Hi, y’all! I’m here to share the basics on my blogging. I’m including what site host I use, how I created the website, apps I love and a bit on how I grow naturally on Instagram. All of my answers to your Instagram questions are at the bottom!
I think you’ll learn at least one thing from this post whether you’re tossing the thought of blogging around, you’ve secretly started blogging or you’re in the trenches of building your community. That’s my hope at least!
INTIMIDATED BY BLOGGING??
Sharing, teaching and helping are all part of my core and things I
enjoy LOVE doing. If you’ve been discouraged lately or you’re too intimated to go after your blogging dream, I’m here to be that big red sign that says DON’T QUIT ON YOURSELF!
Do you think that there are too many bloggers out there and that the field is simply too saturated?? WRONG. There’s always room for more and the paths are still being paved.
Scared of what others will think?? The way I see it is if they don’t enjoy your content and don’t want to see you succeed then they don’t need to be around. That’s a bit blunt but it’s the truth. I thrive when I have people around me building me up with compliments, tips and questions.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH NEGATIVE NANCIES
I’ll never forget receiving a text from a sorority sister that was definitely not meant for me to see. It said “Skye’s so annoying with her hair tutorials”… e’cuse me??! WHAT?! My first reaction was anger and a bit of insecurity about my hair tutorial. Those feelings didn’t last long because I realized hurtful opinions aren’t worth questioning myself. ONE BAD OPINION DOESN’T EVER TRUMP THE 10 POSITIVE OPINIONS!
Do you feel too different from what’s represented in the blogging community?? GOOD! That means you have your own story. Just because you see a hundred people doing it one way, doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. BE YOU and BE DIFFERENT!
Scared to fail?? Firstly, unless you all-out quit, there is no failing. Sure you way hit a plateau of growth or get a few (hundred??) rejection emails but that is when you learn the most. If you keep an open-mind and realign, you’ll succeed.
Now that I have you motivated, let’s get to how I do things around here.
How I Started
Raise your hand if you followed me when my blog was “La Spicy Gringa“! HA! That name technically means “the spicy white girl” and I’ll admit that I decided on that while honeymooning in Cancun… probably with one too many margaritas.
At that point, the idea of starting a blog was just a thought and I was ready to dive in. Let me explain something about myself real quick – when I’m ready to do something, there is no slowing down. Everyone can tell me to slow down and do research first but all I’ll do is hit the gas. I’m like this with nearly everything in my life – tattoos, picking out furniture, picking a dog… the list goes on forever – and sometimes it ends up getting me into a bind. Helloooo tattoo removal!
BACK TO THE POINT! I was ready and, at the time, I liked La Spicy Gringa as a brand so I got started. The name stood out, I considered my style a bit spicy because it’s never plain and it made sense in my head. I didn’t think about how strange the concept “La Spicy Gringa” was for brand partnerships, weird to say out loud and unrelatable.
Starting out I used WordPress.com mainly because that was what I was most familiar with. It was good for a while but had limitations on plugins and SEO so about a year and half later I made a change.
What I Use Now
On another whim of mine while working an overnight shift at my part time job, I decided to change my blog name to “Texas Skye” and redesign my website. Somehow Texas Skye came to me while doodling and at that moment it stuck. I googled the name as a domain, checked Instagram for a username and got to work on the switch once I saw it wasn’t taken. Again, there is no slowing down; it’s full throttle over here.
I researched a little more (as in like 10 minutes versus 2 minutes) this time around and decided to sign up for SiteGround for web hosting and make my website through WordPress.org, which is very different from WordPress.com. The main difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is that you “self-host” through WordPress.org, which means you need a web host, while you exist on WordPress.com, which means you would have a “sub-domain”. In a nutshell, WordPress.org gives you a ton more freedom in terms of design and plugins!
Siteground has amazing reviews, great customer service and their prices are reasonable. It cost me $65 for a year of domain hosting and they always have deals going on.
When you set up your WordPress site through Siteground, there are steps for creating and the entire process is very user-friendly! I knew that I wanted a front page that showed snippets of my recent blog posts and a clean design so that’s what I searched for in the themes to choose from/
It’s helpful to look through websites by bloggers you follow to see what you like and what you don’t like. The most important thing is to STAY TRUE TO YOU… as cheesy as that sounds. For me, I stayed true to my southern personality by bringing it into the font I chose for my logo (more on how I designed that below!) where I kept the “tx” as a western font and “skye” in a thin script. It’s modern yet still has a southern twang!
