Table of Contents:
- My Real Instagram Success Story
3 Keys to Instagram Success and how I found happiness through iG amid Financial Crisis
Read my personal Instagram story and how discovering Instagram helped me find joy again. I share my three keys to Instagram success I learned along the way.
My Real Instagram Success Story
Sometimes something very, very good comes out of something very, very bad. And this is my story, my personal story of how Instagram success brought me to a place of fulfillment and renewed joy.
Before I begin, I want to tell you it is not a sob story. Nor is it a Cinderella story. It is just my story. A real story. And I want to share a little bit of the reality behind the pretty pictures and my Instagram success.
Ok, I know this doesn’t sound like a very exciting story, but I promise it has a lesson worth learning.
I want to share my real Instagram story and the three keys to Instagram success I learned along the way.
Setting the Scene
A happy, healthy family of four. My husband, our two sons ages three and one, and I had just moved into our dream house in the suburbs of San Francisco. Six months after moving in my husband lost his job. I was a stay at home mom taking care of my boys. This began a three-year period without income. He did some soul searching and started his own business in the senior care industry. But getting the business off the ground took all the savings we had left.
The next four years were full of stress and sacrifice. We were reaching a critical stage. The business was growing but not fast enough. I had gone back to work helping my husband with payroll costs, but it just wasn’t enough. The bills were piling up. With each passing year we made more lifestyle adjustments, cutting out gym memberships, travel and luxuries we had so long taken for granted. New clothes, mani-pedis, the occasional facial or massage became a thing of the past.
Finally, it seemed that everything in my life that I had relied on for my happiness was no longer part of the budget. I became bored and even depressed. I was desperate for something to distract myself from the stress and worry. My previous go-to “solution,” which was shopping, was of course now off limits. Even window shopping was too depressing. It just reminded me of what I couldn’t afford.
Eventually I came to terms with the idea that it was better if I just stayed home in order to avoid temptation. I started to sink into a depression mostly based on feelings of boredom, stress and feeling sorry for myself. I withdrew from friends and used our lack of money as an excuse. But it was more than that. I just wasn’t happy and didn’t know where I was going to find my joy again.
Hold On, The Story is About to Get Better
Enter my twin sister Julie. It was about three months after she had moved into her new “dream home” in Seattle when she started talking about the “decor community” on IG. She talked to me with giddy excitement about how she was sharing her passion for decorating with others. Read more about Julie’s Instagram Story here.
Julie suggested I get on IG and join her decor community. She said how kind and encouraging everyone was, how she was making friends, and how I could join too. But I was very hesitant. Sure, she was having Instagram success and finding friends because she had a new beautiful home.
But What Would I Post?
First of all, I knew nothing of home décor. Even more importantly I hadn’t thought about decorating my home since we moved in six years ago. I hadn’t spent a penny on furniture or new decor. Not even a new pillow. Can you imagine? And I certainly didn’t have any way of making changes now. Lastly, I knew absolutely nothing about photography. I thought, what could I possibly offer? Who would want to follow me?
Yes, I do know what it’s like to be new on IG, to just be starting out and to have those feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. Remember, I’m no different than you.
And she can be very persuasive! One day I thought, what do I have to lose? I took a bold step, took a picture of my kitchen, and posted it.
Okay, not so bad. I got a few likes. No one said anything mean. There may have been a nice comment or two. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe my sister was right. I started contemplating my next post.
Another Reality Check
Let me pause right here for another reality check. My first pictures were absolute crap. Sorry for my language but there really is no “sweet” way to say it. The angles were all off. The lighting was horrific. I could see the difference between my pictures and the decor pictures I was swooning over, but I had no idea how to change it. Not yet.
So, what next? I started looking for inspiration. I started looking for accounts that I loved. Anything that really spoke to me. My creative juices were sparked!
I began experimenting with lighting, turning lights on and off, taking pics at different times of the day and from different angles. Then, I started to experiment with photo editing for the first time.
And I started sharing love.
While I was busy getting inspired, I was also finding mentors. Once I found these people and accounts, I spent focused time and energy connecting and creating real relationships with these people.
