ep15 - How I Got 3,000 Followers on Instagram with Ashley BrownApr 07, 2021
Ashley Brown says supporting other communities online is her number one secret to gaining over 3,000 followers on her Instagram account.
As the owner of a business called Routine and Things, you can probably guess her second secret to Instagram growth – employing routines for content creation. This is how she stays consistent and trustworthy for her followers.
That’s right: Relationships and routines are the two pillars for her success.
In this episode, we also cover:
- The effect starting a podcast had on her Instagram growth
- How selling physical products helped her community and boosted her growth
- The importance of consistent content creation
- How she employed a routine to guest on other podcasts
- The routine that helps her reconnect with all her podcast interviewers
Ashley’s interview is a part of my Instagram growth series where we talk with Instagrammers who hit each 1,000 follower mark – from 1,000 to 10,000 and beyond – so you can learn tricks of the trade every step of the way. Stay tuned for next month’s feature of an account that’s grown to over 4,000 followers.
About My Guest:
Ashley Brown is the creator and owner of Routine and Things, a product-based company that equips women to consistently live their happiest life one routine at a time. Ashley strongly believes routines are a form of wellness and can be a beautiful springboard for improving your home, yourself, and your life. She hosts the Routine and Things Podcast, a space to learn and become inspired on all things routine. She’s on a mission to see as many women as possible live life with ease by starting, maintaining, and enjoying fun and freeing routines!
Connect with Ashley:
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Megan: Well, welcome to this episode of Megan's social media marketing show. And today I am so excited to have Ashley Brown on with me. She will tell you all about all the wonderful things she does, but first of all, thank you so much for being here with me, Ashley.
Ashley: Yes. Thank you so much, Megan, for having me, it's such a pleasure to be able to talk to you, especially about marketing, which can be. I don't know. It can be interesting.
Megan: And it's true if you're not a marketer already if you're not trained in it, and then you have a small business, you realize all of a sudden: Oh no, I have to learn to be one really quick. We're going to talk with Ashley about her Instagram account.
I reached out to her before she reached 3000 followers and now she's well above that. At the recording, we're almost at 3,400, so she's growing so quickly and I wanted to talk with her and she agreed to share all the secrets of all the things that she's been doing on her account. But before we jump into that, please tell us Ashley about you and your business.
Ashley: Yes. So my name is Ashley Brown. I am a mom of two, so I have two girls ages – they're almost two and four. So still small children. They are just everything to me, love my babies. And then I'm also a wife to an amazing man. He is such a sweetie pie and we live in Baltimore, Maryland. So I'm not originally from Baltimore.
My husband is, but I am from South Carolina. So I'm a Southern girl, but we've migrated up to Baltimore because my husband grew up here. It's been, it's been a really beautiful experience being here in Baltimore and I probably will end up staying here for a really long time. So love Baltimore.
Definitely. If you get a chance to visit do so. In terms of outside of my roles as mom and wife, I'm a Southern girl who loves Trader Joe's, Target, coffee. I'm a huge coffee fan and just anything that is going to help me in thriving in life. I'm really big on self-care and also just self-discovery and self-love, especially in these times.
And then I also run a business that is Routine and Things where I equip women to start, maintain, and enjoy freeing and flexible routines. I truly believe that routines don't fit into a box and you can create routines to help you in your life based upon who you are and what really vibes with you outside of what someone else does or outside of what someone else thinks, really creating routines that are going to be in alignment with what you value and what you need for your life. And so we do this through products, and resources that can really help you in cultivating those really amazing routines for your life. So that's, that's a little bit about me.
Oh. And also my nurse educator as well.
Megan: Oh, you just slipped that in there.
Ashley: Oh, I know. I know. Which has a huge, which is so interesting. My nursing career has been foundational for me in terms of all the things that I have learned throughout life, like flexibility and prioritization, and time management.
But also education is my heart. That's why I still educate in Routine and Things because I love educating.
Megan: Oh, that's good. Well, I'm learning from you nearly every day from your posts and everything that you put out there. You also have a podcast, correct?. Yes. Go along with your business.
Megan: What came first? Did the Instagram account, did you start that first? Did you already know what you wanted to share before you started it? How did it all evolve for you?
Ashley: Yes, so the business came first, and then the Instagram and then the products. The business just came out of nowhere to be perfectly honest.
