The Blog Series: What Being on IG Has Taught Me

Here’s what I’ve learned from being an Instagram user for over five years. The good, the bad and the ugly!

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What did we have before Instagram? Can you even remember a time when Instagram wasn’t relevant every minute of our daily lives? Though the app has been active for quite a few years, only recently it has switched to be THE app that everyone has, wants and needs. I’ve been on Instagram since 2013 and though I wasn’t a heavily active user in the beginning years, it has grown to be the platform that my career bloomed from, which is amazing to me.

After almost 6 years of being an Instagram user, there are a few things that I’ve realized and learned. This month for The Blog Series I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you. It’s a little different than my usual posts, but I really want to share the more personal side of Instagram and blogging rather than just technical things! I hope some of this, if not all, resonates with you and helps you stay true to who you are on the ‘GRAM!


1. Numbers should never define your worth. I’ve been through all the roller coaster emotions of not feeling good enough, big enough, important enough and it’s not worth the stress it carries. If you’re in the industry for the wrong reasons and haven’t started as a creator purely because you love to create, then of course numbers are going to be the biggest issue for you. With growth comes more income, but true content creators, as much as numbers help us, aren’t focusing on them the most. Our number one priority, at least mine, is my content and the quality that I’m putting out for my audience to see. My content defines me, not my followers, likes or comments.

Nothing good comes from worrying about your numbers, especially if you’re just starting out in the industry. It makes sense that numbers will be low in the beginning years. Of course there are a few creators who boom right away within the first two or three, but quite honestly, it’s usually not that easy. For anyone. If I ever start to stoop to a low of not feeling good enough or that I’ve had enough growth in the past week, month or year I always remind myself that everyone is on their own journey and timeline. Every single time I tell myself that, it immediately pushes any feeling of disappointment and fear out the door. My main focus is to create content, enjoy creating my content and challenge myself while doing it!


2. Comparison is a b*tch. Straight up! I’ve realized that any time I feel bad about my content it’s for one reason; I’m comparing myself to another image, creator or page. The truth is, there is no other you, and that is your power on the platform. Inspiration and motivation from other accounts is fantastic, but there is a fine line between being inspired and straight up trying to copy someone else’s style, look or photo.

I’ll be honest, it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out who you really are (style, aesthetic, vibe wise), and that’s because the Instagram platform is SO saturated! How many accounts have you come across that look EXACTLY the same? Everything good takes time and the same goes for your personal style. As humans we obviously go through phases, and whether or not you’re “easily influenced”, the Instagram platform affects in ways you may not even realize. What makes you want to buy that beaded bag? What made you buy that $100 face cream? Why are you wearing a 10lb pair of sneakers on your feet? Influence is not all bad, don’t get me wrong, but once you figure out your true style and true self, you’ll see just how much others have influenced you and not always in a beneficial way. WOW, I feel like I just went on a tangent there! My point is, comparison is killer, so stay strong to your own values, beliefs and style (if you already have an idea of it!).


3. Networking is integral. My favourite part about being on Instagram is the networking! I never used to be the type to want to go out, mingle and meet new people but this platform has changed me. And I’m so glad it did! It’s as if I was pulled out of my little introvert bubble. If you’re not a people person but want to grow on the gram and become well known, then you’re going to have to accept the fact that it’s a networking platform. There’s work that comes with the app, and I don’t just mean taking photos and posting them! I met my bestfriend through Instagram and it’s been just over a year now since we met. If it weren’t for IG, I probably never would have met her! It all started with a DM, then a coffee date and the rest is history.

Some of you might argue that networking is optional, but from a creator/blogger perspective I really find that it’s essential to building a community and support system. Though it may not necessarily be essential to growing your following, it helps immensely in other ways. For starters, you can build a support system of people in your niche. My niche is fashion and beauty mostly, so my circle is built of women that are similar! It’s wonderful to have because we all have eachother’s backs. Another great part about networking is that you meet so many people that are higher up in the industry. Think PR Agents, VP’s of Marketing and individuals that are heavily involved with the brands that you love! A lot of my work and event invites come from people that I’ve met through previous PR parties and social gatherings. Networking is no joke people!


4. Consistency is queen but breaks are crucial. We all have a tipping point. A point where we reach our creative capacity, unfortunately. Thankfully I haven’t had to learn it the hard way, but I can tell you that letting my mind rest every so often has led to much, MUCH better content creation and brainstorming. As much as consistency rules, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to take a break from the app, even just for a couple days, a weekend.

Planning supports consistency and can also allow for more breaks. I never have to worry about posting consistently when I shoot 3-4 looks on a weekend and it always allows me to take a break the next weekend! However, shooting is one of my favourite pastimes so I don’t have an issue with it unless I’m super tired and have other plans. Just remember that the harder you work, the harder you can play. But also, the smarter you work the harder you can play! Plan ahead, be prepared and allow room for breaks!


