style

Mom & Daughter Looks

This is going to be kind of a two-fold post. One to share this super cute mom and daughter look and I thought it would be interesting to kind of share what goes into a sponsored Instagram/post. This post isn’t sponsored, but I did work with Talbots to share their “Great Style Runs in the Family” campaign.

How do sponsored posts come about?

For me, every single sponsored post I do stems from an inquiry from a brand or a larger deal through the agency I’m signed with. I’m pretty lucky that my audience is big enough and my conversion rate is high enough where brands come to me. (Although, I talk about why I don’t recommend reaching out to brands, regardless of size, in my giant “Blogging Tips” post.)

I recently read a blog post from a blogger “spilling the tea” on brands that ignored her… but she had failed to mention that she had purchased about half a million followers plus comments/likes. I’ve worked with ALL kinds of brands over the years and I’ve never had an experience where I felt ignored. Some brands are harder to work with depending on their corporate structure and whether they have a team in-house or use an agency and some are easier… but as long as I’m on top of my communication (e.g. emails), establish clear expectations (from both parties), and execute what’s been asked of me, and deliver the materials on time everything is pretty straightforward. Of course, there are brands that I’d LOVE to work with, but I/my blog might not be a brand fit overall or a fit for a particular campaign, but it’s never a personal diss.

At this point (which is just shy of ten years of blogging), I have so many amazing personal relationships with girls at agencies and in-house. Everyone is always moving around between brands/companies/agencies, so even if someone who I love to work with is at a brand that isn’t a good fit, I still stay in touch and keep a professional relationship with because chances are she’ll be somewhere new a year later. I am also psycho about staying on top of my inbox, so I know I get deals and sponsorships that are last-minute because the PR girls know I’m going to be able to do a quick turn-around. Brands know I’m going to deliver the content on time, from the previews to posting at the right time/day, to following up with analytics at the specific time they asked. I try to stay on top of it so brands remember I was easy to work with.

The Negotiation.

This is the hardest part but thankfully has become a lot easier over the years. I remember when I was first starting out, I had no idea what to charge and brands had no idea what a market value was to paid. Now people generally know what’s a good value and what isn’t. I wouldn’t even say that my rates are necessarily based on ROI… it’s what I have to charge so that I have just enough sponsored content. That is, I charge based on the demand from brands and the supply I’m willing to do. I try not to do more than two sponsored things a week and charge accordingly.

I used to do all of the negotiations myself, but a couple of things happened all at once where I could no longer handle it on my own. The first was that I was drowning in communication. Since I was doing the negotiations, I would literally be responding to every email and having multiple back-and-forths, 90% of which would not work out due to not being on brand, not being able to fit it into my editorial calendar, or the brand not having enough budget for what they wanted. Basically, I felt like a lot of my time was just running into brick walls waiting for the 10% that did go through… and then I’d still have to deliver the product.

The other part was that I was having to be the “good cop” and the “bad cop.” I’d have to stand up for myself in the negotiation, but then also be the nice-and-easy-to-work-with talent. (I go above and beyond to not be “that blogger” that gives all bloggers a bad reputation…) It was hard to be both authentically. I will say, I think I’m an excellent negotiator, but I’d much prefer to do it on someone else’s behalf.

Anyway, I ended up signing with a manager and it changed my game. I’ve since moved on to an agency and I’m on my second manager there. (She’s AMAZING and I could not do what I do without her.) I connect her with everyone and she filters through all the emails basically so all I see are specific offers and then we can go on from there. She’s the one who makes sure brands pay on time and handles any issues that might pop up along the way so that I don’t have to play bad cop.

What does the workflow look like?

The tricky thing about this is that on any given day, I can be at ten different points with ten different campaigns. It takes a lot to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and that I know where I stand with each campaign. I might have three campaigns in negotiations/concept development with, two that I’m creating content for, two that I have to write, one that I’m waiting on edits for, one queued up post-edits, and one done but collecting analytics on. Even hour by hour one might switch forward a little bit or back down if there was a hiccup.

As an example, I can share the steps that went into this particular Talbots campaign. (Just keep in mind that it’s one campaign and there’s a hundred other things happening between me, my manager, and the other campaigns we’re working on!)

