Episode #81: How To Start An Influencer Career

Hello, hello. We’re here for a money episode—specifically influencer money. We are passionate about sharing business advice and this episode is full of it.

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Thank you to our sponsors for this week! We are so excited to bring you offers from Grove, Issuu, JuneShine, and Curtsy! You can see our full list of podcast sponsors on this page.

Show Notes:
-In this episode, we share secrets on how to start an influencer career. We focus specifically on blogging, Instagram and podcasting (since those are the areas we have the most experience in).

-Use the code PODCAST for 25% off any of our courses! We have courses to learn more about blogging, Instagram, podcasting and more here.

-We share the “one secret” that made us successful (it’s not what you think).

-We talk about whether you can still start a successful blog in 2021.

-Linking the book: The Twelve Week Year

-Linking Emma’s viral oatmeal post that we mention.

-Do you all love it when Emma says “life is long”? 🙂

Hope you all have a wonderful week! If you have topic requests for upcoming podcast episodes, we’d love to hear them here! 🙂 XX

Episode 81 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to A Beautiful Mess podcast, we’re always giving our friends advice about how to start a blog or make side income from influencer work, and they never do it! So in today’s episode, we’re compiling all our advice for you. If you’ve ever wanted to make full or part-time income from blogging or social media, this episode is for you.

Elsie: Yes, this episode is for all of our listeners who are like, I like it when you talk about money, because that’s a very certain part of our audience is like the money people. And this one’s for you because we like to talk about money, too. OK, so I thought you could start off by giving us the most important advice, Emma. Like if they’re going to, like, click off after five minutes, the number one key to success, the number one.

Emma: The number one.

Elsie: This is the number one. All right, Emma.

Emma: Yeah. And it’s not even the key to success for just blogging or social media. It’s the key to success…

Elsie: For business.

Emma: …period,

Elsie: …that’s true, for anything, I guess.

Emma: Finish. That’s it. I don’t even know who gave me this advice early on, but I feel like I say it so often that I have like, lost track of that. But finishing is the most important thing. So often people start and then they lose momentum or they lose interest. Or the one I see a lot is people derail themselves because they want it to be perfect. So they keep tweaking, tweaking, tweaking for like five years and they never actually finish anything. And an idea that’s like, OK, but it got finished and an idea that’s amazing, but never gets finished? Like the success of those two is starkly different and it has nothing to do with how good the idea was, which is crazy sad in a way. But it’s like finishing is, is it. It’s where it’s at.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: So if you have an idea, the most important thing you can do is finish the idea, which might include like years of work. It might not be like one time finish line thing, like running a race. But as you finish things, you grow, you learn, you get better. For us, it has to do with, like, growing a following over many, many years, because a lot of times people will ask us, like, basically, how do you make money or what was the one thing that changed? Made it where you’re rich now, or whatever they think of us. I don’t even know. And I always want to say, like, well, we’ve just been working for a decade, so I’ve done a lot of finishing for many, many years. And I, I plan to keep doing that over and over and over again. And that’s really the secret, which is a very boring secret. So…(laughs)

Elsie: Most entrepreneurs and especially influencers don’t have like one overnight success moment, you have a series of lots of little things that happened, kind of as a result of already getting yourself out there and creating a brand like if you want to get your first sponsor, you have to already have like a running brand with an appealing, you know, point of view. And, you know, like you kind of already have to do all the groundwork before you can make a penny, which I think is the hard part about influencer work. Yeah, but there are a lot of advantages if you can get past that. So this episode is kind of a pep talk. We love to give a pep talk. I’m like one for asking for pep talks. Pretty often. (laughs)

Emma: I give myself a pep talk like every day. (laughs)

Elsie: Mhmm! So here’s my pep talk. OK, a lot of people blog for like two weeks or two months. And this is — this is heartbreaking to me because you cannot judge your success or your work, your creative work, your potential. You can’t judge anything in two weeks or two months of doing influencer work. I think that a lot of people just start and they have an expectation that they want to gain some kind of traction, whether it’s making money or whether it’s getting more followers really quickly. And then when that doesn’t happen immediately, they give up or they say, I’m going to take a break and make my brand way better, like Emma said, getting in a perfectionist mindset. And then, you know, they talk about doing it for a while and then they eventually realize they’re not going to do it and they don’t. And I want you to just not be that story because that that’s really like the most common thing that we see in people quitting blogging. There are people who blog for five years and they have success and then they quit, but really not very many compared to people who quit after two weeks or two months. So you have to commit you have to tell yourself, I’m going to do this all year. I’m going to lay the groundwork and we still have to do it all the time. So I think I’ll get to it later on. But like recently, you know, we started this podcast and we didn’t make any money or feel like we were really gaining traction for a while.

