How This Fashion Blogger Built An Engaged Instagram Community

How this fashion blogger built and engaged Instagram community

It’s no secret that the blogging world is over saturated, yet New Jersey fashion and lifestyle blogger Nicole Neissany has managed to build an engaged and tight knit community on Instagram in a time where it’s probably the hardest to stand out.

You no longer need to have a large following to work with brands you love, or to find success on Instagram. Nicole is giving away her number one tip on how to plan for a photoshoot that has allowed her to transform her Instagram feed and produce higher quality content her followers LOVE, as well as what she believes has contributed to an increase in engagement on her profile.

How this fashion and lifestyle blogger plans her photoshoots

Nicole, your photos are absolutely gorgeous! I’m wondering how you go about planning your photos…how much time does it usually take you to do one outfit? And do you plan a photoshoot day where you’ll take a couple of outfits and then just batch shoot all of them?

I used to shoot on the fly since it was really only a hobby at first, but recently I’ve created a little hack to help me quickly plan my next shoot when I’m crunched for time. Now that I’m working with brands, I use my Outfit Library as filler content for my feed and focus my time on shooting the brand content first.

Instagram Fashion Blogger - how to increase engagement

When planning any of my shoots, I try to batch as much content as possible and tend to shoot most of my looks in the same 3 locations that are close by to my home so I can save time. I usually just pack up my car and use it as my closet for the day. I drive to a location, shoot, change, shoot, change, and shoot, until I have everything I need.

All of my to-do’s are set in my Google Calendar. I review it every day to make sure I’m on track and I know exactly what I’m up to each week.

When it comes to planning my outfits, before I started working with brands, I would basically pick a day or two to go through my clothes and create looks for my content.

To prepare for a shoot, I would get together a bunch of items, search them online to make sure they were still in style and/or on sale by the brand and then mix and match while snapping quick pictures along the way. From these snapshots, I created a mini “Outfit Library” which I created in my Google Keep notes.

All I did was just create a new note for each outfit and attach photos of each look with any important details like location and prop ideas, sometimes even pose ideas.

From there I would group outfits together (according to the location I had in mind) and then create a Google Calendar event for each shoot day (per location) which covered shoot location, time, outfit details, props and even attach the photo of the outfit so I know exactly what I need to pack for shoot day.

How far in advance do you plan your content?

I only recently started getting more into the groove on planning shoots for Instagram so as of right now I shoot about 5-7 days in advance (weather permitting) but sometimes I’ll get a random burst of inspiration and shoot same day content.

I plan out my posts using Planoly so I always have an idea of what my grid will look like as I curate and schedule. Before that I was basically shooting 2 or less days in advance which was very stressful and not feasible at all.

You always have such amazing hair! Seriously, I’m obsessed. Do you have any hair care secrets? And how long does it usually take you to style for a shoot?

Oh gosh, thank you so much! Hmm, hair care secrets? Well, it’s not really a secret but I seriously LOVE my clip-in hair extensions! I’ve always had fine hair, but years ago I suffered some major hair loss, and during my healing process, I used extensions as a way to cope and gain my confidence back.

How to increase Instagram engagement

My hair is way healthier now, so I mostly use them to thicken up my styles. Thankfully they’re super easy to manage and my hair is mostly straight, so styling my “everyday” wavy/curly look takes no time at all. I’d say 10 minutes max.

For more intricate styles like braids, depending on how temperamental my hair wants to be that day haha, it can take me up to 30 minutes.

When it comes to taking care of my hair, I love using Not Your Mother’s brand of hair care products. My absolute favorites are the Coconut Texturizing Dry Shampoo and their Butter Hair Masques. I’ve tried a lot of hair products and they’ve been the absolute best throughout the years (not sponsored haha).

Oh, and I almost forgot my one little secret…

Teasing/backcombing! It gives my hair so much volume when in reality it’s actually a kind of flat. I tap a little texturizing powder in underneath the top layers, and with a short comb, I backcomb at the roots to lift my hair and give it the thickness I want. Then I fluff and smooth until it looks natural and finish off with a bit of hairspray to keep it in place. Ta-da! Instant bombshell Victoria’s Secret hair!

What program do you use to edit your photos and do you use a custom preset you’ve created?

I use Lightroom Mobile to edit my photos. I actually shoot all of my content with my iPhone 8 Plus, so I like that Lightroom enables me to shoot and edit within the very same day.

How to edit using LightroomI’m obsessed with creating presets so I’ve actually created my own little library of combinations that I use myself, which I’m excited to say that I’ll be launching very soon!

I’ve had so many questions about editing and I know what it’s like to lose time constantly tweaking your photos, and the confusion with all of the Lightroom settings, so I figured I’d help other bloggers and content creators get the look they want, in less time with less stress!

I’ve been following you for quite a while and I’ve noticed quite the transition in your photos. Have you noticed an increase in Instagram engagement or follows by focusing more on your imagery and the lifestyle content you’re sharing?

Absolutely! Focusing on creating more high quality, engaging content and imagery, increased my following and engagement significantly, but to be fair, I did also couple it with increased engagement from my end as well.

Nicole NeissanyInstagram is just like any relationship; it’s a two-way street. It definitely helps to have strong content and beautiful imagery but I really do owe my increased growth to a change in mindset.

Once my mindset about social media and content creation in general became more positive, I felt a desire to create, improve, and to connect more. I switched to using Instagram as a way to also connect and support, rather than just to show and tell.

Logging onto Instagram isn’t about racking up the likes on a pretty picture, it’s about connecting and sharing so I keep that in mind all the time.

It’s hard for your followers to connect with something that has nothing for them to relate to or be inspired by. So, while I definitely believe that imagery and content hold the power, it’s the quality, story-focused content and genuine engagement that’s the key to healthy growth and loyal following. 

To keep up to date with Nicole you can follow her here:
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Hi, I'm Amanda!

I’m a product photographer based in Brisbane Australia specialising in creating stunning visuals for beauty, skincare and lifestyle brands. It’s actually kinda an obsession really. I also teach other aspiring brand photographers how to break into the industry and build a successful business via my online course Become A Brand Photographer.

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