August 15, 2017
I get asked questions all the time about my Instagram, what filters do I use for my photos? How do you hide your hashtags on your posts? Your style of how you take photos? How you started building connections with brands and get more professional? How to get sponsored and more attention? And now that I am spending some time back home in California, where my passion all started, I am remembering how it all began following my heart to travel more and how I utilized Instagram to get the ball rolling for me. I definitely enjoyed the ride when I first got into expressing myself more through my photos and connecting with like minded souls on Instagram. This definitely helped me get to where I needed to go on Instagram professionally, so I can start blogging, and this inspired me to take the plunge and move to Hawaii to start my travel blog.
My experience along the way has taught me a lot, and like with most people that get into wanting to be more professional on Instagram, you get all excited and enjoy the attention for a bit. You make sure to use all the right hashtags on your posts, or over filter your photos, post a ton, just overall enjoying the high in every aspect on social media. Where I am at in my life now, I definitely utilize social media to get my blog out there more, but I do try keep a healthy relationship or balance with social media, as well as have a more humble approach.
Definitely a more laid back kind of blogger now, but I do love and enjoy connecting with people, like myself, from all over the world, and very fortunate to have been able to work with such awesome brands like Coach, Altar Ego, Tavik Swimwear, and Malibu Native. I might not have a million followers on Instagram, but just following these basic tips helped me to get started on being more professional on Instagram, which allowed me to build the right connections with brands and get paid or receive free merchandise, as well as get my photos featured with travel Instagram accounts, such as, @bestintravel, @worlderlust, @explorerbabes, @tourtheplanet, or Instagram Gopro accounts. Getting my photos featured on accounts like this helped me gain more followers that love to travel as much as I do.
Here are some introductory tips that I have learned to help get my foot in the door professionally with Instagram.
1. Picking your Name, Choose the right Profile Pic, and your Quick Auto Biography
Picking Your Name:
@brubunce is the name I have always used since I have been introduced to Instagram, even when I used my Instagram for personal use, but I wanted to keep my name as is while blogging due to it reflecting who I am and especially that it is unique and not like anyone else’s. “Bru” is a slang term referring to a friend, mostly among guys, and I brought this term back to the states after my trip to South Africa for my best friend’s wedding. Calling someone “bru” in South Africa is like guys calling each other “bro” in the states. I just loved this term and kept calling all my friends “bru” when I came back home, so in turn, I developed “Bru” as my nickname with my friends, and “Bunce” is my last name, hence @brubunce was born on Instagram.
Making sure to choose the right name I think is mainly important for any aspiring travel blogger, from what I have learned from other popular travel bloggers, and from what I have been told by brands, is what has helped me stand out of the numerous travel bloggers out there, was having a unique name and style. As opposed to @travelwithchris or @wanderingwendy, there is plenty of room for all of us aspiring bloggers in social media, but make yourself stand out more and find your niche, and most importantly, pick a name that suits exactly who you are and what makes you different than everyone else.
Choosing the Right Profile Pic
Choosing the right profile picture to stand out I think is very important stepping into Instagram professionally. Also, it is the first thing people will notice and what will grab their attention to want to check out your profile more. I always like to use bright photos, never too dark or too far away where no one can really see you. A lot of my professional friends on Instagram always get very creative and always have excellent profile pictures that even leave me inspired to check their page out more again.
I like to use photos of candid moments of me laughing or smiling, or just enjoying being in the moment while I am traveling somewhere new. Any photos really that just shows your genuine side and what makes you interesting and appealing to check out more.
This applies mostly to travel bloggers as well, state exactly who you are, and what you are all about on Instagram. What is your purpose on Instagram? Who is your demographic of people that you would like to reach out to more? This is something that I am still learning as I go along on my journey, and feel that my demographic of followers mostly applies to women, like myself, who travel solo. Solo Girl Travelers to be exact, and my passion in life is to share my inspirations and love for travel with like minded souls.
Also, make sure to have your website available or any other social media links people can reach or follow you at.
2. Filtering Photos
Apps have always been popular for filtering photos like Camera+ or InstaSize filters, or just using the filters when posting on Instagram. For my blog, a friend recommended for me to start utilizing Adobe Lightroom to help enhance my photos in a more professional light on my website. Playing around with Adobe, helped me learn the different techniques that really can help your photos, like using Brightness, Contrast, Structure, Clarity or Saturation, and so on. Adding these different types of enhancements to your photos can really help your photos look more professionally.
I realized recently that Instagram actually offers the same edits like Adobe Lightroom. Once you add a photo to Instagram, and then below your photo, you see the options to use their filters, if you look to the bottom right underneath Instagram filters, you will see a grayed out “Edit” button. That button, will take you to some of the same set up that is offered on Adobe Lightroom, and swiping to the right and clicking on each filter, you can add different percentages of each technique to enhance your photo.
I have been utilizing these enhancements so much more and they are even more helpful for really bad photos that you might have caught with terrible lighting, or just to make small adjustments to help brighten up your photo if it is too dark as well. The more you play around with the filters, the more you will see what best options you have to make your photo Instagrammably great. And remember, when it comes to filtering photos, less is more!
