5 tips for Instagram + Blogging

I have loved this new journey as an official "blogger." I never imagined I'd be doing what I do at this stage of life, but it's truly been a blast. Through Instagram, I've been able to "meet" some amazing women and mothers that I likely wouldn't have made connections with had I not pursued blogging via Instagram and now through this blog. Community is real, and I can't wait for the days I get to meet all these beautiful souls in person.

With blogging and having a following on the internet, I get a ton of emails and DM's and the reality is, I can't respond to everyone's messages. I mean I could... but then I'd be on my phone and laptop even more than I already am, and my baby and husband would get less attention than they deserve. So, here we go! A few tips in starting your blog, or turning your Instagram into a blog.

1. Be yourself. I think this is the most important aspect of starting a blog... or being totally real, just living your life. Be yourself. No one wants a secondhand copy of someone else's life or work. I struggled with this for a really long time. I felt like if my Instagram feed didn't look a certain way, then I wasn't doing it right. My friends and family would joke saying "if it isn't white, you won't see it in Mary's feed..." And then it finally clicked. Why in the world was I trying so hard to make my life look like something it wasn't? My life isn't all white lol. I followed beautiful feeds and images that made my eyes swoon, but that's them and their life, not mine. Muted colors and washed out tones are gorgeous, but the reality is, I tried way too hard to make my life look like something it wasn't. When I finally realized I can post my real life and what it genuinely looks like, my following grew like crazy, I was suddenly receiving messages and comments thanking me for being so real and how beautiful my life looks, even when it feels like a tornado whizzed on through. I think being inspired by someone's style is very very different than trying to emulate their life and photos. Be yourself.

Amazing, huh? What I thought was a mess and undeserving to be shown originally, is actually what ended up getting me those followers and love and encouragement I was wanting. Be yourself. If your photos don't look like your favorite IG feeds... oh well! That's great! Find your own style, and own it. I follow and love so many different styles, and I appreciate how different they all are. Everyone is unique and so is their style, writing and design. Different is beautiful. Real is beautiful... even if it's imperfect and messy. 

2. Don't focus on the numbers. I have never bought or paid for a single follower, and I don't have an app that tells me who follows and unfollows me. I did have an app like that a few years ago before I even hit 1k haha. What a joke! When I saw certain people unfollowed me, I'd take it so personal, and freak out and make a big deal of nothing. Numbers don't matter, people do. Community and relationships are what's important when building a blog platform. If all your followers are bots, what is even the point?! There's no connection; no community. If you have a lot of followers, but not a lot of comments and likes, maybe take a moment to reevaluate why and what you're posting. People want real and genuine (see number one). To make real friends (which turn into more followers) via the internet world, it's important to maintain some sort of reality and connection with your followers (via honest captions and photos). So, I've been asked how I got as many followers as I do, and quite honestly, it's been a long time coming. It didn't happen over night and it's still growing as I figure this all out. 

3. Don't do it for the free stuff. I feel like this one is a mix of the first two. But truly, I see so many feeds that are literally full of ads and sponsors, for every single post. It's annoying! I'm allllll for free things and getting paid to post good photos and reviews, trust me. But if your entire feed is full of all the free things you get, I likely won't be following 😬 mix it up. Be real. Be honest and show some real life in there! Also, disclaimer: I won't ever post a review or accept free products from companies that I wouldn't pay for or want otherwise. I think that's so important when partnering with brands - honesty. Be real with yourself; if you wouldn't purchase it, I don't personally think you should post about it. I know some will disagree, and that's totally okay. It's just my personal opinion ;)

4. Natural light. I get asked all the time what camera I use for my Instagram, and I only use my iPhone 6 for my entire feed. The key to great photos: NATURAL LIGHT NATURAL LIGHT NATURAL LIGHT. I cannot emphasize this enough. I will never use flash, or overexpose my photos to make it seem brighter than reality (which is what I used to do alllllways). Natural light folks. It doesn't matter how you edit (I personally use VSCO, nothing fancy), if you don't have good lighting, then it just won't be the quality you're wanting. Look for that sweet spot in your home, and that perfect light. Play with shadows and different angles. Morning and afternoon light is always the best, because it's not too harsh like midday, or too dark. If you're inside or outside, the same rule applies. Natural light is key! :)

*5. Step back. Don't be afraid to get more in the shot. Show off your home, the whole landscape, the whole tree... whatever it is, take a step back, and see what you get when you include more. Bigger scenes tell a better story. I was totally into getting real close and personal, and always keeping it simple and white and minimalist (and if this is your style, then that's fantastic for you!), but I realized I could share more and tell a better story with more in the frame. I guess I'm saying, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, and show more of your clutter, mess, perfectly clean baseboards, or child-finger-printed mirrors. It's real and it's you and it's lovely, even if you don't think so yet. *(this one I definitely feel isn't as necessary, as it relates to style rather than staple aspects of a blog/IG, so take it or leave it, but I definitely think it's helpful 😘)

These are some things I personally do with my blog and instagram. You don't have to do any of this (obv)! But I've been asked enough, that I felt I could write my tips, and maybe help someone figure out your blogging goals. I think 

Are you a blogger? What would you add to this list? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


life + storiesMary Salas