interior

60k & What I learned Along The Way

Celebrating 60k followers on Instagram. Bought myself some ridiculous balloons to celebrate!

Celebrating 60k followers on Instagram. Bought myself some ridiculous balloons to celebrate!

This week I reached 60,000 followers on Instagram. That is massive for me - I started my styling account on Instagram in 2016 and never dreamed I could get it to where it is now. To celebrate I bought myself some ridiculous balloons and decided to shout about it. People say numbers don’t matter and of course they don’t in real life but I am proud of what I’ve managed to achieve working full time in a “proper job” and running this little side hustle on evenings and weekends.

So whether you have ambitions for 100 followers or 100,000 followers, I thought I’d share some of my journey and some tips I’ve learnt along the way.

Inappropriate Balloons are a must for the gram! ;)

Inappropriate Balloons are a must for the gram! ;)

1. Hashtags - Are they important?

I would say yes, they still are important. Here was my first ever Instagram post - I used a total of 6 hashtags. I achieved 11 likes. Granted it’s not the greatest post ever produced but when you are just starting out, hashtags are the best way to get your page seen. And it still works even if you have lots of followers - one of my latest posts this week reached over 20,000 people from hashtags alone. This doesn’t convert to likes or followers but it means people are still finding my page and searching via hashtags.

My very first Instagram post for Northern Styling - 11 likes, 6 hashtags

My very first Instagram post for Northern Styling - 11 likes, 6 hashtags

You are allowed to use 30 hashtags per post on Instagram and I cannot stress enough how important it is to USE THEM ALL. Also make sure they are relevant to your post. Don’t use interior hashtags if you are posting a picture of the beach, for example. Have a look at people who have similar successful accounts to what you have or would like. See what hashtags they are using and use them too.

Another top tip would be to mix it up, constantly be on the search for new hashtags to make sure you don’t use the same ones for every post. This means you won’t just be seen by the same people but by more and more new people who have the potential to become followers if they like what they see.

Insights from a latest post and the reach from hashtags.

Insights from a latest post and the reach from hashtags.

2. Planning

I have always been an advocate of planning my grid for a number of reasons. Firstly, working full time during the week means I only have the weekends to create content. Once I have taken the photos, I load them into an app called Mosaico to place them in a grid like format which is linked to my Instagram account. This allows me to move and swap images depending on well they sit together.

Think about the images in terms of how they fill the frame. Some images are fit to burst in the square as they are close up, some have a bit of space as they were taken further away. Some have clean negative space to allow the image to breathe. Thinking about this will allow to balance out the images so visually the grid works together.

Using Mosaico for a consistent grid.

Using Mosaico for a consistent grid.

Other reason I love this app is because it allows you to save and store hashtags in categories so there’s no need to type 30 hashtags every time you post. They are all saved here, in categories relating to different topics and I mix them up whenever it is necessary.

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3. Finding Your Style

Your social media account should represent you and what you like. People invest in people so it always helps if there is a personality behind the account. Instagram is a visual platform which means pretty pictures are always welcome but over the years we have seen stories, behind the scenes, posting what matters and being honest rise in popularity. There is still very much a community on this little app so find your people and reach out to them.

The early days of my grid. It was a bit of mismatch of things but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up occasionally.

The early days of my grid. It was a bit of mismatch of things but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up occasionally.

Getting a bit more consistent with the grid, you can see the theme and style coming through here.

Getting a bit more consistent with the grid, you can see the theme and style coming through here.

This is what I would say is my favourite part of the grid at the moment. Colours are balanced and there’s a good mixture of images.

This is what I would say is my favourite part of the grid at the moment. Colours are balanced and there’s a good mixture of images.

4. Editing & The Magic Healing Tool

Disclaimer Alert - I am not a professional photographer. I take most images on my iPhone and my Olympus Pen camera. Although I have a basic knowledge for composition and a probably a “good eye” picked up along the way from practise and my day job, my skill lies mainly in editing.

The power of technology these days means you don’t need a fancy Mac and a load of expensive software to edit pictures for social media. You can simply download a couple of apps and voila! Instant editing software with a few go to tools that will help enhance your image.

Before & After Editing in VSCO.

Before & After Editing in VSCO.

The first app I use is VSCO. This is preset/editing tool which helps to create consistent images for your grid. There are hundreds of presets to choose from and I mainly stick to A5. This is my favourite because it gives me a bit of contrast (huge fan of contrast) and a mood which I can’t really explain - it just feels like me! I would suggest trying out this app, have fun with it. Try things you would never try and find the preset that speaks to you the most. Once you have found “the one”, you can edit every photo with it and create a unique style for yourself. VSCO also has useful tools like exposure, contrast, straighten. As you can see above, a wonky picture became straight by using the tools available on this app.

I have recorded a quick and dirty video which you can see here of how I edited this particular image.

Using the Healing tools on Photoshop. Ugly satellite dish - now you see, now you don’t.

