I did it! I’ve made it pass the 10K mark on Instagram! Life has been “happening” all around me lately and so I’m a little late with this post but I couldn’t let this moment pass me by. First, let’s be clear, it’s not all about the numbers, but when building a brand, milestones can be significant. I really enjoy engaging with all of my followers and the sewing community, so this post is about sharing with YOU all the things I learned about reaching this milestone. Let’s get into it!
- Get inspired, but don’t copy. There is so much creativity in the sewing and DIY community, it’s easy to be inspired, but it’s just tacky to copy someone – or not give credit where credit is due. Both can be seen as aggressive, and hurtful to the originator. It’s okay to get inspired and even share who inspired you. As a blogger, I’ve had my looks or even my photography style recreated and most of the time, people will give you credit or a mention. It’s really flattering when it happens. And when they don’t, it just looks creepy and stalker-ish. Above all else, I try to remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
- Set up a blog. Instagram is fun and there is a sense of instant gratification, but do you own your page? The answer is no. Invest in yourself and set up a blog. Think of it this way, Instagram is the apartment that you rent with the nice view. The blog/website is the house that you can build a garden, add a pool, hire maintenance and build equity. See the difference?
- When they go low, and they will… Ohhh the trolls will come. I’ve seen everything from commenting under my post or during my live about their own products or agenda. Leaving unsolicited advice on the very same thing I’m discussing. I call them hi-jackers. It might not always be their intent, but they will try. I just ignore them or if it’s really egregious, I’ll delete the comment. Bottom line, don’t engage. But if you do, respond in your best way possible.
- More followers, more ________. I remember when I had 1,000 followers. And I remember 3,000 followers, then 4,000. And then, it gets fuzzy after that. I know some followers who have been around because we’ve interacted and some folks are newer. And that’s okay. But remember, no matter how large or small the following, to stay grounded and humble. Every movement on social media doesn’t require your opinion and every post doesn’t require your comment. As you grow more people will see you as an authority in some way and you have to realize that your name or comment mentioned somewhere can carry weight and a cache. I’m not saying be elusive, I’m saying carry your name like how you would want to carry your reputation in real life. But also remember this, and I kept hearing this as I began approaching 10k. “You are becoming a brand”…. as cheesy as it sounds. And unfortunately, some of your followers will no longer see you as a real person running your account. Even though their behavior at times can be a turn off, give them some grace and remember that they’re only trying to get to know you or seek advice.
- When they see you. So you’ve grown your audience and now brands are reaching out. If that’s what you want, then go after it, sis! But carefully and professionally. If you’ve never heard of a brand, google them and see what their reputation is beyond the walls of IG. And if you have heard of them, that’s great too, but see what they have to offer. And if you’ve heard of them and are a big fan -slow down. It’s easy to get starstruck by a brand that you love. It’s definitely happened to me. But use that to your advantage. Leverage that brand knowledge you already have and share with them why you are excited about a potential opportunity. It will go a long way.
- What about your friends (IRL)? It’s so easy to get caught up in interactions on social media. I mean, I certainly feel like I have 10,000 friends, but don’t forget your friends in real life. They are your Day 1’s! They are the ones that will give you the real deal, you can bounce off ideas and they can talk you off a ledge or take you down a peg if you get too full of yourself. Plus, you can always step away from your phone and they will be right there ready to hang out in real life.
- Protect yourself. The most obvious thing here is, yes please stay away from social media drama. Believe me, it exists. But also, protect your work! Make sure that your passwords and authorizations are all in a safe place. As you grow, you’re going to be susceptible to spam and shady accounts wanting to work with you. Be watchful and protect yourself. Don’t click on any links in DMs and go outside of Instagram to view a website. And if someone wants to send you something via mail and you don’t already have a relationship with them, give them a PO Box or work address. I’ll share a quick anecdote, I once had a suspicious package delivered to my house. By suspicious, I mean there was no label, only a tracking number. And when I tracked it, it led me back to a nameless warehouse. And when I opened the box, it was just my name with my address handwritten in sharpie. Umm, creep factor on 100! So I called the police and asked them to open my package (yes you can do that). And it turned out to be thread from a company that I had an ambassadorship with. Did the story end with the cops laughing and praising me for my heighten sense of safety – umm, yes. But could it have ended differently, of course.
- Engage with your community. If you see something you love then you should like, comment and reshare if you feel so inclined. But don’t think for one second that you don’t need the support of your own community. At the end of the day, the relationship is valuable and reciprocal. The more you share and engage, the more the community will share and engage with you. But be genuine! You don’t have to leave 15,000 emojis under a post for someone to know that you interacted. Your specific words and gestures mean much more than 10 heart emojis in a row.
- Don’t get caught up in the numbers. So you’ve plateaued in growth. Or you’re not sure how to grow. That’s not what this post is about. But, I’m here to say, don’t get caught up in the numbers. You may have a streak or season of wins and tons of followers, but you may also have posts that just don’t resonate the same. Instagram fame is fleeting, but stay consistent and connected. Even if you don’t see the gains right now, they could be flowing in spades down the line.
- Expand, elevate and evolve. You’ve got this audience. Now what? With every milestone, I like to take things to another level. Expand your brand. Should you open a shop? Start that blog? Or it might be time to elevate. Reward yourself with a light kit or camera that is in your budget. Or it could be time to evolve. Close your shop. Change your name and rebrand. These are all things that I’ve done by the way. LOL.
Until next time, xo….