Instagram – it’s a beautiful world….q&a with some Insta-crushes

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Anyone who knows me, knows I love Instagram. Golly, even my dad knows and he doesn’t own a mobile phone, have a Facebook account and has to ask me every time he wants to order a book from Amazon (but he doesn’t know how to You-Tube and play suduko!). While I started my Instagram account close to 6 years ago, it took me at least a year or two to realise the amazing potential Instagram has for our creative indie business. And every week I learn something new about that little space of squares – being an addict I’m constantly researching the newest updates and insider info… can’t help it. Which is why I love sharing with you guys, who possibly don’t have as much time as me to do all the Insta-practicing {I don’t have a tv – that’s my defence!}.

I’m running an Advanced Instagram for Creative Business workshop this coming Saturday, alongside savvy marketers Dotti Media, so thought I’d get some other IG addicts thoughts too….. You can book a spot at the workshop here – it’s at The Craft Parlour, on the Gold Coast.

I decided to ask a few of my favourite Australian indie businesses, some are creative makers like me, some have online shops, some have in real life studios where people come along to visit and do workshops and all things like that. Some of them I’m sharing today, some I’ll share another day. The cool thing – all these q&a happened on Instagram, via direct messages. I probably don’t have to tell you that most of us check IG more often than we check our emails – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had everyone replying within an hour of me sending messages, if it had been via email. What do you think?

The questions are:
1. I love IG because….
2. IG helps my creative business….
3. Other online marketing I use for business…… but my favourite is IG because….
4. How do you best communicate with your customers?
5. What’s your best tip for IG for business?

Made in Lisa Land – Lisa handcrafts beautiful baskets, woven wall hangings, cushions, and teaches workshops. She doesn’t even have an online shop but sells directly through Instagram.
1. It’s daily inspiration, it’s a comfortable way for me to share who I am and what I love in picture form, it opens up the world to me and lets me interact with people and brands worldwide while still having that close, cosy community feeling.
2. …..be seen!! The connections I’ve made through IG are mind blowing. Most of my business is now workshops and nearly every venue I teach at has found me and approached me though IG.
3. I started on IG. Had an Etsy store for a little while, but found I primarily connected and sold through IG. Also Facebook.
4. I love that IG is photo based…. it made it easy when I started as I didn’t have to write much and sharing ‘me’ was not my thing. But I have grown through IG because people want to know about the maker or the brand and they want / like the story. It makes sense because I feel the same looking at others’ feeds! I’ve evolved now to include information, snippets of me, my process, there’s conversations, private messages; I’ve made friends!
5. For me it’s been to post regularly and find that balance between sharing my work and sharing some of me because the personal connection is always important.
Petalplum Blog - Instagram :: it's a pun-my world :: Lisa Land

Dotti Media – Miranda and Angela are super savvy social media marketing gals – who inject fun into the world of marketing. I mean look at those smiles – but wait till you hear them laugh! They run workshops, online courses, share heaps and heaps of marketing info gold through their Facebook group and webinars.
1. It allows us to connect with so many amazing people around the world doing things you never even knew were possible. You don’t have to be friends, you don’t have to follow them, you can just search and you will find. This is also known as the IG rabbit hole….
2. We love the collaborative opportunities of IG to build our following. In turn this has resulted in new clients and customers.
3. Facebook, Facebook Ads and email marketing. I love IG because it’s fun, it doesn’t have to be perfect and you get to really show your personality. Oh and for the puns. I love to make puns on IG and people seem to get them. (Miranda talking here – I do our IG, while Angela works the FB magic).
4. Through puns! See above…. No really, one of our big changes over the past year has been owning our brand and our biz. We’re never gonna be the most perfect online marketing agency but that’s not who we’re trying to be. I use IG as a way to share our knowledge with other biz owners to hopefully inspire them to do more than just ‘whack up an image and hope it gets a few likes’.
5. Post at least once a day. Post at the right time. Find a bunch of hashtags that work use them all the time. Stay away from generic hashtags like #love or #happy because you’ll just attract spam. Post quality content….. Geez just one? I could talk about using IG for biz all day……..

