New year, new #bloggoals, right? If you’re looking to make some Instagram and blog changes for 2018, they are likely to revolve around reaching numerative goals, content and brands you want to work with (the latter of which I want to help you with)!
Nailing the blogging basics
I’d like remind you of a couple of points intended to help you think from the brands point of view before embarking on your 2018 goals list. They may sound very basic but there’s nothing like reminding yourself of the groundwork regularly to check that your foundations are stable.
Working for fashion brands for 5 years (as well as running ShinyThoughts) has helped me understand what both parties want when working together. Recently I’ve been tasked with doing a lot of research on Influencers and interestingly it’s brought up a few sticking points which I want to share with you with the aim of ensuring that you keep your blog or Instagram working hard for you. In this blog post I’ll explain what I look for as a brand, what you should ask yourself and the actions you can take to improve.
The three-second rule
Thoroughly researching an Influencer takes a lot of time and whilst there are tools out there to quickly aggregate information about a person’s online profiles, often a quick trawl through a blog and Instagram is the default way to go.
Sometimes a brand might chance upon you whilst browsing Instagram on their commute as much as on a ‘top blogs’ round-up with the aim of quickly finding new influencers for a specific campaign. With that in mind, you need to ensure that your content and information will grab their attention no matter what frame of mind they’re in.
There are a LOT of other blogs and Instagram accounts out there competing for a brand’s attention so to get noticed and ensure that brands’ precious time is spent with you, you’ve got to make a quick and lasting impression.
Ultimately you need to show them who you are what you’re about. Really clearly and really simply.
First of all, before even thinking about your channels or the content, it’s a good idea to start by asking yourself WHY a brand might choose YOU.
1 – Pioneer you
Over the years I’ve noticed an increase in the importance of the trailblazer. We’ve seen both a rise and a demand for Influencers who are known for a particular cause or niche, whether that be the mutli-slashie girl boss, the activist, the trend pioneer, the parenting activist or the avant- guard photographer. Influencers who stand for a particular thing are both cutting through the noise and are being featured by brands and press.
Increasingly brands are looking to use Influencers to add a point of view or a deeper layer to their campaigns because their customers are demanding more of them than just selling things.
Consumers don’t always want to see a person advocating something, they want to see someone with a story to tell advocate something in a way that makes sense to who they are. That’s what makes them unique and trustworthy.
Today, to stand out is to stand for.
Let’s start by thinking about how you can apply that winning uniqueness to you.
Maybe it’s that you are passionate about a particular charity or cause, maybe you’re helping bring awareness of an particular issue to light, maybe it’s your hobby or job on the side that gives you particular insight or maybe you want to teach people something. For me it’s about sharing what I’ve learnt from being both a blogger and a brand to aid greater understanding.
- Ask yourself:“What I can talk about that is unique to me”. “What do I stand for?”, “What would a brand come to me for over anyone else?”, “What value would a brand receive by working with me?”
- If you don’t have one already, create a mission statement and list of things that make you different and that you stand for and use these lists as guidelines for your content.
- Make this uniqueness overtly clear in everything you do. You can never make it clear enough.
Having these answers at the forefront of your brand strategy won’t just help you get noticed by brands, it’ll also set you apart from others in the eyes of press and potential followers.
2 – Communicate visually
Now that you’ve got uniqueness at the heart of your strategy, it’s time to look at your channel hygiene. When I research Influencers, I firstly need to visually read them. Here’s what I need to know:
1 – What you do. Can a brand sum you up in just one homepage or Instagram scroll? Is your content consistent enough that it visually communicates strongly who you are and what content they’re likely to get by working with you? They should be able to pin-point all of the different editorial pillars (the categories of content) you talk about (and your followers should do too).
- Think about the visual language of your channels. The colours, the framing of the photos, the poses you strike, the style you possess, the quality of image. Is it consistent in look and quality? Is it clear what content you produce?
- Check that the categories on your blog are up to date, in the right order and easily navigable. Use online pixel hotspot tools to detect your most clicked on categories and amend your design accordingly. Ensure that you’re regularly creating content for each category.
- Check that you are planning your Instagram gallery so that your editorial pillars are being represented within the first scroll.
2 – If you’re on-brand. The quality and content of your output will help a brand know if your audience is right for their product or brand.
- Ask yourself, what would a brand go to me for by looking at my channels? It might be streetwear/ luxury labels/ prints/ workwear/ food/ interiors or even for beautiful snaps of London. Is that what you want them to come to you for? Is it consistent?
- Ask a friend or your followers to look at your channels and tell you what words or themes come to mind. E.g quality/ craftsmanship/ storytelling/ joy/ colour/ escapism/ comfort/ warmth etc. Ask them to list brands that they think your aesthetic is similar to. These two lists can inform whether you feel what you’re portraying is in line with your expectations.
- Ask yourself if the quality of your content is in line with that of the brands you admire. How could it be improved?
- Look at your most engaged with posts on your blog and Instagram. Are you proud of them? Would you have selected them as your portfolio pieces? Analyse them and aim to create similar content going forwards.
- Set yourself goals to bring your content in line with your vision. Maybe it’s to smile more in photos, bring on a professional photographer to shoot your content or to add more creativity into your compositions. Use Instagram bookmarking to help create a moodboard.
3 – Show them the facts
Secondly, once I’ve ascertained that I like what I see, I want to know the facts. Too often however, I find myself stumped by the lack of key information. I want to know:
1 – Who you are on Instagram. This includes your full name and some information about yourself. Brands will look here first so should be able to find out what makes you different within seconds.
- If your Instagram bio doesn’t say anything unique about you, consider adding more information. E.g your job/ previous job before blogging, if you do Youtube, your hobbies, your interests, if you speak another language or are passionate about a particular cause etc.
- Consider weaving information about yourself into your Instagram captions, not everyone will know who you are even if they follow you.
- Make it clear which city and country you’re residing in.
2 – Who you are on your blog. Many blogs I’ve come across lately do not have adequate information about the author or the website and this makes it difficult for me to understand who they are, what they can offer and what makes them unique.
It is vitally important to communicate basic information such as location and name as well as things such as your age, your education, your career so far, your key skills, what you can offer brands that is unique, plus any of the above info as suggested in the point above relating to Instagram. Make it clear where you are based. A brand may need to know things such as whether your audience is marketable for their product or if they can meet you or take you away on a trip.
- Is your About Me section on your blog very easily navigable? If not, move it somewhere obvious.
- Refresh it every 6 months or more.
- Make it clear which city and country you’re residing in and what your audiences’ principle language. Also mention if you lived or grew up somewhere else or your heritage if you are happy to share this information. This is interesting!
- Add in quotes from readers or past brand collaborators if you want to relay a point that you can’t put into words yourself.
- Read it from a brand’s point of view. Remove obvious or waffling information that could apply to any other blog or information that can be visually communicated instead. Be specific.
- Add information about what makes you.
3 – Your email and other links. ‘Cause if they’ve picked you, make it easy for them to let you know.
- Display your email address and social media links clearly on every platform.
- Make sure your email address is copy and paste-able on your blog. (None of this fill-in form malarkey).
- Add in any links to key content or external articles.
- Ensure that your Instagram is easy to find and clicks straight out to Instagram.com from your blog.
What I Wore in Covent Garden:
Shoes, bag and jeans – Boden / Jacket – ASOS menswear / Roll neck jumper – Boden / Neck tie – ASOS
Photography by Jumar Mundo