Emma: Elsie kept trying to quit and I was like, no!

Elsie: I did not try to quit, but I was a little bit like, if this doesn’t make some money soon…yeah…(laughs)

Emma: It’s not worth my time. I was just like, hold on. We got to do it for at least a year.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: We’re going to get there.

Elsie: This is a thing that we really want you to hear from the beginning. You have to commit to doing influencer work for a long time if you want to make it. You can’t do it for two months or six months, you have to do it for years.

Emma: It’s not a weekend boot camp and then, boom, you’re there.

Elsie: Right.

Emma: That’s just not how it works.

Elsie: And also, I understand how it looks like when you see someone with 500,000 followers or a million followers or, you know, they have a sponsorship with a company that you want a sponsorship with, you look at them and you think like it came so easily to them, but you don’t know. You don’t know the back story that they went through. I promise you, it wasn’t as easy as it looks.

Emma: That’s why I like reading memoirs or seeing documentaries about famous people, because so often it does give you that look where basically you’ll see them working for years and years and years.

Elsie: Yes. And failing!

Emma: And doing well, and failing and having moments where they’re, you know, doing something that kind of looks silly. And then they finally start getting traction and then you’ll see them start doing interviews where they’re like, “oh, how did you get your overnight success?” And you want to scream at the TV or the book, like it wasn’t. Haven’t you seen that they were just working for years? Because now, you know, because you got to see the behind the scenes part, which usually like we don’t get to see that because we only know of people once they’ve already become famous or they’ve already made it or whatever it, whatever our, you know, perception of them is or whatever. But it’s like pretty much always there is a lot of years of work behind that where they didn’t feel like they were — they just felt like they’re kind of treading water. So you have to be willing to do that part if you want to make something, build something or whatever. So that. And then the other little thing I wanted to say before we get started into, like, the tips and like how-to is, so often I have people ask me this and I know people ask you too, they’re like, but can you start blogging now in 2021 and make money?

Elsie: A lot of people think that, like have the perception that blogging is dead. And here’s the thing. Like there was a boom like ten years ago and it’s not like booming in that way anymore, but now it’s like very, very steady water. It’s actually better to start now. I think there’s more opportunity. There’s more sponsors. Like when we first started, you couldn’t get a brand to want to sponsor a blog. Now, it’s very easy to find brands who have a budget for blogging. Sorry I interrupted you. Go on.

Emma: No, I was pretty much going to say the same thing.

Elsie: It’s easy, guys! It’s a great time to start!

Emma: It’s a great time to start. I think if you want to be an early adopter. Yeah, you missed it. Like that’s over. Yeah. And we all know that being an early adopter is kind of a way to have success. But it’s not the only way.

Elsie: But, and it’s also like just doesn’t happen sometimes. Like I started a vine, I started a lot of things that didn’t take off, you know what I mean? Like…

Emma: Yeah, it’s a little more risky.

Elsie: I used to be like hopelessly devoted to my MySpace, you know what I mean? So there’s a lot of things you do, like blogging was just another thing like that that we did. It wasn’t important to us at the time when we started. I wasn’t starting it as a way to start a career at all. I just started my blog because I saw my friends had one and I was like, I guess I should start one. That looks fun.

Emma: Yeah. And there is more competition now than like at the very, very beginning. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing either, because it also means there’s more opportunities to network, there’s more opportunities to learn and to see what works and what doesn’t work and to build off, you know, lessons that you can learn from others. You don’t have to learn every single lesson yourself, which is nice because as OG bloggers, we kind of did have to learn every lesson ourselves, which can be kind of frustrating and take up a lot of time. So…

Elsie: It’s true. There’s so many things that we navigated in the early years where we were working to make like a fraction of the money that we can make now on a much more established, streamlined system.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: So I definitely think it’s a great time to start a blog. Don’t get hung up about that, honestly, like some people who started in the very beginning had a disadvantage because they started in the beginning.

Emma: Yeah. It changed.

Elsie: Because they didn’t know what — right.

