Welcome to the second episode of our new podcast: Mastering the Feed. In today’s episode, we chat with personal branding expert, Vix Meldrew, who teaches her community on a daily basis just how to create a winning personal brand on Instagram. You can listen to the podcast here, or read the full interview below!
How do you build a personal brand on Instagram?
For people who might not be familiar with you, could you introduce yourself?
So my name is Vix, and I started blogging back in 2014 whilst I was a primary school teacher which turned into sponsored blog posts and then sponsored Instagram posts. From this I started having a side hustle as a blogger.
It was at this time where I had a lot of people in my community comes to me and ask how I was getting so many brand deals when I didn’t have even 10k followers at the time. So I was getting loads of questions about how I was successfully building my blog and Instagram.
So, I started mentoring other people in the community and teaching them how I did it, how I pitched, how I negotiated brand deals, all that kind of stuff. Then, I realized my heart still lied in teaching and I still really wanted to incorporate that in what I did.
So, I took that passion for teaching and founded my community called Grow & Glow, as a community for bloggers and influencers to learn. As I shifted into a small business and shifted into a personal brand online, I found that that’s who our members were too – people who wanted to build their own personal brands on Instagram or start their own small businesses.
It’s really cool today and about the types of jobs you can do are transferrable, you don’t just have one alleyway. And, is Grow & Glow something you started on your own?
Yes, it was on my own. I think it’s interesting what you were saying as well. A lot of listeners might relate to this – you almost start building a personal brand on Instagram by accident. And what often happens is that you start posting about whatever you’re passionate about and then suddenly it starts to pick up.
Suddenly, you’ve got more followers and you can find new ways to monetize and actually start turning it from just sharing about your passions into an actual, viable business. And it’s at that point that you then start realizing what the steps were that you took to get there, and that’s very much how I started Grow & Glow and how I’ve turned it into like a teaching point.
And it’s funny, right? You do all of those early things by accident, or it feels like by accident, but then you go back and look over it and you’re like, oh no, there was actual strategy here.
It’s true what you say. And, I think it touches on this sort of thing that everyone talks about – relatability and authenticity, and sometimes just posting the content that is real to you or what you’re really interested in rather than trying to replicate someone else’s is what works.
And with that, it ties a lot into personal branding. So could you talk a little bit about how developing a personal brand on social media can be a game changer for someone?
Yes, lots of people think it is a convoluted kind of process. Really, it’s just about honing in on why you’re doing it in the first place, what you’re doing and who for. And, I completely agree with you. We’ve had so many members or people that I’ve worked with in the past who have come to me and say, “I really want to be a life coach influencer for example, and I want to be like X person so I’m going to do it like them, and this is going to be the style that I do it in.”
And then as they take our courses and as come to our trainings, these things start coming up and they realise actually, no, that’s not what’s authentic to me, and that’s not what is true to me.
And then they start changing. And then when we give them that permission to go inside and look at why you’re doing this in the first place. To me that’s what a personal brand is. It’s two things. It’s why this is your business and who it is for.
And to me, that’s what building a personal brand is all about – just going in and saying, why am I doing this in the first place? What’s it all for? And I find that sometimes on Instagram, people go on with the main goal of earning money, and see it as a career that can be had, but don’t actually tap into what we are doing it for in the first place. And then when we start butting our heads against the wall thinking there’s no content ideas, nobody’s engaging and I can’t grow – it’s because you don’t know the early parts and haven’t laid those foundations.
A lot of our users will come to us saying they struggle with what to post. It’s great advice to look at your own life situation and what’s going on and what from that you can offer. Once you’ve set yourself up, what would you say are some of your tips for translating that into engaging content that then builds a story about your brand?
Once you’ve got your niche and you know who your ideal audience is, the next stage for us is applying it in visual branding and then emotional branding. So visual branding, how are you then going to communicate your brand? Are you going for sleek and minimal because you’re a sustainability brand or you’re going for bold and modern because you want to be in people’s faces. And your message is all about gaining confidence. For example, there’s a lot of psychology that goes into visual branding that you then need to look into because that will help tell your message.
Now, when we talk about emotional branding as well, it’s about what you want your audience to feel, do you want them to be educated? Do you want them to be entertained? Do you want them to be inspired? Do you want them to feel happy when they consume your content? Do you want them to feel angry and want to change the world?
And then I feel like from that that’s when you get your voice and knowing your voice online takes ages to develop. It’s not something that you can set out and say, my voice is going to be like this on social media, unless you’re already creating and refining and creating and refining and practicing as you go.
So once those foundations are laid, then it’s about just creating content that is going back to based on what your audience needs to hear, what they’re going to find interesting, inspiring or helpful. And I do this too, I put out content that I think my audience wants to hear.
From there, I use the tools and the analytics and the results to see whether something worked or didn’t.
