Finding Your Niche, Getting Your First Client, & Growing on Instagram with Shine With Natasha

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This week on the podcast, I’m chatting with Natasha Samuel of Shine With Natasha, a strategist and educator helping small businesses grow their communities through Instagram video. Pretty early in her career, Natasha found the thing that lit her up: Instagram video. Since then, she’s niched down hard and established herself as an Instagram Reel expert, all while maintaining balance between her client work and nurturing her own business. On the podcast, we talked about how she found her niche, landed her first client, and grew her Instagram audience through fearless experimentation. Take a listen!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION

Galen: Hi, Natasha. Thank you so much for joining me on the show today.

Natasha: Thank you so much for having me.

Galen: I am so excited to chat with you about all things, Instagram Reels and marketing in general. But first, tell us a little bit about who you are and your business.

Natasha: Yes, my name’s Natasha of Shine with Natasha and I’m an Instagram strategist, and I really focus on creative content and storytelling and community building and especially video for helping entrepreneurs grow on Instagram. Um, and so I kind of do that with one-on-one services, but also through courses and resources and all the content that I put on my Instagram.

Galen: That’s amazing. And what did you do before you became an Instagram queen? Cause you are like now known as all things Instagram. So what did you, how did you get into this?

Natasha: Yeah. So I actually, um, was studying Public Relations in college. And my background was kind of in journalism. I loved writing. I love storytelling. And, I had had an internship with someone that had a digital marketing business and it was all remote. And she just, you know, ran it herself and which I had never heard of at that time.

And she had kind of planted that seed in my head that if I wanted to create my own business and, you know, create my own dream that I could. So I’d kind of had a few internship experiences and like digital marketing, like email marketing, website, design, graphic, design, social media, kind of like the whole, the whole gamut.

And then I was kind of about to graduate and I kind of had like that mini crisis, I think. All college students have where I’m like, what do I want to do for the rest of my life? And so I just was like, let me maybe start doing my own thing and helping small businesses on Instagram and in social media.

So that’s kind of how I started my business, which was Sol Studio at the time. And then I was doing social media. I was doing all the things like a lot of us are when we start our business. And then I eventually niched down where I was just like, I really love Instagram. I think there’s so much promise.

There there’s so many platforms within one platform. And so that’s kind of what’s stuck. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

Galen: That is so wonderful. Were you nervous to make that leap into working for yourself?

Natasha: I wasn’t because I was still in college. I truly had nothing to lose. It’s not like I had a really fancy corporate salary. It wasn’t like I had a lot of expenses. I mean, I was a broke college student and then I became a broke college student with a business. So I kind of, I think I was so naive that I didn’t understand all the things that could have gone wrong.

So I kind of was just like, why not try it and see how it goes. So I’m grateful that I did.

Galen: That’s wonderful. Yeah. When I first got started in my business, I was working a full-time job a year out of college. And I remember quitting right before I got my raise because I was about to get a raise. And I knew that if I got paid more money, it would be that much harder to leave. And I was like, right now, I’m in a place where you’re really flexible.

You’re not making so much money that you. Can’t leave it and walk away. And that just gave me the freedom to be like now or never. So it’s really cool. I think a lot of people have that freedom to get started when they’re young, like you mentioned, you have no real responsibilities, nothing to lose. Um, and how did you get your very first clients?

Natasha: I was actually using, oh, I just saw it, um, not Fiverr but Upwork. I was using Upwork. Um, so it’s kind of the opposite of Fiverr. So like on Fiverr, you go on and you find people to do projects with, but Upwork is actually where people post like contracted gigs that they need help with. If they need like social media graphics or Instagram management, and then you kind of write them a proposal and pitch to them.

So I actually got two of my clients that way and one that I was with for three years, um, it was until I phased out of management completely that we stopped working together. And so it was kind of crazy. I got some good clients from there.

Galen: That’s so cool. I love hearing people when they’re first getting started, how they find those first clients. Like that’s something so many of us are terrified of when we’re making that leap, is, is anybody actually going to pay me and are they going to like my work? And that’s amazing that somebody stayed with you for that long too.

When you were first, you know, just very first into it. Did you have an Instagram presence when you started that business? Did you start building up in college or were you starting from scratch?

Natasha: I was starting my business, Instagram from scratch. I had a personal Instagram, um, and I used it for like travel and other musings from my college days. So nothing really exciting. But I do remember I was like a few months in, and that’s when I created my Sol Studio Instagram. Um, and yeah, when I looked back at my old posts, I had no clue what I was doing because Instagram not really something I was taught when I was interning, when I was in school, um, cause it’s not really kind of the traditional marketing, you know, it was Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and all these platforms. So I kind of started my account and I quite literally used it as like this big experiment to kind of figure things out and eventually use it as a portfolio to attract more clients.

Galen: Yeah. And when you started to niche down and say, okay, I’m only going to offer Instagram marketing. Did that really change things for your business? Did that make a big difference into what kind of clients you were attracting or had you kind of already started to pick up steam by that point?

