“Dear mom, you would be proud! I’m officially a published author of a cookbook!”
This past week I’ve been on cloud nine. I am honestly so overwhelmed by the support all of you have given me. All of the photos you’ve sent to me and tagged me in showing how excited you are to receive the book. Honestly, I am probably more excited than you! I also really hope that you will love it. If not, I am sorry and Amazon has a full return policy lol.
It’s surreal that my book has reached so many countries around the world! I am truly humbled. When I first started my Instagram account, I had no intention on it being anything other than a personal accountability page. if you want to know how I started, how I gained so many followers and tips to do so, as well as how I got published by one of the biggest publishers… then read on.
How I got started
My IG feed has not always been picture perfect. November 17, 2013 was an important day. It was the day I posted my first meal prep photo as I embarked on my wellness journey. I first started meal prepping because it was the only way that was possible for me to keep myself on track because I was working full-time and doing my masters degree part-time. I also needed to find a way to keep myself accountable, so what better way than to share it with the internet.
Let me tell you… the meal prep community is strong!
How I gained so many followers
For months, I was just doing my weekly preps, uploading them to the world. Then a couple of months later, one of my photos was featured on @mealprepmondays managed by Alex Torres. That feature led many to start following my page. Maybe a few hundred which was a HUGE deal at the time! My big break came when I was featured on @flavorgod, at which point the followers came by the thousands! Before you know it, my account had about 2-3k followers. I was featured on the @flavorgod account over and over again. From there, I started understanding the importance of using trending hashtags and also tagging brands and other accounts in my posts. I was featured on multiple massive IG accounts like @Whole30 and many other meal prep accounts as well as fitness blogs like Daily Burn. Last spring, I was honored to be featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine for my famous Mason Jar prep!
My Tips to Gain Followers on Instagram?
1. Be Yourself
The first tip is to be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else that you saw on Instagram. If you’re going for a health & fitness page then it’s important to understand fitness trends, but it’s also important to not get lost in them and lose yourself. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and share things about yourself. People love to see real people and the stories that are relatable. It’s OK to have a cheat meal, or ice cream, or admit that you’ve failed at something. That’s what makes you human.
2. Add Value
If you lead with the higher purpose of helping others, you will not fail. Your account should always have a way to add value or help others. Why else would people want to follow you? It should never just be about you and your selfies. I mean, selfies here and there is harmless but ultimately you want to be able to help people. For me, I have a passion in healthy cooking so sharing my successful recipes have always been so rewarding to me. Getting messages from others saying I’ve inspired them to eat better or that my recipe is amazing always makes my day.
3. Keep Personal Separate
If you are setting up a page for a particular subject matter (i.e. fitness), keep it strictly that. Don’t share photos of your family, dogs or endless selfies. It’s good to share your personality through your posts, but don’t get too personal all the time. I have a second personal IG account where I post my personal photos.
4. Use of Hashtags
Using the right hashtags is important. You can search the ones that are big, but not too big because your photo will get buried quickly.
5. Posting Regularly and Keep Them Consistent
For me, I try to do a post every day. Your followers may get annoyed if you post more than once a day. Posting too infrequently is also bad because they will never see your posts since on average only 10% of your followers usually see your post. Try to keep your feed consistent as well. Consistency in the color themes, photo quality and layout of the photos etc.
6. Engage with Your Followers
Make sure you are responding to DMs and comments to keep your followers engaged. If you don’t, they will lose interest and will not want to continue to comment to engage with you.
7. Use IG Stories
IG stories is a great tool to share your day, and to keep your followers engaged more regularly. Your stories also pop up when you post them so it will notify your followers that you have posted.
How I got Published
I often get contacted by various brands to collaborate and I only work with brands that I truly endorse (I will never endorse Skinny Tea or Fat Burning Pills!!!) There are no short cuts ladies! Just do your squats and drink your protein! Lol
One day, I received an email from a Managing Editor of Simon & Schuster (Publisher) looking for an author/recipe creator to write a meal prep cookbook. I honestly thought it was a joke at first because this sounds too good to be true. A week later, after a few telephone conversations, I signed my first ever contract to write a book! There was a lot of work involved in writing the book. I personally had to take time off work in order to complete the book. I also wanted to shoot all of the photos personally so I can have quality control of my own work. I cannot believe how many people it takes to write a book. I worked with a book editor, a cover designer, a dietitian, a recipe editor, photo editor, development editor and probably many more behind the scenes.
Eight months later, the book was finally published! I really hope that you will love it! These are all of my favorite recipes that I’ve developed through the years. It is just compiled all into one book.
Will I write more books?
Not in the near future, this project really took a toll on me. I will continue to share new recipes and possibly write my own smaller e-book recipes.
What’s in store for the future?
I currently still work a full-time job in a major bank. I love what I do and don’t plan on quitting it to do this full-time. But who knows what the future holds. This may be the beginning of something bigger… or not. I am completely happy with it either way. Sharing what I am passionate about keeps me going every day and I love it.