Confessions of An Instagram Influencer – How to Grow Your Personal Brand15 min read


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Instagram influencers are a hot topic in the news these days, especially with all the latest changes from the platform. The world is wondering how the typical influencer will survive the platform hiding likes or weight loss and cosmetic surgery product posts from young viewers, and even questioning whether they’re a positive or negative addition to Instagram.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get the scoop on what it’s really like inside the world of influencer marketing – and what it means to stand out from the crowd with radical authenticity.

That’s why I sat down for an interview with influencer Chloe Alysse to talk about growing a personal brand, reaching success on Instagram – and what life as an Instagram influencer is really like.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to break into the world of influencer marketing, or how to grab visibility, website traffic and maybe even some collaborations, dive into this interview!

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Chlo & Clothes | Chloe Alysse (@chloealysse) on

You’ll love Chloe’s fun, fresh perspective, and the authenticity with which she approaches her life on Instagram. Plus, she has some killer tips on how to build your personal brand on the platform that you don’t want to miss!

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How did you get started as a style blogger and Instagram influencer?

Chloe: It all started last summer when I discovered this whole world of ethical fashion that I had no idea about! I ran a vintage resale account for a few weeks before shipping got the best of me. I’m not cut out for that! 🚫📦

However, as I began to find vintage shops and bloggers, I realized there’s this whole niche of people who promote small business and ethical fashion brands. That inspired me to start blogging, which eventually led to brand collaborations! 

How hard was it for you to enter an already established space on Instagram as a brand new blogger?

Chloe: I’ve been able to learn a lot of what I do from other Instagram style bloggers and their success. I think anytime you find a greater community of people doing similar things to you, it’s something you should embrace and not be afraid of.

When you build connections with existing Instagram influencers in your space, their followers and people with similar interests who might already follow these larger accounts will be able to find you. And if Instagram is showing their posts to people, Instagram will show your posts, too!

“The competition can be intimidating, but if other accounts are succeeding while doing what you’re doing, that means there is a market. People are interested!”

Let’s talk about growth on Instagram. You went from 0 followers to over 25,000 in under a year! How did you do it?

Chloe: I think it has a lot to do with time management. I had a disciplined strategy early on with how I was spending my time on Instagram. The most important thing for me is to make sure I’m doing what’s healthy for me and protecting my mental health on Instagram. I’ve always had timers set for an hour when I’m in the app, even when I was first growing.

It’s important to make sure that you’re not draining yourself because this is the long game! It takes commitment. The more you can go into your Instagram strategy fresh-minded and feeling good, not like it’s a burden, the better ideas you’ll have and the more creative you’re going to feel. 

Let’s face it: Planning a social media post or strategy can be really overwhelming because it feels like you have to do everything at once. I’ve been doing this for a while and if I had to do all of that in a short time frame EVERY TIME I POST, I would burn out. Pressure from social media, especially on Instagram looking at other influencers, can really affect your mental health. It’s important to take care of yourself!

That’s so interesting! How do you typically spend your hour in the app?

Chloe: I try to plan for the next week and break up tasks to make it more manageable. For example, on day one, I’ll take my outfit photos for the week and maybe capture a few extras to stockpile for a rainy day. On day two, I’ll work on captions. Telling a story, adding a strong CTA and planning out my hashtags (use Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder – it’s amazing!)

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On day three, I’ll take some time to research other influencers, blogs or brands that are doing things I like. If I’m inspired by an idea, I’ll use it and tag the account it came from with a shoutout! It’s actually brought a lot of big accounts and Instagram style influencers onto my little baby account to engage, which is really cool! 

On day four, I’ll upload it all into Tailwind and get it all planned out and queued up to post.

I also try to make sure I’m available for the first 5-10 minutes after a post goes live so that I can engage with comments in real-time. I keep comment notifications on so I see them on my phone and can respond right away. This is really good to do because you can acknowledge your followers right away and even keep that conversation going to improve your engagement! 