Natasha: Yeah. I think if anything, it helped me like internally business wise. Cause we all know what it’s like to be doing. All the things. Some things that you’re not good at some things that you don’t like doing something that’s taken a lot of time and energy. Yeah. So I feel like energetically, it felt a lot better to only have one platform that I was really focused on versus like three platforms.

Um, and then I think it definitely did. I mean, eventually once I kind of found my voice and kind of found my style and like how I like to use Instagram to market. I think it did really help me start to kind of position myself as an expert because I wasn’t just like. Social media tips. It was like Instagram tips, Instagram video tips.

Like it kind of helped me attract the right people that didn’t just want Facebook when I have no interest or desire, or even the skillset with Facebook.

Galen: Yeah, it’s all about what feels good to us too. And I feel like you love the Instagram platform. Like I can see that in the content that you create and the type, all the different types of content that you can create on Instagram, like it can see that it lights you up when I watch your content and I read your posts.

So it’s really neat to see that you were able to take that and incorporate that into your own marketing strategy. So when did you actually start to get clients from Instagram versus other platforms like Upwork?

Natasha: Yeah. So I kind of started the first year of business, I would say Upwork. And, um, actually Facebook groups were the main ways that I would find clients. So I don’t know if this is as popular now, but I would. Be in a bunch of Facebook groups of like female entrepreneurs, freelancers. And I would just like answer back in and give value on questions that people had about Instagram.

And that actually got me a lot of my long-term clients at the time. So that was kind of how I was getting clients. And I’d say what I got into year two, that’s when I kind of started to make that shift of just like people knowing my, my Instagram and my brand, um, people really. Positioning myself as an expert because I was just focusing so much on valuable content related to Instagram and not so much like business and behind the scenes that I really was like, here’s all the best Instagram content.

So I feel like once I was kind of like two years into really showing up on that platform was when I started to get a ton of leads from Instagram specific specifically. Um, and I found that it was either people sharing my account to other people, or it was people that were discovering me from Instagram or people that were following me for a long time and just loved my content.

So I think a lot of marketers think of like, they think of their clients first and like creating for them and marketing for them. But I feel like it was actually really beneficial that I was focusing. Solely on my own content, because that was actually what attracted those clients. And I would say now in my business, I’d say like 90% of my leads come from Instagram and it’s just, cause I think I really focused from like service first versus ever really selling or pitching.

I think selling and pitching has its time and place, but that’s kind of was the foundation that made it where I could attract a lot of leads from it.

Galen: And so I feel like so many small business owners have this conundrum up, I’m working with clients. I have to get all the client work done. I have to spend time on all these client projects, but I also know that for the long-term success of my business, I need to be posting consistently showing up on stories, email marketing, like all these different marketing strategies.

What did your content marketing strategy look like at that time? When you were balancing a lot of client work and marketing on Instagram, how were you able to balance both? And what did your posting schedule look like?

Natasha: Yeah, so I remember one time and I think it is. Because I didn’t have like a ton of clients, but where I was doing like weekly emails. I was doing blogs. Um, but I always was roughly posting around like four to five times a week on my Instagram profile. I know at one time I was definitely doing like weekly lives.

Um, so I feel like I’ve always been consistent. And back then when I was doing management, I treated myself quite literally like a client. So I would sit down once a month. I would think of all my content ideas and I would just batch, um, where I just sit down and do like a whole month worth of captions and graphics and things like that.

I remember like, Oh my gosh, if anyone’s like an OG follower and they know my old Instagram, I used to like hand draw my graphics. Which is kind of really funny to look back on. So I would literally batch like 10 of those and then I would just put them in the queue and then I’d put some images in there.

And then I would just like batch, you know, four, four days a week and then, you know, weekly posts. So I think that’s kind of what helped me really focus on content first. And, um, I think. All you know, blogging and email and those things were good too. But I think really like focusing on Instagram content was also really helpful.

And I think one thing is that people always think that it needs to be separate from what they’re doing work-wise. But I think the simplest way to show up on Instagram is like, literally bring people into your process. Like when I was scheduling content for clients, I would be like, “Hey, so now I’m doing my graphics and then I’m batching this, and then I’m doing captions.”

Like, I, I really used to be known for batching because I would show people, me batching versus like going off on a random tangent or, um, you know, I would show me, you know, doing strategy sessions with clients and what we broke down. So I think I kind of, wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. I was kind of using what I was already doing.

Work-wise and then just creating content around it.

Galen: I want to highlight the golden nugget that you mentioned earlier of how important it is to treat your own business. Just as if you were your own client, because so many of us fail to prioritize our own businesses. And while that can be great in the short term, right? Client work is great in the short-term, but it’s not really serving the longterm vision you have for your business.

