By Katie Cattell, Copywriter
Here at Ahalogy, it’s no secret that our influencers are at the core of everything we do. From their gorgeous imagery to unique creative vision, we would be lost without our Ahalogy Partners—a network of over 5,500+ content creators across the Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Lifestyle, and Parenting categories. Just as no two blogs look the same, each of our influencers have a different story to share. Check out the following Partner Spotlight interview to learn more about what it takes to become an Ahalogy Partner.
Amy Loochtan is a six-year veteran of the influencer marketing world. With a full-time job and a new baby, Amy is no newcomer to the challenges of juggling everyday life with blogging. On her site, Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins, Amy covers everything from lifestyle to recipes to—most recently—motherhood. Head on over to her site to see how Amy mixes a little humor and realness into everything she does.
How did your blog Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins get started?
So my husband was in medical school and I actually moved down to Athens, Ohio—that’s where we did our graduate degrees—and I rented this terrible apartment. I didn’t have a job at the time and I was about to start grad school so I was going to be living on the stipend that I was getting. I think the rent was $400 a month. It was in an old house and it was terrible.
There was a really old fireplace in the apartment and I just remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is my first grown-up apartment by myself. It’s filthy, but I’m going to make it work.” I started googling, “How do you decorate a fireplace?” This was in 2010. I had never really read blogs before and I stumbled upon some home decor blogs about mantle decorating and whatnot. Somehow, stumbling upon those decor blogs eventually led me to finding fashion, style, and lifestyle blogs. I quickly became immersed in the home decor side of things—the home decor blogs and more the lifestyle stuff because I just loved them.
When we just started out the pictures were terrible, looking back at those early posts now I’m like, oh dear heavens. This photography is terrible, and you know the writing is terrible, and the outfits are terrible, but it’s also fun to look back sometimes and see how far it’s come.
I work with a photographer pretty regularly now. I also have a better DSLR, I’ve watched hundreds of YouTube videos, and what started as kind of just fashion has morphed into more lifestyle because that’s really what I’m interested in, that’s what my life is like. It’s been quite the transition from what it started as but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s just been such an amazing and crazy opportunity.
When you're choosing sponsored collaborations, what kind of things do you look for in a brand partner?
I think that’s a really good question because I think a common misconception with influencers from people that don't really know how they work is that we just will blog about anything for money. That is really not the case for my blog.
I can’t speak for other influencers, but I am very picky about the collaborations that I accept or that I apply to or that I even entertain because if it’s not authentic to my readership, then they’re going to be like, oh, she just did this for money.
Early on I would accept things, whether it be product or paid opportunity, and then I would get the stuff and be like, why did I do this? This is so not me. So I really try at this point to make sure that it's really authentic to my life and that it's also authentic to my readership and what they respond to because they're going to be able to see right through me. A lot of these people have been following me since I started my blog 6 years ago and if I post something that isn’t me they’re gonna know it.
I try to be real with brands because I never want to sour any kind of relationship. If it’s not a good fit, I still want to be very polite. I always try to let them know that I'm happy to accept if you would like to send something to me, but if it's not a good fit then it won't be posted. I try to be really upfront with anybody that wants to collaborate or that hears what I do. This has to fit into what I'm doing and if it's not a good fit then it just doesn’t happen.
An example of branded content from Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins. See the full recipe for Dr. Pepper Cookies here.
How do you balance your blog with your personal and your professional life?
I’m a little bit different because I feel like a lot of the bigger influencers actually blog full time. I currently still have a full-time job. I mean, I’m on maternity leave right now, but ever since I started blogging 6 years ago—I started in 2012—I’ve carried a full-time job, it really was just this hobby thing that started. I never thought that this was something that I could make money with. When I started influencers really weren’t profiting off their blogs, or very few were. It’s definitely always a challenge to find the time to do it but I’ve always said that you make time for what you love and, for me, blogging has definitely been something that has always been a stress reliever.
How has your blog grown and changed over the years?
I think I definitely started just as style blogging and fashion. We bought a house when we moved to North Carolina. That was really exciting because that introduced me to the home decor area. We were pretty much newlyweds when we moved, so I was making dinners more often too. My husband was a resident and I was working communications at the time so we didn’t have a huge budget. It was kind of like, oh I’d love to show people how to make healthy meals or desserts or be able to bake or to cook or anything or be able to decorate but everything in moderation on a budget because we’re not millionaires.
I always want to try to be real with my readers so it was like, well, I’m also decorating a house, do you guys want to see this? Do you want to see my recipes? You know, a lot of my readers love my home decor stuff, some it does the best. Some of my recipes do the best. I could see that my readers really liked it so I kept doing it. When I announced that I was pregnant on my blog, it was like that was just opening another door for Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins. Now I can blog about motherhood. Even though it’s not for all of my readers, there's such an amazing group of them that are mothers or that are expecting. People have reached out like, “oh i’m so excited you're expecting, you know, so am I” or “I have 4 kids.” It’s been another avenue that I can explore.
When I first started, I would never have dreamed in my life that somebody would pay me to do a sponsored post with them. If you’re going into being an influencer to get free stuff or to make money, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. You know, the money is great, the free perks are great, all the perks are great, don’t get me wrong. But the readership and the loyalty to your followers, that means so much more.
At the end of the day, there’s one common theme amongst our Ahalogy Partners—they value their readership base and the integrity of their work above any material benefits that their site might bring them. Here at Ahalogy, we appreciate that mindset because it leads to more authentic partnerships between brands and influencers. Stay tuned for next month’s Partner Spotlight to hear a fresh perspective on what it’s like to work in influencer marketing.