July 4, 2018
Well, Ethigal Blog hit the 10K mark on Instagram a few days ago. So maybe I’m making this a bigger deal than it deserves to be but it feels like a major milestone for four main reasons.
10K followers means the introduction of the coveted ‘swipe up’ option on instastories, which helps to drive traffic directly to your blog or other websites. It’s just more convenient and user-friendly.
Follower count on instagram is indicated via individual numbers UNTIL 10K and beyond. For example 9,998, then 9,999 vs. 10K, then 10.1K. It’s probably dorky, but after 10K, the numbers look cleaner.
It seems like instagrammers get taken ‘more seriously’ by brands for partnerships once they hit the 10K mark… and beyond. (Hence the pressure for many to buy their followers to get the big contracts).
Sidenote: I’m told things are changing and awareness is building around the power of an engaged, authentic following. It was a big loss when Social Blade went down, but Ninjalitics is a promising new platform to track performance and growth.
I’ve been working on building my following for a year now. It’s been countless long hours and a TON of work. 10K marks the culmination of a year-long, focused effort.
Exactly one year ago, I was capped at 600 followers on instagram and had ZERO brand identity, plan or partnerships. I took an online course last summer, and learned tools + strategy to develop my brand and cohesive visuals, negotiate brand partnerships with confidence, and grow my following with real people.
My road to 10K involved a lot of focus on re-investing into new connections, skills + tools. I started off by advocating for brands that I already loved and paid for my first instagram giveaway out of my pocket last summer. Instead of receiving payment for partnerships, I often negotiated hosting a giveaway to engage (and reward) my following community.
I also reinvested whatever money I did make in the purchase of a mirrorless camera, lens, tripod, photo props, Lightroom presets, outfits for branded photoshoots, as well as photography, SEO and copywriting courses. I also paid to create this website you’re reading right now. It’s been a year of learning and laying the foundation. There’s still a LOT more to learn and do.
Some bloggers quit their day jobs to do this full time, and I get asked All THE TIME if this is my goal as well. I’ve invested 7.5 years of university and have worked hard to build a career as a teacher. I love my job, along with its regular income, Health, Dental, and Pension Plan. So, no.
I also have a theory that it’s nice to be able to say NO to contracts, and NOT depend on instagram + blogging to pay the bills. For me, right now, it’s a fun, creative hobby that has had a lot of perks and provides some extra spending money.
Warning: You will get mail. A ton of it. So much in fact, your partner/ roomate will get super annoyed. If you are out of the house during the work day, you will miss drop offs and sometimes need to drive on a wild goose chase from one Purolator to another Purolator 45 minutes away, looking for your rogue package.
All in all, I’ve received about $20,000 worth of free experiences, meals, skincare, gifts, and paid contracts in my first year of instagramming.
I’ve loved collaborating with great conscious local brands, including Nellie’s Naturals, Luna Nectar and Aloe Yucca.
I guess I don’t have much to add to this one, but I’ve noticed that the ‘bigger’ my following has gotten, several people who I’m friends with IRL have hit the unfollow button. Who knows why? Maybe they find my content annoying and not applicable to them. Maybe they think I don’t notice (FYI, there’s an app for that, and I DO notice). Who knows?
Yes, it hurts. But despite the long hours and energy I put into it, I am NOT my instagram. I try my best to separate the two, especially for people who go ‘way back’ and still choose to unfollow.
They say “Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe” and instagramming has resulted in meeting other dynamic ambitious entrepreneurs, many who are also moms. I didn’t know many people when we moved to the mainland last year, and this has made me put myself out there, dare to show up and get to know new people.
Social Media often gets a bad rap, but it is also a powerful tool for connection, inspiration and support. As moms, it’s hard to get out of the house, so this online community allows us to rant to, reach out, and learn from each other.
Pictured above are Melissa Warren of Real Mother Hustler and Athenas Angulo of I Love 604, two women I’ve connected with on instagram who have become solid mompreneur friends who I connect with pretty much every day about personal and professional stuff.
Oh, social media. It’s impossible to not scroll through other’s feeds and think “She’s so pretty/ thin/ rich/ successful with perfect kids and a perfect house and a perfect husband”. It’s the highlight reel, and most people are trying to show the curated moments of the day, instead of those moments with they haven’t showered in two days, are drowning in dirty dishes + laundry and are covered head to toe in baby barf.
Even with this awareness, it has been so overwhelming for me to take a look at picture perfect accounts and blogs and wonder what I can do differently and if it’s even worth me trying.
The answer is a resounding YES. Identify your goals, your brand identity and be authentic with your unique personality (and even your cheesy sense of humour). My son has a board book called “Only One You”. There is no one else in this world who can create content like you can.
Note: I’ve actually met most of the BIG local bloggers face to face now at events, and they have all been super nice. We’re all human and just trying to do our best to be creative and support our families.
Ugh. I am NOT exaggerating when I tell you that I receive 2-4 direct messages a day from people who are trying to sell me essential oils, shampoo, makeup, skincare, weight loss potions, cleaning supplies etc. It’s SO aggressive and off-putting, especially since this is usually our first interaction with each other.
I understand that many women choose to engage in direct sales, and moms tend to be their primary audience. I wish more would adopt a more creative lifestyle/ educational/ inspirational approach instead of messaging me just because I ‘liked one of their photos’ or pressuring me ‘ to start buying or selling their product’.
Yes. It’s hard to balance being a mom, a full time teacher, a wife, a daughter, a granddaughter and a friend with writing posts, negotiating contracts, picking up packages and taking and editing photos. This past year, I’ve gained a good 25 lbs from all of the sitting instead of my former intensive workout routine. I have also had MANY late nights and not enough sleep, which made it tough to be part of the 5:00 am exercise club. More times than not, the snooze button won out because I had been up until 11 or 12 the night before.
It’s been most challenging because blogging is a passion project I’ve been wanting to do for the past decade, and I’m kind of like a kid in a candy store now that I finally have a decent instagram following and my own website. I wish I had more time for it.
What’s next? Now that I’ve hit 10K, I’m actually going to step back a little bit from posting so often and focus more on building my Pinterest and creating content for this blog. And exercising every day again. And going to bed earlier. I’ll let you know how all this goes.
I was a late adopter to this piece of advice, and have goals to refine these documents this summer. It’s SO important to know your worth, and be able to share your stats and what value you bring to brand partnerships. Now, whenever I get a DM to collab, I reply “Thank you for your interest! If you’d like to request my media kit and price list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org”. This quickly sorts out the serious partnerships from the casual ones.
This is also kind of strange, but I’ve found that many brands didn’t take me all that seriously because I’m a ‘mommy blogger’. Bottom line: I’ve found that brands will take you more seriously if you set the tone for them first.
Wow, where do I even start? There have been so many cool things happen this year, but here are a few highlights!
I admit, I’ve had the thought flicker through my brain that ‘if so and so is clearly buying followers and getting big contracts, why couldn’t I do that?’ but then came to my senses: “NO!” Buying followers is just against my values and is off-brand for what I’m trying to do.
I would rather have this small, engaged community of REAL people who have been so encouraging, engaging, and always ready to participate in authentic discussion.
Is there anything I missed that you learned your first year as an instagrammer or blogger? Let me know!