And you’re not ever going to build up that momentum. So that is so amazing that people should really prioritize themselves just as they would. Anyone else that’s paying them to paying them to work with them. So that’s really cool. When you talked about sharing behind the scenes content. I think so many of us are nervous to share our life or what we’re working on.

How do you decide what content is appropriate to share behind the scenes and what content you should maybe keep to yourself?

Natasha: Yeah. Yeah. Really great question. So, one thing I always think of is like, you have to know your ideal clients really well. Um, because there’s some things that I share on my stories that are more personal and more behind the scenes like my plans. Or my office or my matcha in the morning, like things that have nothing to do with Instagram, but it’s things that I know my people are interested in.

Um, but there’s a lot of things they don’t share. That’s related to my personal life that I know that maybe they don’t need to know about or they they’re not interested in. So I think of my, my target audience, first of like, is this relevant to them? Do they care about this? And then I always like to go back to my content pillars and I feel like this is something that I’ve done with clients for years, and that I’ve always seen it be really beneficial of just like really mapping out what are those five categories give or take that you’re going to consistently be posting.

And there’s probably going to be the obvious ones you think about like Instagram video, Instagram strategy, like business systems, like, you know, whatever that is for your niche, but there should be those maybe one or two personal pillars that is where your personality comes out. So is it your, your home office life or is it that you love to have plants and take care of them or whatever that is?

Those are just a few of mine, but I think that if you want to stand out. On Instagram, if you want to make personal connections, those personal bits are really important, but also making sure they’re strategic ones and not like completely random. Like, I can’t even think of something random that I would share, I guess, like, I don’t know if I shared like a lot of the stuff I was doing on my personal off time.

Like I was, if I would share me renovating our house or, you know, me going thrifting on the weekends or stuff that I do that I don’t need to talk about is completely different than me showing myself like meal prepping for the week and planning for the week and making my morning matcha. So I kind of try to think of it, like how can it be strategic, but also add that little bit of personality that I think is so necessary on Instagram.

Galen: Yeah. I want to say that it’s it’s because of you and one other Instagram influencer that I am now a daily matcha drinker. That is a new habit. I was getting bored of my existing daily morning tea routine. And so I switched over to matcha and it is so good. So thank you for that. Um, I think so many times, you know, when we’re wondering what to share, uh, people just share like random things from their day, but there’s this art of storytelling in your Instagram stories.

Do you have any suggestions for how we can become better storytellers and have like a beginning, middle and end? Cause that’s something I struggle with. I’m like, oh, I guess I’ll post a picture of my coffee in the morning, but I think it works better when there’s some kind of storyline to it. And people are like waiting for your next story to find out how that project went or the behind the scenes of something.

So how do you create that? How do you create that? Like excitement people get when they want to see what’s coming next in your stories.

Natasha: Yeah. And I think for me, I’ve kind of, it’s kind of, it’s become habitual, but the formula that I kind of use is I always think of my day before I start showing up. Um, or I think it’s really important to have like your own little mini series that you bring people a part of. Like, I think a great one that a lot of people do and they share what they’re working on for the day or they, you know, they share their morning routine or they share them logging into the office.

Like that’s something I love to do. Um, so I think it kind of really. Starts with like really understanding the cadence of your day and like planning your stories to an extent it can be as much as just consciously thinking. Okay, I know I’m going to be doing client work today. So I want to log in and share some behind the scenes and then log out for the day and tell them what I did.

Um, like for me today, I knew Instagram story captions is a big thing I was going to be talking about. So I knew I wanted to kind of log in. People love engaging with my office, and then I wanted to share those Reels, share a few tips. Um, and then I knew I wanted to kind of log off with telling them that I was going to be talking about it more on my newsletter.

So I kind of think planning your stories feels kind of like very structured and not super off the cusp, but if you think of any really great story, like you kind of have to think of how you’re going to tell it or, or think of how you’re going to write it. And I think the same thing applies to video.

Galen: Yeah, I think that’s something a lot of us forget about because we think we don’t think of stories strategically. We think of them as sort of these quick little bites of our day. But though I think of the stories that I enjoy watching most, and those are the ones where somebody actually takes me through and I’m waiting on their next story because I want to find out how did that thing go they were working on or how did their day end up turning out. So that’s really great advice to kind of plan it a little bit more strategically. When you’re building Instagram into your day-to-day workflows and like creating a habit around Instagram, how do you do that? And then how do you also do that without, you know, kind of creating this lack of work-life balance?

Cause I think a lot of us we’ll feel like we’re either all in on Instagram or we’re completely shut off from the app. And it’s harder to kind of have this day-to-day consistency where you’re showing up, but it’s not taking over your life and your to-do list. It’s not something you’re procrastinating on other tasks that you should be doing with.

So how do you balance that showing up consistently without letting Instagram take over?

Natasha: Yeah. I mean, I’d say it’s tough. I think for all of us we’re working online, but for me, I mean, Instagram’s my job. So I feel obligated to be on it to a certain extent. Um, I’d say the biggest shift for me was thinking of Instagram as work hours. Um, I, when I’m logging in during the day, um, when I start my day, that’s when I usually start my stories.