Emma: Yeah. And we’re really…we’ve been saying blogging, but there’s really three areas that we feel like we can teach in, which is blogging, Instagram and podcasting.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: There’s lots of other areas, by the way, like YouTube and TikTok. We can’t teach you that because we don’t feel like we necessarily have anything helpful to really share.

Elsie: Yeah, it’s just not a thing we’ve done as a business. So we have courses on blogging, Instagram and podcasting. You can go to courses.abeautifulmess.com and check out all our courses. We have more than that. But definitely like, from this episode, you’re going to hear us talk about blogging, Instagram and podcasting a bunch. And you can use the code PODCAST for twenty five percent off any of our courses, which is kind of a banger deal.

Emma: Yeah, it’s pretty good. So, and this will work. We’re not putting expiration date on it. So, you know, if you’re listening to this five years from now, maybe it will expire, but probably not. So you can use this any time. PODCAST, 25% off.

Elsie: The Year was 2026…

Emma: And the code still worked and I was like, “wow!”. Okay…

Elsie: Cool!

Emma: And now we’ll take a quick break and hear a word from this week’s sponsor:

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So we divided this into three sections. The first one is make your plan. The second one is execute your plan. The third one is keep going! And we’re going to teach you how to start an influencer business in this 40ish-minute podcast episode. Ready, set, go.

Emma: Yeah. So first, make your plan. So this has to do with the first three to six months or so. And just like as you’re launching, which is going to be your most exciting time, like you’re going to feel really jazzed. So take advantage of that energy to make a plan. But as you are. Make sure it’s something that you can truly execute with however much time you have. So let’s explain how we used to blog versus how we blog now. And this also applies to Instagram or podcasting.

Elsie: Right. So when I first started blogging, I felt that the most genuine way to blog was to write a post that day and publish it that day. And that was what I often did. And I would blog several times a week in my very first year or so. And it would just be like what I was doing that day, what I was doing that week, what I just bought, what show I just watched, you know, things like that. And it was very much just like a diary of my life. And then over time I had to adjust my thinking because I realized that it really wasn’t sustainable. I wasn’t going to wake up every day with a new idea. I needed to plan ahead. And when we started doing shareable content, that was when…which shareable content to us is like something kind of like teaching content, like a recipe, a DIY, something that you would send to a friend or you would save for six months and then do it or something you would pin to Pinterest.

Emma: Right, or so something someone would Google, you know, like a question they would have and they would type in how to make royal icing sugar cookies or whatever, you know, something like that.

Elsie: So when we started doing those types of posts, I started making long lists of ideas. And like I have this picture from our early days where I was like putting this like huge calendar of post its on my wall. And I think that type of method is really, really helpful in the beginning, like writing down your ideas to where — like and if you take Emma’s course, she’ll help you do this. But where you have months of ideas already just sitting there waiting for you and then you go ahead and schedule them and then you execute them and then you can do it in batches where you can get like a whole week of work done in one day. And I will tell you this, it’s not less genuine. I know that people…like it bothers people like after the last time…

Emma: People think it is. But they’re wrong. (laughs).

Elsie: Right after the last time I mentioned that we batched our podcast episodes, I got a couple of, like, strongly worded messages that were like that kind of ruins it for me and which like…

Emma: You’re like, OK, see you later.

Elsie: Yeah. To that I would respond like OK, like if we were doing like a Daily News podcast then…

Emma: Right.

Elsie: I get it that you have to wake up every morning and respond to that day’s events. But for what we’re trying to do, if we didn’t batch, we wouldn’t have an episode every week. And so I think that in the big picture, when you zoom out and look at it, it’s better to work ahead because then we’re doing something that’s sustainable that we can maintain instead of just like busting our ass so that it can, so that we can, like, talk about, you know, something that was in the news this week. That’s not what our podcast is.

Emma: Well and another way to say, busting your ass is to say burning yourself out.

Elsie: Right. Yeah.

Emma: Which is not what you want to do because you’re not, like Elsie said, be able to sustain that.

Elsie: Yeah, because for what we’re doing right now, you know, we…a lot of people know we have two separate businesses and we’re very involved in both of them. And we run our podcast. And Emma’s preparing for maternity leave. There is no…

Emma: And Elsie has two young kids.

Elsie: Yeah. And I have two little kids. There’s no possible way that we would have an episode for you every week if we didn’t batch at least a good amount of them. And I really, I won’t apologize for that. And I don’t think you should either.

