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Influencer Spotlight: DIY Brand Partnerships with Successful Blogger Julia Fain

Julia Fain is the author and designer behind Tag & Tibby, a home and garden website dedicated to small-budget modern home design ideas, DIY projects, and crafts. Julia has a background in product design and has collaborated with brands including Sherwin-Williams, World Market, and Hunter Fan. She has nearly 2,000 followers on Facebook and an impressive 5.1k followers on Pinterest. Sideqik talked to this successful blogger to learn how brands can better work with influencers and influencers can work with brands.

successful blogger Julia FainSideqik: So how long have you been blogging?

Julia Fain: I’ve been in the web realm for a long time. Prior to 4 years ago I ran an Etsy shop and sold vintage goods online. About 4 years ago I went to a conference in Utah and it occurred to me that I couldn’t scale what I was doing. I was going to max out on what I could earn doing what I was doing as one person. So I decided to try “blogging for profit,” for lack of a better term. So about 4 years.

Sideqik: Have you always been in the DIY space?

Pretty much! My husband and I are both product designers so it comes naturally to us to want to build our own things and fix things if they’re broken.

Sideqik: As a DIY blogger, how do you keep your volume up while creating. How are you putting out enough posts? You can’t be re-doing your son’s bedroom every week, right?

Yeah. So for my son’s room for example, instead of it just being one article for his room I highlighted favorite daybeds, how I came to pick the blue paint, and after I highlighted his room I did a feature on how we added contact paper to his desk. Instead of one blog post, I developed at least four blog posts for that whole project which helps me feel like it’s a better investment.

It’s tricky because I am a content creator, and I also try to maintain the traffic to my site. So, I am making sure that previous DIYs are still being re-pinned to my site and being seen by Google. I’m probably posting an average of one DIY a month and that doesn’t feel difficult.

Speaking of your son’s bedroom, that was a brand partnership, right?

Yes, it was.

How do you like when brands approach you? What’s the best way to seek a relationship with an influencer, in your perspective?

It varies with different brands. For example, originally I met Sherwin-Williams at a conference and we connected that way. We’ve maintained a relationship and I’ve written several articles in partnership with them.

With Hunter Fan Company we connected on Twitter through some direct messages. So, it’s not always face-to-face. Sometimes brands reach out to me, sometimes I’ll get emails from agencies, and other times I’ll reach out to them if I feel strongly about their brand.

How do you choose what brands to work with?

That’s a good question. Most often it is because I already use that brand. Other times, I decide based on a brand’s reputation and its design. I recently reviewed a product brand new to the market and wanted to give it a try because of its smart technology and product design.

You have a big following on social media. How does that play into your overall content creation strategy?

It definitely plays into it pretty strongly and I’ve targeted which social channels bring me the most traffic. I don’t have a large Instagram following but I get a decent bit of traffic to my website through Facebook and Pinterest, and since my site is monetized traffic is important to me.

I try to be strategic with when I share content, and Pinterest is a long-term strategy. You don’t just pin something once. You pin it for months, always trying to get the content out there.

successful blogger Tag&Tibby post image
Photo Courtesy of Julia Fain

Do you have any advice for people who want to be bloggers? For people that want to be working with brands?

Be strategic and try to grow at least 2 social channels. I don’t think it makes sense to grow just one. I’ve heard stories of Facebook or Pinterest accounts getting shut down for no understood reason. A lot of times it’s a mistake and they get their accounts back eventually, but still, you want to be strategic with your social platform growth and diversify it.

Brands do look at Instagram, so it is important for that reason. But it makes sense to grow your other channels as well.

You have to be a little bit aggressive. I know some girls who are nervous to work with brands and I don’t think you should be nervous. The people behind a brand are just normal people working their job.

You have to have proof that you can do the work. For bloggers, your blog is your portfolio. For example, for my home office I bought a ceiling fan and when my room makeover went live, I shared it with Hunter Fan Company and I said something simple like “Hey I used your ceiling fan in this article, would you want to work with me in the future?” And they did. We’ve worked together several times since and they included my living room & fan in their catalog for this year. Show what you’ve done in order to get future work.

What advice do you have for brands who want to work with influencers better?

Do a little research on the person. I get emails every day where people spell my name wrong, or they ask me to add follow links to my blog. I get put on PR email lists frequently and that’s great but this relationship needs to be mutually beneficial.

Tell me how you want to collaborate. Have a form of communication. Give us influencers a way to pitch ideas. Emails do go a long way and connecting on social media is beneficial because then both the brand and influencer can communicate through direct messages.

What do you have going on right now?

As far as the blog goes I’m trying to grow my traffic right now. And I’m always looking for the next paid sponsored post with a brand. Just yesterday one of my pitches was accepted for a sponsored “back to school” article.

One thing is a struggle for me: it’s easy to find lifestyle and recipe articles that are paid. Those come along frequently. But the home design and DIY paid collaborations are harder to find. I’d like to have an ongoing relationship with a brand where we’re creating together. Every three months I’m writing an article for them and we have an ongoing relationship. That’s what I am looking for.

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