Becoming an Instagram Influencer: Creating Authentic Content and Monetizing Your Following | Sean Dalton | Skillshare

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Becoming an Instagram Influencer: Creating Authentic Content and Monetizing Your Following

teacher avatar Sean Dalton, Travel Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Establishing a Theme


    • 4.

      Quality Content


    • 5.

      Targeted Hashtags


    • 6.

      Targeted Engagement and Instagram Pods


    • 7.

      Photo Editing Made Simple


    • 8.

      Third Party Analytics


    • 9.

      Monetizing and Working with Brands


    • 10.

      Last Words


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About This Class

Join popular Instagram lifestyle photographer Sean Dalton (@seandalt) as he breaks down the process of becoming an Instagram influencer. 

Having grown his following by over 25,000 in just 9 months, Sean has learned the ins and outs of Instagram growth and working with brands. He is part of a popular Instagram community in Thailand, and continues to explore and understand Instagram's complicated algorithms. In this 60 minute course, Sean breaks down everything you need to know about Instagram's platform, providing you with detailed steps on how to grow and monetize your account. Sean share's all of his Instagram secrets to success, including:

  • Creating a consistent theme
  • How to post quality content
  • How to select the perfect targeted hashtags
  • Photo editing made easy
  • Effective engagement
  • How to utilize Instagram pods

Whether you're a seasoned Instagrammer, a moderate user, or brand new to the platform, there is something to learn in this course for everyone. This course covers everything you need to know about Instagram from a business standpoint, and can help you become an Instagram influencer in no time.

Meet Your Teacher

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Sean Dalton

Travel Photographer

Top Teacher

Hey guys! I'm Sean.

For the last 5 years I've been traveling the world capturing as many photos as I possibly can. I'm drawn to a wide range of photography styles, and constantly striving to improve my art. Emotion and storytelling are two central pillars of my artwork, and I am always looking for new and interesting stories to tell via my camera.

I'm originally from San Francisco, California, but have spent the last few years chasing stories and light throughout Asia.

Most of what I teach relates to my background with travel and lifestyle photography, but I am constantly expanding my focus as I continue to grow as a photographer. I'm pumped that you are here, let's grow together!

