How I Started my Instagram // The Biz of Blogging // Part One

The Biz of Blogging 

This is part one of a series in which I am sharing my story as a blogger. Last week I wrote a blog post titled “Can We Talk About the Elephant in the Room?“. The post was about why I collaborate with brands. So many of you commented on the post and asked about how I started working with brands. Then a lot of questions came up about how I got started on Instagram and blogging and a lot of you asked how I grew my account. This got me to thinking that maybe it is time I shared my journey and everything I have learned creating My 100 Year Old Home. So I have started a series for my blog called The Biz of Blogging. And this is the first post.

I think the best way to do this is to post at least once a week and answer questions asked by you. This won’t be written in chronological order as I want to talk about working with brands sooner rather than later. If you have questions, please ask them in the comments below. I promise I will answer them all, so please just be patient.

Today’s Question

“How did you start your instagram? Any tips on what to do?”

My background is in marketing and art. For years I had a website and blog, podcast and accounts on social media to promote my art.

I started my Instagram account @my100yearoldhome in February of 2017 and began blogging about two months later.  I originally started @my100yearoldhome because I loved the Fixer Upper farmhouse style and I wanted to see if I could paint paintings to fit in to a home decorated with in this style. So I started out making changes to our décor. I wanted more of a neutral palette and started in our living room and just kept creating projects and having fun! In no time I fell in love with the process of renovating, decorating and styling our home. I started posting photos and stories about our home on Instagram and have never looked back. (The art is still going to happen although I am not sure exactly when. I am so busy that I need to figure out how to find the time!)

In the beginning I never thought I would have an Instagram with a lot of followers. I just started having fun sharing what I was doing and my account just kept growing. I met so many amazing people on Instagram, including so many gals I call friends, who I haven’t even met! But this journey has been incredible and one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.

I spent twenty five years in marketing so it didn’t take me long to figure out that if you worked really hard, you could build you account organically. And what is organic growth? Organic growth refers to the act of getting followers to come to you naturally over time, rather than “artificially” via paid links, boosted posts or the absolute worst thing you could ever do … buy followers.

Instagram Tips

There are some things that I learned are really important to do on Instagram if you want to grow your feed.

1. Be true to yourself. Social media has a tendency to look perfect. But none of us have a perfect home or a perfect life. And we all know that, right? While I do think it’s nice to post pretty photos on your feed, don’t think you have to be perfect in every way. Because that’s not real. Be yourself because people will appreciate your honesty. I never though I had a perfect home (don’t forget, our home is over a hundred years old!) so I don’t mind sharing the dents and scratches and mess. Because that is also what I love about our home. It’s not perfect! You can post pretty pictures on your feed, but don’t forget to keep it real. (Remember the post I wrote about cleaning out my spice cupboard? I found spices that had expired over ten years ago. No kidding.) This photo below showed my not-so-tidy flower arranging room. I had no problem posting it because it always looks like this! And it’s still a good photo.

2. Post the best photos you can. We all know that having good photos on Instagram is important. What you should know is that the photos you see on my Instagram feed don’t look that good when they are taken with my iphone (yes, I don’t ever use a camera). That’s because I edit every photo before I post it on my Instagram. Every single one.

Fortunately, the editing is easy as it happens right on my phone. I edit my photos because often they don’t look like the room I am photographing. They come out darker and more yellow than the room actually is. When I edit my photos, I lighten, sharpen and de-saturate the color in them. Occasionally, I straighten the photos too. My biggest reason for editing is to make them look more like the actual room and make them easier to see. I lighten them so you can see more details in my photos and I sharpen them so they are clearer.

Sometimes the light (or lack of light) yellows my photos so I de-saturate the color in all of my photos to achieve a cooler value. That is why when you look at my Instragram feed, the photos look similar as they have a similar amount of lightness and color in each one. Editing my photos is a very simple process. I use a free app on my phone and it’s called VSCO. You can download it from the app store. And if you want a step by step lesson to edit your photos read one of my earlier blog posts, Five Easy Steps to Edit Your Instagram Photos

If you look on my IG feed, and scroll back to the very beginning, you might notice my first few photos are dark, not as clear and not edited! Plus my posts were very sporadic and unorganized. Next week I will let you know about how having an Editorial Calendar made my Instagram and blogging life so much easier!