I was doing all the important things that I now teach others to do.
Three Keys to Instagram Success
Here is what I learned.
Key #1: Try
Be brave and just try. And try some more. You must be willing to risk putting yourself out there. No, your first posts will probably not be great, unless you are a professional photographer and already an expert in your niche. Think of every post as an experiment. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Use IG to figure out who you are, what you like, what works and what doesn’t work–a place to perfect your craft.
Key #2: Find Your Niche
Find your niche. What are you passionate about? Where does your heart lie? This is the time and the place to dream. Do you love to travel and explore the world? Do you love make-up and beauty? Is fashion your thing? Figure out what you want to focus on and then find accounts and people you really love. Follow their lead. Watch what they do. Learn from them. Allow your own style to emerge in your pictures. Find your own voice on your posts.
When I started out, I knew my pictures weren’t good. I knew that my decor really wasn’t “swoon worthy.” So, I decided to make up for it with kindness. And it worked.
I liked and commented and didn’t hold back. I engaged with everyone around me every day as often as I could.
Did you know that people are just as likely to follow you if you are kind to them as they are to follow you if you have nice photos? Well, maybe not everyone, but the people that you will end up being your true supporters and your most valuable engaged followers will. The people that you want in your corner are going to follow you for your heart as much as for your pictures, even on Instagram.
Did you know that IG rewards engagement as much, if not more than the number of likes? Do not underestimate the power of spreading the love, engaging and commenting. I promise you it had as much to do with my Instagram success as improving my home decor and photography.
How My Instagram Success Story Ends
My story is a happy one. Not because we are out of our financial crisis. We are still struggling. But do I sound depressed? No. In fact, I am anything but because I found happiness despite our financial situation. I discovered my voice on IG, thanks to my sister and my many thousands of encouraging, supportive followers. I now have love and compassion and an optimism that comes from the feeling of succeeding at something you love, just because I tried.
Instagram Success: Let’s Recap
What lessons did we learn? What are my three keys to Instagram success?
- Just try.
- Find your niche, your passion, your peeps. Find what inspires you.
- Spread the love. Connect and engage!
These three Instagram success keys helped pull me out of one of the hardest times in my life. No one’s life is perfect, but you can find rays of hope, renewed purpose and ultimate happiness when you pour your heart into something you are passionate about. You’ve got nothing to lose, but so much to gain. Take my word for it.
For more Instagram insights, tips and strategies be sure to read our other posts on this topic including: Grow Instagram Following: 10 Tips
And our series on the benefits of Instagram: Instagram Benefits: Part 1 and Instagram Benefits: Part 2
For more helpful Instagram tips and tricks, read this blog on more keys to success on IG.
Thank you for this wonderful post. My story is similar. But I started my Instagram after I loss my mom. It really help me get out of my depression and focus on what I loved. (Home decor) I can go on and on about my story but I just want to thank you for sharing yours and I know it can help others. I’m a True Believer in making friends and engaging that’s what Instagram is all about.
What an inspirational story! Bless your wonderful sister for her persistence. You and she are two of my IG favorites.
Connie, You are such a sweetheart. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your encouraging support. I believe God works powerfully through people, and this is undoubtedly the case with my sweet sis. We hope you will come back often to visit us here on our blog…we are so excited about our journey which has just begun and happier that you are coming along with us. With love and gratitude, Jodie & Julie
I love following you, first because you’re kind, and genuine and then because I love your content. But I was first drawn to your kindness.
Aw, Kristy! That is so so sweet of you! Your message truly makes our hearts happy! We hope you continue to enjoy all aspects of our blog. Blessings, Julie & Jodie
What a great story! Always looking for inspiration and stories about real people and how they live!
Theresa, I’m so glad you visited our blog and found my story inspiring. My hope is that by sharing my very real experience I may help others have the courage to try, the courage to lift themselves up and follow their passions and try. Julie and I sure hope you will sign up for our blog and visit us often. We have so much more to share and we hope you’ll come along with us on our journey. With gratitude, Jodie & Julie
Thx for sharing. I remember when you first started and everything you wrote now explains what I had assumed. I’m so happy you’ve found a place of joy even tho life isn’t just perfect. You are a beautiful person.
