Instagram is my favorite social media platform, but it took me a while to develop a routine that I can stick with when it comes to marketing my greeting cards and illustrations. Here are six tips that helped me to build consistency and solidify my brand, while using a majority of self-created content. Tip #5 is definitely the most unusual!
1. KNOW YOUR BRAND.
Yardia's Pacific Northwest art and greeting cards form the core of our brand imagery. I try to stick to what my target audience is interested in when I choose what images to post. After observing, talking with and surveying my customers, I developed a pretty good understanding of who my customers are. Amongst other qualities, for Yardia that means Pacific Northwest women who love nature as a form of self-care, and are looking for meaningful gifts, cards and home décor. I mostly suit my photos to these themes, with works-in-progress, styled product images and nature scenery from the Pacific Northwest outdoors.
2. CONSIDER THE COLOR PALETTE.
Yardia's brand colors are inspired by the Puget Sound and the Washington coast: blue, grey, white and violet. The brand is nature-inspired, so I take a lot of photos when I'm hiking or at the beach, especially on cloudy days. I also post seasonally, with darker, greyer photos in winter, and brighter blue and purple photos in the summer. Knowing my brand colors has helped me to stay on track and avoid the temptation of more trendy color schemes, like pink and gold, that might not really fit the quieter Yardia lifestyle.
P.S. I used this brand board article and template from Nesha Woolery to help me figure this all out.
3. BATCH SHOOT PHOTOS.
When I'm releasing a new collection, or if I'm running out of fresh images, I like to take a lot of product photos at once. My studio worktable is right against the window, and it transforms into a flat lay photo studio for the morning, before the sunlight is too direct or bright. This is also best on a cloudy day when shadows are more muted. I have a stash of natural items I use as props, and then I take as wide a variety of product photos as I can, using my phone. I've also found that snagging a willing friend to serve as my model and then going on a nature walk or hike with a backpack full of products is another way that I can get a lot of product photos in the wild.
4. USE A FEW QUALITY PRODUCT MOCK-UPS, OR CREATE YOUR OWN.
Although I take most of my Instagram photos myself, I've found that having a few frame, card and mug mockups available helps me to create a consistent brand and quickly get my products to market without having to wait for the right lighting. I searched around on Etsy to find a stock photographer and mock up designer who fits my brand the best. I've also found that I prefer to purchase photo mockups with Smart Object layers enabled, so I can easily input my images in Photoshop. My favorite mockup photos for art prints and mugs come from White Hart Design Co., whose organic, calm and natural photos fit Yardia's aesthetic well. I also watched some You Tube tutorials to learn how to create my own mockups, so that I could design a few for my greeting card photos.
5. USE A BIT OF MAGIC.
And now for my most unusual tip! My most magical routine is how I come up with captions for my photos. Whenever I'm stuck on what to write in the caption, I turn to astrology or tarot. With tarot, I pull a card from my tarot deck and use the visual symbols I infer from the card to inspire what I say in the caption. I also like to see what Biddy Tarot has to say about each card, since she always seems to be spot-on in her perspective. Even more preferable for me is turning to a weekly astrological calendar to see what's coming up in the week ahead, astrologically speaking. Then I suit my caption to fit each day. I love Soulshine Astrology's forecasts for career-oriented reports. This tip might seem a little (or a lot?) woo woo, perhaps, but I've found it to be such a practical and fun way to immediately inspire my writing when I'm feeling stuck.
6. USE AN INSTAGRAM SCHEDULER.
This is the number one way that I maintain consistency when it comes to Instagram. I post at least once every day, and I try to schedule out posts to my feed at least a week in advance. Using a scheduler gives me plenty of room to get ahead of the calendar so that I can maintain consistency and avoid worrying about what I'm going to post each day. Although I've tried several, my favorite scheduler is Later, which lets me easily maintain a content library and plan for upcoming product launches. With a free account, Later gives you 30 free posts per month, but by using my referral link, we can all have an extra ten posts for free, or 40 scheduled posts per month.