Here are the apps that I use most and keep on my phone! I describe the app in general terms and lay out what I love as well as what I don’t.
Graphics + Marketing
IN A NUTSHELL: This is my most used app for creating product collages and graphics! You can do a ton of creating with this app. Different page sizes, plenty of fonts, frames for photos and graphics such as arrows are just a few of the features it has. If you upgrade (I’ve done the free trial before but now just use the free version), you get more fonts, the ability to resize projects (great for going from a blog graphic to something for Insta stories) and the ability to save a transparent version. Using the transparent feature is how I made my logo, which is at the bottom of this post and in the header of my website!
FAVORITE FEATURE: I love that I can go from working on a project on my phone to working on it with my computer – all through the same account! This feature makes uploading photos from my phone then editing fonts and graphics on my computer super convenient!
DISLIKES: Sometimes my downloads come through in poor quality on my phone. I’m not sure why it does this but I usually just jump on my computer to download the file when I come across this. Or try a smaller page size.
IN A NUTSHELL: This app comes on all IOS devices and is completely free. It’s similar to powerpoint but has a bit more versatility for creating graphics for Instagram stories and blogs. You can resize your document anytime, make collages easily and create layers within a project.
FAVORITE FEATURE: I love using the “Instant Alpha” feature that takes away background colors and crops the image so it only shows the product you want.
DISLIKES: I can’t use it on my Microsoft laptop so I’m limited to only using this on my phone. It can be hard to edit on my phone when I’m working with small details such as rotating photos.
IN A NUTSHELL: Another great and super user-friendly app for creating blog graphics or Instagram highlights. I actually made all of my highlights on this guy.
FAVORITE FEATURE: You can save a color palette for a project! Makes keeping things cohesive easy.
DISLIKES: There aren’t a TON of fonts available.
IN A NUTSHELL: I use this for my Instagram stories! I like it because I don’t have to mess with the layouts much. I simply choose the layout I want, insert my photos, add any text I want and upload! It takes less than 2 minutes.
FAVORITE FEATURE: I love the “FF2” layout!
DISLIKES: There isn’t a lot of versatility for editing the layouts of the photos but that’s the point of this app – IT TAKES THE THINKING OUT OF THE EQUATION!
IN A NUTSHELL: An easy-to-use app for picture collages or comparison photos!
FAVORITE FEATURE: The ease of setting up the collage. I simply choose my photos, choose the layout from the app’s options it automatically makes and BOOM, I’m DONE! If I want to add fonts or any graphics, I upload the downloaded photo to Canva or Sparkpost.
DISLIKES: Not a huge deal but you can’t control the border size if you choose that option.
IN A NUTSHELL: I’ll do a detailed blog post on editing in Lightroom sometime BUT this is the main app I use for editing my photos. You can edit lighting, colors, add grain, smooth… the list goes on and on!
FAVORITE FEATURE: I love that I can control the colors in my photos AND that I can save “presets”, which make it easy to have similar editing on my photos. Generally, I remove some saturation from the yellows, edit up the oranges (skintone!) and make any other colors POP.
DISLIKES: I can’t say that I have one!
IN A NUTSHELL: Another great editing app! If you take a lot of nature photos, this app has some cool features for making landscape stand out.
FAVORITE FEATURE: The “Healing” feature is great for making blemishes go buh-bye! I also like the “Dodge & Burn Brush” because it brightens unwanted shadows in a jiffy.
DISLIKES: It has a ton of features but you can’t control colors in this one.
IN A NUTSHELL: Remember when everyone used filters and presets weren’t as popular??! Yeah, well, this app has tons of those! This app also has a grid feature so you’re able to see what your Instagram would look like with the new photo BEFORE uploading it. It’s a great planning tool for content!
FAVORITE FEATURES: I love that this app takes the thinking out of editing photos. You just choose a filter, apply it however strong you want and BOOM, done! No need to mess with individual colors because this takes care of everything.
DISLIKES: Usually, it’s a bit harder to manipulate specifics with using filters! I personally don’t find that I can edit as well in this app compared to Lightroom.
I do far less videos than photos but I use Inshot or Splice when I create them. There aren’t a ton of differences for what I use them for but I do think that Inshot is a bit more user-friendly!