I'm active on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube.... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Instagram has really become a platform where creatives can shine, creating not only content that inspires them and that's beautiful, but content that sells as well. My name is Sean Dalton and I am a professional photographer, Instagram influencer, and Instagram consultant. Basically I work with brands around the world who are trying to develop a stronger presence on Instagram and I assist them in doing that, by finding relevant hashtags, setting forward a growth plan and we work together throughout the entire process, from zero followers and started the account to hiring Instagram influencers and everything beyond that as well. I started making money on Instagram once I hit about 5000 followers and I wasn't even trying to, it just happened. A brand approached me and they saw my content. They saw that I had a really targeted follower base and they hit me up and they said, "Hey, we want to work with you," and I said, "Okay, great. Yeah, let's do it." After that, I set my mind to growing my account and getting more followers and getting more engaged followers. I did it in a way where I didn't want to sell out, didn't want to sacrifice my authenticity. Today, I'm going to teach you how to do the exact same thing. Where do we start with all this? Well, we're going to start with the basics. We're going to start with the fundamentals of Instagram. Some of the best practices, we're going to talk about content.We're going to talk about hashtags. We're going to talk about analytics. Then, of course, we're going to move on to chatting about how to monetize your Instagram. How to find brands that you can work with, how to contact those brands, how to reach out to them and show them that you can provide them value that will help their business. We're going to do it in a way that's really easy to understand. A lot of people are really critical of those who count how many followers they have. They care so much about the amount of followers they have, the amount of followers they get every week. But the truth is, that is important, but more importantly is how engaged those followers are. Are they actually commenting on your posts? Are they liking your posts? Engagement rate is the most crucial aspect of Instagram growth. That's what we're going to focus on in this course. This course is basically for anybody that has something that they're passionate about and want to share that passion with the world and make money through that passion. That's all possible through Instagram. 2. Class Project: So for the course project, I want you to find five photos that match your theme and we're going talk about in the next section, how to establish a theme for your page but I want you to find five photos, even if you don't take the photos, that's okay. Find five photos post them in the project below and I really want you guys to do this because it's a really good opportunity to get feedback not only from me, but from other people in the community. If you're trying to construct your theme, we can help you frame it a little bit better and we can kind of chat about it. So please take the time to do that, I'd love to see what you guys come up with. 3. Establishing a Theme: Before we get into growing your account, we need to talk about the most important thing about Instagram and that is consistency. The simplicity of Instagram's visual platform allows you to easily create a consistent theme in your field and illicit specific emotions within your followers. From that, you can create a really strong brand identity. That's what separates Instagram from a lot of the other social media outlets out there. With that said, the most important thing about creating a strong brand identity on Instagram is to have a consistent theme. When I say consistent theme, I mean a consistent story that you're telling in your Instagram feed, and also a consistent style. Having the same filter on all of your photos and have everything similar lighting. Basically, everything needs to flow very well. When somebody visits your page, the first thing they're going to do is look at your first 9-12 photos. They make a very quick decision as to whether they should follow you or not. If you have a consistent theme, if you're telling a story, somebody is much more inclined to follow you. Whereas if you just have a bunch of random images, maybe some quotes, and things like that. I focus on coffee, coffee and cafes, and that's my theme. Stylistically, I like darker in medium images. That's my style. Some photographers, they like to take really bright and airy, and highly saturated photos, and that's not my style, and people don't follow me for that style. I stay true to the followers of that post. I stay true to my style, and I stay true to the content. That's one of the reasons why I've been successful Instagrammer as well as all the other people that have been successful at Instagram as well. What should you focus on? The best answer I have for you is, I don't know. There're so many things that you can focus on when it comes to Instagram. It doesn't really matter. As long as it's something that you care about, I can promise you that there's somebody else in the world that cares about it as well, and there's people out there that will follow you for posting content that is relevant to that theme or that concept. Find something you really care about. Find something that you love to take photos of, that you love to do, that you love to document, and that you're okay with documenting and you're okay with photographing it, even if you're not getting paid. It's important to be able to create content that you love, and if you don't love it, then it starts to feel like a burden. If you do love it, and you're creating consistent content, then eventually the money will come, and it will come when you least expect it. That's what I want you to focus on. Is to find something that you love, that you really really care about, and for me, you're probably like, ''What do you care so much about coffee?'' I love coffee and I love going to cafes, and it's easy for me to create consistent content because I'm always in the cafe. I'm always in a coffee shop. Me and my friends will go hang out and have some coffee. Also I take some pictures and guess what? That's all relevant for Instagram. It's easy for them to create that content, and that's what I love about it. Now, we're looking at a few Instagrammers that I think do a really good job at storytelling, and expressing a really good thing. This is Andrew Knapp. He's a photographer from Portland, and all of these photos of him and his little dog, Momo, it's the story about him and his dog traveling across the country, and he had post these photos of a landscape, and then he will have his dog patiently waiting in the corner of the frame or hiding in the frame. He always says, ''Find Momo,'' and your job is to find Momo. His dog is always hiding in the most clever places, but