A Simple Instagram Strategy from a Successful Eyebrow Artist

Some of our most inspirational quotes seem to center around persistence and consistency.

While we love stories about instant success, the truth is they are very much in the minority. Success usually comes from finding a groove and sticking to it day after day until we've mastered it.

Instagram for hairstylists, hairdressers, nail artists or any other visual stylistic is really a matter of finding a system that fits in with how you run your business. To be successful wth Instagram, you need to find a system, get good at it and work it to death.

In this episode we talk with Audrey Collins of A. Collins 3d Brows. What follows is a nice little conversation where I kinda picked her brain. She was very sharing so I didn't have to do too much picking.

She lays out how she uses Instagram and the thing that I like the most about it is she uses it as a system. So sit back, pull out your notebook, because if you want to use Instagram and you're not quite sure where to start, this makes a really great jumping-off point.

Chris Carter:
Tell me and my audience where you're at, what do you do, and how you got started with Instagram.

Audrey Collins:
All right, well my name is Audrey Collins and I do 3D eyebrows, also known as microblading. My business is called A Collins 3D Brows and in all honesty, I got started in it when my sister-in-law, who also does microblading up in St. George UT, told me I should take her class.

So I went up there and I took her class thinking that I was going to come back to Vegas and be as successful as she was there in Utah because it's extremely popular.

She drives all of her business off of Instagram. So I came back to Vegas thinking the same thing and I started going out to salons, handing out my business cards, and salon owners and stylists were like, "What's microblading?" and I was like, "Oh, my gosh. Nobody knows what it is."

So I changed my approach. I made little flyers with a brief description, I attached some pictures, and then I started handing that out as well.

Chris Carter:
How did you transition from there to Instagram?

Audrey Collins:
I actually didn't even really transition. I was kind of just doing both because I was expecting to get all my appointments off of Instagram like my sister-in-law did whereas I was posting pictures on Instagram, but my followers weren't really going up, I didn't get nearly as many as she did, and the hashtag for microblading in Las Vegas just wasn't really popping yet.

So I was handing out my flyers to salons and stylists all over the valley just in hopes of educating clients and people of what microblading really was, but if they had any clients that came in and needed their eyebrows waxed or colored to let them know about my service and that it might be something that they might be looking into in the future to actually sell them brows.

Chris Carter:
Okay. So when you first started doing Instagram, you mentioned that the hashtag "microblading" hadn't taken off yet and I find that kind of interesting. Hashtags are very important with Instagram. Could you kind of go into how you hashtag now?
What is your strategy for hashtagging at this point where you're at?

Audrey Collins:
Yeah, I have a basic hashtag clipboard that I basically copy and paste and it's the same one on all of my postings that I do. At first, I used to hashtag microblading, microblading brows, and I only stuck to things that had to do with actual eyebrows and when I would go and search my own hashtag to see what kind of pictures were popping up, it was mainly just my own.

So then when I was going out and handing out my flyers, I noticed that I was handing them out to more hair stylists, nail technicians, ladies that do lashes, so I started changing my hashtags to kind of approach other professionals who might have clients that might be interested in my business.

So I started hashtagging Las Vegas hair stylist, Las Vegas makeup artist, Las Vegas hair dressers, and Las Vegas beauty, things like that.

Not only just microblading-specific ones, but just beauty industry hashtags and that kind of got other girls in Vegas that were hair dressers if they were looking something up, my pictures would then pop up under those categories as well rather than just strictly eyebrows or microblading so that definitely made a big impact.

Chris Carter:
Oh, and so basically you used hashtags kind of like a cross-promotion. If I'm hearing you correctly, people who are using Instagram looking for other areas of the beauty market probably would be interested or be the same type of people who would be interested in what you do as well so you just needed to get in front of them.

Audrey Collins:
That's exactly right.
A lot of people didn't really know what microblading was when it wasn't as popular here in Las Vegas as it was in certain areas and if only a handful of people actually knew what it was. So if I'm posting pictures of microblading on, say, a hair dressing hashtag, anybody that's going and searching for a hairstyle, they're going to see my picture pop up and it's just going to pop curiosity.

It took a while for me to actually start getting appointments and people who were ready to actually do something that they didn't even know existed.

Just putting my work and what microblading was in front of other people in different avenues throughout Instagram really made a difference because it opened their awareness of what it was.

Chris Carter:
Oh, okay. So that's pretty cool. I think I remember the last time we had this conversation, the one that got me wanting to talk to you on the microphone here is you were very adamant about having to be pretty dogged about your posting to Instagram, about posting to and responding when people responded to you or with your hashtags, to your pictures, and things like that. Could you speak to that just a little bit?

