For the first instalment of our 2018 influencer series we caught up with Elena Sandor from Eat-Wear-Travel to talk about being a full-time blogger, becoming a blogger, working with brands and her tips and tricks for influencers, who want all of the above.
ZINE: Hi Elena, thanks so much for taking the time. You’re one of our favourite. You have an amazing media kit, and are active across so many channels which is fantastic. Can you start off by giving us a bit of background into what you were doing before you became a blogger / influencer.
Elena: I was a student like anyone else. I finished a PHD in economics and started a job in investment but had a blog on the side. I started around 10 years ago, and the blog was really just a hobby and a passion. It was a cooking blog, with recipes I had tried and stuff like that. It was child play. Honestly, I never thought it was something I would make money from, or a business out of. It was just something fun and creative. But then I moved towards more of a lifestyle blog, writing about travel, food, restaurants, fashion, beauty and girly things like that. I was still working but I was so unhappy at my job, and felt that I didn’t belong there. So three years ago I quit deciding to dedicate all of my time, money and resources to becoming a full time blogger. That’s when it took off as I had invested everything in it and looked at it as something serious. But I still wanted it to stay a passion, so I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. It’s really important to have someone to support you in these early stages when you aren’t necessarily making much money as a full time blogger. I had the support of my husband who was there for, and now I’m there for him.
Z: It sounds as though you really came into your own doing something you enjoy?
Elena: I do! A lot of people decide to become bloggers which is fantastic. But I don’t think they always have the right mindset. For example, starting by thinking ‘oh I need to make money out of it’. And that’s not how I began or how others began with blogging back in the day. That’s why now I still look at it as a passion and something I enjoy doing, and don’t want to feel pressure and stress and everything like that.
Z: How did you grow your following? In the transition into a full time job were there any strategic elements or did you let things happen organically?
Elena: Honestly, I think I’d had Instagram for about five years and didn’t really pay attention and wasn’t posting a lot. I didn’t have a strategy at the beginning, but then I started to see it as something important and as a marketing tool. I started researching into it, and commenting on other accounts and becoming invested in knowing my followers. For me a really important strategy is to post every day – be consistent. I try to post once or twice a day. It’s also important to have really amazing content. So investing in photography and in your creative ideas or how you take your pictures. I honestly don’t know how I grew my following, but I guess there were these strategic elements.
Z: What kinds of brands do you like collaborating with the most?
Elena: I think a combination of travel – I work with hotels all across the world, as well as restaurants. I like to do a lot of restaurant reviews. I love to eat! I’m also doing a lot of beauty collaborations with brands I truly love working with and I truly believe in. I also do some fashion and I’d like to do more. But I also don’t have a lot of time so try to dedicate my time and my resources the best I can on current projects. But overall travel, food and beauty are a big part of my collaborations
Z: Where how do you get most of your work?
Elena: In the beginning I attended a lot of events. I think this is an important step to grow as a blogger when you’re starting out – you have to put your face out there because it’s how you connect with PRs and brands. Not just you sitting behind a desk or laptop. It’s really important for people to actually see you and know you. That’s how I managed to secure some of my contacts. Pitching is really important. I know lots of bloggers who say they don’t pitch but this is a total lie [laughs]. OK, I don’t have a lot of time now to pitch myself because I get a lot of emails but I do occasionally send e-mails like ‘I’m just trying to introduce myself, introduce what I can do for a brand’ and whether they say yes or no, at least I have tried. And I think all businesses do that no matter how big or small. I’m signed up to some non-exclusive agencies who send me some work which is amazing.
Elena: Well I really love ZINE. I honestly think it’s the best thing invented. Before having my ZINE media kit I used to have to edit my pitch every single day as the numbers change constantly. It was a struggle. I’d have to buy loads of templates and edit them, and I was never happy with them. But ZINE – I mean I have recommended it to everyone. It’s so amazing as everything looks professional and they update everything instantly so you don’t have to worry about anything. You just have to add some of your collaborations or your appearances in the press and stuff like that. Then it just looks amazing and professional and you can send your media kit link to anyone wherever on the go which is really important. I can’t believe it’s free. You have to pay for so many tools out there that aren’t even half as professional as this one. And honestly it’s not just because I’m talking to you! And I also love that whenever I have a question there is a chat and someone always responds instantly to my silly questions. Another free tool I use is Lightroom to edit my photos, and VscoCam. Another amazing good app for editing photos is PRIIME and it’s amazing for editing photos. No doubt there are others but these are the ones I use and I’m recommending.
Z: Amazing! What do you think is the secret to great content?
Elena: You are putting yourself out there, so definitely have something unique. And hopefully some people will identify with you. Then translating that into professionalism, into great photography, which I can’t stress enough. Great content speaks about you, and brands can see you are serious, and you’re a professional, and will give you work, so you can make money and have a life! Also, being consistent is really important. Posting just once in a while isn’t enough as people forget you. Get stuff out there and be as unique as you can be.
Z: Do you have any advice for brands wanting to work influencers?
Elena: Contact them! Sometimes briefs from brands can be super detailed but I think it’s important to let the influencers speak their mind and listening to their point of view – you never know, maybe they’ll have a better idea!
Z: It’s interesting you say that as in our recent influencer marketing report 68% of influencers said their prefer looser guidelines
Elena: Yeah – that’s a good point! Also sometimes the deadlines can be really tiny. Like ‘here is the brief I’m expecting your content tomorrow’ which is so not possible if you want the best content possible. For example, for me, my husband is my photographer and he can only work during the weekends. And whenever I am doing a collaboration project I need to think about location and speak to the hotels and restaurants, and think about outfits and things like that. So if brands want the best collaboration ever, the best content, it can’t be rushed. Longer deadlines are much better.
Z: So what’s been the biggest lesson you learned so far?
Elena: Oh well that if you want to be successful in what you’re doing you need to be patient. I get a lot of messages on Instagram like ‘how can I become a blogger, how can I make money?’. Well you need to wait. Good things don’t happen overnight – you have to work on it and be patient. I also tell them that you really need to invest. There are lots of things to buy to make this your business. Buy a good quality camera and equipment. This is your business, it’s also your passion and your lifestyle.
So don’t wait to become successful or have a brand knocking on your door the second you open Instagram. You need to invest a lot of resources, and time, and money. Then wait, and work, and sweat.
Z: Who is your favourite influencer?
Elena: Mikutas – She is an amazing European travel blogger and lifestyle blogger in general. But her content is fantastic. She’s a photographer and her boyfriend is as well. So you can image the quality of her content. It’s just incredible and so inspirational. Everything she does is just amazing. She travels all the time and all the pictures look effortless but clearly every studied which is why I really love her account. There’s also Debiflue, Travel In Her Shoes, ohhcouture, all of these big names who are just amazing. My favourites are mostly travel bloggers – which is what I love!
Z: And finally, what what’s your favourite social media site?
Elena: Definitely Instagram. It’s super easy to access, straight forward and you can get a lot of exposure instantly. As opposed to a blog post which you have to work more on and it’s out there forever.
You can join Elena on ZINE by signing up and creating your influencer media kit. It is totally free, completely customizable and a great way to pitch yourself to brands.
I'm Head of Marketing at ZINE where I am helping peers and customers who want to revolutionise their influencer marketing strategy. I love food, fitness and Min Pins.