his photos are incredible, and they all tell this compelling story about this life of him and his dog traveling across the country, visiting beautiful places. It paints a picture of the personality that this dog has. All the pictures match that, and the editing does as well. The editing is consistent, it's clean, it's sharp focus, and its positive. The imagery is very positive and I think that's one of the things that I really love about this theme. The other one I wanted to show you guys is my good friend Kangkulsri. That's her account name, K-A-N-G-K-U-L-S-R-I, and she's an illustrator based here in Thailand, and I love her content. It's so beautiful, and it all focuses on this idea of her being an artist, and traveling, and taking photos of where she's drawing, and where she's working from, and everything matches this theme of her art she posts. Photos of her working, and photos of her studio, and everything just matches this really consistent theme, both in terms of the content but in terms of the style as well. Once again, we see this really soft kind of pastels ketones, and every image goes together perfectly. It all tells us really wonderful story. Like I said, it doesn't really matter what you focus on you. This is an illustrator. The other one is about a guy in his dog. Whatever you focus on, make sure it's something that you love. If it's makeup, focus on makeup. If it's salt and pepper shakers, make it account focusing on salt and pepper shakers, you can do that, it doesn't really matter, as long as you're focused on something that you love and care about, somebody else does as well. One tip I want to give you is no matter what you choose, make sure it's positive. Don't have a negative emotions coming at your feet, make all of your captions positive and make your images positive. I think positivity is really important for Instagram, they're all artists, they're are all creatives on Instagram, I think if you want to have a large following, you have to reflect emotions that you want your followers a feel. So positivity is definitely a really important thing. 4. Quality Content: We chatted a little bit about content and creating a consistent theme, but there's still a lot to say about the content that you should post on Instagram. I think one of the best tips I learned from another popular Instagrammer was only post the best photos that you have, 10 over 10. Only post very high quality photos. If you're posting bad photos, it's going to feel your feed with photos that people don't want to see it. Only post the best ones that you have. If you can post once a day, that's the minimum, and I say the maximum is to post four times per day. If you go beyond that, you're starting to flood people's feed, it's just too much. One to four times a day, I think is the magic number there. I post once a day, not even once a day and I still grow my account a lot because every photo that I post is quality. I make sure it's the best photo that I posted on the day or the best photo that I take that day, I post that. I spend time editing it, I do everything, [inaudible]. That being said, if you have a hard time finding really good photos, you can curate a feed. A lot of people now are going and creating new Instagram accounts for their featuring people's photos from other feeds. You can find tons of these pages. Basically, what they do is, they start a page focusing around a very specific theme, and they find other photographers that are taking photos that mash that theme, and they re-post them. It creates a very beautiful feed that focuses very specifically on one thing. This is really good because you have a lot of options as to how you want to tailor the feed, how you want to curate it, and make it look stylistically in terms of contents. I think one of the big ones that's really popular and has been talked about in a lot of different Instagram articles and stuff is men in coffee. It's just pictures of really handsome dudes drinking coffee. It's not something that I look at a lot, but it is something that is a really good example of how you can curate a feed and become very popular, and they have 392,000 followers. Whoever is writing this account is making tons of money, and they have a sister account here, women in coffee. Once you develop that following there, you can tie those people back into your personal feed that might not be tailored so well or into another feed. You can create all these different Instagram accounts to grow and feature each other and grow them all as a whole. But if you're like me and you like to create content, I do run a curated account, but I focus most of my time on my personal account. That's what's most important to me. I think one of the most important things when it comes to content as well is to post authentic photos. You want to post photos that really relate to the story that you're talking about, and they're not overselling things. I think when a lot of people start making money on Instagram, they start to post every photo. Every photo is focusing around making money, they're featuring products. It seems like nothing is authentic anymore. They're not posting content that originally got them popular. They're posting content that makes them money. That's why I think it's important to focus on something that you love creating content for even if you're not getting paid for it. I make money shooting from coffee shops, but if I'm not hired from a coffee shop I'll still go to another coffee shops and take photos because that's where I love to do, that's my style. You'll see photos on my feed that are sponsored, and you'll see a lot of photos in the feed that are not, more so, more of my photos are not sponsored than photos are sponsored. Try to keep it authentic. Authenticity is this weird, vague word, but just make it feel real. Don't oversell yourself, don't make every post about selling something. I think a lot of people start to do that and their followers become disengaged with their content, and it doesn't become entertaining anymore, and it's not beautiful. It got stems away from art into a big business, and that's not what Instagram is about. A common question I get is, what is the best time to post? When should I post? That completely depends on you, where you are and your followers. For me, the best time for me to post is early morning because I live in Asia and a lot of my followers are in Asia, but a lot of my followers are in California as well, where I'm from, California and Oregon and Washington. I have to post and have time zone that appeals to both of them. Because it's like 14, 15 hour difference. If I post here in the morning, I'm catching the entire day here in Asia, and then I'm catching the later end of the day in California. The reason I know that that's the best time for me to post is because I use a lot of analytics. We're going to talk about that later in this presentation, but analytics are really good tool to tell you when to posts, so stay tuned for that. That'll answer your question a little bit better there as