That’s when I start posting my Reels or whatever it is that I’m doing for the day. And I think when I’m logging off and I’m turning off my computer, I’m closing my office. I think of it the same way. And that’s also why I don’t post on weekends. So I think it needs to be a shift to not think of Instagram being, even if you’re a personal brand and maybe you don’t have a personal Instagram, but I think thinking of Instagram as work, um, it sounds like it takes the fun out of it, but it actually makes it where it doesn’t feel like when you’re relaxing, um, in the evenings and eating dinner, you know, you’re not feeling like, Oh my gosh, I have 20 DMS I need to respond to, like, I treated just like I would my inbox. So I think like it makes my time on Instagram a lot more intentional. 

Um, I think what’s also helpful is I do like to have like check-in points. So I typically check in, in the mornings, I typically check in when I’m kind of like on my lunch break and then usually one other time at the end of the day, which I think is really great, especially for stories, you know, creating different timelines that people are having a little bitof suspense.

And, and know to come back. Um, but I think it really helps. So I’m not on stories 24/ 7. Um, I also love just recording clips, um, and not necessarily having to post them in the moment. So I think, um, I think that’s all like this on like study gram, like study Instagrams, where they basically thought like putting your phone up and doing a time-lapse is kind of like a productivity hack because you’re not going to use your phone because it’s time lapsing, you know, So I think it’s a really great way.

Yeah. It’s such a fun little hack that I think applies to entrepreneurs where like, just put your phone up. Cause I always get questions. Like how do you capture moments when you’re working with clients? And I’m like, just time-lapse it. And then you can still work, but your phone’s capturing it. You can edit it later and then post it and be like, this is what I worked on in the last few hours.

So I think that definitely really helps me. And I also love all the settings and iPhone. I know Android has similar ones of like, I have downtime on. So from 6:00 PM till 8:00 AM. Um, all my social media apps tell me don’t go on them. Um, and even if I do go on them, it does tell me, you know, for 15 minutes, you know, for example, versus an hour, and then I’m like, what happened?

Galen: Goes by really quickly.

Natasha: It goes by really quickly, but I do think it kind of like checks you in, like, okay, you just put on the app 15 more minutes. Like, do you really want to click another 15 minutes? Do you really need to be on right now? And another one is I do have, um, I can’t remember the word of it. Like kind of like timers of how much time is allotted for all my apps.

So they gotta have Tik Tok at an hour and then Instagram at two hours. Um, and I, I usually do stick pretty close to them. Like Instagram was yelling at me like a like 30 minutes ago. Like, you know, you’re done with Instagram no more. So then that one will shut off too. So I think those little boundaries, um, seem like little things, but it just makes you a little bit more intentional versus the habit that we have of just clicking open an app and not spending the intentional time because I only have two hours on until sit on Instagram. So I’m going to spend it wisely and not just be scrolling and consuming. I’m going to be trying to be intentional with community building.

Galen: Yeah. And you said those are Android apps that help you do that?

Natasha: So those, I know there are Android apps, but if you go into your iPhone settings and then you go into, um, screen time, um, you’ll see downtime and app limits. So those are the main ones that I have. So I have my downtime set from 6:00 PM to 8:00 AM, and then I have app limits for my Tik Tok and my Instagram every day to kind of keep me in check.

Galen: That’s amazing. I have an iPhone and I did not know that I definitely use the like, do not disturb functionality after, you know, late night hours. So I don’t see any notifications, but I didn’t realize I could actually kick myself off of the app at a certain time. I can do it on my computer.

Yes. Yeah, you can do it on your computer, but I didn’t realize I could do that on my phone too.

So I thank you. I will definitely, I will definitely be taking advantage of that. Um, in terms of your growth over the last few years, I feel like looking at you from the outside in, I see this like hockey stick growth. I feel like I didn’t know who Natasha was. And then all of a sudden I was seeing you everywhere.

I was seeing you, you know, and speaking engagements. And I know you were featured with Later last year, which is super exciting. So you’ve like blown up. Was this from the inside though? Does this actually feel like hockey stick type, you know, instant growth overnight success? Or does this feel like a lot of slow growth that led to this point?

Natasha: Um, I think it was major and I’m still adjusting. I would say I, there was a major growing pains growing spurt, something I didn’t anticipate in only being in business at the time, a little under three years. Um, even just likeflashbacking, you know, a year ago, 2021 spring, I had, maybe I was almost about to hit 5,000 followers and I had had, you know, a pretty decent launch.

I think I made like $3,000. I was really excited about it. And then I would say, you know, after that summer, I now have almost 30,000 followers, which is insane amount of growth in a year and, you know, consistent revenue from like passive income resources and my launches and stuff like that. So I think I definitely, like, I think.