Dear Rhonda, What a love you are. Julie and I have deep, real love for you, and we think you know that. Your kind, kind support from the very beginning has been a game changer for us. You, among all the individuals we have “met”, stand out as one of the most loving and inspiring people in both of our journeys. You have been a powerful force of love and realness we have felt since day 1. Even if we never meet in person we will never forget you. But let’s keep the hope that we will one day embrace and laugh together. Thank you is not enough. In love and friendship, Jodie (and Julie)
What a great story to share! Full of a positive attitude and strength in numbers when things don’t go as we have planned. I have learned life is about the journey and the people we meet along the way…..that make all the difference.
Melissa, So well put, my friend! Wish I had written that! wink wink. It’s absolutely true, and I’ve learned so much in the past year. Days of sunshine are wonderful, but we grow on the rainy ones. I am so thankful that you came and read my story. Julie and I hope you will sign up and come back often so we can travel this journey together. With gratitude, Jodie
Your story sounds like what am I going through now I am a stay home mom with 2 kids and 1 on the way and I’ve been a little depressed lately, we just have enough money to pay the bills thanks god, baby #3 was totally a surprise I am really close to my due date and I feel the stress… Thank you for sharing your real story.
Jennifer, I believe God gives us what we need, and today I like to think that God directed you to my words. He helps us in all kinds of ways, but often through people. Julie and I will add you to our prayer list, if that’s ok. We hope that you can lean on us, lean on others, find a way to reach out and allow others to lift you up. You are never alone. Wishing you so many blessings, Jodie & Julie
Beautiful story, I’m a strong believer that every adversity has an even greater seed of a benefit ONLY if we’re willing to see it…
I have a similar story, but mine does not involve IG.
I’m in the Eastbay and would love to connect.
Thank you Alma, We appreciate your kindness and your support. We can always connect here, and feel free to comment and message us. We will always reply. We appreciate your desire to connect, but we prefer to keep our contact via our Instagram and Blog. In order to maintain our lives and our family’s lives we can’t meet upon request. We hope you understand. With gratitude, Jodie & Julie
Thanks for sharing your story. I love your Instagram account!
Linda, Thank you so much for reading and your sweet sweet support. You are the reason I have joy. Thanks to you and all the other gorgeous friends on Instagram your support has lifted me up and out of my dark days, and I will be forever grateful. I have newfound joy and I am shouting it from the rooftops! Hip Hip Hooray 🙂 So glad you made it to our blog. We sincerely hope you will sign up and come and visit us often as we have just begun this wonderful journey. With love & gratitude, Jodie & Julie
Very touching. I think most of the time when others see someone’s home and they have beautiful things in it they assume that they have money, but it’s not always like that.. I admire the courage you have to tell your story to all of us. I wish you much success and I love your page..you and your sister are so cute and I love watching your video clips. Your smiles are contagious..
Sheron, You all give me courage, courage I didn’t possess before I began this journey, so it is you I have to thank. I am grateful for your support and your kindness. It means so much. Julie and I hope to be able to inspire women in all kinds of ways. If we are able to do that we will be fulfilled. We hope you will subscribe and join us on this journey. In friendship, Jodie
What a beautiful way to end the day!! Thank you for sharing your amazing experience, it really means alot..
Something that I love about you is that you really know how to make the people feel like you are talking directly to them, and you have always kind words for each person that talks to you!! I do appreciate that. You are a wonderful woman !! Xoxoxoxoxo yolis
Yolis, You have no idea how much your words have in turn touched me! Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but thank you. Your kind support lifts me up yet again. Julie and I are both grateful for your friendship. We sincerely hope you will subscribe to our blog and join us on this journey. Life is so much better when you do it with friends! With love, Jodie & Julie
You two ladies were one of the first people I fell in love with on IG, your posts were uplifting, pretty and very inspiring. I had no idea what I was even doing on IG. My kids were on there and a few friends, I got to see family photos, fun pictures and then I started searching, not knowing what I would find!! It is amazing how much talent is out there. I think we all have our stories, I have been a single parent, did dialysis for 3 and a half years, received a transplant, and work very hard every day to keep myself healthy!! I will be 12 years post transplant in April, meds and dr. Visits will never end. I so want to change up my decor but it clearly is not in my budget. I try with little things here and there, I too am losing my job March 31; starting over at 58, sucks? I am pretty nervous but keep asking God to show me the way in search for a new job!
