Growing A Loyal Instagram Following with Tyler J McCall

  • It's okay to be the person that has all the ideas, but who struggles to put them into fruition. It’s okay to be good at carrying out ideas, but awful at coming up with them. It’s okay to stop doing things you don’t want to do.
  • Instagram is the most engaging social media platform as the app makes it easy for people to interact and engage with you easily.
  • The swipe up feature on Instagram stories isn’t as people think it is it is not a traffic driving platform. This means it’s better to focus all your interaction, content and engagement within the app itself.
  • Growing your following on Instagram takes completely clarity other who you want to follow you. Once you know who you want as a follower, you’ll know what content you need to post.
  • It’s important to engage more than you post. This includes engaging with people in the discover tag and engaging with them – almost like a virtual tap to say, ‘I’m here!’.
  • When using Instagram Stories, it’s important that your stories have a beginning, middle and end.
  • Often the pictures that generate the most engagement are the pictures that feature you and although it may seem scary to share yourself on your feed, it gets easier the more you do it.

Above all else, it’s better to have 500 followers that engage with you and care about what you post, rather than 10,000 followers that don’t want to follow you at all.

  • Introducing Tyler and his story – 03:40
  • Don’t overwork yourself – 15:05
  • Tyler’s start on Instagram – 19:20
  • Growing your Instagram following – 22:30
  • Success with Instagram Stories – 28:00
  • Creating amazing Instagram content – 31:30
Transcript below


Hello, and a super warm welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. As always, I am your host, Teresa Heath-Wareing. I hope you've had a great week, and it's been super productive. After my last week's episode, it was all about driving forward and trying to take action. I'm really interested to hear from some of you who have mentioned the sorts of things that you have done to drive your business forward. Super excited about that. If you haven't yet let me know, then please come and find me. I'm mostly around Instagram a lot, but on all the platforms. Come and connect, and tell me how you're getting on, and what your big amazing plans are for the rest of the year.

Today's episode I am interviewing the super lovely, Tyler J. McCall. If you've not heard of him, he is an Instagram and Social Media Marketing Strategist Coach for creatives and online business owners. He teaches students how to use Instagram with intention, to grow their community online, and grow their business. Tyler focuses on using Instagram and social media to tell stories, build relationships, and convert followers to fans. Drawing from his 10 years experience in non-profit marketing, and management of a community organisation, he's taught thousands of entrepreneurs and managed dozens of Instagram accounts since getting into the online marketing game back in 2015. Tyler is based over in Chicago, and lives with his partner Eric.

Today's episode is a really good one. We had such a great chat. He has a great story to tell. Some really big things happened in his life, and quite sad things that made him reassess where he was with his business. Overnight, he fired all his clients. As I have a business or part of the business that has clients, boy could I understand how terrifying that would be. But anyway, his story is so good he fired his clients, and he started the online membership that he now has today. How his business has grown has been phenomenal.

He also then shared with us some great tips about Instagram. He walked us through why he thinks businesses should look at it. If you're not on it, or you're not using it for business, then definitely take a listen to this one 'cause I think he'll change your mind. He then talked about how he uses his Instagram, how he gets more followers. That was a really good conversation because followers is something that people always struggle with, so he gave us some great tips about how to get more followers. Then he talked about how he uses Instagram Stories, which again, has been some different conversations to the ones I've had in the past. Some really, really good advice and story from such a nice guy today.

I'm really hoping you're gonna enjoy this one. What I want you to do is once you've listened to it, I want you to do an Insta Story, 'cause I want to see that you're putting this stuff into practise, and make sure that you tag both myself and Tyler J. McCall in, and basically tell us what you thought, and tell us what you liked about it. We'd love to hear. Anyway, I'm not gonna go on any longer. I'm gonna jump straight in. Here's the interview with Tyler J. McCall.


Introducing Tyler and his story


I am so excited and have the absolute pleasure of introducing Tyler to this week's episode of the podcast. Welcome, Tyler.

Oh my gosh, Teresa. Thank you for having me.

No, thank you so much for joining me. This is a really apt time to have you on because we've just been chatting before we came on, saying that I've just been out to the states to do Business By Design, and you were a Business By Design student. That's how I found out about you. It's really exciting, that all this has happened at this point. It's great.

I love it.

Tyler, I've been following you on Instagram. I love watching your Insta Stories. They're very entertaining. I have recently had the pleasure of listening to your story, and how you got to where you are today, which is a phenomenal story. For the likes of us who are maybe not right at the start of our journey, but working towards trying to get somewhere amazing, you are a great example of what's to come. I'd love it if you could share with my audience just a bit about how you got started, and then how you got to where you are today.

