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If you’re a new blogger, I’ll bet you’re probably feeling completely OVERWHELMED right now. You just started a new blog (you go, girl!), but the initial excitement fizzled once you realized how much work it takes to pump out new content while struggling to grow an organic following on Instagram and other social media platforms.

 IN THIS POST, I’ll share: 
  1. Why I chose Instagram as one of the main social platforms I use as a new blogger
  2. How I used it totally wrong in my first business, and
  3. What I’ve done to see consistent growth from 0 to 700+ followers in a few short months.

 

Realness disclosure:

I know 700+ followers doesn’t sound as impressive as “thousands” in the click-bait headlines you’re used to seeing, but  I’m all about REALNESS on the Crazy Cute Co. blog , and NEVER sensationalizing results.

Social media growth is a long-term game.

Building a real organic following TAKES TIME, and it’s much harder than it used to be. I’ve just started my journey, and I still have a LONG way to go!

But really – it’s more than the follower count that matters… I’ll explain more below!

 

Why Instagram?

You may have heard the notion that Instagram isn’t the “ideal” social media platform for bloggers, because of how challenging it is to get people to click off the app, and over to your blog. Many top bloggers continue to rely primarily on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube for consistent traffic.

Despite all that, I still choose to invest time on Instagram because I believe it’s one of THE BEST platforms to:

  1. Actively engage with my followers
  2. Build my personal brand

I believe every business should have their own “secret sauce” for marketing success.

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone, every successful entrepreneur needs this one crucial thing: a way to genuinely connect with their ideal customers. After all, people buy from those they know, like and trust.

Instagram is the platform to nurture a relationship with your customers by letting them into your world in a personal way, and showing them just how awesome you are!

Because if this, it’s one of the social platforms I enjoy using the most. It enables me to show a side of myself that I can’t convey through my blog articles alone.

 

In the beginning, I did it all wrong.

Back when I ran my invitation design studio, I used to think the purpose of Instagram was to showcase my products and media features. This made my feed act like a catalog or a sad-looking extension of my portfolio.

A screenshot of my IG feed circa 2012 vs today:

Instagram feed makeover: 2012 vs 2018!

I still keep the crappy “BEFORE” photos on my current feed so people can visualize the transformation!

See for yourself @crazycuteco – while you’re there, FOLLOW ME and let’s be friends! 😉

 

I didn’t realize that by doing this, the underlying message behind my content was essentially:

Look at me – My work is so great!

Buy from me.

Buy this. Buy that. Buy everything!

I’ve since learned that using Instagram for personal vs. business are VERY different.

Nobody likes to be sold to 24/7.

These days, we have very short attention spans, and we don’t want to scroll through our IG feeds to be bombarded by sales pitches.

To the unassuming follower, it’s not obvious because the savviest business IGers seem to look and act like friends who share their lives in a genuine way while flooding your feed with their candidly perfect photos, yet you don’t mind… in fact, you want more of it!

So if you’re serious about growing your following and connecting with your potential customers, here are 6 things you can do to start building a genuine, organic following.

 

 1  First, get over yourself.

CONFESSION: I used to be anti-social media for many years.

I thought it was show-offy, and I hated the idea of coming across as a total d-bag among my network. Even today, I still catch myself having these thoughts from time-to-time. Now, I know that they’re just related to my own deep-rooted insecurities (and we all have them!).

The book, “Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence by Gary Vaynerchuk is one of those epic business books that has single-handedly changed my perspective on social media. It made me see social media as a powerful tool to share our message and core values out into the world. In this digital age, we have the extraordinary ability to influence and inspire others to do great things.

What if we didn’t harness the power of social media to get our message out there because we’re worried that some internet troll is gonna call us “ugly”?

We’d be wasting our full potential. Our businesses would suffer. The world would lose out on some great ideas.

Nobody is really judging you that closely — They’re probably too busy worrying about their own insecurities, so WORK IT, BABE! 💃🏻

Focus on your message rather than on yourself, and be 100% YOU – this exudes natural confidence and charisma without you having to fake anything. The more REAL and vulnerable, the better, and people will love you for it.

 

 2  Stop selling, and start adding value

The best salespeople are the ones who sell without selling. They understand the problems their customers are having, and aim to serve legit customer needs through their content.

 

On Instagram, you can “add value” in one of these ways:
  • By educating your following on topics within your niche
  • By stimulating your following through compelling visuals, photos or video that invoke emotions
  • By inspiring your following to take action through a powerful message or call to action

 

Stop spending your days writing copy with the goal of “convincing” customers WHY they need your product. Instead, use Instagram to connect with your customers to understand what their REAL problems and issues are.

Relish in people’s pain points, then explain how your offerings will solve those problems and give people the quick wins they’re looking for. Start serving their needs first, and the sales will come second.

 

 3  Start Visually Planning your feed

There are definitely some purists out there who think that Instagram posts are supposed to be spontaneous, and real-time – I salute them.

As much as I’d love to wake up and look picture-perfect every day, I still have mom-brain with a 3-year-old and sometimes I forget to put pants on at home. It’s just the nature of #momlife right?

You wouldn’t just throw together a blog post without editing, so why would you do the same on your IG feed? People on the ‘Gram are driven by compelling visuals, so the only way you can ensure your grid looks irresistible and enticing is by using a planning app like Planoly.

Planning my feed allows me to sit down and work on a week’s worth of posts in one sitting. I can drag and drop photos in a virtual mockup of my feed, then schedule their posting dates on the app so that content can be posted automatically to my feed at strategic times, even if I’m not using my phone.

Screenshot of the Planoly web app — Posting is so much easier from my Macbook!

 

Planoly ends up being an awesome time-saver for me too – I can write out IG captions on my Mac (so much faster than typing on mobile!), and saves my fave hashtags for easy copy-and-pasting. It also provides great analytics in addition to Instagram’s business insights.