{oh hey – lucky we’re running that workshop together!!!!}

Petalplum :: Instagram : Dotti Media

Little Tienda – Em is the sweetest gal anyone will ever meet! She runs the best online shop ever – selling highly covetable, ethically made clothes with a Mexican vibe. Little Tienda has a loyal Instagram community who support Em’s shop as well as her business. Last year someone tried to steal the Little Tienda Instagram account & community, trying to fake that she was the real Little Tienda someone managed to get Instagram to shut down Em’s account. Due to the overwhelming support of Little Tienda’s connected, loving, supportive community all was put right and the lovin’ continues….
1. It allows me to communicate, curate and control my branding whilst being front of house with the customer. Plus it’s loads of fun.
2. Because what I do is best visually communicated plus requires authenticity and one on one communication with my customers. IG allows my indie business to stand in its own and tell my story without all the noise of others. It’s all on me if content is working or not, I like that.
3. Facebook but I’m not terribly present there. IG feels more engaging and relevant for my business. I think you find so many like minded creatives and the support is simply heart warming.
4. Hopefully through honesty and a real gratefulness that they support what I do. I’m pretty ecstatic that folks dig what I do. I try to create beautiful imagery that lets us all escape for a moment just enjoy what it is. I feel like when you sell hand made pieces, that the connection of appreciation for the art and consideration of the talent and skill it holds needs to be absorbed. I hope that comes across.
5. Be honest, be grateful, be engaging and supportive to people you feel a kinship with. Create content that not only inspires other but inspires you to do better. Don’t ever feel like you are not enough or compare yourself to others. Enjoy it as it can be a real game changer if your intentions are bang on.

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OH MY GOLLY – so many good words there. I’d love to know what your answers would be… leave a comment sharing what you love most about using Instagram for your business. Which of these tips had you head-nodding or gave you a real a-ha moment?

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Instagram : insights & business (and yes, being a crafter is a business too!)

Last weekend I was with some lovely lovely friends who all run their own creative businesses. And they’re all really swell at it – seriously! But they all three of them kept asking me about Instagram stuff, and it made me realise that these women are are pretty great at what they do don’t have time to keep on top of everything about everything. And seeing as how I’m an Instagram addict – and I teach workshops in it, so I keep on top of current happenings for the ‘grams {am I up with the right lingo peeps!} – I know a thing or two. So……. I’m going to start sharing a weekly / fortnightly Insta How To section on my blog. Does that sounds good or helpful? I’d like to know what sort of things you want to learn about and I’ll do my best to share them with you.

The big and semi-new thing my friends didn’t know about was Business accounts and Insights (analytics) for Instagram. And let me know tell these are cool things that you should tap into if you’ve got a business-ish account.

Firstly, to access any of this data you need to have a Facebook business page – because FB owns Insta I guess they want to make it all connected. So, go set up a page for yourself. It really is worth it. Once you’ve done that you just need to connect your Insta account to your FB business page. (This also means you can automatically send all your IG posts right across to FB if you choose).

How to Convert to Instagram Business Account
On your home profile page, click the little cog in the top right hand corner, then scroll down under ‘Account’ and click ‘Switch to Business Profile’. This takes you through the process. It’s super easy, so don’t worry at all. Just follow all the prompts. Add in your email, phone number and address – I’ve only got my email added because I don’t want people to ring me (eeekkkk – but if you’re a bricks & mortar this would be great), and same with my address – I work from home and well…….

Insights & Analytics for Insta Business
After you’ve connects you’ll automatically get access to the insights pages. You’ll notice beside the cog there is now a little graph symbol in the top right hand corner. Click on that and there’s heaps of info to find. Note – it only starts showing info and analytics on pictures you’ve posted after you connect, so you’ll have nothing straight away. But in about a week you’ll have some good stats to look at. (And if you ever unlink your business account, you lose the stats and start fresh again when you relink).

What stats can you find?
Well, it’ll tell you the average ages of your followers, % of male / female, where they come from (city & country). You’ll be able to see how many people actually see each post – which can be highly different to your number of followers, what your engagement rate is (which is the likes + comments combined). Impressions and Reach are different things – impressions means how many times it’s viewed altogether, reach is how many different people see it (unique views). Follower activity includes what day and time they’re online – mine shows 8-10pm and 6-8am each day as the highest, but I’m noticing that the actual best day changes every single day….. so either the stats are constantly being updated and taking into account each single day’s activity or they’re not highly accurate and keep fluctuating…?
Basically just keep clicking on all the different blue spots to get more info – start tracking it if you want and see the difference.