3. Asking People to Take Photos for You, Use Your Gopro or iPhone for a Solo Photo
Traveling by yourself with no buddy, or without a professional camera and a tripod, is not the ideal situation if you are a solo travel blogger and need a photo of your fun adventure for the day. If I am being active outside, I definitely utilize my Gopro for any action shots like placing it on a wall along the beach for a background shot, or set it on anything sturdy, like a rock, or huge branch on the beach, even if just on my beach bag, anything really outside you can find useful that you can set your Gopro sturdy on. Then I set my Gopro on time lapse, where it just constantly taking pictures every 2 seconds, and I just do my active thing outside hoping for my Gopro to catch a killer shot.
If you do not have a Gopro, you can even utilize the app, TimerCam, and just set a timer on your Iphone, set your Iphone upright and sturdy with the camera facing you, and it can take a picture of you once the timer goes off. An example of a photo like that is my above picture where my Iphone caught me laughing and I placed my Iphone upright along my beach bag on the beach.
When I lived in Hawaii, I was fortunate to always be surrounded by professional photographers, especially during sunset time in Waikiki. So, whenever I was solo, and wanted a fun photo of the day, I just always made sure to ask someone with a professional camera, or just a happy tourist, or person who seems like they wouldn’t mind.
Also, take the time to chat with the person that you are asking a favor from who took a photo of you, especially while you are traveling, and offer the same favor in return and take a photo of them. This helps make things less awkward if you are feeling shy and honestly, in this day and age, we all want someone to take a photo for us! The above photo is a picture that a professional photographer took of me in Waikiki, Hawaii. And I always just try to have fun in front of the camera and act natural, another good trick is to ask whoever is taking the photo, to take a bunch of photos while you are having fun playing around with poses in front of the camera. The professionals will always help by giving you the right direction. There will always be a good gem in the mix of photos you have someone take of you.
4. How to Hide your Hashtags, What Hashtags to Use, and Tagging Your Photos
Hashtags and tagging your photos are extremely useful to placing yourself into the demographic of followers you are trying to attract that check those hashtags or accounts that will feature your photos from your photo tags, or brands that will find you and want to work with you. Like for me, as a solo girl traveler, I hashtag and tag all the huge accounts that I follow that appeal to all women travelers, like #girlslovetravel or #explorerbabes, if I am posting a scenic picture, I will hashtag or tag #bestintravel, #bestvacation, or #wonderful_places, or even hashtag/tag #gopro for my Gopro pics. Whatever your demographic is, like solo women travelers, luxury travelers, adventure travel, GoPro, whoever you follow that you are trying to attract, use their hashtags or whatever fits your demographic. Even using generic hashtags like for travelers, #travel, #adventure, #wanderlust, and so on are always useful.
You can use up to 30 hashtags per post, TRUST ME NO MORE THAN THAT! Even though they are useful, they can look annoying on a post if you are unsure how to hide them. I always felt they were silly, but I always felt like I needed to utilize hashtags, so thought I was stuck having to show a ton per post.
Good news, you can hide them on Instagram and save them for future use on your Notes App on your Iphone. Instead of having to manually add each hashtag to your post, you can just copy and paste your previous hashtags that you saved on your Notes App page, and add them again to your next post, like in my example of my saved hashtags on my Iphone below.
You just have to start a new page on your Notes App, do 5 bullets one under the other, like photo above, and then add the hashtags that you would like. Once you post your photo on Instagram, go back to the photo like you are visiting your page, and about to leave a comment, and then you paste your hashtags like you are leaving a comment for yourself. The hashtags then will hide under your comments below your photo, and only can be seen if someone actively clicks on the comment.
Tagging photos is super easy as well, you can tag up to 20 accounts and tag your favorite accounts that you follow that fits your demographic. And you can hide your tags one under the other by overlapping them in one corner of your photo like my very top photo example above of me watching the sunset.
5. Try to Post One Photo Per Day
I always like to post a photo of one of my travels or adventures at about 7am (PST) that is what I was informed is the best time to post since most people around the world are still awake. That way, I get a post out of the way in the morning, which most of the time is a photo of my previous adventure the day before, and then spend the rest of the day being in the moment on that day’s adventure, and whatever photo I got that day, I will post the following day.
And remember, if you want love and likes from followers, don’t forget to double tap back and show some love in return! I don’t like to be on social media that much surprisingly, but I do actively try to check out other people’s photos and like or comment back periodically, and engage with my followers. Social media is such a great outlet for bloggers, but it can also be very competitive and superficial, and people will get desperate for attention and go to extremes for followers. Unfortunately, this is a very oversaturated indsutry.
I would rather gain a more genuine following and have a more humble attitude with my social media. But, you can go the more extreme route, if you do not wish to have a more patient approach, like my style, and get as many followers and attention as you can. Bloggers will purchase followers or start following a ton of people, so those people will in turn follow them back, but then the blogger will go back and unfollow all of those people. SO MANY BLOGGERS DO THIS and I absolutely do not agree with this approach.
No need for competition or being shady, there is plenty of room for all us, and we should be more supportive and help each other out I say!
Hopefully these tips can help you on your travel journey through Instagram, happy posting xoxo
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