I have had some requests from my lovely followers on Instagram to share some tips and tricks for becoming an Influencer on Instagram. I like to use the term Blogger, Influencer doesn’t sit well for me. But remember, to be called a Blogger, you actually NEED to blog and have a website where you blog. There are many sites out there to start with a free domain, but I prefer WordPress. I have a list of questions I will outline below and answer for each one. Hopefully this helps y’all looking to become an Influencer/Blogger.
Before I get into the questions and answers, if you already have an Instagram account you are working on growing, go to Fohr.co. This site helps verify you have a true and real following. It also gives you all the demographics you need and possibly for brands who are interested in collaborating with you. So this is a first way to start.
Secondly, make sure you have a specific Niche. For instance, what will your Instagram or Blog be all about? Fashion, Food, Travel, Beauty, Lifestyle, etc? Mine is a mix of Fashion, Beauty and Mom Life – basically Lifestyle. Pick something specific as being all over the place with no middle ground to your blogging is no good, especially if you want followers.
Followers are looking for something in specific when they chose who to follow. If you don’t have a specific Niche, people will view your account as a personal account and probably won’t click the follow button. ALSO, make sure you have a good bio on Instagram – this is the first thing people see before following to get an idea of what you’re all about.
Okay, on to the questions and answers…..
How do you start working with brands?
Take note: Even before you start working with brands, always ALWAYS try to tag any and all brands in your posts as often as you can. This goes a long way. You also get noticed this way. Make sure to even tag small brands, Etsy brands, ALL brands or shops that have an Instagram account. Tagging helps show you’re serious about what you share and that you love what you’re sharing.
Now, when it comes to working, or shall we use the term “collaborating” with brands, some look at follower count and some don’t. This in my opinion is plain STUPID because I can assure you and prove many have bought fake followers, and currently still do to this day which sucks. And there are stupid brands out there that are gullible and believe the high follower count for some is real when it isn’t.
Some brands look less at follower count and more at engagement on photos and stories. Nowadays thankfully it is more about the engagement than followers. Now, don’t be fooled. Some people (many actually) are in engagement groups/pods. This means they’re a part of a group with a huge amount of people. They drop a link to their post and everyone in the group goes and likes it and that person who dropped the link reciprocates to everyone else dropping their links. This is also “fake.” Even so they are real people and not fake likes, they are genuinely not into your posts. They are just liking it because they “have to.” But to know if it is from a like group or not is impossible, unless of course you join some and see who are in it.
**I used to be in these groups and stopped nearly two years ago because I realized 1. it was time consuming to have to like all posts dropped and 2. it wasn’t genuine likes and technically considered fake.
With all of the above said, to work with brands, always start small. Especially if you have a smaller following and haven’t worked with any brands yet. Look up some starting up brands or boutiques on Instagram. Get in touch with them and pitch to them how you feel working together can be beneficial to the both of you. BUT, make sure you make note to them it’s for their benefit. They’re more likely to work with you if you make it all about THEM and their BRAND.
TIP: DO NOT, and I repeat. DO NOT send a DM to brands on Instagram. You can if they have no other way to contact them. But the best way to reach out to brands and what seems and is more professional is to send them an email. And don’t just say, “Hey! I would love to collaborate!” Below is an email sample of my pitch to brands and you can see where I make it mainly about them.
There are of course platforms where you sign up to and can collaborate with brands. Unfortunately, many like Octoly and AspireIQ require a minimum following and engagement to join. There is also Brandsnob and Heartbeat (which I signed up to, but haven’t used). But the best one to start with for a platform which accepts EVERYONE is Influenster. Doesn’t hurt to sign up to this one. You won’t always get collaborations as they chose randomly who makes sense to test products, but I have received a good amount from them.
And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember!! If a brand declines a collaboration, do not feel bad or get discouraged. It will happen and does to everyone, even the bigger Influencers/Bloggers out there. If you get a no, move on. There are plenty of other brands to work with.
Who takes photos? What Camera is used? Do you use a photographer? And if so, do you pay them?
I must say and admit that creating content is by far the hardest thing about being a Blogger. Whether you have a day job, children, etc… there is always something that will make it somewhat harder to get the time to shoot content. Unless of course you don’t work or have kids 😉
When you do get the time to shoot, maybe shoot multiple outfits at that one shoot if you do fashion, or shoot multiple products in one day etc. Having shot content that’s a weeks worth of posts or more in one day definitely brings down the stress level. Photos I share are not always from that day. They are shot at a different time and saved for future posting.
As far as who takes my photos, it can range from my friend, my mom or even my kids! I normally shoot with my friend 2x a week, but now after having my baby, it has been harder to go out and shoot, so I have my mom or kids randomly take a photo I need (or want).
I have an old Nikon D3100 – maybe 7 years old? But works great! I also recently got it a new lens (I believe Nikkor – I am not good with stuff like that LOL) and it basically blurs everything around/behind the focus point which makes photos look better in my opinion. Plus, it is easier to showcase items when its the main focus of the photo.
I do of course randomly use my iPhone for photos. Why not? Use natural lighting and you’re all good. Plus, iPhone (well most smartphones these days) take pretty good photos and also have portrait mode which blurs the background. But know that if you shoot with a phone, go for natural lighting. Even with a camera. Natural lighting makes a photo look better as well as makes it better to edit or add a filter/preset to.
Now, I do not use photographers. Yes I have collaborated in the past with 3 photographers and did not pay them, but I feel using a photographer is too much stress and time. You have to meet with them and shoot, but shooting with them takes hours upon hours and I just have no time or patience for that. Also, it takes time for them to get the photos to you. So I like getting my own photos myself with the help of family or friends.
And just a TIP: I honestly do not like photos that look like you’re modeling. Those aren’t fun or interesting and don’t tend to do well as far as likes etc. I like the more natural and realistic pictures. Yes of course pose, but you get what I mean about modeling type photos? I hope LOL.
ALSO!! If you use a professional camera, you DO NOT need to wait to get to a computer to load the photos and then send to your phone etc. (if you use your phone for posting). I have a Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader where I put my SD card in it, insert it into my phone where you put the charger and VOILA! You can chose which photos on the SD card to save directly to your phone.
How do you come up with a color scheme or preset (filter) to chose for your photos?
This is a fun one, yet stressful too!! It definitely takes time to find which preset you like and sometimes, a preset that looks nice on someones feed may not be good for you. This is where the stress comes into play. You need to play around with different presets until you find one you have fallen in love with. Also, some presets only work well with certain colors.
I suggest you scavenger hunt Instagram feeds and screenshot ones you love and send it to an Etsy seller (search: Lightroom CC Mobile Presets). Ask them if they can create a preset for you that will make your feed look similar. Many will take the challenge. Send them your photos so they can test out their creation to make sure it works with your photos. Or you can just find a preset on Etsy and message the seller a couple photos to show you what the preset will look like on your photo prior to buying. Many sellers actually suggest you do this before purchasing.
The best and only (that I know of) app that uses these presets is Lightroom CC for Mobile. I love it. I used to use VSCO and other apps and NOPE, not anymore! I now only use Lightroom CC for presets on my photos as well as editing such as lighting, contrast, saturation, etc. I also use the app ‘A Color Story.’ With this app I can add my photos and see how my feed will look prior to posting. This way if I need to move a photo around or add a new photo to make it all flow, I can do that easily without posting and then being like “ugh, it doesn’t look right.” There are other apps for this, but I have fallen in love with ‘A Color Story.’
Once you have found the theme for your feed, you will slowly see it come together as you post more. Many love cohesive feeds and are more likely to follow someone who has a nice feed over someone who has an “all over the place” feed. See below different styles of color schemes that are beautiful and make a feed look put together (NOTE: Some keep each photo using a similar color which brings the photos together):
Is there a specific method to content? How do you know what to say?
Firstly, as far as your content on Instagram, make sure you have a Niche as discussed above. When you don’t have a specific Niche, you end up having random photos you are posting. Once you decide your Niche you will know what type of photos you will want to shoot and of what/who.
When I post, I try to space out my photos between busy, not busy, far away shots and close up shots. That way when they are spaced out between each other, the feed flows better. If you have many busy photos and then less busy and then a product, it may look all over the place. Like said above, that is why I use ‘A Color Story.’ It shows me what my feed will look like before posting the photos so I can move things around until it looks good as needed.
Also note it is good for engagement to be consistent with posting. If you post daily, try to continue doing this. If you post every other day, continue this. I don’t think you should post more than once a day. One post a day is sufficient enough. Make sure though regarding consistency to read my tip at the end.
As far as what to say for your caption, this all depends. It doesn’t always need to be specific to what photo you are posting. When I post, if it is a collaboration, I discuss the product etc. If not, I post what is going on in the photo if it is funny or something with my kids or I just post a random caption of what I feel like saying at that moment. I am more of a humor type person, so I try to say funny things/jokes in my caption. Also asking questions in your captions can tend to get you comments which is great for engagement (make sure to respond to comments left on your photos as soon as you can because this is good for getting you more engagement).
But just know, your caption DOES NOT always have to be what the photo is showing. Say what you feel in the moment is my best advice. People love real captions.
Good Apps to organize Feed and Stories?
So as far as stories go, I don’t really use apps. I just edit my photo like my feed edits and then post and use the options Instagram gives for captions etc. I find making a whole thing (even so it looks nice!!) on an app and then posting is time consuming for me and I just don’t always have time for that. But good apps if you want to do that are Canva, Over, Unfold and Story Luxe. I am sure there are more, but those are the ones I am familiar with. I believe Over is the popular one that most use (though to get the good stuff you need to pay, ugh!).
As far as organizing my feed, as stated already in this post, I use ‘A Color Story.’ There are others like Plann and what not, but I fell in love with ‘A Color Story.’ It is all about personal preference! So search and see which you find is best for you!
Below is a photo (I may have posted some of the photos in the bubble or none, even added some not on here) of ‘A Color Story’ app so you can see how it works. When it has a little Instagram icon on the bottom right of the photo, it means it was posted. Because I don’t use this app to post for me automatically, when I upload the photo, I delete it from the app because it will show up in the app with the icon once posted.
What about advocacy? Dive straight in for it or warm up to the advocacy?
If I have the question understood correctly, I say slowly build it up. Let people warm up to you, get to know you. Also, be true to who you are. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not for the sake of being famous on social media. You gain acceptance by being who you are in real life and showing real life things as opposed to just “Sunshine and Rainbows.” We all know that ain’t true! Everyone has their ups and downs in life and showing also the downs shows people you are REAL. And once people see you are real, they will trust what you post, especially if it is a recommendation for a product etc.
Do you start slow or jump right in?
I say start SLOW! I jumped right in when I first started and honestly, there are a ton of things I wish I didn’t do or post etc. Looking back, I am like WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING? Starting slow and learning to do things the right way unlike I did should get you growing quicker then I did. I am at this I want to say 5 years now? And I have not hit yet 10K followers! But in all due time. But like I said, take your time. Perfect your photos, posts, captions as much as you can. It is not a race and no one is chasing you 🙂
How to remember to post?
This is really a tough question, only because it is going to get different answers from different people. For me, I enjoy doing this blogging thing and Instagram posting, so I naturally and always am on those platforms. So remembering to post is not hard at all!
There are apps you can pay for (not sure exact ones – I think Plann is one) where you can set up posts and captions and have it go up on the day and time you chose. This way you can set things up ahead of time if this is your personality and how you work. And then you won’t forget to post as it will be automatic. Just remember to do it every so often like once a week if you plan for the upcoming week each time.
Blogging / Instagramming as a mom?
This is also going to get different answers from different people. But for me, it is something I enjoy and to post takes a few minutes a day (unless it is a blog post – that takes longer). I can do it while I nurse or while I am holding the baby (and best when she’s napping!). As far as photos, this is definitely harder, especially in the first weeks, but slowly while life starts to settle into place with a new baby, so does blogging. It all ends up falling into place. And now that she is nearly 6 weeks old, I can take photos out again with her tagging along. Before that, I just had my mom shoot a quick shot if we were out at a store or Starbucks or even at home.
#1 Tip I wish I knew when I started Instagram!
Many want to make sure they post consistently. And while this is good, it is best to refrain from posting a ‘not so good’ photo. It is better NOT to post than to post a bad photo. Even if that means you will miss a day posting. Trust me!
I hope this post helped those of you looking to start up a following for your Instagram and Blog! Just keep in mind, go slow. Don’t rush. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t getting where you want to be as quickly as you hoped. The more you do it as a hobby and because you enjoy it, the better it will be!