I am so excited to feature one of my fantastic students, Liesel Teen! She’s a labor and delivery nurse, mom blogger and influencer. She also built a super successful business through Instagram and online courses. Below she shares how she grew her Instagram followers and launched her first online course!
Hi! My name is Liesel Teen, and I am a labor and delivery nurse, mom, and full-time blogger/influencer! You may also know me as @mommy.labornurse on Instagram (that’s where most people do!)
Today, I’m going to be sharing 5 tips you can do TODAY to change up your #INSTAgame. I currently make a full-time income marketing my business on Instagram, and I want to show you that it is SO possible to do!
Now, this is probably what all big-time bloggers will tell you NOT to do.
Most bloggers are afraid of Instagram.
I see it all the time in the blogging groups I’m in, the most common question being:
“How do I get more followers on Instagram?”
“I’ve been stuck at 300 followers FOREVER, how do I grow?”
Or REALLY the most common one…
“Is Instagram really even worth my time as a blogger?”
To which the answer usually is:
“No, don’t waste your time. Instagram is TERRIBLE for blog traffic.”
And it is…I’m not arguing there.
I mean, think about it, you get one link to place in your Instagram bio if you have less than 10,000 followers…and that one link maaaaybe gets clicked on once in awhile organically…or maybe a little bit more if you do a call to action post.
But, let’s remember…traffic isn’t everything when it comes to having a successful business.
If you’ve been blogging for some time, you may have already come to the realization that a high amount of blog traffic isn’t the key to making money, it’s how you convert those readers into paying customers.
There are bloggers who have 5000 page views per month who make more money than some bloggers who have 100,000+ page views per month.
It’s all about how you monetize your content, right? Traffic is great for people looking to make money via ad placements-but if you can’t convert those viewers into paying customers, you’re missing out on income!
So, before I dive into my growth tips, that’s actually a really important point I want to share with you…
STOP THINKING ABOUT BLOG TRAFFIC, START THINKING ABOUT OTHER WAYS TO MONETIZE
Those bloggers are correct in saying Instagram is crap for blog traffic, but they are wrong when they say it’s not for bloggers looking to make money.
I started out purely doing some affiliate marketing on Instagram, and I quickly noticed that since I had a well-engaged audience, my affiliate sales were AMAZING when I promoted a product through the platform.
This was the first affiliate sale post I did (after I started to really change my insta-game):
I had JUST hit 10,000 followers-so I WAS able to utilize that swipe up link feature in my stories for this one.
The course I am promoting here is a breastfeeding course (which I still promote heavily, on rotation in my feed, and I do well promoting it!). I was basically trying to convince my readers why they ABSOLUTELY need to do breastfeeding education (if they plan to breastfeed) BEFORE they begin to breastfeed, and why I personally regret not doing that myself.
“And hey, look I have this handy class that’s cheap and everything you need to know about it!”
$500 from one post
I receive $10 commission with each sale from this particular course, and it did well, I ended up making over $500 with this one post in about 24 hours, from people clicking on my link in either my bio or my IG story.
Just for number’s sake, that’s typically a LOT more than you can make with a sponsored post with 10,000 followers.
(That’s another way to make money on Instagram – sponsored posts – and while lucrative, most people mistakenly think it’s the only way to make money on the platform)
And you may be saying to yourself, “geez, 10,000 followers….that seems SO far away and SO unattainable”
Let’s talk about 10,000 followers really quick, and the importance of this swipe up feature.
Get to 10,000 followers
While you CAN make income with less than 10,000 followers (especially if you have a product to sell of your own), your baby-goal with this whole Instagram-monetization thing is going to be hitting 10,000 followers. Once you hit 10k, you get that swipe-up link feature in your stories, and you can not only direct your followers to your own blog, but your products, affiliate links, AND sponsors also love to see that swipe-up link (you’ll get a higher sponsored post rate if you have this feature).
With that said-don’t EVER buy followers just to get to a certain number. Yes, this may help you temporarily with getting high-paid sponsors…
But HELLO!! If your followers are not real, that’s really the only thing you can do to make money (sponsors). Those fake followers aren’t going to be clicking on your links, buying your products, or sharing with anyone about how they love your account.
Plus, IG has been cracking down on these fake followers lately-so it’s not worth it at all! (You could actually get your account shut down.)
Ok, so we know that 10k is the small goal here…(if you’ve already got 10k followers, COOL, stick with me-these tips will help you grow even further past 10k!)
You’re likely going to be putting in more work in the beginning, without getting paid much, to get to this point. And this is OKAY! Trust me, it will pay off!
I kind of looked at climbing to 10k as how I looked at my blog in the beginning.
I put in a HECK of a lot of hours into my blog NOT getting paid a cent. Eventually I made my first $30, then $300, and then I started to see and “hourly-rate” because I was working hours, and getting paid passive income.