to when the best time to post is. Also, I do want to talk a little bit about captions. Captions are really important because they pitch into that mood that you're trying to solve, that emotion, that theme, the theme of your page. For me, I shoot coffee, but my captions, I just try to keep them positive. I say happy things. I'll try to get my followers to comment on a post. I'll ask them questions. I'll try to get a discussion going. The more you can interact with the people that are liking your photos, the better, I mean. If you can have a caption that tries to get more engagement, that's great. It doesn't have to be, fine tune. You don't have to worry too much about it. I think some people overthink their captions. Some people would do the quotes and stuff, but I don't do quotes because I don't think that it's a conversation starter. Maybe it's artistic, but it doesn't get people commenting on my post, it doesn't get people engaging. Post something that is positive and that will get other people to comment on your photo. That's the best caption that you can have. 5. Targeted Hashtags: Now we're going to talk about everyone's favorite topic: hashtags. I think a lot of people overlook the importance of hashtags. I've watched a lot of the other Skillshare courses and YouTube videos. A lot of them are saying only use two or three or five or six hashtags. That doesn't make any sense to me because hashtags are what get your photo seen beyond your followers. If you can use the correct hashtags, you can completely grow your account super fast. I'm going to introduce you to this term ''targeted hashtag''. What is a targeted hashtag? A targeted hashtag is a very specific and detailed hashtag that's focusing on a specific theme. When I first started using Instagram, I was tagging my photos hashtag coffee, hashtag best of the day, hashtag Instagram. Those are really popular hashtags, but that's the thing. They're too popular. Many people are posting to those hashtags that when you post, you might get 10-20 likes right off the bat. They're like, ''Wow. These hashtags are awesome.'' But then your post gets buried and nobody ever sees it. If you use hashtags that are more descriptive and that aren't so heavily crowded with other people posting, your posts will stick up there longer. If you get enough likes and comments in the first hour or first 30 minutes, your posts will actually trend on that hashtag. When you trend, your posts will sit there for a long period of time and everybody that visits that hashtag will like your photo. They're also much more likely to comment on your photo and much more likely to follow you because they were looking at something very specific in the first place. A good example of this is I use a hashtag, hashtag Cafe Teller. Cafe Teller is an account in Asia that features a bunch of photos of people taking pictures of their coffee. Photos of people's coffee and stuff like that. That's my content. That's what I post. If I do hashtag coffee, like I said, I'll get some likes, but I won't trend. I'm not popular enough to trend on hashtag coffee. There's so many posts going through there, my posts will get buried. But if I do hashtag Cafe Teller, my post will trend, and everybody that visits that hashtag is looking for a style that's similar to mine. They're much, much more likely to comment on my photo, to follow me, to engage in a conversation. I think that's why targeted hashtags are such a crucial part to your Instagram development. You're probably thinking to yourself, "How do I find targeted hashtags?'' It's actually very, very simple. Let's use hashtag coffee for example. We've been talking about that. When you search hashtag coffee on Instagram, it'll show up, it'll show all the photos. But if you look at the top bar, it'll say relevant hashtags. Those are the hashtags that might be targeted and they might be not. I do hashtag coffee here. In the related we see latte, we see coffee with one e, we see cappuccino, we see ice coffee, and then we see coffee break. If you see here, the hashtag coffee has 68 million posts and more people are posting every minute. But if we go to hashtag coffee break, there's only 241,000 posts. If I post on coffee break, I'm much more likely to trend. But then when I'm looking at coffee break, I don't think that my photos match the style. I think a lot of random people will be posting on this hashtag. That's not really what I'm going for. I'll keep searching. I'll look through different photos, I'll look at some of the photos where people are posting, and I'll look at the hashtags they're using. Here I clicked on this photo in hashtag latte and they have a hashtag cafe hopping Bangkok. Now this is my style. This is the type of photo that I'll post. There's only 82,000 posts in here. if I post here, I'm going to trend. Especially if it's in Bangkok, a lot of people are going to follow me. They're going to comment on my photo, whereas if I'm doing hashtag coffee, people in random countries are seeing my post. They don't really care that I'm taking photos in a cafe in Bangkok. That's the beauty of a targeted hashtag. Somebody is searching for something very specific when they browse that hashtag, and if they come across your posts and it matches that specificity that they're looking for, like I said, they're much more likely to engage with your content. That is why targeted hashtags are so important for growing your account. My hashtags are all around 15,000-1,000,000. That's the sweet spot for me. Sometimes I go beyond a million and sometimes a go lower than 15,000 if I think it's really, really targeted like hashtag Paris cafe. If I'm in Paris and I want to take photos in cafes and post those, I'll use something like that. But these targeted hashtags are really, really essential and they're really easy to find. When I use hashtags, I use all 30 of them. I put them in the first comment to my post and I try to be trending on all of them. I check back from time to time. I'll check back and I'll make sure that I'm relevant to all the hashtags that I'm posting. If I'm not, then I won't use it. I'll get rid of it, and I'll replace it. Hashtags are a really integral part to growing your Instagram account, and targeted hashtags are definitely the way to go. Don't use random hashtags. Use specific ones. Take some time to find the right ones. Take a few hours, sit down, write them out, and find the hashtags that are really relevant to you. You can add them in a note in your phone, so you can just copy and paste them into the first comment after you post your photo. That's definitely the best thing you can do in terms of hashtag usage. 