Boost Your Instagram Strategically

Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

If you’ve ever spent a chunk of your day creating a post or crafting the perfect caption for the ‘gram, but didn’t get the number of likes or follows you were really hoping for, then you are not alone. We’ve all been there and have felt discouraged about not getting enough likes, reach, or engagement as much as we hoped from having spent more time than we’d like to admit on one post.

Here are some encouraging news about Instagram: the social media platform is meant to keep people using the Instagram app and want people to discover new accounts and content. That’s why the “Feed” and “Suggested Posts” are always presenting fresh content from people you don’t currently follow. While carousels and videos perform really well, photo posts perform equally as well.

I am not here to teach you on how to beat the algorithm – I am here to EMPOWER you to use Instagram efficiently and effectively and to maximize results to help grow you, share your gifts to the world, and reach the right audience with Instagram. 

I have four tips to help boost your Instagram growth strategically:

Tip #1: Build Consistency

Think about the people you like to follow – you also tend to follow people who post on a regular basis. You trust that they will come back consistently and provide more content for you to see or watch. Imagine you doing the same for other people. Providing consistent content for others builds trust and value in you and your brand. The more you show up regularly, the more your audience will too.

There are strategic ways to build consistency without feeling burnt out. One of them is to start scheduling days and times that work for you to post regularly. This means start posting once a week that works around your current schedule, whether it be work or class. You can wake up earlier or use breaks throughout the day to post. While you do need to start building a routine around posting, it doesn’t mean spending hours creating the perfect caption or photo.

Tip #2: Create Valuable Content

Create value in your content by providing new knowledge, advice, or stories your audience will find useful or relate to. The idea is provide valuable information to your audience and the more you do, the more they will come back to you for information. It can be a topic you have a solid understanding of or something you inherently know, such as the best tacos in your local neighborhood or the best programs to use in your professional industry.

Also, you don’t have to create new content every time. You can re-use your previous content and craft a new one or research other similar content and make it your own. You don’t have to create something new and fresh every time, it is okay to re-post old content in new ways. This helps reduce feeling burnt out too quickly and allows you to focus on other parts of building your business.

Tip #3: Engage With Your Audience

You don’t have like or comment on every post out there – there are strategic ways to engage with your audience. There are specific engagement strategies to use for Instagram stories, responding to a comment on your post, and commenting on a post from someone you enjoy following.

Tip #4: Create Smarter, Not Harder

The shelf life of your Instagram post at most is 24 hours and, at best, 48 hours. Instagram is designed so new content will always supersede older posts in order to provide continuously fresh content for people on the app.

While you can’t control this, you can control what you put in your caption. This means including some sort of actionable step that allows your audience to take a step further with you after seeing your content. What does this mean? This means providing a link to your blog or website, a Google form to your newsletter, or directing users to a platform you do own.

Growing your Instagram doesn’t have to be simply to gain new followers or have a ton of views – it can be a gateway to actualizing your dream life by growing your own brand and business with content and messaging you are truly passionate about. I want you to have the freedom to share your gifts to the world and to live your dream life one day. If you would like to figure out how to build your Instagram strategically for your business, I have a free guide for you here to start taking this journey. Good luck!

Top 5 Business Podcasts to Help Kick-Start Your Business and Maximize Results

Photo by Faith Stocksey on Pexels.com

If you’re feeling stuck about what to do with your business and need some quick inspiration, I recommend listening to podcasts, which is a fast and easy way that gives you extra ideas, knowledge, and expertise, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to take the next step in your business.

WHAT IS A PODCAST?

A podcast is an audio recording of a host or a group of hosts who share insight, stories, life experience, and expert knowledge on a broad spectrum of topics, including crime, comedy, business, and lifestyle.

The best thing about a podcast is you can listen to and pause on your own time. You can listen to a podcast while driving, on a slow day at the office, or when you’re cooking. You can easily pick back where you left off from the episode or you can stop and simply move on to the next one.

A couple of years ago, I didn’t believe in podcasts and simply thought the idea of listening to people talk about their expertise was invaluable to reading a good, old-fashioned book. But at the time, I was too busy to even pick up a 300-page book to learn about business tips and tricks, so I decided to give podcasts a try.

Now, here I am (I was once a hard skeptic) who has listened to 65,000 minutes of podcasts last year. Yes, you can see that I’m pretty obsessed with all things podcasts, especially business related ones. I find so many business tips, tricks, and easy wins from purely listening to podcasts without ever picking up a book and, best of all, I can listen to them while doing something else! For those who love to multi-task, listening to a podcast will be perfect for you.

THE ULTIMATE FIVE

I have listened to many hours of a wide variety of business podcasts (from the Dave Ramsey Show to NPR) and have found five podcasts that stand out from the rest because of the impactful, insightful, and applicable tips they share that you can start implementing today. I am not sponsored to share these podcasts – I just truly believe these podcasts would help you with building your business. Here are the top five inspirational, business podcasts to get your idea juices flowing

1.) The Tim Ferris Show

I’ve heard so many podcasters name drop Tim Ferris’s name when I first started listening to podcasts. And there’s no doubt why: Tim Ferris successfully build his own brand and even created a new lifestyle category as an industry.

