SPS-192: How to Build an Audience on Instagram – with Stuart Grant

Instagram has grown from a platform for younger people to a thriving social media app with over a billion users per month. Instagram Ninja, Stuart Grant walks us through some of the basics of using the platform successfully as an author.

Show Notes

  • On the rapid rise of Instagram
  • The benefits for authors of the platform
  • On paid advertising on Instagram
  • Building an audience on Instagram
  • How to authentically show up on the platform
  • Tips for growing your follower numbers
  • How microblogging works in Instagram posts
  • The different kinds of hashtags to use and when to use them
  • Why Instagram Stories matter

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

MEET AND GREET: Meet James and John at the Tap and Barrel [Convention Centre location] in Vancouver, BC on 21 September 2019.

MEET AND GREET: Meet James, John, Young Tom and Mark during the NINC conference at the Sharktooth Tavern on St. Pete’s Beach, Florida on 26 September 2019.

LIVE EVENT: Information about tickets for the Self-Publishing Show live event in March 2020

SPF BOOKS: Get your free copies of the SPF guidebooks here, including Stuart’s book on Instagram for Authors.

INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS MENTIONED: John Dyer (@jack9903) Stuart Grant (@stuartgrantuk) James Blatch (@jas_blatch) Self-Publishing Formula (@selfpubform)

STUART’S WEBSITE: Contact Stuart for an Instagram consultation to get you started.

Transcript of Interview with Stuart Grant

Speaker 1: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show.

Stuart Grant: And it’s amazing how, when I walk into a room, people go, “Oh, that’s Stu. I know you! Where have I seen you? Oh, you’re the guy that’s on. Because of me, just drop in the odd line underneath people’s stuff.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers.

Do you want to make a living from your writing? Join indie best-seller Mark Dawson, and first-time author James Latch, as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success.

This is The Self-Publishing Show. There’s never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello, it is The Self-Publishing Show with James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: How are you, Mark Dawson? We’ve had a heck of a week, have we not?

Mark Dawson: Yes, it has been a very busy week. Lots of different things going on, both with SPF, and books, and all kinds of stuff. Yes, this might be a slightly longer podcast than usual.

James Blatch: It is. We’re going to be talking all things Instagram today, and we know this is going to be a popular episode because we have a load of free resources and free books, and one of them is written by Stuart Grant.

If you go, just click on the resources tab, you can download the book and it is without question our bestseller. It’s a book that goes very well, every day of the week.

Authors know that Instagram is a big, vibrant, important, growing platform and they need to understand how to use it.

So, we’ve got all that coming up in a moment but before then we’ve got quite a lot to get through before then, the very first thing I’m going to do, Mark, is very important, to welcome our new Patreon subscribers, so these are people who’ve gone to to support the show and get goodies in return.

And they are our new Patreons, Corin O. Flynn from Colorado in the US. Hi there Corin. Helen Parker Dravil and Drake Evens, our three new Patreons, joined us this week. Thank you very much indeed.

We have occasional live training, usually once a month. We’ve had two quite close together recently. This week it was about going wide with Kinga Jentetics, she’s great. And she talks not just about whether you should go wide, that big question, but really about making sure that you’re doing it properly and maximizing your benefit from it. And she’s from PublishDrive, of course. That goes onto the shelf for everybody who’s a Patreon supporter or a student of our courses and they can look back at those anytime and we’ve got more coming up in the future.

Right, that is our Patreon supporters welcomed and we’ve got a few things to talk about. Should we start with SPS Live, hello London. Is it going to be you on stage?

Mark Dawson: No, it’s going to be you doing that, I’ll be much more reserved. Yes, so it’s been an interesting week really.

For those who don’t know what we’re up to, we’ve been thinking of doing a live event for a while and we settled on Monday, the 9th of March 2020, which is the Monday before London Book Fair which runs from Tuesday to Thursday. So we thought it’s a perfect time to do it. People would be in town for the show anyway, there will be lots of speakers that we can grab from Amazon and from Trad Publishers, all kinds of options available to us.

So we went to speak to Amazon and Amazon are involved. They’re going to sponsor it and they’re going to consult with us on the agendas, so that’s great. We then found a venue so Young Tom has been involved, and Lucy actually, has recently been involved in trying to find a venue.

We found a really nice one, which I could probably say what it is now, given that we are not actually going to be going there, it was going to the National Gallery in London on Trafalgar Square. They’ve got a very nice lecture theater with 328 seats which we thought was just a nice number.

We originally were going to have in Amazon’s offices but then we realized that it was probably a little bit too big for that so we got the gallery lined up and we got the PayPal page ready. We had a list where people can pre-register which is still available and then, on was it Thursday or Wednesday, we made the tickets available. We do it in two gos. So one hundred and fifty the first time, a hundred and fifty the second time.

The first hundred and fifty went in less than five minutes, the second hundred and fifty went in ninety seconds.

James Blatch: Well, first of all, we broke PayPal.

Mark Dawson: We broke PayPal. Yes. As soon as the email went out. We kept a look at google analytics to see how much traffic was going to the page and it was like a thousand visitors, which we had at the same time, which basically broke it. And so we were getting emails, and I stayed up late for this, I can’t get a ticket. Which we, obviously, felt dreadful about, there wasn’t much we could do.

