I get asked this question often. People will pop into my DM’s or send me a message through my blog inquiring about how I became a content creator through Instagram. I figured, rather than furiously typing out answers every time the question comes up, I would write a post about it and direct people here. So if I sent you here, WELCOME and don’t leave until it’s over, or else … Kidding. No I’m not. Am I? You decide … (the dot dot dot’s were supposed to intimidate you, LOLZ — forever feeling cool using the younger folk lingo)
SO here we go, first and foremost
Be true to you: this is the most important of them all, let me say it again, THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. Everyone says it, everyone will preach the importance of being authentic, honest, and genuine but not everyone is able to follow through. Sometimes you will get sucked into this space and not in a good way. Long before I had kids, I remember I would use Instagram as a way to get people to notice me. In other words, I would take billions of selfies and sit and wait for people to comment. This is a tad bit ridiculous looking back on it now, but it makes sense. We are all here hoping for love and support, but just remember to look for it in the right places. I should add, there is NOTHING wrong with billions of selfies, it just wasn’t for me. It became pretty apparent when I would get all dressed up with no where to go, and you would see me attempting to take selfies with a dress on top and sweatpants on the bottom. It was exhausting, and it was exhausting because I wasn’t being authentic to who I was. Now, you will see me snapping pictures of my kids, my home and my relationship because those are the things that make me happy and that will shine through in your work when you decide what things in your life that you’d like to capture within your tiny squares.
Grow authentically: I know this is tough. I know you see other people’s pages growing like wild fire and it makes you wonder why the heck am I still sitting pretty at this low ass number. When people message me asking me how I gained so many followers I often have to remind them that I started my blog almost four years ago. I didn’t necessarily have a goal in mind, and I certainly never believed that I would become an influencer but I knew that I liked to write, and I knew that I wanted to jot my thoughts down so that I would never forget them as the kids got older. Needless to say, I slowly started gaining followers over four yeas ago and my growth hasn’t been crazy it’s just been steady. Do not, and I repeat to not buy followers. It is so obvious to those that know what’s going on - especially brands. At first I think that companies may not have seen it with the naked eye but as Instagram gets more popular, companies are becoming much more aware of the fake stuff and it’s just not a good look for anyone. Also, it can make fellow content creators upset and you do not want to leave a bad impression on other people that are also doing the same thing as you.
Download Lightroom and find a preset: Now this obviously isn’t a necessity but for me it’s what works best. I obsess over the way my feed looks and funnily enough, I used to do this when I would get 3 likes on Instagram. I always cared about how my profile “looked” no matter what and I found that downloading a preset worked best for me. The first time I downloaded a preset I thought I would be set with it for life but the truth is we all change and so do our preset choices. For now, just find one that you love and go from there! You can download some through Etsy I believe but I usually find mine through Instagram or photographers that I enjoy their work. It is essential that you download Lightroom on your phone and your computer (if possible) to be able to use these presets, so make sure you do that first!
Take anything and everything that comes your way: I remember someone once told me to “never do work for free” and I think that is about the worst suggestion when it comes to stuff like this. Sure, I can understand how your work means something and it should be compensated but in my opinion this does not apply to the social media world. The cool thing about “working” on Instagram is that there are many different ways it can be done. Yes, you can get compensated jobs but you can always get jobs in exchange for products. I remember the first company that ever reached out to me was a digital download company for birthday decorations. I was so pumped, I did a giveaway and showed them off and had zero problem doing it. I was also gifted a watch by another company to which they wanted four static posts, and a blog post. Looking back on this now and the way that my collaborations are going I would not be able to do this because I am too swamped with other things but that doesn’t mean I regret doing it back then. I had the time, and I did as good of a job as any because I wanted to get my name out there and I wanted other companies to know that I was able to work with them without any hesitation.
Hashtags and tags are v important: I am still working on this and trying to figure it out but I know for a fact that the more hashtags you use the better. That doesn’t mean to use pointless ones like #boy or #house because a zillion other people will have used those hashtags and it will be difficult to be seen with those. For house pictures, use house hashtags, for outdoor pictures use outdoor hashtags - you get the point. You can google and research about the best hashtags to use, that much I know. Hashtags may land you on the explore page and may also get you noticed by bigger companies that are checking in on their hashtags. Tagging companies is also always a good idea. I tagged Structube in the kids bed a few weeks ago, and although I paid for it on my own they spotted it and asked to use the picture for their page. They have a great following and through that I was able to get some new awesome followers. Also, back when Theodore was a tiny squish and I posted a dock-a-tot photo, I believe I gained over 200 followers from a repost of theirs and this was long before I had a big following myself. I was so excited, ouuuwwwweee so, so so excited. That’s not to say go on a rampage and tag every single thing in your picture or on every one that you post but it is a great way to get seen, not only by the companies but also by other people that are checking their tagged photos for inspiration. sidenote: I have heard that using hashtags in your stories is also a great idea.
Do giveaways but not too many that people think you’re the worst: Giveaways can be a great way to gain more of a following and it can also be a terrible way to lose your true followers. I believe that there is a happy medium between the both, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with doing giveaways (especially local ones or Canadian ones) but I do find that sometimes if you over saturate your feed with giveaways people might think that you’re a bit of a dud. I have done them all, big sponsored ones towards Disney, local ones with shops, Canadian only giveaways and I will say that generally the response is great but just be careful which ones you sign up for and make sure that you do your research ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to ask what sponsors are also taking part in the giveaway so that you are aware of what is to be expected. Also, if a brand asks to do a giveaway with you and you’re trying to grow a following - do it! It is a great way to help yourself out, especially if they are going to post it as well, then other companies will take note that you are willing to put giveaways on your feed.
Do not be afraid to reach out: At the beginning of my Instagram journey and still to this day, this is one of the most important things I figured out. There is no harm in reaching out to companies - what’s the worst that could happen? They say no? Oh well, then it’s onto the next one. When this all started for me I would take the time and research the company I was interested in (people like to know you care about their stuff, duh) and would draft up a lengthy e-mail about how I would love to collaborate with them. Sure, some people said no, but some people said yes and that was what mattered. And let me be clear, I did not have the following I have now but I was confident in myself and my pictures and I know that I would be a great asset to their team. In my opinion, you have nothing to lose so why the heck not? I think I started firing off e-mails when I had a couple thousand followers and you might not believe it but many companies were interested in working together so DON’T BE AFRAID! YOU GOT THIS!
Don’t take it too seriously: This is important. Although Instagram nowadays might feel like the be all end all, it isn’t - there is a still a life outside of these tiny squares and that is a very very important thing to remember. This post isn’t to preach about the negative impact social media can bring out in people but it is important that I mention how great the real world is. Over these last few years I have noticed that if I start to get stressed or anxious about Instagram that it is crucial I take a break. Once I come back rejuvenated, it changes how I take my pictures, or how I work on a collaboration. Just please remember that people follow you for a reason, otherwise they wouldn’t - so don’t get caught up worrying about that kind of stuff, just enjoy it and the rest will follow.
If you want to reach out to me to ask more specific questions I am always hear to listen! I can’t promise that I’ll get back to you right away, you don’t even want to see my insta DM’s ( so embarrassing ) but I can pinky promise that I WILL try my best and that’s what counts right haha, tell me I’m right LOL.