On the backend. I was putting in the work for that type of growth to happen, but I don’t think I was prepared for it to happen infrastructure wise. Like I know I’ve definitely needed to hire and audit our systems and am still figuring out my bandwidth so I can do it all and show up. Well, when a lot of times like creating content, speaking, like it’s very energy intensive stuff, especially for someone that does not identify as an extrovert by any means.

Um, so yeah, I definitely didn’t feel like, Oh yeah, this has just been a gradual thing. It was a big shock and I thought it was going to ease off and it hasn’t. So I’m still learning and adjusting now.

Galen: Well, that’s wonderful. Congratulations. I feel like so many business owners are waiting for that point. What do you think really led to that? I know 2020 was like a crazy year for so many people. Um, but you feel like there was something that you did to kind of set yourself up for that or something that really led to that kind of take off moment for you?

Natasha: Yeah, I think I was being consistent in the way that I showed up for my audience. Um, visually branding wise, I was staying very true to myself. I was consistently offering value, so I think content-wise like it was all there. The foundations were there. Um, I do think that, you know, what really blew up for me was like, Black Lives Matter summer, everyone calls it. I mean, that was when I was getting shared and featured and shout it out, which is like something I feel very controversial about like that being what really boosted my growth. Um, but I think the foundations of why that did is because I feel like I really go from like a community standpoint first. So I feel like I’ve been trying to foster so many great relationships. Like with Later, for example, it wasn’t that like Later all of a sudden was like, “Hey, we’re going to like, you’re going to speak for us and write for us and do all these things.” Like I’ve been tagging Later for years, we’ve been having a few DM conversations.

I’ve been telling them if they ever need someone, if you ever need someone. So I think it was like all those, like roots. That I was kind of planting of just like connection points and, and networking and creating those connections and just trying to be very authentic to myself, made it where, when it was that time to put a spotlight on someone, everyone just like put it on me.

And it was like very humbling and an honor, but I think it was like, I was just kind of doing the things that I would do when I’m at that next level before I was even there.

Galen: Yeah, I love that. So you were like being that next level business owner acting that part. And like you mentioned, I think you did have such a strong foundation. Like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more branded feed than your feed on Instagram, that yellow color, just like it shines. And so it’s so fun to see that.

And, and like you mentioned, you. Put in all the legwork of being top of mine. So when people were saying, I want to support black creators and I want to support, um, people that I love and follow and care about, like you were right there in their head, because they’d been thinking about you all along. This was just people’s chance to really say like, Other people need to know about you because your content is so good.

And then I think another thing that happened in, um, I guess, I guess it was 2020, it wasn’t 2020 is that Reels came out. Right? So that changed everything because this completely, uh, completely destroyed or enhanced. How you think of like the Instagram algorithm we had this kind of like before Reels, how you got found on Instagram and now there’s an after Reels of how that’s changed the Instagram landscape. So what does that look like? Cause you’ve completely, uh, like you’ve just done so amazing with this and you did, I did your 30 Day Reels Challenge. Um, so yeah, it’s just so cool to see how that’s changed Instagram as a platform.

Natasha: Yeah, definitely. And I want to like circle back before we talk a little about Reels is about the point you made of like when I was a social media manager and it’s so hard as marketers to market yourself as a business. I think if I would have delayed prioritizing my marketing, I would not have seen that growth and success because I think like, I think virality is very. It’s rare.

It happens. It’s not predictable. Um, but I think what makes it, where you can keep that momentum is when all those new eyes were on my profile. They’re like, wow, she’s been doing this for a while. She’s not new. This isn’t like a new thing for her. Like I was consistently doing lives, seriously creating content.

And so I think that’s definitely something to kind of note is if you’re waiting to, like, I need to have thousands of followers to go live, or I need to do this to start showing up this way on Instagram and showing up on stories. There’s only 50 people watching me. It doesn’t matter. You can start now because when you do get those eyeballs on your account, like you got to have the content there. You want people to stay around, essentially not just bounce off your account. So, um, I feel like that was definitely something we kind of like hinted on and, and chatted about, but with Reels, um, I feel like it was in February when the pandemic came out, you know, Tik Tok was trending and I hopped on Tik Tok, like a lot of us and I was strictly on it.

I was like, this is for research. Which now is not the case. I’m on there for leisure now, but I went on to Tik Tok and I was like, this is for research because knowing Instagram, there is going to be a Tik Tok feature on Instagram. So I was just understanding this new type of content, this micro content, the way the comment section works the way going viral worked.

And it was just so interesting to me. So when Reels came out, I was like, Oh, my gosh, this is what I’ve been waiting for. Like I knew it was going to come. And so I think, I didn’t know what it was going to be like. And so I just started posting and experimenting and just seeing what has happened on Tik Tok happen on Instagram.
Like the same amount of organic reach and engagement and the way people were consuming that content that was seen to be only for young people and, and not for everyone. Um, but it really was appealing to a wide audience, I think was just so interesting. And, and like you mentioned, the 30 Day Reels Challenge, that was like an even bigger experiment. And Bree and I were like, let’s just host a 30 day challenge and then 2000 people were like, yeah, we’re going to join you.