And when it comes to your content strategy or even any of your clients, would you say there’s something that you recommend?
So, when we talk about Instagram, for example, I look at it from a three-layer approach.
The first thing I look at is the content mediums that are available within Instagram. So we’ve got the grit, pictures, carousels, Reels, IGTV, Lives and Stories, and then looking at where you prefer, like what’s the best type of content you create mixed in with what your audience are most engaged with?
For me, I was kind of flogging the dead horse with pictures when my photography skills are not up to scratch. And I do not have an Insta husband and I do not have a photographer at my beck and call. So I was flogging for years, and then the light bulb went off and I was like, yeah, my strength is in my messaging and my teaching.
And then that’s when things absolutely took off. So the first thing we teach is, find your media. Yes, you can use every single media within Instagram, if you have the time and if you have the inclination, but there’s no harm in looking at which mediums you are better at.
As well as looking at Instagram mediums, we talk about looking at content pillars. So, within your niche, do you have 3-5 topics that you can post about regularly? Within mine, my niche on Instagram is Instagram. Within Instagram, it’s personal branding.
So yeah, we look at mediums, content pillars, and then my next level of strategy is what the objectives you want each of those pieces of content to achieve. And the way we teach it is, describing content as relatable, sponsor-able and searchable. And on Instagram nowadays, it’s more like shareable. So the relatable content is the stuff that’s going to build the relationship with you and your audience, the sponsor-able content is the stuff that a brand is going to see and go, wow, I really want to work with this person.
Nowadays we get so much content shared to us. And it’s such a thing that we’re all doing. We all want to share content to our Stories and with our friends that we need to see what content we can be posting that has a bit of that share psychology woven through it to guarantee that we’re using that aspect of Instagram to grow as well.
On that, Reels have definitely fuelled that, because it’s hard to search for a specific Reel, I mean, I struggle, but when I’m scrolling through and I find them, I will share it with my friends.
On that, there’s a lot around posting frequently and people say if you want a successful Instagram account, you have to post frequently, and regularly. Do you have any tips for people who are trying to juggle that?
It’s really difficult because we can’t lie, constant posting to Instagram grows your following. If each post brings you 20 new followers and you post twice, that’s 14 new followers, you post five times, that’s a hundred new followers.
Like that is just, how it is. But that isn’t reasonable for everyone. And like you said, so many people are juggling their personal brands or small businesses and posting on Instagram is one part of their entire business. So they don’t necessarily have the time or energy to be posting every single day or this, that, and the other.
So, what we try and say is that even if you don’t have a grid post every day, could you have something that goes out every day, whether that’s a set of Stories where you give really great info, could you do a quick live where you do a Q&A where you can minimize your content creation time. And where can you maximize it again?
A reason why I’m a massive fan of carousel posts, is because I think you can get a message and a point across. If you have a lot of carousel templates set up this is easy as opposed to having to hire a photographer and have shooting days.
And I think that’s also where Reels are a great, great shout. Because the whole point of Reels is to be quick and easy. As soon as we start doing overly curated and overly edited Reels that’s just the end of it because the whole point of them is that they are quick, easy, fast and free. So I think again, it’s just maximizing what you can do and what you can’t do.
If you have the space to post every single day, you will notice more growth. If you don’t then make sure that what you’re posting is super efficient, make sure that you’re sharing that really shareable content because that stuff when you’re having a day off, you know, people are still sharing it.
Amazing, and on that, do you have any other tips for how people can achieve organic growth?
I think that the way you grow an Instagram nowadays is your content is shared by your audience to their audience. You should also have a hashtag strategy, and you can also change your display name to be, something searchable and relatable to your content and niche.
Then the other best organic strategy is going to be by using a hashtag strategy and creating that shareable content. I see that the accounts that are growing massively and quickly, but also sustainably are the ones that utilize hashtags really well and who consistently channel out great, shareable content.
Yeah, it’s true. Because again, people search using hashtags, like you said before. Finally, how do you stay organized when you are posting your content?
I have been playing around with posting times. I am a big proponent on Instagram of just experimenting and just getting into a flow that works for you. And then when your audience is most engaged. And then I’ve got a bank of Canva templates that when my idea strikes or I have a conversation with my community and a topic arises, I can just go into my Canva. Use those templates and it’s ready to post that day. I’m also not the biggest fan of planning content months, months in advance, or even weeks in advance.
I find with Instagram that again, a lot of growth comes from being topical and talking about things that are happening that day or what are on people’s minds at that moment. And, I’ve found for myself perhaps because I’m lucky and I have the space to be able to do it, that I talked to my audience.
Amazing, well thanks so much for joining us – where could people find you if they wanted to connect?
You can reach me on Instagram, or you can find us on Grow & Glow! We post lots of really practical tips and advice for personal brand building. We give you lots of little tasks that you can go off and implement into your branding straight away.