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    How to Build Your Brand on Instagram with Sydney Norberg

    How to Build Your Brand on Instagram | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    If you’re trying to build your brand on Instagram, you know it’s not an easy feat. Success doesn’t happen overnight for the vast majority of us, unless you’re some kind of celebrity (in that case, congrats). Behind every perfectly staged photo is a person (or people!) with a plan. And if you ask those people, they’ll tell you strategy is key for growth.

    I met Sydney Norberg, an Orlando-based photographer and owner of Sydney Marie Photography, through Instagram nearly three years ago. Not only is she one of the most creative and kindest people I know, but she’s also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the mysterious world of Instagram (she’s even launching her own mentorship program, #captionandcreate, April 1!).

    She taught me to look at my profile in a more strategic way. By implementing some of her tips, I was able to grow my Instagram account exponentially in the past year. I reached out to her to see if she’d be willing to share some of her wisdom with you, and she happily accepted (because she’s awesome, duh).

    Read our interview below!

    Hi, Sydney! Tell us a little about yourself.

    I love taking photos and making people feel beautiful in photographs! I love adventuring around new cities and eating tacos (with a side of diet coke, please). At the age of 18, I started my photography business and jumped into wedding photography in 2016! Because of Instagram, I have been able to establish my brand in the city of Orlando and have had the opportunity to create content for awesome brands like Fossil, UberEATS and American Eagle!

    How long have you been on Instagram?

    Oh man, I think I’ve been on Instagram since I was 17. But, I started cultivating a specific look at the end of 2015.

    What encouraged you to use Instagram as a professional tool?

    As I was looking for inspiration and other successful photographers around the US early on in my photog journey, I noticed how each account was used as a portfolio for them. Just by scrolling through my feed, I knew who each photographer was because of the specific style they portrayed in their photos. That’s when I made the decision to focus on branding myself on Instagram as well.

    Why do you think it’s so important to build a personal brand on Instagram?

    Social media is such a major part of our generation. It’s a way to present yourself to people you’ve never even met (a.k.a. potential clients!). As a photographer, I want my clients, my friends, my community to know what I’m about, even if they haven’t met me in person. So, I use each photo, each edit and caption to portray my personality and passions. I feel my goal has been accomplished when I meet people that following on Instagram and they say, “You’re just like I thought you’d be!”

    Cause a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

    How to Build Your Brand on Instagram | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Creating a cohesive feed is crucial to attracting new followers. How do you plan your content? What types of locations/images do you look for?

    So when planning my feed, I put some things into account (and it hasn’t always been this way!). I’ve noticed a recent pattern of the people who follow me – teen girls, Orlandians, creatives, photographers, bloggers, and some of my clients) – so I post for them. I know the teens and Orlandians like seeing new places and shops to check out when they’re in town. I know the creatives and photographers want to see my work and photography style. And, I know my clients want to get to know me personally before hiring me as their wedding photographer.

    I also created a private Instagram account to plan my grid a bit more. This way you have a chance to see what is pleasing to the eye, what stands out and what should possibly be deleted. I highly suggest doing that — it’s a life changer!

    How has Instagram helped you land opportunities with companies/brands?

    Instagram is a huge market for brands these days. It’s an easy way for them to get their product out to potential buyers within seconds even. With that in mind, I always make sure that I am professionally presenting myself through my Instagram. And I believe from that, brands easily know who I am, know what I do and understand the content I will provide – ultimately, deciding if it matches up with their style/brand.

    What are your go-to photo editing apps?

    VSCO – 100%!

    Networking online is just as important as it is IRL. What tips do you have for someone who is looking to network through Instagram and build lasting relationships?

    I’ve met some of my closest friends through Instagram! Actually, found Natalie herself through a hashtag! (It’s true guys, she did!)

    If I had any tips to give, I’d say just be yourself & truly care about what your “insta-friends” are doing! Comment, like, share their stuff, email them, go to the link in their bio! Support & show how much you just love what they are doing & the work their putting out!

    You’ve had many of your images shared by brands with large followings. What tips would you give someone who is looking for opportunities for exposure?

    If you are looking to be “re-posted” or noticed by a specific brand or audience, the only advice I would give is – create the content they want to see. If your content/vibe alines with theirs, there is a great chance you will be noticed by them!

    What advice would you give someone who is interested in building their following on Instagram? What methods helped you grow?

    This has honestly been a tricky one for me. Followers do not make sense to me, unfortunately! I have some friends that have been reposted a few times & have gotten over 5-6k followers in a year. I have other friends that put out constant, beautiful work but have only grown around 1-2k in a year. I’ve realized though, that engagement is key! Personally, I focus on making my engagement stronger, know my specific audience (even if it isn’t 20k).
    P.S. if you want to know your engagement percentage, type in your handle on

    You’re launching a mentoring project called #captionandcreate. Why do you think people should sign up for this? What are you hoping to teach them?

    I am SO excited about #captionandcreate! This project has been a developing idea of mine for about a year now, so I’m thrilled to finally be opening registration April 1st!

