3 Entrepreneurs Who Used Instagram To Take It To The Next Level
Instagram may have started out as a platform to share photos and videos, but it has grown to be so much more than that. Many businesses, start-ups, and individuals have successfully used the social media platform to either kickstart or further expand their products and services.
Instagram has over 800 million active users. Of that number, over 500 million are on the app daily. Since photos and videos generally tend to be easier to consume, there’s no limit to what you can achieve through Instagram.
We recently met up with three local entrepreneurs who used Instagram as leverage to get their products and services out – and made it.
Gavin Lim, Photographer/ Video Producer
A picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, we know that adage is overused, but that’s the motto that 27-year old Gavin Lim lives by.
Lim started out as a sales executive, with the extent of his photography limited to taking pictures of friends and pool parties. One fateful day, he received a camera as a parting gift from his former employer.
“Everything changed when I received that camera. I was really excited and jumped right in – taking pictures of everything. At first, I never really thought that I’d even be remotely interested in the art of photography, let alone make a living out of it. Now, I can’t imagine my life without a camera!”
“My portrait photography started with shooting my friend, Nicole, who is an influencer, From there, people gradually started noticing my work and started asking me for collaborations. All my photos are up on Instagram, on my personal handle. It’s my portfolio now.”
Photos by Gavin Lim
“Soon, offers came pouring in and I had the privilege to choose who I wanted to work with. When I started out, I only charged about RM500 per event. Now, depending on the scale of the project, I can charge RM5000, RM10,000 or even RM50,000. All these started with me posting pictures on Instagram,” he added.
Lim added that anyone can aspire to ‘make it’ via social media, especially through Instagram, but not everyone has the determination to do what it takes.
“Don’t give up on your craft. Be open to new ideas and never stop creating content, no matter how small. Be persistent and put out your best work – and you will be noticed.”
Harmini Asokumar, Founder of Deeper Than Fashion & Dusky Rose
Inherently artsy and creative, Harmini Asokumar naturally found her calling in creating art. She is the founder of Deeper Than Fashion and also runs a cosmetic line called Dusky Rose.
Her start happened back when she was younger and needed money for a concert.
“My parents told me to figure out how to make my own money. So I started a blogshop back then and started selling jewelry that I used to make for the fun of it. I’ve always been crafty[sic] and made my own stuff so it just fit. From there on, the brand started growing, and I never looked back.”
“Dusky Rose started because I stumbled upon a good supplier who made amazingly pigmented make-up which worked great for darker skin tones. Being dark skinned, I realised that there weren’t many brands that catered to brown skin tones – and I wanted to empower that movement,” she explained.
After doing her fair share of research, Harmini realised that Instagram is the best marketing tool to help her push her vision and reach out to people.
Dusky Rose by Harmini
“Instagram is the best marketing tool out there if you ask me. It’s visual and the reach is endless depending on your marketing strategy. You connect with people faster, and there’s a personal touch because customers have a conversation with you when they are making the purchase,” she noted.
“I usually push about 50 to 100 pieces monthly on Deeper Than Fashion, and even more with Dusky Rose. So, depending on how you use Instagram – you can take your business very far.”
But it’s not all a bed of roses. There are many inevitable challenges that she faced as a designer.
“It’s easy to replicate certain designs so the lack of respect for handmade productions, as well as people copying my designs, makes it very frustrating. However, the good response from both brands. I keep evolving, experimenting, and learning as I go along – which I think helps give the brands different types of reach.”
Anne Michelle, Ardent Baker at Anniekins Cakehouse
Anne Michelle is a triple-threat superwoman who has a full-time job, pursuing a degree in business administration, and running a side cake business at the same time. Her main goal in life is to make money work for her so she has the time to do things that she loves – like travel and giving back to society.
Her journey into the world of baking started four years ago at an office potluck party.
“I baked a tray of brownies for an office potluck four years back and my colleagues loved them so much – they started requesting for more. So I started catering to everyone’s request, and it was making me some good extra pocket money,” Anne said.
“The creative side of me jumps in excitement every time I baked and I saw an opportunity for a sustainable business since you need a cake for pretty much any occasion.”
When she started out, it was mostly with the help of word of mouth from friends and family, but everything changed when she opened her Instagram and Facebook account.
“These platforms helped me reach a wider range of consumers. It is so amazing that you get to customise your target audience based on your location radius and age group. The use of hashtags is also very handy – it’s basically free marketing and advertising! Plus, people can leave comments and feedbacks so other consumers have reliable information about my products.”
“My biggest challenge with the cake business itself is time – because I’m juggling it along with my job and studies. It can also be quite overwhelming to answer all queries on Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.”
“But I won’t complain – because social media has helped me reach many customers. I keep them engaged by regularly posting up pictures of cakes and giving special promotions during festive seasons. Instagram stories are very useful for my special promotions,” she explained.
We hope these stories inspire you to also make use of social media platforms and turn your hobby into a money-making business. Just remember, having an audience is no guarantee of success without also putting in the hard work.