Partner Spotlight: Gabriella Valladares of By Gabriella
Here at Ahalogy, it’s no secret that our influencers are at the core of everything we do. From their gorgeous imagery to their 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.
Not only is Gabriella Valladares the voice, brains, and creative vision behind her site, By Gabriella, she’s also an advocate for small businesses and online influencers alike. When you visit her site, you’re guaranteed to find plenty of inspiration on how you can add a little more style to everyday life.
can you walk me through those early first days of starting your blog? how has it grown and changed over the years?
I started blogging about 8 years ago when I first moved to Boston. I started it because I had transferred schools there and I didn’t actually know anyone. I knew I had always enjoyed writing so I was like, “I’ve seen a few people have their own websites. Let me check this thing out.” It wasn’t as popular then as it is now for sure. So it was very much a create your own thing, learn as you go.
There weren’t as many people in the space at the time so it started out as just like a random collection of things that I liked. You know, I really liked baking and checking out what was going on around the city. So it kind of just seemed like a very random grouping of posts that I was putting up. There wasn’t really any strategy; it was just for fun. Which is how I think most people start out.
So I started with a blog. It actually had a different name, and a few years down the road I was working full time and getting my masters. I kind of needed to take a break. As you can imagine, it was a pretty busy time. It was a lot. So I took just under a year off, I would say, and created my new site, By Gabriella. And I started from scratch so I didn’t bring any content over. I just let people know I was changing sites and grew from there. I needed to start fresh. I didn’t love writing anymore on that site which was my cue to switch things up.
Were there any turning points in your work with By Gabriella that you think contributed to the site being as successful as it is today?
I would say when brands started to reach out. It started out with like trades—just trying out a product and reviewing was how it all started, I think that's true for most people. Years ago, influencer marketing isn’t or wasn’t what it is now and so it was more, “oh can you review my product and share it on your site?” That’s kind of what everyone was doing and so it was really flattering when brands initially started reaching out.
Then, I was given the opportunity to work with brands on my terms—creating content that made sense for my site and my community, and then started to make a profit off of it (something I had never thought about when I started.) I just thought I would just write for fun. So that was really different for me to start making money off of what I was doing. And I was putting a lot of hours into it and a lot of work just for free, you know?
What started drawing those sponsored opportunities in?
I think a lot of it was advocating for myself. I still have brands reaching out today asking me to review products but that doesn’t really seem natural to me. It’s not organic with the content I’m sharing. So a lot of it is pushing back, nicely, letting them know hey this isn’t something I do but here’s a really good idea of how we could work together instead of just blowing it off.
I’ve talked to blogger friends throughout the years and some people are just like, “that totally turns me off. I don’t want to review products.” But pushing back has gotten me some partnerships that may not have happened if I had just said “I don’t do reviews, I don’t think this makes sense.” And it was cool to have the brands take interest in that. Not all of them do, but the ones who have, we’ve created really nice partnerships.
What are some of the key skills that you think a person needs to have in order to make it in influencer marketing?
I would say communicating which is kind of funny because I studied communication back in college and I think it’s like this running joke of, “oh you’re studying communications? What are you actually going to do? You already know how to talk to people.” But I think that’s pretty big. Reaching out to brands is something I still do; I don’t just wait for them to come to me all the time. That’s doesn’t always happen, that’s not really how you start.
So I would say being able to communicate with people and be open to working with them on what’s most valuable for them. That’s something I always ask a brand if I’m reaching out. I say, “here are a few ideas but what’s going to be most beneficial for you?” I want to make sure it’s a mutually beneficial partnership. It’s interesting to see how it’s shifted over the years, really moving from traditional advertising to this new version of word of mouth marketing.
What is the most challenging thing about owning and operating your site, By Gabriella?
I guess when you get the doubters—maybe that’s not the correct word—it’s hard to explain what I do sometimes. I have brands that just don’t get it and that’s ok. They just haven’t been educated on how influencer marketing works. But you know I’ll have a brand reach out and it could be a smaller brand or it could be a larger brand where they’re saying, “hey if you do this for free you’re going to get great exposure and you’ll also build a relationship with our client.” And I let them know what my rates are and I send them my media kit and it can be tough because then they make you feel guilty for not wanting to build a relationship with them but that’s not really the case. It’s work and I can’t always do work for free. So navigating that can definitely be a challenge.
Now that’s you’ve heard more about what it’s like to build a business from the ground up and negotiate the partnership between content creators and brands, we hope you have a deeper appreciation for just how much work our Ahalogy Partners do. Stay tuned next month when we talk to a brand new voice in influencer marketing and learn what their perspective is on creating meaningful content for their site.