I still post spontaneously when the opportunity hits, but I find one-off posting to be way more time-consuming, and not as intentional as when I take a step back and see how everything fits together.

 

 4  Start converting your existing blog traffic into followers

I just recently discovered an awesome little plugin called MiloTree. It adds a small, yet noticeable popup window to your blog that showcases your Instagram feed, making it easy for a reader to follow you in ONE CLICK without leaving the page.

My MiloTree pop-up for Instagram

I was instantly attracted to this plugin because I HATE those obnoxious pop-up banners that take up your whole screen!

They may convert, but intrusive popups ruin the reader experience, which is detrimental when you’re a new blogger trying to build your readership.

Often, readers don’t want to commit to signing up for your email list on the first visit, so they’re likely to follow you on social media because it feels less intrusive – MiloTree harnesses this perfectly, and has helped me grow on IG quickly and easily.

The plugin also connects with Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Email so you can grow on multiple platforms! Even if you don’t get someone to subscribe right away, you can at least turn them into a follower, so you have another chance to connect with them down the road!

 

 5  Stop obsessing over your follower count

It’s easy to get caught up on how much your follower count goes up (or down) after every post, but I urge you – don’t get obsessed over the number of followers you have while checking your profile 100x a day or else you’ll go Bat-sh*t Cray!

I’ve been there.

The reality is, you’ll win some, and you’ll lose some.

There are days when even if you post nothing, your following will drop for no apparent reason.

Tons of spammy accounts are lurking around out there. Many of these accounts (even those with a lot of followers) are using “bots” to automatically like and comment on posts. 🤮 HINT: Stay away from these! Instagram hates them and cracks down on spammy black-hat accounts regularly.

Natural follower attrition happens on everyone’s accounts. The more followers you have, the bigger the swing (up or down) will likely be.

MY POINT IS: Don’t take it personally when you lose followers — It just means they weren’t REAL followers who resonated with what you are putting out there anyway. 🖐 They can talk to the hand!

Your focus should be on putting out the best content you possibly can. As long as you keep serving your people all the good stuff, your following and overall engagement will increase slowly and surely over time, with the RIGHT people who you actually jive with.

You also don’t need to freak out every time IG announces “a change in the algorithm”, if you’re not trying to hack the system. As long as you’re delivering your message with a side-helping of 100% authentic YOU, good content will never go out of style.

 

 6  Stop figuring it out alone, and start learning from the best

From day one, I knew I wanted to learn from the best in the blogging business so that I don’t waste any time — I ain’t getting any younger, yo.

I’m a HUGE believer that THE BEST THING you can do as a newbie in anything you pursue is to invest in knowledge and learn from the experience of those who have reached success.

Investing in books or courses may feel like a financial stretch, especially in the beginning before you see significant money coming in. But the REAL value is in all the hours, months, and years you’ll save from not having to figure out the process on your own.

Time is your most valuable asset as an entrepreneur.

I followed social media experts and took courses from pro bloggers to find their secrets to success and accelerate my learning curve.

Some resources I personally used at the beginning of my blogging journey + highly recommend:

🚀 Launch Your Blog – This course by Create & Go is run by a cool, down-to-earth couple (Alex, an ex-fitness instructor, and his girlfriend Lauren, an accountant). They’ve become professional bloggers who made over six-figures running a health and wellness blog in under a year (whaaaaaat?😮). They take you by the hand and show you how to get your Blog up and running from scratch. After taking this course I gained SO MUCH valuable insight about the journey of a new blogger, and was able to launch my blog with 10 articles in less than a month!

🏔 Pinterest Traffic Avalanche – another course by Create & Go that focuses on driving free, organic traffic to your blog through Pinterest. This is KEY for new bloggers, even before digging into things like paid advertising and SEO.

🔥 Instagram with Intention – a high-energy course by @hilaryrushford from Dean Street Society. This girl grew her following from 5K to 85K+ in a few short years! Don’t let her Broadway performance background fool you, she’s a smart business woman with tons of insightful strategies for IG!

📚 Read “Crushing Itby Gary Vaynerchuk – I have to mention this book again because I’m obsessed! @garyvee is seriously the king of social media, and there’s so much to learn from him because he’s just in a league all his own. His book highlights many examples of people from all walks of life who are killing it on social media and he breaks down their success formulas in a realistic and actionable way.

 

Be careful though – Not all Courses are Created Equal.

When you’re deciding whether or not to purchase a course from someone, make sure you really understand the WHY and the HOW of their approach, and that you jive with their personality and teaching style.

If any of these so-called-experts are touting easy, get-results-quick methods that seem too good to be true, chances are they’re just blowing hot air for a quick sale, and you’re just getting set up for disappointment.

Trust your intuition, and take all information with a grain of salt – When I’m on a learning shred, I like to gather information from multiple sources, find the common threads between what people are saying, then try things out for myself to discover my own “secret success sauce”.

I go in with the expectation that nothing is REALLY going to feel as “easy” as it always seems on the sales pages. You still have to be willing to put in the work + time to keep tweaking and seeing what sticks.

 

A Final Nugget of Advice from the Pros

One of the most life-changing pieces of advice I’ve seen from many of the pro bloggers was to  FOCUS on only 1-2 social media platforms to start.  Because each platform has their own nuances, it’d take wayyyy too much time to succeed on all of them.

Instead, it’s best to build a strong and engaged following on the ones you enjoy using the most, rather than having lackluster followings spread across multiple platforms. 

Once you build momentum on one, you can then work on expanding your reach to another platform using your existing following. It’s much easier than starting from scratch!

 

 

Are you a fellow blogger?

I’d love to hear about your experience using IG to promote your blog!

How well as it worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

 

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