Lessons I Learned When Building a Social Media Presence + Instagram Tips!

From my short few years building an online presence I have learned a few tips and lessons I wish someone had told me from the start. This past year I have got to work with over 30 incredible brands, got to travel to California with my favourite clothing store, attended blogger events and openings, but most importantly I gained confidence and happiness by sharing my thoughts and photos with readers. I know some of you are probably thinking I am going beyond my britches offering advice when I myself am not insanely successful on my online endeavours... but I have gotten to a place where I feel like at least I am being heard somewhat, that’s why someone runs an Instagram or blog isn’t it? May you agree or not, below I will discuss (in a bit of a messy format) what worked for me as someone who wanted to share my love of beauty and fashion with others.

You have to start somewhere. Everyone has to start somewhere, even the big “beauty gurus” that are raking in millions started with no followers. An example I like to use is when I was young and first began blogging, a blog called “schoee.blogspot.com” and I followed each other. She only had a few hundred more readers than me and we posted the same sort of content. I gave up blogging after being discouraged that no one was reading my content. I came to find out a few years later that the other blogger was Zoe Sugg, who now runs the Zoella online empire that I am sure you’ve all heard of. Moral of the story is keep going and sharing what you’re passionate about even if you feel like you’re not being heard, just like she did. If you want to begin blogging I suggest using blogspot.com, it’s very easy to use and free.

Make a name and stick with it. If you want to build an online presence I found it was important to use one name on all social media platforms and to leave out any numbers/characters if possible. Something catchy or maybe just your own name. You want people to remember it and it’s how you’ll be recognized. I don’t think I have the best name but people seem to remember it and the name was available for me to own on Instagram and .com domain. Consider making a twitter, snapchat, blog, Instagram, pinterest, email, WHATEVER you want to utilize.

It’s ok to not let real life friends know. When I first became committed to instagramming and blogging I was really embarrassed for people I knew in real life to see what I was doing. I felt like they’d make fun of my thoughts and photos or think I was being full of myself for trying to build up my platforms. I made separate accounts from my personal ones (and even went as far to block everyone I could possibly think of from them) and carried on that way. Younger me felt this way out of fear of being made fun of but now that I am older I realize no one is going to make fun of me (or even care hah). If you're too worried people will bully you don't let them hold you back from doing something you enjoy.

Connect with the city you live in (if you’re comfortable with that). For over a year of running my blog and Instagram I didn’t disclose where I was from. As soon as I did I was contacted by my local mall to write a feature for them. Engage with local brands, restaurants, and services (tagging them in photos, writing reviews, etc). People enjoy following others who live where they do because you’re more relatable and can show them new things to do and see around their home. Even just letting readers know I was from Canada helped both new Canadian readers and brands engage me.

Take advantage of everything that comes your way. If you’ve been working at it a while brands or events may begin to contact you. It’s very exciting when this starts to happen (and I guarantee with hard work this will happen… if you’re PASSIONATE about what you’re doing and not just trying to get free stuff). Collab with as many as possible and go to every event you can. When I began getting contacted by local brands/store openings I turned down quite a few because I was too nervous and shy. Honestly, I still turn down invites because I am too nervous to interact with new people without a friend with me (ugh don’t get me started on some of the  amazing stuff I have chickened out on). I believe the best way to build up connections and platforms is grab whatever comes your way and enjoy the ride, so hopefully you’ll be better at this than me!

Instagram tips that have helped me:
  • Post frequently
  • Follow, like, and comment on other pages like yours
  • Take quality photos with good lighting… there are lots of tips online for this
  • Have a “theme” to your page (use the same settings/filters on all your images)
  • Look at other pages for inspiration on how to take photos
  • Don’t go overboard on the hashtags, but utilize a select few that are relevant to your image
  • Engage brands by tagging them when you post a photo relating to them (may it be your food at their restaurant, clothing from a local brand, makeup you’re using, etc)
  • Try to add your own original “vibe” (cringing at my use of that word) to your page, it keeps people coming back.
  • Post photos of you! People want to know who they’re following. This is hard for me because I don’t often like photos of myself and feel weird posting them but give the people what they want (hahh).
  • Make sure your email or contact button is in your profile description.
  • Do some research on how to take nice product photos/flat lays.
  • Generally be an active user but do not spam people.
  • Avoid buying followers and likes. To be honest, when I first made my IG I bought 1,000 followers for 50 cents. This was helpful in kick starting my Instagram and I will still recommend this to new users. Those 1,000 users I bought have long been deleted by Instagram for being inactive but their impact was helpful in gaining my first real followers (people are inclined to follow someone they see other people liking). Besides doing this I would avoid buying any fake likes and followers because it’s obvious and not gaining you any real engagement.
  • Have fun! Don’t let posting be a chore, you’re here to share content with others because you enjoy it.
  • Have variety to your images.
  • Let people know your other social media account usernames.
  • By engaging brands they may post your image on their page, take advantage of that! Brands are always looking for content to post on social media and very often use tagged/hashtagged photos of them.
  • When you see a famous instagrammer they didn't just snap all these photos in a second, there's a lot of time that goes behind the images so don't think it comes to them easy or else you'll feel discouraged when taking your own photos
  • Learn from successful instagrammers that you like, what does their page have that attracts people to it?
I hope you've found a bit of this helpful, I plan to write more post like this but more specific to certain topics. My next one will be about setting up your first blog ;)

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