– I have a wonderful relationship with the woman who does Talbots’ PR. She is one of my absolute favorite people to work with because she’s super thoughtful. I never feel like I’m “just a client.” She invited me to the office to preview the holiday collection. Usually, it’s where editors for magazines go to snap photos and take notes for what they want to include in their holiday gift guides in print/digital issues. I go to see the pieces of course, but also to get in a little face time with the PR team. She mentioned that they were doing a campaign about style running in the family and wanted to include my mom and me!

– The campaign was definitely going to be a great fit. A) I love working with Talbots and B) Talbots always performs well for me analytically, so I know it’s something my audience (that is, YOU!) are interested in. It’s a no-brainer, so I handed it over to my manager.

– The offer came through, but the timing didn’t quite line up. I had a ton of travel and sponsored content lined up for August, so we had a little back-and-forth on what would work for both Talbots’ needs for the campaign, my availability, and my mom’s availability. It essentially boiled down to one day where I could get the photos done… but it meant I had to fly to Florida. I say “had to,” but you know I love any excuse to get down there.

– The details are what usually takes the longest, and you’ll see that this section is long to reflect that! This included booking my flights and coordinating my schedule to switching in-person meetings to phone calls so I could work outside of the tri-state area.

And then my mom and I had to pick our outfits. I know it sounds easy, but it’s what I spend the most time on, every single campaign. (I have been through every page of the women’s section on Macy’s.com a few times trying to pick out perfect outfits.) I have to take into consideration what photographs well (flattering in person doesn’t always translate to a photographable outfit), what will fit my body (for example, I know for different brands that dresses are better for my body or the pants always fit without tailoring), what will convert well for my audience (e.g. price points), and (of course) what I actually like. There’s also taking into account what brands want to promote and what is actually available. So many times I’ve found something cute, only to find out it’s low in stock or completely sold out. Picking out an outfit with my mom took on an entirely new level of coordination because I had to have my mom pick out her outfit and then figure out a way to get my outfit to also coordinate, while still being photographable, flattering, convertible, and available… and something I liked.

I’m sure every blogger has their own system, but I start by opening up every single product I remotely find interesting in a new tab. Then I review what I’ve opened and start narrowing it down. I did Talbots selections on a three and a half hour train ride, and it took just about the entire train ride to finalize my mom’s outfit direction and come up with an outfit for myself that matched.

The worst is when the product sells out before the post goes up, or something doesn’t fit when it shows up, or the brand doesn’t want something to be promoted because it’s low in inventory or a low-margin product. Luckily with this Talbots campaign, we only had tiny, fixable issues. They sent my mom two sizes of everything so we could know everything fit perfectly (and she sent back the sizes that didn’t work) and one of the items my mom picked out sold out, but there was an easy replacement that switched in seamlessly. I actually had planned on wearing a yellow vest with my outfit, but when I tried it on, it didn’t look the way I wanted it to, so I went sans-vest and made the scarf more of a hero piece.

I had an extra detail to hammer out. My photographer couldn’t travel to Tampa for the shoot. With another shoot, I’d likely have more time to be more flexible to coordinate with various schedules, but this was the only day that worked for my mom, Talbots, and me… so I was just going to have to be flexible. I originally started to look for local photographers BUT, again, the timing was an issue. I was going to need the photographer to either hand over RAW files on the spot (which is usually not what photographers want to do) or pick selects on the spot and have them edited within two hours (again, not something photographers want to do). The next best option was going to set up my camera and have someone else take the photo, so I could edit myself. My mom’s best friend volunteered and, honestly, the photos came out even better than I could have imagined. We were both totally at ease since we were shooting with someone we knew versus working with a professional photographer we would have only met a minute before the shoot started. (THANK YOU CAREL!!!!)

We went shot for about 40 minutes inside Oxford Exchange, which thank goodness has air conditioning and good lighting. There was no way we could have shot outside in the Florida sun in our fall outfits!! Then I ran home, uploaded photos, narrowed down my selects, edited those, uploaded them into Dropbox to send over for approval along with my caption for approval. The Talbots PR team was on standby so they sent over the tweaks (an item had a name change, they added one word to the caption, and let me know which hashtags to use) but otherwise, everything was approved to post!

