Blogging, Instagram, and social media tips are probably my most asked questions. I work full time utilizing social media marketing, and obviously dedicate time to the internet on my Instagram and this blog of mine. Social media is probably my favorite thing ever and I love helping others learn from what I have experienced! More often than not, I am asked how do I make money off of my Instagram and blog, and before jumping into that you have to start with the basics: The Art of Instagram.
I've been on Instagram for years now, and embarrassingly still have a lot of my first photos still published (I'm working on it! haha). I've learned a lot through trial and error, mean comments, and just growing into my own style over the past few years. Having a tailored Instagram is your key to success because this is where a lot of your audience, and brands, will first look.
Your username, profile picture, and bio all are your first first impressions to the audience. That little bit is going to determine if they are going to click your profile and see what you are all about. I've changed my bio plenty of times, but here's what you need to include: name, a few facts about you, what they can expect from your profile, and a website link if you have one.
I recently changed my profile to business (you can change it at anytime) so I can track my analytics more closely. This shows me weekly which photos do the best, how many people saw that photo, and the jump and fall of followers.
Probably my favorite part of Instagram is creating a cohesive theme. Obviously, this will vary depending on your brand. Some profiles strive on bright colors, others are purely black and white. I wanted my theme to look bright, natural, and really capture my lifestyle. I am drawn to cooler tones, but mix in warmth as well so it's not cold. A great way to visualize your theme is using apps like Planoly where you can see how everything looks together. Before I post any photo, I add it here to make sure it would look okay. Sometimes having similar photos next to each other can look really odd, so seeing it before you post can make sure you always keep your theme cohesive. I also edit every single one of my photos with about the same effects so they all flow together as well. I love using Facetune to get my whites white, and vsco cam for the filters. Creating the theme is the fun part, so get creative and really capture your brand! I also created a video a while back on how I edit my photos.
Getting Likes & Followers.
Okay, here's the most important part right? Joking, but brands and companies pay close attention to the actual engagement on your photos. There is an epidemic of big Instagrams buying followers and likes, which looks good from appearance, but you can easily tell when their audience isn't authentic. If you have 50k followers, but only get 100 likes on your photo... Do the math, that's not a great return rate. While my Instagram is currently sitting below 4,000 followers, my photos get anywhere from 150-350 likes. So, how do I do that?
1. Engage with your audience. Like their photos, leave comments, reply to their comments, follow them back. Don't have just an empty shell of an Instagram, dedicate some time to giving back and be on the personal level with them. I will go to an Instagrammer I really like and go through who's following them. I will like a few of their photos, leave a comment sometimes, and if I really like their feed I'll follow. Especially if your Instagram is a similar niche to the person you went to, you will majority of the time get a new follower out of it! This is a great way to branch out and get a wider audience.
2. Use hashtags. Hashtags are a huge help and I generally take advantage of using the max of 30. I save different hashtags in my notes on my phone, so depending on the photo and what the subject is I always have related hashtags. Make sure you use hashtags that aren't spammy (#likeforlike #followme) because this can get you shadowbanned where your photos won't show up in the hashtags or in your follower's feeds. If you are doing an outfit post, search #ootd in the explore and see what related hashtags come up and use those if you need some guidance. Also, pay attention to the number of people that have been using that hashtag as well, if it's a million plus your photo is less likely to be seen because so many people are using it.
3. Comment/Like pods. These are a lifesaver and so fun for connecting with other instagrams. A pod is where you have a group message of up to 14 accounts on Instagram. Whenever you post, you share your photo in the group message and everyone in it will either go like it or go like and comment on it. It's not as authentic as having normal followers, but it does bump you up and encourage your real followers to leave comments and like the photo. It's also great if your photos aren't doing so well in the first 10-30 minutes because this will determine if people are going to see it at the top of their feeds or not. You can find pods by joining facebook groups like Instagram Comment Pods and find people that have a similar niche as you.
Finding Your Niche.
Speaking of niche, you need one. My blog is lifestyle, military, & motherhood. That's my brand and the things I share and write about. Having a niche determined will keep a theme for one, but also help you and brands work together. If your niche is cooking, a cosmetic brand will more than likely not want to work together because you aren't going to benefit each other's audiences. Determining what you are going to blog and share photos on is essential, so when you do reach out to brands you both know your audience will already be receptive to it. When you are first starting out, it will be so tempting to sell your soul to anything (trust me, I almost did a blog post on menstrual pads... Almost). But, keep on brand and on your niche and it will take you so far!
The guts of your Instagram. What pictures are you going to post? Are you a travel blogger who will be sharing sites and foods you eat? Are you a mom blogger sharing baby fashion and the latest baby gear? Your content is so important because hello this is social media and this is your core to success. I majority of the time use my phone camera to take my photos, and normally have it in square mode because I have the intentions of using those photos for Instagram. I do have a canon rebel camera, and recently upgraded to a Canon Rebel t5i. Always take photos with natural light and if you are taking selfies, take them in front of a window. If you have seen my Instagram, I love flatlays. I have a white foam board from Walmart and left over marble contact paper that make great backgrounds for my look and theme. Flatlays are a great way to stay on brand and include different props that can portray a message to your audience.
Overall, make sure your content has a purpose. Think: what do I want people to feel/ think/ or do when they see this image? Do I want them to check out my latest blog post? Do I want them to like it because it's funny and relatable? Do I want to sell this product? Always have a purpose for what you are posting. Also, think of how a brand and company is going to see you. Refrain from vulgar language and drama, this is your business so make sure you conduct yourself professionally! If you need to, make a private personal instagram where you can share that and personal photos that may not fit on brand.
I hope this gives y'all a great starting point on this whole journey to blogging and Instagram! It's a lot of hard work and so much goes into it, so I don't want it to be overwhelming and too much info at once. Y'all know I am expecting my baby very soon (literally due this Saturday!) so I apologize if I am not able to get the rest of this series up right away. But, when the other posts are live I'll link them here to make it easier to go to the next! I hope this helps give you a great starting point for your social media success.