And it was due to my time as a stay-at-home mom, having a really rough patch during that time, and really lean in on routines to help me get back to myself and be able to manage my life. And so that's how the business came about. I didn't really know specifically what I wanted to share. I just knew I wanted to share about routines and mom-life. That was how I started. I was like, Oh, I want to share what I know about routines. I want to share about mom-life, because if you're a mom, you know, it's beautiful, but also has its challenges and hurdles from time to time. So, I want to share about that.
And it was interesting because when I started the Instagram account. People just started to flock towards it. And I was like, Oh, I think I may have something here with the routine thing and I knew that's what I wanted to do, but I didn't know how people were going to resonate with it because some people have such, like when they hear routine is very off-putting for some people.
It's very niche too. So I didn't know how it was going to come across, but I started seeing people come in when I was talking about routines, people thought the information was really helpful. And so that's when I was like, you know what? I need to start a podcast. Funny enough, my podcast used to be called the Piece of Home Podcast, and then I switched it to Routine and Things, so there could be some consistency there.
But, the podcast came because I was like, you know what? I can talk about routines all day. And then I started selling products after the podcast, and really equipping women with resources as well to help them with starting and maintaining routines.
Megan: What were the things that you saw that made a big difference in the growth specifically of your Instagram account. What was that timeline? What were the things that you really saw push the needle forward?
Ashley: I started my Instagram account and this was when I started my business too in September of 2019. I didn't have a podcast for an entire year. I didn't have the shop for the entire year. From September 2019 - September 2020, I didn't have podcasts or shop. I remember I started to see some growth and then at a certain point, I would say September of 2020 is when I was like: You know what. I'm going to have to do more than what I'm doing because I think I was around maybe 600, 700 people within a year. And I was like, eh, no, I really want to get out to the world and get in front of more women because I know women need what I have to offer.
I know women are looking for things that do with routines. I knew that for a fact, because I was that woman at one point and I was like, Oh, I need a routine. So I really became very intentional at that point with outreach and really seeing how it could support other communities and other women in their business to help their communities.
That's when I started reaching out. And it was my weekly routine. I am going to share a routine that was a big thing to help me get right to it, helped me get to this place. Every week I would sit down and search, you know, discovering women that were helping moms or women that were helping women with thriving in life and reaching out to see: Can I support your community? Can I support your mission? Would you like for me to share about routines with your community?
Every week I would just make sure that I looked up 10 new, discovered 10 new people, 10 new businesses, and I would reach out to them via email and ask: Can I be on your podcast? Can I speak to your Facebook group? Can I do an Instagram Live or take over? I did that every single week for 12 weeks and some weeks I was like, okay, Ashley, Oh my gosh. Especially when things started to build and I started to get podcast interviews and I'm like, Oh, it's a whole bunch of going on.
That's why between September of 2020 to now, I have grown by a good amount because of reaching out and seeing if I could support other women's and business, communities and making sure that I was really intentional about who I reached out to as well, just relationships.
I feel like routines and relationships. Boom. R and R was the way that I grew my account. I'm telling you relationships were huge. Me reaching out to people because even from one relationship, I started to get opportunities from who they knew. So that was a really big thing for me.
Just putting myself out there and because at one point, I was like, do I have enough experience? I have been talking about this long enough in order to reach out to people. But then I was like, you know what, Ashley, you know what you're talking about. You have the experience, why not?
I didn't care if they had a hundred thousand followers, 10 followers. I was messaging and reaching out to see how I could support them with their mission, their community.
That's how I have built my account, honestly, is those two things, just being consistent with outreach and then the relationships that have grown from it.
Megan: Oh great. So if I could dig in a little deeper. How were you doing those things? Were you DM-ing, you were finding 12 accounts on Instagram and DM-ing them requests? How did that work?
Ashley: I was finding them on Instagram and how I would find them is from people that I already followed. You can go to the person's account and then hit the down arrow and it shows similar accounts. And then I’ll be like, Oh, who's in this similar account.
And I would look to see: What are they talking about? What is their community like? Are we kind of speaking somewhat of the same language? Maybe their community would resonate with me. Because that was a huge thing too, to make sure that I wasn't using my time. Was my time was going to be well spent when if I did get the opportunity?