The final product!

Sometimes I’ve completely moved on to every other campaign I’m working on by the time I get to post some piece of sponsored content. For this one, it was actually nice for me to be able to post it in “real time,” (i.e. only hours after it was taken). But this is RARE in the blogging world because usually, brands need weeks to send everything through all the layers (brand, agency, legal, PR, marketing, etc.) for approval. I also do my best to respond to questions/comments, which, while easy, does take time.

Talbots

I’m wearing: Scarf, Sweater, Jeggings, Loafers

Meesh is wearing: Jacket, Pearls, Shirt, Jeans, Loafers

(all items c/o Talbots!)

Carly the Prepster Michele Heitlinger

There’s so much that goes into one Instagram, even though it takes less than 15 seconds for the photo to upload into the app. It’s easy to look at it and think, “Oh it’s just one photo, and it takes half a second to snap a photo!” But there’s just so much thought and coordination that goes into it.

After sharing my thoughts on social media earlier this week, I thought you might be interested in a little behind the scenes of a sponsored post? Let me know if this was interesting or totally boring… something new or something you already knew!

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70 Comments

Sydney

This was absolutely brilliant, Carly. I’m thrilled that you were able to share how much goes on behind a “simple Instagram photo”! Thank you so much for all of the fascinating details!! It really helps us understand how much thought you put into every single campaign you’re part of. I was especially interested in reading about how you choose your outfits!

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Morgan

Love this! I never understand how people don’t get what goes into your job! The amount of planning, communication, organization and just plain attentiveness that goes into your posts is amazing. It’s overwhelming to think about and honestly, I’m sure you could step into many senior corporate positions with ease based on your experience.

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Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

This was super interesting! There are so many aspects I hadn’t considered, but what I found especially interesting was all the consideration you put into sharing products on your blog. Naive little ol’ me thought that liking the product yourself was the only thing that mattered, and whilst that is perhaps the most important consideration for yourself, there are many other aspects that come into play as well. Thank you for all the effort you put into your blog and navigating the balance between making this a space for you and also for us. I also really admire how you’re so on top of communication and make it a priority to respond on time, whether that’s to brands or to readers with questions. I remember you mentioning this on your blog before and it really made an impression on me. It really isn’t too much to ask to respond in a timely manner, but it leaves such an impression on the recipient, not only solidifying you as someone they can count on but also showing them that you value them and their time. I’m pretty anal about my own inbox as well, but once in awhile I get an email that I’m not ready to respond to, and especially at those times, I remind myself of how important it is to be efficient about communication — even a quick email informing the person on the other end that you need a few extra days to respond makes a difference! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

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Celine

I am nowhere near being a blogger in any capacity, but I read through every word of this and found it SUPER interesting! Very cool to see behind the scenes of the posts on my feed every day. Hope you had a great trip and you both look so cute 🙂

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Jovita

I loved reading this, Carly! A fascinating and honest look at something that (as a non-blogger) I don’t know much about. Love reading posts in this vein!

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Sam

Those photos of you and your mom are gorgeous! It was really interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes with brands and sponsored posts. I really admire your commitment to transparency in terms of sponsored posts and products!

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Bianca

First of all you and your mom look amazing! I would totally wear and buy those outfits for me (and my mom)! I love Talbots!! Secondly, thank you so much for sharing the behind the scenes of what goes into posts like this. You’re right- it seems so quick and simple, and its good to know how much you work to provide us with
thoughtful and stylish content.

Thank you Carly!

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Caitlin

This is so interesting! Thanks for being so transparent and REAL about the blogging world. Your “behind the scenes” posts are always my favorites. I also still have yet to make it to Oxford Exchange and every post you have that features it makes me want to go even more (I’m a Naples gal!)

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Elizabeth

Loved this post! Not only did I love the content, but the behind the scenes pulling the curtain back aspect as well. I have been reading for almost 8 years now and this is my first comment and hoping things like this can help you feel more authentic after your tipping point post!

