It’s hard to believe that exactly a year ago I decided to go way out of my comfort zone and launch this thing. So much has changed, while so much has remained the same, and I’m excited to share a little bit about how this all started, what I’ve learned, and the future of my brand. Most importantly, I wanted to write this post to say thank YOU for following along! <3
How This Came To Be
Since the days of teachers asking to jot down what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’ve always had something creative listed and bounced back and forth between interior design and graphic design. I’ve always been intrigued by visuals and how things come together to create something beautiful. Fast forward to when I purchased my home in 2016 where I began to develop my style and quickly became a HomeGoods addict. Friends were always complementing spaces of the house (thanks, guys) and asking where to get the best deals. On the other hand, I have always been obsessed with capturing photos and social media. Shortly after moving in, I had created an account for Hudson that had just hit 10k and had an itch for more. The two passions naturally went hand in hand, and in 2017 I started an Instagram: ourcitynest.
What I’ve Learned
Find Your Passion
When I started the account, I had no intentions of being an influencer. I just loved challenging myself while furnishing our home, mixing up decor for the seasons, and hosting get togethers. I had tossed the idea around in my mind but had no idea where to start. G and I decided that I should give it a go – I’d casually post photos here and there to test the waters, with zero expectations of gaining a following. It is such a tough game that requires a lot of time and effort, and if you go into this just wanting to have a title of influencer or are just looking for a way to make some extra cash, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Sharing things that I love is what makes this so fun and easy for me.
Going into this, I knew a good bit about the platform through work and my personal accounts, but not in a manner that enabled me to monetize my efforts. To gain exposure and engagement, I used typical strategy tactics of hashtagging, follow for follow, features, follow trains, engagement pods – you name it. I don’t mean to sh*t on those that do this, but after a few months of trying to keep up with it, I realized 90% of it is forced and inorganic, and really forced me to question whether or not this was for me. I thought it was the only way to reach a certain number of a following – 5k, 10k to be considered worthwhile. More on that later.
I took a short break and decided to pick back up after learning that taking my efforts beyond Instagram would get me far. If you don’t know, I am a brand and web designer, so I knew a fair amount about the ins and outs of WordPress but had never built my own site. After about a month of planning, building the site, and writing out my content strategy – I decided to launch and not look back!
Just. Say. Yes.
Since launching, driving traffic between Instagram, the Blog, and Pinterest has proven results. I then thought I may have a chance at this and decided to casually look into rewardStyle not thinking I was anywhere close to being eligible. At this point, I had 1,000 followers and had been blogging for a few months. I got approved after two attempts and just said go. There is so much I could write about with that process, and perhaps will in the future, but the main takeaway here was my mindset.
I’ve always been one to care about what others think, seek to please, and get approval. I don’t really know what clicked, but one day (this was only a few months ago, too) I really stopped caring about who would talk sh*t about what I’m doing, laugh at my posts, how many likes I didn’t get, etc. I decided to stop all of the fake engagement. I decided to not focus on the number. I decided to post what felt right and run with it. I realized I’d rather have 1,000 genuine followers that I interact with, than 60,000 and feel like crap because only 100 like my posts. Since then, I have connected with so many more of you in a genuine way, and in turn, have seen high success on the monetization front in just 6 months.
I posted this advice back in March, but wanted to share again here as it truly sums up what I have learned in the past year and is such a great reminder for even myself:
If you’ve been wanting to start or accomplish something but are held back by fear of judgement and comparison, just DO it.
When I decided to start this, I was hindered by what I didn’t know & what opinions would come of it. Once I put all of that aside and focused on those that empower me, I saw a clear vision for not only this community, but myself. Now, I have an amazing creative outlet & more importantly, a community that I’d never have had I not just said “start”. On the flip side, I challenge you to empower women that are out there doing their thing. Too much critique and comparison exists that is the thief of our joy. Be happy for others. I promise that in turn, it will make you a happier person. I know that this is more than achievable, as each day, you all empower and give me hope in this harsh world. As it relates to IG, our follower count does not reflect our importance and success. Focus on who & what you have, and the rest will follow.
What’s To Come
Now, for the fun part! What to expect from me in the next year.
Naturally, I have 4394832 ideas with about 0 hours to get it all to you. I’ve got my full time job, a handful of freelance clients, and a wedding to finish planning. I’ve decided to focus on the wedding over the next two months and do what I can here (sometimes I can barely pull a post together!), but also to keep the wedding under wraps until it happens as I want to surprise all of my friends and family with the details. Post wedding, I’ll be sharing all the things as I have learned SO much from the process.
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what’s next. Obviously I don’t live in a massive home and can only share spaces so many times. I plan to share more thoughtful posts around design thinking, approaches, and styles to give you insight on how to approach various aspects, to go out and feel better about the decisions and purchases you’re making.
On top of my own home, I plan to share moodboards, inspiration, and other accounts that I’m loving to also help foster growth for the entire community. There’s room for all of us and everyone brings something else to the table!
Like everything else I’ve mentioned, I’ve also been into clothing and accessories my entire life (sorry, mom & dad). I’ve also always loved a good deal. I wanted this to be a natural addition to OCN and since many of you have organically asked, I’m going to push to share more while always remaining on brand with providing you affordable, yet quality items. I want to provide wardrobe tips and suggestions that don’t make you feel like you need to swipe up on a new shirt every week due to the pressures – I’ve been there. This one sounds simple, but is a tough line to balance, so hold me to it!
I’m no chef or health nut and plan to keep it real with you guys. Young Living has helped us feel so much better about products we are using with such little effort. I know the company, oils, and MLM in general make people eye roll – but I’m here to show you the aspects that really have improved our lifestyle. More to come soon on this front!
I’ve expressed I am so uncomfortable speaking to the camera – I don’t even like attention IRL. But, I am going to try to push myself within the next few months to share more with you guys. Daily struggles, small wins, anything to help motivate you.
What’s next for G and I? We are huge planners and have decided that after our September wedding, we’d take the year for the two of us and dedicate it to finding our forever town. We absolutely love the city, but we’re going to outgrow our home and have to think about our hopes of a family! We don’t know when or where, but we can’t wait to take you along during the entire process, and then of course how we plan on furnishing and/or renovating our new home!
Lastly, this all wouldn’t be possible with you! So corny and overstated, but truly – you all make this possible. Thank you to those who follow, those who read, those who make the effort to shop via my links, and those who pop in from time to time. You all count. I’m so excited to see what the next year brings us!