How Did I Turn My Hobby Into A Success Both on Instagram and YouTube.

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November 7, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

Hi, my name is Tatiana, but my friends call me Tanya or Tati. I was born in the flowery city in the south of Russia - Krasnodar. It’s not so known worldwide as Moscow or Saint Petersburg, but we have charming sunsets, and the Black Sea is two hours away.

(Back in January 2018, Sochi, Russia)

In October 2018, I moved to Vienna, Austria, to live and study. Since then, I’m based in this beautiful and inspiring city. 

On Vienna Christmas Market, 2019

My BeautybyFoxy YouTube Channel and Instagram are a full-time job for me. My videos are mainly about a plus-sized girl in a foreign country, and share my fashion hauls and style tricks. I begin to study English and American studies at Vienna University this October, and I’m a bit anxious about my schedule, but I hope everything will be fine.

My brand name is BeautybyFoxy, and Foxy is how my husband calls me at home; in Russian, it’s Лисенок. Too cute, and he is very supportive and what I have now is kind of thanks to him. We live in different cities now, and it’s hard, but he supports my new ideas and even helps with creation sometimes.

2019 Christmas Card

Thank God, I’m no longer a one-person army since I don't do video editing this summer. I was lucky to meet a talented editor who does it better than me and always on time. I like to work with her and have more time to improve my skills in styling.

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

To be honest, everything began as a hobby while I was studying Translation in Krasnodar. It was sometime in 2014. I dreamed about work in The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, studied hard but needed to create something. My friends told me that it was interesting to listen to how I talked about cosmetics, and I should start my beauty blog on Instagram. I discussed it with my (then) boyfriend, we created my brand name Beauty by Foxy in an hour, and I began to share my beauty experience on my Instagram page. Instagram wasn’t wildly popular in Russia that time.

Unfortunately, the old posts are deleted from my Instagram page. It’s not easy to admit it, but one day I thought about all these three years of Instagram beauty blogging experience as a failure. Now I believe that every experience is precious, and thanks to this page of my life, I have more developed skills in photography and communication with subscribers. I found a pair of photos in Google Photos.

Tried to do this makeup like on a face chart :)

In 2016, I graduated from University and couldn't find a job for a long time. I worked as a freelance translator at home, but I cannot say that I was happy. The translators’ work is often underestimated, and I started to get less pleasure from my work, not talking about fair payments.  So I began to think about my beauty blog on YouTube and making it my full-time job. My husband said he would support me if I decided on my own business. We didn't have much money, but he understood I didn’t see my future being a translator.

Here is my first video about hair care. I was afraid of the camera but tried to do my best.

Nowadays, I post only one beauty video in a season because I’m still in the makeup, care routine, and beauty industry. But the main theme of my blog is Plus Size Fashion and Lifestyle, and I hope my work helps other people to embrace themselves and live every day as the best day in their lives.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

It’s a fascinating question, but the hardest to answer, to be honest. I tried to trace the process of idea to be born on my own, but it’s still elusive for me. I think everything we do in our lives influences our creativity: the music we hear, what happens in everyday life, the outside ideas we get every day, books we read, blogs we like, how do we rest. 

I’ve considered two types of successful brainstorming in my life: a balanced one and a stressed one. If I'm exhausted, I may still be able to produce content, but I’m as good as dead after finishing the process. And I definitely won't be able to make anything with love and pleasure for a day or two. The slower you go, the farther you get; creativity also requires resources.

But when I sleep and eat enough, spend time with friends and take my time, I don’t need brainstorming as it is. I think about my work every day, but positively, and one day an excellent Idea comes into my head effortlessly (there were efforts in reality, but without stress and anxiety). 

Of course, I get inspiration from other bloggers, I like to watch Fashion blogs, Plus size blogs (and this), travel blogs.