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Samantha

This was fascinating! All the beautiful content can look so effortless and it so interesting to hear all the not so fun business behind it! Thanks for sharing Carly!

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lucy

So interesting to hear all the “back story” of these campaigns. The photos are great– love the clothes, and love that you and your mom did this together.

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Erin

This was super interesting– but I felt calling the employees of the agencies or companies “girls” or “PR girls” was disappointing. It made them sound belittled and not taken very seriously, even as grown professionals. Language like that is something to think about, especially in terms of supporting other women in their professions.

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Dani

I’m pretty sure the professional and respectful way Carly treats those women is much more important than her choice of noun.

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Martha

I had the same thought. Language is important. I might say I’m going out to dinner with “the girls,” but I wouldn’t be happy to be called that in a professional capacity.

Other than that, I thought the post was super interesting as well!

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Kate

I LOVED this post! Thank you for being so transparent and sharing the process. It would be great to see more posts on the business end of blogging!

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Colleen Mattingly

I love this post! I am one of those “PR Girls” so I always find it interesting to hear about the other side and what Influencers process is. When things get crazy hectic PR people often wonder why influencers can’t turn around content faster, why they charge so much, etc., so this is really helpful to read! And I love the photos 🙂 My mom and I both love Talbots, too!

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Markéta

I’m really glad you made this post – it was so interesting! I’ve read some posts/watched videos on this topic but I still feel this was very informative – mainly because of the example (these posts are more “in general”). Thank you!

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martha bryan

So glad Talbots is looking fashionable and classic again, I’ll try them for some fall clothes. This mother/daughter campaign is brilliant!

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Julia

This was a fun read! I knew blogging was work but this behind the scenes showed me how much work actually goes into the end product.

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Taylor

I am by no means a blogger, but I LOVE the idea for this post. I love following bloggers that I find motivational and relatable (like you!) but have zero clue what actually goes on to make blogging happen. Like… zero, none. This was so informative and I can picture it so much better now that you’ve given us a glimpse into the process. Plus the added bonus of you and Meesh, Love it!!

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Christina

One of your best posts!! And despite having followed you since…maybe 2009, I didn’t actually know any of this information! It really helped explain what you always say – that so much more is on the back end than we, as readers, ever have any idea about!

plus your mom is adorable, as always 🙂

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Kim from 3 peanuts

Carly,

You and Meesh look fabulous. I love the tweed jacket and the scarf. I am so glad scarves are back!!! I saved all mine from the 90’s and added a few more in the past few weeks. They are such a chic accessory.

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Marisa

Loved this post! It is so interesting to hear about the influencer side of social media campaigns. I work in corporate PR but really enjoyed hearing about the brand/creative strategy.

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Lyss

Carly, I’ve been reading your blog for years and this is now one of my favorite posts. I loved seeing a “peak behind the curtain” and it puts into perspective what bloggers mean when they say “it looks easy but it’s not.” Please do more posts like this! Peraphs a post about lessons you’ve learned about negotiating for yourself/as a woman?

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Camilla

Really interesting to read about all the details that go into sponsored posts! Thanks for giving us the inside view but also keeping the tone conversational. You and your mom are so cute, too.

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Karin allen

Have you done any posts on negotiating? I feel like that could be so helpful to girls just getting out of school or those negotiating that first or second promotion.

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Paula

Wow this was so interesting to read! I’m glad you posted it and I got a glimpse of what goes into a post. I really had no idea how much work it is.

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Caroline

This is by far my most favorite post you’ve ever done!! Thank you for being real and sharing everything with us!

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Holly

I really appreciated this post! Over the years I’ve followed you and other bloggers, I’ve always heard about the hustle and stress behind the job, but have always been dying for an inside look into what that actually looks like on a day to day basis. As someone who’s not in the social media influencer world, I’ve always wondered how sponsored posts work and how a career is built around managing those relationships. Thank you for shedding so much light into this process! It certainly puts some of your other posts about the stress of your job into context.

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Patricia

So interesting! Thank you so much sharing for this ‘behind the scenes’ look at working with sponsors.

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Arlene

I found this interesting, but what blows my mind is how do bloggers even learn to do all these???