6. Targeted Engagement and Instagram Pods: So we talked about the importance of hashtags, IG hashtags on every post. But now I want to talk about targeted engagement. So what is targeted engagement? Targeted engagement is engaging with those targeted hashtags that you've found to be relevant to the content that you're posting. So essentially, after you post a photo, you're going to do all of your 30 hashtags. You're going to post them in the first comment. The first hour or so, 30 minutes to one hour and two hours is a crucial time for you to get comments on your photo. The more comments, the more likes you get, the more you'll trend and all the hashtags that you indicated. So what I always do after I post a photo is I go into some of the hashtags I think I'm most relevant to, the most targeted hashtags that I have, and I'll comment on people's photos and I'll say, ''Hey, wow, I love this photo.'' I'll provide a value in every single comment that I do and I'll say, "I love the lighting here, I love the color or I love what you did with your coffee. I love how you styled everything it's really beautiful", and then I'll say, ''Hey, can you visit my feed, visit my last photo that I just posted and just tell me what you think. Just comment on it and tell me what you think.'' I'll just be straight up, ask them to comment on my photo. I'm providing value. I'm giving them something before, I'm asking for something in return and it's not automated. Everything is real, everything I post is real, everything I comment is real, and I think that's a really crucial aspect, authenticity there in the comments. So having these people come back and engage with your content is so crucial for you, for your post in terms of trending and becoming popular and being seen on the Explore page, and you'll get way more likes if you're engaging with people using those same hashtags that you are. Even if you engage with that outside of the one or two hours after you post, that's totally okay. Even if I don't post in a single day, I'll will still spend 30 minutes to an hour interacting with some of the hashtags that I know are relevant to my content. I'll comment on people's photos, I'll like them, I'll ask them questions, I'll get a discussion going on. I try to become known within those hashtags, I try to become popular within those hashtags. So people in that community know my style, they know who I am, they like to follow me and that they're more likely to recommend me, they understand who I am as a person and I think, being personal and interacting with people that are pushing content similar to yours is such a crucial aspect of Instagram growth. I think a lot of people forget that. It's also really important to interact with people that you're following. Interacting with people in your feed, so your friends, your family, or just random people that you follow. Go through your feed and like the photos that you like. Don't like the photos that you don't like, but the photos that you do like, throw them a comment. Tell them why you like them. Tell them why you like the photo. Ask them questions. I think that engagement is so crucial for the growth of your account. You can't just log on every day and post a photo and expect it to do well. You have to nurture it like a baby. So after you post a photo, comment on other people's photos, engage with those hashtags and your post will do much, much better than if you're not engaging at all. Another tip I can give you is if someone comments on your photo, comment back. Create a relationship with that person. Whenever I post a photo, I usually get anywhere from 20-40 comments on my photo and on every single one of those comments, I will comment back and say, "Hey, thank you." Even if it's somebody that is like automating something, which I feel like with the hashtags that I use, I don't get too many bots, I don't get too many people sending me automated comments. So all of them are legit. Even if they're just emojis, I'll say, "Hey, thanks." Like I appreciate that. I'll like their comment and I'll say thank you. The chance of them coming back to your account is much higher than if you don't do anything with that comment. Plus it's a good time for you to express your personality. I'm not in a lot of my photos. People don't know who I am. I'm in my profile picture, I have a few photos where I'm in the photo. For the most part, I post pictures of my content, my photos, I'm behind the camera. So when somebody comments on my photo, that's a time for me to come out and show them who I am outside the camera, outside of photography and say, "Wow, thank you. I really appreciate your comment", or "You're so kind. I love your content as well, I really like how you doing this, I really like how you doing that." Be able to connect with somebody on a personal level is so important for your success and it increases your engagement so much because if you comment back on that person's photo, the chances of them commenting on a later photo is much higher than if you're not responding to any of the photos or any of their comments, they'll probably are going to say, well, this person doesn't even care that I'm commenting on their photo. So comment back, say thanks. Give them a thumbs up. Say wow, I really appreciate that. That's a really crucial thing that you should be doing. Another tip that I have for you is to join engagement groups. Engaging groups are new knowledge, people know about them. An engagement group is basically a group of people that are posting similar content as yours and using similar hashtags, you all join a chat together and maybe on Facebook or Instagram, or whatever chat you use. Whenever somebody posts a new photo, you'll say, "Hey, I just posted a photo", and everybody in that group will then comment on your photo and like your photo. You don't have to comment on the photo unless you like it, but it's just a good way to say, "Hey guys look, I posted this, check it out and if you like it, comment on it." That's a really, really good way to get your post boosted in the first hour, first two hours after you post your photo because you're having people posting relevant content to your photo, commenting on your photos saying, "Hey well, wow this is great." So all the hashtags that they're interacting with, you will trend on and if you show that hashtag, you will trend on that hashtag. I think that's such a crucial tool. These groups usually, I'd say around 10 people at max because you don't want to be like commenting on photos all day. I was in a group once and there was 12 people and everyone was super active and I just couldn't handle it. So I eventually had to leave and start my own much more targeted group with people posting much more targeted content. 