3. Learn from the Instagram accounts you love! If you want to learn how to build a great Instagram account, find a few people on Instagram that you really admire. Follow them and learn from them. What are they posting about? What kind of camera angels do they use to take their photos? What hashtags are they using? What brands are they working with? What are they posting on Instagram stories? How often to they post on their feed and in stories? You can learn so much from others. Early on I found five amazing Instagram accounts that I absolutely loved. I learned so much from them and to this day, they have no idea they were my “self appointed mentors”! This single step helped me so much!

4. Use hashtags! Hashtags are really important because they increase your visibility dramatically! I have a list of hashtags that I use on nearly every post. Create a list of about twenty hashtags. And look to your mentors to see which hashtags they use. Post these tags on each post but be sure to customize them to the subject matter of each post too. And don’t forget to always use your own hashtag every single time. Mine is #my100yearoldhome. (Surprising, eh?)

These are the things that I think really helped me in the beginning. We will talk about so much more in future posts, but this is a great start. Don’t worry if you have had an Instagram account for a while. You can still incorporate all of these ideas!

Next week I will be discussing how I started working with brands and why my Editorial Calendar is the best tool to keep me organized. You might want to subscribe to my blog here so you don’t miss my future posts.

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  1. I recently found you on Instagram and I love your home. I appreciate the tips you shared in this post and look forward to the rest of the series. One question: Which iPhone do you use?

  2. These are such great tips, Leslie! Thank you so much for taking the time to help us (newbies), become more successful in our Insta-journey. I LOVE your feed and the fact that you keep it real.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your info. I follow both your IG and blog! I have often thought about blogging, but am clueless as to how to start and where to start. I’m so looking forward to following your series. You have a beautiful way of putting everything together.

  4. I have a very uninteresting account name? Do you think that matters when trying to grow followers? For example, do you think people would disregard an account named “jjohnson4u”

  5. I’m very interested in the start up of blogging, working 50 to 60 hours a week, I need all the help I can get in my spare time. Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I definitely will be following to see if this will be for me or just to continue following some amazing women!!

  6. Will you share how you do live feeds? How do you post videos? Is there a specific app to do this? Thanks!

  7. I’m in the process of starting a blog and transitioning my Instagram account to be more in line with the blog. This information is very helpful and I can’t wait for the next post! You are one of the mentors I’ve been following 🙂

  8. My sisters been trying to get me to start a blog. I have small children and worry about “stranger danger” which I know seems silly. How do you still keep personal info private? Are you ever worried about people knowing too much? Thanks for sharing your beautiful home.

  9. This is wonderful!!! Thank you so much for opening up and being real about the process. So very helpful!! #theremodelingdiaries trying to get off the ground myself 🙂

  10. Thank you for being so transparent and sharing what it takes to create a successful career in this world. I was hoping you could answer this question for me. When asked to promote and share products is there a conflict of interest if the same product is used? For example, watercolour paints? Or is it understood that varying versions of the same thing can be highlighted? I’m a little confused about the protocol. Thanks for any insights.

  11. Hello! I’m a new follower of yours! I’m really enjoying your posts and recently read on your blog that you are in South Pasadena. Honestly my favorite city in So Cal. I don’t even mind that it’s not the beach! I also reside in the San Gabriel Valley in my very first rental home. It’s a cute little Spanish home and I’m enjoying the architecture so much that I’d like to share some of my ideas. I follow lots of your friends, including the ones in this post. That’s how I found you! Sorry for all of the rambling, I do have questions! How do I really start? Should I choose a brand new Instagram name? I have about 200+ followers currently, most of which are my real life friends/acquaintances and I do not feature my house. Can I feature my family life and my home? I will also start a blog, but want to get my Instagram started first. Thank you so much for your wonderful, inspirational and KIND posts! Also, I’m so scared people will be mean to me…

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