Unleash Your Inner Cheerleader

Find Your Influence was recognized on December 13 by the Phoenix Business Journal as a finalist in their 2018 Best Place to Work (BPTW) awards, in the micro-business category. In the fall of 2018, FYI employees were surveyed and anonymously answered a series of questions to lend insights into employee engagement and satisfaction.

The five-year old FYI earned a “BPTW Score” of 95 percent! The word recurring most frequently by employees surveyed was “collaborative.” The senior leadership at Find Your Influence value people as their most important resource and 93 percent of employees surveyed recognize this.

One of the core values at FYI is “Unleash Your Inner Cheerleader” and this was demonstrated in the open-ended feedback shared by employees:

“This was my first job out of college and I am so happy with my decision to work here. Beginning my career at Find Your Influence as a new member of the workforce, my colleagues welcomed me with open arms and constantly went the extra mile to help me adjust and feel comfortable. Moreover, my coworkers and management staff have abundantly supported my goals, needs, and hobbies outside of the office. At FYI, we are always learning and working to better ourselves as well as our company as a whole. We also have TONS of fun in the office. My team all sits at one long table so we can bounce ideas off of one another, discuss, and laugh (a lot). In conclusion, I feel supported and loved at FYI and I enjoy coming to work everyday. The management has created an environment that truly is the best place to work.”

“I am strong believer in the power of an amazing team and I’m so grateful for the one we’ve built here at FYI! Our team is supportive, thoughtful and isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty. I have also been continually challenged in my role and encouraged to explore my passions and become the leader I had also hoped to be. I’m incredibly thankful for my time at FYI and would highly suggest the business to anyone – friend, family or any acquaintance I meet!”

“This organization feels like family. Everyone here works hard not only to achieve their own goals but to support everyone across the organization. It’s unlike anything I’ve been a part of before.”

“Our company is on the cutting edge of new age social marketing in the influencer space and I don’t know of any company who could do it better.”

“There is nothing that I do not love about working for FYI, so it’s very easy to find myself  recommending the organization to others!”

Get Smart with Influencer Marketing in 2019

It’s 2019 and everyone is talking about influencer marketing. How is your brand part of the conversation? What’s your story?

On March 28, Find Your Influence will host a day-long learning event for brands and agencies to dive deep into all aspects of influencer marketing. Appropriately titled, “Ignite: Influencer Marketing Bootcamp,” you will gain a greater understanding of the important role your legal team plays in this marketing tactic. Hear from experts about the different approaches to measure influencer marketing campaigns that secure buy-in from your C-suite. You’ll leave with an improved grasp on how to select the right influencers for your campaigns.

Think you’re ready to put the internet’s most powerful voices to work for your brand? Take the next step and register to attend Ignite: Influencer Marketing Bootcamp. Take advantage of early-bird pricing before Thursday, January 31 and save $250. When you act now,  you can re-invest the savings back into your influencer marketing campaigns!

Register Today!

Happy Holidays from the Find Your Influence Family

‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through each day, the letters were written to the man with the sleigh.

Each FYI team member thoughtfully crafted their letter to Santa in this year’s holiday video.

2018 was a year of growth for all of us here with the Find Your Influence family. We grew our team, refreshed our website and our expanded our platform offering. We added FYI Studios and FYI Talent Management, added babies and puppies and moved into a new office. Overall, we are thankful for our clients, our influencers, our team and our leadership.

Happy holidays and cheers to great 2019.


Bloggers: The Original Influencers

Social media has been around for more than a decade but content creators even precede today’s dominant social platforms. The term weblog, or blog, was normalized in the late 1990’s when individuals created content about a topic or idea from which they could speak about with experience and passion. Bloggers began as the original content creators who then became influencers when they created a following through an RSS feed.

In the beginning

Liz Della Croce has been blogging since 2010. Today her blog, The Lemon Bowl, has seen exponential growth.