And we’re like, okay, sure. We don’t know we’re talking about what we’re going to figure it all out together. So it kind of just became this big experiment where I feel like I was really able to like, see Reels grow, and grow with Reels. And it’s just become one of my favorite parts of Instagram. And I can’t wait to see how almost at coming up on it’s year birthday, like how it’s going to continue to evolve.

Galen: Yeah, I just want to say, I feel like this has just been a theme throughout our conversation is how willing you are to just experiment in business and not need things to be perfect. And not need to see the whole plan or the whole long-term, you know, effects of something just to be able to dive in and try it and see how it goes.

And I think that is something that, you know, so much of your success probably comes from is just your willingness to say, you know what, I don’t really know how this is going to work, or if this is going to be beneficial or how, how this fits into my overall strategy, but you’re like, I’m going to try it and just like, see how it feels and then pivot and go from there.
Does that kind of feel like how you sort of, uh, attach different things or new things that have come up in business?

Natasha: Yeah, definitely. I think that. Fear can just hold you so, so much back as an entrepreneur in so many different journeys and I’m afraid all the time, but I think that I’ve realized that to grow as an entrepreneur, to even grow on Instagram. I think it applies to both. Is that like stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new is often how you’ll see those results. Like I remember when I used to have my very organized puzzle grid, um, I remember was super resistant to go away from that grid. I was like, what do people on follow me? What do people do this? But now thinking of my Instagram now, I it’s, it is kind of a big experiment I’m testing and, and having fun with it.

And I think not enough people are doing it because we’re worried about, are we going to make money from it? Are we going to get more engagement from it? Are we going to get this. You know, result that’s deemed as being successful when like, why not just try it and it, and learn from it. Like just an experiment is sometimes just a learning lesson.

Like I always, I always love to share my first course launch that I did. I was so excited. I poured my heart out into this course and it made $0. $0 on launch week. I was like feeling myself. I was like, I launched a course. I launched a course and everyone was like, I feel like I would have been heartbroken to do all this work on a course and make no sales, but I literally just thought about it.

I, I did the hardest part, which was making the course. And then I did the second hardest part, which was figuring out what was wrong with the launch. And that’s why I feel like I’m pretty good at launching now is because I failed, failed quote, unquote at launching then. So I kind of think of like those failures and experiments and those ebbs and flows is like kind of the best ways to get data from your journey.

Galen: Yeah. Instead of looking at, as a failure, looking at it as like a learning opportunity and thinking about how you can apply that to what you do next. So when was that first course launch?

Natasha: Yes. So I was, oh my gosh. Back in, it was like, I was finishing up my first year in business. So it was like in 2018, I think. Yeah.

Galen: Yeah, I think too so many times when you remove the fear from something, you can actually have a lot more fun with it. Cause it doesn’t have to be so serious when you don’t have to be afraid of the results because you’re not attached to the results you’re attached to the journey and how, how you got there.

Um, so that’s so wonderful that you’ve been able to take that experience and then kind of iterate on it and figure out, okay, what am I going to do next? How am I going to try this again? And you don’t have to like start from scratch. You get to take all that knowledge that you’ve gained over the years and put that towards future projects.

Um, so with Reels, let’s go back to Reels and just, and Instagram in general in 2021, I feel like my biggest struggle with Instagram is that I started my account. Maybe in 2016 or 2017, at least the account I have now. And then I kind of ghosted all my Instagram followers for awhile. Like I think I was really active for a year or two, and then I kind of dropped off the face of the earth for like a year or so.

Um, and my engagement tanked after taking that time off. And I think a lot of my older followers are, um, are just, you know, people who either aren’t active on Instagram anymore, because again, it’s been years and I’m, I’ve been posting consistently. And I definitely think I’ve seen a huge comeback of that engagement, but what would you say are some ways to help re-engage a colder Instagram audience?

Because I think engagement is a big factor in the algorithm, right?

Natasha: Right. And I think engagement it’s important to understand different types of engagement. So I think shareable content is really great. So think of what is something that people are going to find like. They love so much that they want other people to see them. I think that’s a really great way to get in like using your internal community to get in front of like almost clones of them, you know, their followers, their friends.

Um, so I think focusing on shareable content is really valuable and saveable content is just high value. What is something that is. So much value that people read and they want to revisit, or they’re so inspired by that they want to revisit later. Um, I find that when it comes to feed posts, if my posts have, those are really great comment and sections, um, that is kind of something.

And I think with the content, it’s just really clear, um, really value driven and I think value can look like a lot of different things. It can mean. Aspiring your audience by sharing a story, it can mean kind of being a little bit more entertaining, which I feel like is kind of where reels come in, or it can mean like educating people and teach them how to do this, how to see a transformation.

