Using Instagram as a Creative Entrepreneur

June 1, 2018

Our favorite social platform of the moment is Instagram, so we’re sharing our tips for using Instagram and growing your following as a creative entrepreneur or business owner.

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This Episode Brought to You By:
"Curate something that you enjoy doing because if you aren't enjoying using a platform, then it's not going to be serving you anyway."
- Emily Thompson

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:03
This Being Boss episode is brought to you by twenty20, where creative entrepreneurs get authentic real world stock photos. If you're looking to tell a true story about yourself or your brand, to deliver an honest message to your audience, the photos you use will matter. twenty20 has crowdsource millions of photos from a community of over 350,000 photographers, all available under a simple royalty free license. Today, they're offering listeners of being boss a five photo free trial to start yours right now go to That's the word 20 then two slash being boss to get five free photos.

Caitlin Brehm 0:45
Alright, Emily, and Kathleen, we have a pretty good sized following on the being boss Instagram account,

Emily Thompson 0:52
Instagrams my favorite

Caitlin Brehm 0:54
Yeah, my favorite continue. And there's been kind of a shift. I think I've noticed from other social platforms to Instagram lately, we get a couple questions from guests kind of like after you're done recording about Instagram and how they can help grow their own accounts. So let's talk about it. Do you have tips and tricks for all of our bosses out there who maybe want to grow their Instagram following or connect with their clients better on Instagram?

Kathleen Shannon 1:24
Boy, do we I have like a couple of fraudy feelings. It's so funny. I never thought that at you know, 16,000 followers and growing that I would be like, that's not very many. But we follow people who have like hundreds of 1000s of followers. So it's easy to have fraudy feelings around your Instagram account and around growing it. But what I want everyone to know first and foremost, is that any number of following is still enough to put effort into marketing or just curating or creating content on your Instagram that is valuable. So before we get into all that, though, I want to talk about why we like Instagram. So Emily, why do you like Instagram?

Emily Thompson 2:09
I like it because it's so visual. Whenever I remember back in the blogging days, like whenever I wanted to write a post is because I had really cool imagery to go with it. I mean, I think you and I both are in like the visual design field enough that visuals are super important to us. And I also think that one of the reasons why it's sort of picking up over other platforms is because you just have to look at a picture, you don't have to read a post. And though you can read a post, like even the truncated posts that they that Instagram shows on the platform makes it easy for you just as scroll without being inundated with words. So I even think it's just easier for people to consume and get inspired or taken the thing really easily. I like to use it because of that. But really I like using it because I always I see it as like my own little personal art project, where I can keep this cute little like scrapbook gallery of my life and the things that I'm doing. And I can curate it so that it looks pretty like. And a lot of ways I don't really care if anyone's liking or seeing my photos or not. I'll remove things from my feet, if they don't look good in the grid, even if they're like my like my most liked photos. Like I like curating the little art project for myself. That's just super visual with some maybe snarky hashtags for fun.

Kathleen Shannon 3:27
I do think that Instagram has replaced blogging, like the blogging world that we grew up in, I think that Instagram is now the place where I not only share images, but it's probably the place where I'm getting the most real, I mean, aside from the podcast, okay, that's not true. Like I'm real across the board, but it's not real. I know. I'm real everywhere. But I feel like Instagram between Instagram stories because it goes away is where you can like share just the kind of mundane or the funny thought or the whatever. And the posts to me feel more like blog posts meet scrapbook. Like, my kiddo doesn't have a baby book, but he can just go through them. I'll give him a hashtag. And you know, it's, it's true that they're like, some of my friends use hashtags on their Instagram to keep track of their baby photos. Yeah, so this is why I really like it is that I do think that it has replaced blogging and it's another place where we can communicate and express ourselves in the same spirit that blogs used to have. Okay, so I want to talk a little bit about who should and shouldn't be on Instagram. I think everyone should be on Instagram. Um,

Emily Thompson 4:42
I think of like, I think of really like weird marketing sales people who just post like inspirational quotes that have no like visual, common thread from one to the other. Like those are the types of accounts on Instagram that I kind of wish weren't there but honestly, if anyone wants to use Use it, I'll have my opinions and keep them more or less to myself. Um, but I think I think anyone who wants to use a visual platform, Instagram is a really great place to easily create that visual platform and use use it to share whatever it is they have to share.

Kathleen Shannon 5:19
Okay, so let's talk about growing your Instagram, I think that one of the best ways to do it is to make it look good. So good photos, consistency of colors and content, really, just like anything else, the more you show up, the more valuable you are, the more cohesive and consistent it all is, the better it's going to look.

Emily Thompson 5:41
Absolutely. So you do that really easily with filters, which Instagram has not bad ones built in. I'm a little partial to using outside apps to play with my photos, and I have my own little systems for making them look fantastic. I also really like pairing. I like a very dynamic feed that has a mixture of very like busy photos with very simple photos with maybe some like just like graphics and text images.

Caitlin Brehm 6:09
Yeah, you're really good at that, Emily.

Emily Thompson 6:11
Oh, thank

Kathleen Shannon 6:12
you. I know, I think that one pattern I've noticed with you, Emily, and then another one, my friends who's rocking it on Instagram. I don't even realize that she was doing this until she told me it's my friend Greer, who does some photos for us sometimes. So Greer will do like a light photo and a dark photo. And I don't even realize that and Emily, you do that too. So fantastically.