Yeah, of course. I got my start after college, in the non-profit world. That was the thing that I studied in school, that's the thing that I wanted to do. I went to work in the YMCA right after college. The YMCA's different all over the world. Here in the states, the YMCA is typically gym, and swim, a child care, those types of organisations. That's what I did right after college, I went to work for the YMCA, managing an office, ordering toner for the copier, making sure we had enough staples and stuff.

The important …

The important things. Yes.

But over time in the YMCA, I was able to work my way up, and working in the membership world, and started doing more marketing, and running the Facebook page for this thing, or helping out with Twitter here. Eventually I spent about six years in the YMCA, and the membership, and marketing, and operations world. All my time there was really about relationships with people, relationships with members, and donors, and volunteers, and communicating the Y's mission to other people.

Toward the end of my time at the YMCA, I started getting antsy, because my personality, I'm the type of person that loves to start things. I have huge ideas. I'm a visionary and thinking about the next big thing, but the follow-through is not where I'm skilled.

I love your honestly.

Right? It's cool being in my business now where I can say, “You could just hire people to do the follow-through.” That's a really great thing to think about, accomplishing business.

I started getting antsy toward the end of my time at the YMCA, and I started a business making a handmade product. I made a room and linen spray using essential oils. I was just selling it at trunk fairs, selling it to my friends, my dad loved it. Every day he was like, “Do you some more of that spray? Can I get some more of that spray?” He was my favourite customer. But spoiler alert, you can't really build a business as your dad as your best customer. But he loved it.

I started sharing about it on Instagram. I had built these relationships with influencers, and bloggers, and home décor folks on the platform. Oh gosh, this was like four years ago, before really any of the idea of an influencer was really a thing on Instagram. I had all these relationships with incredible people on the platform, tens and hundreds of thousands of followers. I introduced my handmade product, and I just started messaging them and saying, “Hey, I made this thing. I'd love to send you some for you to try it out. Just let me know what you think.” The all said, “Yes.” I was like, “Oh, okay. I'm onto something here. Real relationships with real people.” They all tried it, they all loved it, thankfully. Or at least they told me. Who's knows if they really did.

They could have hated it.

I know, right? Then so many of them bought it, and then so many of them shared, promoted it on their platform. I was like, “There's something here. There's something to this, having real conversations with real people.”

Toward the end of my time in the YMCA, I started freelancing, and managing other peoples' Instagram accounts, working with local businesses, creating content for them, managing their accounts, growing their followings, doing all of that. Eventually I was able to leave my full-time job and do that full-time, so doing social media management. That's what I did for about a year and a half. Then I reached this pivotal point in my business where I was working a lot. Like a lot, a lot, a lot. But I didn't really have much to show for it in terms of money, which was this measure of whether or not this was working. My time was stretched pretty thin.

While all this was happening, I was working a tonne, managing accounts, coaching people, writing social media strategy, my dad got sick. He had this weird thing happen with his back. We found out it was something much larger than that. He had to have major surgery. All this went on for months and months, and then at the end of June 2017 … We're in 2018 now. You reach a point where you can't remember what year it is.

I have no idea what day it is, let alone year.

No idea. No idea, #entrepreneurproblems. End of June 2017, my dad passed away very suddenly.

Aw, that's so sad.

Thank you. It changed everything in my life, and my business. I had this wake up call in my business that I was not running a business that was the kind of business I wanted to run. It was taking up too much of my life, and I wanted more freedom, I wanted more space, I wanted more time.

This is a very short and sweet story. It gets very long and drawn out. I apologise for the length of the story. This is the short version. What ended up happening at the end of 2017 is I actually did that big scary thing that so many times, so many of want to do but we never do. That is, I fired all of my clients. I stopped taking on the work that was draining me. I burned all those bridges in my business and started brand new, with a brand new product, which is an online membership community. Which is what I do now, educate entrepreneurs on how to market online using Instagram. That was a little over a year ago. Everything has changed in my life and my business. I used what I learned in Business By Design, and how to create a leveraged offer, how to get an alignment with my offer, how to get that offer out to the world, to my audience, how to launch, and then have gone on from there.

I love sharing my story because I think there are a few key things that are really valuable for people. I think the first thing is the realisation that it's okay to be really good at certain things. It's okay to be really good at starting things, and having ideas, but struggle with the follow-through. It's also okay to be really incredible at following through and getting things done, but having trouble with coming up with ideas or solutions to problems. Both of those things are totally okay. It's okay to build a business with those in mind as well. It's also okay to stop doing shit that you don't want to do anymore. It's okay to do that, that you should do that. It's okay, yeah. Yeah.