Emma: The moral of the story is if you have a friend who tells you that planning is bad, that’s not your friend. (laughs)

Elsie: (laughs) Right. Like so. And the thing that’s really cool that I wish someone would have explained to me in my first year of blogging. And what I’m explaining to you now is that you really can write a whole month of blog posts in one or two days, maybe three. You know, I don’t know how what kind of blog you have and how complicated your posts are, but you definitely can do all your content, set it on a timer and, you know, check in every day and like respond to the comments and stuff where it’s like very easy to maintain. And for some people, not us, blogging can even become like almost like a passive income where it’s like a very, very small, like side project thing that they do right now or podcasting. But I feel like our podcasting is like, it’s a small amount of our time compared to the other stuff we have to do in our business.

Emma: Compared to the other stuff, I would agree.

Elsie: Yesterday I spent the whole day writing outlines, though, so…

Emma: And today we’re going to spend at least half the day recording. But we don’t do that all the time. We do that once or twice a month.

Elsie: Anyway, planning is absolutely the way to get your work done and then still have capacity where you can, like, add on something fun or try something different, you know, or experiment in your business. If you don’t want to be stressed and behind every day, you have to plan ahead.

Emma: Yeah. And if you’re even needing a step right before this, before the planning, which is just like I need help defining my blog, defining what my Instagram is, defining what my podcast is, we do have lessons about that, too, because, yes, you’re not going to be able to plan content months and months in advance if you don’t know what you’re writing about or what you’re talking about. So if you’re needing to define that and take that step back, then I definitely recommend doing that on your own. But also, if you want to go to courses.abeautifulmess.com, we have some resources available there, too.

Elsie: Yes. All right. Let’s move on to executing your plan. This is the most important part. This is the part where a lot of people stop or don’t complete it or they’re like, I need to wait till I can be more perfect. And then that day never comes.

Emma: This is called finishing.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: Over and over and over again.

Elsie: So I want to first recommend the book The 12 Week Year, Emma and I both read it right before the New Year, and it’s life changing. It’s very good. It has a lot of things in it that are going to help you keep going. One of the things I learned from it that I thought was the most helpful is that if you execute at 80 percent of your plan, most people will still achieve their goals. So that really helped me just to feel like not every day has to be perfect. Like I can have days where, like, my kid was sick and they were home from school and it didn’t go as planned or like, you know, other, you know, medical things or whatever, like life happens. And your plan doesn’t have to be perfect every day for you to achieve your goals.

Emma: Yeah. And I especially give this to all the Enneagram ones out there because. Eighty percent…so here in the U.S. with grades. I grew up in the U.S. that’s a B it’s a lobby. Like you’re hanging on by a thread. You’re almost to get a C plus. Right. So and to me, as I was in school a B was like that’s the lowest grade that I would really accept for myself. And an A was like, oh, wow, I did a really good job, you know, because. I’m not much of a perfectionist personally, but that’s kind of the idea is you don’t have to get an A. You just have to hang on by a thread and get that B, get the solid B, and you’re going to be able to achieve things. So, yeah, if your nanny doesn’t show up one day or your kid’s sick or you just have an off day and your content wasn’t what you wanted it to be, as long as you’re executing at 80 percent, you’re still going to get where you need to go, which I think is really inspiring because none of us are operating at 100 percent all the time. That’s just like a really special good day when you feel like you’re achieving that. So — it’s true. OK, so another thing I really like about the 12 week year that I think might help is you’re starting to execute your plan is you do need to blog or podcast or Instagram for a solid year at least to kind of get traction. But if you think about doing hard, hard work for a year, sometimes that’s really hard to wrap our minds around. So thinking about it in a 12 week cycle, I think helps a lot where you kind of have a mini finish line every 12 weeks. Yeah, it’s like what content?

Elsie: 12 weeks is like a quarter. Yeah. So there’s four of them in a year. Yep. So it’s really it’s yeah. That’s kind of the point of the book is that when people make a year long goal they might like take a month before they start or always feel like they have enough time. And when you have the shorter number of weeks, every week matters. And I really like that.

Emma: I really like it too. And yeah, you can’t procrastinate. And you also don’t feel like the finish line is so far away that like because if you’ve ever ran — I’ve never ran a marathon, I ran a half marathon and that was enough for me.

