In this series, I am interviewing some of the most amazing bloggers and content creators, and digging into their preferences and processes so that we can all learn from their example.
Today’s interview is with the sensational Jenn Herman. Since starting Jenn’s Trends in 2013, she has become a globally recognized expert in Instagram marketing and the forefront blogger on Instagram marketing. Jenn’s blog has won the prestigious award of being a Top 10 Social Media Blog three years in a row: 2014, 2015, and 2016.
And I’m blessed to consider Jenn one of my best friends. Without further ado, I give you, Jenn Herman:
What’s your poison? Blog or Video or Podcast? Why?
Ugh, that’s such a hard question to answer! By default, I would say blogging. Because that’s where I’m most comfortable and how I built my brand. I can easily crank out a 1000 word blog post, including edits, in under an hour. And as a writer, I feel like I can better convey what I want to say as concisely as possible. BUT I understand the power of video and am doing more with that medium and building my YouTube channel. AND while I’ve never run my own podcast, I’ve joked since my early days that I’m a podcast whore and will be a guest on pretty much any show that aligns with me. And I can credit a large portion of my brand growth to all the exposure I got from all these podcast interviews.
What has been your most successful piece of content, and why?
If you want to judge success as the most viewed piece of content, it’s an older post (from 2014) that still gets plenty of views today and has over a million hits on its own. It’s a blog post that outlines the limits to various functions on Instagram: https://www.jennstrends.com/limits-on-instagram/
I cover the limits set on character counts, actions, and much more. While I wrote this post with the best of intentions, the reality is that a ton of people are out there looking for ways to game the system on Instagram and they want to know how many actions they can take before they get blocked so this is a highly searched topic and my blog post is up there for the answers they want.
How do you streamline your content creation process for efficiency and excellence?
I have a running list of topics to cover. I keep it on my phone since that’s the one device always within reach. When a new topic comes to mind, I’ll add it to the list. Then it’s a quick decision about how to create the content: blog post or YouTube video. In all transparency, I’m trying to get better about doing BOTH – writing the blog post, filming the video, uploading the video to YouTube, and then embedding it in the blog post before publishing. This allows me to reach both types of audiences.
Where do you get your ideas for content?
I’ve covered SO many pieces of content on Instagram, I rarely get “new” ideas. Instead, I wait for new features or updates to come from Instagram and then determine how to target those for content coverage. These are topics I need to jump on more quickly since they’re fresh and people are looking for the topics. But I’ll be honest, I don’t rush the content out there too quickly because I’d rather wait a day or two and combine feedback and insight from people testing the new features to have a more robust piece of content about the new feature rather than just whipping something basic out like everyone else.
Most of my short form content comes from questions that I get in my Facebook group or via DM on Instagram. It’s those questions that are repeatedly asked or that ask about a specific topic that turn into videos or posts.
RELATED: Track your ideas in The Blog Planner.
How do you, how do we put it… make money off this stuff?
Ah, the money part! For me, honestly, I don’t make much money off the content itself. I don’t have sponsors or affiliates associated with my blogs or videos. I have a small handful of affiliate links interspersed in some blog posts but that brings in very little revenue that I wouldn’t count.
Instead, for me, I’ve built my brand as an expert in Instagram marketing and social media strategy through my online content. My content is super tactical and results oriented. It’s not designed to make people feel good. In fact, I often call out the BS that people fall back on. But the strategies and tactics I outline drive results. People use my hashtag formula or they try my suggestions for lead generation on Instagram or they rework their profile or do any other host of tactics I recommend. And they work. And then they want more!
Whether people find my blogs, see my videos, hear me on a webinar or a podcast, they learn something from me of value and then those that want to work with me reach out. They hire me as a consultant to work with them one on one. Or they hire me to train their corporate teams or to speak at their events. And that’s where I make the real revenue. But it’s all a result of the content I create that builds the trust and expertise.
What would you say has been a defining moment in your career as a content creator?
I’ve been lucky to have a number of milestones and defining moments. I remember when my blog hit its first one million total views. I was voted a Top 10 Social Media Blog by Social Media Examiner for three consecutive years. I’ve been listed in countless lists as the blogger to follow for all things Instagram… But, I would say my most defining moment was when I realized I had clearly written more blog posts and created more content about Instagram marketing than anyone else in the world. I had become the leading blogger on the topic and was being sought after by organizations and events as the go-to source for Instagram expertise.
When it comes to content creation over the next year, what are your plans and intentions?
My biggest goal is to consistently create content. In the last year or so, my content has become much less consistent and significantly less frequent. On top of that, as I mentioned, I want to do more of the combination content, embedding my own short YouTube videos on a topic into the corresponding blog post for maximum exposure and content delivery.
Who is your favorite content creator and why?
That’s an easy answer! Mike Allton! And I’m not just saying that because he’s the one conducting this interview.
Since my very early days as a blogger, Mike has been a beacon to the blogging industry. He is the paramount professional, eloquent, and full of knowledge. He is also capable of creating high quality content faster than any person I know and I swear he has a clone of himself hidden away just cranking out blog posts at all hours of the day 😉
But his content and his approach is what I’ve always strived to emulate, in my own unique way. He is consistent, reliable, resourceful, entertaining, and genuinely cares about every single person that reads his blogs, social media posts, and emails.
What’s the one takeaway you want to impart on someone who, let’s say, is a blogging n00b. 🙂
Well, I’m not sure there’s any one takeaway from my ramblings in this interview. BUT if I could give one piece of advice it would be to have an opinion. There is so much content out there for the world to find. And no one needs another regurgitation of what everyone else is saying. Instead, write the way you talk so it sounds like YOU. And then have your own take, opinion, recommendation, or solution in the content you create. Don’t be afraid to be contrarian. Don’t shy away from explaining why you agree with something. Offer your personal experience that defines your approach to a topic.
If you read my blog posts or social media posts, you’ll see I write with slang like “gonna” or “cuz” or “wanna” because that is how I talk. I start sentences with “So, …” which is grammatically horrible but it reads conversationally, so I don’t care. And from early on, I always took a stand on whether I thought new features or changes were good or bad. And I still openly admit that I hate Instagram Stories (but I appreciate their effectiveness).
It’s ok not to follow the crowd. You are uniquely you (or your brand) and the more your content reflects that uniqueness and opinions, the faster your content will grow your brand.
#CoolContentCreators Interview Series
- How Andy Crestodina Excels At Content Creation
- How Chris Brogan Never Runs Out Of Content Ideas
- How Jenn Herman Built Her Authority and Reputation With Content
- How Guy Kawasaki Fuels A Successful Podcast With Content
- How Jay Baer Spins Ideas Into Blog Posts, Speeches and Books
- How Ann Handley Consistently Writes With Confidence
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