Liz lost 65 pounds inspiring her to take up blogging to share her weight-loss journey. “My blog started nine years ago, back when this wasn’t a career,” Liz explains. “Back then you weren’t writing a blog to make money. There was no money to be made.” In order for bloggers like Liz to create content and photography, a lot of time and energy is invested. Once the content is created, the next step is to promote so an audience can find and engage. All of this is a great deal of work resulting in a net payment of $0. You have to be genuinely excited about something if you’re not getting paid to do it.

When blogs originated, it was often driven by pure passion. Why else would someone invest so much without the promise of a payday? “People talk a lot about authenticity and that’s what it was for me,” says Liz. “My business is based on people finding my content through searches, like Google, when they’re searching for a helpful content like a simple recipe to make for dinner, a travel guide to a destination or tips for weight loss.”

Evergreen content wins

When you create content that doesn’t expire and can be meaningfully used any day of the year, that’s winning content. Often called ‘evergreen’, this content is the key to success for any blogger. The recipes on The Lemon Bowl will be available forever. And since most of us eat three meals each day, a blog with a recipe isn’t going to expire.

For Liz, it’s about creating something that is helpful to someone else. “As you may imagine, most healthy recipes don’t go as viral as a chocolate brownie with chocolate drizzle and ooey, gooey caramel. But I don’t care. I’m more concerned about solving problems for my readers and my community.”

Often the most successful bloggers have a background in communications or business. Liz earned her degree in hospitality administration from Boston University. “After college I worked for Marriott International for five years in regional sales,” said Liz. “I have also worked for the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as the Grand Rapids (MI) Convention and Visitors Bureau, so that’s the inspiration for my travel writing too.”

Beyond recipes, Liz’s blog also includes a handful of travel guides to various destinations. “I’m a huge fan of evergreen content with travel guides too,” Liz explains. “I want it to be useful when someone goes to visit that location. I don’t want to include a festival that happens only once and then when you go to that city, the festival isn’t going on. I want to talk things that will be helpful regardless of when someone comes across my website.

Blogging today

Some individuals today start creating content with the sole purpose of getting paid. They may be doing it to pay their bills or save to send a child to college. “Some new bloggers create a business for blogging. I think what happens is they can lose their authenticity because they’re more focused on SEO, or what’s going to go viral on Pinterest instead of what they’re really pumped up to share,” Liz explains

Liz has made blogging her primary salary for the last five years. Her blog remains her primary source for content. “I look at other social media channels, like Instagram, as an extension of my brand.” Once new content is created, she will share via her various social media platforms, each time driving users back to The Lemon Bowl.

“Many influencers today don’t even have a website,” Liz highlights. Once they post an image, a recipe or an idea to a social channel, it’s not easy to access 60 days later, proving the value of the original content creators on blogs.

The future

Social media “stars” are born every day. But not everyone survives and thrives. Liz offers advice to future content creators, “If you’re not so damn excited about what you’re writing about, don’t write it! Your followers are savvy and are just going to see through it.” When a blogger builds up a significant following, brands are going to reach out to engage for paid content. In these instances, Liz advises that for every offer you decline, you’re making room for a much better offer. “Be protective of your brand. Have faith in the long game and don’t feel like you have to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. That will help you in the long run creating the most authentic brand.”

When asked what the future holds for The Lemon Bowl, Liz was quick to respond that she’s not looking to sell. It’s easy to see the pride she has for all she has created.

5 Tips for Influencers to Secure Brand Partners

No matter what level of influencer you are, it can feel impossible to navigate the waters of large-scale brand partnerships. It can be easy to feel discouraged when you are working incredibly hard to build your content and you aren’t seeing results. Here are a few useful tips you can start using today to improve your opportunity to work with key brands.

Tip 1: Think “brand friendly” not “brand safe”

Being “Brand Friendly” can seem like an extremely daunting task when you first hear it. What does this mean? Well, it’s different for everyone. One way to look at it is if you want to post a picture of you hugging your boyfriend, but you’re in a sports bra, you may be concerned that this isn’t “brand safe”. This would be a point to think ‘if a brand doesn’t like this picture and won’t work with me because of that, is that a brand I want to be working with?” Being “brand friendly” means that you are making yourself “friendly” to the brands you want to work with. Even some brands prefer not to work with vegans, that doesn’t mean vegan content isn’t “brand safe”, it just means that vegan content isn’t brand friendly to that specific brand. Long story short, be appealing to the brands you want to work with. But stay authentic to you.

