Best Small Business Tips I've Learned at #rStheCon

Best Small Business Tips I’ve Learned at #rStheCon



For the past five years I’ve been attending the #rStheCon blogging conference here in Dallas. The style coming out of the conference meeting rooms is out of this world. The reason I attend is not for the fashion (although it’s so fun to see!) but for the amazing business and social media advice I glean. Today I am sharing the best tips with y’all!

2018 rewardStyle Conference

1. “Instagram has to reduce your reach to make room for advertisers.”

This quote from Reward Style co-founder and CEO, Baxter Box, was an aha moment for me last year. Instagram is a business and, no shocker here, businesses want to make a profit. Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012 was the beginning of Instagram’s pivot to an advertising model.

Right now there are more than 2 million advertisers on Instagram. What does that mean for small brands? Instagram has to make room for people who want to spend and so our organic reach is declining. It’s just plain math. As Amber said yesterday, the days when you wake up and have new followers, where it felt easy, those days seem to be transitioning out. 

Which brings me to the next lesson…

2019 #rStheCon

2. Don’t put all your eggs in the Instagram basket. 

RewardStyle and successful bloggers alike have been saying this for years. And they have proven to be correct. Influencers who were focused solely on Instagram for their income were dealt a big blow when Instagram started changing their algorithms a few years ago. If you have a small brand that sells on Instagram, you may have experienced something similar. (How many posts do you see that say “comment below if you are seeing this post”?)

This is one piece of advice from years ago that I am glad I heeded. While there are definitely “Instagram only” influencers that do really well, putting all of your focus on a platform you have no control over is very risky. 

Because of Instagram’s frustrating algorithm and the amount of advertisers on the channel, it is getting harder and harder for brands to be seen by their customers on Instagram. Reward Style’s answer to this is the App that is geared towards consumers with the intention to shop (whereas Instagram is often where people go to get inspired or to escape.)

DoSayGive is on the App (and provide exclusive content on it so definitely follow us over there!) but our “Bread and Butter” has always been our website and I so thankful for it. Yesterday, Amber Box, Co-Founder of rewardStyle, said that blogs “blogs are still a very viable and valuable part of the content ecosystem.” Yay. 

2017 #rStheCon

3. Pivot, Pivot, Pivot. 

Amber Box also shared in yesterday’s meeting that e-commerce has gone from making up 10% of all retail sales before the pandemic to now nearly the majority of retail sales this year. That is incredible and something we have seen play out on

With more consumers shopping from home than ever before – either because storefronts are closed or consumers hesitant about shopping in person – this means that small businesses with an online presence are well positioned to excel in this new, unprecedented market. 

And speaking of excelling as a small business during these unprecedented times, I am so excited to share that Joy Creative Shop and I are hosting a Holiday Prep for Success workshop next month. We’ll be sharing new tools and actionable steps you can take right now to make this unusual holiday season a success.

Sign up to learn more here 

 2018 #rStheCon 

4. Don’t discount Facebook.

I have always been surprised at the lack of a Facebook presence by many Instagram influencers and small brands for that matter. DoSayGive has always kept a strong focus on Facebook. It is where we share a lot of our “what to do” and “what to say” posts. I like it because on Facebook people can click directly on a link in a post to read it and don’t have to go to a link in your profile. 

RewardStyle said yesterday that Facebook also has double the average conversion rate than Instagram. Facebook has a 1.8% conversion rate while Instagram’s conversion rate is .86%, which is lowest of all platforms.

Small brands should really think about this! 

Pro Tip: I see so many small brands “push” their Instagram posts to Facebook but not add a direct link. I’ll see a cute children’s outfit that I’d love to know more about but I am not going to go search for it during my scroll. Small brands: add those links! You are missing a huge opportunity to grow and to add additional sales. 

Last year I took a class from a successful influencer who has big numbers on Instagram but realized Facebook is where she sees sales. It was an amazing class and so helpful to me! She wrote a blog post about it here

2018 #rStheCon

5. Efficiency is the name of the game. 

The most surprising thing I gleaned from my very first rewardStyle conference is that the women behind all these beautiful photos on Instagram were some of the hardest working women I had ever met. Many had second jobs, had children or were just managing A LOT. Bloggers do multiple “jobs”: writing, editing, photography, styling, and content creation. 

My favorite break out sessions during the conference are the ones about apps and hacks regarding time and team management. Whether that’s time blocking like Katey McFarlan or keeping a lean email inbox (Gmail tips in this post), efficiency is key to this work from home mom.

2018 #rStheCon

6. Influencer Marketing is Truly “BFF Marketing”

Last year the Co-founder of Reward Style, Amber Box, used the the “BFF Marketing” brilliantly to describe what influencers (the newish term for bloggers) truly are. Unlike traditional print advertising, influencers are real people in the stage of life as many of their readers. So it’s natural to want to know where they got their car seats or what their lipstick color is. Influencer Marketing = BFF Marketing.

Yesterday at the virtual conference Amber said the days of being an Instagram-only street style star are over. Today’s consumer is responding to the guide, the best friend and the big sister. 

And speaking of BFF marketing, many of us aren’t seeing our true BFFs as often as we’d like due to social distancing. Amber Box shared that now more than ever before, consumers are turning to social media and other digital platforms for community and connection with others. If you have a small brand, this is why you should consider working with influencers that align with your message. Ask yourself how your brand or product can in front of your readers’ “BFF.” For more details about working with an influencer, see this post and this post
We’ve certainly seen what Amber said about community in the communities we’ve created on DoSayGive, between the moms in our summer book club, teen girls eager to get on ZOOM with us for our Etiquette Workshop, and now the children in our Preschool Enrichment Club who will take virtual field trips together this fall!
As a small business, think about creative ways you can use your own digital platforms and social channels to encourage and support your community of followers. Community drives engagement and engagement is critical to expanding your business’ reach! 

2016 RewardStyle Conference

If you have a small brand I hope these tips are as enlightening to you as they were to me!


Links to 2019 Conference Looks (Others sold out!)

Mara Hoffman Skirt

Scallop Rebecca Taylor Top

Schutz Sandals

Rattan Maui Drop Earrings


Mar y Sol Straw Purse

Banjanan Patterned Dress

Rattan Hoop Earrings


Lilly Pulitzer Eyelet Top

Lilly Pulitzer Eyelet Shorts

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  1. Fantastic advice. Going forward we have to put more and more emphasis on learning flexibility. Flexible businesses are better able to give their customers and fans what they want when they want it.