7. Photo Editing Made Simple: One of the things I mentioned before was the importance of creating consistency in your theme, both in terms of the focus and the content that you're posting and the style as well. One of the easiest ways to create that consistent theme is to have a very consistent editing process across all of your photos and it's actually very simple. The first tip I can give you is to use the same filter on all of your photos, that's the easiest way to keep a consistent look in terms of contrast, use of clarity and saturation, all that stuff. To make it simple, all you really need is two apps as well. I use VSCO however you want to say it and Instagram, those are really the only two. You could use Snapseed as well. Snapseed is a really good one, I don't use that but a lot of people do recommend that so you can try that out and see if it works for you, they both have a ton of great filters. For me, I use VSCO because it's easy and the filters are minimal, but they do so much to your photos and it's actually really easy to use. You can open up VSCO, V-S-C-O, you can go to the plus sign here and you can add a photo, so I'm going to add this photo here, this is a cool photo. You see there's some pink and you can see the ice cream here and all this stuff floating around, it's a cool photo, but I want to have it consistent with all the photos on my feed. I can just add a filter here, and there's so many awesome filters here that just affect your photo in such cool ways. I use A6. A6 is a really good filter and then you can adjust the strength. Here you can see what it's doing to the photo, it's adding some contrasts, desaturating the colors, it's really cool. Boom, I'll do that, I'll save the photo, and once I save the photo all I'll do is open it up in Instagram, add the photo and then edit it in Instagram. Instagram has so many great options now, I mean, I don't use the filters here, but you can adjust the brightness, you can adjust the contrast, the structure and the two that I use the most are the highlights and the shadows. Here I feel like I'm losing a lot of detail in the highlights, so I'll bring those down a little bit and I'll do the same in shadows, I'll bring it up, maybe reduce the colors and that's it, that's all you need to do to get a really good-looking photo. If you're a little bit more advanced, a lot of the time, I'll will use Lightroom mobile. If you are a pro photographer and you do have experience using Lightroom, you can use this, you get a little bit more functions, you can do specific selective edits on specific parts of the image. So say you want to bring out a logo a little bit and you want to sharpen it up or plot some detail, you can do that in Lightroom mobile, but it's definitely not necessary, I mean, I think most people can use Instagram, the Instagram editing features would be totally fine because Instagram has really come a long way in that sense. Don't focus too much on using a million different apps, you really only need one or two, VSCO or Snapseed or Rookie, I mean, there's so many good apps now on the app store that you can buy that have really good-looking filters. Use that filter on all of your photos to create that really consistent look, and you'll eliminate a lot of the problems when it comes to having a consistent feed, it just makes it easy when you use the same filter, everything flows well, everything looks really good. I use the same filter on all my photos and that's why they all have that consistent look, consistent contrast, consistent color, consistent mood. The filter does a really good job at giving my image the mood that it needs. That's my editing process and that's what a lot of Instagrammers do as well, so don't focus too much on it, find a look that works for you and stick with it. Don't spend too much time editing all your photos. Find that look and stick with it and you're definitely good to go. 8. Third Party Analytics: Now I want to spend some time talking about some essential apps, and third-party programs that you could use to enhance your Instagram experience and to get some analytics that are really important for measuring your Instagram growth and seeing how you're doing with specific hashtags and things like that. The first one is built into Instagram, Instagram analytics, it's called Instagram insights. Instagram insights basically tells you how each of your photos are doing. You can unlock Instagram sides by a connecting your Facebook account to your Instagram account. It's really cool, It tells you how many comments you've had the reach, the number of impressions, the engagement, how many people saved it, all that stuff. It's pretty basic, but one of the things that I really like about Instagram analytics is it basically tells you who your follower basis. I think this is really important. You can see here, if you go to followers, you can say, 861 new this week, 59 percent women, 41 percent men. It tells you the age range, most of my followers are women aged 25-34. That's good for me. You can see here, most of my locations are, I have Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Jakarta, Singapore and Bekasi. It looks like Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia are my most followed countries. You can see when my followers are interacting with my photos, what countries they're in. This is a really crucial tool for knowing what demographics you appeal to. This is important for when you are contacting brands, for them to know who are they going to be marketing to? If they post on your page. If you post a photo of their product on your page. Some of the other ones is Iconosquare. Iconosquare is a really awesome application just to your browser, you can go and create an account, you can link your Instagram account with iconosquare and it basically just breaks down everything. It tells you how many followers you have, where they're coming from, total likes and all that stuff. If you go to Analytics overview, overview tells you these things, tells you your follower growth and when they started following you and shows you the trends the last seven days, number of likes received in the last seven days, number of comments received in the last seven days. It tells you the engagement after you post. You can see history and there's just so much in here, overview community content and I like engagement. I think engagement is really important to look out. You can click engagement here. It basically tells you the average number of likes that you received, so 2.3 thousand that's number of likes and shares in the last thirty days, comment history. It tells you when the best time to post is, and this is a really crucial tool here. For me based on my analytics and my account and my followers, the best time to post for me is Mondays at 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM is also a good time for me, that's when I get the most amount of likes. This will look different for everybody. This is why this is a great tool, so you can track when the best time to post is. You can maximize the amount of people that are going to see your posts every time you post your photo. If you're doing a sponsored post and you really want to make sure that a lot of people are seeing that post well. Then I'm definitely be posting that on Monday at 11:00 AM because that's the time when I get the most likes. It also tells you your hashtag performance. The average engagements for all the hashtags that you use. This is such a crucial tool for knowing if your hashtags are actually targeted or not. These are all heavily engaged hashtags that I use. I use these pretty often as well. My point is with Iconosquare, you can explore, there's so many features on here that