[inaudible 00:11:14]. I think it's so interesting because actually one thing that strikes you when you start your own business is you've got to do all these things that you never knew how to do. The thing that you know how to do and that you're good at, is only a part of what you do every day. Like you said, there's all these other things. I'm a little bit like you in that sense that I love coming up with ideas. But if I'm always the holder, like I'm the one who takes forever to do them, so I don't finish as well as I should. I think sometimes we think to ourselves, “We've got to be brilliant at this.” But actually, why? Why do we need to be brilliant at it?

I love your story. I love the fact that you started your life working, which actually is interesting. ‘Cause when I hear so many other entrepreneurs' stories, they're always a case of, “Yeah, I did it. From a child, I remember trying to start my own business.” I never did. I literally started four or five years ago. It was interesting to go from that transition, then to literally fire all your clients. Obviously I love my clients, but I can't tell you how you must have felt. That must have been crazy good, but terrifying at the same time.

So terrifying. So terrifying. But so necessary.

One thing I realised about myself is when I left my non-profit job and went to work for myself full-time, I did all the things that you're supposed to do. I saved money, we had paid off all of our credit cards, we had all this space, we were able to pay our bills for six months of I can't get a single client, we would be totally fine. Which is smart. You should do those things.

What I found for myself is that it made me very lazy, and that I had too much of a cushion. I didn't have enough of that pain or anxiety to do the dang thing. When it was time to transition to my business, I was like, “I'm not gonna do that same thing again,” because what I knew myself and what I would do is I would just drag this out and keep making it easy for me, and then never give my full attention to the thing that needed my full attention. I was like, “Okay, this is happening.”

This is also at the same time, we moved to Chicago at the same, from North Carolina. All the things were happening. I'll be honest, we got here, we paid our first month's rent and we were broke. We were out of money. I didn't know what we were gonna do next. Fortunately we had launched this thing that's worked really well since then, but for me, I needed that pressure to actually see the results that I ended up getting.

That's so funny because I totally agree with you. I started my business, I had no savings and my husband had just left me. I had got a daughter to look after, and a house to keep paying. I literally had one month's salary, that was it. Like we said, you don't have a choice, you've got to do it. Whereas I would be the same, and I'm almost …

The new part of my business that I'm trying to transition into is actually going slower because of the fact that I've still got money coming in from clients, and I have a business. Like you said, that pain isn't there, that fear, or panic, or, “Oh my God, I've got to do this.” Sometimes I think you need that to actually get your backside moving, don't you?

Yeah. Yeah.

‘Cause otherwise we're just like, “Oh, we're okay.”

Maybe not every one needs that, but Teresa and I need that.

Yeah, [inaudible 00:14:42]. Maybe I should fire [inaudible 00:14:43].

We want to start stuff and not finish it, and we need to not know where I our next meal is coming from so we can actually do the work.

Basically put ourselves through sheer panic all the time, and our businesses will be amazing.

Yeah, just see what we can create.

Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book. I should just fire all my clients tomorrow. My husband would have a heart attack. [inaudible 00:15:02].


Don’t overwork yourself


Also, I remember you saying, when you read your story to me 'cause I like to listen to things. When you talked about your story, one thing that really hit home for me, actually, about the whole working so hard, and at the point where your dad was in hospital, and at this point you didn't know it was gonna end the way it did, did you?


He was getting better.


You were in hospital, and I remember you saying that you sat there working. He was like, “That's fine, you've got work to do. That's okay. Carry on.” But I just think back to all those times where my husband and I have just been in Laguna Beach, and I was at the conference, then I spent Saturday working on my laptop, in a bar. It's not the worst place in the world to be, but I'm still doing work. Then my daughter would come home and mummy, terrible mum girl, where I take her up to bed and she's like, “Will you stay with me for a bit?” It's like, “I will, but I've got to go downstairs. I've got to finish that thing.” I totally …

When you said that, I just thought, “Oh wow.” That for me was not a surprise that you went, “I can't carry on like this. I can't do …”

Yeah, yeah. That was the last time that I spent time with my dad. I was on my laptop the whole time, sitting in this hospital room, after he had had this major spinal cord surgery. Of course, he was like, “That's fine.” He loved the fact that I was an entrepreneur. He loved the fact that I had my own business. Every time I did a launch or anything, he wanted to know all the details 'cause he was so excited for me. Even when my business transitioned, I wasn't taking clients as much anymore, he was always sending me, “I talked to a random delivery guy that sells this thing at work today, and they need help on Facebook.” Connecting me with people. I'm like, “I don't do that, but okay cool. Thank you, Dad.”

Thank you, Dad.

Yeah. But that was the last time I got to spend with him, and in person. I was working. That's not the kind of life I wanted.