Tip 2: Make it easy for the brand

This may seem like an obvious one, but it can be missed and dismissed by so many. This isn’t 2007 anymore and influencers shouldn’t be afraid to share basic information. The truth is that brands will be looking at your page to identify specific information in order to work with you. These include:

  • Your first and last name
  • The state/province you live in
  • Your contact email

The truth is a lot of the time this information can be found by digging, but a lot of brands don’t have the time and will automatically move on to the next influencer if this information isn’t readily available.

Tip 3: Live your bio

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is super important. In almost every Instagram bio, influencers will list three-four things which describe them. For example, Chelsea Bird:” Desert living with @CitizenHD! Sharing our everyday life, style + home in PHX. Baby boy coming in November”. From here you would expect to see pictures on her feed of her husband, her style, her home in Phoenix and things related to her pregnancy. You will notice from her feed that Chelsea does a good job of including all of these pieces in her content.

To break it down, make sure you are posting about the topics you list in your bio. A simple way to achieve this is to break each post into categories. If you claim to be “a fashion blogger talking about college, travel and my favorite cat Fluffy” you can schedule content as follows:

  • 1st post – fashion
  • 2nd post – college/study
  • 3rd post – travel
  • 4th post – cat/pet

Tip 4: Know your niche

When first starting your “social journey”, it may be difficult to nail down your niche, but you can’t be everything. Finding a niche can make you more appealing to brands because it will be easier to pin point what interests your audience. Brands are always looking for influencers posting on specific topics to exactly target the audience for their product. A car company would want an influencer who speaks primarily on cars to promote their product instead of a blogger who loves cars but posts about everything from cat food to laundry detergent.

Tip 5: Engage with the community

An engaged following is always going to be important to a brand. It doesn’t matter if you have a million followers if you are only getting 1,000 likes per post. Taking time to engage with your followers will encourage them to engage with you.

On the same note, engaging with those in your blogging niche can also help get eyes on you. If you collaborate with another blog or often engage with another blogger, you create a chain that a brand can follow. They like blogger A so they look at blogger A’s friends and work their way down the chain until they find you. Putting yourself out in the community helps promote you and improves your chances that brands find you.

Looking to be discovered by a brand? Find Your Influence (FYI) is relied on by many of the top brands across the United States and FYI leverages proprietary technology for discovering influencers, managing campaigns and tracking metrics.  In an ever-evolving digital marketplace, FYI manages relationships with brands and pairs them with the right influencers to deliver guaranteed results. Get started and join the FYI influencer network for free today.

Don’t Judge an Influencer by Their Handle

In this day and age it can be difficult to not focus completely on someone’s Instagram or social handle. When starting your social journey this is one of the first major choices you have to make: how will I be known? For many it can be a completely pressure-filled situation where there is really no good outcome. You may choose to use your own name like this, or have something more descriptive for your content like this. But the truth is, no matter what you select, brands and advertisers will ultimately judge you by your handle.

So what does this mean? Well, it can mean different things for influencers then it does for brands and advertisers.

The brand/advertiser perspective

Like books, influencers should not be judged by their covers. An influencer is so much more than the available handle they chose at the creation of their channel. Yes, @basicbloggerbitch may not seem like the ideal name for a brand, but that name draws attention and speaks to the brand the blogger is promoting. By looking at the name you may not know that Alex likes to post about food, her community and her friends. Every influencer has branding for one reason or another and if you are wanting to run an influencer campaign you should spend time researching the influencer.

The influencer perspective

Not every company is for you and just because you don’t fit a certain demographic doesn’t mean you should feel the need to change your brand. Your authenticity is your biggest money maker! The right brands are out there and are getting ready to find you.

