Happy National Girlfriends Day!!  Whoop Whoop!  I literally have no words to express how grateful I am to have been able to finally meet Beth of SettlingSouthern.com // @settlingsouthern for the very first time!  We’ve been shooting the breeze back and forth via Instagram for over a year now.  She’s my go to for questions regarding anything designer, travel and believe it or not, potty training boy’s!  She resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina which is about an hour away from me.  Since I’m in Holden for the summer, meeting her was a no brainer and so was having her on BBU today!

Beth and I met at Cafe de Paris, a cute Parisian inspired cafe’ in North Myrtle Beach.  Meeting her was like meeting a bolt of lightening!  She’s so energetic, passionate and not afraid to be herself by any means.  As soon as she walked in to Cafe de Paris to meet me, camera and tripod in hand, I could see the wheels turning concerning where we would set up and shoot.  The first words she spoke to me were, “It’s so good to finally meet you, give me a hug!”.  Is that the sweetest?  She’s so full of knowledge and has an intense love for her work and it shows with all the growth she’s had this year.  We chatted about her family; past jobs, all the traveling she has done and her little dude Wesley, who’s a little older than my son.  Aside from chatting about blogging, it was amazing getting to connect with Beth on a personal level, beyond the blogging.  I believe this is was creates a lasting friendship in the blogging community.  I hope you enjoy this interview with beth as much as I did!  She definitely knows her stuff, so make sure you check out our interview below!

1. Hi Beth!  Thank you so much for popping on BBU!  Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Thank you for having me stop by and say hello! So about my family, I am a wife of almost 7 years to my husband that is the most supportive human being.  A mother to my favorite little human named Wesley and also a dog mom to Chloe!

2.  How long have you been blogging for and when did you start seeing your brand pick up?

I started blogging as a creative outlet about 6 years ago and really didn’t do much with social media at that time.

I rebranded my blog (changed the name, updated my website, added in all social media channels) around a year and a half ago. When I rebranded I told myself I was making this a job and not a hobby and started setting aside time all throughout the day to grow my brand. I was able to grow an organic following with over 20k in a year by looking at my blog/Instagram as a business that I could start making a salary by doing.

3.  I love that you take your own photos, they’re truly amazing!  What are the best tips you can give someone who has a tripod, camera, but no photographer.  Also, can you divulge a little about how you got over the fear of taking your own photos in public places?

This can be so different for everyone due to everyone having their own style of photos. I love my photos to tell a story, so make sure you really are thinking ahead of the spots you want and then plan accordingly. It important to try not to shoot in direct sunlight and if you are shooting on manual to always shoot darker then you think you need to. It’s always easier to lighten up a photo than trying to darken it up (which will throw off the colors and exposure).

The fear of shooting in places…that is something I really didn’t have to get over because I am a super extrovert (almost to a bad extent).

I would say to start off getting use to shooting by yourself with no one around (go to public places really early in the morning before people come out) so you get the hang of setting up the tripod, getting the right lighting and knowing how you want the photos to look. Once you start getting the hang of that you will look like a professional and you will gain the confidence to just stroll up anywhere and bust out the tripod.

I use my public photo sessions to network. I have gained so many followers by them making a joke about wanting to be in my photos. I tell them to check out my Instagram and see if they make it in my selection. I also sometimes just tell them to follow me and explain what I am doing if they are really curious.

I think that as bloggers, it’s so important to take every experience throughout the day and make connections with anyone in efforts to better grow our brand.

4.  I know you work with some major brands.  When did you know it was the right time for you and your business to reach out to them about a partnership?

I am not sure there is a right or wrong time to reach out, saying that it’s not always about numbers. I think it’s import for you to understand what your own brand is before reaching out to pitch yourself to another brand. Each company is different and they want to make sure your brand alines before moving forward.

I am currently working with a brand that Wesley is always wearing and I pitched them for a year with ideas and never got anything back, until they found a campaign they knew I would be good for and now I have a 3 month contract with them. I didn’t think they had noticed me, but I was wrong…they did. So don’t ever get discouraged when you don’t hear something back because they might have put you into a folder for upcoming partnerships that will pay off.

Micro Influencers are really taking over the market so brands are wanting to work with influencers that have anywhere around 10-50K followers. So it’s not about having the biggest following and more about keeping engagement with your followers and knowing your brand.

I would also encourage you to start negotiating at any stage, never just settle! You never know!  Even if you ask for thirty dollars payment, start figuring out your worth and brands will start to see you are serious.

5.  Reward Style is majorly popular for bloggers who want to utilize affiliate links.  Can you share some sound advice on how to best use the platform to generate sales?

Ok, Reward Style… I think it’s a great platform! I think depending on what type of blogger you are, you can really generate some good income using it.

