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Who:Caitlyn Warakomski
What: Growth Strategy, Disclosures, & Tips for Newbies
Where: New York, NY
Occupation: Digital Marketer, Stylist & Social Media Creative

Caitlyn Warakomski, the fashionable creative behind HOW DO YOU WEAR THAT, sat down with us on a very rainy Friday morning in New York City. The rain didn’t stop her from showing up looking fabulous, sporting an ever-so-chic rainy day outfit that included a cool army jacket and the perfect city booties. As we warmed up over coffees we found out just how awesome this 25-year-old up and coming creator is. She's experienced such great success in her first two years, that she was recently able to quit her day job at a prestigious agency to focus solely on her growing content business.

When and where was your ‘a-ha’ moment that sparked the idea of quitting your full-time job in marketing and moving full force ahead with your personal brand? How long had you been blogging before this moment?
Before quitting myfull-timejob, I was blogging for just shy of two years. How did I know when to quit? I was running on little brain power because I would work so much to try and pack everything in to ensure I met my deadlines. It was an around the clock with little down time (and little sleep!) I’d be sitting on my couch until3 amgoing through emails, editing photos and writing posts so they’d be published in time for their due date, and then realizing I still had about 10 more things to do in order for me to be on track between both jobs.

Was becoming a full-time blogger something you had set out toaccomplishor did evolve more naturally as a result of your side hustle?
It was always a goal of mine to eventually turn the blog into afull-timejob. However, I would have been happy to do it as a hobbybecause I genuinely love styling outfits and pushing others to experiment with clothes they wouldn’t normally have the courage to wear.

Do you have set long-term goals forHOW DO YOU WEAR THAT?
Absolutely! I think it is really important to set goals everything month, 6 months, year etc. and to constantly reevaluate them and figure out how you will conquer them. One of my goals this year is to do a capsule collection with a brand!

What’s your strategy for fostering growth and engagement among your audience? Do you feel that there’s a “sweet spot” in terms of audience size or number of followers that influencers should aspire to?
I think the things that really help are constantly being super active on Instagram, posting consistently and getting featured on larger accounts with loyal followings to grow your own. As far as a “sweet spot” I am not even sure! I feel like every brand looks for something different so influencers should not get caught up in the numbers and instead focus on building engagement with their audience.

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In recent news, Instagram has announced similar features to Snapchat. What’s your prediction on the future of Snapchat vs. Instagram?
I love it! I am all about Instagram stories. I feel like I can reach a must larger audience with my content, but I do use Snapchatfor personal use.

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When it comes to partnering with social media influencers, what do you think brands could be doing better at? What’s your biggest brand pet-peeve?
I think some brands can do better at giving influencers more freedom to use their own creativity and create content that feels natural to them. I’ve noticed some brands always want concepts before I shoot, or some who are extremely specific with the type of shots they are looking for. I like creating and sharing my own concepts beforehand, but I don’t want to be forced to stick to the one that was approved a month before the actual shoot takes place. As a creative person, new ideas spark often, especially in the midst of shooting or putting final touches on content planning. So, I really like to have as much creative wiggle room as possible!

What are your thoughts on the recent press around FTC Guides, disclosure policies and misleading social media ads?
I know the FTC recently released a bunch of letters reminding influencers and marketers of their policies. I totally understand each paid posting needs to be clearly labeled as sponsored, or as an ad. I get it! However, they are really cracking down nowadays. I always try and share it in the beginning of my caption i.e. "Thanks to my friends at XXX brand," and also put a #sponsored or #ad" at the end of the caption. It gets tricky though, because it can start to feel a bit excessive or repetitive - but I totally understand it's necessary!

How does your audience react to content that has disclosures? What is the conversation with your audience around sponsored content?
Honestly, I feel so thankful that my followers are really supportive & give positive feedback on sponsored content that has disclosures. I remember it feeling weird at first to disclose that information, but I think it has become such a consistent (and important!) part of sponsorships, and most audiences are so used to seeing it. I feel that my audience trusts me and knows that I only post things that I actually wear and like, so their reaction is no different than something that is "unsponsored".

Can you provide three tips for social media creators who are thinking about starting a blog or monetizing their Instagram channel?
Consistency, being honest with yourself, excellentcontent and photoswith value, meaning your readers truly get something from them.

What advice would you give to someone interested in breaking into the industry as a content creator?
Now is the time. I feel like the whole influencer and blogging industry is in full force at the moment and we don’t know what’s going to come next - now is the time to immerse yourself in it 100%, without any distractions.

Coffee with Collaborators is an interview series featuring the incredibly talented, creative voices in our community. Interested in having coffee? Email us.