But we did feel very bad about it and those two tranches when they sold very quickly and we’ve seen comments on the Facebook groups, emails coming to us saying I want to come. The last time, on the first tranche we had twenty-five Americans coming, someone’s coming from Australia. I haven’t seen the second tranche but I’m sure that there are more of those people that are actually traveling from a long way away to come see us and that’s number one, a bit weird and number two, quite flattering so anyway that’s long-winded way of saying we’re surprised by the demand.

The rest of this week, Tom, me and Lucy have been ringing around venues in London to try and find somewhere bigger and even though we’re six months out, lots of them were taken but we found about five and Tom went to visit one of them yesterday and I must shout out here to Sarah Weldon in the SPF community who helped introduce us to the people who run this venue. It is a very big venue.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: I’m not going to say where it is yet, just in case it doesn’t come through. But its ninety-nine percent going to be there. Tom had visited there. I’ve seen a video. It’s very nice. It’s in a very trendy part of London. People will know the venue very well.

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: And it’s big enough so we think there’s nine hundred spaces. So we are quite confident that if you want a ticket, especially if you move in the next week or so, you should be able to get one without having to constantly hit refresh. So, that’s where we are and the next step is me starting to program it so.

People have been buying these tickets without knowing who is speaking, which is very nice.

James Blatch: Well John Dyer will be speaking.

Mark Dawson: He will be speaking. Yes. But we should say if people want to get tickets. As we recall this on Friday the thirteenth.

James Blatch: Yeah, Friday the thirteenth. So this will go out a week today.

Mark Dawson: Friday the twentieth.

James Blatch: There is a possibility, Mark, they will be sold old again, a week today.

Mark Dawson: I think it’s unlikely but it’s possible.

James Blatch: It’s possible. So we should say you might get sold out but this is a secondary place that we mention where to buy tickets, mainly it’s directly out to the mailing list to the people who’ve signed up and expressed an interest and gone to our Facebook groups and so on.

So you should see it before then. However, if you’re hearing about this for the first time, you’re not on our mailing list.

Mark Dawson: I’ve actually said that in an email, that’ll be going out later today, I think we’re fine with people buying tickets for their spouses.

James Blatch: What about the naughty people we refunded last time who bought four?

Mark Dawson: I think that was a mistake. I saw that coming as well. I think it was a question of getting refreshed too much, anyway, I think it’s okay for people to buy tickets for spouses, I suspect we’ll have enough space now for those people.

James Blatch: Yup. Okay.

Mark Dawson: It’s thirty pounds. So it’s not for profit. It’s an expensive venue. The venue itself cost twenty grand pretty much for us to put it on so we are going to cover our costs. Amazon is sponsoring us as well and any money that we make in terms of profit will be donated to a reading charity that we’ll decide on a bit near the time.

James Blatch: And we’re not providing food, which becomes an absolute headache.

Mark Dawson: No. We’re absolutely not providing food.

James Blatch: I mean just doing tea suddenly, there’s like fifteen thousand pounds on the bill.

Mark Dawson: I had quotes for ten grand for the venue and then when I asked for like catering, it became fifty grand.

So we’re not doing food but the place we’re going to, hopefully, has dozens of restaurants within thirty seconds.

James Blatch: Oh, it’s in a great street food area, now.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. It’s great for street food.

James Blatch: A really good street food area so I’m quite excited about my choice for lunch. Already thinking about it.

Anyway, I can’t wait to appear in that spotlight and that’s super trooper. Hello London.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. Exactly.

James Blatch: The backstage fight will be great.

Mark Dawson: It will.

James Blatch: It’ll be like Ricky Gervais in The Office. Good, I’m very excited about that and I think what you and I, or you in particular, with your reach and your pull, we need to start thinking big about guests, don’t we.

Mark Dawson: Oh I already have done so. Without saying too much, I think we’re going to have a traditionally published author in the crime genre, who sold about fifteen million books. And I’m thinking of putting that author together with another author, an Indie author in the crime genre that sold about five million books and I think that will be quite interesting.

I’ll do a section. I think with this kind of level of interest and with Amazon backing us, I think its not impossible that we might be able to get someone like Neil Gaimon or Hugh Harry or even J.K. Rowling.

Why not, we could ask. Especially because it’s around the fair. People will be in London for the book fair so I think we’ve got a good chance.

James Blatch: J.K. Rowling, you mentioned before is probably the wealthiest self-published author on the planet. Because she owns the right of the audio, of the e-books of her Harry Potter series.

Mark Dawson: She does. Yesterday, she donated herself out of the Times 100 Rich List. Do you know about that?

James Blatch: No, did she?

Mark Dawson: Yeah. She gave a hundred and thirty million, something along those lines, to charities looking at dementia, things like that. I think that took her out of the rich list which, that’s amazing.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: She’s probably made it back now.

James Blatch: Yeah, since we’ve been recording this.

Okay, so that’s going to be in London at March, the 9th 2020. It’s going to be the first one of, maybe, what become a regular event and we should also say that this is a one-day event. And I know people are flying from Australia and New York and America but we have coincided it with the week of the London Book Fair so if you’re going to come over, there’s a whole week of stuff that you can absorb and the London Book Fair is pretty good.

I know most of it is kind of irrelevant to us but the bit that’s relevant, the ten or fifteen percent of it, is really good. So Amazon are there, you have a really good presence, you’ll find Draft2Digital, Publish Drive, all the accoutrements of self-publishing…

Mark Dawson: Oooo, French.