Be blessed and keep sharing!! ?
Donna, Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story with us. We each have our struggles that is for sure. No one’s life is perfect even if the pictures are. Julie and I hope to do so much more than share pretty pictures. We have wanted to affect people in a deeper way from the very start. That is why we have our blog…so we can share more, connect more, and hopefully inspire in many ways, not just through pretty decor shots. We sincerely hope you will subscribe and join us on this journey. Together, life is better! In friendship, Jodie & Julie
Jodie, thank you so much for sharing your story. For me it has been just what I needed to take the next step. You really are an inspiration and I so enjoy your Instagram stories and reading your blog. Thank you again so much. Rachel x
Aw Rachel, Thank you darling friend! What sweet support! Julie & I appreciate it so much. Thank you for taking the time to read and to reply with such generosity. We hope you will sign up and come back and visit us regularly so we can continue to share and grow and learn together. With love and gratitude, Jodie & Julie
Jodie, thank you for sharing your story it’s an encouragement to me as well as many others I’m sure. So glad you have Julie in your corner you two are lucky to have each other. Owning a business is hard on so many levels…. I pray continued growth and success for your family business and the same for the blog as well. Sincerely, your friend Patti ?
Thank you for sharing your story. After 20 years, I lost my job last January (thankfully with a severance package). I decided to use the time to spend with my family and friends and continue working on fixing up my childhood home. My husband and I do everything ourselves. I had a private Instagram account and would post photos of our DIY progress. I found so many interesting IG accounts and started to play hashtag shares. I realized I had to have a public account and my followers started to grow. I know have made so many great design friends, purchased items from small businesses etc… I have found so much inspiration and my creativity is flowing. I love all my IG friends and I still have a long way to go but it’s definitely has made this somewhat difficult time bearable. I’m on the job hunt now but am hoping I can continue being parent of the IG community still with a full time job. Good luck with your family business. I look forward to seeing all of your and Julie’s posts and stories! ❤ Louise
Louise, Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story with us. We sincerely appreciate it. We are happy to hear that you are enjoying Instagram in a similar way and have found inspiration, love and support as we have. We have found on IG, as in life, you get what you give. So continue to share your heart and your creativity, and we are sure you will be rewarded in kind. Blessings and love, Jodie & Julie
This was a great story, I love home decor. My house is so hard to photograph. My formal backs up to a huge window and my dinning room is surrounded by windows. My family room and bedroom are a little dark. Every time I take a picture it just looks horrible to me. What kind of camera do you use? I think once I can figure out lighting and angles I will feel comfortable posting. Thanks for posting this. It gave me a new hope on trying it again
Hi Cathy, Thank you so much for reading and for your kind reply. We have two blog posts that should help you, “Camera Phone vs. Digital Camera: Pros & Cons” and “Swoon Worthy Photos: Edit Camera Phone Pics In IG”. Get started with this information and as we did, practice, practice, practice. That’s how we improved. We certainly were not photographers when we started. We both have huge challenges with lighting, dark spaces, too much light, and I promise you, everyone has these same lighting challenges. You wouldn’t know it to look at pictures, but these challenges can be met and conquered with practice and editing. For the record, we both use our phones now. Jodie uses a Samsung and I use the iphone7. Hope our info helps. XO ~ Julie & Jodie
Hi Julie and Jody!
Your words are really just so inspirational and like others, speak to me! We are on the Dave Ramsey plan, so money for decor is very limited right now! But I absolutely love love love everything about home and decorating! All of these posts I read could be words from ??my own mouth! That’s why I love this home decor community so much, it’s like you guys get me!!! It’s kind of like I found my best friends because everything is so relatable! Anyway I’m feeling exactly like you did; I don’t have “swoon-worthy” photos, and I just feel like I have no talent. I am going to read your blog and hopefully my style can emerge! I do like the farmhouse look but I also like more traditional pieces and decor. I think my style is traditional with a bit of farmhouse! Anyway wish me luck, and thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m sure you’ve inspired so many! Happy Spring! Stacey ?
