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With an influencer space that's constantly evolving, growing, and transforming, it's so exciting to follow along with some of the many tastemakers in the space to see how they're shaking things up. Have you ever wanted to chat with some of your favorite influencers, and hear more about how they started? Find out things like where they were before the blog, and what some of their tips & tricks are when it comes to all things blogging and social media. Now, you'll finally be able to! I'm so excited to introduce our new PLANOLY Blog segment to you: "Influencer Chats Series." We'll be chatting with influencers from all sorts of categories and backgrounds within the space including style, food, wellness, decor, beauty, travel, and so much more. This first installment will focus on style, and we're going to be chatting with a key influencer that's currently making waves in the space. (And, did I mention she's one of the sweetest gals you'll ever meet!) - enter Laura Leigh of Louella Reese. Her classic and feminine style paired with her bubbly, fun personality has made her one of my favorites to follow. Read on for more of what makes Laura tick, how she got started, and how she's shaking up the influencer space.
Before starting Louella Reese, what were you up to professionally, what role did digital play in your job, and what were some of your goals and aspirations within your career?
To be very honest, digital did not play a role in either of the jobs I had before starting Louella Reese. My first job out of college was working at Nordstrom in the Special Occasions department, which only grew my love for fashion but had no need for involvement in digital. After that, I worked within the Pharmaceutical industry. Which again, did not need involvement in digital. In fact, I couldn't share anything about my role on the internet due to company branding. While both of these roles taught me a lot about myself and allowed me to learn several lessons, they weren't fulfilling. They lacked something, and that something was the lack of digital play in these roles.
What made you want to start blogging, and where do you gather inspiration for Louella Reese?
I started Louella Reese shortly after leaving my position at Nordstrom and before starting my new profession in the Pharmaceutical industry. This new position left little room for creativity, and in all honesty, there wasn't much excitement. Therefore, I needed an outlet to share my creative side and keep life interesting. After a few late nights on Pinterest, I found a fashion blogger I adored. I spent hours upon hours on her site and through her found several additional bloggers. For months, I read their blogs every day and followed them on social media. Finally, I decided to join the blogger world and set up Louella Reese. Inspiration for me comes from almost everything! Whether it's a lady at the grocery store, who looks far too fabulous to be grocery shopping, a boutique I visited while traveling, a restaurant with an incredible atmosphere, or looking through photos of my grandmother. Inspiration is everywhere, and I try to soak it all in as much as possible. I take pictures, save photos I view online, and often, create inspiration boards on Pinterest to organize it all.
What are some notable moments within your blogging career so far, and what long term goals do you have for Louella Reese?
The most notable moment within my blogger career thus far has been the moment I realized I could do this full time, and that this little passion could be my profession. By far the most incredible moment with Louella Reese. Aside from that, working with some incredible companies, I have admired for years. A few of my favorites: Olay, Amazon, Risata Wines, Toyota, and Joss & Main. The list of long term goals I have for Louella Reese could probably fill a notebook, but I will share a few of my top/most favorite goals.
- One is to grow the Louella Reese community.
- To create friendships with my readers and followers and be a place they want to check into often - whether that's on social media, the actual site, or both!
- Additionally, I want to work with some notable brands, ones that inspire me and work hard to encourage woman. With that said, I would love to continue working with Olay and build that relationship.
How did you first hear about PLANOLY? What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate PLANOLY within your social media strategy, and what do you love most about the app?
I believe one of my blogger girlfriends introduced me to PLANOLY. Praise her! Truthfully, I use PLANOLY every single day. Typically, multiple times a day. Planning out my Instagram is incredibly vital to my OCD self. This year I am aiming to plan my Instagram 1-2 weeks in advance, and PLANOLY gives me the ability to do that. To see what my feed will look like, what I like, what I don't like, what needs to be changed, and then easily allows me to make those changes. What I love most about PLANOLY is the ability to see the feed and precisely what it will look like as you plan out your content. The app is so clean, fresh, and simple to use. Not to mention, you can analyze, and we all know how important that is to bloggers. The ability to see your stats in a clean, simple way is refreshing.
Let's talk brand deals: what is the one key tip that you've learned along the way when collaborating with brands and doing sponsored content?
Be open, be honest, and don't commit to a brand that doesn't fit your brand naturally! Yes, it is great to try new things and test out different products, but if the brand doesn't organically meet with yours, your readers and followers are going to sense that. They aren't going to engage with what you share as much as they would if they felt it was organic and a natural sponsored piece of content. Therefore, it is not going to be a great partnership for you, your followers, or the brand.
If you could advise any first-time bloggers, what would be your top tips for entering the influencer space?
- My very first piece of advice is to take the time to truly think about why you want to start a blog, what you want it to be about, and what your brand is going to be (colors, style, topics, etc.). Also, do not decide on a name quickly! I have seen and heard from so many bloggers that wish they would have spent more time on their blog name or done something completely different. While you can rebrand, you tend to lose a lot in the social media world when you change your name. So take A LOT of time picking that one out!
- Consistency is key. Both on your site and your social media outlets. Those that follow you want to hear from you regularly. Create a blog post schedule and stick to it! Make little changes as you see fit, but your readers don't want to come back daily to check for blog posts only to find you're posting once or twice a month. They will stop coming, and you'll have to work harder to get them back!
- Have fun! Collaborate with brands you love, share products you adore, get to know your readers + followers by sharing stories about you and engage with other bloggers! Sometimes, they can become your best friends!
What are your top best practices and tips for influencers throughout their growth phase?
As mentioned above, consistency. Honestly, I think that is one of the most important practices and best tips I can give influencers.
- Be consistent on all outlets.
- Engage, engage, engage!
- Comment back when a follower comments on your photo.
- Respond to your DMs and emails.
Doing so will only increase the engagement of your following, which will then help with your growth and your brand collaborations! For more posts like this one, make sure to follow along with our Influencer Chat Series through the hashtag: #InfluencerChatSeries on Instagram.