Using the Healing tools on Photoshop. Ugly satellite dish - now you see, now you don’t.

Another favourite app of mine is the Photoshop Fix app. The healing tools have been my lifesaver over the years. Editing out little imperfections such as a wire or like the satellite dish that was ruining the shot above, I don’t know how it does it but it is magic! And is done all on your phone using your finger and a gentle touch - perfect for on the go editing.

5. Working with Brands

And finally, the last thing I want to talk about is working with brands. As your Instagram grows, it may be an ambition of yours to work with brands and style up some product. When first starting out I would always recommend collaborating on a gifting basis which is where the brand will gift you an item in exchange for you photographing and posting it on your grid. This could be a cushion or a candle, a dress or some food - just make sure it is relevant to your style and ethos. In the early days, it was all about learning and gaining experience. My first ever collaboration was a cushion that was very kindly gifted by Happy & Co.

Very first brand collaboration with Happy & Co.

Very first brand collaboration with Happy & Co.

I spent hours on this photo, trying the cushion in all different positions, bringing in props and trying to coax the cat to pose perfectly alongside it! The final image is pretty ropey but it gained me so much knowledge. How to communicate with brands, how to slot the #ad into my grid, how to sound genuine and not sales pitchy. Over the years I’ve done many gifting collaborations and the one piece of advice everyone always says is “only do it if you like the brand, like the item and feel like it represents you.” It is 100% true. Remember what I said about people invest in people? Well if you’re trying to preach about a loo roll holder when your account is all about travel, you are not only confusing your following, you are being untrue to your page. And people can spot non genuine posts a mile off.

Flower Lounge Collaboration

Flower Lounge Collaboration

As you get bigger and grow, it might be time to consider your worth for working with brands. Especially bigger brands. Shots like this Flower Lounge image above took a full day to set up and plan. This is precious time for me especially working full time. I know I have to allocate hours to this project, hours I could be spending relaxing or spending time with friends. Luckily I love doing it but it doesn’t mean my time is free. Knowing your worth is really important and don’t be afraid to agree a payment if you want. There is a lot of negativity around Influencers and Instagram but it is a highly valuable tool for brands. If there were advertising in a magazine they would pay a fortune for ad space. This is exactly the same on Instagram - it’s ad space and it shouldn’t be something to be mocked.

Tile Giant Flat lay Collaboration

Tile Giant Flat lay Collaboration

6. Over To You

If you have made it through to the end of this post then well done you! And thank you! Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my blog, follow my Instagram, comment on my posts and likes the images. It really means a lot! And I wish you all the luck if you are trying to grow and find your niche in the Instagram community! Give me a hello on there and I will be sure to follow and support!

My most liked post ever - 17.6k likes, 129 comments, 337 shares & 4.5k saves.

My most liked post ever - 17.6k likes, 129 comments, 337 shares & 4.5k saves.

Styling Flowers Through The Seasons

The flatlay that won me the competition

The flatlay that won me the competition

In September 2018 I entered The Flower Lounge’s competition to win six months of flowers. The competition was open to anyone local who could pop in to pick up some free flowers and take them home to style. I actually found out I had won on holiday in Crete where I had also just gotten engaged so September was a fabulous month for me! I thought I’d show you how I styled the bouquets through the seasons.

The Flower Lounge, Didsbury. Featuring board design from Indigo Impressions.

The Flower Lounge, Didsbury. Featuring board design from Indigo Impressions.

The Flower Lounge is a gorgeous award winning florist which is round the corner from my house. Ran by Siân and her wonderful team, I have bought various flowers from them in the past from my Dad’s funeral flowers to my upcoming wedding. They do regular workshops and sell other little trinkets such as vases, plants and candles so it’s the perfect “one stop shop” for presents. I love this little shop and was delighted when I won the competition. Who doesn’t like free flowers every month?

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October

Amaranthus

October is all about pumpkins, deep oranges and reds with pops of green. It’s my favourite month, and the month I will be saying “I do” this year.

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November

Ilex Berries

The long winter nights call for candlelight and hearty dinners. A bouquet on the table is my perfect centrepiece all year round whether we eat at the table or not.

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December

Ranunculus

Fairylights, candles and mini wreaths spell Christmas in our house. In the winter we retreat more into the lounge as it’s a smaller space and feels more cosy especially with the fire going. Bringing the bouquet into the space with us and curling up with blankets whilst the weather rages outside is my perfect way to hibernate.

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January

Alstromeria

Christmas is over and it’s a time for fresh starts. All the decorations have gone and the house feels a lot simpler. I never normally have flowers in the bedroom but they were lovely to wake up to each morning.

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February

Pussy Willow

The month of love! I love creating photos of flowers in the belfast sink. Something about the crisp white ceramic and the gorgeous colours of the bouquet make me imagine living in a gorgeous countryside property having foraged flowers from the my massive garden!

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So those were my take on styling flowers through the seasons. If you are local to Manchester or just passing through, I would highly recommend The Flower Lounge for all your floral needs.

