Small business owners – with a big vision and passion – this one is for you.
She has been featured on TV and in countless newspapers and magazines.
Instagram is her jam (it’s where the majority of her customers come from).
She is growing her business/passion.
Her community loves her.
And she has been using Preview app since we started.
Ready to hear her tips?
Say hello to: Lauren @laurenastondesigns.
Hello Lauren, before we start, can you please introduce yourself to everyone ? What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do?
Hello! I’m Lauren Aston. I run a small business from my studio in Devon (UK) doing really big knitting. We have a range of Ready Made knits and DIY knit kits, focusing mainly on giant knitting (the huge blankets) and chunky knit clothing kits to make your own cosy cardigans etc. I can normally be found either on Instagram or just admiring my dog (or doing both).
How long have you been using Preview?
Ooooh I can’t even remember now! I started taking my Instagram account seriously for my business about 3 years ago so I’ve probably been using Preview for about that long.
What role does Instagram play in your business? Does it help you grow your business?
It’s massive for me.
I’m lucky in that my business is very visual and so there’s always something to take photos of.
The majority of my orders and customers now come via Instagram so it’s huge for me.
Instagram is essentially the only marketing I do (not that that’s necessarily advisable! Just that that’s how it’s panned out because it’s the way I enjoy working).
What does a “day in the life” of Lauren Aston looks like?
Everyday is different depending on the time of year – as a knitting business we’re incredibly seasonal so summer is our down time when we prep and get organised and then Autumn/Winter is GO GO GO!).
It also depends on orders and who’s in the studio but typically I’d come in to the studio (at about 10am in the summer or 8am in the winter) and do all the basic admin bits – emails and orders etc. We tend to have a fair amount of cake and a lot of tea and spend too much time chatting instead of working but we all enjoy our days in the studio which is really important.
I try to spend at least one day a week (unless it’s manic) knitting from home. These are the days I work on new patterns for knit kits and I take photos for Instagram, I get to work in front of the TV and I take the dog for long walks so they’re just wonderful.
Can you take us through your whole Instagram process? From thinking about what to post about or what photos to take, to taking the photos and posting on Instagram? What does your process look like?
I try to take pictures during the weekend so that I’ve got a weeks worth ready to go and I keep a list on my phone of ideas so that whenever they come to me, I make a note so that I can come back to them on a shoot day (some are rubbish and some are solid.)
I then try to imagine the shot, figure out the best backdrop, look at my feed as it stands so that I can see what colours will work best next to my current images and then pull together all the props for one shot at a time. I use a tripod and remote shutter so I can set the shot up and keep coming back to it and altering it until I’m happy then if I’m in the shot I probably take about 200 until I get a face I’m happy with 😜
I do most of my editing in Lightroom and occasional tweeks in photoshop or snapseed then pop them into Preview App to see what order they look best in and when they’d be most relevant.
I tend to type my captions on the day I post in case I want to add something more relevant to my day and then I use Preview’s hashtag tools to come up with 29 tags (I always leave 1 spare just in case I want to add one later).
Then I set it live and hopefully have a nice chat in the comments 😊
How do you take those photos of fun scenes?
I have a cardboard box taped to my floor and use a remote shutter.
You start to get a bit more imaginative as you do them and start to see what items could be turned into birds or flowers.
Do you take all your photos by yourself? Or is someone helping you?
It’s about 50/50 I use remote shutter and a tripod a lot but sometimes Alex (my husband) helps me, it really depends on the shot and if he’s home haha.
Some things are a two person job – like perspective photos for instance (like the one below) where I need him to hold something closer to the camera.
I’m a bit fussy though so it normally ends in a row.
What’s your trick to take photos with your dog? He is such a good poser!
Haha the trick is to pay him well (in treats).
He used to be a bit confused by the whole thing but now he knows that if he sits still for about 3 minutes he’ll get about 20 treats haha!
He’s clearly learning to enjoy it because every time I pull my camera our he sits down in front of me!
How far in advance do you plan your feed?
I only plan about a week in advance because I don’t like it to be too premeditated.
Do you write captions in advance or just before posting?
Just before posting so they’re more relevant.
Your captions are always awesome. A lot of people struggle finding out what to write. How do you come up with your captions? How do you know what to write? What goes in your mind?
Haha thank you! I think I just waffle on with whatever comes to mind. I always try to link my caption to the image so they’re not totally random and I also try to keep it relevant to what’s going on in life/work etc… at the time. As my brand has developed I feel like my Instagram feed is a community and so I just enjoy talking to them and that means my captions are normally quite long and hopefully a bit fun.
Many business owners are not sure whether they should share parts of their personal life and personality on their business account. What are your thoughts on this? Keep it professional or make it personal?
I think it’s really important to have boundaries. Everyones will be different and there’s no rules for it so you set your own boundaries depending on what you’re comfortable with and then go from there. I don’t write mine down like rules, I find it’s more instinctive but for instance I don’t share pictures of my family or friends without their consent. I might touch on what I’m doing on the weekend but personally I wouldn’t share locations or specifics.
There’s definitely space for ‘personal’ on a business account and I think, particularly with bloggers, influencers and small businesses it’s important to see the humans behind the brands and get to know them – it’s how audiences connect with brands so it’s really important but where that begins and ends is a personal decision. I don’t think anyone should ever share something on the Internet that they’re not completely comfortable with.
The best Instagram tips you can give to fellow small business owners who want to use Instagram to grow their business?
Be your unique, authentic, crazy, weird self. You don’t need to be anyone else because you are YOU and that’s magnificent so embrace your inner weirdo and show of your incredible products proudly and well (probably in natural light).
Your biggest Instagram lesson(s)? Things you wish you knew at the beginning of your Insta journey?
If you don’t post, the sky won’t fall down! It’s good to be ‘on it’ and present but not at the expense of your mental health or wellbeing. Instagram is INCREDIBLE, it helps you build relationships, share your products and gives people opportunities, a voice and platform that they might not otherwise have BUT If you don’t want to show up online, you don’t have to.