Good morning, my loves! I’m so happy to have you here on the blog bright and early for a little chat and caffeine today. I know we do these somewhat infrequently and I’m trying to change that — I’ve always wanted Her Tasty Life to be a resource and hub of information, inspiration and encouragement. This is our opportunity to connect with each other and make sure you’re taking away the little nuggets of information that mean that most to you. I’m going to do my best to make this habit just as regular as my morning coffee moving forward.
I realized recently that many of us communicate pretty regularly on Instagram and trade lots of great info. Info that could be helpful or totally relatable for someone else! For this edition of coffee talk, I’m including your names, blogs, locations, and Instagram handles (if you’ve asked me to) along with your questions in the hopes you’ll also connect and reach out to other friendly faces in our community.
It takes a village as they say, and there is no better way to build yours than to reach out to people who have the same questions and concerns that you do. So please, I encourage you to click on their websites, go to their IG pages, say hello and help one another. You never know, your new best friend might be just a click away.
Thanks, Nicole! It’s from Vici, one of my favorite online boutiques. You can find the sweater here.
The short answer is, it took me awhile. I was so on the fence about wanting to have kids my whole life. I was never that girl who always knew she wanted to be a mom — I was laser-focused on my career and more interested in travel and experiences than marriage and kids. I figured if it was part of my equation and meant to be, it would happen, and if it didn’t, I was totally OK with that. It wasn’t until I met my husband at 31 that having kids started to become more of a priority for me. I guess being with the right person can do that to you! I started thinking about babies more frequently and wanting to start a family. I think when you’re ready, you just know. I mean, no one is every really ready, but there’s this little (or big) feeling in your gut that is telling you “yes, I want this.”
Do you plan to have more kids and, if so, how far apart will you space the babies?
Lots of baby questions, love it! We would definitely love to have another and probably sooner rather than later. If we complete our family within the next 2 years I think that would feel like really lovely timing for us.
I’ll try to make this answer as succinct as I can but there’s a lot to pack in here! I got started blogging 3 years ago after a very long run writing over a thousand reviews on Yelp. Yep, I was a pretty prolific Yelper back in the day! I had logged tons of recommendations and was quickly viewed as a go-to resource on the site of someone who had great restaurant and travel suggestions. But for me, it wasn’t enough, I wanted to share more. Just writing reviews wasn’t calling to me anymore and I wanted a platform that was just my voice and where I could share anything I wanted in a free-form format. So presto, the blog was born! It took me about 3 months to get the blog up and running and to front-load it with some content. My Instagram was already chugging along at this point and I had almost 5k followers when it launched (it was much easier to grow on IG back then). Over the years I’ve honed in on an aesthetic and small subset of topics that are my daily focus and I don’t stray from them. I think developing your niche and your voice are very important with blogging. With thousands of blogs out there these days, cutting through the clutter and finding a way to bring value is all about finding your tribe, speaking to them, and staying consistent. You can’t be everything to everybody! As for growth, well, that’s the tricky part these days. Instagram is doing pretty much everything it can to stifle growth which is really disheartening. You can read more about it here. The best way to grow is to engage with others — follow others, engage with their content, spread likes like confetti! It will come back around. And if it doesn’t, the unfollow button is there for a reason.
You find the cutest clothes, Brett! I’m obsessed with the sweater you’re wearing in the “Instagram VS Reality” challenge vids. It looks really expensive, it probably is, right?
It probably isn’t! LOL. If you know me by now, you know that I’m all about mixing high and low. I’m 100% in support of spending up on investment pieces that you’ll have for years, or even a lifetime. Think: designer bags, timepieces, some shoes, etc. But as for clothes, I’m not a big fan of spending a lot on clothes until it’s a signature piece that is going to be a classic and a staple in your closet for many years to come. I rotate my wardrobe quite frequently and can’t afford to be buying luxe pieces all of the time. Instead, I look for pieces that look amazing but don’t break the bank and I often find them in some pretty odd places, but when you mix them in with a fabulous bag or a great shoe, then everything looks expensive! Blah, blah, blah Brett, just gimme the sweater! Alright, alright. You can find it here.
I remember seeing in your Instastory that you still work in marketing. Can you give us any tips on how you started your professional career and how it took off? Mirella, Chicago via Brazil, @mimirella.living
Yes, it’s true, I still hold down a corporate career in marketing while also running Her Tasty Life. People ask me all of the time why I don’t just quit and run the blog full time, but the truth is I really love my job! I’ve been in my role as a National Marketing Consultant for over 11 years and still have a ton of passion for it. I started out doing sales, selling direct marketing and email campaigns to local companies which grew over time into my role as a consultant and authority in marketing, data, marketing analytics and national campaign strategy. I guess these things just take time! But to anyone wanting to start a career in marketing, getting your foot in the door is step one and then it’s all about the hustle, my dear! My favorite online mentor is Gary Vaynerchuck (aka “Gary Vee”) and he hustles harder than anyone in the game. His books, newsletters and podcasts have brought a tremendous amount of value to me, I’d highly suggest you check him out!
I would love to know if you have a routine/schedule for posting or if it varies by time of year or partnerships. How do you handle that with the rest of your commitments? Leigh, Chicago, @leighafitz, www.herloveleighlife.com
I’m such a planner so the answer is yes and yes. I have a revolving content calendar that I try to adhere to as closely as possible. So for the blog, I hold a specific amount of space for sponsored/partnership content each month and the rest for personal posts, recipes, outfit posts, etc. I keep this organized the old fashioned way, on paper. HA! Crazy, I know. But I do use these nifty printable blog planner sheets. I don’t know why, but I love to see this laid out on my dining room table and am always adjusting and work on them. Maybe it’s the marketing agency girl in me — I’d do it all on a huge white board if I could fit one in my house! On Instagram, I plan my posts in advance as well and I use the tool Planoly to keep me organized. I love to see how posts are going to look and stack on one another before I go live with them. This tool rocks for that!
