4-year Anniversary Blog/Insta Q&A

I CANNOT believe I started this blog and my Instagram page 4 years ago!! What a fun journey it has been. The ups and the downs! I also feel like I've learned and grown a lot in these 4 years. I thought it would be fun to do a blogging/influencing Q&A to celebrate! So, I asked y'all in my Instagram story what you want to know! :) I know some of y'all have been around since the beginning of my page and I hope you know how thankful I am for you! Several of yall truly feel like friends to me! Thank you for supporting my page over the years.


Heres some pictures through the years! The basket was my first post!


Q: How many hours a week do you spend doing this?


A: I feel like the best way to answer this is to say my page is literally my lifestyle. LOL. But seriously, I pretty much am working all day. It takes much more time than it probably looks like it does. I think for me, part of the "problem" is that I just genuinely love what I'm doing so I hardly ever feel like I am working. From searching in stores, or online for things that catch my eye and new items, to creating a post about them. Getting dressed and ready, steaming the clothes that I'm going to try on, sometimes trying on several things until I have an outfit I'm happy with, snapping pics, editing them, trying to come up with a caption, and posting. Etc etc etc!! It's fun and I love it, but it's a lot!! I've also really had to learn to chill out and not be so critical of myself because that has been one the hardest part for me and makes things take up a lot more time!


Q: Where did you even begin? / How do you even start?/ How did you get started?


A: Seriously, just start!!! I know that's cliche and probably annoying to hear, BUT FOR REALS. I would start by deciding what it is that YOU love. What makes you happy, what do you spend a lot of time doing? What are your hobbies? What are you passionate about? I think what has made my page easy to keep up with over the years is that it's literally just things I do on a regular basis! I've always been into fashion and I've always been on a budget. So just start sharing what YOU love. Be yourself, be authentic and be grateful for the audience you do have. You are "influencing" the audience you have now! Everyone starts at 0 followers- or at least 1-2 when you tell your bestie or hubby they have to follow your new page! haha! You can't expect to grow a big following if you aren't bringing something of value to the table when you are first starting out! Right? People follow you when they see that your page adds value to their life.


Q: What made you want to start this page?


A: I was literally out sun-tanning on my back porch one day and I started thinking that maybe I should start a page to share all my affordable finds & DIYS. I've always been one to try and create “expensive“ looks on a budget- fashion, home decor, DIYS etc. I've always thought it was CRAZY that fashion bloggers would share a plain white t-shirt that cost $40!! WHO WOULD BUY THAT when you can get a perfectly good one at Walmart for $5?! I thought maybe I could be a voice for us regular people who cannot afford those price tags. I wanted to encourage girls like me to not feel ashamed for buying affordable clothing. I started thinking about what I would name my page, and literally CheapChicFinds came to my mind! I did a quick Google & Instagram search to make sure the name wasn't taken and then I created my page- that same day, outside on my pack porch and made my first post! :)


Q: What are your lessons learned when working with affiliates?


A: The first affiliate marking I ever used was with a company that paid per click-(per swipe up). It worked out well in the beginning but without sharing a long drawn out story- I just really wasn't happy with how it all worked. Now I use, RewardStyle which you get a small percentage of each sale. It has been a lot more consistent for me and I never feel like I'm getting "punished" when a certain item isn't loved by everyone. When you use PPC affiliate links the amount you are paid per click fluctuates based on sales. My experience just felt very wishy washy and I found myself feeling frustrated a lot when I used PPC links.


Q: Do you ever buy stuff just to post and then return it?


A: YES. That being said, I never initially buy something thinking-"oh I will just return this later". I buy things that I genuinely think are cute/pretty. I obviously have to return things more now since COVID precautions have closed down dressing rooms. I used to just try everything on at the stores and then buy the things I really loved. Nowadays, if I want to try something on for yall I obviously have to buy it. Most of the time when I'm returning things it's because I bought more than 1 size or color so that I have some options when I am trying things on. If I share a picture of me wearing things out and about then those aren't things that I will return. But when I do try ons at home, I will usually return a few of the pieces. Returning items for me stems from a place of not wanting to be wasteful. I grew up in normal/poorer home and some of that mentality has stuck with me. I feel guilty about having too many clothes A LOT of the time, especially if I feel like I'm not going to wear them. I will also give things away to friends & family that I know could use them.


