Using Instagram For Business: Interview with Melinda Cooper
Welcome to the Instagram for Business Interview series! As part of our Instagram challenge, I thought it would be fun not only to look at ways to boost your Instagram but to interview a range of business owners to see how they run their accounts.
Today we have an exceptionally talented member of the Creative and Coffee Instagram community, Melinda Cooper of @stellaplusink. I have been such a fan of Melinda’s fabulous illustrations for a long while now, so I was so excited to have her join us on the blog today to tell us how Instagram contributes to the success of her business.
So, without further ado, let me introduce Melinda!
Question One: Please tell us a bit about yourself, so we can get to know you!
Hello, I’m Melinda! I’m a mid-twenties mum of two who loves crocheting, talking about politics and One Direction. When I clock off at the end of the day, my favourite thing to do is eat cheese and drink wine with my husband, who – bless his OCD soul – is very supportive and patient with my constant creative chaos of paint and yarn and paper!
Question Two: What is your business all about?
I mostly dabble in graphic design but also do hand lettering, a bit of social media content, EDM/newsletter design and even the occasional blog post.
My Instagram bio says, ‘some type of creative’ which I think fits me and my business perfectly. I don’t really fit into one specific box which is how I like it. I just want to create, and there’s a million different ways to do that.
Question Three: What inspired you to start your own business?
To be completely honest, it all happened by accident! I was already doing some freelance social media stuff and at the time, my husband worked away a lot so once the kids were in bed, I’d get a bit bored. I wanted a creative outlet to fill those evenings and started sharing little drawings on Instagram as a way to track my progress.
I had a basic knowledge of Photoshop but really wanted to learn how to use Illustrator as well, so I started sketching a lot of my pictures and then with the help of You Tube videos I started tracing and colouring them in Illustrator.
After a few months, I got my first logo client. And then my first custom illustration. Then it snowballed from there.
Alright let’s talk Instagram for business…
Question Four: How long have you been on Instagram and what made you decide to join the platform?
I started using it for personal use back in 2011 from memory but only properly started using it as a business tool at the end of 2015.
For a lot of businesses, Instagram just makes sense. It’s an easy to use visual platform and is possibly the best portfolio you can have to showcase your business and your skills.
Question Five: What was your biggest Instagram struggle and how did you overcome it?
My biggest struggle with not only Instagram but just in general, was feeling a little bit intimidated by the amount of other graphic designers/letterers/creatives. I think it’s important to keep growing and learning and not compare yourself to others.
I knew I wanted to create something different especially when it came to hand-lettering. I’ve recently started sharing little poems and things I’ve written and it’s probably been the best (though, scary!) decision as it gives a more raw, vulnerable voice to my lettered pieces. This was well-received by my audience which then inspired me to put together some poems and some lettering into an eBook titled Bright Sparks.
Question Six: What do you think is the best way to grow your Instagram (with engaged followers)?
It sounds a bit cliche but I think finding your ‘tribe’ of people on Instagram who you genuinely support and believe in is one of the best growth tools.
And the little things, as well. Like taking the time to reply to comments and comment on other people’s photos too. Reach out to the people who are constant supporters and find out about their business. Maybe you could find a way to collaborate together! It is called ‘social’ media for a reason (edit: amen to that!).
Question Seven: What program/tools do you use to create your posts?
As I post mostly illustrations and graphics I pretty much solely use Photoshop and Illustrator.
Question Eight: What’s your favourite app to use for Instagram?
I’m a bit boring, I’m afraid. I just use the regular Instagram app for editing the rare photos I post! If you’re a bit more of a photographer, VSCOcam is a great app for editing photos.
Question Nine: How does Instagram help your business?
For me, Instagram acts as a portfolio for my work. To this day, I’ve never advertised for any of my graphic design or logo work. Almost all of my clients have come from Instagram, which I think just shows how powerful the tool can be.
Question Ten: What is your number one tip on creating content for Instagram?
Plan ahead! For the longest time, I’d just post whenever I finished a drawing or design. However there will be times when you’re sick or on holidays or just busy with life that you don’t have time to create content.
Have a small catalog of content saved for those times, or post an image from someone you enjoy following (with credit, of course!)
Question Eleven: If you could give one piece of advice to a business owner looking to grow their Instagram, what would it be?
Here I go again with the cliches but… just be yourself! You’ll never stand out trying to be someone else. There’s that quote going around that says something along the lines of ‘You’re the only you and that is your power’ – so true!
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. People will connect with you when they feel like you’re coming from an honest, authentic place.
I hope you will join me in thanking Melinda for sharing her thoughts on how to run a successful Instagram account. You can catch some more of Melinda’s beautiful work over on her Instagram account and her website here.
I think it just goes to show that, without having to pay out hundreds of dollars in ads, Melinda can use Instagram to showcase her work and attracted lovely clients who appreciate her and admire her work.
Our next interview will be with one of my favourite branding experts and graphic designers, so if you are looking for ideas on running a successful account to bring in more clients, you won’t want to miss the next interview!