So I think breaking down your content into those things really helps with engagement. Um, I also feel like stories are great for this. I love using stickers on my stories, um, to make it more of a two-way conversation versus just speaking at people. So invite them to be a part of it, ask what they think about it.

Um, and that’s really going to give you those reactions and those replies to get kind of more of that engagement. Um, I also feel like lives. I love lives. I think they definitely had a moment last year and I don’t see them going out anytime soon as I feel like, um, when it comes to engagement the rep more regularly do lives.
And when you’re doing Q and A’s and when you’re doing trainings and you’re, you’re seeing the comments come in and like you’re engaging with people live on a video. I mean, it’s like the best way to engage because versus posting something and getting the engagement afterwards, you’re getting that back and forth conversation there.

So I’d say, and it may be, it comes down to experimenting and figuring out what type of content resonates with the type of value you want to offer, or what type of content really resonates with the people that you’re wanting to attract, because to your point, I’m sure I’ve outgrown followers. And then that’s a natural ebb and flow of Instagram.

So like really kind of auditing what are the people we want to reach. And how does that look? Um, but I’d say those are definitely some things that have really helped. To me kind of be value focused to get the types of engagement that is pretty high for someone that has a higher amount of followers, because they always say it dips right after 10,000.

Um, so I think those a few tips have definitely helped me.

Galen: Yeah, I think that’s really true too. And I think for me, at least, Just committing to being consistent because when I first started back, it was so discouraging to see like I’m finally back on the platform and Instagram is like, Hey, you’ve been gone for a while. And your followers kind of forgot about you to, now that I’ve been, I think 2020 was like my year to really show up.

To start showing up consistently. And I did it and for me, I saw a huge increase in that engagement. And I feel like I’m pretty much back to where I was. Um, but it was hard in the beginning to stay consistent when I wasn’t really sure it was going to pay off. And now I would say a good portion of my clients come from Instagram too.

So that’s, that’s really exciting in terms of Reels. Because I think this has really rocked so many people’s worlds. They were just getting confident on stories, just figuring out how to go live, what type of content to create. And now there’s this whole new form of content that feels really different.

Cause there’s lots of dancing and pointing and coming out of your comfort zone and sharing different things. So what kind of content have you seen be really, um, helpful on Reels or work be really successful on Reels and how should introverts, uh, how should introverts. Look at creating a real strategy for their business.

Natasha: Definitely. And I first want to say the dancing, the pointing is you totally don’t have to do it and you totally can do it. Um, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to use Reels because even though it’s very much emulating Tik Tok, I think it’s still very much this new grounds that we’re all figuring out.

Um, my biggest, biggest, biggest tip for Reels is treat them like a story, like an Instagram story, because I think we think of the music and the voiceovers and all the clips and the transitions, and maybe just simplifying it is actually going to be easier for you to create, because you’re familiar with talking to camera and, you know, short sequences.

But I find that it kind of helps me stand out on Reels. I’d say that’s like 50% of the Reels that I create are just talking to camera, giving value, showing something. So I would experiment with how can, like the way you show up on stories, maybe be translated into a shorter, more compact, um, Reel. I think like the perfect formula for filming those types of Reels start with like a hook, like a really strong hook of like why they should be watching what they can expect next, keep it under five seconds and then give ’em maybe one really big tip or break it down into maybe three little separate tips or steps or whatever it is. 

And then kind of ending off in, in some way, whether it’s a call to action to read the caption, I love using a caption to kind of build more value to a Reel, because of course it’s very, very short and it’s it’s really hard to get used to telling a story or giving a ton of value in such a short period of time, but I kind of love using it. It’s so, so hard. And I think Reels is a really great way to make you a better speaker or a better video creator. But if you’re struggling to keep everything in that 15, 30 seconds, right.

It’s just trying to use the caption to kind of bring, like, use the video, to bring people in, to position yourself as an expert, and then really just go in, in the caption and offer even more value in like a micro blog style, um, Reel, and that’s kind of the format that I’ve been doing, or just keeping it.

Super simple with like a voiceover or maybe a song or a trend that you’re really, really resonating and apply it to your business. And then, you know, think of maybe how you can use the caption to add even more value there. But I think talking to camera’s like such an easy way to show up on Reels that I don’t think enough people are using.

Galen: Yeah. And I think for me, I had a really hard time getting on the Reels trend bandwagon, because for me it felt so unnatural to take somebody else’s audio or somebody else’s video. And I felt like I was copying them, but then you sort of like, if you’re on Tik Tok you realize like, that is literally the entire point of Tik Tok, not the entire point, but like, it’s all about finding videos that you like and like taking that audio.

And I was like, this feels so unnatural to me. I want to create something new and different, and it’s like, that’s actually a really easy way to come up with Reels topics is to see what other fun things are maybe going on in an industry outside of yours. And then being like, how can I tweak this a little bit or make it a better fit for me?

Cause I’ve seen a lot of people in the business space do that. And I think it works well. Have you found that trends like hopping on those trends makes a big impact in your overall reach?