Working with Find Your Influence is the quickest way for influencers to be discovered by brands and advertisers. Get your journey started by learning more about Find Your Influence today.

The Men of Influencer Marketing: Timothy Dahl

This is part five of an ongoing series where we will come to know more about the men of influencer marketing.

Social media influencers specialize in a variety of areas. From fitness to fashion and from families to food, influencers share their perspectives on a variety of topics with their followers. However, most of those voices are female. I was shocked to learn that male influencers represent just a fraction of all influencers online.

I decided to dig in to learn more about the men of influencer marketing. I’ve had many fun conversations with some of these men and have even joked with my colleagues about creating “The Men of Influencer Marketing” calendar.

Timothy Dahl is the DIY editor at Popular Mechanics. He’s also an influencer focusing on DIY projects where he often incorporates his family into his content. Timothy was kind enough to connect with me on Friday, October 19 to help me learn more about what he does. The following is a snapshot of our conversation:

Good afternoon, Timothy. You’re the DIY editor at Popular Mechanics, did that start after you became a social media influencer or was that where you kicked things off?

“No, that came after. So, if I want to take it way back, I had a job at “This Old House.” I was working on their online team. From there I launched a couple of my own sites like Charles and Hudson and Built by Kids. That helped raise my profile enough that other folks started to reach out to me, including Popular Mechanics.”

When you go back to ‘This Old House’ where you started off, how did that get started and how did that lead to you becoming a social media influencer?

“‘This Old House’ started in the early 2000’s when social media was really just coming on and at that point it was more about blogging and building your voice that way. For me, I cut my teeth with ‘This Old House’ and it helped me out with the right tools to see what people are searching for and what people are reading. That’s when I started my own sites and, on the social side, I feel like influencers and bloggers jumped into that before the big brands did and got a good hold, which has worked out.”

You are the founder of Charles and Hudson, Built for Kids and Tool Crave. What can you tell me about each of these brands?

“Charles and Hudson is the first one I started in 2005. I had the opportunity when ‘This Old House’ was not taking into account all of the submissions that different home bloggers were sending in so I made Charles and Hudson to show these builds. There was a lot out there but nowhere to just check it all out so that’s how Charles and Hudson started, then it just rolled into things other than DIY.

Built by Kids started seven years ago when we found out we were going to be parents and we learned that crafting isn’t really our thing. My wife and I are really into DIY and we’re really into tools. We wanted to introduce our child to more than just tablets and iPads. That’s how Built by Kids started.

Tool Crave is just another extension of that. It’s really focused on tools and people’s obsession with tools. It’s more so a peek inside some of the more popular makers and builders out there and what tools they actually use.”

I’ve seen your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Is that where most of your focus is or do you use other social channels too?

“Those channels are where I really focus. I’ve done some work on Pinterest and I definitely use YouTube as well. I have a channel on there for Charles and Hudson and my wife and I recently created a new YouTube channel called The Dahl House. We bought a house last year, and we had the opportunity to do a lot of the things that we haven’t been able to do while renting for the last ten years. The episodes are based around different projects around the house.”

It’s clear that your family is really involved in what you do. How did you get to that point, or did you always know that your family was going to be a part of your content?

“Not really, not until we knew that we were going to parents. My wife started out in fashion so we had our own things but it just made sense because it’s really what our lives are about now. They’re young right now, but you know, we have a pool and a lot of different things that they are growing into around the house so it’s fun to build step stools for them and our oldest son is now passing that on to his younger brother.”

How fun! How old are your kids?

“They are 7 and 6 months old.”

Congratulations, those are fun ages! Across all of your channels and the different platforms you use, how are you building your following?

“To be honest, it’s tough! You have to really dive in. I look into analytics a lot and see what’s popular. I look into demographics, and who’s reading what. All of these different platforms have very different audiences and I want to share content that is best for them, from what they are searching for and what interests them. It’s not just about selling a product, it’s really about telling a story and on the social side there are a lot of different ways to do that.”

Is there a community of DIY influencers where you connect?