Audrey Collins:
Yeah, I am big on customer service and giving back to the client as soon as possible with any kind of question or inquiry or comment.

Just even telling them "Thank you for your interest" because when they finally make up their mind that this is something that they're interested or wanting to do, they've made up their mind and they kind of don't want to look back so they don't want to have to wait a day or two to get a response from me as far as a little bit more details or what your prices are, things like that.

I make a point of returning every phone call, text message, Instagram message, Facebook message, Yelp message, and email within that same day, if not immediately.

Chris Carter:
I think the thing you said that when we were talking about this before that I found very entertaining was when you get a notification while you've got a client that you're working on and you're like, "Nope, we're going to get this taken care of" and obviously not right then and there, but almost immediately after you're done with your client. So that's how important that you see this being, am I hearing that correctly?

Audrey Collins:
It's very important and actually, it's pretty cool, there's a feature on my phone where if my phone is upside down, I can put my fingerprint on my slash and it will respond to any person calling with an instant text message and my text message says,

"I'm sorry I missed your call right now. I'm with a client. I will return your message within the next couple hours"

or something like that so that way they know okay, I know you're calling, I'm in the middle of working on another client but I will get back to you and I always do. But yeah, I reply back as soon as possible whether it's a client wanting to make a touch-up appointment or just asking a question or a question even on their follow-up from if they're healing and they want just more information about the process that they're going through. I reply to everybody, new and old, as soon as I possibly can to make them feel like they're just as important as everybody else.

Chris Carter:
That makes perfect sense. Perfect sense. Now, one of the things that I like to talk to on my little podcast when I run my mouth and all that is processes versus just a tool and Instagram by itself is just a tool but it sounds to me like you're using it. You have an actual process. There's a process that you go through for what you take, when you take it, how you get it out there and all that. Could you kind of take me through that? Hopefully I'm being somewhat clear.

Audrey Collins:
I totally understand. No, I'm big on routine so ...

  1. the first thing when a client walks through my door is I ask them if they have anything on their brows and if they say yes, I wipe it off.
  2. If they don't, I immediately take their picture. It's way too easy to start talking to a client and forget to take their before picture and then your before and afters are screwed.
  3. Same with the after picture, immediately after I'm done with my client's eyebrows, I take their after pictures and then we discuss payment or after-care instructions and I hand them their little flyer for after-care instructions and I send them on their way.
  4. Immediately after they leave, if I have a couple of minutes in between appointments, I instantly start looking at my pictures and find my favorite angle and make sure that I have matching angles so that way on the before and after, they're from the same perspective.
  5. Then I actually use Photo Grid for my photo cropping. I don't edit any of my pictures. I just simply crop it to show the eyebrows, I put before and after, I put my little @acollins3dbrows on the bottom,
  6. and then I instantly send it out to my clients, first and foremost, so they can have that picture to show their family, their friends,
  7. then I instantly go on Instagram and I go to my little clipboard and I type in "lovely brows today" and I do my hashtags and I just cut and paste them. I don't even type them anymore, that way it saves time, and then I post my picture there.
  8. Then I go to Yelp and I post my picture on Yelp as well because I like to keep all of my sites as updated as possible.
  9. The next spot that I go to is my website and I post my pictures on there
  10. and also on my Facebook page, my business page there.

Chris Carter:
How long would you say on average it takes you to go through that from the time they get up out of the chair to getting all your online properties taken care of?

Audrey Collins:
It takes, honestly, maybe 15 minutes. It's so systematic for me and I've got all my apps on my phone. I go onto my Yelp business app, post my picture, write down the date, boom, it's posted. I used my Weebly website, I go on there, I update and add a picture, boom, it's posted and my website updated. Same with my Facebook page.

But it only takes 15 minutes out of my day for clients to get my work out there on four different avenues that I'm always having people look at to see the latest pictures of my work and then people comment on those and then they read the comments and being consistent has been the biggest thing for my business.

Chris Carter:
I'm glad you mentioned that because I kind of wanted to touch base on that. Two things that you mentioned, one being the consistent and I'll come back to that, but the other thing that you mentioned was part of your process is the first thing that you do is get images to your clients. I believe we talked about, at some point, how you've actually received business from your clients actually posting your images on their profiles.