James Blatch: Yeah. …community are there and every day they run these panels which you take part in and you get people like L.J. Ross and so forth and they are really good. They’re excellent discussions. Good learning opportunities.

Mark Dawson: So, that’s what we’re hoping to do. One thing I’m thinking about is getting some T-shirts.

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: Everyone who goes to the conference. Let’s say we have 700 people, all in identical T-shirts descending on the book fair on the Tuesday. That would be absolutely ridiculous. It could be something like, I’ll say we do a little competition for what we could have on the T-shirts.

James Blatch: You know how to write and I learn how to sell.

Mark Dawson: We could do that one or it could be, “Ask me about my royalties”. That could be a good one. There’s plenty of things we could do in terms of gently taking the rise of traditional authors and publishers.

James Blatch: Okay, we’re going to talk about your publishing, you have published a book this week, in fact yesterday, I think I had an email dropped.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. I did. Bright Lights is the latest Milton book. It went out yesterday and has done very well so I had nearly 9000 pre-orders, full-price pre-orders for that which was great.

So they all hit the account over the last couple of days so that’s been quite nice, looks like it’s going to be a nice positive month in terms of book sales this month and the book shot up to the Top 100 both sides of the channel, both sides of the Atlantic even which is always nice to see.

James Blatch: More French.

Mark Dawson: That’s been great. I’ve got this down to a fairly fine art now in terms of how I launch. At the moment, I’ve only done my list once so that will be done again next week, I haven’t done any Facebook as yet, I will hopefully get around to those today. Although, the way today is going that’s possibly not going to happen. Facebook Messenger and all that good stuff I’ll be doing that as well just to kind of turn on the sales so yeah that’s all going very well. I love launching. It’s always fun to see the rank climb throughout the day.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: You’ll love launching at some point.

James Blatch: I love launching. I worked out today, that if I do six chapters of sixteen today, revision, I’ve got nine days left of revision. If I can double the number of scenes which is a bit difficult because we’re so busy, I could half that. And then I should say, it’s beta readers.

Mark Dawson: Goodness. Almost there. So by 2020.

James Blatch: By the SPF Live Event. I’m going to start up a little store with little paperbacks on it.

Mark Dawson: We probably would sell a few because people are nice and they will feel pity towards you.

James Blatch: Are you and I are going to do some book signings.

Mark Dawson: I could do some book signings.

James Blatch: Talking about meeting us in person, we have two opportunities for you to do that in the next couple of weeks.

John Dyer and I will be in Vancouver on Saturday. So this is going out on the Friday, so the day after this is released, which is Saturday, the 21st of September, we’re going to be in a place called the Tap & Barrel down on the waterfront in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I think it’s the one associated with an Exhibition Center, just from memory, I think Tap & Barrel might be a franchise, a couple of bars across Vancouver so the one on the Exhibition Center on the riverfront. But you’ll see details of it in the community.

I’ve done something in the way, I’ve set up this event that hasn’t worked because only Lisa, who helped me organize it, and me, are going. But I’ve had lots of emails from people saying that they’re looking forward to seeing me there so.

Mark Dawson: Of course, you have.

James Blatch: Yeah. I have. We have. We got loads of people who put their hands up so they want to be interviewed so we’re going to be in a hotel room all Saturday interviewing people for SPF, both the podcast and for our courses but we’d love to see you.

So if you want to come down, we’re happy to buy you a pint, if they sell pints in Vancouver. That night, Saturday, the 21st, day after, probably this goes out at the Tap & Barrel.

And the following Thursday, the 26th of September in the evening, it’ll be the full gamit; it’ll be Mark, Young Tom, John and I will be at NINC, Novelist Incorporated Conference and you don’t need tickets for the conference to attend our drinks.

We’re going to be in a place called the Sharktooth Tavern which is part of a TradeWinds Resort on, what’s it called, that beach.

Mark Dawson: St. Pete Beach.

James Blatch: Yeah. St. Pete Beach, but there’s a name for the boulevard. Anyway, you can find it. Sharktooth Tavern and people are successfully telling us that they’re going to that event in Facebook so that event is also listed in our SPF community page. Come and get a selfie with Mark Dawson.

Are you going to shave?

Mark Dawson: No. This is a beard, James. You don’t shave beards.

James Blatch: At what point does it go from just unkempt to oh it’s a beard.

Mark Dawson: Oh, I’ve passed that ages ago. This is fine.

James Blatch: It’s like the navy, if you go in the navy you have three days and then they check it and they tell you whether you can carry on or not.

Mark Dawson: Oh well. Lucky I’m not in the navy.

James Blatch: Anything else to mention before we get into the interview?

Mark Dawson: No, there’s one thing that we’ll do that, that I announce in the community last week of, I have a print-only deal which, if you’ve been in the industry long enough, it’s a fairly big deal. I’m not just saying that because it’s my books, it’s the one aspect of, the one format from your IP that’s most difficult to effectively scale it properly.

Because there’s distribution, there’s printing, there’s warehousing, getting into stores, all that kind of stuff is not impossible but it’s beyond most people. Certainly to do at any kind of scalable level.

And I’ve been working on a deal with a traditional publisher for quite a while, couple of years and I signed it and Wednesday this week and so we will talk about that. It could even be a full podcast so I think there hasn’t been any other real examples of this. Hugh Howey did it a while ago. I think Bella Andre may have done but not recently so, it’s going to be great.