”This community has changed a lot since I started doing this. It has obviously grown a lot and people are seeing it as an opportunity to do a lot of different things. I feel it is a collaborative community. A lot of DIY YouTuber’s are collaborating and doing podcasts and sharing different projects. I’m in a couple different, private groups and we share feedback and tips and ways to improve as well as cross -promotion. I’m definitely very collaborative and there’s always enough people to work with and you can kind of find your tribe.”

Tell me about a campaign that really inspired you.

“Most recently I would say my work with Craftsman. What’s interesting about Craftsman is they’ve been around for a long time and they are one of the most iconic American brands but they’ve hit a bit of a rough patch lately because of their tie to a major brick and mortar store that is struggling. Also, in the 2000’s the quality hadn’t been as good as it had been about 50-60 years ago. They obviously rebranded, and partnered with Lowes and came out with a whole new line up of tools, power tools and garage storage. It was fun to work with a brand that everyone has had some kind of touch-point with throughout their life.”

Where do you draw your inspiration?

“It depends on what is happening in my life  at the time. If I’m writing a piece, is it because I am dealing with a crisis after my water heater broke? Then I may get inspired while fixing that and see that there are better alternatives to this big water tank, like a tankless water heater. On the DIY side, that’s where maybe some inspiration comes too, because we have projects here at our house that there are a lot of ways to tackle. What’s inspiring is kind of finding the one that works best for our family that from a design perspective works great and what fits our budget.”

What advice would you give someone who is considering becoming an influencer that you wish you had known when you started?

“If you are thinking about doing this, don’t think about just being an influencer. Think about just sharing things that you really like. The monetization and all the other things will come later. It’s really just about creating your voice, sticking with it and seeing if it resonates with your audience. If you have something interesting, then people will really respond.”

Is there anything more I should know that I didn’t think to ask?

“This work is something that when you’re in it, you’re in it because you love it so much and because you’re having a fun time doing it. It’s hard to go wrong doing something like that. Some people are in it for the wrong reasons and they try it for a bit but then they are out after a few months. You’re able to really create the kind of life you want to live and its fun!”

Yes, It’s November and We’re Talking Resolutions

No one really starts thinking about their New Year’s resolutions in November. But what if we got a head start so those health-related resolutions were already a habit by January 1? Maybe you’re not ready to prioritize those resolutions just yet but wouldn’t it be great to better understand some of the health and fitness trends for 2019?

Here at Find Your Influence (FYI), we’re always learning, evolving and working to stay ahead of trends. One of the ways we achieve this is through our family of influencers, like Sarah Dussault. Self-described as “The OG Fitness YouTuber,” Sarah has her finger on the pulse of fitness and has offered up some tips, exclusive to Find Your Influence, about how to set yourself up for success in the new year. We’re sharing her valuable insights, so you too can be ahead of the curve.  

Positive Body Image Role Model

Sarah started making Fitness and YouTube videos in 2006. “I feel very lucky to get in early when I did,” she explained. “I was one of the first three fitness channels on YouTube.”

A lot has changed for Sarah since 2006. The social media landscape has grown. Social media influencer has become a profession. (One she’s really good at, by the way.) But that’s not it. Sarah is now the mom of two boys.

“I used to teach a lot of fitness classes and I made fitness a priority in my life,” the Boston mom explains. “I would try to work out five to six times a week. I was training for marathons. Fitness took up a ton of my time because it was something I enjoyed and it was also part of my career. Fast forward to having two kids and it’s still something I enjoy but I struggle to find that time. Instead of working out five to six days a week, I aim for three or four.”

Having a family has changed Sarah’s fitness priorities. Instead of focusing on looking fit enough to feel like she’s a fitness influencer, she shares, “It’s more about being a positive body-image role model. My health is a top priority but not the same way it was before I had kids.”

Forget the Oreos

As we near the holiday season filled with cocktail parties and sweet treats, it’s hard to know where to indulge and where to draw the line. But Sarah has the aha-answer we’ve all been looking for.