What’s the important stats to look at?
In my opinion, the reason I like these stats (in combination with the other analytics I use from Iconoquare and Squarelovin’) is that it shows me the actual number of people who have seen the post and the engagement rate. So from that I can work out which of my images appeal best to the people who are actually seeing it.
You might find that one image gets more views (reach) but less engagement, that’s showing that it’s not as ‘loved’ as an image with more engagement but less views. Work it out as a % if you want to know the really accurate numbers. {engagement / reach = how much your image is loved}. My big advice always, in my workshops and when I chat to friends – is to take notice of this and give the people what they love!

Do you need screen snap shots of how to do this? I can update the post if you let me know… I did find this video that might help – or you can contact me via Insta (send a DM if you want) and I can talk you through it.
If you want to get some more of my Insta tips – I’ve made a little free booklet that you can grab here to help you out.

If you’re a local (Gold Coast, Brisbane, Byron Bay regions) – I’m teaching an Advanced Instagram Workshop next Saturday with the totally savvy Dotti Media girls. We’ve run these workshops together a few times this year, and every single time there’s so much information shared that people go home filled and ready to take their Instagram accounts – and their businesses – to the next level. This isn’t just talk and networking, this is real solid information that we share.

Please do let me know what other Insta tips you’d be keen to hear about. I’m working on styling & photography for Insta and can’t wait to share that with you soon.

#theartofslowliving – are you living an Instagram hashtag?

are yoy living an Instagram hashtag? #theartofslowliving - the art of slow living isnt quite what it might be. I'm working towards intentional living.

I came here to write a whole totally different post, but I really have to write the words that want to be written. I think that’s part of what true writing (art making of any kind) is about. Not what we want, but just what comes, what happens.

I’ve been thinking so much about all this slow living that I keep reading about, seeing everywhere all over social media. Seriously it’s my catch-phrase… maybe it’s the motto of the year. No? But really I keep questioning what it means because currently life feels anything but slow. The only slow at the moment is the speed at which I manage to get through my epic to-do list.

are yoy living an Instagram hashtag? #theartofslowliving - the art of slow living isnt quite what it might be. I'm working towards intentional living.are yoy living an Instagram hashtag? #theartofslowliving - the art of slow living isnt quite what it might be. I'm working towards intentional living.

I’m weary, I’m completely exhausted. I don’t know some days how to even drag myself out of bed and do all the things I have to do. I know I’m not alone – golly. Far from it. I see the other parents at school drop with faces scurrying to the next thing, thinking of all that needs to get done before school pick up, and dinner and the tussle to get the kids to bed. All the things to achieve before we ourselves fall into our beds. Every day feels like I’m going backwards in every sense of what I need to do just simply to get through the week of living.

There’s always a pile of dishes to finish, and clothes simply get moved from one pile of clean clothes to being on a body to dirty clothes, to clothes line, back to clean clothes pile. Endlessly and always things that I didn’t do. There’s a year’s worth of weeding, gardening, mowing, clearing to do outside. It’ll take me at least a week to sit down with all my paperwork and sort it out to do my taxes. If I want to bother cleaning out the kids clothes I know I’ll need to scrap the thought of doing anything for a whole weekend, and then some.

And all this before I’ve even actually started thinking about this work I do. This business we’re making / living / running / working. To do one thing – sit here and build a website, email customers, write these blog posts (that need to be spoken), take those photos, hustle the work. To do that means leaving the dishes for another time, for later, for tomorrow, for my kids to whinge about not having to do. To do the dishes and put the clothes away, and go shopping and make biscuits for my family means I don’t get that important part added to my website, or that photo taken when the light is right. Driving my kids to school and then picking them up, making lunch for my baby and then feeding him to sleep means I don’t get to my dye pots to dye the fabric people are waiting for. All these things.

BUT the most important thing I’ve been realising I’m not getting. The thing that keeps getting pushed off the list, pages and pages down the process of any lists. Simply sitting in the sun, simply having a real conversation with my husband or my sister or my friend, simply sipping tea, simply playing with my little ones. Any of these things without thinking of all the other things I should be doing, need to be doing, I’m behind me, I’ve forgotten, someone’s waiting for……..