It’s the kind of thing that’ll be more common as publishers become a little more open-minded about how they actually publish stories so we’ll see, if this is successful, who knows it could be, the first of many.

James Blatch: It’s a sort of missing link, isn’t it? Easy and just box-ticking way to distribute your physical thing apart from print on demand. We do like book shops. I know you do point it, its largely irrelevant, it’s because of how expensive it is and the margins involved in it and as writers, don’t we all like to browse around bookshops and isn’t it a nice thing at least to be able to walk into a bookshop and see your book on the shelf.

Mark Dawson: Oh I don’t care about the niceness, that’s the last thing on my mind.

James Blatch: So unromantic.

Mark Dawson: Well, it’s all about selling books, isn’t it? It’s a business. It’s not for my vanity. And yeah its difficult for us to do that and my brother and I, and also an SPFer. He works for Waterstones up in Scotland. We were looking at doing a print run of the first couple of Milton books. He thought he’d get them into Waterstones. As a proof of concept, to see if we could actually sell some books and the margins were so slim, because the margins were almost nothing. It was very very difficult.

We weren’t doing it at a big scale, if you run a fifty thousand print run, it’s going to be a lot cheaper per book than running the five hundred copy print run. It just didn’t work and I didn’t want fifty thousand copies of my book in my garage, particularly. Even though, it’s a great book.

James Blatch: We should also mention, one of the eco-benefits of print-on-demand is it’s much more resource-friendly way of doing things than printing twenty-five thousand copies and hoping you sell them.

We’ll do something on that when it’s developed a bit and you’ve got some figures and if it’s something you’re going to start recommending to people and maybe there is something that could be rolled out to authors of a certain band, I guess in the future.

Should we just mention, we talked last week about the photoshoot that I was preparing to do, this is part of, well I was taking advantage of an emerging sideline, spun off from Stuart Bache’s cover design.

Oh we should say congratulations to Stuart Bache because he just had a little boy this week, his wife actually and he is called Magnus. So well done. Happy for you Stuart and enjoy your few days, I know you don’t get many days off. So enjoy those with your new infant.

But also announced this week, a tie up with John Weston. John Weston is a SPFer actually who was in the Middle East, moved back to the UK, is British. He’s a photographer, he loves his photography and they’ve set up something called, which is with Stuart now. John is the photographer who has a studio in Lincolnshire and he is helping Stuart to build up a repository of figures and images, particularly models, in particular, era clothing that’s going to work well on the front cover of books. Because, I think, Stuart is getting a bit frustrated with some of those stock images being nearly right but not quite.

So I mentioned last week, I took advantage of this because I had a very difficult to obtain image and all the stuff and I was the model. We can show some pictures, I’ll send them to John and the others and he can put them up, now of John and me looking dapper and amazing and completely covered up. In my helmet, oxygen mask and my Mae West.

Mark Dawson: And I think we will tell listeners why it’s called a Mae West after the interview because I’m just looking and I’ve got to run out in about ten seconds.

James Blatch: Okay.

Mark Dawson: So you better get into it.

James Blatch: All right. Well, we’ve got a minute, I think to introduce the interviewer and then we’ll talk about my vest, which is worth talking about. There’s a couple of things about her in particular.

Okay, let’s us go on to this interview, it’s about Instagram. It’s with Stuart Grant, many of you will know Stuart’s been on here before and he’s part of the SPF team here in the background that helps this particular podcast out into the world.

Stuart is a real guru on Instagram. He provides a service as well to this which he talks about. This is about a platform that is growing rapidly, that is fun, it’s actually quite easy to use and it’s something that as authors we need to be aware of so let’s talk to Stuart.

James Blatch: Okay, there he is. He’s cleaning, what, you’re cleaning your glasses?

Stuart Grant: Yeah, I want to be able to see you James.

James Blatch: There was an iconic moment in English Test Cricket recently, wasn’t there? Where the non-striking batsman who was not a batsman, was a bowler, had to hang on for dear life at the end of a test match and there’s these images, there’s an oil painting already of him, cleaning his glasses in between deliveries. You don’t follow cricket.

Stuart Grant: No, sorry, you’ve lost me. But it sounds wonderful.

James Blatch: Indeed it is ninety-eight percent of the audience but they should do because it’s the world’s greatest game. Stuart Grant, welcome back to the Self-Publishing Show. No stranger to these parts.

Stuart Grant: No, number three this is. I think I’m catching up with the other Stuart, Stuart Bache. So yeah, this is number three. First of all, we talked about apps and then we talked about websites.

James Blatch: Yes I remember, we spoke in Cambridge, didn’t we. Sunny Cambridge with ice creams, the first time before we had video.

You are a member of our team, we should say. You work in the background, you’re part of the team that gets this very show out into the ether doing, pressing buttons with iTunes and things all over the place and so we’re grateful for that. It’s a bit of a team effort. A lot goes into, people don’t realize, how many buttons you have to press to get a podcast out every week.

Stuart Grant: There is a lot of gears turning, I have to say, each week and sometimes it can be more stressful than others but we get there every week and the product, it gets better, I think every time so, yes, its a pleasure to be a part of it. It’s great to see people getting involved in all feedback and stuff online. It’s great to be here. Thank you.

James Blatch: And as part of our family and people who know you on social media will know that you’ve had a bit of a, what shall we say, a life event has happened to you over the past six months and I know you were sharing some of this.