You know, you couldn't have known, could you? But like you said, it just makes you go, “Oh man, do I want to feel that I'm pinned down to this?” Again, we were just saying before the call, that one of the things that James Redmore talks about all the time is the less you work, basically, the more you earn. Which is not a concept that I'm sure most of the listeners to this podcast are familiar with, 'cause it's drummed into us as children, or from our parents, or from the world that if you want to earn money, you work really hard.

How amazing to get that revelation of, actually this is the best year you've ever had. This year is gonna be the best you've ever had.

Oh yeah. I mean financially in the business, yes. It's a game changer.

Actually considering what you did before to what you do now, it must just feel like a dream.

It does. Something else that I think a lot too, and I share with folks is … I mean, the money is incredible, having a leveraged offer like a course or a membership, group coaching. The ability to bring in revenue and income just increases exponentially. But for me too, it's the realisation that my impact has increase so much as well.

Before, when I was doing social media management, and doing coaching, I could work with maybe 20 clients at a time. That was being very generous with them, and not very generous with myself. Now, in less than a year, we've impacted over a thousand lives through our membership community, in dozens of countries around the world. Whereas before, it was few local businesses, running their Instagram account, a few folks, coaching them on Zoom calls. But just the fact that my impact can increase so exponentially as well, just makes what I'm doing now so much more meaningful too.

It does, if you're … I think you probably are like me, teaching people, helping people, that's the bit I love more than anything. I love showing people stuff, I love teaching stuff, I love sharing my knowledge. To be able to do that on your level, with your membership, must be just a dream come true.

It is. Yeah. It really is.


Tyler’s start on Instagram


Seeing what they achieve … What was really cool actually, is that you started off in Instagram, how many years ago then? It's now …

Oh my gosh. I've been on Instagram since the platform was created, actually. But I started using it for business in 2015, then I started managing Instagram accounts for others at the end of 2015 as well.

You were really quite an early adopter for this. What was it about the platform that you just thought, “Yeah, I love this,” or, “This is a great opportunity for businesses?”

A few of the stats that are still true today on Instagram, and that is the fact that Instagram is the most engaging platform of any platform out there. I love that. I love that fact that Instagram is a place where people engage and connect really freely, and it can happen really easily and naturally. Whereas other platforms might get a bit more difficult, I find, especially on Facebook, because of the privacy features that most people have on their accounts. It's more difficult to engage and find people. Twitter is all over the place. I don't know about for you in the UK, but here in the states, Twitter is a garbage fire of different things happening. I avoid that.

Pinterest is a search engine. It's not really a social platform. Instagram always comes to the top as this place that's engaging, it's fun, it's light, it's easy, and I loved that. I also love that … This has always been true as well, that content lasts longer on Instagram. Even as all these platforms have created and instituted different algorithms for managing content, it's still true on Instagram that your one post will last for days on Instagram, which I love that fact. Now, as Instagram has grown, and with the introduction of Instagram Stories, and Instagram Live, and those types of features, it just makes relationships and community building so much easier than other platforms.

The thing that we say now is that it all goes down in the DMs, and it's really true. We connected in Instagram Direct Message. You can get podcast guests, you can get customers, you can make sales using Direct Messages on Instagram. That just makes it so incredibly valuable. I love that about it. But I think the thing that underpins all that is the fact that it is a fun, light, easy platform where people are all about the connections, and the content. That's really all that matters on Instagram.

I think when you go through the feed it's not like Facebook. Don't get me wrong, obviously we do Facebook for business, and it's a great tool. Really, really good tool. However, when you go through it as a person, for me, it just gets a bit like, “What am I looking at? Who shared what rubbish?” It's not [inaudible 00:22:16]. But when I [inaudible 00:22:17] Instagram, it's so easy and nice, and it's stuff you want to see, isn't it? I think 'cause it's so image led, you don't tend to get a lot of rubbish on there.


Growing your Instagram following


I've been working super hard on my Instagram. I say super hard. I find, I love it. It's my absolute favourite, I love every bit. But I am trying to build followers.

I've had a conversation recently with an Instagrammer and a influencer. She's a proper legit influencer. I had a conversation recently, and she was basically telling me that if you want to increase followers, you've got to pay one of these companies to do this very aggressive follow/unfollow thing. Yeah, right?


I have obviously stayed away from it, because it's like, “Hang on, I teach social media for a living. I can't and wouldn't morally go and do that sort of thing, because it's slow going. It takes a while, and you're trying to do all your interactions.” What kind of amazing tips have you got to suddenly get me [inaudible 00:23:28]. If I could have the ten thousand, so I can have swipe up, that would be amazing. I'd [inaudible 00:23:33]. I'm missing out.