Any time you’re in the app, at least some of your time should be spent engaging with your followers. It really helps if you have a platform to manage your schedule and save time when posting so you can focus on that engagement!

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Any other words of wisdom to share on guarding your time on Instagram?

Chloe: I would say, always spend more time creating and planning because that is the most important thing. When I see people start to really struggle is when creating and planning takes a dive and the time in the app responding and engaging increases.

It can be draining to spend all your time engaging and not feel like you’re seeing the success you want!

And just remember, this whole thing is about doing what you love in your business, or your blog or you want to promote this thing you’re passionate about. Just take care of yourself.

Speaking of followers, you have a really engaged following on Instagram. How did you build that loyalty?

Chloe: I really focused on building a strong community of followers. The community aspect is really what gets me excited and what keeps me coming back to social. If you focus on building that, the numbers will come!

In fact, that beginning period when you’re still growing is when to focus on building that community. It might feel silly if it’s just you and a few people, but you know what, that’s where everybody starts and that’s the most special time to build it! After you grow a larger following, it gets harder to interact with everyone.

Building that relationship relies on steady engagement, so it’s important to set a standard. If you’re asking your followers to comment on your posts, set the standard that you’re going to respond to them or even if you can’t respond to every single one individually (because your account is larger), you’re responding in some way.

The community aspect is really important for engagement, but as an Instagram influencer with an actual blog, it’s also really useful to get traffic to my site!

Do you tend to stick to only topics that your followers historically engage with, and how have you figured out what that is?

Chloe: It varies DRASTICALLY, and sometimes I’ll really miss the mark. I’ll post a photo to my feed that gets very little engagement. Or I’ll ask a question in Stories that gets very few responses!

On the flip side, I’m often surprised by what gets people engaging. Sometimes it’s completely unrelated to style, like a question I asked about a TV show! 

It’s a delicate balance sticking to your niche but also genuinely sharing your interests. I try to do a mix of both. And often, my audience has zero interest in something non-style related that I share, but then again sometimes they have no interest in my style content that day!

I’ve learned to be patient and also how to test topics out, and Stories are a great way to test out new content or topics before sharing them on the Feed.

Have you found it at all difficult to turn your followers on Instagram into blog readers?

Chloe: It’s really hard to move people from the platform onto another since most people who are on Instagram want to stay there. The relationship you build with your followers makes all the difference when driving traffic to your blog!

It’s important to really speak to topics your followers will really want to learn more about, as well as making it as easy as possible for them to find that content!

I do this through Link in Stories, and through my Link in Bio tool. I was really lucky to have been one of the first testers for smart.bio by Tailwind, and it’s honestly been a game-changer!

Smart.bio by Tailwind - screenshot of Instagram Influencer Chloe Alysses landing page

I was using another tool before I signed up to be a beta tester for smart.bio, and I was only getting about a 40-50% click-through rate on any of my links. When I switched over, my CTR shot up to 70%, and my email newsletter signup has been off the charts, as well as visits to my affiliate posts!

I think that’s in part because it’s so unique and visually appealing – I’ve never seen another link in bio tool that allows both static links and image posts links. Plus it’s MY photos and MY colors – it doesn’t look like anyone else’s!

Speaking of affiliate posts, how do your followers feel about your sponsored posts and brand collabs as an Instagram influencer?

Chloe: My audience has always seen me promote affiliate links (I’ve ALWAYS been upfront about that, and I often remind my followers of what’s legal and what’s not when disclosing affiliate links), and I think they respect that I don’t try to hide anything.

I see a lot of people complain about sponsored posts and how “inauthentic” they feel. Frankly, I think the issue is that it’s a female-dominated industry and women are often criticized for their financial successes. 

Here’s the deal: I was spending a lot of time creating content and building a blog, I wanted to be compensated for it! So monetizing was something I did early on.

What’s your approach to vetting brand collaborations or deciding if a partnership is right for you as an influencer?

