Instagram Tips & Tricks


As a Business Brand Photographer, I focus a lot of my social media efforts on Instagram, where visual branding really takes the main stage. I’m always trying to keep pace with the latest trends and practices here, discovering truths that allow me to turn posts into clients. (Yes, it is possible!)

Instagram has become such a valuable resource for my business and my branding. Today I’m sharing some of the many tips and tricks I’ve discovered along my journey, and the routines I tend to follow when crafting posts that will blend in beautifully with my feed.

Let’s dive in!

#1. Posting frequency. I post twice a day: once in the morning and then later that evening. It keeps my brand relevant and top-of-mind for my followers – and the frequency fits my schedule. If there are times that work better for you, create your own schedule and don’t be afraid to test new times to post!

#2. Keep your feed a mix of personal and professional: a little bit of you and a little bit of your work. Add in a sprinkle of your family if you want to – they’ve been supporters of your brand and are a key part of your journey. Kiddos and dogs may be adorable, but try not to go overboard on that kind of content.

#3. Feel free to mix professional photos with photos taken on your phone. Try to keep consistency with your brand aesthetic, but allow yourself the flexibility to use both.

#4. Lighting matters! When you’re taking a photo for Instagram, get yourself close to a natural light source, and feel free to experiment to find that perfect lighting.

#5. Go easy on Instagram filters and editing. Humans resonate with real, so try to keep your feed looking that way.

#6. Here comes a don’t. Please, don’t use Pic Stitch or other photo collage apps! Instagram has a multiple photo feature that lets you post up to 10 photos at a time. Use that feature to keep each photo separate, and let them shine.

#7. When writing captions for posts, explain exactly what you do (in really simple terms), show examples of what that means – and remind people of it. Often.

#8. Use Instagram Stories! It’s literally your own personal TV channel (for free), placing your brand in front of A LOT of eyes on Instagram. It may be uncomfortable at first, but allow yourself the patience and practice to grow.

#9. Be a cheerleader to other users. Show them love. When we show love, we get love in return. (And that’s a big part of increasing engagement.)

#10. Always respond to comments on your posts and engage with other users. I’m talking about more than just throwing some emojis up there. Take a moment to find the right words – it makes a HUGE difference!

#11. Be a tad vulnerable – as much as you can stomach. Share more about yourself, your story. Humans connect to this. (And you want to create a brand that resonates with others, right?)

#12. Smile and show your passion for the work you do! People will want to support you when you’re bursting with passion and supporting yourself on this journey.

#13. Create curiosity and be a little mischievous in whatever way you can. It reminds the rest of us that we are all still really children.

Raya Al-Hashmi
Raya On Assignment
Business Brand Photographer

Raya is a rockstar entrepreneur and a master behind the lens. Plus, we think she’s killing it on social media. That’s why we asked her to share her Instagram tips with you. We’re delighted to have her be our guest blogger for the Muffington Post. Be sure to check her out on Instagram and Facebook to see what she’s up to these days. And stay tuned…Raya will be guest blogging for us again!

Your Guide to Email Marketing (A Teaser!)

What is email marketing, and who is it for?

As a small business owner, you learn how to juggle. And if you’re a solopreneur, you might be wearing all the hats in your business. You’re a marketer, an accountant, a saleswoman, a graphic designer, a social media specialist – and of course, an expert of your trade. Who has time to learn more?

We get it – entrepreneurs are a busy breed. That’s why we’ve cooked up affordable digital brand boosters packed with stunning web designs, expert branding, and strategic planning to get you where you need to go.

And, as our special treat, we provide our clients with a number of marketing resources and informational guides with each Brand Muffin purchase. It’s a great way to get started with a few foundational marketing to-do’s – paired perfectly with our full-service branding and design that make up the Brand Muffin™ itself.

Curious what comes along with being a Brand Muffins™ client? Here’s a teaser of one of our informational guides: Your Guide to Email Marketing!

You’ve got mail.

With email marketing, you can send your own customized, automated messaging to dozens – even hundreds – of people on your very own subscriber list. Unlike personal email services like Gmail or Yahoo!, the email platforms we recommend won’t limit you to a certain number of recipients – meaning the sky is the limit in terms of your marketing
reach. (More on those platforms later.)

Email marketing is permission-based, meaning the people who receive your email newsletters have to opt in first. When presenting your “pitch” to these potential customers, you’ll want to explain to them why they’re receiving your emails, how often they should expect to see you in their inbox, and how it will benefit them as a consumer.

Think about it. You don’t open an email that doesn’t have something in it for you, right? Most likely, you delete it without even reading past the subject line. Keep this in mind when crafting your marketing messages. Are your newsletters giving your subscribers something they don’t already have? Something they need – crave, even? The people who subscribe to your email list have done so willingly, giving you permission to their already filled-to-the-brim inboxes. Don’t take this for granted!