And so that's how I was finding them through Instagram. And then I would look up their email. Usually, it's on Instagram and I emailed them. I would use the same template, honestly, and, of course, personalize it to make sure that it is speaking to the person.
I would see, do you need support in this area? And a lot of people were like, yeah, I do. I would love for my community to learn more about routines. I speak about this a little bit because that's the thing. Some people would have accounts and their business would speak about routines, but they want to get it from a different perspective.
Some women didn't speak anything about routines. So they were able to support their community with that. So that's really how it worked for me. So not reinventing the wheel. Yeah. Just making sure that I was speaking directly to the woman that I was wanting to support.
Megan: You were looking at accounts that had a similar topic to yours, maybe not the same exact topic, but you were looking in the wider topic of organization or a little broader than routines because, as you said, that's a very niche part of the overall time management/time planning/organization category. I think that was a great tip.
You were thinking of it that way. And then looking at the similar accounts of other people that are talking about those larger topics and reaching out to them via email with an email template that you have.
Tell me a little bit more about this email, because people are gonna want to know what's in this email and I know from experience as a podcaster we get lots of requests and not all of them are anywhere near appropriate for your audience. So how did you convince them that this is for their audience?
Ashley: I feel like because I came from a stance of I'm really here to support your mission and I'm here to support your community. I would give them this was one thing. I would put in the email that can be really helpful for you. I would give them specific topics and the names for what the episode could be or what the talk could be.
That's what I did so that they didn't have to think about what do I want her to talk about? She already gave me three topics that I could choose from or three specific subjects that she would talk about. And so I think that was really helpful, but I really feel like it was really about understanding.
Their community, understanding their business, and just offering support, I think. I have gotten really good feedback from people I have pitched. Your email is really good. I'm saying really hone in on their support. I'm here to support you because that's what we're here to do is support their mission.
You need to know what that is, and then also make it easy for them to be like, yes, because this sounds good. This sounds like a good topic.
Megan: How did you do that routine you explained of reaching out to 10 different companies every week for 12 weeks, at least 10, 120 contacts there over a three-month period of time, which kick-started everything for you. You started to get some yeses, you started to get some guesting on podcasts and some more traction for your podcasts as well.
What other routines did you have during that time period of growth or, or even in general, do you employ now to help keep your Instagram account active?
Ashley: Yeah, I know that I have a routine that I do weekly as well, where I will plan out my content for the week. I always know I post a podcast, like a clip of my podcast every Monday, because that's when my podcast episodes release. But then after that, I just make sure I schedule either two or three more posts. I don't have to know which order they're going in. I just want to make sure I know what the post is going to be.
And I have a caption along with the hashtags for the posts. And so I do that every week before the week comes and it really saves me because then I'm not waking up in the morning: What am I posting about today? That helps me to stay consistent with sharing information with my community, which is really helpful, you know?
Also, I have a podcast routine that I just did today, which is every month at the last week of the month, I batch record the episodes for the following month. And that has been super helpful for me. I edit them as well. So just staying in alignment with that has been really helpful.
Those are the routines that I have and I plan as well. I have a plan and routine that I do every single week. Plan out what am I doing with the business. I'll also plan for home too. I'm a mom. So I got to plan for home too, keep this home together. But I have a routine, a plan and a routine, that I do every single week that I don't miss because if I did, I don't know how things would get done.
Megan: I hear you on that. Okay. So you share, was it four or five times a week?
Ashley: Oh, for what? For what specifically?
Megan: That's true. There are so many different ways to share on Instagram. What does that look like for you content-wise? You said you share a clip from your podcasts, but how many feed posts? What do you put in stories? Tell us all that.
Ashley: In terms of my content on Instagram, I usually do between three or four posts every week. And that can range from podcast clips to a freebie that I have. I try to share about my freebies every so often.
I'll talk about something that deals with motherhood. I'll have products. So I will have a product shot in there to be able to share with people, these products are available for you. I have that every single week.
I also do Instagram Lives every so often. I do clips. I will take out a snippet of my Instagram Live that I saved to IGTV and I will sometimes put clips of those Lives and those IGTV videos, which is really helpful to bring people back there because sometimes you can create so much content and everybody isn't seeing it. When you bring it back to the forefront, then they can dive a little bit deeper if they want to.