Instagram can be as fun or as stressful as you make it. I blog about lifestyle which encompasses all things SKYE-LYNN! That means I share my daily life on Instagram uncut, as-is and with no bull honky and that keeps me sane, keeps my content real and attracts people with similar interests. All of this leads to a fun Instagram community that I love and talk to every day!
In terms of strategy, I keep it simple. I show up every day, engage with accounts that bring me joy, teach me or inspire me, hashtag any photos to increase reach and give my people a mix of content! I personally try to share a mix of deals, daily outfits, any awesome finds (lately I’ve been cleaning like a mad woman so cleaning products have been showing up way more than usual) and mom/wife/adult life.
I’m pretty focused on Instagram and will admit that I don’t stay as active on other platforms. I do, however, share on multiple platforms when I put out a blog post. That means I share to Pinterest and Facebook on top of Instagram.
YOU ASK, I ANSWER
Q: How do you form paid partnerships?
A: I find the best method of introducing myself to someone in the company that deals with influencer partnerships or apply through a brand ambassador program if that’s available. From there, I introduce myself and say exactly why I think that company is a great fit with my blog. If I have a pitch, this is when I tell them about it!
I’m also plugged into marketing companies such as Clever, Soapbox Influence and Fohr; all of these provide paid or gifted opportunities.
Q: How do you grow a natural following?
A: AHHHH, the question that EVERY business person asks on Instagram! It’s different for everybody, but my biggest tips on how to grow naturally are:
- ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE! It’s not what you know, it’s who you know… and in this case who you pour into on Instagram. Keep it authentic or you’ll just be seen as another comment!
- HASHTAG! I use anywhere between 10-15 hashtags on every post. This hasn’t gotten me a tremendous amount of followers but it certainly affects my account’s reach! You never know who will see your post just from doing something as easy as putting “#XYZ”!
- BE GENUINE AND SHARE WHAT YOU LOVE! Regardless of what you’re posting about, your community will appreciate genuine posts. Don’t get pulled into the comparison trap (even though it’s hard!) and think you have to do the same thing someone else is doing in order to be successful! Some of the most popular accounts are popular purely because they beat to their own drum!
- PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT WORKS! Being genuine doesn’t mean to ignore analytics. Pay attention to what your community enjoys and cater to that! For me, sharing knowledge is part of it! I love it but YOU DO TOO!
Q: How do you pitch yourself to companies? Do they usually reach out or do you?
A: I introduce myself and get straight to the point about why that opportunity is calling me! I get plenty of no’s and ignored emails/direct messages but I don’t give up because yes’s come along too!
Personally, it’s a good mix of me reach out to them and them reach out to me.
Q: Is it beneficial to have people message you for links or do a swipe-up on Instagram?
A: Only accounts that have 10K+ followers get the swipe-up feature! I have just under 5K right now so my only option is to have people message me. On that note, it’s a lot of work but that’s actually how I get to have the most conversations!
Q: Tell us about the algorithm!
A: The Instagram algorithm. It’s a monster but it’s also not impossible to figure out! Engagement and being consistently active is key! You can learn more on this Youtube channel!
Q: Why did you start blogging?
A: I started because I was becoming more obsessed with putting together outfits, loved finding deals personally and enjoy sharing with people! I was already active on Instagram with my personal life as well as sharing daily outfits so the transition was easy in terms of posting.
Q: Is it possible to blog and work Full-time?
A: YES! It takes dedication and planning on your end though! You have to figure out when you can write content, when you can get on to engage with your community, when you can handle emails and when you can shoot content. Failing to plan is planning to fail!!
Q: Do people read blog posts vs. Instagram?
A: Yes, people do read blogs but Instgram typically receives more engagement on a daily basis. I use my Instagram to drive my community to my blog!
Q: What is the best hosting site?
A: I use Siteground with WordPress.org and both have great reviews! I don’t have much experience with others.
Bless you for reading my entire blog post! Thank you so much for taking the time and please share if you know someone that could benefit from this. Have a great week!!
Hi Skye! I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing this wealth of knowledge with everyone. I read every word and really enjoyed this post! Will be referring back to it as I grow my page and start my blogging journey ❤️
Hi! You’re so welcome!! I’m happy to share the knowledge and help other bloggers ❤️
Thanks so much for sharing! I am taking the leap and starting my blog soon!