Hungry for more? This excerpt is only a small piece of our Guide to Email Marketing – chockfull with tips and tricks, our recommended platforms, and email marketing pitfalls to avoid a recipe gone wrong.

Get the full document when you purchase your Brand Muffin™! Head over to our Packages page to get started. We can’t wait to see what you’ll cook up!

Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager

Building a Brilliant Brand: The 4 C’s (A Teaser!)

You’ve heard about Brand Muffins™  – a simple, affordable way to invest in your brand – and you’ve heard about the branding expertise in our kitchen of marketers, copywriters, designers and artists. Maybe you’ve even browsed our design library {link to Design Library page} for small businesses of all sizes and industry types.

With each Brand Muffin™ purchase, our clients receive a number of marketing resources and informational guides to get them started on their entrepreneurial journey (paired perfectly with our full-service branding and design that make up the Brand Muffin™ itself).

Curious what comes along with being a Brand Muffins™ client? Here’s a teaser of one of our informational guides: the 4 C’s to Building a Brilliant Brand!

In this guide we’ll be sharing the foundational blocks of building a better brand. There are four simple ingredients on today’s recipe list – and maybe a bonus or two sprinkled on top! Follow these 4 C’s and your brand will be bursting with flavor and ready to share with the world!

1 Cup of Color
2 Cups of Clarity
¾ Cups of Consistency
3 Cups of Commitment

1 Cup of Color
Let’s talk about color. This is the fun part, because as marketers, we get to drive from psychology to better understand the inner workings of our market’s mind.

In branding, color drives the emotional response that consumers have to a brand. In fact, in a study called the Impact of Color on Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of consumer judgments made about products were based on color alone.

Color provides an instantaneous way for brands to convey meaning without words. Think about it: what feelings come to mind when you see the color yellow? Happy, bright, warm. How about the color red? Excitement, bold, passion. These connotations have a critical impact on your brand’s character and voice. It makes sense, then, that Cheerios and Minute Maid use the color yellow predominately in their branding, while Coca-Cola and ESPN use the color red.

Now, ask yourself: What emotion(s) do I want my brand to convey?

Hungry for more? Get the full document (and plenty more marketing tips and tricks) when you purchase your Brand Muffin™! Head over to our Packages page to get started, and bon appétit!

Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager

Why Video Content Wins Every Time

Video is a rising phenomenon that the world just can’t seem to get enough of. Our busy lives and decreasing attention spans (first world problems) has led to a hunger for fast, “snackable” forms of content that will both inform and entertain. And – you guessed it – video is the pièce de résistance that satisfies that hunger.

Video has this power over us that stops us from scrolling on by. It’s inherently engaging, bringing life to what would otherwise be a black-and-white read. Simply put, it’s easy to digest, and there’s something about it that makes it difficult to pull our eyes away.

It makes sense, then, that so many marketers have tagged on to the trend as part of their overall marketing strategy. What better way to reach consumers and keep those potential leads engaged than producing creative pieces of content that reflect your brand?

Now think about your brand. How could you tie in video advertising to cut through the clutter? Maybe for your business, it means a 30 second commercial or a series of client testimonials. Maybe it’s a glimpse behind the scenes at your studio, office – wherever the magic happens.

Give it a try and weave different types of video into your marketing strategy. You’ll find that not only will you see the success of video creating engagement and driving folks toward your business – you’ll also have a lot of fun in the creation process.



Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager

Tips & Tricks: Creating a (Well-Crafted) Newsletter

Do you plan on offering a newsletter subscription?  Newsletters or mailing lists are the perfect way to collect email addresses so you can nurture prospects over time to become lasting customers. But, like any kind of marketing form, crafting one that your audience is actually enticed to read (and one that doesn’t end up in their trash folders), requires practice and refinement.

Thankfully, we have a few pointers up our sleeves to get you started. Here are a few:

1. Decide on the type of online newsletter you want to send.
Before diving headfirst into content creation, take a step back and ask yourself, “What is the goal of my newsletter?” Are you trying to increase traffic to your website? Update the community with new blog posts on relevant industry topics? Or are you reaching out to current and prospective leads simply to stay at the forefront of their minds and build brand awareness?

Whatever the reason, your newsletter should reflect this primary goal. In our experience, most organizations want to go straight to the creative when it comes to promotion – but having a strategy in place is a must for staying focused and crafting a consistent campaign.

2. Be creative with your content.
Think about your inbox. How many emails are you bombarded with each day? We’re guessing it’s a substantial amount of mail to sort through. Your customers deal with the same overwhelming mass of media trying to gain their attention. Which means you want to stand out.

