Hey, it's Sebastian again with some Instagram insights. I had a chance to talk with a fashion influencer who made Instagram her career, and she gave lots of useful nuggets for anyone trying to build an audience.
Here's the article that I originally sent out to my Substack newsletter.
Anna (@somethingwhite) is a Polish fashion influencer, who turned her Instagram hobby into a career. After working on her account for a couple of years while having a full-time job, a fashion brand noticed her and asked her to create a capsule collection of clothes. This ultimately led to her joining that brand. In addition to that, she has published an ebook, which educates her audience about capsule wardrobes.
Anna has been on the platform since 2015 and has a 110k engaged following—60k of which she got the last couple years. I’ve collaborated with her a couple times through my fashion related Instagram account and always admired her skill to create visually appealing content of very basic clothes and outfits.
I asked Anna a few questions and her answers have lots of great takeaways for anyone looking to improve their Instagram game.
Anna: “I started publishing in 2015 without any plan. At that time, I worked full-time and treated Instagram as a hobby without earning money.
I shared my everyday moments: interior design inspiration and—from time to time—fashion. At that time, I followed a lot of fashion accounts and saw new clothes every day, so I was unsure if my minimalist, boring wardrobe would interest anyone.
After a few fashion posts, however, it turned out that my followers wanted to see normal everyday fashion and repetitive sets, so I learned quickly to start posting more fashion content.”
Sebastian: This is very similar to how I built my account to +200k followers. I had a vague idea that I wanted to build content around simple fashion, but nothing more. I tried lots of different stuff, monitored what worked, and doubled down on that. It didn’t take long to realize what people wanted to see.
There are too many moving pieces for anyone to map an exact plan for an Instagram account, let alone a whole business. You need the feedback from people, so just get started with different things and find what works.
Anna: “I have never thought of myself as a very creative person, but I am dedicated to my work and my passions. When I start doing something, I want to do it the best I can. Consistency is my greatest strength, so I look for inspiration everywhere to publish interesting things on a regular basis.
It’s worth remembering that something that’s completely ordinary to us may be interesting to others. People look for normality on Instagram and they like practical, useful content. You don't need a huge amount of creativity for that.
I’m sure all of us sometimes feel as if we’re running out of ideas. It's normal. You can mitigate that by noting down ideas that pop up when you’re in a creative mood, so you’ll have a reserve of content when you’re not.
Sometimes, if I feel overwhelmed or unfocused, and want to get back into a creative mindset, I take a 1 day break from my phone and Instagram. That seems to work for me.”
Sebastian: Anna’s advice about how ordinary things can be interesting to others is something especially us creators and curators need to remind ourselves of regularly. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of trying to constantly build something extra complex or reinvent yourself, when the in reality people might want the “easy” stuff that you’re almost bored with.
Fact is that while you might be working and thinking about your stuff every day, that’s not the case for your followers. Your content is a minor glimpse in their lives, so being a little repetitive isn’t always bad. Most people don’t see everything you post.
Anna: “For the first 4 years my growth trajectory was very stable and I grew about 10k followers per year. The last two years I made significant progress and gained about 60k new followers.
I credit the accelerated growth to 3 things:
1. I started shifting all my focus on fashion content, which was what my followers wanted to see. Then I created something more in-depth on the fashion side and put all my experience with minimalist wardrobes and practical fashion tips in one place—my ebook.
2. I created "my own" hashtag—#teamlessismore—to engage people who also were into effortless style. Using this hashtag was an easy way for them to show their outfits. This helped me a lot, as it resulted in kind of a super community. People tag me and each Sunday I share their outfits on my IG stories.
3. I got more close with my followers. I decided to show my face, which I which was hidden due to my full-time job in recruitment. My followers had a chance to get to know me better, which helped with relatability.
Now I grow most through IG’s explore page and through followers sharing my content. Time wise, I prioritize answering all messages and comments, creating content, and expanding on my own products, such as the ebook.”
Don’t plan too much ahead. There are too many moving pieces to plan accurately how to succeed long-term on Instagram. Get started, see what works, and build on that.
Don’t underestimate your content, before trying it out. Simple things can work surprisingly well. Also remember that you will get bored with your stuff much faster than your followers, simply because you’re constantly exposed to it.
Try creating a hashtag, or another kind of small movement or challenge, where people can participate while giving you more exposure.
IG’s algorithm will help you grow if you figure out what kind of content people enjoy. This is something that will be increasingly true, as the algorithm evolves. No need to game anything—simply focus on finding out what your followers like. There are others like them out there and Instagram will help them find your content.
Building an audience opens a lot of opportunities you could never anticipate.
Not sure how many of you here use Instagram with your business, but hopefully you who do, found this helpful. I plan on publishing more interviews such as this over at unchained.substack.com if you're interested. Thanks :)