Instagram Basics for Pin Makers [video]
Instagram is the main marketing platform for my business and it has been for years. I think it's an amazing place for pins because if you just type in the hashtag #pingamestrong or #enamelpins or #lapelpins or #pingame or #flair or just #pins, you will get millions of posts. There is a very active community of pin makers and collectors on Instagram, which is really great! I think it's the place to be if you want to market your pin business.
I have some top tips that will help up your Instagram game and get more eyeballs on your pins. I'm talking about things like varying your feed to make it more interesting, what do post when you don’t have a lot of inventory, but you still want to get your stuff out there…things like that. Let's get into it.
My first tip is to be consistent. You want to be consistent with your posting schedule and you want to be consistent with your content. One thing I always suggest is picking a color palette for your feed. I keep things a little bit loose with mine, but obviously I'm The Pink Samurai so my feed has to have a ton of pink. I want people to really know what they're getting when they're coming to my page. You're going to see pink and you're going to see cats, you're going to see glitter and most likely lots of sugary food. You want people to really know who you are when they see your feed. So, with my color palette, I like to use a lot of pinks, pastels, teals and purples. My main rule is no red, like dark reds, no navy blues, no hunter greens. I don't want any moody, earthy colors. I like to keep it light and cute. Pick some colors that you think work really well for you. I'll have some examples of feeds that I love that, that really exemplify this too. For example, my friend Libby of LuxCups has a lot more teals and a fun, bright palette. Being consistent in your colors will help people recognize your posts immediately.
In terms of posting consistently, take a look at your Instagram analytic. This can show you when people are most active on Instagram for you. For me that's about 3:00 PM but I also like to post at other times during the day. Just pick a time of day and go for it. Honestly, it doesn't matter what the analytics say, just be consistent. Your stuff is going to pop up on people's feeds at all times of the day because of the Instagram algorithms, anyway. If you're consistent just for yourself, then you've got that peace of mind. I like a lot of structure in my life and I think it really helps me with my anxiety. I know things are planned so it'll be fine. If you pick a time during the day that works for you, I think it's a lot easier to hold yourself accountable to posting. I do suggest posting at least once a day. If you can't do it once a day, once every other day. The more often you can, the better, I find.
BATCH YOUR PHOTOS
A quick tip to help you be more consistent and a way you can really set yourself up for success is to batch your photos. If you know how many times you want to post during a week or a month count up out how many photos you need to take and shoot them all at once. That way you can have them all ready to go when it’s time to post and you don’t have to worry about shooting any photos on the fly. Batching has been a huge game changer for me. All of 2017 I did this, and it was a huge help for my business, for my engagement and for my follower account on Instagram. Which in turn, impacts my bank account because the more people that follow me, the more chances I get to connect with people that are really into my stuff. Batching helps with that. When I first introduced pins in my shop, I was just taking pictures whenever and that stressed me out because I was like, “Oh crap, it's 9 o'clock at night, I haven't posted anything. What should I post? Do I have any old pictures? Did someone else post a photo of my pins that I can use and credit?” Plus, the lighting is terrible at night, you can't get a good photo. You don't have to worry about any those little things when you batch because it will be all done and you'll already have it waiting for you on your phone. Yes, batch, batch, batch.
Another point with batching - it's just a lot faster to take your photos. Even if you have a minimal set up like me, it can save time. Setting for photos every day, multiple times a day, can be so time-consuming. If you have everything set up, and know what you want to take pictures of, it goes by so fast! And since you have them all shot, then you can batch edit them and schedule them in no time. It just saves you a lot of time to batch. If you set aside an hour or two once a week or even once a month, then you can get a lot of stuff done and then just be prepared. Yes, again, batch, batch, batch.
PHOTO BACKGROUNDS & STYLING
I like to have a set number of backgrounds that I use for photos. I think it's helpful to limit them at first. When you're first getting into the rhythm of batching your photos, you don't want to overwhelm yourself too much with a bunch of different backgrounds and props and styling. I think keep it simple. Then once you get the hang of it and you have a rhythm, then you can start adding more and more detail. For my backgrounds, I like to think about colors and textures. A lot of my photos are taken on a fuzzy pink pillow just because I think the colors are perfect for what I want. The pink works with my pins and it's nice because it gives a little bit of texture and variation to the photo. I also have a giant seamless that I wrap around a small table that sits in front of a window in my studio. I always have a pink background ready to go no matter what.