I’m just going to ask you a little bit about it from the beginning, if you just want to tell us how this rather shocking is the word for you, when it happened to you.

Stuart Grant: Sure. Yeah. Major year. I had a baby and got married which was brilliant and in the midst of all that in February, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor after having a very slight hearing loss.

I then went to the doctor’s there was no corelation between hearing loss but they found the brain tumor via doing a MRI scan so was in hospital within a few weeks having it removed. I’ve done six weeks of radio therapy. I’m now in the middle of chemotherapy, but all good. Prognosis is good and it’s all about staying positive and getting on with life and you know, I’m good. I’m fine. I feel fine.

James Blatch: Yeah, well you look fine.

Stuart Grant: Major shock.

James Blatch: For somebody who’s in the midst of chemotherapy, you look amazing, by the way, and your energy levels. I just want to say that your attitude to everything, I think, I personally my thing is to curl up in a corner and crumble and I take immense inspiration from seeing somebody like you smiling in the face of what can be a very traumatic experience for any of us.

Stuart Grant: Thank you. It’s not easy, I suppose but, I think honestly all the health professionals, I’ve spoken to have assured me that it’s half the battle going in with a positive mind and if you go in broken, you’ll come out broken and it’s not always easy but here I am and kind of on the other side and feeling fine so thank you very much for that, James.

James Blatch: Fantastic. I’ve allowed my phone to ding and it interrupts them because I’ve got my phone because we are talking today about Instagram and we should say at the beginning that you wrote a book for us on Instagram and it’s gone really well.

We do a lot social media advertising as you’d expect SPF to do. It’s not just about Mark’s book or my book, your book, it’s also about building SPF as a brand and finding the audience. We use Facebook ads extensively.

Your book is a very, very strong lead magnet for us and that says to me that people are sensing that Instagram is a thing they need to be doing.

Stuart Grant: It is the fastest growing social media platform. Last time we spoke actually, I think there were eight hundred thousand users on it, there’s now a billion, well over a billion, actually.

So the partnership between Instagram and Facebook is growing stronger every day. So, if you use Facebook for your business, whatever that might be, it makes sense to have at least an understanding of Instagram.

They have actually rebranded. They are now Instagram by Facebook. So, it makes sense to have that understanding of both platforms and I think they are driving their platform to be about the story and as authors that is a gift, because that is what you do. That is what we do. Tell stories and so if you can get that into your head and use it for that purpose, it should be a very natural and organic strategy for you.

James Blatch: And if it is working, if you are telling stories, what are the benefits for authors?

Stuart Grant: There’s a huge community on Instagram of readers and writers and the benefit to you, is to hopefully sell more books, create more of a tribe and find people that enjoy your content.

Now, we know from every platform that “buy my stuff, buy my stuff, buy my stuff” does not work. This has to be about your – and I know you both hate this word – this has to be about your journey and the story of you as an author.

Now, obviously it’s slightly more difficult if you are writing under a pen name but we’ll just put that to one side for a moment, assuming that most people are writing in a way that they can share stuff about what they’re doing.

The benefit for using Instagram is it’s very visual, it’s very fast, it’s uncluttered, it doesn’t have all the shonk that a lot of the other platforms do. It’s not as maybe political as Twitter and it’s not as full of rubbish as Facebook, in many ways. So, it’s a nice platform to concentrate on.

It’s also, I think, not as pressured. You don’t have to post as often as you might do on other networks. So, pressure’s off.

James Blatch: That’s interesting. We’ll get into some of that in a moment. Some of the do’s and don’ts of using the platform successfully. Should we get this out of the way at the beginning?

There is a paid advertising platform on Instagram of course that commercially drives it; is that something authors need to be getting into?

Stuart Grant: I would think that it is something that they would be looking at or should be looking at. It’s actually not a pay-to-play platform but there is the opportunity to boost posts, create adverts in the same way that it is on Facebook but I would and this is a guess.

My feeling is that people are not using it to its full capability at the moment and so, advertising on Instagram is probably cheaper and less difficult than you might imagine so it would be a great time to be the start of it.

So get in there, now, while it’s cheap and establish your position. That would be my real advice.

James Blatch: Good. Okay. We’ve done a bit of experimenting with it and it is in its infancy, I think, the ads platform still, but it’s going to take a little bit for us and for others to come up with a formula that’s going to be one that we can say yep, now is the time to put money into it.

At the moment, we haven’t found the cost per lead returns yet but like I say, it’s a changing, shaping platform. One of the variables in that equation is how many people you can access, and that’s gone up dramatically as you pointed out beginning of the interview. That’s gone up dramatically so we should, perhaps, delve back into that.

So, anyway, regardless of the paid ads, just wanted to point that at the moment so people understand we’re largely talking about organic use at the moment. You talked about building up your tribe and how important is that to have loyal enthusiastic followers when it comes to these things? For instance, launching your book and geting your book moving in the algorithms and all the things that we know important at the beginning stage.

Should we focus on building up a following on Instagram? Are you going to give us the magic sauce as to how to do this?

Stuart Grant: I am actually. Yeah. And there is one. Anybody that tells you they know the algorithms of Instagram is lying. So, don’t believe anyone that does.

But there are certain things that are clear and obvious. So, I could share those from my experience and people may disagree but in terms of building a tribe or an audience on Instagram or any platform.

