand out more, rather than the small square - making it more of a photo that someone will take the time to stop and look at aka double tap.

8. Advertise on other accounts... and yes, it'll probably cost you

I'm sure you look at these huge accounts that repost other bloggers all the time, and wonder when they will notice your photo... Well, the hard truth there is that you're probably going to have to contact them (their email is usually always in their IG bio,) and ask them for their rates. Just as us as bloggers do not advertise/collab for free, these accounts don't either. This idea of these bloggers just being reposted out of luck ALL the time used to really discorage me... which, yes, some of them do just get reposted... HOWEVER, most of them probably FIRST had to contact them, pay to advertise, the account holder really liked their stuff, and then they just kind of became a regular... There are a few accounts that I have paid to be advertised on, and then here and there, they will repost photos of mine that they like, now that they know my account.  "In order to make money, you have to spend money."

My Biggest Tips on Growing Your Blog & Instagram | Blondie in the City by Hayley Larue

1. How Many Blog Posts Should I Have Up Before Going Live?

When I get messages about girls wanting to start a blog, I am often asked how many posts they should have published before they go Live. Personally, when I started my blog, I had one post, and I just posted as I went. I didn't keep it private until I had 10 outfit posts up or anything, and the reason why I don't think this matters, is because you haven't built your following yet. So just because you have 10 blog posts written, isn't going to mean you will automatically get traffic. So the amount of posts you have when you go live won't necessarily make a difference.

2. How Do I Start A Blog?

There is no right or wrong way to start a blog, so you literally just have to decide one day and start! I googled absolutely everything to any question I ever had when I started because I knew no one that had one, and I also have always been the type to learn things on my own. I don't always like help, and I like the satisfaction of figuring something out, and feeling accomplished at the end. Google has literally every answer you can think of when it comes to blogging. I figured everything out through Google and taking the time to research and learn. That's a huge thing. You have to be willing to LEARN. You will find that when you start your blog, there is a lot of behind the scenes that your audience will never see or realize that you do.
Don't worry about what people will think! I was SO nervous about this in the beginning, and I had people I knew saying things like, "Why doesn't Hayley just get a real job," and blahdy-blah. Now? those same people are like all about it and supporting my blog 100% because of what it's now gotten to and done for me. Plus, I was STILL working normal jobs when I started, but it was all part-time because a desk job just wasn't for ME. Now, I work on my blog stuff literally every single day and I work 3 days a week as a jeweler & do the rest via email, text, & instagram because it's also something I'm passionate about. However, there will always be people who will not understand what blogging is, or how you can make a living from it. Not everyone understands that there are people in this world that are not meant for a 9-5 behind a desk job, and that's ok.

3. Where do I find A Blog Design?

Etsy! I have always gone to Etsy for pre-made templates or even to find designers to hire for custom design work, which is also how I found Gina, who designed my blog! 

4. What Platform Should I Use?

When I started my blog, I only knew of Blogger & WordPress. I first started off on Blogger and a year later, had everything transferred over to WordPress. If you go with WordPress, there is WordPress.com & WordPress.org. The .org, doesn't mean your URL will have .org at the end of it, it just means the YOU own your blog and content and WordPress does NOT. The WordPress.org route is mainly if your blog is your business, which is what I use. It can be pricey, since you have to pay for hosting; Bluehost, Siteground, etc. but thats a whole other topic/can of worms, which I kind of talked about in this post back in 2014: Blogger or WordPress? 

If you have more questions on this topic, there are TONS of articles on Google that you will find! I am personally not the one to ask, because I hired someone to do the technical stuff for me, and also for whenever I have any back-end issues on my blog. If you are looking for someone to transfer your site, you can find many that offer these services through Etsy! That is where I have found many of the people I have hired for things like this through the years.

5. Should I Post Everyday?

I post around 3-4 days a week on my blog and usually every day on instagram. BUT... don't force it. I used to post 5 days a week on my blog, but realized I was getting really overwhelmed, and would sometimes start posting things just to post, even if I didn't like the content. DON'T DO THAT. There have been more than a few times where I've began editing photos and have realized, "I actually really hate how these turned out" lol. So I don't post it. It's noticeable when your force it, and if you post content that you don't even like, your followers probably won't like it either. Moral of the story: Don't post just to post.

