HSC Influencer Series: Olivia Whalen
Recently we chatted with Olivia Whalen of oliviasheastyle.com about all things social media, blogging, and her recent adventure as operator of the Nashville Bachelorette Airbnb, The Nashelorette. You can follow along with Olivia at @oliviasheastyle and @thenashlorette.
Originally from Seattle, what brought you to Nashville?
I grew up wanting to live pretty much anywhere but Washington. I love it now, but growing up I thought Washington was SO boring! Haha So when I was looking at colleges, I applied to places all over the country because I saw it as the perfect chance to get out of Washington! I ended up choosing Nashville because of Belmont's Music Business program, and I'm so glad I did! Nashville is such an amazing city! Funny enough though, after living outside of Washington, I definitely plan on moving back someday!
How did you get your start blogging? What made you focus on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle content?
I started blogging when I was working at Francesca's my sophomore year of college! Before Francesca's, I used to dress pretty casually, so my blog Instagram actually started as a way for me to keep track of the outfits I had worn to work so that I didn't end up wearing the same thing every day! I totally thought it was weird and didn't tell anybody about it for at least 3 months! I finally decided to turn it into an actual blog because I loved being able to help women find outfits that made them feel great about themselves at work, and I thought that through a blog I could do exactly that, but on a larger scale!
How did you grow your social media following?
Very slowly! A lot of engaging with other, similar accounts and also teaming up with other bloggers to promote each other to our followers! Another thing that has always helped is trying to take quality photos that you could see a brand re-posting. I've found that brand reposts are one of the best ways to get noticed by potential followers!
How has Instagram changed from when you first started posting outfit photos to now working with brands?
Oh my gosh so much! Aside from the obvious going from chronological order to the algorithm that everybody loves to hate, I feel like Instagram has also just become so much more saturated with blogs now! When I first started posting, blogging wasn't nearly as big of a thing as it is now! Now, there are so many bloggers that Instagram is as much a source for fashion (or home, or beauty, or travel) inspiration as Pinterest!
How do you stay true to yourself when working with brands for paid promotions?
I never ever say yes to a collaboration if I don't care for the brand or the product! I really value the trust of my followers, so I will never promote something I don't actually love just to earn money. I have actually canceled a collaboration and sent the product back to a brand because the product I received was nothing like the product I ordered and I could not in good conscience promote a brand I didn't trust to deliver a quality product.
What tips and tricks do you have for aspiring Instagram bloggers?
Engage like crazy! And know why you're starting. If you're starting because you want to be a big blogger or if you just want to make money, don't bother. Unless you're truly passionate about blogging and love what you're doing (regardless of how many followers you have or how much money you're making) you're going to be so frustrated and disappointed! It takes a TON of work to grow a following and get to a point where you're getting paid posts, so you really do have to love the work or it just isn't worth it. BUT, if you do love what you're doing, it will definitely show to both brands and to your followers!
You own and run @thenashelorette, an Airbnb targeted towards
Bachelorette parties, how did you get started with this concept?
I used to work at Arrington Vineyards, and when I was there I realized how big of a destination Nashville was for bachelorette parties! I started thinking about it, and realized that there wasn't really a place that was specifically designed to host bachelorette parties, and just thought it would be such a fun thing to design and run! The Nashelorette is basically my child! I've put so much work into it and am so proud of how it turned out!
You manage Instagram accounts for a blog and a destination. What differences have you noticed between running @oliviasheastyle and @thenashelorette?
It's so different! The Nashelorette is so much more targeted, so I've found that even though it's a smaller account with only around 300 followers, it still gets pretty frequent collaboration requests. It’s also very different because of the style of posts! On my own, I try to show more personality and who I am, but I feel like the Nashelorette Instagram is more of a persona and less "me", if that makes sense!
How do you network and find friends as a young professional in Nashville?
Honestly this has been one of the hardest things for me! Especially working from home, I've realized that finding new friends as an adult is so much harder! I've made most of my post grad friends through blogging and going to events!
You recently got engaged, any wedding planning updates or details?
Yes, I did! We've set our date for October 13, 2019, so we've still got a good amount of time to plan, but so far we've got our venue (Belle Meade Plantation) and our photographer! I'm looking at dresses right now and am actually considering designing my own dress! We also have a pretty good idea of our colors and how we want to decorate, and we know we want barbecue for the food, but nothing is set in stone yet other than the venue and the photographer!
What does your ideal day in Nashville look like?
Oh gosh I'm such a hermit that a lot of the time my ideal day is hanging out at home with my fiancé and our animals, and then making a nice dinner, opening a bottle of wine and watching a movie. Not sure when I turned 45, but... if we do leave our apartment, we love checking out new restaurants (I feel like there's a new one opening pretty much every day!). We also love a good rooftop bar, and when it's warm we like to walk our dog Euler to go get drinks somewhere with a dog friendly patio!
How do you stay motivated and inspired creating content?
Staying motivated and coming up with new content can be so hard sometimes, but I've found that the best way to get my motivation back whenever I start to feel uninspired is to look back at why I started! I also have found that it helps to follow bloggers who are just killing it with great content all the time! Seeing other people putting out great inspiring content makes me want to work harder on my own!