Audrey Collins:
Exactly. I had a client just the other day that she took the before and after pictures I gave her and posted them on a Facebook group for makeup. After that, every day, she would send me updates on how many likes that that picture had already gotten. Last night I saw that she was already on 600+ likes, 121 comments that she had on just that one picture of my work.

I didn't even ask her to post it for me but she took the initiative and posted it on there and she had women sending her private messages wanting to know more about microblading, wanting to know more about my business, how much they charge, where I'm at, if she likes it. She's received great feedback and I told her thank you so much for that, I didn't even ask for it. But just little things like that that your clients do sometimes can have such a great impact.

Chris Carter:
Yeah and I was so amazed because it didn't seem to me like you realized what a big huge piece of marketing that is because people love to look at themselves and go, "Hey, look at what I look like now." So it occurred to me that that's a natural, if you give them something to put online, people are going to, especially in this day and age.

Audrey Collins:
They'll share it, they share it like crazy. Or they'll send it to their sister. "Oh, my gosh. Look at my eyebrows. I just got them done."

Do you know how many times I've done one client and then she sends the picture to her friends because usually when somebody comes in for microblading, they're usually the guinea pig of their group and so they're like, "Oh, my gosh. I have five friends. They can't wait for me to get this done. They really want to see what it looks like." And I let them know, "Awesome. I will send you your before and after pictures."

There's been a couple times where I've literally done an eyebrow, sent out the text message. Five minutes later, "You just did my friend's eyebrows. Oh, my gosh, they look amazing. I want an appointment."

It's just having that picture for them to send out, it's more than just words. They can actually see it. It's a bragging point that you just gave them of your work that they can go out and flaunt and share as much as they want.

Chris Carter:
I like that idea. And I guess the second point that I wanted to get to is what I'm hearing from you is there's a building effect of this consistency of getting this out here. It doesn't happen overnight, but once it starts to snowball, it kind of goes from there. Would you say that was your experience or something like that?

Audrey Collins:
That was totally my experience. I mean, honestly, when I left St. George in December of 2015, I honestly thought that I was just going to come back and post a picture and boom.

But no, it took a lot of time and consistency. Even in the beginning when I was doing eyebrows, just because nobody knew about it very much, people were like, "What's that? No way." And then the more and more it happens.

I had a client tell me she went to the post office. An old lady came up to her and said, "Oh, you got your eyebrows microbladed," and the lady's like, "Yeah, I did", and the old lady asked her, "Who did your eyebrows?" and she said Audrey and the old lady said, "She did mine too." You know? You get to that point where, I almost feel somewhat like a celebrity but totally not. I mean, my name is out there.

A client, I had her tell me the other day, she's like, "Yeah, you know, I went to this laser lady and I was asking her about her eyebrows and she mentioned you. Then, I was talking to my sister-in-law and she said she follows you on Instagram."

She said that was a sign, the fact that I had two pointing to you was all that I needed for me to make my appointment.

The more you're out there, people see me on Yelp, people see me on Facebook, and people see me on Instagram. So I'm not just in one spot, I'm kind of everywhere.

Chris Carter:
Right, right. I want to bring this back into perspective a little bit. From when you first got started to now, what's the timeline we're talking about?

Audrey Collins:
I'm talking like, it would've been January of 2016 was when I was officially doing microblading and so that's when my timeline starts so it's been literally just over year.

Chris Carter:
Just over a year from 0 to people are referring people to you because they've already talked to other people. So I'd say that's a success story

Audrey Collins:
I think it's very successful.

Chris Carter:
I'd say so. I'd say so. And if you had a piece of advice to give anybody starting from scratch because obviously, this does take some work and it's not overnight or anything like that. If you had one real good piece of advice to give someone who was thinking about using Instagram, what would it be?

Audrey Collins:
Consistency and customer service. I mean, customer service goes a long ways. Just putting your customer service first and just being consistent. Putting your customer first is key.

Chris Carter:
Huge. Now, I realized I had one other question I was going to ask you and it had to do with something you mentioned about follow-up service. How did you manage to, and this is off-topic a little bit. How did you manage to get so much, I'm going to say, touch-up work? How did you generate that loyalty in your clients?

Audrey Collins:
Just customer service. They know that when they need to come in that I will do my best to work them into my schedule. They know that I will take care of them when they get there and that they're going to leave happy.

Chris Carter:
Perfect. Perfect. Okay, Audrey, thank you very much for getting my brain all the information I could handle on Instagram. I could talk about it until I was blue in the face, but it wouldn't be nearly as effective as you having that same conversation.

Audrey Collins:
You are welcome.


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