6. I Want To Change My Blog Name/URL. Should I Change it?

YES, YES, & YES. If you are having serious second thoughts about the blog name you chose, and you have something else in mind that you think will be better for your business/blog, change it. My first blog name was Me, You, & Hayley Larue, then it was Styled By Blondie, and THEN finally Blondie in the City. It was super annoying to change, and once again, I hired someone to make sure my URL's redirected properly, but it was so worth it, because if I never finally switched to Blondie in the City, I would not be happy with my blog name or even love it, and I LOVE my blog name. I actually thought of Blondie in the City BEFORE I switched to Styled By Blondie, but I didn't go with it at first because I was not looking forward to trying out more city like photos, so for a whole year, I was switched to Styled By Blondie, with second thoughts every step of the way, until finally, exactly a year later, I realized I should have gone with my first instinct. Again, Etsy is another place I found someone to redirect my URL to the new one, both times.

7. How Do Bloggers Make Money?

Just as it takes time to build your following, this part takes time, as well. There are two main ways bloggers earn a living. Through Affiliate Programs where you earn commission off of every sale and through Sponsored posts, where the brand will pay for your advertisement and time. When it comes to Affiliate Programs, I only use rewardStyle (same place that owns LikeToKnow.it for instagram linking,) so that my commission is all in one place, rather than on 5 different programs to make it confusing when it comes to tax season. Now let's say a brand wants to collaborate and they are going to pay you for it, PLUS they are affiliated with rewardStyle... well, that means you will get commission AND compensation for that collaboration. Not all collabs will work this way, but most likely, they do. RewardStyle is HUGE and almost any retailer you can think of is affiliated with them, making it easy to grab the specific links you need to add onto your site to make comission off of sales. Let's quickly back track to PINTEREST. If you have a post that went viral on pinterest, and you see traffic coming from pinterest to a specific post, everyday on your analytics, you're pretty much making sales 24/7 through that one post. One of my most popular posts, thanks to Pinterest, is: "The 2 Best Purple Shampoos for Ashy/Silver Hair" and almost every single day, I make sales on the shampoos I talked about on there. (Which I can see my sales through rewardStyle.) Again, earning money takes A WHILE. It wasn't until maybe the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017 where I started receiving my direct deposit from rewardStyle every 2 weeks, and for it to become consistent. So when it comes to blogging, you can't expect to be making a living off of it within your first 2 years. You should start your blog FOR FUN. Any person who has ever messaged me saying they want to start a blog and "make the big bucks" (yes, have gotten that one before) has quit. You will get tired of it, because it didn't start with a passion, and you will not continue with it after you realize how much work needs to go into it. That is the honest truth. If you love it, you'll keep going, just like anything else in life, and eventually, the money will come.


Well, I think that's a mouthful! lol. I truly hope you all found this helpful, and if there is anything I missed, I'll add it to the list!

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  1. Courtney says:

    These are such great tips! I agree that utilizing insta stories and snapchat can make followers really get to know you!
    xx
    Courtney || https://courtneylivin.com

  2. Marilyn King says:

    Love this blog post Hayley! It answered so many of my questions. Thanks babe ❤️

  3. Nina says:

    Love this post! I started my blog about a month ago and have had so many questions just like these! Thank you so much!

    Water & Wine

  4. Courtney says:

    These are really great tips for starters. Utilizing social media is a big point for sure.
    http://sugarcoatedbears.blogspot.com/

  5. Amazing tips as always! I started my blog just over 6 months ago after reading another of your posts like this and I’m loving it so far!!

    http://www.mrswilleydiaries.com

  6. Yachy says:

    Lets’ try this out! lol. Thanks for the tips, what a read!

    Happily Ever Alanis

  7. Aurora says:

    Love your tips and tricks (and your blog as a whole). I use Isabelle by Bella Creative Studio and love the design!