5. Not everything needs to be documented. It took me a while to figure this one out because I could IG story all day long if it was healthy! I’ve learned that not every part of my life needs to be on Instagram for everyone to see. Enjoying moments with loved ones and friends can be remembered through memories rather than my IG archive. A healthy personal and social life is actually healthy when you don’t feel the need to show everything to the world! Sure, your audience wants to see your “everyday life” but that doesn’t mean you need to show it all! I meannn, what they can’t see won’t hurt them right 😉

If you’ve read up to this point, kudos to you and thank you for reading this post. I hope you found it insightful, or maybe just interesting! If you have realizations and lessons of your own from Instagram I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Until next time..

-Haley

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Blogging FAQ

Thanks to that new feature on Instagram that allows you to easily ask questions and get quick responses back, I have a ton of blogging Q’s from you guys that I’m ready to answer!!

Below are some of the big ones that I felt would be best to answer in this FAQ but I’m responding to your other ones through DM on Insta!

“How do you stay inspired?”

I am constantly finding inspiration through other people’s work on Instagram, Pinterest, travel, the people around me and my everyday life. I’m never not observing and I think that helps me stay on track with my own content creation. There’s inspiration oozing out of Instagram, you just need to look hard enough! I also love searching for inspirational and motivational quotes on Pinterest and then saving them into a folder to look back on. I often share these with you guys through Instagram stories.

“How do you get invited to events?”

It was only this past year that I started attending brand events and for each of them I was reached out to by their event coordinators! I honestly think that being invited to events takes time simply because it depends (unfortunately) on how big your following is. This as well as your level of engagement with your audience and the experience that you have with similar brands. For example, in the month of June I was reached out to for two events and they were both in the realm of beauty and skincare. This is the topic that I mainly focus on within my platforms and in combination with my growing following they probably thought I was a good fit.

Event reach outs definitely also take into consideration whether or not you show up as a “well-known” influencer or blogger for your local area. I believe that events relating to store openings or restaurant openings/new menus look for the bloggers and influencers that are most active within the city!

“I would love to start a blog or YouTube Channel, but I don’t even know where to begin. Any tips?”

The very first piece of advice that I’d give for starting a blog or YouTube Channel is to ask yourself why you want to start one and what you’re going to be focusing on. If you truly know why you want to start one then you automatically have the motivation behind you to go through with it. If you know what you want to focus on then all you need now is the platform!

I recommend starting a blog with WordPress (maybe biased because that’s what I used ;), but I find that it’s very user friendly and has a ton of really neat features that help when starting out. You can even customize your theme and layout!

For YouTube you have to be prepared to wait and work hard. Filming and editing videos takes quite a long time and growing your view count takes patience too. It has taken me just over a year and a half to get to 700 subs, but I’ve definitely seen people’s channels grow quicker than that with a few viral videos. I post once every two weeks but have stopped earning money from my videos because of the change in YouTube’s Partner Program. You need 4000 annual viewing hours and at least 1k subscribers in order to monetize your videos, yikes! This is why you need to be dedicated to publishing weekly or bi-weekly videos in order to grow.

“How can I grow my Instagram following quickly?”

There is no natural/organic way to “quickly” grow your Instagram following, in my opinion. Here’s what I think needs to happen in order to grow your following:

1.        Post consistently and often. Aim for everyday or every other day.

2.        Post quality content. Quality over quantity is very important because people may see your account as spam if your posts have no direction or meaning.

3.        Engage your followers. Show your audience that you’re a real person! You can do this by sharing your daily life/struggles/funny moments/etc on Instagram stories or even through question captions and comment convos.

4.        Interact with others on the gram. Instagram is give and take. Like and comment on other people’s images and reply to people’s stories if you see something that inspires, motivates or interests you!

“How did you create your media kit and do you have any tips for reaching out to companies?”

After I surpassed 5k followers on Instagram I decided that I should make a media kit to send out to brands. All I did was Google what the kit should contain and then I created my own format and layout on Microsoft Word! Here’s what I include in my media kit:

Platform Types: YouTube, Blog, Instagram

Statistics: # of followers, subscribers, readers, engagement %, main countries and cities of my audience, ratio of male to female

Rates: Personal to what you can offer brands and should depend on the amount of work/time/resources you put into it as well as how large your audience is.

Images: I include logos of the brands that I have collaborated and partnered with as well as an image of myself! J

Testimonials: Any big reposts or articles that feature me are included on my media kit!

I reach out to companies that align with my personal aesthetic and values. My reach outs are mainly through email but sometimes through Instagram direct message. Sometimes I’ll even do both for one brand! Here is what I include in my email to brands:

1.        How I found the brand.

2.        Why I think we should work together.

3.        Direct links to my platforms (Instagram, Blog, YouTube)

4.        Rates in the body of the email.

5.        Media kit attached.

If you have any other blogging related questions please feel free to comment them below!

xoxo,