Happy Wednesday beauties!
As promised, I am starting an Instagram series today yay! I have touched on this topic before but with the excess of questions I’ve gotten lately, I thought I’d share again 🙂 For the next few Wednesdays, I will talking about all things Instagram including tips and tricks and how to effectively grow your following along with how I personally edit my photos and what I do for my Instagram on a daily basis. If you have anything else you have questions about or would like me to add, let me know in the comments section!
So what qualifies me to give you advice on Instagram? Well, in the last 8 months, I have grown my following by 600% and it has been consistently increasing each month. I have learned a few things through extensive research over the years and through my own trial and error. I know that growing an Instagram account is something a lot of people struggle with (I was one of them too) and it may seem hopeless with the Instagram algorithm ever-changing, but it’s definitely possible and it will open up so many more opportunities for your business and blog, which is why it is SO important.
To put it in perspective, I did not have an account prior to starting my blog in Feb. 2015. In fact, I made fun of Instagram. I had a few personal photos (that are still on there) and that’s it. Once I started the blog, I added everyone I knew…which was like 200 people haha. In my first year, I topped off at 3300 followers. One year later, I am about to hit 70k. What changed, you say? I hit 10k in June and that’s when I decided that I wanted to get more serious about my Instagram…and I did. I immersed myself fully into it and worked a million times harder than I ever have on anything before. It seems silly to work so many hours on a social media account but at the same time, there is a reason why so many people are intrigued by Instagram and eager to learn how to use it. It has been life-changing, for sure.
Let’s start with the basics!
This is your “hello”….your introduction to new potential followers and businesses.
What do you want people to know about you?
What can they expect to see in your feed?
What is your purpose?
What can you offer these potential followers and businesses (your call to action)?
Where are you located?
How can they contact you?
Why should they follow you?
Take my bio, for example:
You can easily find my name, location, contact information and blog address. I described the kind of things that you might see in my feed (and this is what people expect to see because it’s in my bio).
I prompt new followers or brands to check out my blog by having the website address clearly visible and clickable. Overall, social media should be an extension of your blog as well as a marketing tool.
Another element of your bio that I feel is important. I have read many articles that say having a photo of your face will offer more engagement than with a logo photo. I know that I personally feel more connected to people that have their faces in their profile pic rather than a generic logo. I also think that it is important for your photo to somehow standout. When you comment on other people’s feeds, how will your photo stand out amongst the rest? I personally use color and have found that it works particularly well. However, there are so many other ways to stand out as well! You just have to be creative and find what works for you!
Unfortunately, Instagram is a extremely visual platform and great professional looking photos make a HUGE difference. The photos should look nice individually, but also go together with the other images in your feed. With that being said, you should keep two audiences in mind each time you post a photo.
The Individual Photo
This is what your current followers will see in their feed as they scroll through. If it catches their eye, they like and comment. However, this can also work against you if post something “unappealing” or “out of the norm”. People will unfollow if they see something they don’t like so it’s important to stay consistent with your aesthetic and true to yourself. After all, that’s why they followed you in the first place!
Your Feed as a Whole
This is your first impression for new followers. Chances are they found a photo of yours somehow and were interested in seeing what else you have to offer. The initial photo attracted them in the first place, so if your feed is consistent in style and aesthetic, chances are that they will follow. You have 5 seconds to convert them to a follower or customer. This is why the first 9-12 images are important. If your feed looks nothing like the one photo or doesn’t play well off each other, than they will move on. Variation is key. Use different angles, crops, poses, etc. to keep things interesting.
Ask yourself, do your photos work by themselves? Do they work together with your other photos? If you were someone else, would you follow this person? What draws you in?
Your blog IS your brand. Your photos should work well together and tell “your story.”
Let’s go back to my bio. Pretty dresses, fun colors, romantic details and sparkle……I make sure these four elements are ALWAYS present in my newest 9-12 photos. I feel like it builds trust, consistency and is true to who I am and what I want to accomplish.
These 9-12 photos should explain who you are and why people should follow you. It is also SOOOOOO important to stay “on brand,” meaning that you consistently post photos that fit your aesthetic and what you stand for. If you post a photo that doesn’t “fit,” other people will notice too.
