Rarely on my blog do I write personal entries like this but I realize I’ve been only posting about food, restaurants, events, and recipes since 2011 and I think it’s about time I branch out and go further in-depth into some of the things I’ve learned and encountered throughout the years. With so many people wanting to learn how to ‘get into Instagram’, I hope I can share some things in this article that can help you decide whether Instagram is the right thing for you!
In the past….let’s say 6 years, the entire social media landscape has completely changed and altered how we behave, take in information, make purchasing decisions, and… act as human beings. When I first started, I don’t even think most people had the Instagram app on their phones! Now, Instagram has consumed most if not all of us, and everyone wants to be the next ‘Instagrammer’ or ‘Influencer’.
For people aspiring to be an ‘Instagrammer’ or have already started but want to learn more, here are my 5 truths:
1. It involves a lot of work
I’m not sure if many people talk about this… but posting on Instagram? It takes a damn long time. Not only do you need to post consistently (once a day is recommended), 99.9% of the time, you’ll need to edit your photos before you post. Trust me, to keep your feed looking clean and consistent, there will rarely be a photo that cannot be made better with a little editing. I usually use two photo editing apps (Facetune and Snapseed) before posting on my Instagram, and they make a big difference. All in all, it takes about 15-30 minutes of work (includes editing, crafting the content copy, adding relevant geotags/hashtags), but that does not include the time it takes to capture the photo itself. And you and I know, sometimes, it takes about 30 minutes and 100 similar shots in different angles to get the one right instagram worthy shot. 😉
To give you a better idea of how editing can drastically enhance the look of your feed, here is an example of my old unedited or poorly edited Instagram photos:
And here are my new edited Instagram photos:
See the difference? Effort + Time = Better Insta Pictures
2. You will meet an amazing community of foodies and like-minded individuals
Never in a million years would I dream of knowing a huge group of foodies just like me, let alone be great friends with many of them. My network has expanded so much over the years just because of my blog and Instagram that it’s incredible to think how a social media platform has allowed people that connect digitally, to meet and be friends in person. If you’re a fly on the wall, it’s actually pretty funny when you see ‘Instagrammers’ meet each other in person for the first time. It goes something like this:
Instagrammer 1: “Hi! I’m Eating With Kirby”
Instagrammer 2: “OH!! Eating With Kirby! I follow you! I’m Dining Without Reservations!”
Instagrammer 1: “OH Dining Without Reservations! I follow you too! Nice to meet you in person!”
If you are just starting out on Instagram, I’d highly recommend connecting with fellow instagrammers that also focus on your niche to meet up in person. It’s a little nerve wracking at first, but trust me, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you have in common with them, and what a rewarding experience it’ll be.
3. You don’t need fancy equipment
If you follow the foodies that have a HUGE following, it may seem like their photos are always on point, and that their thousand dollar cameras are a necessity to get a good shot. That is absolutely not true. I know a few food instagrammers that take photos with their iPhones, and many that just have an entry level mirrorless camera like the Sony A5100 (that’s my camera). If you want to start your own foodie Instagram account, just use whatever you have, and slowly graduate to something more advanced when you are committed to taking it to the next level.
4. Instagram etiquette, there is no rule book
Unlike having a regular job at a regular company, there is no rule book, guide, or handbook on being an influencer/instagrammer. Having said that, I feel like I’ve attended enough tastings, media events, and blogger socials to know the basic etiquette one should follow when being invited by companies.
Remember, if you are lucky enough to be invited to ‘tastings’ by local restaurants, it’s not just an opportunity to eat free food and bring as many friends as you can to enjoy. Restaurant owners work extremely hard, and they invite local foodies and influencers in hopes that they can spread word about their business. If you attend a tasting, the unwritten rule is that you should blog, instagram, tweet, or at least instastory your experience on your platform. Even though it is not in a written contract, use your own discretion and if you enjoyed your experience, share it with your followers! Your followers AND the restaurant will thank you. 🙂
As for tipping, the general rule of thumb is, no need to tip if you are at a media/press event set up like a cocktail reception with cocktails and hor d’oeuvres. However if it is a sit down meal and you are a solo influencer being invited to enjoy a meal like any other customer would (but it is complimentary), I would leave a tip that amounts to roughly what you would give if you had paid for it yourself. That at least covers the (hopefully great) service you got so they don’t leave empty handed for catering to you for a few hours. Whether the server will accept it, is their call. I’ve had servers deny it but most would gladly accept and say thank you.
5. Instagramming/Blogging is not a route to make ‘quick money’
While it is true that many successful YouTubers and instagrammers earn upwards of 100k-500k+ a year by doing sponsorships and working with brands, the reality is, it’s not an easy or fast route to make money. Most of the people who are successful now started on those platforms when it first launched in early 2000’s, and those that started later, invested a TON of time, money, and effort into creating their channels into what they are today. I started my blog in 2011 with not a clue of how to monetize it (granted, I never thought of using my blog to generate a secondary income since I did it just for fun), and only recently did I start putting ads on my site and signing myself up with Amazon’s affiliate program. It’s been about a year and a half since I signed up and I have earned less than $300 through ads (boo). So with that I just want to remind you that if quick money is your primary objective of being an Instagrammer, you might be disappointed in the long run. If you do it because you are passionate about that topic and want to share it with the world, the ‘money’ will come. It likely won’t be fast, it won’t be easy, but in the end if you’re gaining friends, being recognized as having an influence in the community, and occasionally getting free food/products? What more can you ask for?
Thanks for reading this impossibly long post and if you enjoyed it and want more articles like this, please leave a comment below!
*Lastly, some links in this article are the Amazon affiliate links that I talked about. If you click on those links and purchase something on Amazon, I will get a small commission, at no cost to you. Thank you in advance for your generous support and for keeping this blog alive!