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How to Attract Real Clients (Not Creative Pros) on Instagram


Business, Marketing




Instagram Strategies that Work—Attract Potential Clients on the Platform

Today, I want to address a question that I’ve been seeing frequently in Facebook groups and that I’ve talked about at length in a previous CrowdCast Q&A. It’s a concern that I believe is popping up out of frustration and it’s something I don’t see addressed by most educators. Today, I’m diving in.

Frustrated with Instagram, writes:
“How can I reach potential clients with my Instagram content? I’m doing what I see other creatives (like you) doing and I’m only attracting other small business owners. It seems like its only other vendors who are engaged with one another on my account… are there even clients on Instagram?”


Dear Frustrated with Instagram:

You are not alone. This question comes up all of the time and it’s the result of something that few people in the industry are talking about.

Here is the reality: If you’re trying to replicate the strategies that you see me implementing… you are going to attract the same type of audience I’m marketing to… and it’s not your ideal client.

If I’ve learned one thing about marketing mistakes it’s this: we model the behavior of people who we believe are successful without taking time to craft a unique strategy of our own. We see their Instagram accounts lighting up with engagement and we think that if we just do what they are doing—that we will also be successful. We see the hashtags that they are using and we try to use them too. We watch how they are using Stories and we replicate what we are seeing them do each week. And when none of that brings in our ideal client… we’re left feeling frustrated and confused.

Let’s hit time out: Replicating someone else’s strategy is asking for failure. Not all engagement is equal and all strategies serve different purposes. If you are replicating another creative and/or educators’ strategy, you are going to attract the people they are trying to attract—not your ideal client.

Educators are trying to target other businesses for their courses and workshops. You are trying to target consumers.

The hashtags they are using are likely chosen to bring YOU in… not the clients that you’re looking for. If you are copying and pasting them directly onto your Instagram and seeing other creatives engage with you—that may explain why.

Content that draws in clients (and not other creative professionals) needs to be targeted specifically to them. You need to think through their pain points, provide solutions, establish yourself as the expert, and clearly show what make you different with your content.

Even the items you would offer in a giveaway should change to target the specific audience that you desire to attract. (In other words: consider giving away something more specific than a Starbucks gift card. What is something that only your ideal client wants? Give that away and make it easy for them to share with their friends!)


A Real World Example:

As a wedding photographer, there are a few different ways that someone could document and share their experience on a wedding day (depending on the audience that they are trying to attract). Let’s use Instagram Stories + hashtags on a sneak peek image as our example:

A Photographer trying to attract other wedding photographers:
Behind the scenes on a wedding day showcasing your gear, team strategizing, setup, and execution. Sharing about your wedding questionnaire and offering a free downloadable to build your email list. Revealing your favorite camera bag, tagging the bag company to build a relationship with the brand, linking to a blog post about the product with affiliate links to generate passive revenue.

Hashtags you might use on the sneak peek: #weddingphotographer #gear (like #nikond5 #50mm #primelens) #yourcreativecommunities (like #risingtidesociety)

A Photographer trying to attract clients/couples:
Behind the scenes on a wedding day showing the bride’s bouquet and explaining the flowers that are in season, giving an overview of the special details and awesome places to find them. Showing the bridesmaids dresses and talking about what’s on trend for weddings this season. Sharing about how this particular couple scheduled out time for sunset portraits. Showing the value of golden hour with a behind the scenes shot of you taking portraits, making the couple comfortable (followed up by a sneak peek on Stories).

Hashtags you might use: #city #nameofvenue #state+wedding #weddinginspo #othervendors #portfolio (like #nataliefrankephotography)

Both of these examples show specific strategies that a wedding photographer could implement, however they both attract very different types of audiences.

Start by asking yourself three questions:
Who is your ideal customer? Dig deep.

What are they struggling with? Worried about? Trying to accomplish?
What content can you provide that solves their problems, puts their minds at ease, and establishes you as the expert?

Searching for pain points is easy. Go to the groups, forums, blogs, and social media threads where your ideal clients are and see what they are talking about. What are the questions they are asking? Turn your answer into Instagram post + stories content.

If searching for questions fails to yield the results you’re looking for—Consider sending a short survey to your favorite past clients / customers in order to better understand what type of content they would like to see. I’ve done this in the past and it was an awesome way to ensure I was producing quality articles to help my couples plan for their wedding days.

The content that you share and the strategy that you implement, will impact the audience that you grow. Focus on speaking to your ideal client and create content with him or her in mind.

In summary: Focus on creating a strategy unique to your target audience. Don’t copy and paste someone else’s strategy. Seek pain points, provide solutions, and establish yourself as the expert. When in doubt—test, improve, try new things, and never be afraid to change directions.

With love,

Have more questions?

Tune in for an upcoming Instagram Q&A and we’ll dive in.

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Add Your Comment


  1. Ashley

    July 10th, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    YES to this! When I think about writing a Instagram post, I always think about how I can draw my ideal reader in and write like I am writing to them.

    I used to look at other lifestyle bloggers and copy what they were doing and not really showing “me”. I eventually realized that strategy left me stressed and overwhelmed!

    I couldn’t agree anymore with post! Thank you!

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