Blogging: A year in review


OUTFIT DETAILS

DRESS: Vici | HEELS: Steve Madden | SUNGLASSES: Cramilo


May 1st officially marked the one year anniversary of Kyla Tori. In truth, Kyla Tori is a bit younger than the original blog I started but we will get there. If you’re an original follower you know the deal. If you’re new here you’ll be caught up shortly. Let me just first start by saying that whether you are an OG follower or you are new here, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Doing what I do is so much better because of all of you.

From day one I promised to be very transparent with you guys and that’s exactly what I plan to do. I’ve had a lot of questions so I’d like to lay it all on the table for you guys. May 1, 2017 I started a blog. I had really been working on it since May 2016 but I was too chicken shit to publish it. I’m serious. I had a domain, I had an email address, I had a color scheme, and I paid my wonderful friend and artist Corey to design a website for me. He built it from scratch and coded my dream come true. Then I stared at it for a year thinking about how it/I wasn’t good enough. I named it Thirteen Shades of White. I thought it was genius. I came up with the name because I had decorated my entire house with white being the main color. I had gotten so many questions about my house remodel I wanted to put up a post on Instagram with all of the details. One night as I was looking around my house and I counted 13 different shades of white. That is what sparked the idea to start my baby blog. I could have a place where I talked all about my ideas and where I got them from. I could tell people why I chose this paint color over another and save them the hassle of painting with a white that had a yellow tint to it. I thought it was magical how this one little story (which is true) led to the idea, which led to the name. Now I won’t say that it was an epic failure. In fact, most people liked it…because most people who were following me knew me very well. However there were a couple people who made comments about it being racist, it not making sense, etc. I was hurt because it took me quite a bit of guts to publish my site but looking back I’m so happy I got this feedback. Without it, I would’ve ended up with a blog where, years down the road, the name wouldn’t make sense.

It wasn’t long after that I changed the name to Kyla Tori. I wanted to brand myself. I wanted to leave it open so that if I wanted to stray from home decor it wouldn’t sound weird. I never knew I would branch off into fashion blogging but I’m so happy I kept branching out in mind. I also wanted it to be memorable. Over the years I’ve gotten so many compliments on my name because it’s not very easy to forget and it’s unique. If you are looking to start a blog, a website, a company, etc. make sure your business name is memorable! Make sure it flows and it rolls off the tongue easily. Take it from me. When I first started blogging I was only doing interior decor posts and showing off how I styled my bar cart or how I would mix vintage with Hollywood glam for an eclectic vibe. I would be out shopping for furniture and I would snap a couple pics in a mirror and you guys would flood my inbox with questions about where I got my outfit from or which tools I used to curl my hair. I was so confused why you guys were more interested in my outfit than the mirror I would be trying to show off but I would respond to each person individually. Now, I only had about 400 followers so it’s not like it took very long but I was surprised by how much time it took up. This is when I started doing some research on affiliate links. I figured it would be waaaaay easier to post a photo with the links to my outfit/hair/makeup details than responding to each person individually.

I applied for quite a few different companies and got quite a few emails back that said no. Until I got one that said yes. Nordstrom’s affiliate company had said yes. I couldn’t believe it. I’m a frequent shopper at Nordstrom because believe it or not I absolutely hate the mall. I dislike crowds and I feel panicky trying to hop around from store to store carting all my bags around. Because, let’s be real, I’ve got bags. Nordstrom is a one stop shop. I can go upstairs and shop the juniors section and go to my favorite section {Free People} and then head into the dressing room. And once I feel terrible about myself {Nordstrom, can we get some new lighting in there please?!} and sweaty because I swear they have the heat on in there even in the summer, I can head downstairs and get some shoes, jewelry, perfume, and then go grab a coffee. This is usually about the time I head to the men’s section and check out the new stuff to see if Shaun ‘needs’ anything. As soon as I’m done there I can walk back to my car and I’m done.

So Nordstrom told me yes and I was officially in. I had no clue what I was doing but I was like, alright so if I’m wearing something from Nordstrom I can link it and make a little bit of money and if it’s not from Nordstrom I’ll still link it but make no money. Let me make myself clear now – I didn’t get into this to become rich. I started doing this to express myself and to help answer questions from others because I was constantly getting bombarded with ‘where did you get that?!’ and wanted to make it a bit easier on myself. In fact, if you are looking to get rich quick you better look elsewhere. I have worked tirelessly at this for a year now, most of the time over 12 hours a day just on blog stuff alone {remember, I still have another business} and I got my very first paycheck in the mail last month. By now I am an affiliate for about 200 companies which means every time you click on one of my links I am most likely making some sort of money. My first paycheck came and it was for $15.12. If you do the math it equates to about $.0000000000001/hour and I am totally okay with that. In fact, I’ve never been happier with what I’m doing.

I’m not a perfect blogger who knows it all so I’m not going to rattle off a million things about how to have a successful blog. Chances are my ideas of success and yours look a little bit different. However, I’ve had quite a few questions about how things work and what my experience has been like so I wanted to make sure to answer the most frequently asked questions.

 

Which camera do you use?

We use a Canon Rebel T7i and an iPhone 7. One of the very first articles I read about blogging said to invest in yourself or no one else will so I purchased a camera. What’s funny is I get the most compliments on photos that are just taken on a whim on the iPhone. I don’t think the quality of the photo matters as much as the quality of the content. Don’t get me wrong – you can’t snap a pic on a potato phone and publish it and expect to get 15,000 likes every time but if you are being consistent and putting out quality content people tend to care less how the photo is taken.

Who takes your photos?

Shaun takes all of my blog photos. If he is away on a work/golf trip my mom takes my photos for me. Both get just as annoyed with me when I stop to fix my hair 800 times. We often joke about how Shaun moonlights as a photographer because he really just started learning when I did. He has no prior experience. I’ve actually had multiple people reach out to me to ask if they could hire my photographer and Shaun gets a huge smile on his face! He really is amazing for being a beginner. My mom is great, too. True story, this winter it snowed here twice. The first time was a light dusting. The second time was a beautiful winter wonderland and it looked magical. It was starting to melt and Shaun was still at work. My mom drove in from Florida that day and had a terrible cold but I dragged her out to take photos of me because I wanted to capture the snow. We had to keep switching between my wearing the gloves for my shoot and her wearing the gloves so her fingers didn’t fall off. Bonus: they both work for free because they love me. 🙂 

What do you edit your photos with?

I use Lightroom, Photoshop, and VSCO. I know some bloggers that only take photos on their iPhone and only use free editing apps and are super successful. You just have to find what works for you and which style you like best. As for me, I’m still in the process of figuring it all out.

Is your blog free to maintain?

Maintaining my blog actually costs me money. I pay to use WordPress which is my hosting site. I switched over to them and took the blog fully into my own hands. Corey is amazing and still runs 80% of my life in regards to my other business but I wanted this to truly be my baby. I learned how to code and spent over 30 hours making this blog exactly what I wanted it to be. Pro tip: BUY YOUR DOMAIN! Like, buy an actual domain for your blog. Do not go the route of http://www.blog.kylatori.com or something similar to that. Again, if you aren’t willing to invest in yourself no one else will be willing either. I think I spent like $10 on my domain from GoDaddy?!

 

Like I said, I’m not perfect at this but I do what works for me. So many people were curious as to how I got started and I wanted to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. If you have any more questions feel free to comment on this post, comment on my latest Instagram post, or tweet me! I love hearing from you guys because at the end of the day that’s what makes all of this worth it. Cheers to many more years!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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