Where it All Began
Remember back in the good ol’ days when Instagram was easy and fun and you simply posted photos and the followers rolled in? When the timeline on Instagram was chronological and the algorithm didn’t exist?! Or, maybe it did and we just didn’t care. Either way, it was a glorious time. I can’t believe how much has changed in the world of Instagram since I first started my account in 2015. I remember I had set out to share my knowledge and educate people on health-related topics. I was sharing about things I was excited about and honestly didn’t really care if people saw it or not, I just liked sharing!
At first, I thought I knew who my audience would be and what they’d look like, but in reality, my audience chose me. As I said, when I first started my account, it was mostly for fun but my account grew really fast in followers and I found that a lot of students and healthcare professionals who preferred lifestyle content were drawn to what I had to say. I also started by following a ton of people in my field – anyone who was interesting to me. I commented on their posts, liked their content, and engaged with them for hours. Once I saw the potential for growth I got hungry to share my blog, I tried to get my name and platform in front of as many people as possible without being annoying.
Now blogging is my second job along with being an ER doc. I love the creative outlet and partnering with brands when they are a perfect fit so I can share cool products and services with my audience. I can’t wait to expand even more this year!
Tips from a Pro
I invited my friend and colleague Johanna (@johhhanna on the ‘gram) to help me explain the value of social media, an online presence and of course the potential of a personal brand. Johanna has built her career helping other influencers, entrepreneurs and bloggers do just that and I couldn’t think of anyone better for the job. Please enjoy her sage advice:
Hi friends! As Cassie mentioned I’m Johanna but you can call me Jo. I’m an influencer coach, and personal branding expert currently living in beautiful Bali. I’m pumped to be here giving you some easy tips and tricks to start your personal brand and crush the social media scene. Now is just as good a time to invest time in social media as it was in 2015. Social media has evolved a lot but it’s still a very new industry! The potential for Influencers (of all follower numbers) is amazing right now if you know what you’re doing 😉 Let’s dive in.
Identify Your Why and Brand
First off, you need to consider why you’re actually interested in being involved in social media and using it as another stream of income. Do you have a freelance business? Are you a business owner? Are you interested in sharing beauty/lifestyle/fitness as a blogger? Whatever it is, get crystal clear on your purpose for Instagram and set some goals.
From the perspective of being an Infulencer are there certain brands that you’d love to work with down the line? Does your brand align with theirs? What type of social media accounts are their clients currently following? Are you a fit? Sometimes, you need to think about this stuff from the top down. You should definitely be sharing about those brands organically right now!
Be All In
In order to make moves in this space as an Influencer you need to be all in. They aren’t kidding when they say that in 2020, social media is like a second job. Plus, the saturation is no joke. This doesn’t mean that there’s no room for you, it just means that you’re going to need to stand out and continue to show up in an authentic way. Make sure that you’re being consistent in your posting. I know that we don’t all have the time and luxury to sit and post on Instagram all day long, but there are a lot of great scheduling apps and tools to get you going. I’m a huge proponent of batching content! Grab a friend and spend your Saturday morning shooting 6-8+ different looks so you can have a stock on content. When it comes to actually posting be sure to be adding value for your audience. Pretty pictures of you are cute, but it’s better for your audience and your growth when you can educate, inspire, inform, or entertain them while their scrolling. Go back to your WHY and make sure your posts are translating that why to your audience!
Being an Influencer sounds like a glamorous job, paid to post on Instagram? Heck ya! But it’s a total labor of love, especially in the beginning. There is a ton of content creation that goes into Instagram alone but the thing is, you don’t own your Instagram followers. When the algorithm changes, or if your account were to ever be compromised it’s basically too-bad-so-sad. I’ve had clients with over 150K followers have their accounts hacked and wait WEEKS to hear back from Instagram.
As an Influencer or personal brand you don’t want all your eggs in the Instagram basket. I recommend branching out with a blog and/or newsletter. Again, choose what’s realistic. From a brand collab perspective I’d say brands prefer the Influencer who also has a blog. It’s an opportunity for you to offer the brand additional deliverables ie. sell them an Instagram post but also a blog post. Plus you are then providing back links to their website, which is valuable in the google language of SEO (search engine optimization). However an email list is super valuable if/when you decide to create a product to sell to your audience. With email YOU decide exactly when you show up in someone’s inbox, it’s not up to any algorithm.
Let’s talk about blogs and newsletters in a bit more detail.
The Value of Having A Blog As An Influencer
I always enjoyed telling stories and casual writing, so blogging was a no brainer for me. We live in a time where most audiences are really visual. You don’t NEED photos on your blog but it helps make your content more enticing. Plus, those are images that can be repurposed on Instagram. Regardless of what you’re blogging about shoot for 800-1200 words per post, keep it valuable with advice, stories and tips and use headers to help guide your audience through the content. Having a blog is a great way for your platform to be shared on Pinterest and it’s a great place to write more long form content because sometimes an Instagram caption just doesn’t cut it. Blogging also allows you to build up your own reputation as an expert in your industry. The more your name is tied to the topics you write about online the higher you will begin to ‘rank’ on google when people are searching for your niche. You can check out my own blog post here that tells you step by step tips to create a quality blog post.
The Value of Having An Emailing List As An Influencer
If you’re going to have a blog, website and any sort of social media presence, the next step is for sure a mailing list. If you KNOW you won’t blog consistently start an email list first. Like I mentioned, imagine the seemingly impossible happens: Zuckerberg decides to shut down Instagram and Facebook one day. Where is your audience going to be?! Your email list will always be with you if all else fails. Plus, it’s a more direct way to get in front of your audience on a weekly basis!
But how do you get people to sign up? And what do you email them?
For Influencers I recommend creating fun freebies or tip sheets to exchange with your audience in exchange for their emails. When it comes to sending out emails I suggest have a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter with topics such as music or podcasts you love, a life update, a content recap, some exclusive content (only for subscribers) and current favs – this also provides an opportunity to link affiliate/commision products from RewardStyle or Amazon Affiliates and make some extra cash. For more tips on how to get started, check out this blog post.
Commit to It, Own it
I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with too much info!! I could seriously talk about this stuff allllll day. If you know that you have valuable content to bring to the table or you just have something you’re passionate about sharing then don’t hold back! But before anything else, take the time to get clear on what your personal brand is, decide what platforms you want to use to showcase that knowledge and consistently show up for your audience!
Take it one step at a time and be intentional with your efforts. Good luck! I can’t wait to see you out there!
Johanna has a FREE 3 part video training series for Influencers which you can grab here! It’s packed with more tips and super helpful information for how to get seen by more brands, how to increase your engagement rate, and how to get paid more by brands. All tips I’m applying on the regular!
Thanks again to Johanna for all the info! Make sure to check her out on Instagram too!
Photos by Ali Folster