In his podcast episodes, he goes deep into his conversations with many different people, from CEOs (Howard Schultz) to famous celebrities (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in order to learn about their backstory and how they become successful. His podcasts are more than just the business and technical numbers – it’s learning about the personal struggles and life experiences that are behind the success stories.

2.) Don’t Keep Your Day Job

Cathy Heller brings her positive energy and inspiration into every podcast episode. Her motivational words and wisdom are always so insightful and encouraging that would make you feel uplifted and excited to do your thing.

She was a former musician who now turned into a successful Business Coach to teach other people to build their own businesses around helping others. Her purpose is to help people who wants to live a more fulfilling life than a 9 to 5 job. She has honest conversations with successful, creative entrepreneurs and, more importantly, she gives motivational talks in the beginning and end of every episode to you, the listener, so you leave the podcast leaving so inspired and optimistic.

3.) The Goal Digger Podcast

Jenna Kutcher is a successful entrepreneur who shares inspirational stories and provides free, tangible tips that creates real results – all to help build your dream career. Jenna talks like she’s a good friend in her episodes, which makes her episodes incredibly relatable and down-to-earth. She provides simple, strategic tools covering every part of a business, like social media, email lists, website, and branding.

Her Secret Sauce Quiz is one of her most popular freebie to help identify what makes you unique. From her quiz, I found out that I am a “Dreamer” and this was honestly the most subtle but blunt way to tell me that I needed to finally take the right, actionable steps to building my own business. You will learn a lot of valuable business techniques that are specific and you can implement right away. A huge plus is that most of them are free!

4.) The Lavendaire Lifestyle

For the creative entrepreneurs who want to learn how to craft your dream life, this podcast is for you. While the podcast focuses on personal development and lifestyle design, the host Aileen Xu interviews many creatives, including entrepreneurs, and talks to them on their process of building successful brands and businesses. She has a soothing, calm voice that just makes you feel relaxed and cozy when listening to her podcast. She covers a broad range of topics, from astrology to mental health to productivity. As a creative myself, I binged many of her podcast episodes when I first discovered her and I believe you will too.

5.) E-Ficionado Podcast

Delanie Fischer is a comedian turned Simplicity Coach who helps people use a minimalist approach to their business that will increase their revenue, impact and freedom. She shares different strategies to help simplify side hustle businesses and provides tips to handle decision fatigue, criticism, and other challenges you go through when you are starting a business. Her laughter and warm personality is also infectious – I always have a smile on my face whenever I finish listening to her episode.

There you have it! Podcasts can be incredibly valuable when you’re short on time and you need quick tips and guidance to kick-starting your business. Every podcast host teach unique business strategies, so I recommend listening to more than one to learn as many tips and tricks and apply the relevant ones you can use for building your own brand and business. Keep it up, you are on your way there!

Looking from some guidance on how to build your brand?

Grab the free Quick-Start Guide to Building Your Brand right here.

A Small Act of Kindness Goes a Big Way

thank you signage
Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

The Bay Area has been hit hard lately. The COVID-19 pandemic, along with the on and off county restrictions, has already devastated our economy, our social life, and our mental health. We still have ongoing earthquakes and power outages too. And the sweet cherry on top of all this, is the 400-plus wildfires blazing through the precious natural areas of the Golden State. Yes, it has been a very difficult time for Californians in 2020 and none of really know when we can get back to normal again

Even in the midst of all this, I have encountered a small act of kindness that I am so happy to have experienced a few days ago. I currently live in a home located in an active evacuation warning zone for the 2nd largest wildfire in the state. Fortunately, I have extended family and good friends who have generously offered their own home in case my family and I needed a temporary place to stay. What I did not expect was the same offer from an owner of a local shipping and mailing store in my city, who I have only met recently and twice to date.

For the past few weeks, I have been using this local mailing service, as opposed to USPS or FedEx due to terrible Google reviews, to mail out free greeting cards to my local community. When I first met her, we instantly clicked and shared our admiration of plants and details about our careers. She found out I was a full-time landscape designer with a new greeting card side business. She was genuinely interested in getting to know about my side business and also getting landscape consultation advice for her back yard. I told her I was happy to help give her advice, pro bono.

A few days ago, she sent me a text of her back yard and photo examples of what she wanted. I told her I will come up a few ideas for her, but not right away because my family and I are currently located in an evacuation warning area and we could evacuate at any time. She responded to not worry about her yard and that if I needed a place to stay, I would be welcomed in her home and use an extra futon at her place.

I was kind of blown away from this generosity, from a woman who I barely know and just met only two times in the past few weeks. Maybe she did this out of a niceness, or the fact that we are both Asian American women, or a bit of both. Whatever the reason is, I am so glad to have experienced such a kind gesture from someone like her. It re-instills my faith in humanity that there are good people in my local community, no matter what’s going on in the outside world. Even with all the terrible things going on in my state, our nation, and the world, there are still good people out there willing to do good things for people.