Stacey, Your reply is truly music to our ears. We hear you, we feel you, we get you! Our advice for you is this: read our tips, practice, play, look at other photos you love and study. Study the angles, the lighting, the composition, the colors. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the evolution as you learn and grow. Traditional style pairs beautifully and easily with farmhouse, so have fun with that too. We are so excited for your journey and thrilled that you have chosen to join us on ours! With gratitude and love, Julie & Jodie
Ps. That spider web and cornstalk do not belong!!! Lol! ??? Please edit them out if you can! Lol! Fat fingers!!
Oh Stacey, No worries at all! We can’t alter your comments within, but I wouldn’t even have noticed. Again, thank you for the sweetest message. You’ve already made our day! XO ~ Julie
I absolutely love your story and that you use each other to build each other up. How sweet and special! You ladies are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
Aw Nikki, How wonderfully kind of you! Thank you for the sweetest reply. Sometimes it is through our struggles that we gain the most. Certainly in my case this is true. My life is full of so much meaning, so much personal satisfaction, and joy. God is helping Julie and I grow in ways we never imagined, and we feel so very blessed to be able to share it with you. We hope you will come back regularly and visit with us. With gratitude, Jodie & Julie
I love this! Hoping to win your Instagram Strategy Consultation!
Good luck Melissa! So glad you are getting this advice here AND an opportunity to win both at the same time…I’d say that’s a win/win. XO ~ Julie & Jodie
Thank you for being transparent in many ways, Jodie. Being real is what is attractive to people. And this is something I am learning to do more and more. Finding my ‘niche’ as you spoke of while doing just that is a bit challenging as I am starting out. But this is a good reminder. And gives great food for thought. I appreciate your honesty.
Much of this IG/Blog adventure has stemmed from a financial need in my family as well. I am mama of 4 little kids 7-2 yrs old. I work part time as a dental hygienist and I”m a stay at home mom- homeschooling the other days of the week (busy but no where else I’d rather be!). My husband is a pastor at our local church, but we are needing a bit more income to make budget each month. I have a love for keeping a home and making it a beautiful place for my family and those we welcome in. I love learning new ways to create a DIY project. And I am a bit of a fashion geek at times too. Sometimes :). So IG is fitting the mold well right now as I am inspired by so many accounts! I’m just in the process of discovering where my voice will be and how to express it. So I appreciate your help!
Tarah, I can’t wait to follow your journey as well. I’m going to make a point to come over to your blog and visit you. We feel so spoiled with all your many kind and generous comments. I really do feel like I’ve made a friend tonight. How wonderful that your husband is a pastor. Now I understand the beauty and spiritual wisdom you possess. It’s just gorgeous to behold. I know God will bless all of our journeys. Your friends, Julie & Jodie
What a wonderful,heartfelt story! Aside from the financial crisis, it is where I am in my IG journey. ???? Your words have inspired me to move forward and find my niche. Thanks for your inspiration and being real. Wishing you much continued success!
Oh Amanda, thank you! Thank you for your support, your kind words, and your sweet well wishes. It means the world to us, and makes it all worthwhile. Our struggles we encounter along the road are actually more important than the final destination. We are meant to grow and face these challenges so we can become the people we are destined to be. There is much more to be learned by overcoming challenges than by coming by things “naturally”. Remember that and stay the course. You will be rewarded greatly! With love and many blessings, Julie & Jodie
Thank you for sharing your IG story! These has helped me to follow my heart and open an Etsy store and share what I love which is knitting! I think with all the pretty pictures we forget the story, the person and the struggles! IG has been such a wonderful uplifting community! I follow people who inspire, and uplift me! And I’m thankful for everyone I have met along the way????God Bless Julie & Jodie
Oh Tammy! Thank you for sharing with me! To inspire someone else by sharing my story is the greatest gift I could ask for!