“If there are desserts at a holiday party, select the ones you can only have when you’re there at that party. For example, if someone brought Oreos, you can have those any day of the year. But, if your friend made her grandmother’s secret recipe Christmas cookies, when are you going to be able to have those again? Those are worth the splurge,” she says.

But what about family dinners during the holidays? You know you can count on cranberries, potatoes, stuffing and pie. Sarah says to give yourself a break here. “Many people say that you eat your day’s allotment of calories at Thanksgiving dinner, and that’s a lot. But you’re only doing that once.” Don’t beat yourself up when these meals aren’t a regular occurrence.

Fitness Trends with Friends

Once the gifts are opened, our focus often shifts to New Year’s resolutions. Some of the most common resolutions involve losing weight, eating healthier or going to the gym. What will the fitness and health trends be in 2019?

“I think group exercise is definitely going to be big again,” said Sarah. “People love to sweat with other people because it’s motivating. There’s also something to be said about being held accountable when you sign up for a class.”

But not everyone has the budget or access to a gym. Instead of making excuses, focus your attention instead on having a few essential pieces of equipment at home that will set you up for a good workout. There are apps, or Sarah’s fitness videos on YouTube, that can set you up for success.

A healthy lifestyle is often easier to stay committed to when your family or friends join in. “If you have friends and you love going out to dinner together, maybe instead of dinner, everybody decides, ‘let’s all go to a class at a gym’,” Sarah suggests. Accountability for a workout or a healthy meal with a friend or a partner is important because you’re less inclined to cancel.

Keep it Simple

What healthy eating plans will be trending next year? It may feel like Keto was the health conversation in 2018, however Sarah thinks it’s only getting started. “Personally, I’m not a huge fan of any diet that says bacon is better than fruit. That’s not a diet for me. But people find results. I think it might be a great way to jump-start a weight loss program but I don’t think it’s a long-term solution,” she says.

Sarah also thinks eating less meat is also going to be popular. “People are acknowledging the health benefits of a vegan diet and also the effects it has on the environment.”

When it comes to healthy meal planning for yourself and your family, the goal should always be to keep it simple. “I keep my recipes basic and simple because that’s all I really have time for these days,” explains Sarah as she gets ready to walk to pick up her son from school. “I’ve become a fan of roasting vegetables and potatoes and then have a standard protein that’s easy and simple. You can marinate the protein overnight or cook using a slow cooker.”

Be Basic

When it comes time to make those resolutions, be smart and set yourself up for success.  Be basic, not extra. For Sarah, her goal is to work out three to four days a week which isn’t always possible to do. “When I do hit my goal, I feel so good about myself!” Sarah says emphatically. ‘If my goal was to work out five times a week I would constantly be disappointed.”

Stay in-the-know and ahead of trends with FYI, from your New Year’s health resolutions to the latest consumer trends. If Sarah is “The Og Fitness YouTuber,” then Find Your Influence is “The OG Influencer Marketing Solution.” Stick with us and we will keep you informed so you’re not the last person still doing aerobics with Jane Fonda – unless it works for you, we won’t judge.

Thank you for your service, Brad Shroyer

On November 12, we recognize and remember the military veterans who have bravely and honorably served our great nation.  Brad Shroyer, UI/UX Designer at Find Your Influence, is a veteran of the United States Army.

We recently sat down with Brad to learn more about his time as an Army Specialist serving in the 1st ID.

Thank you for your service, Brad! Can you tell us about who or what inspired you to serve?

“Honestly, my motivation to serve in the Army was to pay for college. At that time, everything was generally ‘good’. It was before September 11, 2001 and it was more of a peaceful time. I was a junior at Penn State when Operation Iraqi Freedom began. I was then deployed to Baqubah, Iraq for a year.”

How old were you when you enlisted?

“I was 18 and in high school when I enlisted in the Army. My parents were supportive and proud. They understood that with four kids, money was going to be tight to send us all to college.”

Are you from a military family?

“My grandfathers were both in the military. One was in the Guadalcanal, in the Pacific, and the other one was in Germany. “

What can you tell us about the time you served, both before and after September 11, 2001?