My personal branding has been an evolution of trial and error for the past few years. I struggled with this sooo much. I knew what kind of look I was going for, but I just felt like I wasn’t “getting it.” I switched it up after a year of blogging and noticed an increase in following and engagement. From there, I have been constantly tweaking it, experimenting with different editing techniques and layouts and have FINALLY created a well-branded feed that I am head over heels for and proud of because I know how much work went into creating it. If your feed is not “perfect” yet, don’t give up. Just keep playing with it until you find something that works. It took me TWO YEARS and I am still experimenting. Want to see how much it’s changed? Scroll through my account to view my feed!
What does your brand story say about you?
There are some feeds out there that have very specific color schemes and they are just gorgeous!! However, as a fashion blogger, I many colors in my closet. When I rebranded, I decided to stick with cooler colors: mostly pinks with the occasional purple or blue. Pink is my favorite color and I feel like it fits well with my brand. I do wear a lot of pink but I don’t wear it everyday so I tie it in with flowers, accessories, etc. When creating a color palette, don’t think that you have to be super strict with it. Just having a pop here and there (a few in your top 12 photos) will suffice and bring your feed together nicely. Also be aware that your Instagram account is an extension of your blog/business and should convey the same feeling, colors, branding, etc.
Much like your color palette, the right editing tools can make your feed look streamlined, consistent and aesthetically pleasing. This one took a while for me to get as well.
A cohesively edited feed is SO important. Be sure that your photos have the same “look” and coloring. It will look a bit strange if you have a very warm and happy photo next to a dark and moody photo. Can you still convey these emotions in your editing? Of course! Just figure out a style you like and go for it! You want each photo to look like part of a collection and you want that collection of photos to tell a story. When you look at a particular photo, you should be able to tell whose it is just by the editing technique and branding.
Let me talk about my personal branding for a moment. It is by no means perfect at all. There are SOOO many amazing bloggers out there that just hit it out of the park. However, I will say that I get comments/emails every single day telling me that they love the joyfulness “mood” of my feed and that they feel like stepping into a fairytale and are transported elsewhere on a daily basis. This was totally unintentional on my part and I seriously thought these people were mistaken me for someone else. I took a look at my feed and realized that while I was working hard to brand myself, my Instagram feed kind of just happened and I unintentionally created this “world” for Lizzie in Lace to exist in.
Enough about me. I’ve tried many, many different editing tools and while I do like Snapseed and Pic Tap Go, I am more drawn to VSCO and A Color Story. This is just a personal preference and I know that there are tons of people using different editing apps (or not editing at all).
Layout is just as important (if not more) as your color palette and editing techniques. How do you want your photos to work together?
Layout was another thing I struggled with. Posting ONLY outfits made for a very busy looking feed. I yearned for a cleaner look that still incorporated my blog outfits. I decided to stop posting three consecutive photos of the same outfit and only post one. If I post more photos of that outfit, I space them out dramatically. Once I cut down on outfit posts, I decided to incorporate more detail posts and add in more flat lays and this has worked wonderfully for me! I have developed a sort of “formula” to my posting and layout that has kept me consistent with my color scheme and has helped me to stay true to my aesthetic.
I have seen many different layouts and most have worked well. I think it takes time to develop what you see as aesthetically pleasing, what you ultimately want your feed to look like and how you want to be perceived by brands and followers.
Ask yourself, does my feed as a whole convey what I want it to? Is it true to me? Do the colors work well with one another? Do the images work well with one another? Is there enough “breathing space” between photos or is it overcrowded and hard to read?
How often should you post?
I find that 1-2 times a day is optimal. If you post twice, be sure to space them out.
What time should you post?
This is completely based on your followers. I strongly recommend either setting up a “business” account or using another app to get some data on your followers, such as what times and days they are most active.
Should my account be public or private?
If you are a blogger or business, DEFINITELY have a public profile so that customers, brands and followers can easily access your content (that’s why you are posting, right?). Also people are less likely to follow private accounts, so you will find growth very difficult. For a personal account, I think private would be best.
Should I have separate Instagram accounts for personal and professional?
YES. See above. Also if you have two businesses, each business should have it’s own Instagram account, otherwise one business will end up taking over and your followers may not be very pleased.
I hope that you all enjoyed this post and hope that I answered a lot of your questions! As many of you might know, I am in the process of writing an e-course on Instagram growth. It will cover all of this in extreme detail along with tactics on how to grow a following, personal branding, working with brands, and pretty much everything else I wish I would have known when I started. I am planning to launch when I hit 100k (estimated at late-May/early-June) so be on the look out! If you have any additional questions you’d like to have answered in a future post or in the e-course, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. 🙂
Be sure to stop by next week for part two 🙂
Have a great day!