hi, i'm Ali
Photographer, dog mom, daily walker, reader, and wife to a busy maker. I'm the voice you hear and read at Life Outside the Shop.
From new project how-to's and DIY home updates to the ins-and-outs of building a family & multiple businesses, Life Outside the Shop shares what is really looks like to figure it out as you go.
I totally get it… using Instagram to grow your business can feel overwhelming. You feel like you’re screaming into the void and getting little-to-no engagement. But, it doesn’t have to feel like this! Here are some Instagram hacks to decrease the dread.
Pre-blogging and working to grow Sam Macy Designs, I loved Instagram. It was a no-stress place to connect with friends and family and follow along with different “influencers” who were sharing content I was into. #tbt… right?
Once it became more popular and a major marketing tool, it also became a place to compare how I was doing to the people around me.
Read: I never felt like I was doing well enough or getting enough followers/likes. Plus, my feed DEFINITELY didn’t (and still doesn’t… but I’m owning it now!) look as pretty and curated as the people doing the same thing I was doing.
So, how did I beat the dread and start enjoying the platform again?
The first thing I need to acknowledge is that we’re definitely still figuring it out over here.
As of right this second, I have just over 1600 followers on Instagram and Sam has just over 3k. So, these tips aren’t coming from people with hundreds of thousands – or even tens of thousands – of followers.
But that is kinda the point, right? I’ve read tons of blogs and listened to plenty of podcasts from people with 100k+ followers… but that goal STILL seems SO far away and used to make me want to quit before I even started.
So, we’re experimenting and I’m and sharing what is working for us RIGHT NOW since many of you out there reading this are likely in similar boats.
I also think that there is WAY more to being “successful” on Instagram than a follower count;)
So, here are the Instagram hacks that have taken me from dreading the platform to enjoying it.
As far as Instagram hacks go, this has been the #1 game-changer.
Does this sound familiar…
“The Pros” tell you that it is all about posting every day and showing up for your people. So, once a day you open up Instagram and…. nothing.
Whether you’re crunched for time, don’t have a “good picture”, or have NO clue what to say (maybe all 3!?), you draw a blank. Then, whatever you DO post feels forced and the whole process takes you much longer than necessary.
Instead of spending tons of time posting something you don’t even like, try planning an entire week of posts ahead of time.
Actually, try planning five weekday posts ahead of time and don’t worry about Saturdays and Sundays. These are lower engagement times anyway!
I RARELY post in “real-time” anymore. I’ll break this rule if something hits me mid-week and I want/need to adjust, if I’m on vacation or if it just feels right. (Hey, most rules are meant to be broken). But, taking away that daily pressure has been HUGE.
I sit down on Saturdays and/or Sundays and plan out five posts for my feed and Sam’s feed ahead of time. I cue up and edit the pictures, write the captions and figure out the tags and hashtags.
From Monday-Friday all I have to do is copy, paste, and post! It takes the stress out of the entire process. It also allows me to write when I’m relaxed, have plenty of time, and when the inspiration hits.
Okay… a better way to say this would be “post when you have time to engage and when you’re not in a rush” but that was too long for a header.
At the end of the day, you have to play the game if you want people to see what you’re posting. And, the name of the game is engagement. So, ANY post you read about Instagram hacks will be #allaboutengagement.
If you just opened up a tab and googled “when is the best time to post on Instagram”or “highest Instagram engagement times” I’VE BEEN THERE.
It is tempting to just look at a graph and say “I’ll post when the most people are engaging” but here is the thing… if that time doesn’t work for YOUR schedule, your engagement won’t be there.
You can’t post and ghost. You need to commit to hanging out on the platform, answering comments, commenting on other people’s posts, and ENGAGING if that is what you want from your community.
This goes beyond the algorithm. This is about interacting with the people who interact with you so they continue to keep tabs on what you’re up to.
It is normal to think “if I want to use Instagram to grow my business I should ONLY post about my products”. (You can replace “business” with anything – blog, vlog, influence etc… and a “product” could include a post, video or service you’re selling.)
But, people don’t connect with STUFF (even a Shadow Box… womp womp) and definitely don’t ONLY want to be told to click the #linkinbio and go read your latest post or watch your latest video. (#unfollow.)
You have to be yourself on the platform.
Pick 3-5 things you’re interested in that show you’re a human too! For me, this looks like my Trader Joe’s addiction, my dog/hubby, and my reading obsession. Then, I also share about blog posts (which may be how you ended up here!) and our DIY projects. These are ALL parts of what makes me Ali and keep things interesting on my feed.
For Sam Macy Designs, this looks like expanding his feed beyond just pictures of Shadow Boxes. He has building/shop shots, pictures of Blue, hunting, drawing, and the other things he is interested in. This shows a ton more personality and at the end of the day, people connect with people… not material things.
The cool thing is, this actually takes away a ton of pressure (aka – dread!). It is way more fun (and easier) to be yourself than to feel like a sleazy car salesman!
I can’t promise they’ll work for you… I can only tell you what has worked for us so you can experiment and decide if they’re true for you, your life and your business.
That is exactly what I did: boiled down different tips and tricks from TONS of people and played around. These things may not work for Sam and I in a week, month or year but right now, they are so we’re rolling with it!
Are you an insta-pro? What is working for you right now? Have any questions? Drop a comment, we’d love to hear!