I do believe and I can’t remember who says it but you can change the world with a thousand people. So if you’ve got a thousand people on Instagram and a thousand people on Twitter and a thousand people on Facebook, suddenly that’s enough to really rocket your book launches or anything that you’re doing. It’s an incredible amount of people who can be on your side. And Instagram is a place where you can find some of those people. There are keen readers, there are accounts dedicated to certain genre’s of books.

We’ll cut straight to the chase, grow your account by giving love and getting love back and by that I mean if I want somebody to understand I’m there, I need them to see me, so I’ve got to get their attention. So let’s take Lee Child as an example. He doesn’t have an Instagram account but if he did and I was a writer in a similar genre to him, I wouldn’t necessarily be chasing after Lee Child, I would be chasing after his followers. Because I know a couple of things about those people, I know they like thrillers because they like Lee Child and I know that they’re willing to show their appreciation for his work because they’ve liked or commented on his posts so they’re the people that I go after.

If you are a romance author or a sci-fi author or a thriller author, find other accounts in your niche but don’t worry about them, look at the people that follow them, like and comment on their content and say hey, that’s great, I love that sunset, I love your dog, whatever it might be. Be authentic.

Don’t like stuff you don’t like but have a relationship in that sense with those people because then they’re going to say, who’s that that’s just liked my stuff, oh he/she is an x writer that I love, and they might come over, and like or comment on your stuff, and it is that two way street. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming but it really does super charge the growth of your account.

James Blatch: And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. It’s a quote. Lennon and McCartney. I think it was probably McCartney.

Stuart Grant: All teared up.

James Blatch: I know. You’re lucky I didn’t sing it. Actually, I’d would have brought the house down.

Stuart Grant: That’s true.

James Blatch: Okay and yes we kind of know that Twitter works in a similar way. You follow, you’re followed back and there some cynical practices on Twitter you see people who follow you, you follow them and then they unfollow you, a couple of days later. And don’t think we don’t notice that, you people who do that.

And sometimes you follow people and the next day you get fifteen posts about their political opinions and you think, oh my, not one of them. So you have to kind of find your way and be authentic about it. There’s no point, as you say, in liking things you don’t genuinely like, you’ve got to build an account that feels right for you.

Now one thing I was thinking is that I have quite broad tastes. I love cricket and I should like politics, like follow politicians, not gobby politicians but nice politicians. And I obviously have military aircraft behind me as passion and also my genre.

Should I be focusing my Instagram account around my author career and really narrowing it down to that area, to the military aviation area, at the expense of perhaps one I would enjoy, following David Gower and he’s a cricketer, and other people like that?

Stuart Grant: It’s an age-old question. I think it comes down to time and how much you can be arsed. If you can, if you want to run two accounts or more then go for your life. It’s time-consuming and we haven’t got time for it necessarily, so my answer to most people is, look, try and blend the two.

Your story as an author is that you like military aircraft but actually you also like cricket. That’s fine. As a reader, I’m interested to know that you like those things. In your case not really. But no I am.

James Blatch: You can pretend.

Stuart Grant: But that’s the story of you and therefore I’m interested in whatever it might be that you are into even if I’m not into it as well. Okay, great James is into Cricket. So by all means put that stuff into your Instagram account as well and I think if we take it to somebody, if you put yourself in the subject of, I don’t know, singer that you’re a fan of or an author, we would all want to know more about their lives.

We’re inquisitive beings, we don’t just want to know the next cover of their book looks like. That is dull ultimately. In the end, it is about what they’re doing, who they spend their time with, what are they eating, what are their pets, you know all that stuff.

James Blatch: The beliebers want to know everything about Justin.

Stuart Grant: Exactly. Yeah. Although they probably never will but in your position the other way to look at this as well is to create a community on Instagram is another way to do this actually and it’s one thing that we did, what we’re doing fairly successfully is that we created the platform of followers before we created the business.

So by that I mean, in your instance, for example, you could create or use your Instagram account to find that community of other people who are interested in the same kind of era of military aircraft or whatever, as you, without mentioning the book or that you’re an author, you just post some interesting footage or photos.

You connect with people interested in that particular genre by looking for them and finding them and then when you’ve got your thousand or your two thousand or your three thousand followers, then you can start to introduce the commercial side of it. So we did that with dogs, basically. You know we crated an account for our dog. Now with over twenty thousand followers for her.

James Blatch: Wow.

Stuart Grant: Yeah. Without a business side to it. And now is the time that we can start to introduce the commercial side of it which might be a shop that sells dog products or whatever, because we built the platform first and there are lots of people doing that on Instagram.

So if as an author, you have a particular niche, this might be a side hustle, but you might be interested in using an account that is about your interest and growing the platform, then the business. But you could do that through your author career as well.

James Blatch: Okay. So sticking to areas that are relevant, growing your audience organically, not saying buy this, buy this and looking out for not necessarily, the kind of leaders, the other main authors but their followers is a way to start building up that community. It’s very impressive that you went from naught to twenty thousand followers for your dog and that was basically following these steps, was it.

Stuart Grant: Exactly that. That was all I did. Found other accounts that were dog accounts and followed, liked and commented on their followers because, as I said earlier, I know that they liked dogs and that they are willing to show their appreciation so I want them to follow and like me.

The account grew and we then developed another business out of that and applied the same principles and that is how it is.