    #captionandcreate is a one on one mentorship. It’s a way for you to sit down & really evaluate how you want to portray your brand on Instagram. And ask yourself: Who is your perfect or potential client? What is your mission? And how is it unique among other brands?

    I’ve also included a fun E-book (the #captionandcreate Tips & Tricks Guide) with current statistics & recommendations on how to further your brand & truly stand out from the rest!

    Thank you for sharing your insight with everyone, Sydney! And thank you for reading along! 

    Advice, Career

    Quit Your Day Job and Chase Your Dreams

    If you’ve ever had a rough day at work (let’s be honest, most of us have at some point), you might find yourself dreaming of doing something different. Something that makes you feel more alive.

    But, what if you were able to turn one of your hobbies into a full-time job? Imagine waking up every day excited to do that thing you can’t imagine not doing.

    The good news is it doesn’t have to be this distant, unattainable goal. With hard work, determination and a little faith in yourself, you can make your dream a reality.

    And if you don’t believe it, just ask my friend, Autumn Theodore. She knows a thing or two about quitting a day job to chase a dream. She did it.

    After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in International Studies, Autumn worked in marketing roles before venturing out to start her own photography business, Autumn Theodore Photography.

    I sat down with her to talk about finding your passion and having the guts to chase your dreams, even when it seems scary. Read our interview below:

    What sparked your interest in photography?

    I was in college when a friend of mine let me play around with her Canon DSLR camera, and it was love at first click! I started thinking that when I had a “real job,” I’d buy my own when I could afford it. Two years later, I did buy my own camera – but to just use for fun. In less than 10 months, people were paying me for photography so frequently that I decided to build a website. The website, in my opinion, was the launch of my business. (August 15, 2012!)

    Quitting Your Day Job to Chase Your Dreams with Autumn Theodore | | Life and Affordable Style Blog

    When did you realize you wanted to pursue your passion full time?

    I remembered thinking that it was the most fun side hustle I could ever have. But I truly thought I’d never be able to leave my day job. It just seemed too hard. Too scary. But then I started spending lots of time with other people who were entrepreneurial, business-minded, strong, kickass people.

    And then I met Adam Lehman of The Wonder Jam, and he became my business coach. I told him I wanted to quit my day job before I turned 30 (which was 14 months away at the time) – and he said that was no problem at all.

    This was shocking to me, and I didn’t really believe him. But then after a few coaching sessions, I really believed him, and in turn, believed in myself. It didn’t take 14 months…it took four (to tell my boss I was leaving) and another four before I walked out the door of a corporate job for the last time. (And I’m still in my 20s!)

    Did you receive any negative comments from family and/or friends along the way? If so, how did you respond?

    Family has never been a problem – they are blindly supportive of what I do and I couldn’t be more grateful. Friends have never been a problem either – they’ve been so understanding and helpful. To be honest, I don’t get a lot of negative comments.

    Luckily, the things that do bother me are things I can fix by educating people on what it means to be a photographer/entrepreneur. Rude comments are usually made by people who are 1) negative always, not just to me, or 2) uneducated on the thing they’re talking about.

    Did you experience self-doubt before making the jump? How did you convince yourself to keep going?

    At some point, I jumped quickly from lots of self-doubt to no self-doubt, and I was actually a bit scared because I thought I needed to feel more self-doubt! Like lots of other people my age, I have a large amount of student loan debt which made me feel handcuffed to my day job. When I realized that all I needed were excellent processes and kindness to have a successful business, I wasn’t scared anymore. (By the way, processes + kindness = referrals. I’ve never done any marketing, and I don’t ever plan to.)

    What has been your proudest moment so far?

    It’s so funny because I don’t often feel pride. I’m kind of just in awe of the fact that I’m my own boss and I get to have fun every single day doing what I love, taking time for myself, and seeing friends and family more often. But there are two things I’m proud of, come to think of it: 1) working 7 days a week for 8 months straight prior to leaving my day job (this was hard, but it was necessary), and 2) landing a photography contract with Ohio State, my lovely alma mater.

    What advice would you give your 25-year-old self, knowing what you know now?

    On my 25th birthday, I’d say, “You’re going to start a photography business two months from today. It’s going to be fun and hard and rewarding and frustrating. But if you work hard (because it’s not just photography, it’s also web design, accounting, legal, education, marketing, publicity, copywriting, graphic design, and customer service), you’ll get to leave your day job and be your own boss. I know it seems hard right now, but keep going. Keep meeting people. Keep being kind. Keep learning new photography tricks. Keep figuring out who/what  inspires you. JUST. KEEP. GOING. It’s just going to take time.” And it did. :)

    What words of wisdom would you tell someone who is thinking of leaping into the unknown and chasing his/her passion?

    1) Do something you love. If you’re not certain that you love it, find something else. 2) ASK OTHERS FOR HELP. 3) Be patient. Be consistent but patient. It will take time unless you’re a biz genius in which case I want to invest! 4) Be kind. No one will want to support you or buy your product or hire you if you suck. 5) Listen to the “How I Built This” podcast for inspiration.

    Shout out to Autumn for being a true inspiration. To follow her on her journey, check her out on Instagram, Facebook and on her website