How Mixing Business And Personal on Instagram Has Changed Our Marketing Stratgy

October 6, 2017

mixing business and personal on instagram

About a month ago, I made a pretty drastic change in my social media, specifically on Instagram. I actually blogged a little bit about it (which you can read here), because I honestly was feeling super stressed about the need to be perfect. To only post perfectly coifed photos, with hair and makeup done anytime a picture of me popped up, only using my “big camera” for any type of photo, putting together perfectly styled lay flats and letting myself feel not good enough as some of the other people in the Instagram Success Game. I’d literally spend hours each week thinking of content, planning out shares and photos and trying to make my feed look as cohesive and awesome as some of my favorite photographer-celebrities that I look up to.

But then, it hit me. It hit me hard like a ton of bricks, in a break-down-sobbing, Oprah-a-ha-moment epiphany.

I realized something: I’m not Jasmine Star. I’m not Jenna Kutcher. I’m not Natalie Franke.

They are them, and what they do – it totally works for them. I love seeing their feeds, I love seeing them nail the marketing game on social media and running with it, making a damn good living at it, and influencing people to be better at marketing. I genuinely love it, and I specifically go out of my way to check in on them a couple times a week to see what they’re up to (and what I’ve missed, because Instagram doesn’t always show me their stuff. So irritating!).

They all consistently do the same things, and have built a massive following as a result of doing these things:

  • Post pictures of themselves
  • Encourage others incessantly
  • Talk about things outside of photography
  • Open up with their vulnerabilities, insecurities, struggles, wins, losses, strengths, etc.
  • Always post the most amazing pictures

But what they do?

It doesn’t necessarily work for me, and that’s okay.



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About a month ago, I made a *drastic* change in my social media – specifically here on Insta. For the longest time, I felt stressed + pressured to showcase a perfect life – perfectly styled photos taken with my ‘big camera,’ primarily showcasing work instead of me + my life. I was sucked into the world of IG Pods + getting those numbers – likes, comments, whatever. 🙈 But then, a month ago – a lightbulb went off in my head. I gave myself permission to just … let it go. To impact my friends here on IG by just showing myself, to truly be authentic and welcoming people into my life. I’m NOT just a photographer – and while I think before I was dipping my toes in it, the past 5 weeks I have fully embraced this concept and stopped feeling so worried about only sharing “big camera” pics, getting likes and showcasing my work. I’m a busy mom and wife and business owner – I simply don’t want to spend time trying to be perfect when good gods am I NOT PERFECT. You know what happened as a result? My DM inbox blows up with messages every single day from people reacting to my posts and stories. We’ve booked a couple weddings + sessions just by showcasing who we are. I just got interviewed about being an online college student. My stress level has dropped drastically. I’ve made time to take care of myself, and I’ve been focusing on my health + fitness despite it being the busiest season of our lives and I’ve dropped 8 pounds because I’m spending less time trying to impress, trying to find followers and trying to be popular. So, if you’ve been struggling with social media – here’s my advice for you: just breathe, dude. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be all work and no play, and it doesn’t have to be anything other than YOU being YOU. Big thanks to our friends at @risingtidesociety (or maybe it was @nataliefranke ) for sharing this graphic recently! ❤️

A post shared by Ashley Durham (@xoashdurham) on

 But wait a minute … I also do all of those things!

I definitely do all of those things, because being an educator and influencer is something that feeds my soul. But if you look at mainstream influencer feeds and mine – it’s not the same thing. This year, and more specifically over the last few weeks, I’ve forged my own path to finding success in marketing.

Here’s where I have taken Instagram marketing into my own direction:

  • I’m not a perfect person, and I don’t have a perfectly put together house. My hair is in a messy bun 98% of my life. I live in ripped jeans + yoga pants.
  • You’ll see me without hair + makeup done on my Instagram Stories.
  • I don’t always post “big camera” pictures, because honestly my iPhone takes some pretty awesome shots on its own and I can use VSCO or Filmborn to edit my images to be consistent with my professional work.
  • Instagram is NOT just another extension of my portfolio. I mean, it is a little bit … but more than that: it’s an opportunity for me to tell my story. Sure, I’m a wedding photographer: but I’m also many other things.
  • I want to be present and not stuck in the app, BUT, I also see value in sharing glimpses into my life in the here and now.
  • I’m not a light, bright and focused on white photographer … so why should my feed look that way?

I don’t want to make the time to be perfect, or make it seem like my life is 100% put together. I spend roughly 4 hours a day Monday through Friday driving kids around, being with my kids for their various after school activities. I spend Saturday mornings on the football field. I spend my early mornings working out. At least once a month I go get a massage. At least once every other week, I try to grab a cup of coffee with a friend. My life does not revolve around my business – so why should my social media only highlight that one aspect of my life?

mixing business and personal on instagram

So how has life been since I stopped stressing so much about Instagram Perfection, mixing business and personal on Instagram?

It’s been nothing short of incredible. There have been so many positive reactions to

  • We have received more inquiries from Instagram for weddings and sessions in the last 5 weeks than we have in the last year.
  • I’ve increased my following by nearly 4%, compared to only 2.5% the month before.
  • I am getting more DMs daily than I ever have, people are relating to Posts + Stories like never before.
  • I am spending less time on social media
  • I’m seeing posts from friends I actually want to see instead of random people I feel obligated to post on because of some pod or Facebook group I’m part of.
  • I have been able to focus my time + energy elsewhere, including:
    • staying on top of editing during our busiest travel and wedding season we’ve ever had (saving me roughly $2,500 in outsourcing editing costs)
    • I’ve been able to invest more time into my health and fitness, and I’ve dropped nearly 10 pounds as a result
    • I’ve been working on some projects with 17hats to be part of their new Marketplace (ooh, did ya catch that little exciting bit of info??)

I mean literally, you guys, my quality of life has improved drastically over the last few weeks with this simple mental shift.

So if you’re struggling with whether to have multiple Instagram accounts or finding a work/life balance with social media, I triple dog dare you to take a step back. To lessen your grip on the reigns, and realize that the only person who genuinely cares about how curated and perfect your feed is … IS YOU.





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I'm Ashley! Family and wedding photographer in Phoenix, but I travel all over the desert southwest to hang out with the most incredible people. I am obsessed with puppies, extra hot coffee, incredible light and firmly believe that love conquers all.

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