Chloe: I have a standard response when brands reach out to me that goes something along the lines of, ‘If you want to send a gift, I don’t guarantee exposure. Please let me know if you’d like to see my media kit!’

It’s incredibly disheartening how many brands try to convince me to work for free (and can be so rude about it!). In what other industry would a company be able to receive advertising at no cost?

So, if you’re a brand, I recommend building long-term partnerships with influencers who represent your values. I have a few brands I’ve worked with since the beginning, and we have a great relationship. I genuinely look forward to sharing their new releases with my followers. 

If you’re an influencer or hoping to be one, remember that your time is valuable and the work you’ve done creating a platform is impressive. You might not be paid much at first, but it’s important to be paid for the work you do. 

Authenticity and staying true to yourself is really important to you. Has there ever been a time when you’ve turned down an opportunity because it just wasn’t you?

Chloe: Brands often email me about sales, and other Instagram influencers are always sharing affiliate links to these sales in their Stories. I used to worry that it would impact my bottom line if I skipped out on these posts.

I had to do some self-examination and come to terms with the fact that I’m just not a sale shopper. I LOVE a good sale, don’t get me wrong, but I also don’t like to purchase something just because it’s on sale. Because of that, it didn’t really feel natural for me to keep up with those types of posts.

Plus, I had ZERO fun finding my affiliate link, screenshotting products and creating posts about them! It felt less impactful than crafting a blog post that might feature the same information in a useful way, which is something that I love. 

I think a lot of other bloggers enjoy featuring their sales and affiliate links, but it just wasn’t life-giving for me. So I just stopped, and I’m really glad I did.

That is so powerful and ties perfectly into your authentic brand. You’ve done a great job of building your personal brand on Instagram, especially visually. How did you decide on your Instagram aesthetic?

Chloe: Early on, I was obsessed with finding a consistent aesthetic for my Feed. But I was also experimenting with locations and presets a lot to find something that worked for me! Throughout this process, I discovered that having an aesthetic was important, but having an Instagram aesthetic that worked for ME was even more important.

I needed a preset that worked in the indoor locations that I take my photos. Most presets seem to work best for outdoor shots, so I actually made my own preset.

It took months for me to get it just right, but I definitely didn’t wait until it was perfect to share it on my Feed. In fact, I shared photos I wasn’t sure about often and took note of how those photos were received. There was one point where I started making my photos “warmer” and noticed a jump in engagement! 

I try to take my photos in the same spot for every two out of three photos. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, but that’s my core model.

I also like to plan my feed and see how my next few posts are going to look next to each other with Tailwind’s 9-Grid Preview! For example, I don’t like two portraits close together. Sometimes I’ll do one close up and one far away.

9-Grid Preview in Tailwind- Instagram Influencer Interview
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I’m really happy with the ease of my aesthetic. It allows me to post frequently and stay connected with little pressure!

You recently announced a pretty monumental rebrand to your followers, from a style blog under @chloandclothes to a larger lifestyle blog under your name, @chloealysse. Can you tell us about the reason for your rebrand?

Chloe: When I first created Chlo & Clothes, I didn’t put much thought into the name and purpose. I really just wanted to play around with having an online secondhand shop! However, it eventually turned into a style account, which eventually launched my blog. As I got closer to my one year anniversary, I realized that Chlo & Clothes wasn’t something I could see myself maintaining long-term.

My brand couldn’t grow with me — it was static. I posted my outfits every day. That was it. I didn’t have a mission or a purpose behind the work I was doing, and I was getting burned out.

At the beginning of the summer, I started feeling an urge to switch things up. During the warm seasons, I’m not usually that into style! I want to be outside getting sweaty and enjoying the sunshine.

I found myself reading and exercising much more than planning outfits and wanted to create a new space where I could be more creative and try new things!

Ultimately, I want the Chloe Alysse brand to be living and breathing as I explore and grow. I love finding the magic in the mundane of life, and I want my blog and Instagram to reflect that. ✨

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