So you just decided to start your own creative business. You’re excited to get your work out into the world in a more “professional” way than the occasional photos on your social media feed.
You even have your website up and running and you’re ready to get some clients.
And you miiiiight be wondering if you should create a separate Instagram account for your brand spankin’ new (or new and improved) business.
First things first: It’s important to understand that creating a brand and creating a separate instagram page are not always the same thing. A separate brand can exist beneath you as a personal brand, especially if you’re just getting it started.
I actually rarely advise creatives to start a separate instagram page unless what they’re building meets certain criteria. Otherwise, they risk dividing their following instead of serving them all in one cohesive space, and are just giving themselves more work by having more pages to manage.
Without a marketing team or content manager in place, it can be TOUGH to run multiple Instagram pages while also trying to get a business off the ground and serve clients well.
Again, it’s not to say you shouldn’t have a separate Instagram page if the brand you’re building can stand on its own two feet, but after learning through a lot of trial and error in my own journey, I generally advise creatives to develop their personal brand and authority as an expertise in their space (whether that’s as a blogger, photographer, videographer, designer, coach, shop owner, or something else).
I actually did this kind of backwards, meaning I built up an Etsy shop and blog under a “pen name,” SoulScripts, and that’s what I became known for at first because the brand had a very personal voice.
I had only one account for a few years, and I think that’s actually what allowed it to grow. It was focused. People knew what they came to that account for: pretty hand-lettering paired with encouraging, faith-based advice in the captions for young women.
And at the time, it wasn’t as trendy as it is now so it was niche and unique, and that allowed it to grow.
However, I ran into tension with it as time went on and I grew as a writer (and had opportunities to write books) because when I realized it would be important to have a personal brand as an aspiring author and speaker, some people didn’t even know my name. They new SoulScripts and knew me as SoulScripts.
Thankfully, I had shared my face enough within the SoulScripts brand that most knew it was a person behind the brand, and sometimes I’d even get recognized out and about.
Except, I’d get asked, “Hey! Are you SoulScripts?”
After awhile, it started to get a little old. I was like, “Yes, technically, but I mean, well, no, I’m Jordan.”
And that’s when I began to think… Wait a second. It might be time to make a change here. My books aren’t going to have SoulScripts on the cover as the author. They’re going to have my name on the cover as the author.
So, I eventually chose to create another instagram account for my name so I could have a personal brand. I directed people from the SoulScripts page to my personal page if they wanted to follow more of my journey.
It grew quickly but eventually, it began to feel a little repetitive. I was basically micro-blogging and selling sweatshirts on the soulscripts account, and also micro-blogging and sharing my photography work (oh yeah, I had a photography business along the way for a few years, too LOL) on my personal account.
In other words, it was the same person and voice behind both accounts.
So, I made ANOTHER switch and turned the original account (which was also the biggest) that had been me and my voice all along (@soulscripts) and changed the handle to my name @jordanleedooley so I could use that for BOTH writing and personal posts.
I then turned the personal page I had made into a photography page with the handle @simplyjordanlee (my business name was Simply Jordan Lee Photography — don’t ask about the simply… my brother still teases me for that and often calls me “Simply Jordan Lee” as a joke. #brothers
Anyway… then I made a smaller account for @soulscripts and I hired a team member to run it.
That account was dedicated to solely promoting sweatshirts and new merch in our shop, as well as new devotionals or studies that we released. Basically, SoulScripts eventually became more of a stand alone brand rather than solely depending on me, and that worked well.
A couple years later, I phased out of photography and then launched a podcast, and that photography page became a page for my podcast.
For reference, had I not had that account sitting there with 70,000 followers at the time, I likely would not have had a separate page for my podcast.
Do you see what I mean when I say I’ve had a lot of trial and error with this?
And I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
The benefit? I now have multiple accounts with large followings.
The challenge? We have a lot to manage and I’ve had to hire people to help. And it’s a lot of avatars to try and serve.
So, all this to say, there’s no perfect way or right or wrong way to do this. But I had a heck of a time figuring it out so I’m here to be a little bit of a guiding light, and help you understand what I learned when I had no idea what I was doing when it came to Instagram, so that you can make the best decision for yourself and your awesome brand!
And sometimes it really depends on the direction you desire to take your brand – and I think that’s something to really think and pray about ahead of time (because I honestly just kind of flew by the seat of my pants the first couple years, which is pretty normal, but then I found myself with a bit of a conundrum because I lacked a little clarity on what to focus on and what I really wanted to be doing).
So, if you’re still not sure what to do, I’ve included a few questions to help guide your decision.
Three questions to consider:
- Who is the voice behind the account? Is it a collective team or representative of a community or is it one person (aka you)?
Is the voice of the brand your voice (such as the case with the SoulScripts example I shared with you) or is it a voice other than your own? In other words, your brand NEEDS to have a voice to succeed. Is it funny? Deep and personal? Like talking to your best friend? Like talking to a clinician? Teachery? Dry and witty? A combination of a few of these? Is it a made up personality (such as @justaconstructionguy)? Or a group / collective voice with many voices contributing (such as @proverbs31ministries)?
If the voice of the brand is yours, I’d consider keeping everything under one account. A great example of this is my friend Lindsey Roman. She’s a photographer, and the voice of the photography business is her voice.
Contrary to popular belief, you can blend personal and professional, and I’ve actually found it to be more effective when you do because people connect with people before they connect with brands! Let people — yes, even potential clients — feel like your friend!
2. Do you provide the product or service or is it a bigger team?
In other words, is it YOUR hand-lettering, YOUR photography work, or YOUR design work? Do you have a team of associates creating for you or are you the sole creator?
3. What is the Name of business?
If it’s Katy Lee Photography, and you are Katy Lee, then you probably don’t need a separate page for it. It’s you. It’s your name, your brand, etc. You are the voice and service provider and name of the business. Even if you build a team under you, at the end of the day, it’s your craft and unique style. As I mentioned in the first guideline question, my friend Lindsey Roman is a great example of this. She’s a photographer, and the name of her photography business is named after her so she uses one page to share her own personal photos AND to share client work. And it’s done so beautifully! As a creative, you’re usually building a personal brand around a service or work of art, and so it’ll probably be easier for you to manage (and possibly better for your business) not to divide up your audience (and your energy) into two different pages.
If you answered “me” to two out of three of these questions, then I’d say a safe bet is to keep it all on one page for now.
If you begin to feel like you’re trying to serve too many customer avatars on one page, then you can always add another. But from someone who did it backwards and kind of learned the hard way (even though it all worked out in the end), my vote is that the simpler you can keep it in the beginning, the better!
If you need even more help with how to combine these, or what the heck to even say on your page, check out the 8 content types any personal brand or small business NEEDS to have on their feed to provide mega value, explode their engagement, annnnd effectively combine a personal + professional page into one. 🙂
January 20, 2020