There's a few ways that I talk about Instagram follower growth. The first thing is understanding the main reason behind the desire to grow your following. The first thing that I always tell people is that the swipe up on Instagram Stories ain't that great. Coming from someone who has it, and who uses it, it's not super effective. I'll tell you why. It's because Instagram is not a traffic driving platform. People are on Instagram to be on Instagram. Asking them to leave the platform to go somewhere else is making a huge ask of people.

Instead, what I like to do, what I approach Instagram, how I teach Instagram, is that we try and keep all of the interactions, and engagement, and content within Instagram itself. Now that doesn't mean that we're not building a mailing list, that doesn't mean that we're not making sales or anything like that, because we can do all of that through Direct Messages. But when it comes to trying to drive traffic off Instagram, I like to avoid doing that as much as possible.

Now I still do it. I totally send people out to sales pages, and landing pages, and content elsewhere. But if you can keep them on Instagram, you're gonna get a lot further. With that, that's the first thing of, “Okay cool. That released some of that anxiety,” and like, “Oh my gosh, I want the 10K for the swipe up.”

I really need that. Yeah, yeah. Okay.

The next thing is to recognise that growing your following on Instagram takes complete clarity about who you want as a follower. Because we want to focus on the right kind of follower, the quality over the quantity.


A lot of people are using Instagram, and I'm sure you see this, Teresa, with client when you're onboarding them, who you want more followers, more likes, more page views, more whatevers, subscribers. But a lot of times, as a social media manager, you're having to reel your clients in and saying, “Okay, yes we want more, but more of the right people. We want more engagement, but from the right people.” Same is true on Instagram. Having complete clarity around who that right person is that we want to attract as a follower.

Then once we know what that is … Here's the thing. I love, we've got to talk about how to grow your following. These are all the things you have to do before then. Know who we want as a follower, then know what kind of content they want, because a lot of folks are out on Instagram, trying to grow their following, and they're engaging and trying to get new followers, but they're attracting people back, and their content is not where it needs to be to grow their following. Then focus on the content that they want as your follower. How can you give them value? How can you educate them, or entertain them, or inspire them? Whatever those core objectives of your content are on Instagram.

Then we have to engage more than you post. This is where you really have to shift your time and energy, and focus on Instagram, from being an Instagram user and consumer, to a content creator and marketer. That means when you log on Instagram, you are sharing the content you have created for your ideal follower, and then you're going out and you are engaging with your ideal follower, people who are like your ideal follower, and people who are already following you to build a stronger relationship with those people.

That looks like going onto Instagram, opening up your Instagram app. Instead of just staying in your feed, and scrolling through, or watching Instagram Stories mindlessly, which there's totally a time and place for that, but if you want to grow your following that means you're gonna open up Instagram, and immediately go to the Discover tab and look in hashtags, and locations, and look at other accounts that are you like, or that are complimentary to you, and you're engaging with people that way to give them just a little wave, a little tap on the shoulder, and introduce yourself to them through your engagement, and attract them back to your profile.

That's how you grow your following now. Instagram follower growth does not happen anymore with a pretty picture and just a bunch of hashtags because people aren't mindlessly scrolling through the feed anymore, or really mindlessly searching through hashtags. Instead, they're just watching Instagram Stories now. You can't really grow your following by just posting something pretty with a bunch of hashtags because you're not gonna get nearly as much traffic as you would maybe a year, a year and a half ago. You have to go out and find people. Attract them back to you and what you're doing.


Success with Instagram Stories


Yeah. That is great advice. Thank you. The Instagram Stories, 'cause I have a Story, and I love watching Stories. That's like …

Me too.

… hours doing that. Literally hours. In Instagram Stories, you can actually put hashtags, can't you? But I actually find they're not massively successful, unless I'm not using the right ones. But even when I use them, sometimes occasionally it'll get picked up on the hashtag and I'll see that I'm getting views off that hashtag. Location seems to work better for me. Although, again I think it depends on where you are and what location you're pinning. ‘Cause if it's too big a location, then you're struggling a bit there. I find that they have been okay, but not as effective as I'd let them to.

Yeah. When I think of hashtags, and locations, and Instagram Stories is the objective of doing that is not for follower growth, or really even account exposure. It's mainly for just contributing to that conversation, in that time or in that place. What I mean by that is that when you put a hashtag on your Instagram Story, or you add a location, like you said, it may or may not show up in that hashtag or location on Instagram.

But here's the thing, it's going to potentially get you more views, but the people aren't going to see your entire Instagram Story. What we teach our students and the way that we approach Instagram stories is that we tell stories in a complete way, in that there's a beginning, middle, and end. There's complexity to the Story, so they're getting something out of it.