“I was in Finance Division of the Army. Before September 11, I thought I would just be writing checks and paying bills. After September 11, 2001, my reality turned into me delivering money across Iraq to forward observation bases. I grew up a lot during this time. When I came back, I was a lot more dedicated to school because I appreciated it that much more.

It was really strange when I had two weeks R&R and I came back home. It was over the holidays and everyone was busy shopping at the mall. It was strange to know everything that was happening on the other side of the world and many people back home were just going about their lives, unaffected. It felt bizarre.

How has serving our country changed you?

“Serving in the United States Army has given me an appreciation for what we have here in America and our military. Especially the older-generation military. I think they sacrificed a lot more than we did. The number of casualties they faced isn’t anything we see today.”

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

“I think about my grandfathers on Veterans Day. They both completed their service, although one was a prisoner of war in Germany. My grandfather who served in the Guadalcanal did two or three tours over three years. He was an artist also so he used to get paints from the local markets and paint pictures and send to my grandmother. I have some of those paintings now. That’s really special.”

As we celebrate Veterans Day, we salute Brad, and everyone who has served for their service to our country.

The Men of Influencer Marketing: Alan Lawrence

This is part four of an ongoing series where we will come to know more about the men of influencer marketing.

Social media influencers are everywhere. Seriously. Everywhere. But have you looked closely at who these people really are? At Find Your Influence (FYI), we have more than 100,000 influencers who have opted in to our network to be discovered by brands around the world.

When I first started at FYI in August 2018, I was shocked by how many women are part of the FYI network. 84 percent are female. That leaves just 16 percent of the network led by men.  

Who are these men? What makes them so successful? Why do they do what they do?

On Monday, October 15, I spoke with Alan Lawrence of That Dad Blog to learn more about his beautiful family and what inspired him to start his blog. What follows is my conversation with Alan:

Tell me about yourself, Alan. How did you get started as a blogger? Is this a full time role or a side hustle?

“When my second youngest son was born with Down Syndrome, it was pretty traumatic for me. In the following months I realized it was something that was more of a blessing than a negative. I felt guilty about that. When he was born and I was looking for different resources available about Down Syndrome, I noticed there weren’t a lot of positive articles available, especially coming from dads. I wanted to be part of the good news. Years ago when you would search for information about Down Syndrome it was all negative news. I wanted to create something different that would rise above all that to show that while there are some challenges, there is also a lot of joy.

As time went on, I started to feel more comfortable talking about my personal interests and my family of six kids. The idea of big families in today’s society is really where I’ve found my niche today.

Chick-Fil-A was the first brand to reach out to me and asked if I would be interested in getting involved in a campaign. And I thought it would be fun to try. It felt really natural and they liked the content. From there I really started thinking about putting my foot in the influencer realm. It’s really just gone from there.

When my son was born, I was working full time in the marketing department for a running shoe company. I’m also a photographer and a graphic designer.  I had the opportunity to create a couple of fun photo series with my kids that went viral. The last two weeks actually have become a little bit more full time for me on the social side for me.”

Is the blog where this all started? How have you transitioned to other social platforms?

“Currently I’m using my blog, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Instagram is really where it took off. My blog and Instagram were started at the same time but it was the photos of my son Will flying that really caught everyone’s attention and gave me the thought of taking this onto a bigger storytelling platform. Once Will was born, I wanted to share my Instagram for more than just personal platform but to help other dads who may be going through the same challenges with special needs kids as I was.

As things started to grow on Instagram and my blog, I started using Facebook. In 2015 I started using YouTube as a way to vlog. I really like telling stories through video.”

You’re active and engaged across four channels. Where do you find the time?

“I’m still trying to manage the time between being a good dad, working full time and then doing this on the side. I’ve now gone part time in my other role because it finally got to the time where the brand collaborations and partnerships are able to float us financially. I’m slowly stepping away from a job that I really loved to do something that I love even more. I’m walking with faith into this new direction in my career and hopefully take it to the point where I can fully step away from my other job and put more time into this. “

I can hear your passion and enthusiasm for this! In order to build something so strong across all of these platforms, you have to be committed to your followers. Tell me about them and how you engage with them.

