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Most of you know I’m a stay at home working mom. I own my own photography business and working from home can be tough with kids. So we take lots and lots of snack breaks in between. I like to feed them what I’ll snack on myself and I love that these Outshine fruit bars are good for them. They’re seriously obsessed with these fruit bars. Happy kids equals happy momma so I can continue on working!

In partnership with Outshine Fruit Bars.

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Best part about being a fashion blogger in Chicago? All the amazing places to shoot. Chicago is so beautiful, vibrant, busy, and so full of life. If you’ve ever visited Chicago, you’ll know why this city is my first love. If you’re ever visiting Chicago, don’t ever hesitate to contact me because I can talk about my city all day. Lol.

This shoot here was taken at my favorite neighborhood, Wicker Park. I love that this James Goldcrown bleeding hearts graffiti wall is everywhere (New York, Texas). I read somewhere it’s one of the most Instagrammable photo. Pre-kids, the Giant and I used to spend the afternoon just people watching around here. Nowadays, we spend our people watching at the playground. Lol. So I’ve told you what I love about my city. Tell me what you love about yours?

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Hi everyone! I know most bloggers have been blogging their fall fashion for a month already. Me, not so much. Lol. It hasn’t exactly kicked in yet for me. I took a week off of blogging last week for a much needed break. I was mentally exhausted and also mourning the loss of summer. I love summer and I’m living in the wrong region. Lol. 

I have two kids in school during the week so I can’t really travel far during the weekday mornings like we normally would. By this time every year I have already hit every pumpkin patch with the kids so I feel like I’m missing out on the fall activities. I can’t even catch up on weekends because I’m booked to shoot every weekend. Busy, busy till we leave for Mexico in three weeks. Woo hoo!

I’m finally catching up to some looks I wore last month that I never got around to blogging. There will be more to come later this week. This look can easily be transitioned to fall by throwing a denim jacket over it or a light cardigan. What are some of your favorite fall activities?

Till next time!

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How did I gain 40k Instagram followers in one year?? It didn’t happen overnight. I am first and foremost proud of my efforts to launch my blog a year ago, a passion project that I had been kicking around in my head for quite some time before actually doing it. This August I recently celebrated my one-year blog anniversary, which makes me so happy I want to cry. I’ve gained a solid platform to voice my sartorial opinion as a fashionable, modern day momma, and along the way, I’ve even gained over 40k followers on Instagram – that’s the icing on the cake! Even now, sometimes I sit back and ask myself, How did that happen?

So for any aspiring or current blogger who is interested in what worked for me, I hope you will take my top 8 tips on how to gain followers with a grain of salt. You will have to discover your own ideal strategy, but with these tips, I want to encourage all bloggers, especially newbies on the scene, to be encouraged to step outside the box when it comes to expanding your reach. And don’t forget, at the end of the day, I always emphasize quality over quantity. Numbers matter to potential brand sponsors, but that can take you so far – you will only establish longevity and create and retain loyal followers by being authentic, thoughtful, and engaging with your content.

1. Network by commenting on other bloggers’ posts. Blogging is all about community, and these days Instagram and Facebook is where the interaction is mainly happening. Start networking by commenting on other bloggers’ Instagram photos and on blog posts. To stand out, be sure to leave a thoughtful, specific comment, like “Love that pop of red from your bag!” rather than just simply “Love it!” or “Gorgeous!” Commenting on other bloggers’ posts not only serves a purpose for getting your name out there, but also helps to lift up fellow bloggers. Win-win!

2. Follow other bloggers on social media. This may seem obvious, but in addition to commenting and liking other bloggers’ content on their social media and blog, don’t forget to follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and Facebook. Remember, you want to get your name out there in all social media channels!

3. Work your personal network. This is a good place to start recruiting readers. When you first launch a blog, your readers will mostly consist of your family and friends. Share your stories within your existing networks and don’t be shy about asking friends to like or comment on your post. Any feedback is good feedback.

4. Join relevant online groups and forums. I belong to a closed Facebook group called RewardStyle Bloggers, where I have access to almost 400 like-minded fashion and style bloggers. There are daily threads about brand collaborations, fashion trends, increasing sales, and basically anything else you can think to ask! Belonging to a group like this can help you gauge what other like-minded individuals (bloggers and readers) are looking for in terms of content and trends, as well as give you sound advice from more seasoned bloggers.

5. Offer giveaways and competitions. Engage your readers with giveaways and competitions. My very first giveaway was to celebrate the launch of my blog. I gave away a $50 Amazon gift card (out of my own pocket) at random to one of my followers on Instagram – albeit, a very modest gesture but appropriate when first starting out – and just one year later, I am now invited by other big-time bloggers to be a part of far grander “Instagram loop giveaways.” These have proven to be a great way to gain a large audience very quickly – during one loop giveaway I even gained 800 followers in one day!

6. Create affiliate links. One way that bloggers gain followers (and make money) is to use affiliate links. You sign up for a service like Reward Style or ShopStyle.it, and once you are accepted, you can begin creating special shopping links that you use whenever there’s an option for a reader to buy something from your site. If they buy, you typically earn a few cents (or more, depending on the actual price of the item). You can post these special links as a widget in your blog post, as well as in your Instagram caption, and readers can click to receive a shoppable email with direct links to the products. Obviously, your readership needs to be quite large to really profit much from this, but it’s also a good way to attract more followers who want to keep up with what you’re wearing and your hand-picked recommendations.

7. Post consistently. A general rule of thumb is to post at least 3 times a week on your blog, and 2-4 times a day on Instagram. This is what worked for me, but it may take some trial and error on your part to discover your own ideal posting formula. Too busy for this? There are apps that allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time, like HootSuite and TakeOff.

8. Tag, tag, tag. I’m not talking about everyone’s favorite childhood game. I mean hashtags and geotags! Geotags allow you to tag a photo with a specific location, which allows other users to search Instagram by location and to potentially become your new follower. I talk more about the importance of hashtags here. Using hashtags and geotags on Instagram are a must if you want readers to discover you, so use relevant tags with every photo.

To read about the top 12 things I learned when starting a fashion blog, click here.

Overall, I put in around 2-3 hours a day on Instagram. When I tell people I spend that much time on it, they’re just stunned. The Giant included. But it’s MY job. I rather spend 2-3 hours a day doing a job I love and be with my kids than go to work for 8-10 hours a day 5 days a week at a job I hate. I didn’t get to 40k sitting around waiting for followers to just magically follow me. It requires work and dedication. It paid off these past couple of months with all these sponsorships and it will only go up from here.

Thanks to all my loyal readers and followers!

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Melissatakesfashion.com participates in select affiliate advertising programs. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or any related social media platforms, Melissatakesfashion.com may make a commission from that click and/or purchase. All opinions are my own, and all brands featured represent what I personally like and support.