They're not gonna see the whole Story, so they may get a little confused about what they're seeing. They're also not going to be able to easily get back to your profile to follow you, or to consume more of your content. Instead, adding hashtags and locations to your Stories is really just a way for you to say, “Hey, I just want this in this hashtag or in this location to contribute to the Stories that are being shared there,” but that's really all it's doing.

I see a lot of people who are talking about, “Use hashtags, use locations, get more views.” I get that, but that's also just staying obsessed with the vanity metrics. We know as marketers that vanity metrics mean absolutely nothing. That if we can't tie it back to a sale, to an increase in revenue, in the business, then it doesn't really matter. It doesn't really matter.

Now for influencers, someone who's trying to grow their following to get paid brand deals, that's totally different. They can use whatever machine they want to do whatever shady stuff they want to do. But for us, as business owners and marketers, we got to focus on the real genuine connections 'cause that's what makes all the difference.

I think, again, it's so right in the fact that … I have always said, although there is this part of me that thinks, “I would like more followers.” [inaudible 00:30:44] said, I would rather have 500 people who knew me and loved me, than 5,000 that hadn't got a clue who you were. But I don't know about you, but because I like to speak, I love speaking, and I know that one other thing they're doing is they're checking all my profiles [inaudible 00:31:02] you're at, because obviously they want to know they've got someone who is fairly well known in order to say, “Yeah, come and speak at this place.”

I'm totally with you. It's I want people to follow me because they want to follow me, because they get good content from me, or they like what I post. I don't want … Although I'd love the numbers, what's the point in having that? It's not gonna put food on the table, is it? Having [inaudible 00:31:30] of Instagram followers are not bringing you in money necessarily, if they're not the right followers.


Creating amazing Instagram content


Tell me a bit about your content, because I love looking at your content. I love seeing your pictures.

Thank you.

You have lots of photos of you and your home life. Was that always an intentional thing? How do you find that? ‘Cause I know there are so many people out there who don't like putting themselves on social media. For me, I would say I've probably got better in the past six months, where I've been more intentional, I've had photo shoots done. I know this [inaudible 00:32:07] the most vain thing in the world, but actually if I'm gonna have a photo, I want a nice photo, and I'm trying to put more photos of me on there. How do you find putting it out there? Is that something that you always wanted to do or was happy with? Or is that something you've had to get to grips with and think, “I've got to do that, because this is what it's about.”

Yeah. My content's definitely evolved, especially in the past year or so. I used to have more diversified photography in my feed. There was a mix of me, a mix of inspirational quotes, and then photos of the things that I use to do my job, laptops, notebooks, computers, those types of things, like the places and spaces where I work, and travel and visit. But what I've recognised is the content that performs the best is when I'm in the photo. One of the things that I always encourage folks to do around the last month of the year, so I'll be doing this again just a few months, is encouraging folks to use one of those websites that will tell you your most engaging Instagram post of the last 12 months, or your best post of the year. Typically, it'll spit out a grid of your nine most engaging posts of the year.

More often than not, the most engaging post of the year are going to be photos of a human being, so you, your family, your kids, whatever, your pets, whatever, where it is an actual person or experience that someone can connect to. It's not always gonna be that pretty blush and gold stock photo that you bought, or the really fun witty quote that you put on a letter board. Those may perform well, but more often than not it's gonna be a picture of a real person.

I've done this for the past two years for myself, and encourage others to do it. Of course, it was always a picture of me. It wasn't always even a professional photo. One of my most engaging posts is me, that my partner, Eric, took it on his iPhone. I was sitting on the floor in our kitchen, wearing a crappy house T-shirt, eating a jelly filled donut from Dunkin' Donuts. I posted that, but then I wrote about how it was my first year anniversary of being a business, totally on my own, and what that meant over the past year, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What I've realised is that photos of me really perform the best. For folks who are listening who are personal brands, solopreneurs, or who are building a business where they are the point of connection for people, then those photos of you are going to be the key to unlocking that connection with your audience.

I'm at the point too, I just had my first ever brand photo shoot. We brought a photographer in for two days, and she photographed me and my partner, us at home, us at the coffee shop, walking the neighbourhood, head shots, everything, so I could get a tonne content. We'll be doing that again in the Spring as well. It's a funny thing, being a business owner. I never thought I would be having glamour shoots, but it's part of it now. It's what we do.

It is hilarious. I joke with people like, “Oh, I love a photo shoot.” I'm half joking, but like you said, it's one of those things.

I've got some photos on my Instagram that were taken on phones, and they're okay. But I just knew I didn't have enough content. When I went out to the states actually, and if you're ever looking, there's an amazing guy called Tim King. I said his name right. It just jumped out my head, then I thought, “[inaudible 00:35:32] get his name right.” Anyway, [inaudible 00:35:34] and tell him. He did some photos for me in San Diego. He also did Rick Mulready's.