Natasha: Yeah, I think trends definitely do. I think two factors there is. Yes. Definitely making sure you’re making it relevant to your industry and your niche. I think doing a trend is fine, but if you can tie it into Instagram strategy, video tips, like that’s what I do. I think that’s the important part. And I think also understanding the trends. I think I often maybe see someone doing a trend and maybe it’s not performing as well as they’d like to because the, maybe you don’t like get it. Like they don’t get what’s funny or they don’t get the timing or the voiceovers, not just right. And I don’t want that to hold you back from using those trends, but I think it’s important to use the ones that maybe resonate and feel really natural and easy. Like, I’d say like, um, like the funny talking trends where you’re using like a funny talking, like, those don’t always resonate with me, but like a simple sound that I can kind of use, um, like video, like movements or emotions with resonates a lot more. So I think like there’s so many different ways to do it, but I think even if you’re not using Tik Tok as a platform to market on.

I think it’s great for research. I think I get so inspired just by going on Tik Tok and hearing different sounds and seeing different video editing formats. And I think the Reels feed is a really great place to start there as well.

Galen: Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great point. Use is still using technology because I have to be careful and I’m definitely going to implement the tip. You gave me about app restrictions because I get that message on Tik Tok. That tells me I’ve been watching for too long and I should go take a break. Literally, I delete the app, I reinstall it.

And then I ended up spending way too much time and I have to delete it altogether again, but having like limitations and using that for inspiration is, is a great tip. But I’ll definitely keep doing that. Um, I know Instagram is your platform of choice, but you mentioned having this massive growth in 2020 and some growing pains along the way.

So what else are you working on in 2021? What other, um, marketing strategies or things are you going to focus on to grow your business?

Natasha: Yeah, I’m definitely working on being more consistent with email marketing. I think whenever I’ve done launches or anything along those sorts, I think the inbox is so sacred and it’s such a great place to connect with your people. Um, and there’s no algorithm to get by, which is great. Um, so I’d say email marketing is definitely a priority, um, and kind of thinking of how I can repurpose and use a lot of the great content that I’m using on it and how can I use it in an email? How can I use it in a blog post and then use it on Pinterest? So that’s kind of been like a big focus. Um, I would love to use Clubhouse a little bit more consistently. I know that’s its own tangent, but, um, I think it’s a really great place for growth right now. I think it’s a great place for really great conversations.

I love the live video style. I love audio like podcasts. So I think there’s a lot of promise there. Um, and those are kind of the main focuses that we’ve been working on marketing wise and, and one big shift is moving away from a live launch model for my courses, but now to evergreen course launches. So I’m where there’s kind of just a funnel, you know, nurturing and selling to people.

So definitely some experimenting going on there, but we’re excited to see how it goes.

Galen: That’s so much fun. Yeah. I, I’m in the same process of kind of turning things back on evergreen again, cause that’s definitely, definitely the goal. Um, for those of you listening, Natasha also has a podcast. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Natasha: Yeah. So the Shine Online podcast. Um, really is just for having really great conversations with my friends and people that I connect with on Instagram about topics like marketing business, Instagram, and also topics like mental health and burnout and in different things like that. So kind of have some conversational episodes there and then a few solo episodes too, which that’s a huge goal.

I’d love to go up to weekly episodes eventually with the podcast and get it supporting itself. I just love podcasting. It’s just such a fun way to connect with people and, and have really great conversations and be with you wherever you go, whether you’re in the car or on a walk or at the gym or wherever you’re at.
So yeah, definitely love podcasting for sure.

Galen: Yeah, it is such a wonderful platform. And I love listening to podcasts and I feel like I really know the people whose podcasts I listened to. So there’s that real deep connection that you form there that you could form with so many people that you’ve never met before, but you feel really close to them just by hearing their voice in your ear. Yeah. It’s really amazing. And just all the ways you can connect, especially with 2020 being so socially isolating, like, I am very thankful that I have a community in the online space because that’s one way that I was able to kind of maintain some level of social engagement and interaction in a year where it was taken away.

So, um, yeah. Tell us, uh, how we can work with you, learn more about you, find all the things about you online.

Natasha: Yes, absolutely. So, uh, definitely the best place to hang out is on Instagram, @shinewithnatasha . Um, and then I have my podcast, the Shine Online podcast, and then, um, any courses, resources and goodies will be on my website at shinewithnatasha.com.

Galen: Wonderful. Definitely go follow her on Instagram. Her content is phenomenal and you will love her Reels. Natasha, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Natasha: Thank you so much. This was so fun.

About Natasha

Natasha is the host of The Shine Online Podcast and an Instagram Strategist that helps small businesses shine online. Through intensive strategy days, digital resources and education, Natasha helps you build your brand on the ‘Gram with a video strategy that is fulfilling and fun without the overwhelm.

Follow Natasha on Instagram here.

Listen to The Shine Online Podcast here.

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