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The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Apr 22, 2020

Do you have a skill you know very well? Could you teach it? In this episode, we're talking about how to grow a successful business teaching what you know.

Then we'll explore how to grow that business using social media in creative ways, especially Instagram.

We will get to all of that in just a moment with my guest. 

But first, are you looking for a community of bloggers to join? Do you need help, encouragement, to just a safe place to ask questions? 

Or maybe you’ve been blogging for a while and you have some wisdom to share with others. 

If any of these apply to you, I would absolutely love to have you join my Facebook group. I’m in there all the time, participating, and answering and asking questions that are pertinent to your online business. 

I also go live in the group every week, sharing my takeaways from these podcast episodes. So, if you want more than just listening to the podcast, but you want to join the conversation, come join me and hear my takeaways and let’s discuss yours!

Now, let me introduce my guest. 

Kimberly Espinel is a food photographer, a prop stylist, a food stylist, a food photography teacher, an Instagram growth coach, a podcaster, and a food blogger. Yep, that's a lot!

Growing a Passion for Food Photography

Kimberly didn’t plan to start an online business when she started her food blog. She had changed her own diet and merely wanted to blog about her recipes. 

She was also in school to be a nutritional therapist and figured that the recipes she was creating could be used with her clients when she finished her training. That was her thinking at the time; she had no goals to make money with the blog. 

It didn’t take long for Kimberly to realize that her food photography wasn’t up to par, and so she began to focus on practicing her photography skills. 

Before long, she became more passionate about food photography than she was about nutritional therapy. 

By the end of her third year of blogging, she was teaching food photography one-on-one, and working with brands on sponsored campaigns. 

How to Know When It’s Time to Raise Your Rates

When Kimberly began doing her one-on-one sessions, her rates for those sessions were fairly low. She wanted it to be affordable for the bloggers who wanted to work with her. 

But as time went by, and she did more and more sessions, they began to sell out so quickly that she realized she was underpricing them. So, every quarter hence, she began raising her prices. 

She also began working with a business coach who has helped her find new ways of meeting her financial goals. One of those was to begin doing group classes for photography. 

How to Set Up Online Courses

No matter how many one-on-one or private smaller sessions Kimberly makes available, there are always people who can’t make it in, as well as people who can’t quite afford the private class.

But Kimberly still wanted those people to be able to learn from her. 

She is gifted at teaching and she felt compelled to find a way to help everyone who wanted to get better at food photography. The solution, she discovered, was in offering group online classes.

The main difference between the private class and the group class is that the group classes are pre-recorded, while the private classes are live. 

The pre-recorded classes also meet a need for those in time zones where attending a live session would be close to impossible. 

Creating the Content That Your Audience Wants

If you only create content that you are interested in, you won’t grow a dedicated audience. You have to meet the needs of your people, and you have to answer the questions they have. 

Kimberly has taken this understanding to a whole new level by creating Instagram challenges for her audience. 

So, even though she originally started her blog to share recipes, when she saw that her audience was more interested in her food photography, she made a turn in that direction. 

And when her posts on Instagram strategy brought readers in droves, she started the IG challenges. 

Kimberly has been able to stay with her true passion, which is food and teaching others. But her business doesn’t look quite like she thought it would when she began. 

Branching into Food Photography as a Business

Over the years, Kimberly built up relationships with many brands through the sponsored campaigns she did with them. 

The skills she developed in food photography eventually turned into brands approaching her to do food photography for them. 

This includes restaurant photography, packaged foods, and any items in the food and drink category. 

The bulk of Kimberly’s income is now doing that type of paid food photography. 

Developing an Instagram Growth Strategy

Before Instagram changed its algorithm, Kimberly was able to grow her followers to around 30K in just under a year. She did this without running ads or paying for followers. 

With that growth came a lot of people asking to pick her brain over coffee. 

So she created a series on her blog where she talked about trends, developments, tips, and tricks for using Instagram. She called it, appropriately enough, The Instagram Series

The posts in this series exploded in popularity, with the most popular being 3 Reasons You Are Losing Instagram Followers (and What to Do About It.)

From that series, Kimberly developed more free content, (and eventually paid products) around Instagram growth. 

What Is Working on Instagram Today?

I asked Kimberly to give us her top 3 tips for using Instagram today, keeping in mind that things that work for one niche might not work as well in another niche. 

So, fair warning: blogging and online business involves a ton of testing. You have to test, test, test to figure out what your audience responds to and what they will engage with. 

Top 3 Tips for Instagram:

  • You have to produce consistent content. Yes, folks, you have to show up if you want to attract a loyal audience. Because of the new algorithms, posts don’t stick around on IG the way they did in the glory days of the platform. Kimberly strongly suggests posting at least once a day, at the bare minimum. Most successful bloggers post multiple times per day.
  • Create attention-grabbing photos and captions. Good isn’t good enough anymore, now that the space is so crowded. Your photo quality must be stellar, and your captions should draw your audience in and make them want to engage with you. Your captions should directly address your audience’s felt needs. 
  • Provide value to your audience. There are many ways to add value to your Instagram, whether through stories, in your feed, or in IG Lives. Share information that is helpful to your audience or solves a pain point for them. 

Be sure to follow Kimberly on Instagram and check out her podcast for more tips and tricks to help you grow your online business. 

Instagram is a powerful platform to allow you to build real authentic relationships with your followers. 

Be sure to use all of IG’s features, like stories, IGTV, and Lives. And now, IG offers you the opportunity to send voice replies to your DM’s. 

My followers get such a kick out of hearing my voice answer them through Direct Message on IG. They always say, “Oh my god, it’s really you!”

What a great way to help your followers feel like they know you. And remember, when your followers feel like they know you, they also like you and they will trust you. 

And once those 3 factors are in place, you are ready to build new income streams! Want to know more about building those income streams?
Join my husband, David, and me in our blogger coaching group, where we teach you how to take your blog and create a real online business.

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