He's really good. When I go out to the states, I have photos taken with him. He's really, really good.

But as you said, the funny thing is I haven't got any photos of me A) in the UK, or B) in winter. It is Tim King, I've just remembered it's definitely Tim King. [inaudible 00:36:06]. All my ones are done in Laguna Beach, lovely, and San Diego, also lovely. But of course both really warm places, and lovely light colours. Now we're coming into autumn here and I've just literally come back and it's freezing here. I'm gonna have to get some more UK based shots, and some more wintry, warmer colours and things. Like I said, it feels completely ridiculous. However, I do get why it's important.

Were you always happy putting yourself out there? ‘Cause like I said, there's so many people who aren't, who don't want to be seen. But was that something that you're like, “Yeah, cool.” Again, I was talking to Rick about it and he was a bit like, “[inaudible 00:36:49], no. Not for me.” Have to get over and just get on with it.

Yeah. It's definitely something I had to work on. I grew up in the south, here in the U.S. I was always the chubby, feminine gay kid. That doesn't pair well with growing up in the bible belt. I never really fit in. When it came time to do this business thing, and it was like, “I need to put myself out there,” the last thing I wanted to do was do this vulnerability thing of like, “Look at me, and my body, and how I act, and how I move,” and all these things. Yeah, it definitely took some practise to get used to it, but I approached it in two ways.

The first way is that, this does get results. That's the first realisation. The second realisation is that at the end of the day, it's not really about me. They're photos of me, it's my story, my information, but it's not really about me, and so it's about my followers. It's about how I can entertain them, or how I can inspire them to live a more blended life with their business. Or how I can motivate them to show up online, or how I can educate them about the best practises on Instagram.

When I remember that, that it's not really about me, and then when I remember that this type of content really does work, I'm like, “Okay Tyler. Get out of your own head. Get out of your own way and just do the dang thing. We can do hard things, we've done hard things our entire life. If this is hard thing for you, you're just gonna work through it, you're just gonna do it.” It's like riding a bicycle, it gets easier and easier until you haven't done it in a decade, and then you get on it again. You're like, “Oh my God. I'll ride a bus.”

Ride a bike.

Yeah, exactly.

That is not for me. I think like you said, when you think of it from other peoples' point of view, and I remember, it was when I met Amy actually, and we were having a coffee. She said to me that someone once said to her, “What if there are people out there like you, that need you to be on stage. Need you to show everyone else that you can do it.”

I think sometimes in our industry, especially when you look at the likes of the stunning Jasmine Star, or some others that are right there … Well, Amy's also stunning. But some of these people are so beautiful, and so amazing looking, and their life looks amazing, and then you get up and …

Well it was so funny, my husband and I were talking about the fact of someone said that need to be more vulnerable and I need to put some more of the not-so-perfect looking, or maybe a bit more I'm-just-in-the-office-doing-nothing-today, or whatever. I woke up the other morning in the hotel room, and I looked at myself in the mirror. I was like, “I look a mess.” I looked bad. He went, “Where is your phone? Should we Instagram it?” I was like, “We're Instagramming this. I can tell you for nothing.”

I love it.

I loved the fact of it is such a hard thing [inaudible 00:39:48], 'cause I just fear the minute someone says something mean, I want to get under a rock and stay there for the rest of my life. But I want to do this. I want to help lots of people, so actually we do just have to go, “All right, we're gonna just do it,” aren't we?

Yeah. Yeah.

I love that. I love that. It just takes …

If I could get a really good editor that could slim me down a bit in some of the photos, that would be amazing. Then they'd meet me in real life and they're like, “Uh. The skin isn't as flawless as it normally looks.” Terrible. I love a good filter.

Tell me about your membership. Again, for my listeners, if they want to know about it, what's the membership? Where can they go and find out more information about it?

Our community is called The Follower to Fan Society. We have three main components for our members. We have a framework, like a training system where we teach them all about marketing online using Instagram, or what it takes to do that successfully. We have resources that we create every month to help you actually do that. Things like monthly content guides, hot seat calls, and support from our team. Then we have a Facebook Group community, which is one of the most incredible supportive groups on the planet of entrepreneurs just cheering you on, supporting you, answering your questions. That's what our members get access to.

You can actually go to, and hop on the waiting list. The doors are closed for now, but once you hop on that waiting list, we'll send you some more information and give you the chance to join us inside the community.

That's so cool. What's coming next? You have just had the most phenomenal year. How you can even think of anything else, I'm not entirely sure. But I'm sure you are definitely looking forward. What's next for Tyler?