I started my online boutique a little over a year ago. I’m thinking of reaching out to one or two bloggers to send them a piece of jewelry from our site but am not sure what that entails. Are there contracts to sign for this? Or is it more informal? Not sure how to go about this. Caroline, New Jersey, @aventureshop, www.shopaventure.com
I’m sure all of the behind the scenes blogger negotiations can seem a little secret society-ish, right? Well, there is no one standard and your interactions will certainly vary from blogger to blogger. Everyone is different and operates their businesses differently and while some people are hyper-organized with processes and set rates in place, others do work from a much more casual standpoint. So heading into it, set the tone of the conversation in a way that is most comfortable for you. Be professional. Be succinct. And yes, having an agreement in place is never a bad idea so there is no miscommunication or confusion around expectations. Personally, I always appreciate when a brand approaches me with an open mind to how we can collaborate and takes the time to mention something they find special or unique about my brand. When I can tell it’s a canned email or something that is being circulated to multiple bloggers it’s a bit of a turnoff.
Here are a few tips that might help in your initial discussions:
- Set clear expectations
- Ask for a post deadline
- Ask to see a draft of the coverage and caption
- Send an agreement
- Ask to see metrics or insights once the campaign is done
How do you keep your lips from getting chapped in this cold weather? I have yet to find a really good lip balm.
I live and die by Aquaphor. I use it for anything that gets dry on me or the baby! I have yet to find anything that works better. They have a specific lip product, but I just use the good old fashioned balm for my lips. I use the Aquaphor baby ointment for Blake.
I’m not living my passion and feel like my life isn’t what it should be based on what I see on Instagram. What do you suggest I do to step up my game? Daphne, Chicago, @sweetd81014
This is so common these days and exactly why I participated in the Everything Erica Instagram VS Reality challenge yesterday. We have to stop comparing ourselves to what we see on social media. What you see there is not real. Think of it as editorial content, like the ads you see in magazines — there is lots of work that goes into the images you see. The right lighting, editing, props, angles, all of it. It’s so easy to get down when you feel like your life doesn’t match the perfect, highly curated, heavily edited images we are seeing online but you have to remember so many of these images were created and manufactured with professional photography and a lot of post production. I use social media to feel inspired and connect with others — if it ever started feeling like something that was making me feel bad or less than, I would walk away, or at least take a break. To live your passion is a whole other thing! If you feel like there is something out there you want to be doing and you aren’t… you have to start, NOW. We’ve only got this one life and it’s short. Get your tribe together and build a small support team and then get to hustlin’! Ask a select few to help keep you accountable and then go for it. I’m always a firm believer in learning as you go, don’t worry about perfection, just worry about getting started.
What’s your ideal working environment? Mine changes… sometimes it’s my bed, or my studio, sometimes the kitchen or a hotel. What’s yours? Kim, Vancouver, @stylebykimxo
I’m kind of a work from anywhere type of girl, but if I had to pick an absolute favorite, it would be at home, at my dining room table. I love to light a candle, and face the window in my dining room that looks out to the Chicago skyline. I put on some music (pretty much always 90’s alternative) and get to WERQ!
You guys always see me posting my favorite Good American jeans on Instagram and ask “are they really that good?” and the answer is a resounding yes. I love them! They have an awesome stretch to them but also hold you in where you need it while giving a little lift to the tush. They’ve been my go-to jeans since having Blake and I love how many colors and finishes they come in. I also have been a fan of Frame Denim and J Brand for years. The J Brand photo ready jeans are a staple that should be in every woman’s closet.
I’m always looking for new, great products from high end to pharmacy brands. Yours always look great, any suggestions? Lauren, Chicago, @lauren.simonson
Yes!!! I’m obsessed with beauty products and recently decided an awesome way to share my current favs with you and stay organized was on the new Instagram story highlights tool. I created a Beauty category that lives on my profile and has links to my top favorite must-have beauty. You can find it right under my bio with shoppable links and little demos/tutorials of the products:
Any tips for balancing a full time boss job, having a family and keeping new content coming out on your platforms? Andrea, Chicago, @andreasculinarypassport
It’s all about the time blocking. I live and die by my calendar and schedule time out for everything! From working out, to family time, to blogging hours, to office hours, to social media engagement time, to date nights and social events… it’s all in the calendar and it’s all regimented (for example, I don’t schedule more than 2 evening events during the week EVER). Alternatively, if something doesn’t make it onto the calendar it literally does not exist. HA! It’s my bible and I’d be lost without it. I do everything I can to keep the time I schedule non-negotiable. Unless something MAJOR comes up, I do not alter my calendar. I treat it as sacred to stay on track and do not let any one thing completely take over because as you can imagine I’d be in the weeds in a heartbeat otherwise!
What inspiration do you use when you are looking for post topics? Patrick, Oregon, @patricks_table
Well, since I focus on fashion, travel, lifestyle and family, those are always the cornerstones of my blog and there’s no shortage of inspiration out there! With fashion, it’s always about the latest trends I’m into and the resources to find them on the cheap! For family and lifestyle, I always lean toward the products and tips that we can’t live without at the moment or things making life easier… and travel is all about checking amazing places off my bucket list. My current wish list includes Iceland, New Zealand and Tulum.
Ok, babes, that’s a wrap for Coffee Talk! Are you feeling as caffeinated as I am? Don’t forget to check out everyone’s handles and sites and drop them a line to say hello. Cheers to a great weekend!