help you understand the analytics of your account and the analytics are really important because they give you a base of understanding of where you're at and where you're going and where you were. I think a lot of people are overly concerned about numbers. Often people will ask me, what numbers should I have, how many likes should I be getting? What engagement should I have? The answers to that is, it doesn't really matter. It's all based on you. If you're continuing to grow, it doesn't matter what your numbers are as long as you are seeing a growth there. That's the most important thing. However, you should note that engagement rate is very important and the engagement rate is essentially what percentage of your followers are engaging with your content. Whether that's a like, a comment, a save, or anything. How many of your followers are engaging with the content? A good engagement rate is pretty much anything above five to six percent. The higher you get, the more followers you get the lower engagement rate is going to go and that's the way it goes. I have about 18,000 followers at the time of this video. My engagement rate is about 10-15 percent, which is actually very high. I get a lot of likes and a lot of comments on my photo, which is good because people are engaging with my content and my follower base is continuously increasing every day. I'm getting more and more followers everyday. Whereas, I have some friends that have a 100,000 followers and they're only getting five or 600 likes on their photos and that's not a lot. Even if they do get approached by brand or they reach out to a brand and they want to work with them. They don't have the numbers to back up that a lot of people are going to be seeing their posts. They'll say, yeah I have a hundred thousand followers, but my engagement rate is two percent. I'm not getting a lot of likes on my photos and that's a big turn off. Track your engagement rate, that's really important. But the most important thing is just to make sure that you're continuously progressing, you are continually still getting more followers and more engagement on all of your posts. All of these tools really help you do that. 9. Monetizing and Working with Brands: Now you get to the point where you have a large following and a lot of people are interacting with your content, but you want to start making money. At this point it's very easy once you have a large following, especially if it's very targeted. Essentially on Instagram, there's three main ways to make money. Promoting your product or service. If you are a photographer or if you're a writer and you provide a service, you can market yourself through your Instagram. For me, I'm a photographer and I use my Instagram to market myself to cafes that might want to hire me to shoot or just any photographic work that I might do relevant to me. The second way is commercial posts, sponsored posts. Basically a company might send you a product and say, "Hey, can you shoot this for us and post a photo on your page and give a shout out all this stuff"and they'll pay you for that and you can charge. I mean, the numbers are all over the place, but some people that have millions of followers charge thousands and thousands of $ for every post and they make so much money doing that. You can do that even at $56, seven thousand followers if you have really good targeted content. The third way to make money on Instagram is through affiliate marketing. Basically, it's similar to the second way, sponsored posts. Somebody will send you something or you're post something about a product, and you'll say, "If you buy this through my affiliate link, you get 15 percent off." If somebody purchases through that link, then you'll get a cut from that purchase. You'll get a commissions. Maybe I was working for a watch company and if I sold the and made $15 for every watch that I sold and the watch was only going for a $100. I made a decent amount of money by posting that content, marketing the watch, and every watch that sold out through my link, I made money from. Whether you are marketing your service or you are reaching out to brands for commercial deals or sponsored posts. There's a few really crucial techniques that you should follow for being able to be noticed by a companies that will hire you or brands that will pay you to sponsor their posts. Essentially, the first step is to identify brands that you think are relevant to the content that you're posting. For me, if you look at a brand like Nike, it's not super relevant to my content. It doesn't really match my style, it doesn't really match my theme, but something like Daniel Wellington or another company or another brand might not match my style much better. I'll find those brands, I will take note of those brands. Whenever I post content that I think is relevant to them, I'll tag them in, I tag them in my actual image, even though they're out there. I'll tag them in the image just to say, "Hey, like check on my feed," maybe they'll actually look, some of these brands have a ton of followers and it's run by somebody running the account specifically for the company. It's not really like a personal thing. But as long as they start to notice your photos it's a really good first step. If you are trying to shoot for Nike and you do take a photo and there's Nike shoes in your photo well definitely tag Nike because that's a good way for them to notice you. Once you develop a good feed of a good following and you think that you can provide value to this company or this brand. Send them a direct message on Instagram. Say, "Hey, look, my name is Sean. I shoot this. I think I can provide your brand with value and this is kind of the idea that I have." From there, oftentimes, you'll be moved to e-mail. Craft a really professional e-mail and give them the idea that you have. Say, "This is what I, this is what I'm thinking. I think this would be a really good idea. I have the resources to shoot this. Price-wise, we can chat about that later, but I want to gauge your interests." Go from there and just talk it through and figure out what works for both of you. When you're first starting out, a lot of brands will try to give you things for free and not pay you. I think that's a really good thing at first, definitely take free things and shoot them, because that builds your portfolio that shows brands that you can work with them. It's a really good place to start. But once you get more followers and your time becomes more valuable and each post becomes valuable, charge them for the post as well. Say yeah, "You got to give me the free item, but I'm posting this and I'm going to post two photos and I want a $100 for each photo" You can start to feel that out, but as you go, when you're first starting out, it's okay. I think to shoot for free and some people might argue with that, but that's just my opinion. If a company or a brand asks you to show some photos of some previous work that you've done for other brands or other companies. Show them, put together a stack of