And I’m happy to have supportive friends and family. If I feel I get stuck ( I call it «temporal creative impotence»), they help me find balance and get my life back. We go for a walk, have a spa day at home, or cook together. Take your time and be kind to yourself. This technique helps.

What are the tools and platforms you use to help with your brand?

I like the time we live in for having many tools to create. I think it would be hard to really cut my weekly videos like an 8mm film back in 1940 or so. I'm always too lazy to read the instructions, so I just try to use every software on my own. And I watch explanatory videos on YouTube when I understand that I have reached a dead end.

I use Final Cut for YouTube video editing, Adobe Photoshop creating thumbnails for YouTube. For Instagram photos and videos, I use VSCO, Snapseed, InShot, and I just add the screenshot of my Instagram Folder on the iPhone. 

My apps for Instagram posts

When it comes to planning, I have a schedule in my iPhone Notes, where I write a plan for publishing videos and ideas that come to mind. I won't show it; there are spoilers, sorry :) I blog on YouTube and Instagram. My mother tongue is Russian, so it’s easier for me to speak Russian in my YouTube videos. But on Instagram, I write both in Russian and in English. I have some friends and subscribers who don’t speak Russian, and, generally, more people speak English than Russian. 

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it? 

When I started to blog, luckily, I wasn’t alone. I got support from my friend and my husband. Not everyone believes that it brings its fruits in the future, but I don’t remember anyone telling me personally that I do some bullshit. But I was afraid that others would reject me. I think it’s ok to be scared of a stranger’s feedback when you start something new. In the beginning, my comment section was full of good vibes, but the bigger your blog, the angrier the trolls. I’m sorry to say that it’s a dark side to success in social media. I’ve read the article  ‘'I've Seen The Worst In Humanity': The Hard Reality Of Being A Brand Social Media Manager’ and I can relate.

The Russian internet community is just crazy sometimes. I haven’t got any offensive messages from English-speaking subscribers (I don’t have many, but still). On the other side, someone wishes me almost every day to get diabetes or die of a heart attack sooner in Russian just because I look different. We definitely have a problem with tolerance, but fortunately, it’s getting better.

Still like this photo, a bit oversaturated but full of Holiday vibes.

If I see someone crossing my boundaries in the comments, I just ban them. My job is to make exciting and useful content and not read traumatized and ill-mannered people. But I want to say that mostly I get supportive and kind messages, and I’m very grateful that it helps to recover and motivate me to continue my way.

Sometimes I still think that I'm doing something worthless, that everyone will stop watching my videos soon, and I will have to look for another job to survive unhappily. Partially, it’s the reason why I feel incredibly uncomfortable and anxious in front of a camera. But we're working on it with my therapist; I’m not kidding. Do not be ashamed to ask for help; creative work exhausts your psychological health sometimes.

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

I usually post a new video on YouTube every week and try to post Instagram Stories every day and a pair of Instagram posts during the week. My main platform is YouTube, and working on it takes up most of the time and resources. My husband gifted me a camera when I started shooting, I needed money for cosmetics to post reviews, and he also helped me with this. Now I buy new equipment and clothes for my videos myself, but it took almost three years. 

I remember three points in my life as a content creator. The first 1000 subscribers on Instagram took more than a year. Then, the first 50 000 on YouTube took more than two years. And the first 1 million views on one video happened unexpectedly.

The video is about curvy girl’s life-hacks that I’ve been collecting all my life. I was a chubby little girl and teenager, and now, a plus-sized woman, so I have something to tell, and it turned out that the information on my videos is useful for many people. Almost a year has passed since I recorded this video, and the number of subscribers has increased by more than 150,000. I still do not believe that this happened to me.

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

I would not tolerate haters. It may sound childish, but looking back, I see how much energy I wasted to kindly explain trolls my point of view, thinking that they are just traumatized and need help. Yes, they do need help, but it’s none of my business. I’ve learned to keep silent when I am not 100% sure you have to comment on something, especially when it comes to situations where you are a third party person, not directly involved in some conflict. The whole picture may look different; people make mistakes.