Just a small act of kindness can be huge for others. I know that the times we live in aren’t great and we often hear about the bad news more than the good ones. When I ended up receiving more gratitude than I was giving away, it made me feel emotions of excitement, fulfillment, and joy all around. So, I hope this story inspires you to do something good for another stranger and it doesn’t have to be of any monetary value. Practicing just a tiniest inch of gratitude can go a long way. And, you might receive something back when you least expect it.

I started a side business for $800

stationery for sketching and drawing on wooden table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Starting a new side business during the pandemic and while many businesses are closing at astronomical rates is crazy, I know.

But I also know there is never a perfect time to start doing what you love, no matter what is going on in the outside world. If anything, it is probably the best time to see if your interesting ideas or hobbies can potentially be turned into something more. We have already witnessed that in a matter of six months, many company jobs are disappearing left and right and are not as stable and secure as we once thought before. Also, we now have more time to be at home and much fewer obligations to go to social events. So, I truly believe with a little bit of perseverance, confidence, and patience, it is very possible to start something new of your own, even during very difficult and challenging times we are now living in.

You do need some capital, but not a lot. In the olden days, a new business needed many investors and heavy duty funding to get started. Now, businesses can start for under $1,000 or even less than $100, depending on the type of product or service you are creating. My initial startup costs amount to about $815 and I have listed the cost breakdown below:

Startup Items Cost
Annual personal domain cost (from Namecheap) $9.08
Annual personal website cost (Business tier from Squarespace) $216.00
Apple pencil (1st gen) – discounted* $91.77
Apple 10.5 inch iPad Air 64 MB – discounted* $467.22
Procreate App* $10.00
Cardstock paper $20.00

Total

$814.06

*These are essential items for my side business.

I created an online greeting card store for my side business, with all cards available for digital download so I did not have to worry about prints or shipping at the moment. The mission for this business is to empower and celebrate people for who they are and the moments that really matter to them. The cards provided are beyond standard birthday and anniversary cards. They include cards that congratulate loved ones coming out, starting a new business venture, and hitting a sobriety milestone.

My side business requires a good digital pen, a tablet, and a design app for me to make high-quality designs for my greeting cards. I hate to admit, but the Apple products I bought are the best tools in the market now for creating digital artwork. They work seamlessly with my 2018 MacBook Pro and Pixelmator Pro to do final edits for both the card designs and social media photography. The investment for these tools are quite high, but are necessary for what I need to make my card designs. Also, I knew a good friend who worked at Apple to help get me a discount. And if the business doesn’t work out, I can still use the iPad to watch Netflix and look at recipes while cooking, so it is a win win.

The second main expense was purchasing the business subscription plan on Squarespace for my business website. I researched their platform before purchasing to ensure they are able to sell digital products and they do. I also played with their limited features using the 30-day free trial and thought the platform was easy to use, after some time figuring out how to navigate their tools, including changing theme colors and categorizing commerce products. I really like how the user interface is set up so you can manipulate as much as you want and, if I had any questions, I was able to read through a detailed, step by step guide with photos from their support page. For a non-tech person like me, it is the right decision to use Squarespace for my business website.

It took me about six months to launch my side business. I worked tirelessly around my full-time professional job, which I thankfully still have and currently working remotely. I was drawing, sketching, and making edits during my lunch break and late evenings after an 8-hour workday. It was definitely hard, but I was doing something I enjoyed, so it did not feel like work. I recommend keeping a day job if possible, so income is still being generated and you can be a little bit more creative about what you want to do for your side business.

When I first started, I was overwhelmed with self-doubt, fear, and a lot of anxiety. I thought too much of what I had left to do and if the work I was doing was going to make a difference at all. So, in order to keep focus, I just concentrated on the next, small steps and just kept going. Instead of thinking about the big picture of a beautiful, finished website of my brand that showcased my greeting card designs, I focused on the little tasks that will take me further to it. It really worked, because now I am here and I recently launched my side business a few days ago.

Also, only mention your side business to a few people when you are first starting out. This helps keep the outside noise down and lets you focus on what you truly want to make and show the world. The first lucky few will be the ones who are likely to support you throughout the whole process anyway.

Right now, I am slowly building an online presence using social media. And using the same mindset as before, instead of trying to make a seemingly far reaching goal of a thousand sales, I figured I will try to make just one sale. I will continue documenting my side business journey and see where it takes me. Even if this takes me nowhere, I am uber happy to have put something out there that I can call my own. The feeling of joy from producing your own creative work and having purpose beyond my professional job is one of the best feelings you can have. Anyone can achieve the same fulfillment, including you.

Check out my side business here! Thank you in advance for your support! 🙂

ChubCatArt Website

FYI, none of the products or services mentioned are sponsored. This blog post is based solely on my own personal opinions.