I will say to make a pretty penny on Reward Style you really need to educate to your readers/follwers on how to shop by using your links. It can take some time to get a good following that trust your style sense and continue to shop with you.

Some bloggers will only use Reward Style to make their income and some will use it from time to time. I think it’s important to figure out how much time you want to put into it and then start educating from there.

6.  I love that you take your job seriously, work hard, but have fun with it!  What are some tips you can give for those who are wanting to take their brand to the next level and grow their audience?

My best words of advice that I can give is,  that “no one knows you exist until you show them who you are.” So, saying that – we can all play the game that “no one wants to follow me or like my photos”, but are we going out and liking their photos and following other feeds that inspire us? Just because you are a blogger and put out awesome content doesn’t mean you will have a large following or get a ton of likes. I think it’s so important for us to understand that like any business, this is a ton of work and we need to figure out how to get organically interested people to follow us and have them know who we are.

You can start going into your community to grow a following, make some awesome blogger friends that will help cross promote you, go out and find other bloggers that have a similar feed style and see whow is following them. There are so many ways to be able to go and have it be organic.

The biggest misconception is that if you have a ton of followers things will be easier, so then bloggers/influencers will go out and buy them. I really want to say that you will only hurt yourself in the long run. It is so important for brands and companies to see that you have an organic following that engage with your photos.

So put in the work and you will see results.

7.   We talked about pitching over brunch and I loved how much knowledge you have in this area.  What is the number one piece of advice you can give to someone who is wanting to pitch a brand?

I kind of covered this above, but it’s all about how well you know yourself and what you can do for that brand. If you don’t know what your personal brand is,  then you will never be successful trying to sell that brand to anyone else.

Once you know what you want to say in your feed and blog, that is when you can start to reach out to companies and give them a short email about you and what service you can offer them. You may not hear anything back at first but don’t give up and follow up the next week. If you are new to reaching out to brands, don’t start with Nordstrom or a large brand. Find a local boutique that you can collaborate with and get some experience under your belt. The more you can add to your media kit, the better it will be to reach out to larger brands.

8.  Your audience has grown so much over this past year, where would you like to see yourself in the next 5 years?  Also, what are your strengths and challenges when it comes to blogging, social media and influencer work in general?

The next 5 years, I would love to have this be a family business and to be able to hire my husband on. You may all laugh at me for that and say that is a large goal. I say goals are there to push you and if you don’t have goals what keeps us going?

Challenges…I feel like there can be a new one everyday and you have to find a way to overcome it.  There are so many bloggers/influencers out there (pretty much anyone with a phone) so the biggest one is how do you set yourself apart and stand out in your market?  It can be something that you have to refocus on 3-4 times a year and to know when to switch things up if it isn’t working for you and your readers/followers!

9.  I know after chatting with you, that your work days are pretty much 8 hour days.  Can you share with us what a normal work day looks like for you?

Ahh, my everyday is kinda crazy. We travel a lot and already this month we have been to 6 different states so my schedule is always all over the place. If I am home, I spend an hour or two getting to emails in the morning and then work on social media (Instagram) during Wesley’s nap and then again after he goes to bed at night. When we are traveling that is a crazy show and I don’t know how I get anything done!

10.  What are some of the best tips you can give to someone who is wanting to stay organized and on top of their work?  Any apps or tricks up your sleeve you can share?

WRITE everything down!!!

I have such a detailed planner, otherwise I would forget everything.  Just in the month of August I have so many campaigns that can’t be posted within 2 or 3 days of each other and if I hadn’t planned out August already, my head would be spinning and I could have overbooked myself and possibly lose a campaign.

So write everything in your planner. It can be a goal for how many followers you want to have gained by the end of the week, sending out 2 pitch emails that week, reaching out to another blogger, or how to get more involved in your community. If you don’t have it all in front of you, something probably will get lost in mix.

Another tip I had shared with Savannah is about saving money and not paying for “Planoly”. I have a “fake Instagram account” that is set to private where I schedule out all my posts to go live and see how my feed is going to look. It is super easy to be able to switch between the two and make it seamless.

11.  You and your family travel quite a bit!  What is the most favorite place you’ve ever been wth them and whats your dream destination location?

Yes, we are everywhere! We haven’t taken Wesley out of the country yet so as a family our favorite place was Chicago or Disney World (it’s Wesley’s favorite place and we are suckers… He is only 2 1/2 and already been 3 times and possibly making it 4 by the end of the year)

My favorite place traveled with just my husband and I, was our big trip last year to South Africa and then to Paris over a 2 week vacation.

I really want to go to Greece, so that is on the bucket list for next year…Fingers Crossed!

I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Beth as much as I did!  Go follower her Insta feed, blog, Reward Style account…literally everything all Settling Southern – she’s amazing!

Want to be featured next and live in the South Carolina/North Carolina area? Contact me at theperfectedmess@gmail.com

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XO – Savvy

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