Q: Did your account grow faster once you started showing your face in stories/feed?


A: It seems like it! I used to not show my face much because I never wanted to come off conceited, but more and more people started asking to see things on and I started sharing more pictures with me in the outfits! It seems that people really value a page when the person is real and relatable. My experience has been that the more I go live and show about me as a person rather than just a page of items at a store, it seems like people really enjoy the more personal aspects!


Q: How did you start your affiliated links? Do you recommend doing what you do for extra money?


A: I did not start using affiliate links until I hit 10k followers on Instagram. I really had no idea what they even were but a company reached out to me and that's how I started getting paid. That was about 2 years into starting my page. I then switched to RewardStyle and I really love working with them. I would definitely recommend it! It's been such a blessing in my hubby and I's life! Between my blog and my hubby working we've been able to pay off most of our debt and now having a savings fund to one day soon start a family! 🥰


Q: Is the way the page is now how you originally planned for it to be?


A: In several ways yes. I've always wanted to have more of a lifestyle blog/page. I want to be able to share life lessons, recipes, travel tips, and just anything else I think will help others. It has definitely turned into that a bit more since I share a lot about my life in my story! I keep saying one day I'm going to have a cooking show! I definitely would love to have more little spinoffs of some of my passions!


Q: Do you ever review products and give false reviews or are they your honest opinion?


A: No. I really pride myself on being honest. I will say that I have learned the hard way not to commit to collabs with companies until after I have tried their products. I've always been picky about which brands I do collaborations with but I used to accept the collab offer and then get the products to try. Now (if it's a product I'm interested in and haven't tried before), I will tell the company that I would be willing to try their products first and if I love them then we can talk about a collab agreement!


Q: Is it hard to not get to take social media breaks? Or how do you regulate that?


A: Yes!! Mostly because I just love what I am doing. Even when I'm not "working" I love taking y'all along with me to Disney and sharing fun things I'm doing to bring some joy to my little space on IG. It can be hard because even when I'm not on social media I'm pretty much always thinking about what I want to share with y'all. I do try to breaks though. There will be days where I won't post as much and it's either because I'm trying to get caught up on tidying up the house, or just feel like taking it easy. When my hubby is home I try to be off my phone by at least 8-9 so we can have some quality time.


Q: Tips & tricks on how to grow your IG following


A: I"m going to be honest and say that I wish I knew the magical answer to this question. Over the years I have come to realize that everyone's page seems to grow differently and at different rates and times. I really haven't worried too much about the algorithm but I've heard it said that the algorithm wants you to use all the features a platform has to offer. So, that’s something I try to do. But I think these things below are more important than trying all the crazy ways to beat the algorithm. I think everyone wants a following but not everyone wants to put in the time, create a community and give back to others!


1. Consistency/Time

One thing I always tell people when they ask me this question is that social media moves so quickly and if you aren't posting pretty much everyday people are going to forget about you. To go along with that, whatever it is that you are trying to bring to the table, you want people to think of you and your page when they think about whatever it is that you are trying to share with the world. That only happens when you post consistently. I hope that makes sense! Whatever you constantly share about is what people are going to remember about you! If you aren't posting consistently people are going to forget about you! If you summed up my page in a few words it would probably be, Walmart, Disney,Target & Dogs. What are things you want to be thought of about you? Are you posting about them consistently?