Keep your mind open and think twice before posting anything. What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet forever. 

If you already post videos but don’t see any significant progress, I would recommend not giving up. When you are continually doing your job, your skills improve; practice is essential. Take a look at the videos of the authors you like and write down why you think they look so good for you. And then think about how you could achieve the same result with your current equipment and what you need to buy or study. Some authors post videos about their filming process and equipment, which may help. Thanks to these videos, I understood how I should place the light and what lenses I need. My videos are not perfect, but I like to learn new things and improve quality.

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

I’ve begun my blogger career being a student in my hometown. The main thing was studying; blogging was a hobby. As they often say, ‘real job’ as a translator left a feeling of dissatisfaction, and since 2017, my main job is my YouTube blog. In the beginning, you spend significantly more money than you get on your blog, and I was lucky to get the help from my family.

Suppose there had not been such an opportunity. In that case, I think I would have continued working as a translator and would have stayed in Instagram but changed the blog theme from a beauty blog into plus size fashion blog until I would have got enough resources to quit my job and start blogging on YouTube. 

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

I’ve already told about three essential moments in my blogger life; the most significant is posting this Curvy Girl’s Life Hacks Video. I think lot of things have changed. I started traveling without asking for financial support, and it feels better. My achievements, which may not seem significant to someone, helped me to believe in myself and stop continually being afraid that life will pass in vain.

It's not very motivating, but I started to earn and get a good therapist, and this journey changes my life for the better every day. I'm very anxious by nature, and I'm learning to deal with it now. You won't believe it, but this is the most significant change for me. Thanks to a fantastic community on YouTube, my self-confidence grew. I am kinder to myself, accept myself more often, and choose myself. There is more ME in my life than other people's voices, despite the growing number of people involved in this life. This is an important skill, I think it can be learned somewhere else, but it’s my way. I’ve even started to film videos in lingerie and swimwear when I was 18.  I wouldn't have believed I could do this at 26.

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

I think marketing is my weak point. I read articles and blogs, but I'm better at matching outfits than writing a good marketing strategy. To be honest, I would delegate this to someone, but there are not enough resources and perfect candidates yet. My channel’s growth happens organically. I’ve tried to buy some Google advertisement with a company’s help, but they couldn’t get the approval for my videos. So I’ve failed in marketing tricks even when asked the professionals to help as you see.

I just try to regularly post my content, use hashtags, and listen to the viewers’ feedback. Yes, I’ve just seriously understood I need to work on the marketing in my blog, thank you :)

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

The tackiest part of my work, well, not really that bad, but sometimes I feel like I get money for doing nothing. The next day I feel like I ask too little and dump the advertisement market. It's not easy to find a middle ground, because the market isn't incredibly open. You don't know how much other bloggers get, and it's awkward to ask. And I wouldn’t write it myself too, not now, not publicly.

But I do work with brands, for example, I work with Fashion Nova now, everything is on a contract basis, and I like my experience working with contracts. 

I try to work with the brands providing goods and services I would buy for my own money. I don’t advertise services I don’t trust or haven’t tried myself before. If I get some unknown brand requests, I google it, read comments on their social media, and look for reviews on the Internet.

Once, some ‘Israel’ cosmetics company has written to me to film a review of their products. I started to research on Google, asked my friend from Israel about this company, and it turned out that it doesn’t even exist in Israel. They are really shady. They just went crazy, wrote inappropriate comments and then asked to delete the video. It's still on the channel, and it hasn't gotten that many views, but it was probably a problem for their company. Hope they are not so shady now and doing fine.

As for paying for your work, ask as much as you think your experience, quality of work, and time are worth. If you are in doubt, add that you are open to discuss the price. Sometimes, poorly paid work turns out to be absolutely terrible because of a greedy and inadequate sponsor. Know your price, and don't forget to add tax.

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