Really, if you just keep posting, that is one strategy but you’re never going to get anyone’s attention because, as we know with Facebook, it only goes so far. And I think that the guesstimate is that if you post something on Instagram it will only hit about eight percent of your followers.

James Blatch: How much work did it take for you to engage with other doggy people on Instagram to grow your account?

Stuart Grant: That has probably taken us about twenty-four months or so and it’s been probably, what can I call it, bus time, toilet time.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Stuart Grant: You know whatever. It’s the time that you got cooking dinner. I wouldn’t say I sat down for any structured amount of time during the day and did this stuff but I’d just pick up the phone, like a couple of accounts, like a couple of photos, drop some comments in and move on.

And try it. It will work. It’s an almost Stuart Grant guarantee that out of five or ten people that you do that to, a number of them will come back and reciprocate and you will grow your account. And yeah that’s how we did it, essentially.

James Blatch: Great.

Stuart Grant: And, I’m seeing other people who’ve used that and do that too.

James Blatch: We love the Stuart Grant guarantees.

Should we talk a little bit about posting? Because posting is different on Instagram. I have to say, we’ll talk about demographics in a bit. My daughter’s a big Insta person. I run a bit of comments for my local cricket club. There, I mention cricket again and I didn’t do Instagram for it, so my daughter’s recently said I’m going to run the club Instagram account and she, naturally, knows more about it than I do. Probably as much as you do and is already building up, engaging followers on it.

One thing that I noticed that she instinctively understands about Instagram is that it’s a visual medium. It’s about the image.

Stuart Grant: Completely. It’s image and video. However, don’t let that put anyone off. You don’t have to the world’s greatest photographer and actually with the advent of these amazing phones, now, you can take photos that look like they’ve been taken professionally. Our very own John Dyer takes the most incredible photos.

James Blatch: He does. We should definitely give his Insta account a shout because he does amazing pictures. I always get him to do the pictures when we’re away.

Stuart Grant: They’re beautiful and they are just with a smartphone. So don’t let the fact that it is pictures and videos put you off, if you’re not naturally photographically minded. I’m not particularly.

James Blatch: No. I’m trying to find his account. Of course I can’t find it now. But maybe we’ll find it before the end of the interview. He’s definitely one to follow. So taking pictures, when you say, you don’t have to be the world’s greatest photographer. There’s these filters built into Instagram, which can make the picture of your dog sitting on the grass look amazing.

Stuart Grant: Exactly.

James Blatch: And now I remember this we’ve had Instagram as a subject, of course, it’s an important area for authors, on the podcast several times. And I can remember making bit of faux pas with somebody who talked about hashtags and I said it’s terrible, these people have put all these hashtags in the post and she said yeah, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do on Instagram.

So you’ve got your nice image and you can have a little caption and then you can actually separate out the hashtags. Do you want to talk about that?

Stuart Grant: Sure and again there’s two schools of thought. There is absolutely no definite answer to this. It comes down to preference mainly.

What I do is, I will always edit a photo, just a very slight edit, just to make it sing and pop and then write a caption. And don’t be afraid to write more than you would probably feel you want to, in a way, it’s not just about the one sentence. You can write a lot more in your description and, actually, people do read it so think of it as maybe a little mini-blog.

You can microblog underneath the caption of your, if you do release a picture of your book or something, you can write a little bit more about who you used to design it, what the ideas were behind it. Tell me something about it, although it is a visual medium.

And this is actually somewhere my thinking has changed quite considerably. I do think there is a lot of engagement, in terms of what you write in the caption so don’t be afraid to write more than a sentence or two.

James Blatch: I’m somebody who always reads the captions. Definitely.

Stuart Grant: Exactly. And there are a lot of people like you so always write more than you think you should or might be inclined to because it will pay off.

And then in terms of the hashtags, I love this question. I live and die by hashtags and they are the lifeblood of Instagram and Instagram allows you to put thirty hashtags on your content. Now, my understanding and belief is go for it, put thirty on there. They wouldn’t give you thirty if they didn’t want you to use thirty. They’re not going to punish you for using thirty if they have created it in the first place.

So if anyone tells you five is enough or whatever, it may be enough, but you know, you’ve got thirty so use them. If you want that content to live and breathe and to go as far as it possibly can, then use as many as you can.

There are strategies in the book, actually, if you haven’t got the book already, about how to construct those hashtags and it’s actually very simple. There are five kinds of categories that I use, one is the action, what’s going on in the picture, who you are, what the environment is, what time it is and another one, I can’t remember.

Essentially if you get five of each of those then you’ve got your thirty and very quickly you can get, some changes to certain words, so if you were an author who writes in romance, you could have #authorinromance, #writersofromance, #authorswhowriteromance just by changing the odd word here and there, you could very quickly populate those thirty hashtags so don’t let that put you off.

James Blatch: And the importance of hastags is what?

Stuart Grant: The importance is that they are searchable within Instagram and they join all the other content with those hashtags and therefore it’s important to push your content as far as you can.

My strategy is get your content into as many pots, if you like, on Instagram as you can. So, you want it go into the main feed, you want it to go into wherever it can go into the hashtags, you want it to go into your story, you want it to go as many places as possible are available on Instagram and the hashtag is by far and away the thing that will send it the furthest. It will join all of the other hashtags and people do search for it.