Elsie: Counts for me. (laughs)

Emma: And it felt too long. I wanted to quit. (laughs) I much prefer something where I can kind of see the finish line from where I start and then…so I can get there. And then if there’s another finish line after that, OK, like I’d rather you trick me and just do a series of 5Ks as a half marathon like that would work better for my mind than doing like a long, long, long race. That’s another thing I like. About 12 week cycles of planning is like, OK, this isn’t like such a long finish line that it’s so far away. So what I’m in the thick of it and things aren’t going as planned. I don’t feel like quitting. So I’m like, you know what, I can see the finish line. I’m going to just finish this up and then start my next one.

Elsie: Absolutely. Yeah. And for people who love to set goals like me, you get to set them more often. Yup. Which feel like you have that fresh start feeling more often.

Emma: Yeah which is good.

Elsie: I think that’s really good too. Yeah. I was just going to share that when we first started the podcast, we — and we started with like, you know, a big audience, like we have a blog, we have an Instagram, like we have an established audience for more than ten years. But it still took us a while to gain traction on our podcast and be able to both feel like we were growing and feel like we were reaching outside of our initial core audience and then also to feel like we were, well, to literally make money to make any money. It took a while and then, you know, all of a sudden it clicked into place and it was like cooking all of a sudden. And it really felt like, you know, it felt like it happened quickly by the time we got there. But there were like long stretches of months where it felt like, are we really, like, doing the best use of our time? So in the 12 week year, I feel like we’re talking about that a lot, but it’s so good. He calls it the Valley of Despair. And I think it’s good to, like, anticipate it next time that you start a new goal. Recently, I started a new like trying to become a runner again. And when I knew it was coming, the valley of despair, of like I don’t like working out, it helped me get through it.

Emma: Yeah. Because you know you’re in it and it just makes it less…not that it’s less real because your feelings of despair when you’re in it are still valid and they’re still real.

Elsie: You know, that it’s an obstacle that everyone has to go through and that a lot of people quit at that point. And so I think that if you start your influencer goal, knowing that you’re going to go through this spell of feeling like you’re working for nothing, it’ll be easier for you to get through it because you’re not surprised by that feeling.

Emma: Yeah, you won’t be surprised. You’ll know that it’s part of it. It’s part of the journey. You know, it’s the part of the movie where, you know, things are going bad, but they’re about to go good.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: If it’s a happy movie. (laughs).

Elsie: So, yeah, when you have a boring day, you feel like you’re wasting your time. You feel like, oh, maybe I should just start a new plan and start over. Don’t start over. Just keep going. It’s such an essential part. All right. Let’s just take a quick sponsor break.

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Elsie: And then for the third point. So this point is just keep going, learn from your mistakes and build off your successes.

Emma: Yes.

Elsie: So you know that it’s working. You’re starting to gain traction. You’re like, I can see a real business forming here.

Emma: Yeah. And this is the time. So as you finish, as you execute. So whether it’s you’re doing our thing with the 12 week, you know, cycles or however you’re doing it, this is the time where you’re like, OK, I completed some things and now I’m going to collect some data. I’m going to evaluate. And, you know, I feel like the number one…

Elsie: I love looking at stats!

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: It’s such a fun part.

Emma: Because the number one thing I think you’ll already know is how you felt like how did I feel going through that goal? You’ll already know that. And that’s good. That’s something you should take into consideration. But you also should take some time to go through the stats, whatever that might be. You know, if it’s a blog, you probably have installed Google Analytics and you can check out your traffic, check out how people discovered you. What were your top posts? You know, whatever it is, whatever kind of metrics you have, Instagram has its own insights. So you can look through those like this is the time to kind of see what worked, what didn’t work and evaluate it not just from an emotional how I felt doing it perspective, but how did people respond? What gave me the biggest boost? What things could I try to replicate, but in a different way? And what things like, oh, that was a ton of work and it actually didn’t move the needle. Good to know, I won’t spend my time on that again, you know, like those things. So this is like evaluation lesson learning time.

Elsie: If you didn’t like doing it and it didn’t work, then you kind of get this permission to be like, all right, less of that and more of what’s working. Building off what’s working is like a huge point that — it cannot be emphasized enough.

Elsie: So tell us a little bit about it. Tell us a little bit about learning from our mistakes. Yes, we have a good story.

Elsie: Yeah. Favorite lesson to share. And I believe I share this in my blog essentials course, a little bit in a little bit longer form. But the gist of it is we used to blog so… We’ve been blogging a decade. If you don’t know, we used to blog three times a day, and that’s a lot of work. You could probably just guess that just by me saying it, but that takes a lot of work. We had a bigger staff and it took up a huge portion of our time. Is just creating the blog posts that you see on our blog. So we would blog three times a day and over time it just started to feel not as sustainable, we felt very burnt out with it. And so we went down to two times a day and then eventually we went down to one time a day. And the reason we didn’t even try this for years is mostly fear. We were afraid that if we didn’t create all the free content that people were used to seeing from us that they would leave, they wouldn’t return to our site, which would be terrible.

