Oh boy the journey of blogging so far….. its hard.. huge shout out to all my bellas doing amazing work with their blogs.. keeping up with my weekly posts has been somewhat a challenge so the target of posting an article 2-3 times weekly seems all but a dream as i continue to struggle…one day one day!! any way before i get carried away and forget the point of this post.. which is my insta blogging journey and answering all ya questions let me just right to it…
How did i start? what photographers do you use? what camera? what location, clothes, style, me? haha yeah you wanna know that too!. you wanna know everything huh? haha its all good, well prepare ya selves as this is a long one covering all your questions;
How i started
Growing my audience
The right images to post
Cameras i use
Creating visibility for my posts
Disclaimer: THIS IS ONLY MY EXPERIENCE AND HOW I WENT FROM 100 followers 16 months ago to now 13k (now its not the largest growth but its growth and thats my biggest concern, and to continue to grow)
At the time I decided that I would begin investing in taking quality pictures of my daily looks I had already planned to go to Abuja (as I often did) and so I decided Abuja was going to be where i did my first shoot. Fortunately my sister knew a good photographer so it was easy and I didn’t need to look for one myself (The next photographer i used in Abuja i found myself and i explain how i did that later on).
SO early february i did a photoshoot in Abuja and was able to get 5 looks out of that.
For me that was not enough content to start posting as in my head I knew once I started this thing, I was really going to do it and be consistent (unlike this blog **sigh**) and i would therefore need more content.
What I decided to do initially was to build up quite a bit of content before I started posting..
Now this may not be the way for everyone but having a full time job and being a full time mum I knew I had to really pace myself and always be ahead with a back log of quality images.. I was determined to post 2-4 times daily consistently and in order to do that i was going to need a whole load of content.
I have continued to do this, staying a head of my posting and therefore almost NEVER running out of anything new to post – if I’m not posting something new, its usually because I’ve been too lazy to edit, but that a whole other topic!
Anyway back to it… when i returned to the U.K. i did another couple of shoots to give enough content before i began posting.
Here was the first Image i posted from my first shoot in Abuja 🙂
My following started at just over 100 And for the first 1-2 months or so I was mostly my 11th liker. But I sincerely was not fazed at all.. I never questioned it i was patient and perhaps this may sound a little cocky but I knew it was only a matter of time before my following would increase.
I posted on average 3 times a day using random hashtags below.
I Knew Nothing about really using hashtags to my benefit, and unfortunately i was none the wiser for a further 4/5 months haha (more of that coming up)
In the UK I simply go on gumtree and search for photographers there. Pretty simple and there are hundreds on there with website portfolios of their work. That is the method I’ve so far used to find all of my UK photographers so far.
Finding photographer abroad
Doing photoshoots whilst on holiday is a great way of keeping my content bank filled with quality images. I plan shoots and find photographers wherever I’m headed by simply searching hashtags on Instagram to connect and book them in advance.. i.e. #CyprusPhotographer
Many people may put up a post / stories asking their followers for recommendation which is also a good way but I’m a little inpatient to wait on responses and simply use hashtags to find photographers. I did this in Abuja for the next shoot i did there, in Cyprus and also in Dubai.
Its is not a prerequisite to have professional photographers taking your pictures. If you invest in a decent camera, learn how to use it, you can get a friend or family member to take your pictures.
As well has using photographers, my daughter also takes 60% of my images.
The first camera we used for the first year was my old Sony A580 but it was defective and caused a lot of frustrations – though when it worked it took some of my favourite images it was temperamental and a nightmare most times.
Image Taken with The Sony
I recently upgraded to the camera I use now which my brother uses a Canon70D – meaning I did no other research then to look at his images and say ‘yep I’m getting that too’ He had already done the reasearch and determined that was the best Value for money camera that was needed to do what he/ and I wanted to do – which is take great quality images. Both camera are great filming cameras too.
The Canon 70D comes only as a body and it is then up to you to get the best lens for the type of images you need, Zoom lens, portrait lens and according to your budget as lens are as or even more expensive then the camera it self.
Im currently using a 50mm 1.4 portrait lens that gives me a decent quality image.
Image taken with the Canon
There are so many cameras out there for everyone’s price range so I obviously recommend that you do your research as to the best one for your budget
CREATING CREATIVE CONTENT
Admittedly I’m not the best at this, and most of my images are full length head on shots or beach images (which is what i like) but when i see some images I’m inspired to experiment more.. not all works for me, or my style and so i just leave it the hell alone admiring (rightly) from afar.
However it is nice to have a whole lot of variety or depth to your page (if that appeals to you) as well as images of your style, but also having things that you are interested in also, be it quotes, interior, holiday destination, food, architecture or by simply experimenting and having your images taken in different angles, close up, details, from where i stand etc etc. I started doing short films recently with a professional videographer but just Using Boomerang is also great for creating nice moving content and also doing short films with my I phone
All this makes for a more interesting feed/page (in my opinion) But your page should always reflect you and your style first and foremost.
My photographers will never quite understand why i always insist on Raw images and never want them to retouch it.
I much prefer doing minor touch up myself to avoid having that unreal over airbrushed look. I like to keep it as real as possible HOWEVER i do now smooth out blemishes here and there and granted it makes for a better visual – i was late to this party and insisted on au natural for so long but finally come round to it and these are my go to
Snapseed – to correct Exposure
Facetune – to smooth out blemishes and whiten up things and backgrounds
boomerang – for creating moving content
iMovie – for editing videos
*I also use Photoshop to resize images that do not fit instagram and final cut pro to edit videos but i did some training to be able to use these programs.