Instagram is the SAME. Think of your Instagram as your baby blog, you’ve got to put in a lot of work on the front end-to be able to eventually monetize and do well later on!
So how do you get to 10,000 followers and beyond??
Before I dive into MY Instagram growth…here’s just a quick brief about me, and why I actually PREFER Instagram…
I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half now, and I started my blog partly as a way to make a little extra money on the side, so I could cut back some of my hours at my hospital, and stay home with my sweet baby boy!
The other BIG part of why I started my blog was to spread evidenced-based pregnancy/labor/breastfeeding info to other new moms on the internet. I saw that there was SUCH a big need for info BY labor and delivery nurses…so I said, “What the heck, I like to write, why don’t I give this a go!!”
I got really into writing articles, marketing my site on Pinterest, dove into a little SEO, the whole nine yards. I even started an email list, but THAT was not fun for me. I seriously HATED writing emails to my list of 300 people. I felt so salesy, and it didn’t feel personal to me at all. I eventually gave up my email list, canceled that account on ConvertKit, and decided I just wanted to really try and reach my audience purely on social media.
More specifically…Instagram. (Duh, this whole article is about Instagram!)
I took an Instagram course in September of 2018, and I NEVER LOOKED BACK!
This course really opened my eyes to the beauty of marketing yourself on Instagram, and how it’s NOT hard, it’s actually fun and simple if you know exactly what to do, and you’re willing to put in the work.
(That’s something really important to remember, like I said, it DOES take work-just how starting your blog took a LOT of work in the beginning!)
I’ve always been in love with Instagram, I love the platform in general. I think it’s a great way to reach a younger audience, and I just love the sense of community. I just didn’t know how to tackle it.
You see, I was trying to be that typical “lifestyle blogger”, before I became @mommy.labornurse…
You may not know this, but my name used to be @itslaborteen on Instagram!
And that brings me to tip #1…
TIP #1: YOU MAY NEED TO CHANGE YOUR NAME!
My website used to be laborteen.com instead of mommylabornurse.com, and I followed the cardinal rule of naming your insta handle the same thing as your blog…you’re supposed to do that right?
Nope, not necessarily!
But, I didn’t know that at the time, so I was @itslaborteen, the nurse/mom/lifestyle-influencer/blogger. It was very confusing to my audience…to say the least!
Let’s talk about the importance of your handle for a sec, and how it pertains to getting followers.
When you are on Instagram, ANYWHERE in the platform, people see you handle. If you’re commenting somewhere, liking something, DMing a follower, the first thing someone is seeing is that handle, and if it’s not something that directly pertains to them, they aren’t even going to click on it and go back to your profile and potentially follow you.
Your growth STARTS with your handle, and it really can make a huge difference in whether you grow or not.
Let’s use my old handle for example, when you see @itslaborteen….if you are pregnant (my audience), do you want to click on it?
Sure, it has the word “labor” in it, but it’s kind of hard to decipher what the teen part is about (my last name, if you’ve forgotten)-I’m probably not going to click on that handle if I’m a pregnant lady, unless @itslaborteen commented a REALLY good comment somewhere and I want to see what she is up to.
But what about if @mommy.labornurse is liking a picture? Or DMing me?
I’m a pregnant lady, I TOTALLY would much rather click on that handle!
As you can see, your handle carries weight- and it’s the first thing a MAJORITY of your potential followers will see.
You want to create your handle to attract your ideal audience.
The best combo (that I use) is audience + profession/goal. “Mommy” is my audience, “labor nurse” is my profession.
Don’t be too worried about how your audience will react to your name change either. Trust me, the sooner you change it, the better! Rip off that bandaid!
Speaking of your audience, you need their help too. That brings me to tip #2…
TIP #2: POLL YOUR AUDIENCE AND NICHE DOWN
It’s a common problem to be confused on Instagram. I see it all the time, people are just guessing at what to post about…where to go with their account.
I was doing that before I started making changes too. I would post a lifestyle pic, and then the next day something educational related.
I wasn’t consistent, and I wasn’t really in touch with my audience in terms of knowing what they wanted to see from me.
You may know about the importance of niching down when it comes to your blog. How it often only strengthens your audience, instead of shrinking it.
Same deal with Instagram!
Let’s say you are a mom-blogger who blogs about #momlife….Instead of trying to attract EVERY possible mom out there, by posting about cleaning tips one day, organizing the next, budgeting, breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, couponing…try niching down to a more specific area!
And how do you figure out what to niche down to?
Poll your audience!!
Ask them specifically what sort of content they want to see from you!
This will help lead you in the right direction, and it will also help give you content ideas, help your content become more engaged, and bring more followers!
I did this utilizing the question box feature in my story, and it worked really well for me. But you can also do a feed post, and direct your readers to click on a google form link your bio, and fill out a few questions.
Whatever is easiest for you!