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Swapna

Very interesting!! Love the behind scenes look at what goes into all the hard work you go through for a successful account!

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Jessi

Love, love, loved this! Not at all involved with blogging, but it was just a fun, informative read!

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Phyllis Gigandet

Mom and daughter looking great! Wore Talbot’s top to UGA game today! Took my understanding of blogging to a new level.

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Alison

Thank you so much for sharing! So interesting and enlightening to see what goes into your work. I find it fascinating! Love these behind the scenes views.

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Jade

Hi Carly,

Thank you for sharing what actually goes into a sponsored post. I’ve always wondered what really happens behind the scenes of these campaigns, and bloggers never seem to share that part of their jobs.
It makes me appreciate the time and effort you put into your content even more!

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Briana

I enjoyed reading this. I’ve loved fashion my entire life, but after graduating college, wound up at a job that has nothing related to it. My only hope is to blog and I have started to get into the introductory stages of it. It’s difficult with all of the bloggers out there, already getting sponsored, with a huge following. All I need is someone like you who is honest about how it works! Otherwise, how are we all going to know? There’s not a lot of information online and I’ve always wondered what goes on “behind the scenes”. I’ve actually been following your friend longer than you, who I’ll keep anonymous. She seems so “secretive” about the internal of her blogging. While I love her and found you through her, I appreciate your honesty and informative approach to your blog. It helps people and makes you more of a genuine human being. I appreciate that. Nothing against your friend who I’m sad to say exudes this secretiveness behavior, but we all appreciate forwardness and honesty when it comes to the ease and difficulties of blogging. Thank you!

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Julie

VERY interesting post! I will never look at a photo again without thinking about all the work that went into it.

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Rebecca

As someone who reads many blogs but knows nothing about blogging, this was fascinating to read! Thank you so much for sharing!

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Caroline

Wow, this was fascinating! I love learning more about how all this sponsored stuff works because it seems so mysterious from the outside, so thanks for sharing Carly!

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Grace

I loved reading this! So interesting and something I have always wondered about. Gives me a newfound appreciation for bloggers.

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Jess

Long time reader, never posted, but I found this fascinating and very much appreciated seeing the business aspect to being a influencer. Honestly, it makes me value the content more when I know the work behind it. Thank you for sharing.

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Laura

This was absolutely fascinating. I’m not going to lie – I’ve often thought, “How can I get into blogging in a new or different way?” simply because it all looks so easy and fun…and you get lots of amazing products! While I know there’s a lot more to it, this level of detail gives me so much respect for it. I had never thought about how much thought would need to go into a single outfit, for example. It’s pretty remarkable. Thanks again!
PS: Your Talbot’s outfits are just the best! I love the way your scarf is styled.

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Sarah

Since I’m not a blogger, I love this kind of post that gives us insight into your business! Thanks for sharing!

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Nicole Wren

This post was SO insightful! I’ve wondered what you all go through with these posts before to make it a full time job. This was so eye-opening into how much time and effort goes into an article- as well as how much you put thought into what you post. I really appreciate that and thoroughly enjoy following your blog! I love your posts and articles!

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Taylor

This was so interesting! Also, I love seeing you and your mom together. These photos are the sweetest.

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Caitlin

What a process for sponsored posts! Thank you for doing this, and for putting so much work in to each post for us-love reading them!

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A Girl, A Style

Loved this post, Carly! Like you I know just *how* much work goes into one brand collaboration or sponsored post. Because I previously worked full time, I could so rarely say yes to things purely because I know I couldn’t shoot, turn around and deliver a great end result before the deadline. But I know what a tremendous juggling act it is to do full time and you make it look so seamless (which means you’re doing your job well!).

Briony xx

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Teresa

I absolutely loved this post! I’m always a fan of getting to see behind-the-scenes (I love hearing about people’s morning and nighttime routines, and if someone has forgotten to hang curtains and I get to catch a glimpse of the inside of their house, I’m thrilled) and this post provided such fascinating information that I would have never known otherwise. Thank you for taking the time to write it and for being so open about all of the details. Also, the pictures are gorgeous!

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