This content was not sponsored in any way, all thoughts are my own although Siân helped me with the naming of the flowers!

Interior Inspiration - Manchester

Whenever I get stuck on the creativity front - I always head out and try and find inspiration from my home city. There are gems everywhere you look and Manchester really is becoming a hot trendy place to be. Here's my top 10 (for now)...

No.1 Leaf On Portland Street

Leaf is rather unexpected as it sits along the huge row of Bruntwood buildings on Portland Street, in fact it wraps around an office building splitting into two spaces. This is a hidden gem that is not yet so well known so it's perfect for admiring the interiors and having enough room to wander. It used to be the old Cube Gallery that I frequented as a graduate so has a special place in my heart. There are so many gorgeous details here, it is sympathetic to it's history whilst being bang on trend and current, mixing the old with the new perfectly

No.2 The Lost & Found Knutsford 

Technically not Manchester but close enough and just 20 mins on the train. This place is absolutely gorgeous, every single detail has been thought of - from the floor to the stairways to the fabrics. Set in an old church, the high ceilings and arched windows are perfect for statement chandeliers and bold patterns. There's a sense of fun in the little touches - neon lights, colourful flowers and vintage propping that gives this space the edge.

No.3 The Refuge

Probably one of Manchester most Instagrammed spots - the Winter Garden is everything you'd want it to be and has probably been the source of inspiration for a few of Manchester's latest spots. From the monochrome tiles on the floor to the deep green velvet sofas, I adore everything about this space. The tree in the middle wrapped in fairy lights is a real showstopper, and the marble table tops and floral patterns work so perfectly together. Set in the Palace hotel, you really feel the grandeur of the past whilst being completely in the now. 

No.4 Chapter One Books

This was an unintential find one day wandering around the Northern Quarter but definietly one I'm glad I stumbled one. Chapter One Books is an independant bookshop/coffee shop in such a lovely space, it makes you want to stay here for hours. The decor is so eclectic with random bits of furniture used to display books, chairs for lounging and the most gorgeous green vintage reading lamps I have seen in a long time! It feels like stumbling into someone's very eccentric lounge but immediately feeling at home! 

No.5 The Refinery 

Nestled behind all the major tourist spots in Spinningfields, The Refinery sits quietly and unexpectedly. This is the ultimate "Hygge" and Scandi Chic spot in Manchester complete with fur throws and candles. The soft greys and warm yellows make this space the ultimate place for bottomless brunch with the girls or even somewhere you can take Mum and make her feel special. It also hasn't been tainted by the alchemist crowd so get there whilst it's still relatively unknown. Anywhere that offers blankets with a cocktail becomes my favourite place immediately. 

No.6 Grand Pacific 

For all the old school colonial glamour, head to Grand Pacific. It is glam and grand, with high ceilings and parquet floors, peacock chairs and huge palms. It is the perfect escape to have a cocktail or two and soak in the surroundings.

The toilets are also the stuff of dreams, starting my silly back & forth with a few fellow Instagrammers over great toilet designs. #ihavethisthingwithrestaurantloos may take off one day! 

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No.7 Suri

This place is probably the most brand new of them all. It is everything that is on trend at the minute. I'm in love with the soft pinks and rose golds contrasting against the deep blues and black marbles. It screams luxury and you can tell the designers have really thought about creating an 'on trend' cool vibe. 

No.8 - Randall & Aubin

A newbie to Bridge Street, just off Deansgate - Randall & Aubin is the most stylish fish restaurant I have ever been in. Not only was the food delicious but the atmosphere was lovely. The space is very long and narrow with mainly big tables for groups and lots of sharing dishes, inviting you to get stuck in and really enjoy one another's company. There are a lot of patterned tiles everywhere with accents of brass to keep it classy. 

The toilets are something else too - pink, greens and that wallpaper is just amazing! So vibrant and fun yet also maintaining the level of luxury. 

No. 9 The Wonder Inn

The Wonder Inn is a magical place on the edge of the Northern Quarter, nestled in an derelict warehouse that Manchester is rich beyond belief with. It's a wellness centre dedicated to the community and houses a cafe, bar, yoga rooms and workshops. The low key styling of this space is just wonderful, who doesn't love fairy lights up against stripped walls with umbrellas hanging from the ceiling? The sense of history is fantastic with most of the original features remaining as well as peeling plaster and wonky ceilings! We stumbled on a Brass Band Gig here and it was absolutely epic. 

 

And finally...No.10 Alabamas 

The pancakes here alone are enough reason to visit but the decor is pretty amazing too. It's very American Eatery but with a David Hockney colour palette and will brighten up your day immediately. You might have to queue to get in but it is 100% worth the wait. The zebra wallpaper in the bathrooms is also well worth a nosey. I can't resist a Zebra theme! 

As I am writing this, there's at least 1 new place popping up on my radar everyday. Leaving the possibility open for a version 2 of this post - and also plenty of opportunities for me to go wandering, drink and eat!