How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create your own product” With Jessica Castaneda and Candice Georgiadis
Create your own product. Sponsored work is great, but I’ve learned the well can dry up if not enough brands like what you’re doing. When I started talking about body positivity and self love, a lot of brands stopped reaching out to me because I was pushing the opposite of what they wanted to sell (weight loss). Luckily, I was already working on my own product and was able to replace that income by selling something that I created.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Castaneda, the owner of Easy Living Today LLC and busy mother of two toddlers. She is a self proclaimed mombie that is using her business to help other mombie’s live healthier lives despite mom life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I vividly remember being seven months pregnant and working 11 hour days at a job I absolutely hated. I had to drive an hour to sit in a cubicle all day and felt like my life was just being wasted away. One day I was on Pinterest on my lunch break and kept reading all of these blogs and was like “you know what? I can do this too. If they can make money blogging, so can I.” The next day I quit my corporate job and never looked back.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
I actually have a Bachelors degree in Marketing. It has always been a passion of mine, until I was doing it for someone else. When I finally used it to build my own business, and not someone else’s, I began to study it day in and day out. I’ve been able to use my Social Media Marketing experience to sell out products and grow a large following that I consider my tribe.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Oh man, so many interesting things have happened! I would say the most interesting, though, was when I decided to create my fitness planner and actually put it all together myself. One day I dropped my kids off at daycare and went to the store, in my pajamas with 0 makeup, to get some supplies to start building my Fit Life Planner. While I was there, someone approached me and was like “Oh my God, you’re Easy Living Today! I love you so much and have been following you on Instagram for a year! Is this all for your planners?” That was the first time I was ever recognized in public and had no idea how to react! I wanted to cry, I wanted to hug her and I wanted to hide all at the same time. It all hit home for me that day, what I was doing was working and my brand was real. At a time where I was considering giving up on my planner, it gave me the motivation I needed to push through.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started my Instagram page, I happened to also be on the market for a new house. I was so trapped in this insane social media mentality that I thought I needed a white house that would look good on Instagram. Mind you, I also had a baby at the time and was pregnant with my second boy. I bought the perfect “Instagram house” (you have to know what I’m talking about)… and I just listed it for sale the other day. Those perfect looking white kitchens are not toddler friendly! They are a pain to keep clean and I never want to look at one again. My mistake was living my life for Instagram and not just living my life and sharing that to Instagram. Ya’ll, I bought a whole house because it would look good on Instagram- if that’s not the craziest/weirdest thing to do… I don’t know what is!
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
Definitely Instagram! I started a business Instagram profile three years ago as an extension to my blog. However, as time went on Instagram became my business and my blog became an extension of my Instagram page. Due to the following I was able to grow on Instagram, I was able to sell out my Fit Life Planner in just under two weeks! I was shocked, to be honest. At the time, I had no idea Instagram was that powerful or that my followers would even buy anything from me. But at that point we had grown such a bond that everyone was actually excited to spend money on my product.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
- Always remember it’s about quality followers, not quantity. It’s easy to get sucked in to thinking you need to have a certain amount of followers to be successful, but what you really need are quality followers that are a part of your tribe. There was a time I did a big giveaway to attract followers and grow my numbers, and that just let to me being followed by people that just wanted free stuff. Then I had to waste a bunch of time removing all of these people because they were ruining my engagement. Once I deleted all of them, I finally had followers that were my people and started building a loyal following.
- Connect with other Instagrammers. I’m a huge introvert, so this was hard for me! But actually putting myself out there and leaving comments on other influencers pictures or even messaging them changed a lot for me. Some of the best advice I’ve been given has been from influencers I wouldn’t even know if I didn’t sneak my way in to their DM’s.
- Create your own product. Sponsored work is great, but I’ve learned the well can dry up if not enough brands like what you’re doing. When I started talking about body positivity and self love, a lot of brands stopped reaching out to me because I was pushing the opposite of what they wanted to sell (weight loss). Luckily, I was already working on my own product and was able to replace that income by selling something that I created.
- Use influencer marketing to sell your own products. As an influencer yourself, it’s a lot easier to understand and work with other influencers. When I released my Fit Life Planner, I emailed a bunch of influencers (their emails are always in their bio if they do collabs) and offered to send them my product just for feedback. I got lucky and most of them posted about it on their stories and it helped me both sell out and grow my following. I knew I couldn’t afford to pay them at the time, but I also knew I wanted my product in their hands because I believed in it. It worked out very well.
- Use Instagram ads! I used to not want to spend money on them because I never felt like there was a large enough ROI. But that was because I was just using ads to grow followers. However, when I reworked my ads and used them to link directly to my products instead of to my profile- the returns were huge.
- Be true to yourself. No matter who you are or what your passion is, there are other people that can relate. It’s so easy to get caught in to the trap of wanting to be like other influencers or thinking you need to be doing what they’re doing to grow, but you don’t. There was something about them that people connected with, and you have something unique that people will connect with as well. Listen, I even bought a white house because I thought it would look good in pictures. It was the perfect “Instagram” house. I’m now selling it because, well, a white “Instagram house” is not cozy or convenient at all!
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
My goal is to inspire women to workout and live a healthy lifestyle for themselves, and not just to conform to society norms of what women should look like. Working out is so good for both your mental and physical health, not just for weight loss. I want women to understand that, that your appearance doesn’t define your health and working out isn’t solely for physical appearance. Exercise can change so much more than the way you look, and there’s nothing wrong with the way you look to begin with!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Gary Vee, no question. He is so inspiring and whenever I feel like giving up on my business, I literally take a day to watch all of his Instagram videos. The next day, I kid you not, I am super refreshed and focused working on a million new ideas. If it weren’t for him constantly popping up on my timeline, I probably would have given up a long time ago.