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When I first started my Instagram account, I had no idea what I was doing. It was frustrating and overwhelming in so many ways.
In the beginning, I felt really defeated when comparing myself to other accounts that were much farther along than myself. But, I didn’t let those feelings stop me from pushing on and soaking up knowledge from those who had gone before me.
I started my account in January of 2017 with the sole intention of posting vintage home goods and wares for sale. If you scroll ALL the way back in my feed, you will find my very first post was an up-close shot of a yellow, floral coffee mug.
Asking for Advice
Desperate for growth and sales, I reached out to Leslie @habitationboheme. I asked her, “How the heck do I actually make a sale?!” I think I had around 1,000 followers at the time, and she had a few thousand. Her reply back to me was NOT what I expected.
Leslie said, “Just focus on growing your audience. The sales will come.”
After receiving that advice, I dug into my analytics to figure out what the heck was helping me grow my audience. I noticed that if I styled an item for sale in my home, it performed better on Instagram.
For example, instead of taking a flat lay photo of a coffee mug, I would position said coffee mug on my coffee table, light a candle, and fluff the pillows behind it for the photograph.
I started styling every single item for sale in my home to take the photos for my website listings and Instagram photographs, and it worked! People started engaging, responding and following my account.
Quickly, the conversation and community was more around my home and decor style versus the actual products. I decided to follow the demand and capitalize on this by shooting strictly home decor photos. My account grew rapidly. Also, I am happy to report that as my account grew, so did my sales!
At two months in, I was up until 2:00 – 3:00 AM a few nights a week trying to process all the orders and get them packed up for shipping. This was a GOOD problem to have! For perspective, I was making over $2,000 a month at this point. FYI: You have to sell A LOT of brass pots and knick knacks to make that much.
A Change in Perspective
I truly contribute the success and growth I saw from simply changing my approach and perspective on Instagram. I went from a sell, sell, sell mindset to asking, “What does my audience want?”
I recently listened to a podcast episode from Her Life by Design with Christina Galbato, where she mentioned that when you start listening and creating for your audience versus yourself is when you really start to take your account from a hobby to a business. I couldn’t agree more!
Over the last three years, my business has slowly transitioned through different phases. About 6 months into my vintage selling journey, I realized I didn’t want to sell nearly as many physical items. I went from selling ALL sorts of vintage home goods to only Persian rugs.
Moreover, this transition freed up more time for photography and content creation, which I quickly realized I have such a passion for!
I started this current blog in summer of 2018, and now, a year and a half later, I am slowly liquidating my rug inventory as I move fully into the digital marketing & influencer space.
Having this active, engaged, tight knit audience has allowed me to expand and pivot my business and brand.
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In conclusion, if you are just getting started on the crazy Instagram journey, my biggest piece of advice is to keep showing up for your audience day in and day out. Whatever you do, do not give up! Focus less on selling and more on building trust, and you will see amazing results. And remember, great things take time (including your Instagram account)!