Oh my gosh. There's so many things I want to do, but I'm practising that whole idea of focusing on one thing for now. We're just gonna keep growing The Follower to Fan Society. Our goal in 2019 is to turn this course into a million dollar business. I think we're on track to make that happen. I'm super excited about that. That's our focus now. Once we've conquered that, then we can look at more ways to help people, and empower people online. Yeah, that's it for now, just sticking with this one thing, which is very hard for me.

[inaudible 00:42:17].

Right, I know.

We should do this, and we should do that.

Totally. But I've seen for myself this year, if I can just stay focused, stay one-track mind, then yeah, it makes a huge difference. That makes total sense, but it makes a huge difference in my business.

There's the two of you in the business. Do you both work together?

Yeah. My partner and I both work in the business. He's our Director of Community. He handles all of our members, and customers, and creating an experience for them, supporting them through their journey and our community. We're actually growing our team, which is really exciting. We're hiring our first employee right now. We've been doing the whole subcontractor thing, but hiring our first employee this fall, and then another employee after the first of the year. All that's so exciting and terrifying, but I'm so excited to do it.

That's awesome. I love the fact that you work together. When you think of some of the amazing people out there, they often have their partner involved, don't they? It's really nice that you can share that. My dream is to retire my husband from the forces and let him work in the business. Whether he'll want to is another matter. He might be like, “I am not working with you. There is not way I'm doing that.”

Actually he'll just go, “Can you not just retire me and I'll just [inaudible 00:43:40] house or something [inaudible 00:43:41]?” But yeah, I'd love that. He always comes with me whenever I go to the states, mainly 'cause he gets a holiday out of it. He drives me because I don't drive in the states yet. I think I'd be okay, but it's big, and busy.

Everything's a little backwards.

Yes. The wrong way. I get [inaudible 00:44:01], then I'm not sure where I'm going, so that wouldn't be a good idea. But yeah, it'd be great to have him part of it. I just think so lovely when there's the two of you in the same house, and you're working towards the same common goal. You can share your feelings, and thoughts, and frustrations about the business, and lot of things. I love that.

I love the fact that the two of you are so strong together. When I see it on your Instagram, in your Stories, I love the fact that you share so much of that side of your life. I think that's really cool as well.

Thank you. Thank you.

Tyler you've been an absolute delight. I've loved having you on, and you've given us some great advice on Instagram, and how we're not gonna get all panicked about not having millions of followers.

That's right. That's right.

I have to remind myself, I'm not an influencer. Don't get me wrong, I'd like a couple of free things now and again, but we're doing it for marketing and therefore we're gonna do it for properly. Thank you so much, Tyler. It's been an absolute pleasure.

Thanks for having me.

Wasn't that just awesome. He was such a nice guy. There was so much about his story that I felt that not only I could resonate with, but lots of people could resonate with. For me, particularly the bit where the awful story that his dad passed away, and the last time he spent with his dad he was working.

I don't know about you, but sometimes as entrepreneurs, business owners, even I guess when I was working and I was employed, I was still the same. I worked super hard and I worked all the time. There are times where I've missed things, or not been solely fully in attention because I've been [inaudible 00:45:42] something else, and they just made me think, “Are we doing these things for the right reason? Not everybody wants to be a millionaire, not everybody wants to be head of an empire. That's absolutely fine. Are we remembering why we did this in the first place?” I really enjoyed his story. I thought it was really heart warming, but hard hitting at the same time.

He gave some great tips. I loved his thoughts on, obviously that it's all about community, and connections. He's saying that it all goes down in the DMs. I love that because he's right. That's how I got him to come onto the podcast, I DMed him. Now I try and be really creative when I contact people, and I try and make my DMs stand out, but I still did it that way. He's totally right about that. Loved his thoughts about building an audience, and not getting hung up with this 10,000 swipe up feature that I've really desperately want, and that actually for him, it's not something that people naturally do, so that's great to hear about that as well, for somebody who has got it.

Loved his comments and his tips about if you want more followers, you have to get clarity on who you want as a follower, and who it is you're talking to, then what does that follower want to see from you? Because you could have completely disparaging parts there. You could be thinking, this is who I want as a follower. However, you could be providing content that doesn't attract those followers. I loved that advice, and then really interestingly his advice about engaging more than you post. I thought that was great. I thought that was really interesting in terms of how you build your followers.

For me, this was a great episode. You know very well I love Instagram. I think it's a fantastic tool for marketers, and for business owners. I can only see it getting better and better. It was great to get an expert on who's done phenomenally well I this business, who's genuinely a nice guy, so I really enjoyed today's episode.

Like I said in the intro, don't forget to let us know what you think, and tag both Tyler and I in an Insta Story. We would love to hear from you. Okay, that's it from me. Have a great week, and I will see on Monday for another episode of the podcast. Until then, take care.