Elsie: Yeah, and sometimes we would have a day like back when we did three a day, we would have a day when we did two. And people would like call it out and complain. And I think that’s another important point, is that if you react to criticism too quickly, you can kind of like make a lot of mistakes because a lot of people will give you kind of bad advice in their criticism. And it’s not that they’re trying to it’s just that they feel like they’re speaking for everyone and they’re really only speaking from their own opinion and they’re not speaking based on your stats and what is, you know, furthering your business.

Emma: Yeah. So for us, we should have tried more experiments with how many times we were posting a day, but we didn’t for years. And finally, we did.

Elsie: It was very scary, to be honest, because…yeah.

Emma: We mainly changed it up out of necessity, like our lives were just changing. And we also, you know, the landscape changed. So where we needed to keep up with Instagram and we had other goals and things that we were working on. So we just, we just had to change it up. So we did. And guess what? Our stats barely changed and we didn’t even make less money. So we were working three times as hard as we needed to for years just because we didn’t really try experiments. We didn’t really look at our stats. We listened to a very small sampling of voices that were mostly negative and fear-based and that held us back for a long time. We could have been doing lots of other things. We could have been putting more time into the content we were making…

Elsie: The hard thing about having super fans is that they will always tell you not to change.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: And that isn’t good advice. (laughs)

Emma: No.

Elsie: It’s coming from a good place, you know, and a place of like, genuine fandom. But it’s…but it’s not advice that is going to help you move to the next phase, whatever that is for you. And that’s something that took us a really long time to learn. OK, let’s talk about that unsexy money.

Emma: Oh, OK.

Elsie: OK, we’re going to talk about Emma’s oatmeal money. So Emma just showed me this chart yesterday.

Emma: Yes. Let’s call it oatmeal money. Oh, my God. Yes.

Elsie: Yeah. So, you know, we have blog posts every day and we do a lot of like really expensive, really fancy blog posts. Like we do room tours. We do, you know, big DIYs…

Emma: Some of our blog posts cost thousands and thousands of dollars.

Elsie: Right. But Emma just showed me a chart of last month of our ad thrive money, which is like the…

Emma: CPM based ads.

Elsie: Yeah. The CPM based ads that you see like popping up kind of in-between our content on our sidebar. And there was like this one huge spike one day in the month. And it was because she did this oatmeal post and it got re-shared so much. So we got a lot of traffic that, you know, was outside of our normal traffic. And so, yeah, there was this huge, huge, huge spike that we — I would have never known was there if we didn’t look at our stats from the inside because like, it’s great oatmeal, but I never would have thought it was like five times better than any other post from a month. (laughs)

Emma: Right? Yeah. It’s it’s truly a delicious recipe. I made it. I eat it. It’s delicious. But I don’t think from the outside looking in, you would — like if someone was just looking at our blog and I was like, hey, what do you think our biggest posts of last month was? There’s no way anyone would say…like maybe someone would guess this, but I don’t think so. They wouldn’t guess that, like, this baked oatmeal recipe was the banger for the month. But it was, you know, and I, I don’t like…I didn’t know for sure that it would be. But that being said, in our monthly meeting, which is where we kind of talk through our a lot of things, but including our editorial calendar, it’s basically so the three writers for our site don’t overlap each other too much.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: And other reasons too, so we can support one another, so on and so forth.

Elsie: Some of us like doing the same ideas all the time. Right. And so we want to make sure we’re not doing like I’m not doing the same idea as Laura or very, very similar in the same month because that would be not helpful. So anyway, so the month before I did this oatmeal recipe I mentioned, I don’t even know if you remember from the meeting, but I was like, I’m going to do one of my baked oatmeal recipes. It’s always a big one every year. And then sure enough, it was. And it’s like I think you could kind of look at that and be like a baked oatmeal. That’s not like the cool blogger thing to do. Cool blogger, things like room tours and like, you know, there’s just a lot more sexy content.

Elsie: Right. Emma announced she was pregnant last month on the blog and the oatmeal got more, more money. (laughs)

Emma: People cared a lot more about the oatmeal. (laughs) And I kind of knew they would like. That’s just, you know, the stats of it. And it’s not in any way offensive. I hope that doesn’t come off. Like people didn’t care about me being pregnant.

