Instagram, Business & Keeping It Real With Jenna Kutcher
Jenna Kutcher is a multi-hat-wearing photographer, artist and educator. Jenna is also one of the realest, most inspiring women I have had the fortune of stumbling across on the internet. You may recognise Jenna’s name and work from her hugely popular 7 Days To Cracking The Instagram Code course. I took the course myself, and knew I had to get Jenna to share some of her business savvy, Instagram tips and all-round awesomeness with us here on The Elgin Avenue.
Get settled in people. Jenna’s interview sheds light on how and why to take that leap of faith. Three ways you can up your Instagram game today. And why balance is a unicorn.
I hope you love our interview, as much as I did getting to know Jenna.
Jenna, you are a multi-hat-wearing business owner, whose six-figure business has garnered thousands of followers from around the world. Where did your creative journey begin?
It’s funny, I still feel like a fraud when called a creative. I think I just think of myself as a human – that’s it.
I went to school for business and communication, I wanted to wear a power suit and high heels and here I am writing this in my little sun porch office in yoga pants and a sports bra without a stitch of make up on.
To be honest, my creative journey began with a $300 Craigslist camera. I had zero ambition to use it to make money but it soon became the tool I needed to embark on the life that I was meant to live. I became a student to the craft and really pushed the boundaries to carve my way into a saturated industry and I wasn’t afraid to do things a little differently, which I think made all the difference.
“It was scary leaving a corporate salary and benefits to pursue something that I had zero training in . . . I knew that if I could at least match my salary, then the first year wouldn’t be a total flop – I could figure out the rest later.”
How did you muster the courage to leave your corporate job, to embark on wedding photography full-time?
Well, that was a giant leap of faith (and a solid year of making sure the net would be there when I jumped!).
It was scary leaving a corporate salary and benefits to pursue something that I had zero training in. My parents were scared, I was scared, but I knew that if I could at least match my salary, then the first year wouldn’t be a total flop and I could figure out the rest later.
That’s exactly what happened and I have never looked back.
There will never be the right time or the perfect time to make such a giant shift, you just have to set yourself up the best you can and never look back.
“look back and see – you’ve gone a mile just by shuffling your feet a little bit each day”
You have entered a handful of chapters in your career journey so far. How did you know which path to take next, at each step?
Oh goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever really known where I am heading. Truthfully, it changes daily. I just show up, do the work, listen to my gut (and heart) and pursue the things that make me feel most alive.
Sometimes it’s easy to look back and see that you’ve gone a mile just by shuffling your feet a little bit each day. Whenever I am stuck, I just remember that forward is forward. You’ll know when you’re doing what you were meant to do!
You are well-known for keeping it real, do you recall a moment when you decided to ‘just be you’ on social media? And if so, how did you let go of any inhibitions and open up?
I think when I realized how much time I was wasting each day styling things that looked nothing like my life.
It’s easy to think there is nothing special about you – but take it from a girl who started a business in a village of 1,200 people, with zero experience, and an obsession with yoga pants, mac and cheese, and puppies. You being you is a service to the world and I realized that my simple, mundane life connected with people in a way that styled, perfect things just can’t.
“trust is a huge thing when it comes to social media . . . stop focusing on the number under your name and instead focus on serving the people who have already chosen to follow you.”
I have personally taken your seven day Instagram course, and loved it, can you share three fundamental tips with The Elgin Avenue’s readers for growing your Instagram following in an authentically ‘you’ way?
First things first, I need to see a photo of YOU to know who you are, to hear your voice, and to trust you. Know, like, trust is a huge thing when it comes to social media so seeing the person behind the account provides connection.
Second, I want to hear your voice in the captions. What things are happening in your life? What are you passionate about? What fires you up? Don’t let your captions just be space to be filled. Use them for purpose, tell a story.
Lastly, grow your tribe. Stop focusing on the number under your name and instead focus on serving the people who have already chosen to follow you. How can you inspire, enlighten, teach, or simply make people feel less alone. It’s as easy as that!
Three of your personal favourite Instagram accounts?
@risingtidesociety – founded by some of my sweet friends, it’s a community over competition movement that just fires me up!
@joannagaines – I mean, Fixer Upper, need I say more? What an incredible inspiration and man, her style is just too good.
@designlovefest – Bre is just always coming up with cool, cooky, crazy things and I love the way she uses her feed to share her work and life.
“I really believe in stopping and celebrating”
You balance your photography business, blog, teaching, social media updates and more, what is your #1 productivity tool or technique? And how do you switch off at the end of the day?
I’ve taken a TON of steps this past year to really help me find balance. I feel like balance is this unicorn we are all chasing. Since moving into our new home, I actually work in the office (and close the doors at the end of the night!) I treat working at home the same way I treated showing up to an office so I wake up the same time every day, work out, and then have normal “office hours.”
I also stopped scrolling my phone before bed and instead read a little fiction and we implement social media free weekends, where I log off on Friday and don’t log back in until Sunday night. It’s a great reminder to just be present and disconnect! It’s always a struggle but the more I pull away, the clearer my vision is and the more I appreciate the present.
Can you share three teachers or resources which you refer to? Which tabs are most-often open on your browser?
I love, love, love The Everygirl. Two of my sweet friends founded it and they always have things that totally suck me in!
I also love following Gal Meets Glam because Julia provides epic travel inspiration. Lastly, I love Un-Fancy, the blog. It reminds me that less can be more and helps me really think about things before I buy them (especially clothes!)
You just won an incredible award at the Wisconsin Bride Awards (congratulations!), how do you celebrate your achievements big and small?
You know, I really believe in stopping and celebrating.
Life moves so quickly and things ebb and flow so often but the Wisconsin Bride Awards are the one time during the year where my grandparents road trip six hours to our house, my parents and in-laws are present and we all have a giant slumber party, drink wine, eat pizza, and just be together.
I am literally the only person who brings a “posse” to the event but to have my favorite people with me is SO important to me and it’s always such an incredible night.
What would you like the rest of 2016 to hold for you?
Hopefully a few weekends laying on the couch with Drew and the pups. In reality, the rest of the year is pretty heavy on travel (actually, this whole year has been heavy on travel!) but what I look forward to most is refining my courses, supporting more creative entrepreneurs, taking pretty photos and giving Drew the time he needs to really pursue his passions fully!
I have a hunch 2017 will be a big year for us, so the rest of this year will be prepping for next and continuing to make this house a home!
The Elgin Avenue’s mission is “Helping you to navigate a stylish, happy & inspired life”, in honour of our mantra Jenna, I’d love for you to finish the following three sentences:
I feel most stylish when . . . I am in anything other than yoga pants and a sports bra (which I like to joke is my “work uniform!”)
I feel happiest when . . . I am present in the moment with Drew.
I feel my most inspired when . . . I give myself time and space to be creative and get back to the heart of things!
Are you all fired up on inspirational goodness? Do you have a leap of faith you’re inching to take, and if so do you feel one step closing to conquering it?
Thank you so much to Jenna for sharing with The Elgin Avenue.
Love Monica x
All photos courtesy of Jenna Kutcher