By popular request, I am writing about my instagram journey to 50k followers. When I first started my Instagram journey two years ago (Dec 2018), I was nine months pregnant with my second child Shaun. All I wanted was a community of women to be connected to on my maternity leave. On my first maternity leave, I loved being at home but found it very isolating. So I started this Instagram page with no idea of what I was doing.
I wanted to focus on home Decor and DIY as we had just moved into our new home. I knew I had a lot of knowledge to share with women, especially Muslim and South Asian women. My father had taught me basic woodworking skills growing up. I worked alongside him to install French doors, build a fence, and even build our basement when the contractor ran away with my dad‘s money.
In the beginning – 0 followers
At the beginning of my Instagram journey I literally had no idea what I was doing. I would post random things that I liked. It might be food, crafts, Yoga, really anything that I enjoyed. My husband urged me to think about what my purpose was. As a marketer, I started to reflect on what my audience wanted to see (when when I say audience I mean 150 of my real life friends hahaha)
Over time I started to enjoy DIY more as that was my only time away from my kids. It soon grew into something that I crave to do every single day. Even now, I feel itchy if I go too many days without a few minutes in my workshop
I saw there was a lot of lifestyle bloggers and it was a very crowded space. I decided to focus on something that made me unique. South Asian women were not commonly seen using power tools on Instagram 2 to 3 years ago. I decided to focus in that niche.
Tip 1: Pick a niche that you excel at. What makes you unique? What do you have expertise in? Focus on your niche ruthlessly
How to create good content
I have always said that contact is King (or in my case, Queen). Create wonderful content that is engaging, funny and emotional. These are the types of stories that your community can connect with. Be real, be genuine, show your problems and your flaws. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable but I have found that my community has really been able to relate to my genuine can-do, pick yourself up after you make mistakes – kind of attitude.
Creating great content is hard. I’ve always fall into slums where I can’t figure out what to do, or I look around and see people doing things more unique or better based on their talents and their resources. But I really try to be myself and push myself creatively. The few times that I have, people have really enjoyed the content. As an example the doll house I made for my nieces was such a genuine gift of love. Many of you remember having a doll house from your own childhood so you could really connect with it. Another example would be my DIY modern barn door. I took two ideas: a door + an accent wall and try to form something unique.
Tip 2: try to create unique and valuable content in an honest and humble way. If you are passionate, your joy and passion will shine through and connect you to your audience.
How did I connect on Instagram
My growth on Instagram has been very slow. People might look at someone’s profile and not realize how much time and effort, mistakes, late nights, etc have been spent forming relationships and connecting with the community. It took me some while to connect with a few friends. One of the first people I love became became friends with was @faizabaigdesigns. She introduced me to some of her friends and soon I was getting to know many other women bloggers on Instagram. I always try to find time to engage on post of my friends. And I mean my real friends who have helped me in my journey.
I’ve also felt very strong relationships with my audience. These our people that have been part of my journey and supported me from the beginning or just recently. They have given me so much encouragement to achieve things that I never thought were possible, like building a place structure for my kids. I really try to respond to every single DM. I regularly spend 2-3 hours a day responding to DMs.
Tip 3: find a community. Show them love. Talk about your real life and insta life with them. Respond to every single DM.
How to find brand partners
When I first started out on this platform I didn’t even know that you could make money. I simply thought this was a past time. The first partnership I reached out for was wall decals. My friend Sumera encourage me to just ask the brand. I pitched myself as if I was writing a resume. I talked about my strengths, my community and what I could bring to the brand. And to my very big surprise, they accepted it and that was my first brand partnership in exchange for a product. I believe I had under 1000 followers and I was probably 3 to 4 months into my DIY journey.
Tip 4: pitch yourself to brands. Think of it lien applying for a job. Explain who you are and what value you bring to the brand.
Even now I continue to pitch myself to brands that I feel a strong alignment based on goals. I’ve been very blessed to have partners who’s products I would use regardless if I was not doing brand partnerships. It’s also important to know that brand partnerships come in many ways. For example, one brand partnership I got was through one of my followers. She worked for a company and told the social media coordinator that she loves my content. You should keep in mind that I might pitch myself to 20 brands over the course of a few months and only land one brand partnership. It is a very rough road. You will face a lot of rejection and being resilient is very important.
Tip 5: don’t be discouraged if you get rejected. Keep trying because someone will see how wonderful you are!
Finding joy in your journey
I cannot emphasize enough that Instagram growth takes time. Everything in life requires hard work and this is no different. It took me about a year and a half to get to 10,000 followers (from Dec 2018 to June 2020). After that it, snowballed: 8 months later, I have 50k followers (Feb 2021). There were times that I took breaks from Instagram. I felt in adequate and that I would never grow. Keep focussed on the thing that brings you passion.
Several people asked if I feel pressure to create content and to stay relevant. I try not to get caught up in that. As a child I always wanted to be an interior designer and I see this as an opportunity to do so. I have so many projects on my to do list that I don’t think I’ll ever finish. I really try to do projects that bring me joy and not do them just for the sake of Instagram
Tip 6: stay focused on your journey. Remember it will be slow. Enjoy the process otherwise, what’s the point?
What’s next after my instagram journey to 50k followers?
It was never imagined that Instagram would become such a big part of my life. But now I can see it as a steppingstone to other parts of my creative journey. I have started to do client work, e-design services, building plans, my blog and I’m on the verge of launching a YouTube channel. There is something to be said about having the courage to chase your dreams no matter how old you are. If you can find your passion and have the confidence to believe in yourself there’s so much that you can strive for.
I’ll write a part 2 on how I structure my time, my support system, etc, but for now – Lots of love to you and whatever dreams you are chasing