Emily Thompson 6:35
Right? It keeps the grid from looking too busy. I feel like I'll give us all dark and you throw a white one in there is like what are you doing or work, whatever it may be. I feel like it gives you a little more long term consistency if you do things like that.

Kathleen Shannon 6:51
Okay, let's talk a little bit about like the cheap tricks. So we've talked before on the podcast about a baby bump, which is whenever you post a photo of your kid, you're going to get more likes, I only like to do this like one every week,

Emily Thompson 7:04
every day.

Kathleen Shannon 7:08
A lot on I'll post him on Instagram stories. And as he's getting older, I'm trying to like phase out how much he is on there. But I just adore my kid so much. I can't help but want to post him all the time. But um, I only like to do it maybe one every five photos whenever it comes to and again, this is Oh, let's talk about this real quick because I have a personal Instagram Emily, you have a personal Instagram. Then we have a being boss Instagram, we have a braid creative Instagram, we have an almanac supply co Instagram. So we have Instagrams that are kind of more separate. We're not blending it all together,

Emily Thompson 7:42
for sure.

Kathleen Shannon 7:43
So I guess what I'm trying to say is that on my personal Instagram, I'm posting photos of my kid on my professional Instagram, I am not. But even on my personal Instagram, I'm still only doing like one every five photos. Because I do have enough followers and enough of a personal brand that I I just want to keep it a little more around I don't know

Caitlin Brehm 8:04
when I think that just helps people with a personal connection to you. It's the same thing with I think whether it's a business or personal account, it's important to occasionally show up with your face. And there's a lot of shame around like selfies, like they not on Instagram. Not I know some people have it though pointing at myself. But it's important, like people want to see who you are. And it helps you engage with the brand if they know who's behind it.

Kathleen Shannon 8:33
I love selfies. I love taking selfies. I love liking other people's selfies. I like seeing people's faces.

Emily Thompson 8:40
I agree. And I feel like Instagram is a very face friendly platform where you know, some of my favorite Instagram accounts with tons and tons of followers every single photo is a photo of themselves or giving of like Yogi's in particular do this quite a lot. And you don't really think much about it, it just is what it is.

Kathleen Shannon 8:57
I am going to save face friendly because of the filters. Without always wrinkles, love a good filter. No, I

Emily Thompson 9:08
think Instagram is definitely a place for showing your face is light.

Kathleen Shannon 9:14
Quiet. Speaking of likes, I want to talk a little bit about specifically about growth and engagement. So whenever we opened up this episode, I was saying that it doesn't matter how many followers you have. One of the things that I really think about whenever it comes to Instagram is the amount of engagement I'm getting. So some of my posts might have 100 comments and only, I don't know, a couple of 100 likes and I would rather have all those comments than all the likes. I'm also constantly looking at the ratio between how many followers I have and how many likes I have. So those accounts that you see with 50,000 followers. If you go through the photos and see that they only have maybe 100 likes, that ratio is way off and it means that they've bought their followers

Emily Thompson 10:00
Yeah, for sure. I also like to use likes and comments as like marketing data. So whether it's the being boss feed or Almanac or like, especially those like business feeds, looking and seeing which posts get the most likes or comments and just engagement in general always gives me ideas for the types of content I'd be sharing more of, or the types of products I need to be carrying and Almanac more or sharing more or sharing more about whatever it may be, it's really good data for, for letting you know what you're, what you're doing, what what you're doing, if what you're doing one of what you're doing, is, is getting traction or not, it's really good marketing data. And I will say to you, you know, Instagram Stories is always a place where I'm going to get more traction and more engagement, and even just my posts, so if you're not using Instagram stories, and you're missing engagement, give Instagram Stories a chance, because pretty much every time I post one, I'm getting friends and not friends and all of these people commenting and replying and sharing their experiences and stories, it's so for some reason, it's so much easier for people to do that, like behind the scenes messaging, to your stories, it is for them to comment on posts, which is interesting, and cool, but it is what it is. So check out those Instagram Stories if you haven't yet.

Caitlin Brehm 11:23
And we're not claiming that we know anything about Instagram algorithms, it's pretty safe to say that if you're using any platforms, most recent features, which for Instagram, at the time of this recording stories is one of their newer features, it's going to help you with your engagement and with that overall algorithm.

Kathleen Shannon 11:43
Caitlin, I love that you say that because I was gonna say like, let's close this up with like one big tip. So I think that yours is to use the newest features to increase your chances of being seen. I think that mine is probably to go follow a couple of accounts that you really like and look at their overall grid and look at the different kinds of content that they're sharing how their photos look, and start to just really dissect it almost as if you're a scientist, like take the emotion out of it and just look at it really objectively. What is the composition of their photos? What are their captions? Like? What is their engagement like, and then recreate it? I'm not saying copy it, but once you figure out the pattern and the formula, just try it on for size and see if it works for you.

Emily Thompson 12:32
Yeah, and I think mine is do it for you even all of that aside, like just curate something that you enjoy doing. Because if you're not enjoying using a platform, then it's not going to be serving you anyway.

Kathleen Shannon 12:43
Oh, I love that. This minisode was brought to you by twenty20. Check them out at That's t w e n t y 20 as in the slash being boss.

Emily Thompson 13:01
Did you like this minisode Be sure to check us out on our website at There you can find more from being boss including our full episodes minisodes and blog posts. And while you're there, be sure to sign up for our mailing list so that you can get access to behind the scenes and exclusive content from Kathleen and myself to help you be more boss in your work and life. Do the work be boss