Realize that it's not going to happen overnight. I've had my page for 4 years. I think what helped me keep going was that I've always tried to focus on being excited about helping even just a few people. I remember being excited when I had 10 followers, 30, 100, 200, 300... etc! You have to remember that you have an audience at this very moment. Do you appreciate them? Or are they not good enough because there aren't 1000s more of them? I think people can feel that whether you say it or not. Are you magically going to become a caring, genuine person with things to share when you have more followers? You have to start now with the following you do have. Like the old saying "Build it and they will come".


2. Bring value/ Be genuine

Think of your skills/ passions and share them with the world! How can you help others? Are you funny? Crafty? Love baking? Love reading and writing? Whatever it is that you are an "expert" or at least passionate about, share it! Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through- that's how you will stand out! Don't be afraid to put yourself out there that's how you will find your "target audience".


3. Engage

I also think it's really important to engage with people on IG/your blog. It's truly about people in the first place right?! You create relationships and trust when you interact with them. So respond to all your comments and answer your Dm's as best you can. Maybe you've heard the saying- "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."


4. Grow your photography & editing skills

People want to look at pretty pictures! If you go back to the beginning of my page.. it's changed A LOT. lol!! Simply because I've been playing around with taking pictures and editing for 4 years now! I haven't watched a lot of videos, I've just been putting in the work of doing it "the wrong way" and finding better ways/ realizing how to do and make things look better. Look at the pictures/videos of people who inspire you. Don't copy them, but what is it about their pictures/videos that you like, that makes you want to watch them? Then in your own way work on that. Shoot in better lighting, play with a picture editor, etc etc. You don't need to be perfect but work to be better! Go back and look through my feed-(or look at the pics in the beginning of this post) you can see how it's evolved over time. It's not perfect today but it's a lot better and for me, it's exciting to see how far I've come!


5. Stay grateful

For me, focusing on staying grateful has kept me feeling inspired and excited to share/post things! Focusing on what you don't have will only beat you down and hurt your creativity and confidence!


6. Don't compare

Comparison is the thief of joy! Put your blinders on and just share what you love. If you have to unfollow pages or put them on mute, don't feel guilty for it! Your mental health is more important. I've had to do it before. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but there's just sooo many pages these days sharing Walmart & Target finds. I just can't look at them or I start to stress out about "copying" someone who shared something before I got a chance to, etc etc! I find that I feel the most free to be myself and creative when I'm not looking around at what everyone else is doing! I love this quote, "A flower doesn't think about competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms." Walk your own path and just let yourself bloom!


Q: Do you always get tired of having to be "on" and people asking where you got stuff?


A: I don't always feel like getting dressed up and taking pictures! I do like to lounge around the house with no make up and just chill out from time to time. Typically on days like that I just won't share an outfit photo, unless I have one that I took previously that I can share. Honestly, I never get tired of people asking where I got something. It's quite the opposite. I ALWAYS feel bad that I don't have the time to respond to everyone! I never want anyone to feel like I don't care. I truly feel like it's my job to help- that's why I created this page!


Q: How did you decide to become a blogger? What do you need to be one?


A: I really never decided to become a blogger. I never wanted to have a blog- more so because it seemed like everyone at the time was trying to start one and I'm not big on following the crowd. I just wanted to start an affordable finds page- not really a "blog". It's funny that it turned into what it is today because I was sooo adament about calling my page a website! haha

I would say there really aren't any requirements other than you need to care about people, bring something of value to them and be consistent in sharing!! Just be you and start putting things out there!


Q: How often do you go to stores to take pics?


A: Weekly!! I just love shopping! haha


Q: How do you get readers/ followers in the beginning?


A: For me, this goes back to just being grateful for however many people are engaging on your page. (which isn't always easy!) And like I said before, if you are sharing things and bringing something of value, people will see it and they might even tag a friend! But truly, try not to get caught up in how many followers you have. I know it's probably annoying for me to say that because my page has grown BUT like I said before, in the beginning I focused on being grateful every step of the way. I always thought that it would be cool if my page grew bigger but I never let it make me feel ungrateful and discouraged as it was growing.



I hope this was fun and helpful for you to read!! Thank you again for following along with me!!


xo,

Mal