In order to prevent prospects from hitting “delete,” create a subject line that catches their eye. Be engaging, switch things up; don’t make the mistake of sending the same stale headline each time you reach out. If adding a little humor aligns with your brand image, be humorous. Set yourself apart from other organizations that are vying for the attention of these consumers. Give them a reason to want to open your email.

Oh, and strike a balance between informing your audience and advertising to them. If you can, try to be 90% educational and 10% promotional. Customers want to hear from you, but they don’t want to feel like you’re constantly pitching to them.

3. Keep it consistent.
Establish a consistent schedule in which to send out email newsletters, and stick to that schedule. Do you want to nurture prospects every week? Every month? Quarterly? As a suggestion, it’s always best to start out slowly, especially with something you’re becoming acquainted with. Sending too frequently will start to fatigue your audience to the point where they associate your brand with spam. On the other hand, if you barely send content at all, you certainly won’t remain at the top of their minds.

4. Finish with one strong call-to-action.
Every email newsletter should end with a call-to-action. Done well, a CTA will prompt your leads to take some sort of action – whether they are directed to your website, asked to subscribe to your blog, etc.

5. Circle back and analyze the data
So you’ve perfected your email newsletter and sent it out to your tribe. Now what? To get the most out of your marketing strategy, it’s always crucial to follow up and look at what the numbers have to say. What was your email’s click-through rate? Did you meet the primary goal you set at the campaign’s start? With valuable data at your fingertips, you can use these insights to refine your next newsletter, making the user experience that much better.



Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager

Are Your Marketing Goals Measurable?

You have a goal. You want to gain new customers and increase revenue for your business in the coming year. Sounds great, but where are the metrics? How will you measure what you actually want to achieve?

Let’s say you’re a landscaping company and you service both commercial and residential accounts. Last year, you had a huge project that tilted your residential revenues off the scale, so you know that this year you need to replace that loss. So, there! We have a measurable, quantifiable goal: to increase residential sales by x%. So your strategy has to incorporate tools and tactics to meet that goal.

You need to determine where you’re going to focus and build a strong database. To design a unique and highly creative campaign that will speak to your target audience where they live. And, to support that with a strong brand awareness campaign placed strategically in the mediums that you know they subscribe to or visit.

Voila, at the end of the year residential sales are up substantially. With good creative and a strong integrated marketing strategy backed by measurable goals, you get results – every time.



Darci Knowles
DARCI Creative
Owner/Creative Director

How One Small Business Did It Right From the Beginning – Profile of 3Bridges Yoga Studio

Few things can compare to the thrill of preparing to open a new business. It’s exhilarating, it’s nerve-wracking. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting. The decisions to make, the to-do lists to cross off – sometimes you just need a boost.

Take a hint from our savvy clients who opened a yoga studio in Portsmouth. The dynamic duo was courageous and smart. They knew they needed a strong marketing strategy, and lucky for us, they weren’t afraid to invest in marketing. They already saw the value in it, and knew they had to find a way to distinguish themselves with memorable branding.

These clients wanted to market themselves as a welcoming, non-assuming yoga studio – one that catered to every level of yoga practice, regardless of body type or physical ability. Our solution? A strategy centered on the universality of yoga, targeting individuals new to the practice. We developed the positioning line Yoga for Every Body, and we wove this branded message into all of our promotional efforts. We created a video campaign highlighting the benefits of yoga with a Student Special, and a virtual yoga program for travelers or new moms looking to begin their practice without the time to attend a scheduled studio class.

The results of these efforts were incredibly positive. In the first year of business alone, our clients saw an impressive 75% growth as new members continued to fill up the studio space. What began as a Portsmouth studio in 2011 soon expanded to a second location, and before they knew it, they became the fastest growing yoga studio on the Seacoast. Now that’s branding power.


Darci Knowles
DARCI Creative
Owner/Creative Director

A Series For Entrepreneurs (Part I)

We love entrepreneurs because they’re a breed of their own. Driven, courageous, self-sufficient – sometimes down-right crazy. There’s never a dull moment. No two business owners are quite the same, and each entrepreneurial journey is uniquely reflective of its brand.

That’s why we’ve decided to start a series of sorts, where we lovingly (and sometimes jokingly) profile our favorite entrepreneurial types. For instance, “You Know You’re a DIYer When…”.

Maybe you’re a Side Hustler, building a business on nights and weekends while killing it at your 9-5 day job. Maybe you’re a Mompreneur, a badass mother raising her children and running a business from home (as if juggling one of those things weren’t challenging enough).

Whoever you are and whatever your entrepreneurial profile might be, we want to shine a light on the beautiful chaos. The ups, the downs, the laughably relatable parts of being a business owner, while tackling whatever else life decides to throw at you. Fellow entrepreneurs – this blog series is for you.



Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager