Step up your Instagram: For Bloggers and Small Business Owners (Part 1)

Are you wanting to connect with more genuinely interested followers on Instagram?

Me too. Always. 

In the past month, my Instagram has gained 100 followers after a year long stand-still. And it's still growing by about 3 followers a day. For some, 3 followers a day is puny, ridiculous, and not impressive.

For a girl who's wanting to connect, create, and make a live'n--- those numbers are gold!!! Half my sales and client network come from Instagram, so it's important to me that I'm learning how to continue to grow my following.

As a business owner, it can be easy to allow Instagram's shadow side to keep me from reaching out to future clients and followers---

What's the shadow side of Instagram? 

For me, it's scrolling through all the brilliant creatives feeds I follow with an ungrateful attitude for where I'm at with my business and life--- which leads to jealous comparisons; it can be a direct reminder of how many West Elm pieces I want but can't afford; it can lead to discouragement in numbers or progress, frustration with lack of funds, and even self-loathing. At times, it's made me question my own business or blog endeavors in all of the worst ways:

"They do what I do but they're so much better at it and make way more money-- how the heck?!"

"My collection will never look like theirs."

"Did that person just make fun of me in the comment section of my own picture?"

"Did that random person comment on my photo because they genuinely thought it was awesome or because they just want me to check out and follow their feed?"

Here's my refreshing and life-giving motto after 5 years of being on both the fun/authentic side and the phony/likes-for-follows side: 

Instagram is a joy when I make it my jam.

Girlfriend, I think we all know this ^^ by now. Make it a personal shindig and do it for you.

But I think we all need kind reminders and ideas for how to own it and make it ours.

That's why you're reading this. 

The secrets I'm going to share with you in this two part series are not necessarily to help you gain followers, although I think you will see results in that area if you follow these steps.

The secrets I'm sharing with you are the secrets to letting go, planning ahead, brainstorming your ideas, and implementing your dream feed in real life. 

Here are a few ways I've stepped up my Insta-JAM:

1. My Tripod and I? #Besties

This one really counts for fashion bloggers and creative-preneurs like myself who dabble in photography and design. I don't pay someone to show up at my front door every morning and take a picture of my outfit, because I don't get gussied up every day and I don't have that kind of moolah.

 I've learned to take my own pictures, in my backyard, living room, and elsewhere. And y'all, my tripod selfies look really good and have challenged me to get outside of my creative comfort zone when it comes to location!

I've had to teach myself to stop judging myself for taking pictures alone in front of a colorful wall across from the Wendy's drive-thru and a busy carwash where random people are in their cars watching me take crazy photos of myself. It's statistically proven that pictures of faces get some of the most likes on Instagram (i've found that to be SO true about my own feed) and I love getting dressed up or showing off my newest thrifted outfit. It's a fun part of my job and I think it's essential for my Instagram's growth.  

Afraid to try it? Every picture you see in this post was a picture of me jamming out to Kelsea Ballerini blasting over my speakers in my living room, while my camera's ten second timer was going off. Put on some music you can move to and you'll forget you had fears. 

2. I'm Gonna Plan. Plan. Plan. Till I Cain't Plan No Mo'

Ever felt like you have lots of good ideas, they just never happen because time got away from you?

Yeah, me too.

I stopped doing that. I stopped thinking and started doing [and started planning those stellar amazing photos you see to the left]. 

In my most direct and brutally honest tone ever, I'm telling you non-planners that if you want to see your instagram grow

---you need to plan.

Just. try. it. 

I'm really not a fabulous planner. Sometimes I don't follow through with my plans, but every week I write down a list of ideas I have for my instagram.

  • What fun photo ideas do I have?
  • Is there a girl I can call up to take pics of or with?
  • Do I have new products I need to feature?
  • Is there an inspirational quote I can write out to encourage others with?
  • Do I need to share some of the work I've been doing for clients so I can get more clients? (The answer is ALWAYS YES for that one)

Planning helps me keep my Instafeed spicy and interesting without having to stress over finding a picture to post every day. In all actuality, it saves me time (I usually have enough pics for 1-2 weeks worth of insta-posts after one session) and brings more intentional photos and color to my feed. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 Next week, we'll cover authenticity, hashtags, direct messages, and instagram challenges.