    AuroraAzon

  8. Jess says:

    These are some awesome tips :) thanks for sharing!!

    https://www.pennyanddash.com

  9. Heather (ChicInCinci) says:

    Thank you for this Blog! I started out about a year ago with mine and I am getting to the point of frustration. (So Step 2 talking about getting discouraged REALLY hit home! I always love what you post, very inspiring! And the ‘Shop the Post” at the bottom is wonderfully dangerous for someone like me who loves to shop and even more-so when it is easy to click and purchase lol. Again, thanks for all your hard work and keep it up! Even if people aren’t responding out loud, they are appreciative. Happy Friday-Eve! (and now I am must purchase that Chanel C’s Coffee Mug lol)
    ChicInCinci

    • Hayley Larue says:

      Hey Heather! So glad you enjoyed this post!! And I so appreciate the kind words!
      Wishing you great success on your blogging journey! <3

  10. Jessi Malay says:

    Great post babe!! Love that you’re so open and honest about your experience in blogging!! I can relate :)

    XO, Jessi
    https://jmalay.com/the-final-stretch/

  11. Renee says:

    This has been one of the most helpful blog posts I have come across for new bloggers! Thank you so much for sharing all of these tips!!!

    https://reneemichelleblog.com

  12. Taylor Paige says:

    thanks so much for the tips xo
    just updated my Pinterest lol
    http://www.thechicpaige.com

  13. Carina says:

    Thanks for sharing! I Have never used Pinterest, definitely gonna use it from now!

    https://carinazz.blogspot.com.ee/

  14. Lisa Autumn says:

    Ah love these tips! Thank you babe!

    xx Lisa | lisaautumn.com

  15. Alycia and Sarah says:

    This post was SO great!! So much useful info and the reminder we needed to keep going. We have definitely been feeling stuck by times not seeing the growth we had hoped for but we just keep pushing and trying new things. Thanks for all the tips and advise! Xo
    Alycia and Sarah (www.lifewithaands.com)

  16. Jess says:

    thank you so much, that’s all I need now, love ya <3 <3 <3
    All about Best Wallets

  17. Jackie Camp says:

    Hi!! These tips are extremely helpful! I enjoyed reading through as I am a new blogger looking to grow in organic ways. I would love for you to check my blog out! ChampagneGlee
    -Jackie

  18. Mirta says:

    Hayley, this was great info!! You are awesome! We also love your honesty and candor. Def gonna look into tailwind and post more IG stories!

  19. Alondra Martinez says:

    I love all of these – I’m starting to use light room and purchasing your presets and im so excited!
    http://www.aemtz.com

  20. candice says:

    These are super helpful tips! I have been loving Lightroom to edit my photos

    Candice | Natalya Amour

  21. Lynzie Carter says:

    Thanks for the tips! I keep coming back to this post, it’s been super helpful! http://www.lynziecarter.com

  22. Kelsie says:

    Love these tips!
    Really hoping to focus more on my blog this year!

    Kelsiebodden.com

  23. Kate says:

    These are all such great tips! I have been trying really hard to expand my following on my blog and more so instagram. I can relate to you very much when you said in the post that you used to not go to different locations when shooting. I often times fall in the habit of posting in the same 5 places lol. It is just so convenient! Thanks for sharing, hope you are having a great day.

    -Kate
    https://daysofkate.com

  24. Karen Palomo says:

    Thank You so much for this detailed post girl! I seriously love the time and effort you put on this because of such great info! WIsh you nothing but success !

  25. The Sunday Gals says:

    Wow this bog was so insightful and helpful, thank you! We just started our blog and have so many questions!!

    TheSundayGals

  26. Antonina says:

    LOVE THIS POST. I just started a blog a couple of months ago (out of pure passion) and I am having such a good time! I love everything about it, taking photos, writing, sharing myself. It’s amazing. I never even considered the money, but if I do start making money eventually, that would be like icing on a cake. But I agree, you should start blogging out of love for it! Not for the money.

    I bought the Isabella theme from Gina and I love it too! But yours looks a lot better :) I think in a year or so I will also invest in someone designing my blog, but right now I am very happy with just the theme. You inspire me! Keep up the great content.

    P.S. Also what do you think of my blog name? I’d like an honest opinion, it’s so hard choosing one!

    Antonina’s Life

  27. stephanie says:

    This is the BEST post! seriously so good and helpful. Thank you.

    Stephanie | SPV Living

  28. Alexis says:

    Love your aesthetic and even better tips! With, Love Alexis

  29. Alli says:

    I appreciate your honesty! I’ve just begun and I’m excited to start this little journey!
    AtHomewithAlli

  30. sunny kim says:

    Love the content

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