Okay, I must admit, when I confirmed I would be speaking with Desiree Siegfried (formally Desiree Hartsock), I fangirled HARD. Those who know me are aware of my Bachelorette obsession, Bachelor Monday rituals, and that I’m a massive participant on Instagram on all Bachelor Nation accounts. Even my boyfriend live-tweets during every episode. (Sorry, Alex.)
When Desiree and I caught up, I suddenly remembered what social media looked like in 2013 when Desiree first graced our TVs. Instagram was hitting its stride; there were no best practices for influencers; actually, most people were discovering that making money on digital platforms existed. Future Bachelor contestants also weren’t sliding into each other’s DMs and fostering followings pre-paradise. We see you, Stage Coach.
Enter: Desiree. As she admits in our interview, she was still learning the ropes of creating a personal brand when she exited The Bachelor and entered the rose-covered hot seat as The Bachelorette. Most of her followers were Bachelor fans, such as myself, which made it challenging for Desiree to communicate her true passions to her audience. Desiree has put rose ceremonies behind her and has finally cultivated a community that she can share authentically with.
Still married to her on-air love story Chris (now with two beautiful baby boys!) Desiree now runs her website, DesireeSiegfried.com, is the founder and wedding gown designer of Desiree Hartsock Bridal, and hosts the Heart of Purpose Podcast and Bride Talk Podcast. She is a content creator at her core and cares deeply about giving back to her loyal supporters.
Read on for my interview with Desiree, and check out our live Instagram conversation on creating a platform with heart.
You were on The Bachelorette before influencer marketing was getting started! What challenges did you face in your transition from reality TV to creating a personal, digital brand? Do you think you had to overcome more obstacles than the recent Bachelor seasons?
Honestly, I had to figure things out on my own since there weren’t yet courses, guides, or other influencers to learn from. Instagram was picking up speed and awareness in 2012 when I first got off of Sean Lowe’s season of The Bachelor, the year I also first got onto Instagram, there were many challenges to face. Influencer marketing was happening, but not yet identified as such. Brand’s ideas for collaborations were all over the place, along with their price tags. I do feel it was harder to navigate then it is now for Bachelor contestants coming off the show, who have had many years experience building their voice and authentic followers on their platform before inheriting such a large following from the show, only interested in the person they saw on tv — not the other facets of life or business. My entire following right off the bat was from the show, so it’s been challenging for years to create my own space for my career (bridal brand, etc.) on my personal platform since most of my following is interested in just the personal life.
What projects are your particularly passionate about right now?
Right now I am most passionate about working with brands who create with meaning or have some sort of give-back program in place. I want to make sure that what I am sharing on my platform I resonate with and can be proud of. This is partly why I’ve decided to do my own podcast, blog and newsletter — to share more of what I believe in and not just what brands want posted.
Those who aren’t familiar with your brand may be surprised to learn that you’re a blogger with a weekly newsletter. Why was it essential for you to start a blog, and what made you decide on a weekly newsletter? Have you seen your audience grow since launching these initiatives?
I first started with a bridal blog many years ago, which led to my bridal gown brand, Desiree Hartsock Bridal. From those years of featuring weddings, advice, and styling tips multiple times a week, I learned how much work it can be to maintain a blog and how intentional you must be but also learned the ropes on content creation. Especially once I become a mother, I had no time to maintain the work I wanted to do on that, so for the past two years, I’ve just focused on designing and growing my bridal brand. After going through the newborn phase with my second son, I felt more empowered and confident to share my vulnerabilities and showcase life as it really is. Not filtered. Earlier this year, I knew I wanted to share more of my heart with my followers and use my platform to encourage and bring hope. I believe that the more you understand yourself and share your true authentic self, the more people naturally want to follow. I would say that since launching my new website and newsletter, I’m finally (8 years later from the show) reaching the natural following I’ve always wanted if that makes sense.
How do you determine what brands to partner with? Have you had any horror stories with partnerships? What’s one thing influencers need to know before partnering with a brand?
When I first started working with brands, I said yes to everything! Because contrary to modern belief, you don’t just become rich from being on The Bachelorette, I was broke before the show and still had to make ends meet afterward, so I needed the collabs I was getting. I needed every partnership, or so I told myself. In hindsight, the smartest thing you can do as an influencer is to ONLY work with brands you organically already enjoy, feel passionate about, or if they’re new to you, the product and brand at least line up with your life and beliefs. Don’t take everything that comes your way; there is power in patience. The more you’re able to build up an authentic vibe and following with natural engagement, then you will end up with larger collabs, and better brands because you didn’t just sell everything that came your way. I think it’s important also to ask.. will I benefit from this partnership or just the brand? In a sense, does this post resonate with my following in terms to increase the engagement and conversation on my feed, or is it just going to be a post that benefits the brand but might be too salesy and turn a few followers off?
Tell me about the Heart of Purpose Podcast! Why did you decide to launch the podcast? Who has your favorite guest been so far? Who would your dream guest be? What advice do you have for someone starting a podcast?
As mentioned before, I knew I wanted to share more of my heart, and more of my faith with everyone and the best way to do that was to create a podcast catered to encouragement so that those who enjoy my faith-based or encouraging quotes on Instagram had a place to hear more.
What’s your favorite Instagram feature?
Double tap to like — I’m all about convenience!
What reality TV shows do you watch now?
I don’t have anytime to watch TV! I wish I did but the only TV I watch these days will be a random show Chris gets into. I did enjoy Love At First Sight, though.
About Desiree Siegfried
Desiree Siegfried is the founder and wedding gown designer of Desiree Hartsock Bridal, author, and host of Heart of Purpose Podcast and Bride Talk Podcast. She first appeared on Reality TV on Season 17 of ‘The Bachelor’ before becoming ‘The Bachelorette’ where she met her husband Chris. She is a momma to two sweet boys and resides in Portland, Oregon.