What does it take to become #InstaFamous? Quite a lot. That was the take home message revealed at the August Western Cape SAFREA meet-up event, featuring a panel of well-known South African bloggers and social media stars who shared their experiences on the road to success.

#InstaFamous: Western Cape uncovers social media tips and tricks

Bringing together members and non-members, the event featured a panel of well-known South African bloggers and social media stars who shared their experiences on the road to success.

#InstaFamous is an all-encompassing term that describes those who’ve mastered the digital sphere to become, well, famous. And the speakers at this event were very well placed to speak about the highs and lows of their journey to success.

Dawn Jorgensen, award-winning blogger and photographer from the Incidental Tourist opened the panel to share her experience as a travel blogger. Her journey began with a passion for sharing her love of writing and travel with anyone on the internet willing to read her work.

Over the years, Jorgensen saw the blog grow from passion project to success story. She now counts numerous partnerships, PR collaborations and media connections amongst the opportunities that have grown from her blog.

However, she stressed that she worked hard for these opportunities. In addition to consistently posting on her blog, she also took social media workshops and taught herself WordPress.

In her advice, she stressed the value of Facebook for growing business, and the need for bloggers to respect their readers in all blog and social media posts. In a hint directed at our freelancers, she noted that South Africa was in dire need of a travel podcast.

Belinda Mountain, co-founder of Black Mountain content agency, spoke about her blog, Making Mountains. An award-winning “mommy blog,” she stressed the hard work and determination that took her from earning R5.00 on her first blog advert to pulling in real opportunity.

"My blog may be a hobby, but it's given me some amazing opportunities," she said. While noting that some of these opportunities came as 'freebies', she said that she's also been able to build partnerships and collaborations with leading local brands.

Mountain also noted that social media was the largest driver of traffic to her blog. However, like Jorgensen, she said that staying true to readers is vital for success. Sometimes you have to say no to opportunities that don't fit the blog or the content style, even if they pay really well, she said.

Craig Howes wrapped up the evening by speaking about his meteoric rise in the photography industry using Instagram. Starting out when the app was first launched in South Africa, Howes says he was just a photo-enthusiast who balanced picture taking with his job in finance.

Today, he’s the most followed South African on Instagram. And he's been able to use the app to land big-time campaign gigs, including shooting for hotels, tourism agencies and leading international companies like Amazon.

"Instagram helped me get my foot in the door," he said. His advice for freelancers was to use Instagram as a business tool. And like the other two speakers, he stressed the importance of keeping in touch with your audience.

"Whatever your Instagram account is about, you have to keep in mind why people follow you,” he said. “Ask yourself who is your target market, and what do they want to see?”

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