Elsie: It’s just what can get shared. I think that this is a great lesson because first of all, it shows you that you never know what’s behind someone else’s stats or someone else’s brand or how they’re really making money, because, you know, people look at what we do. And I think that they make assumptions. Right. And we make assumptions about other people.

Emma: Definitely.

Elsie: And what does like, what makes the most what you know is their big thing. And sometimes you can tell and sometimes you really can’t.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: So I think, first of all, knowing to examine your stats, because, like I said, if I wouldn’t have looked and she wouldn’t have looked and we didn’t know? How sad because now I’m like going to be bringing up baked oatmeal every month. Like, let’s do more of that. Let’s do like baked mac and cheese, let’s do like…

Emma: Just so you know, it’s not only a baked oatmeal blog now that’s all A Beautiful Mess is. We’re only doing baked oatmeal from now on. (laughs) I’m just kidding.

Elsie: People like delicious comfort food, though, like I get it.

Emma: Well, there are some lessons to draw from it. Like it’s an easy recipe to make. It’s something that I saw a lot of people saying they’re making for themselves, but also for their families. For kids, it’s ingredients that are very easy to find. So there are some things that I can kind of take from that and incorporate into other recipe posts, like people don’t necessarily want super complicated recipes from me. They might want it from a different blog, but they don’t particularly want it for me. They want something simple that they can make for themselves and their kids. So it’s like, great, OK, good news. That’s the only thing I know how to cook anyway. So great. You know, I can move forward with that information, but sometimes, you know, you can get really excited, like when I see the people on other blogs or Instagram and they do like a beautiful giant wedding cake or this like super complicated, you know, I don’t know even know like, I get really excited about that stuff. I like food. I like cooking. But I think I kind of always come back to that’s really not my lane. That’s something for me to be a fan of and to love and to comment on their site. But on my site, I’m going to stick a little more in my lane, which is like baked oatmeal and other things like that. (laughs)

Elsie: Yes, finding the thing that you’re good at and that people respond to is super important. It doesn’t mean you still can’t try any idea that’s exciting to you, but you’re like creating your base around things that, you know, work.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: So before we do our listener question, I just want to repeat again that we have 25 percent off any of our e-courses. We have one for podcasting, one for blogging, one for Instagram and more at courses.abeautifulmess.com and you just have to use the code PODCAST for twenty five percent off.

Emma: Yeah. Courses are a little more packed with information and a little more linear in their teaching than this episode. We are trying to give good tips here, but also…

Elsie: Yeah, it’s much more of more of this. So if you felt like you learned a lot from this, you’ll enjoy the courses. All right. So we have a listener question.

Emma: Jillian asks: “you are very generous with your time on Instagram. Do you ever want to hide?” It’s nice that she thinks we’re generous. It’s really sweet of her to say.

Elsie: Yeah, OK. So I, I love this question because it’s like she’s feeling like we’re being generous. I, like, don’t always feel that way. I, I feel like I’m hiding like a good amount. Last year I had weeks at a time where I didn’t go on there at all and or I wouldn’t post anything at all. You know, I would go on there and just like look at my friends posts and get off, you know, and that was what felt good to me at the time. And I guess the lesson there is that no one really notices when you need to take time away. You don’t need to, like, announce it or anything. Just take time away. And then when you’re in the mood to come back, come back and then people will think you’re generous. (laughs) I don’t know, like I feel like we take a good amount of time away. I don’t think that unplugging is something that’s difficult for us. We’re not workaholics anymore at this phase. I think when you’re in those early building years, it’s really easy to be a workaholic because you need to be/want to be. And then over time you develop boundaries and you realize that like, OK, I need to be a healthy person now that I’m a mom. You know, I have all new boundaries for that. Emma will be, you know, coming into that season this year. So, yeah, I think that I guess what my point is, is that we have boundaries that you don’t even notice are there. And so it’s OK for you to have boundaries that other people don’t even notice are there? You know, you don’t have to announce that. You don’t talk about it. You can just, like, have them.