Another thing I love is cork. I don't know if you know my love for IKEA trivets. I got these a couple of years ago and they're perfect. I just nail them straight to the wall. You can paint one side, keep one side plain so you can use them multiple ways. You can also grab some scrapbooking paper at your local craft store to get some fun backgrounds for cheap. I like glitter papers and solid colors that have some texture to them. Pick some different backgrounds, get some textured papers and then just play around with what you like and what compliments your pins.
Now, sometimes it can be frustrating to get the shine right when you’re photographing pins, but that's where my super secret, awesome tip comes in. Use a piece of silver or gold glitter paper as a reflector. So set your pin in front of a window and put your reflector on the other side of the pin so you can use the paper as a reflector and direct the light however you want. Silver will make it look a little bit cooler and gold will give it more of a warm tone. If you don't have glitter paper, just use white paper or white foam core. These are perfect for bouncing light and getting the shine that you want on your pin.
CREATING VARIED CONTENT
Now you know when you want to post, how often you want to post, and have beautiful backgrounds to shoot on. So let's talk about content now. When you just have one to three pins, your feed can get a little repetitive and that is fine in some cases, but only if you really vary the types of photos because you want to keep it interesting. You don't want people to just scroll by thinking they’d already seen that photo before. To keep people engaged, you want to take different kinds of pictures. I suggest taking lots of different pictures of the same pin in different scenarios. I actually plan them out when I'm scheduling photos. This is my criteria:
You can have a pin with no card.
You can have a pin by itself on its card.
You can have a group of the same pin with no cards.
You can have a group of the same pin on cards.
You can have a collection of different pins together with no cards.
You can have a collection of different pins together on cards. You see where I'm going?
There are two different ways to do each different scenario. I would also suggest taking pictures of your pins next to pins from your personal collection. If you've done trades or you’ve bought a lot of pins, then put your pin with a group of other makers that makes sense so you can either showcase pin mail or show them off in a group of pins that’s relevant. Getting your pin alongside other people's pins will help when you're posting because there's variation. You're also sharing other awesome designers with your audience, which they’ll appreciate. THEN, if those designers want to share your picture, then they've got your pin in the photo too. It’s just a really good way to get your stuff out there while creating engaging content.
When you’re thinking about who to style your photos, I would definitely suggest taking a picture of your pin in every different scenario you can possibly think of. I love taking photos of them when I first get them in the mail. I love taking photos of the giant piles of them when I’m processing and packaging them. You can line up the pin in different rows or grids. There are all kinds of different ways you can vary your photos. I have a link below to a checklist of my top 10 favorite pin photo ideas. If you use this in conjunction with your different backgrounds, you can have exponentially more photos because you can take all 10 of those different ideas and use them on different backgrounds!
This last bit is all about engagement and getting your likes and comments up. You want to engage with your audience and really get them talking. You want to engage with them because you're getting to know them AND you're getting more eyeballs on your photos. Some fun things you can do to get your engagement up is to just ask a ridiculous question. Something that's not even related to your photo. It can be like, “here's a picture of my awesome pin. I also really want some ice cream. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?” I also really like getting people to put crazy emojis in the comments because I think it's really funny, especially like the top five most used emojis. I love seeing people's top five and emojis. I feel like it really tells a lot about them in that moment. Plus it’s just fun, and what’s social media even for if it’s not fun?!
Be sure to write back to folks, too. Writing back is great because it shows more engagement, but I think it’s important because if someone's going to take time to talk to me on my Instagram, I want to take time for them too. Definitely ask questions and be engaging and silly and have fun with your people on Instagram.
Those were my five top tips/strategies on using Instagram with your pin business, especially for newbies who don't have a ton of pins. Let me know how you feel about Instagram in general right now. I've been pretty lax with it honestly, and I'm really just now kind of feeling excited to post more! And don’t forget to download the free photo prompts to get your creative juices flowing!