“It’s kind of funny that my accounts are called ‘That Dad Blog’ so you would think the majority of the people who follow me are men but it’s 90 percent women. I work in partnership with my wife quite a bit. I feel like I’m a lot more open than the average male in my demographic would be as far as sharing personal feelings. I find myself reaching out to my wife to find out what she thinks, from a female perspective. I really appreciate her opinion and it’s valuable knowing that 90 percent of my followers are women.

As far as the interactions with the men who follow me, it’s very personal. I feel like men feel too vulnerable in sharing and putting themselves out there. That’s one thing that I’ve tried to help with, to let men know that they have a voice out there. Women are doing a great job but we also need to talk about the father’s feelings and create support groups through social media to be able to help dads express their feelings and be better dads. We need to learn from each other.

There are a lot of personal struggles I share, specifically related to having a child with special needs. I shared about how it was really hard, and about how I was not happy at first to know that my son had Down Syndrome. I didn’t want to sugarcoat that, I wanted to be honest. A lot of people responded and appreciated the honesty. People want to know the good news but finding a cadence and the balance of the good and the bad is important. Being honest and feeling comfortable putting yourself out there was a real struggle for me at the start. It’s become much easier for me as I began trusting the people who follow us after having open, honest and real conversations with them.’

Since it’s called “That Dad Blog,” tell me a little about your family.

“We have six children ranging from 16 to 3. They’re all so different from one another. My oldest, my daughter is kind of a shy, really intelligent introvert. Her brother, my oldest son, is very outgoing, charismatic and has a really great sense of humor. Our second oldest son is a mix between his older siblings. He’s in that awkward 11-year old stage right now where he’s trying to figure himself out. He really loves his younger brothers and has a good heart but leans more toward the shy side. My daughter Ali struggles with weight but is a really confident girl who likes to take over my Instagram Stories sometimes. I think sassy is a good way to describe her. It’s the cutest thing. It’s kind of created a separate following. People keep asking me to have her create her own account but I think she’s too young right now. My two younger boys Wil (5), who happens to have Down Syndrome, and Rockwell (3). I tell most of my stories around my two youngest because it’s kind of this dynamic about my son who has Down Syndrome and his brother who is this “average” kid. I think that’s the dynamic that people really enjoy watching because it’s a big family in general but also watching my younger two grow up together.

My oldest daughter doesn’t really like to be in pictures, she’s kind of a private person so I respect that with her. Ali is very open to most anything, she wants to be a YouTube star herself. My two older boys are timid but they are open to it.

My wife is the glue that holds it all together. She’s the one who keeps me sane and on track. She’s the rock. We’ve been married for 23 years now.”

Along the way, you’ve worked with different brands. Tell me what you’re looking for in a brand partner.

“I’m looking for something that I would actually use or something that can help to make my life better. At the start, when I was kind of new to it, I agreed to promote some brands that ultimately didn’t feel natural. I did one for a food brand that I wasn’t really interested in and didn’t end up feeling was a good fit but I guess I more or less did it for the experience. It didn’t flow right and my followers could tell it wasn’t authentic.

Doing things that feel right, that we actually use and that we can get behind are what we look for.”

Are there other dad bloggers who you follow?

The biggest one I follow is Father of Daughters. He is a great writer and I love his sense of humor.  Him and his wife have a fun dynamic. I know he works part time along with doing his social media so I can relate to that challenge.

I feel like there’s not a strong community of dad bloggers that is easy to find. There is a small network of dads that I’ve found through their outreach or I’ve stumbled upon through Instagram search. This smaller network includes dads of kids with special needs that I’ve become friends with. I’m friends with a lot of mommy bloggers whom I speak with a lot but not a lot of dads. I don’t mean for that to sound terrible but it’s something I can be a voice in helping to change in some way so dads can feel comfortable sharing their opinions too.”