Instagram may make the life of an influencer look like a glamourous one, but Madison Freeman of the lifestyle blog My Open Door will tell you that being a blogger is hard work. Madison juggles creating content for her blog and her Instagram account with her full-time job as a regional recruiter for Encompass Health, the nation’s largest health care provider for in-patient rehab. She’s also a wife and a new mom. But Madison wouldn’t change a thing, and her full life just gives her more to share with her readers, followers and fans. Allow us to introduce you to our newest FACE of Birmingham, Madison Freeman.

Madison Freeman of My Open Door

Meet Madison Freeman of My Open Door — our newest FACE of Birmingham! Image: Wesley Shaw

When did you start your blog and your Instagram account, and what inspired you to do so?

I started my blog — My Open Door— back in November of 2017. I had just gotten married, and I had so much I wanted to talk about to brides-to-be, such as creating your registry and all of these tips and tricks. And I really loved home decor. I was a newlywed, so I wanted to share a lot about decorating your first home on a budget. So, it started out as simple as giving advice.

How did you get interested in adding fashion to your blog and Instagram?

The fashion aspect came later because I started off with the home decor and lifestyle. I love affordable fashion. I love finding a good deal. Finding really great pieces at a good price is what I wanted to showcase to my audience, and that’s what speaks to my audience the most. So, I promote sales for local businesses and provide discount codes for my followers. I try to work with a variety of different brands.

When I was pregnant, the fashion aspect shifted to maternity fashion. I partnered with maternity lines like Cradle + Bee in Vestavia. It’s been really fun to navigate in all different areas of fashion.

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Madison of My Open Door

What started as an outlet to give advice, Madison’s blog and Instagram also showcase affordable home decor and fashion. Image: Ashtynn Bree Photography

How did you turn blogging into a business?

It took a ton of research. I researched how other bloggers started their small businesses, and then I started partnering with local boutiques. I wanted to make really solid relationships with boutiques in Mountain Brook, Homewood, Vestavia and in the Shelby County area as well. I would go in and do try-on sessions with local boutiques. I would also do reviews of different restaurants.

Making it a business and profiting off of the blog really started to take off when national companies would reach out promoting their products. And what I always try to do is take products that I really love to promote, because I feel like there’s a lot of noise out there and some people just promote to promote. I really want to love something before I put my name behind it.

What is the life of an influencer really like? Tell us about the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

Blogging is my side hustle, but it takes just as much time. A lot of us take all of our weekend time to create content for our followers. So much prep goes into a photoshoot — finding people to take pictures and trying to figure out what your audience wants to hear. You want to make sure you’re backing really great products and not just trying to make money from it. A lot of the time, you have to reach out to find companies to work with. People aren’t just flocking to you to work with you.

We have to pay for photos, so you’re putting money into this type of business just like if you’re starting a brick and mortar. You have to plan times to shoot, and we’re changing 50 times in our cars to get as much content as possible so you get the most bang for your buck out of these photoshoots. After you gather all the content, you still have to write a blog post, upload all the photos, edit photos, and then promote everything like you would be marketing for a small business. You’re the CEO, the COO, the marketer — you’re doing every aspect of your business to make it successful. I know the pictures make it seem fun, but you have to put in tons of work.

Madison cooking

Madison tells us that consistency and partnering with local people and influencers are some of the keys to growing a following and building relationships with brands. Image: Lauren Bailey Photography

What tips would you offer aspiring influencers for growing their Instagram following or developing relationships with brands?

Find what you want to talk about. I didn’t want to be just a home decor blogger. So, I left it really broad and said I’m a lifestyle blogger. But if you already know your niche, go in full force with that. Consistency is key. Create a content calendar and be strategic about putting your business out there.

In the beginning, a lot of local people will reach out to you and want to work with you if you’re marketing yourself correctly. I started to partner with local magazines to do style guides. Partner with local people no matter what city you live in — I feel like it is so important to create that relationship.

Finding a group of bloggers and influencers and having a support system and going to events together really gets your name out and helps to grow your following. Providing giveaways for followers helps to grow your following and get your name out there as well.

How has the pandemic affected your blog?

I’ve been trying to be really sensitive about everything, and it’s important to use your platform for the right things. I’m trying to promote local businesses and post motivational quotes and keeping people updated on what my husband Clinton and I are doing during this time to stay safe.

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How will being a mom affect the blog?

I’m excited to shift focus and have a deeper connection with mom followers. Now I can show off baby clothes and diaper bags. I can give moms tips about the best things to register for and things you can’t live without. I used to share, “These are great shoes.” Now it will be, “This is the best nursing bra.”

Madison with her daughter Aubrey Grace

As a new mom, Madison is excited to shift her focus and connect with followers who may be mothers themselves. Image: Lauren Bailey Photography

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Birmingham area that you’re looking forward to enjoying again?

Bettola, Gianmarco’s, Bamboo on 2nd and El Barrio are my favorite restaurants.

The Three15 downtown studio is my favorite place to work out. I love all of the girls there. They are absolutely amazing.

Avondale Brewing is probably my favorite brewery.

And I love going to all of the different parks we have. Walking our dog Luna is probably the highlight of my summer days.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

As an influencer, it can be really hard to put yourself out there. Something that I was told at the beginning was never be afraid to be yourself because that’s what people are going to relate to the most. So, since the very beginning, I never was anything but myself. It’s just me. No makeup sometimes. Funny sometimes. Serious sometimes. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done to help my brand to be what it is.

Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?

My loungewear, Starbucks and bold lipstick.

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