Instead of #theartofslowliving I’m working towards a new way of thinking for myself. To give myself space to breathe and to think and to simply be. I’m working towards intentional living. Doing these things I need to do, but with an intention. With a meaning. Going through my day not thinking of what I should be doing – but actively choosing to be intentional with what I am doing.  If my to-do list is giant, that’s ok – I cannot do more than I physically can. The reality is I need to embrace each job, give over to it, allow it to be. And then move on to the next thing. Rather than rushing from thing to thing to try and get it all done. All this talk of slow just feels like rushed.

I keep wondering what I can drop, let go of. Seriously nothing – there’s nothing that can be scraped from the list. I cannot push aside the work of making my business and my income, yet I cannot push aside the time with my children and family. They must somehow work and learn to live and co-exist. Somehow. People talk about working smarter and not harder, but sometimes I don’t know how to move towards that. For me – I’m choosing instead to work intentionally, thoughtfully, purposefully. To give fully to one thing, and then fully to the next thing.

I know at the end of the day I will never ever EVER finish my to-do list. Perhaps most of us never will. Maybe that’s ok. As long as we realise that, and be ok with it. As long as we’re honest about it, and share it with others. And don’t lump things on someone else’s to-do list thoughtlessly.

Today I searched cheap accommodation in our region. I thought a night at the beach would be the best. And it would. Oh yes indeed – a night with my family in a swish hotel (remember we have outdoor toilet + shower, we don’t have a tv, we share a bedroom). But oh…..of course nothing in our budget, but also. To go away for a night would mean leaving jobs undone, time away from jobs to be done. Instead we’ve decided to go to the beach for the afternoon. To soak up the fresh sea air and be content with those moments. A compromise perhaps – but while I’m at the beach tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be feeling as if I’m on holiday. Even if it’s only a 3 hour holiday. Intentional living will help me work towards being in those moments, fully soaking them up.

Be gentle with yourselves Friends. Take time to remember the beautiful moments. Choose what you do wisely, choose intentionally to live the life you want rather than scurrying about. And hot chips for dinner at the beach every so often is highly recommended.

*though if someone were to ring and say we’d won a night’s holiday at the beach. We’d be there in an instant that’s for sure!

If you’re living an Instagram hashtag #theartofslowliving or any of those other idealistic labels we keep putting on ourselves, please don’t tell me – don’t rub it in my face. Go off and live your happy little Instagram-filtered life (jokes people, why doesn’t sarcasm translate properly in text!)! All I’m saying is….. next time you see someone’s perfectly beautiful idealistic slow-living life, just remember that it may not be all that we see. And ok, if it is as perfectly beautiful, then you know what….. let that go too – just go live your own version of an intentional life; slow, fast or most likely a combination of both.

did Instagram forget about the connections – how to find Insta Love

Yesterday I woke up and checked my Insta (yeah I know you do it too, don’t try to act all holier than thou!). And oh boy, how sad to see that I’ve been forced to join the non-chronological feed. No choice – just happened. I know I’ve been lucky to have not had it pushed on me earlier than now; some people have had it for more than 6 months, since Instagram first mentioned it was happening.

I wrote about it on my Insta account; I like to share a little morning hello with my friends over there (when I can), and from the comments I can tell you all feel the same. So I wanted to expand upon it…. my version and thoughts of it. Some of you might wonder why it matters, and how it fits into this Slow Living Lifestyle I keep talking about {And yeah, sometimes I wonder – BUT ….}.

The reason it matters, that these changes matter is that it’s affecting the way I can connect and communicate with my audience. The more changes Instagram continues to force on us, the more dis-satisfied we all feel, the more we switch off. That’s great for forcing us off social media, but I’m pretty sure we’re all looking for an alternative rather than suddenly having in-depth conversations with ourselves, or having taken up a new craft in our social-media free time! If you’ve done that, Cool, you inspire me…. but social media is actually my chance to step away from all that, to have a different conversation (rather than the 20 month old chatter, which while very lovely, needs some creative friendly boosts). I’m a slightly better version of myself on Instagram {aren’t you?}, and I can ignore the mess of life for a while. And that’s seriously healthy. But more than that – I have met, and continue to meet, people outside my regular everyday life who give me something I can’t get from work-at-home-life.

Oh  – golly….. just the coffee art on Insta makes me happy, cause daily coffee at cafes isn’t in my budget and it never quite looks/tastes/feels that same with three kids in tow!