BEST IMAGES TO POST
For me its simple, the ones that YOU like and is 100% happy with – always go with that first.. and even if its not liked you know the you like it and thats the most important – well for me anyway! Thats always my formula..
Clear images are a must (unless you are going for the obscure look) A well styled look that exudes confidence and a sense of identity are the best as it inspires.
I can’t say this enough, Authensity is everything and you will win if you just stay true to yourself and style – this by no means mean do not experiment, but rather then wearing things JUST FOR the post, wear and style things as you truly feel comfortable and would wear it. this always shines through.
The format of which you choose to post your picture should also be to your own liking.
for example, I really appreciate the collage posting (2-3 images in one) but i personally do not like this look that much for my own page, I still have some floating around but I’ve deleted most of the one i had. This is Personal choice, There is no right or wrong format, as long as the images are of good quality standard its all good
Side note on Aesthetics
One thing you will find common amongst insta bloggers is their obsession with the asthetics of their page – though this does not equate to a big following it does look great having a well presented page. Depending on the look you are going for, take time to plan your shoots research loactons that gives you the look you want for your pictures.
I am an any and every location kinda person, I pride myself on finding great spots anywhere (not always true on camera but…) but I go from structural minimal clean locations to parks to funfairs to cathedrals. I’m always up for experimenting locations and i think it show, my page is a hot mess haha and although I continue to work on my feed (which I feel has dramatically improved since I started) I do not obsess over it.
for the first 10 months i don’t think i brought any clothes to shoot, i didn’t need to… if I’m totally honest, i started buying clothes when i started blogging for the purpose of giving value and being able to direct people to buy what i wore, And truthfully the things i did buy where inexpensive and very nice indeed from Asos and Zara.
If you don’t have that much clothes and don’t have the funds to be shopping every week for clothes i suggest getting creative and restyling your clothes DO NOT GO BROKE TRYING TO LOOK RICH OR FOR THE PURPOSE OF BLOGGING use what you have.. and work it!
There are affiliate programs that you can join, where you buy clothes, influence people to go buy the same by rocking the heck out of it and you are awarded some coins
I joined some but never used or bought from any of them for whatever reason, and have since been kicked off a few lol I’m not that versed on this so ill just say to search affiliate program online.
GROWING YOUR AUDIENCE
Nothing beats authentic growth but there are a few things that you can do to help this along.
The lack of following that you have or do not have does not always equate to the lack of style or quality images you put out, but a simple case of obscurity.. And the following are ways in which you can get more visibility;
Hashtag your life away, Ok on a serious note, Hashtag all you like, if the images is not great, perhaps you may get likes, but you won’t grow your following HOWEVER definitely hash tagging is great and it should be relevant for what you are posting for visabillity i.e #LondonBlogger #Fashionblogger – it allows people that are wanting to see ‘London Bloggers’ find you by seaching that hashtag
So i would say always use it -Instagram allows up to 30Hashtags per post.
For Style post some great hashtags to use are #ootd #lookoftheday #currentlywearing #streetstyle #outfitpost #fashionista #styleblogger #outfitpost #ootdshare
2. TAGGING IMAGES
It is great to tag the brand you are wearing so i would encourage that, Again it gives you visibility when people search that brand.
Secondly and perhaps more importantly tagging big fashion pages to your post is a brilliant way to get exposure if they repost your images.
and why wouldn’t they? if you have great content, they will (eventually) repost your image.
*I would say tag pages that are relevant to your post and where you would like to be posted.. There are millions of popular pages out there, but not every page will give you the exposure that you want. so a general rule of thumb, tag pages that you like and perhaps follow yourself. This is a great way of gaining new following.
I knew nothing about this when i started, and it was some followers of mine that @ big style pages to my post that allowed it to be seen and shared. I was fortunate
and below was the very first image that was reposted
I warn you though, If you are going to tag your post, and if it is shared be also prepared for harsh critics. Not every one will like it. Unfortunately not all that share your post do it because they like it, some pages just want to engage their follewers to share their opinions on your post. Still i think its the best exposure you will get so 100% encourage you to do this.
below is my most hated image
hundred of people had a lot to say including – ‘she needs to take her pills’ haha
Still i stand by my images and style as i always do, and criticism on my style does not effect me in anyway
I tell ya, I may have insecurites about certain aspects of myself, but dressing, style & fashion?? I can not be moved! I am confident to the core about that and the saying admire others beauty without questioning your own rings the truest for me in this respect.
I am true and authentic I do not wish for others style but also understand and is very secure with the fact that not everyone is gonna get and like me or my style.. this is cool in fact good! because we’re not meant to be for everyone and not everyone is for us either.
So please remember that!
3. BE SOCIAL
Its Social Media so be social (genuinely social) and engage with people you follow and genuinely like.
DO not spam peoples pages like some irritating Spammers do, commenting foolishness on your post to hopefully get people to follow them. But it is important to be social as it builds online friendships / community that may or may not transfer into the real world.
So thats me and my journey thus far.
I really hope it was helpful and insightful and answers any questions that you have asked me with regards to getting started and growing your audience.
Anything else you would like to know, either comment below or drop me an email.
Till next time.
Thanks for stopping by,