Emma: Yeah, it doesn’t have to be a big mic drop moment. I also think, like, it’s really sweet that she said this, and I I’m sure she is noticing something and I really do appreciate that. But I also feel like for me, there are a lot of ways that I make myself accessible to others that I don’t think people really see, or at least a very small portion of our audience will see it. Like I just spoke at an event last month. It was through Zoom because, you know, we’re all not meeting in person, but and they just asked me to do it and I did it. And also there’s a lot of times people email me because I’ve given out my email a number of times and people email me and just ask me for any kind of advice. Or a younger gal, she interviewed me for her college paper that she was writing about food bloggers. And I did like a 45-minute interview with her and it was really fun. And then she sent me her paper at the end and it was really good. And she got a good grade for it. Yeah. And it wasn’t just about me. It was about a lot of things. She did a great job. But it’s like there’s a lot of ways to give of your time and to be a generous person with advice and just with encouragement. And it’s also OK to have boundaries and be like, I don’t write back to every single DM. I don’t write back to every single comment, and I especially don’t if I feel like it’s a personal attack, but if there’s someone who, like I, I just perceive they genuinely want a little bit of time for me for advice or for encouragement or whatever, then I’m personally really happy to give of it. And there might also be a season of my life where I can’t. I’ve got to conserve that energy for my son.

Elsie: It’s a good balance.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: It’s like you have like a pay-it-forward side and then you have like a guilt-free side.

Emma: Yeah. Or like I can’t pay it forward at the moment, but I’ll come back to that. Right now. I need to take, (laughs) because I need to, you know, get my work done or raise my kid or, you know, whatever. And there’s just different seasons. Yeah. So life is long. Have I said that yet? (laughs)

Elsie: Right. I mean, I think the lesson…(laughs) Yeah. That’s your favorite phrase. I like it. I think the lesson is just that there’s always so much more behind everyone’s life that you’re not seeing. So always just remember that. I think most people do. I think for some reason some people don’t.

Emma: A few very vocal people don’t. (laughs)

Elsie: It’s good to remember that most of our life is offline and it always will be. And it always has been, honestly.

Emma: Yep.

Elsie: Thanks so much for supporting the podcast. If you haven’t yet, we would love it if you would take a minute to leave us a review like this review from PTschoolgirl on Apple podcasts, the title says “you need this podcast in your life” and the review says “literally, I’ve never written a podcast review before. I feel like we’re having a wine and pizza night with a close group of friends when I’m listening. Thank you so much for your vulnerability.” Oh, we love that. Thank you so much for everyone who leaves this review. We noticed how many there are and there’s like way more than the last time I checked. Sometimes I, like, don’t look at them because I’m scared. But then when I do, they’re all like, really nice. So thank you!

Emma: Thank you!

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  • I really look forward to the podcast every week!

    It’s so hard for me to believe that some people feel like it’s “not authentic” to plan your blog posts in advance!! To me, your blog is really no different than a design / food / crafts magazine, and all publications have to have production schedules and work months or years in advance. But it is interesting to hear more about how you plan everything out and all the work that goes on behind the scenes. thanks for sharing!

  • I very much enjoyed this podcast episode! I’d love to know, though, what advice would you give someone like me who has been blogging for 7.5 years and still isn’t seeing growth/success? I feel like I’ve been “finishing” constantly and I’m not sure what I’m missing. 🙁 I work a full time job outside of blogging so I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it, but it still feels like a second full time job just with no pay lol. I’ll be honest: it seems like growth comes naturally to everyone else that has been blogging consistently for 5+ years like I have, and I’m over here wondering what’s different about me or my blog and I’m very close to feeling burnt out. I’ve been reading your blog for as long as I’ve been blogging and it’s inspiring to see your continued success!

  • Thanks so much for your podcast! Mondays can be a drag, but seeing a new episode in my library is just what I need to get motivated to get out for a run to start the week!

  • I really enjoy your business and money podcasts episodes as a small business owner. Even though my company is in a different industry, I always find some helpful advice or interesting perspective. Thank you!

  • Even though I’m not in the business of trying to become an influencer, I really enjoyed this episode. I loved “another term for busting your a** is burning yourself out” and “80% is good enough in most cases”. I think a lot of people need to hear that no matter what field they are in. So thanks for the wisdom! Also, the oatmeal is legit the best thing I’ve made in recently memory. I made it once when you posted it and am about to make it for the second time tomorrow, sooo good!

  • I love it when Emma says “life is long.” It’s a nice juxtaposition to “life is short,” which can make me feel like there isn’t time left in life to enact change. I’ve adopted it as my mantra.

  • Wow, just an incredible podcast. I am currently looking for a job, so I hope to be able to start a really good career. I am positively related to this direction because of you.

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