One thing you may not know about me is that I have a marketing background–digital marketing to be exact! I studied it in college, and started my career even before I graduated. Worked for several agencies and saw some amazing milestones personally. It hasn’t been the perfect career path, but I’ve learned so much over the years and have watched so many trends come and go.
I’ve always been drawn to the branding space–how a company leads the way in their industry, but there are many ways to do it. Here are some basic principles to remember while building your own personal brand that big companies use:
- Tell a story (with content)
- Connect with your audience
- Have a consistent web presence
- Find what makes you unique in a space of other “brands” who are essentially doing the same thing
Let’s dive into what all this means!
Why should you have a personal brand as an influencer?
Think of it as your first impression. When someone visits your Instagram page, how do you want them to perceive you? How do you want to appeal to companies who potentially want to work with you?
When a company scrolls through your feed, they should be able to imagine their product in one of your photos. When you think of branding, you may think of a logo. Well, consider your feed as your logo (but feel free to create your own logo if you wish!)
Your brand may change over time, and that’s ok. When I started on Instagram, I branded my account as Olivia, with 99% of photos of just her wearing clothes from small shops. I recently rebranded to more of a mom/lifestyle page. There will still be mostly photos of her, but I want to incorporate more lifestyle photos to appeal to more brands.
How do you start?
It’s going to take some time and a lot of effort. I’m a WAHM, so I don’t have a lot of time. I do a lot of planning ahead of time to get the most out of each day. I literally take photos of everyday, so I don’t run out of photos if work gets busy or I don’t feel creative that day.
If you want to strengthen your brand on Instagram, here are some strategies I’ve seen other moms use and that I’ve personally used to build mine. This is not a “how to grow your Instagram followers” post, although it goes hand-in-hand. I’m definitely still a work in progress, and there are plenty of other moms with larger followings, but I want to share what I’ve figured out.
Organize your feed to make it cohesive
This is something I am working on every day. I try not to obsess over it, but it does affect how and when I post certain photos. I use the Snug app to organize my feed and make sure the next photo will flow. Your feed should tell a story. Sometimes I won’t post a photo right away because it doesn’t fit in the story at that time.
So how do you create a cohesive feed?
Take eye-catching photos
The first thing shops mention when they reach out to collaborate is, I love your feed and your photos are great! Brands want bright, clear and crisp photos. Not a lot of other brands in the photos (especially competing brands) and their product in plain view.
You don’t need a DSLR to take amazing photos (although I highly recommend!) Even if you’re shooting on your phone, there are techniques to capturing great shots–starting with Portrait mode if you have an iPhone 7 Plus. More on that later. I landed a collab with Carter’s off photos used with my iPhone! The above photo was used with my iPhone in Portrait mode. Use photo editing apps to brighten, sharpen, etc. your photos so they’re as eye-catching as possible.
If you’re using a semi-professional or professional camera, there are many techniques to capture your followers’ attention. Editing can also achieve this for you. Again, think bright, clear and crisp.
Take different styles of photos
Play around with different angles and backgrounds. You don’t want your entire feed to be photos of your child laying on the bed and smiling when you’re working on your brand. Capture more candids, indoors, outside. I’ve noticed photos with cool walls and backdrops get a ton of engagement.
Take photos of more than just your child or family. Add variety with shots of home decor, flatlays, food– if it fits your brand. It will also appeal to different types of brands who may want to work with you.
Establish your go-to shot
What are you really good at? High angle shots? Flatlays? Street style shots of your babe? Sleeping photos? While it’s important to have variety with your photos, it’s equally important to have a shot that people will remember. That’s actually branding, but make it creative. Here are just a few examples of mamas who inspire me.
@pattischmidt takes the most adorable sleeping photos of her daughter! She posts a ton of photos of her babe in this sleeping position, and features brands in this shot.
@mrs.galloway posts the sweetest photos of her three girls together. Sometimes in ascending order, or just as a mini group doing something fun!
I love the way @heathernicole_lewis takes photos of her sons sleeping! She features clothing brands in these poses, and her sons always look so cozy. Makes me want to buy whatever they’re wearing!
@joyfullygreen is a boho mama dream. She posts the most amazing photos full of greenery and features brands in her stunningly styled photos. This mama makes staged photos look amazing!
I’m still working on my go-to shot, but it’s fun figuring out what works for me.
Experiment with filters
Whether you use Instagram’s filters or VSCO (which is very popular with mom influencers) this will help create a more cohesive feed. Use a filter every time you edit a photo to create a flow. There’s that word again.
When you scroll through your favorite mom to follow’s feed and see all of the photos have a bright cast on them, or an orange-y tint, they are using a filter. It also helps when you edit your photos the exact same way each time–same exposure, contrast, saturation–but it takes effort.
I personally use the S2 filter, and will be switching it up soon! You can adjust the strength of the filter by moving the slider when you select the filter. I turn it way down on my filter, so it’s not as noticeable or wash out the photo. I will be doing a tutorial on VSCO soon!
Have a color palette
The photos you post should use a set of colors. Try to stick to those colors to establish your brand. Of course you can change them as the seasons change, but it should be the same throughout. This will cause you to be more strategic with what and when you post. I take a ton of photos each week, so I have options to choose from.
I’m incorporating fall colors like orange, mustard, plum, green and creme. It doesn’t always have to be the clothing in the photo. It can be in the backdrop, props, furniture, etc. It can even be the filter!
The brands you work with
Do you say yes to every brand that reaches out to you? Be selective with who you work with. If it doesn’t fit your personal brand, it could cause confusion with your followers. Remember, consistency is key. Also, brands won’t always come to you. Find brands on Instagram who you think would be a good fit, and reach out to them. Create a pitch that piques their interest, and gets a conversation going.
How can you establish your brand if you only post once a week or less? Create a content calendar for yourself. Set up all your posts on the weekend, schedule them. Just make a commitment to post at least once per day. You will notice your likes and engagement go up significantly!
Want to learn more about how to build your personal brand? On the next post about this, I will discuss creating a branded hashtag, playing with Instagram trends, Instagram Stories, your rate card (what’s that?!) and more!