Everyone keeps saying that to be ‘successful’ on Instagram you need to follow some simple rules – content is king, #hashtag #hashtag #hashtag, post at the optimal time… BUT – I don’t think that’s entirely true anymore. I keep seeing amazing content from people not getting the love it deserves, and I’m seeing some accounts skyrocket in likes + comments, while their content isn’t any better than anyone else’s (and in my very humble opinion maybe a bit formulae and very same-same). My thoughts on this, it could be totally wrong, is that some certain accounts get a high like count due to Instagram feeding it to more people, and the more likes it gets, the more Instagram shows it to more people (via their home feed and explore page). I’ve a few ideas about the way around this, and if you’re an IG-er with lower follower count you have more chance of seeing ‘results’ this way. I’ve written it up as a little how-to PDF that you can download here (by signing up to my mailing list – but I promise I barely ever send emails!).

I’m trying to find options, alternatives for Instagram. So far, nothing. The good ol’ days of blogging seem to have slipped away – those days when we all chatted and knew each other, but now everyone’s a blogger and there’s barely enough time to remember the blog names, let alone your real names!

But in the meantime – I’ll still be hanging out in Insta-land cause it’s the prettiest, chattiest place I’ve found to be! Come say hi – commenting on Insta is one of the best ways to get comments back.

What tips do you have to work around these Instagram changes? I want real connections, rather than a whole bunch of ‘double taps’!

Why fit in – Stand out.

Why fit in, When you can stand out!

I grew up with a mother who stood out in every possible way; sometimes embarrassingly so, mostly inspiringly so. She actively encouraged us – with her daily self, her words, her very essence – to be different. To be ourselves, wholehearted. To stand out from the crowd, and not be embarrassed by being different.

I was never ever one of the popular kids at high school. I went a small alternative (Steiner) primary school where we were all a bit different in our own ways, and loved each other for it. At high school my differences became who I was. Some of my friends went through the usual teenage angst of needing to fit in, be the same, dress the same. That peer pressure thing. Not me – I stood proudly different. I henna-ed my hair, wasn’t embarrassed when the kids found out we skinny dipped in our creek, proudly declared my vegetarianism (in a region of cattle farmers), and was quietly pleased with the semi-teased name “hippie” (though I knew I wasn’t a real hippie, I was compared to those kids). And yet through it all I was respected by my peers. Respected for standing out, for being me, being differently. Being proudly different.

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I’ve never in my life wanted to be in the popular gang, or the trendy one (golly I’m far far from that – I like to think I set my own trends {insert smile face}). Yep this funny social media world we’re caught up in, and Instagram in particular, has a way of making even the most confident self-declared non-populars question ourselves. Even if just a little. And I wonder why? What is it? What’s it about? But more importantly – if I feel even slightly like this {as a confident, almost 38yr old}, what do the young kids feel like? And what repercussions may this have on the next generations.

We’ve seen, already, it affect different people in unpositive ways, in depressing ugly ways. But what I actually started this post about was….. why are we all wanting to be the same?

I’m wondering if you’ve noticed, as I have, the increase on Instagram of same/same similar style of images. The photos that could be anyone’s, that ‘everyone’ seems to double-tap, only increasing our awareness that the majority really all want to be the same. Are we really happy looking at the same picture over and over again, redone with a different flower, coffee cup, perfectly white kitchen. Does this inspire, or make us feel envious – and by ‘liking’ we somehow feel we’ll too be part of the popular gang. We’ll be let into that inner circle of perfectly-perfect. {Golly I don’t actually even fit into imperfectly-perfect, if we’re being honest….. there ain’t no perfection here at all, and no aim for it!}. So why, pray tell me, do I keep seeing the same images being posted, day after day, and copied, ‘inspired by’……… Please tell me – are you not bored of styling & taking the same shot each day, are you not bored of looking at the same image each day.

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I’m not blaming or accusing anyone here – because I know that particularly Instagram is an amazing creative outlet for so many of us, and that for some of you it’s perhaps the only time you stop and do something for yourself in a day. I’m just curious, this is all personal observation, curiosity…. But I’m wondering – are you posting for the likes, the popularity or to continue to inspire yourself, find growth in your own creativity, challenge yourself. Are you willing to evolve, grown, learn, change even if it means you don’t get the love…… even if it means you’re on the outskirts?

I’d really love your thoughts, words, insights – all and any. Please let’s share and connect and open ourselves to a teeny bit of truth. Let’s be vulnerable in not being part of the popular tribe.

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