I hope that your Etsy shop is a huge success! Just lead with your hear and the rewards will follow!
Jodie & Julie
Enjoyed this post. Glad things worked out like they did. March Madness.
Thank you for sharing your story. You and your sister truly inspire me everyday. I love that you promoted kindness in this post. Keep on making people smile. Sometimes all we need is a friendly comment on our IG post to turn our day around! Great tips! Let the March Madness continue! ????
Jodie, thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your story with us. I have come to find your March Madness giveaway to be more than just a quick trip to your and Julie’s blog. I have found it to be a little part of my day to step away from the hussle and bussle and take time to relax. It’s easy to become lost in the world of perfection on social media, even with those around you. More of a “keeping up with the Jones’s” vibe. However it takes true courage to admit when things are outside our budgets. I also think it makes us appreciate what we do have or when we do buy an item a little more. Thank you for being honest.
Love this post. I am pretty new to IG and am just learning the ropes and have started coming out from just liking a picture to really engaging with others and you are so right…it is very rewarding. Great post!
I needed to read this IG i just dont get. I try but to no advail happy March madness
Jodie, thank you so much for sharing your story. It resonates with me so much. I’m going through similar financial difficulties, but due to my own chronic illnesses. I’m so happy that you’ve found a creative outlet. I understand completely. I’ve just started my own Instagram account. I’ve got 6 posts and the pictures I’ve taken are indeed atrocious, lol, but it feels incredibly invigorating and inspiring to have a creative outlet. Thank you again for sharing this story. It is a help and a comfort.
We are sorry to hear of your struggles. Truly we are. At the same time, we are grateful that you have found IG, the home decor community and us! The more you reach out and connect with like-minded people on IG the more you will get out of this journey. We started with it providing a creative outlet and it has led to so much more. Wishing you many blessings along the way, Jodie & Julie
Jodie, wow what a beatutiful story and thanks for putting yourself out there. I love IG, but don’t feel I’m creative enough to post too many pics. You have given me inspiration to start sharing more. Bless you.
Georgina, That’s great. We love to hear it. Honestly Jodie and I just got better as we went. Our decorating has slowly improved and our photography as well. We just enjoyed the process and the journey of slowly improving our skills. Along the way we enjoyed the friendships and support from so many that it made all our efforts worthwhile. You really have nothing to lose. Blessings, Julie & Jodie
Jodie thank you for shearing your story. You are a wonderful person and you deserve the best. You have just opened my mind to see things different. Thank you, thank you so much.
Rosa, Your reply just made my day. I’m so very happy to hear that what I wrote helped you open your mind to see things differently. That’s my greatest hope. We hope you will continue to enjoy our postings on the blog. God bless you, Jodie & Julie
Thank you for sharing! I have a similar story in a lot of ways. Living in a rental, having a (very) small budget, staying home with 2 young boys- all the odds seem against me at this point 😉 BUT the Lord has given me a passion for decor and hospitality, so I’m following that call. I recently took the plunge, and created my Instagram account/blog. Thank you for all the wisdom and encouragement. I could spend all day on your site learning new things!
Thank you for your sweet comments! So glad to hear you found your calling with design and Instagram! We hope to continue to inspire you through our blog in the future!
XO ~ Jodie & Julie
Jodie I think this is a wonderful success story. And it’s especially sweet that you lift up others, going through the same thing you experienced then, now in prayer. There are still wonderful people in the world. God bless.
And thank God for (twin) sisters!!!
Thank you so much for the kind words on this post! We are so glad you are here! You are too sweet dear friend.
Jodie & Julie
Beautiful and encouraging story! Thank you!
Aw you are so welcome sweet friend. Thank you for the kind comment. We appreciate that so much. Hope to hear from you again in the future.
Lots of love,
Jodie & Julie
I guess everyone of us can relate to this story since it is simple and pure. I would like to congratulate both of you for such an achievement and I am sure people will be encouraged to do something better in their lives after reading your story.
Thanks for inspiring us! Keep up the good work!
Your kind words truly mean so much to us. You are so sweet! We are honored to inspire you and others. Thank you for all the support and love!
Lots of love,
Jodie & Julie