Can You Really Turn Instagram Into a Career?
I have been on Instagram (in a professional sense) for 3 years now! I created InstaBritain in September 2015 for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was in Liverpool for the weekend and decided I wanted to share my photos in a space away from my personal Instagram. The second reason was I had started watching a TV show called ‘Hunted’ which showed us all corners of Britain, this inspired me to learn more about my own country, and InstaBritain was born!
For a year this Instagram was just me posting photos, many of these photos were features as I was a full-time travel consultant and had no time of my own to create any content. Then I got married and wanted to start out married life happily, this meant quitting my job which was making me extremely anxious, I was becoming a person I didn’t recognise. However, quitting meant I didn’t have a job, and this was 2016, I was living just outside of London and life didn’t cost nothing, I had to do something.
I started up my own social media management business where I began taken care of travel brand’s Instagram and Facebook accounts. There is an increasing market for this as it is a much cheaper alternative for businesses than employing a full-time social media employee. I was happy with what I was doing and had so much more time on my hands, my work was all on my phone so I could finally go out and create content of my own. This is when I started postcardsbyhannah, my second Instagram account (and my favourite).
Whilst I have half the followers on here than I do on InstaBritain, this is the account I find myself permanently logged into. This is a space in which I have created an amazing relationship with my ‘followers’ (a word I hate!), I can be myself, and I can share some of my innermost thoughts. It is through this account that I started earning money through Instagram.
I now earn 70% of my income through brand collaborations through Instagram, and I have many people messaging me asking how I have reached this point and is it a viable career choice? So below I will go through 5 main points I think one needs to consider before heading down the Instagram career path…
1. The income is often unreliable
There are peaks and troughs throughout the year, for me January-April is pretty quiet, things pick up over summer and throughout the rest of the year. Luckily for me, I do not live in central London, I live in Hertfordshire, meaning living costs are much lower than if I was a true city girl. You have to be prepared to make sacrifices and save your money! The last year has taught me how to budget and how to save money better than when I was in full-time employment. You absolutely HAVE to hold money back because you might hit a month where you don’t work with any brands. I am now saving more money than ever before and I actually like myself more as a person for it! I am no longer spending all my money on clothes and makeup which is better for both my self-esteem and for the environment.
Tip: Don’t rely JUST on brand collaborations, take other bits of work such a freelance photography or copywriting.
2. Be choosy with who you work with
If you want to maintain an authentic relationship with your audience and your own content, you must only work with brands you truly believe in. I was asked by Tribe, a social media influencer platform, why I had such a high success rate with brands I pitched to work with. The answer is simple, when I read a brief, I will only submit work if it is a brand I actually use or a brand I think will benefit my audience. I have had some great collaboration quests with some fantastic companies, however, I have had to turn down good money because if I don’t believe in something for myself, why would I want to promote that with the people who are reading what I write?
3. Engage with your audience
If you don’t take the time to talk to and get to know your audience, why should they take the time to get to know you? Some of my favourite posts have been those in which I ask my followers questions, whether it be what decade they were born in, where their favourite country is or where they are from, I am a nosy person and I love learning about other people. I appreciate every like and comment I get, I want to reciprocate that.
Tip: Don’t forget to ask your followers questions about THEM, we can all learn something.
4. Maintain a healthy balance between sponsored and non sponsored content
I don’t mind seeing sponsored content on my feed, even if it isn’t a product I am interested in, I can appreciate others can be inspired by it. However, when someone is posting sponsored content every other post, or some even every single post, I tend to unfollow. I like to keep a circle of authentic people around me, not people who will flog anything to anyone for a few bucks.
Tip: It is normal to see an increase in sponsored posts at certain times of the year, particularly over Christmas and other holidays, but don’t let the thought of extra Christmas present money overtake your moral compass.
5. Don’t be scared to take a break
What a lot of people don’t realise is that Instagram can take up a lot of time and can also dampen people’s creativity. Unlike a 9-5 job, there is no end to the day when it comes to Instagram, it can become very easy to let Instagram trickle into your everyday life a little too much. I have spent nights on the sofa next to my husband, watching (or not watching) TV whilst mindlessly scrolling and commenting on social media. This isn’t okay and I hate myself for it. I now no longer post on Saturdays so I can enjoy the day with friends/family without the distraction of Instagram.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to take some time away from your social media accounts, loyal followers won’t leave you. Many creators often find their passion reignites after taking a break.
Hello Hannah. Thank You for this post. It’s very informative and got me thinking 🤔. If I have further questions where can I write to you?
Have a great day.
Regards, Shanaya. (You’ll probably know me as GiGlee Magazine on Instagram)
Great Post Hannah – I’m still trying to find ways to build up my audience but unfortunatley having to stick to the 9-5 for now as this is my only source of income whilst my boyfriend is still at university, I’m a city girl and I may potentially start a business with my mum too.