some of your favorite images that you think are relevant to their business or their brand. Send them an email and saying, "Hey, I think this is a style that will work for you guys as well. I think it's similar that we can make some changes, but it could be really good for the marketing for your business or something like that." If you've never worked with a brand or company before and you don't have those images. Go out and shoot something. Go out and shoot a brand that's similar to the company that you want to shoot for the prospective client. Say, "Hey, here's some work I did for another brand or another company and they don't need to know that you didn't actually work with that brand because you're still showing them images that you took. It's still part of your portfolio. Having that mock portfolio is really important for scoring deals later on. The first few gigs I got, I got because I had a portfolio and even though I didn't shoot for brands, actually I had photos that made it look like I shot for brands and I got hired because of that. You know what, they didn't know the difference because the work that I presented them was high-quality and they accepted it at the end of the day. I think that's the most important thing is to be able to show your skills, even if you haven't had a lot of experience working with other brands, as long as you can show that you're a good photographer or you're good at whatever your theme is, that's the most important thing. So if you're trying to make money locally through selling a product or service, for example, like I market my photography services locally through my instrument County. If you're trying to do that, I think is really important that you're engaging with the local Instagram scene to using local hashtags. For example, I lived in Portland for awhile, so I would use hashtags like Portland coffee, Portland cafe scene. Those are targeted hashtags that are relevant to the city at hand. So only people in Portland are browsing those hashtags. It allowed me to develop a name within that community and with that it also put me in touch with a lot of cafes and coffee shops in Portland that wanted to work with me. Because I was using those hashtags, I was able to find a lot of the local Instagram accounts for the love of the local cafes. I would hit them up directly in Instagram and say, "Hey, like this is a surface I can provide for you guys. I shoot cafes, I shoot coffee shops." It can be a really good marketing tool for you. Why don't we chat about this a little bit more and here's my pricing. You go from there. That's a really good way to market yourself locally. Just reach out to people directly on Instagram and say, "Hey, I can provide you with value. This is what I can do. Check out what I've done for some other companies. Let's go from there and let's see if we can work something out. Marketing yourself locally through Instagram is very powerful way to grow your business at the local level. I think you should definitely focus on the local Instagram scene, and see how far that can take you. 10. Last Words: I touched on this a little bit earlier on in the presentation, but I think one of the biggest mistakes that people make once they start making money on Instagram is they let it take over, and every photo that they post starts to revolve around sponsored posts, and making money, and they lose track of what their account originally focused on. That original theme, the original story that they were trying to tell. I think that's why it's so crucial to find something that you really love creating content about, so you don't get that far, fall into that hole of completely selling out. As I said before, Instagram is a creative platform and it accepts people that post real, authentic, true, and beautiful content. If you're posting sponsored post every single day, people are going to start to notice that, and it's going to be so disingenuous and a lot of followers are going to lose touch with your theme, they're going to lose touch with your focus. Brands will notice that as well and they'll say, well, I don't know if I want to work with this person because everything they post is sponsored. What makes this post special? If you see some of the Instagram accounts, they're doing it really well, the sponsored posts just blend in so well, it doesn't even look like they're sponsored posts. They're posting normal photos that aren't sponsored and they're posting a lot of them, and every once in awhile they'll sneak in a sponsored post, but it's still very much matches their style, and it's just everything matches perfectly. If you look at some of the celebrities though, some of the celebrities in America or Asia or anywhere, some of the female celebrities, a lot of them just post photos and they're just blatant about it. They are like, "Hey, check out this new lipstick." Every photo they're posting is a sponsored to advertise post, because their face sells the product. But it just seems so disingenuous and who knows how well that works. My biggest tip is to stay true to your theme and keep posting authentic content no matter what that content is. If you are posting content about makeup, keep posting your content about makeup and every once in awhile, throw a one sponsored for makeup. That's totally okay. That's the point of this presentation. It is to tell you how to make money and Instagram. But I do want you to know that you shouldn't take it too far because it can make your account lose a lot of what made it good, what made it authentic, what made it real. Something to think about, try to stay true, to try to stay authentic to your followers, and I think you have a much better interim experience that way. With that said, I really want to thank you guys for watching this course. There's a lot of information in this course. If you have any questions, please, please leave a question in the discussion. Skill shares discussion platform is a really good way to receive feedback and just talk and hear from other people and hear advice, and it's just such a good format for enhancing the learning experience. I also am really eager to see your projects, please post your projects. That's such a good way to learn and I think it'd be a really good start for your Instagram account. I would love to help you out on that and talk through each and every one of them. With that said guys, thank you so much for watching this course. If you want to see more of my content, and you can check out some of my other skills shared courses. I also have more to come, I also have YouTube channel and I post weekly content. So if you want to check that out, go ahead and check out on the main description of my Skill Share profile. You can see that there, my website is also there, as well as my Instagram account. You guys can feel free to message me on any format that pleases you. I love hearing from you, I love hearing feedback, and how I can improve these courses in the future. Thank you guys so much once again, and I really hope to see you in my next course.