I usually try to be on Stories at least at some point throughout the day. Some days I have a lot of stories. Some days I only have maybe two or three, it just depends on what Ashley is feeling for the day, what is going on in my day to be perfectly honest. Especially because I'm a solopreneur, so I don't have anybody doing this with me or for me. It really depends on what's going on with me.
I love Stories. I think they are a really great way to connect. I ask a lot of questions in my Stories because I'm really trying to see what my community needs at these moments because it changes from season to season and things take place in their lives that they need assistance with. And so questions are huge. Polls are huge for me, just checking in with my community is really huge when we're talking about Stories.
I love IGTV videos. I love doing Instagram Lives. I feel very comfortable doing that. As I said, I'm an educator, that’s probably why.
And then Reels. I love Reels too. I haven't been doing them as much, but I feel like every time I do them, people love them. I try to be really strategic with my Reels.
And I'd love to make them either funny or informative. I really started with a funny route though. Because I want to make routines fun. I want to make them fun. Something that you can have fun with. I at least try to do a reel every month, every two weeks. I at least try to do that, but that's not something that's hard and concrete though.
Megan: Yeah, I find it fun. I love Reels, so fun for me. I love them. I would do one every day if I had the time. But, I was really surprised when I was looking back at my stats recently that the instructional ones were so popular because I assumed, I guess, that the funny ones would be, or the fun ones in general, and no, people really pay attention to them.
When they have instructional content, I was like, Oh, people are just going to ignore these. I'm just going to keep going. Cause they want the funny ones, but I was really surprised. It takes a little more planning when you're doing an instructional one and you have to do it in such a tight timeline. I need to take the time to make a few more of those.
Are there any other routines that you employ to really help keep you on top of your Instagram game?
Ashley: Oh, so this is one that I do and I try to do it every other week. I don't do it as often as I used to, but I try to stay in contact and with the relationships that I have built. So I really try to make sure that I'm going to support them on their pages, liking their posts, commenting, sharing. That is something that's huge is to really get other people and their businesses and what they're doing to help support the world out to my community. So that's something that I love to do, and I'll just take some time out, like every other week, and sit down and go through my followers. I'll just go through, see what they're talking about, see what's going on for them. Can I share this? You know, I'll check in on them to DM them, see how they're doing.
That's something that has been really helpful because I don't like to just connect with someone. And, if you're talking about doing a podcast interview and they didn't know you from Adam or Eve and you go on their podcast and then you never check in with them again. I at least try to stay in contact because they were really gracious to have me on their podcast, but also I'm a relater and I'm a relationship type person.
I love building relationships with people. I think is really important in life in general. So yeah, that's another routine that I have that has been really helpful in terms of staying connected.
Megan: I love that you said that because that is something that I in the last year have found so important. It seems counterintuitive in some ways that you would want to support all the people that are doing the same things that you are, It seems like they should be my competition. However, no, it's actually the opposite. The more that you support them, the more that it comes back to you because we're all in this together. We are all trying to do the same thing and there are literally 1 billion Instagram users to go around. It also helps to keep you top of mind with them and the things that they're doing. So they might realize later down the line if somebody approaches them and they're like: Well, that's not something I really talk about, but you need to go talk to Ashley about routines. You just don’t know what will come up because of a connection that you've made.
I also find it really exciting when I go through my feed and I get so many ideas from what other people are sharing. You learn so much from your colleagues as well, that you can help then turn around and help your audience with.
Ashley: Yes, exactly. Relationships are the gift that keeps on giving. I just love them. Yeah.
Megan: That's a good line. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
I would love to ask you, Ashley, as we wrap up here, how can my community support you?
Ashley: Yes. So definitely by following on Instagram @routinesandthings would be really helpful, but also subscribe to the podcasts, especially if you need help, only if you need help. Don't just go subscribe. It's nice. But. I want you to be focused on what you need to be focused on, but if you need help with routines in any way, it's a bunch of episodes that you can binge. Routine and Things Podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts, we are available. And then also check out the site routineandthings.com.
I have a bunch of products and resources that can help you cultivate really beautiful routines for your life. And I have a few there from businesses as well. That is how you can support me. I would greatly appreciate it.
Megan: Oh, good. We'll definitely do that, Ashley. And thank you so much for being here with me today. I'm so glad to have you in my circle now.
Ashley: I'm so happy that you invited me on Megan. It was so fun.