It could be something as simple as “Hey! I’m trying to up my Insta game, could you help me out by filling out this 1 min surgery to tell me what sort of content you like to see from me?” Super easy!
Now you’ve got a vision for how your account is going to go, your audience is behind you, and it’s all about getting creative with your posts (and using a few growth tips to propel you even more!)
You’ll get to 10k followers in no time!
TIP #3: BE CLEAR!
In order to really grow on Instagram, it’s needs to be clear to your audience what your account is about when they look at your profile in about 3-5 seconds.
This is the standard amount of time a potential new follower would spend when clicking back to your profile to see if they’d like to follow you.
If your pictures are all over the place, your bio is not directed toward your potential followers, and it’s very unclear what type of account you are, and what you have to offer towards your followers, you aren’t going to get followed!
Let’s look at what my account looked like before:
My bio is ehh, and my pictures are just NOT very clear in what my deal is.
Now let’s look and see what it looks like now:
Much better! I’ve utilized a pretty white background in all my pics, and my bio is clearly targeted towards my potential audience.
Now, you can change your bio today, but it’s going to take a little bit of time before your feed is consistent. Don’t stress about that, though, the more consistent you become, the longer your consistent feed will be, and the higher probability that you’ll get followers!
Just like anything, it takes time to build a consistent feed!
You’ll also get better at it over time (and recognize what resonates with your audience, and start posting more of THAT…whatever it is!)
TIP #4: TAG TAG TAG!!!
Tag you’re it!!!
Did you know that you can tag up to 20 accounts in each of your feed posts?
This is something that SO MANY PEOPLE miss out on when they are trying to grow their accounts.
The power of growth is being visible to AS MANY accounts in your niche as possible. That means re-posts!
I get re-posted on bigger shoutout accounts in my niche like @maternity and @healthy.pregnancy all the time now because they follow me. But, in the beginning when I was trying to gain max exposure, I was tagging as many pregnancy related accounts as I could in each of my posts, hoping to get re-posted!
And guess what, it worked a lot of the time! So tip #4 is tag, tag, tag, tag big accounts in all of your posts! You may end up getting your post shared, and get hundreds, even THOUSNADS of followers from one!
I’ve even found that tagging other influencers is just as effective, if not more effective at converting followers. They may not share in their feeds, but they may share in their stories, and that can be REALLY great for your feed!
Typically, people trust PEOPLE over brands. I remember when my friend @mamadoctorjones shared one of my posts for the very first time in her story, I got about 500 followers in an HOUR! It was nuts!
TIP #5: ENGAGE!
Instagram is a social media platform. You’re MEANT to be in the platform, doing stuff! It LIKES you to be social!
That means you can’t just post and split…
Instagram not only rewards you for utilizing its features often (it puts your posts higher in your viewer’s feeds)-it’s also a GREAT way to build engagement with your audience.
Instagram LOVES you to be social, so be social!
Reply back when someone DM’s you, comment back on comments, and like/comment on other accounts.
There’s a certain daily and hourly limit on commenting/liking pictures (I’ve heard different things on this-I’m not sure of the actual number), but there’s really no harm in commenting/liking when you have spare time.
It not only shows your audience that you WANT to engage with them, it also makes them more likely to comment and like your pictures in the future!
I used to spend about 30 minutes a day liking and commenting on new potential follower accounts. I would search for common hashtags in my niche (like #preggolife) and like/comment on some of the top posts.
And don’t just drop an emoji-spend the extra 5 seconds to type, “that’s such a cute top!!” or “I LOVE your bag, where did you get it?”
It will take more time, but actual COMMENTS that are relevant to the post will get you further than just a simple emoji response!
Additionally, if you can type out a really MEANINGFUL, RELEVANT comment, that could potentially get you some more followers! See here for an example:
See? 36 people liked that comment and likely went back to my profile and followed me!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST.HAVE SOMETHING TO SELL TO YOUR AUDIENCE!
Alright, so now that I’ve given you some growth tips, you’ve got your audience nice and engaged…what is the pinnacle of IG monetization?
I took Suzi’s Course by Number course back in the fall of 2018, just as I was gearing up on Instagram.
I knew I wanted to create a course to sell to my audience that I had grown.
That is 100% the way to do well on this platform!
(Just how that’s 100% the way to do well money-wise with your blog!)
Sure, I can sit here and preach to you all day about growth, growth, growth. But, if you’re trying to make Instagram a business-having your own well-crafted product to sell to this audience that trusts you is THE WAY TO GO!
Do you think you can implement these tips to up your #instagame?
I LOVE Instagram, and I also LOVE people who love Instagram too! As you can see, Instagram has proved to be very lucrative for me, and I’m only learning the platform better, and falling more in love with it!
But, these tips only skim the surface of what you can really do inside Instagram to maximize your growth.
If you have any interest in taking the course that I took, it’s called Beat The Algorithm (affiliate link), and they share alllll of the lovely tips and tricks! It’s a wonderful course!