So think of a reader, a reader might search romance author. So you want to be there when they search that. Even if the piece of content you’ve posted last wasn’t necessarily anything about romance writing, you as a person are a romance author so don’t be afraid to include that hashtag when you put your content out, because there’s a chance it could be found and a lot of this is searchable by good as well, so somebody searches your phrasing, or your genre or whatever there is a chance that google will bring that up as well.

So it’s just about increasing your chances of being found, ultimately.

James Blatch: Okay. Let’s talk about engagement. So you’ve talked about going off and engaging with other people’s accounts what about comments or any engagement with your account.

Do you follow people back? Do you respond to comments?

Stuart Grant: Absolutely. One hundred percent. Always respond to comments. It’s a bit like you talking to me now and me looking the other way.

James Blatch: You’re like that. You just say I’ve done enough of Blatch today. Someone else gets me now.

Stuart Grant: But that would feel odd, wouldn’t it?

James Blatch: Yes. It would be out of character.

Stuart Grant: And it’s the same on social media, on any platform and Mark is amazing at this. I don’t know where he gets the time but he will reply to every message he gets on Facebook, on his pages.

James Blatch: You do see people getting this wrong as well so Mark’s a good example of getting it right. But I follow people and occasionally I’ll comment on some, I won’t actually mention it, naming and shaming but somebody who occasionally says I’m thinking about doing this next in their chosen field. What do think? Promoting engagement. And then doesn’t respond to anyone.

She does it all the time and I’m thinking what part of this don’t you understand? And I’m to the point, I like her work, I’m to the point of unfollowing her because that’s not the point of that conversation, is for her to just grandstand and then probably not even read what people have commented on.

Do you see that quite a lot, actually, people just ignore comments, ignore likes, ignores follows? If you’re Ricky Gervais, that’s fine.

If you’re somebody with two or three thousand followers in a small field, you should be actively having that conversation.

Stuart Grant: The truth that clues in, that side to it, isn’t it in social media, I mean, you know, it’s there. I run some stuff where I live around some small businesses where we have networking and I always respond to comments on everything that I can find and it’s amazing when I walk into a room, people go oh that’s Stu, I know you, where have I seen you, oh you’re the guy that’s on because of me just dropping the odd line underneath people’s stuff.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Stuart Grant: I do that on my friend’s stuff, just to stay in their minds. And yes, it’s time-consuming. I’ve got a one-year-old child, a dog, a new wife, and some medical stuff but I’m still having to find that time.

So be encouraged to get in there and just reply to people and drop comments and be nice. That’s what this is about. It’s about growing your community and I think that is part of Mark’s success as well, see with all the other stuff, but because he’s so nice to his readers, they respond to that. It’s a two-way street.

James Blatch: And it only takes one person to have an interaction with them, to feel closer to you, to feel more loyal to you as a person, to feel a little bit like they’ve got some sort of a communication with you, some sort of connection with you, is the word I’m looking for, and for them to start mentioning that to other people.

And on the other hand, blanking somebody who’s gone to the effort of responding to something you’ve prompted and it turned out, probably just a tweet that showed up ages ago or a post, can have the opposite effect. Somebody like me could say I wouldn’t actually bother following the person.

I do remember Stephen Fry, who has like a gazillion, I don’t know, he’s been off twitter for various reasons, but the last time I looked he had two million followers, probably about ten million now. He responded, in those early days of twitter, he responded to every single person who commented, including me at one point, when I sent him something I thought he’d be interested in and he replied. And that was treasured by me and I’m a big fan, of course, of his, immediately felt he’s my best friend.

Now, he did get to a point where he had to say publicly, I can’t do it anymore, because he’d spend an hour and a half, two hours every evening doing it and suddenly he had a million followers and he just couldn’t do it because he had ten thousand comments, everyday. But if it’s not too much for Stephen Fry, with tens of thousands or hundred of thousands of followers, it’s not too much for you or me.

So yeah. Be interactive, be polite, don’t get into rows or fights, which some people do, that’s Ricky Gervais again but yeah that interaction, that’s what it’s all about. And that’s when it works at its best, when Twitter works at its best. When Barack Obama followed me back, that was a big day for me.

Stuart Grant: Wow. Did he.

James Blatch: Yeah. I’m followed by Barack Obama and Alastair Campbell. I sort of did kind of know Alastair Campbell briefly when I was a reporter so that’s why I think he noticed me. And Barack Obama was just at that point where they were building up their social media following by following people who followed them to try and spread it out and I got lucky at that point.

I noticed the other day, I was looking and I know somebody I was looking at to see how we knew each other, so you look at the people you both follow, and it said you both follow Barack Obama and next to Barack Obama’s name it said, Barack Obama follows you. So he still follows me.

Stuart Grant: Awesome.

James Blatch: I don’t think he’s taken any notice of any of the suggestions I’ve made for making the world better. But anyway it doesn’t matter.

Stuart Grant: What does he know?

James Blatch: Yeah. What does he know? So, by the way I’m not taking sides in American politics. He was just the president of America and everyone was following him. He’s a big social media.

Because last time I mentioned something about politics, people, by the way, got my politics completely wrong. A couple of people emailed in and said oh enough of your blooming politics. But he was just president right, the office of president, I respect. Did I get that okay. Good.

James Blatch: So engagement.

Stuart Grant: Yup. Hashtags.

James Blatch: Hashtags. What else have I missed. Oh demographics, I want to ask you about demographics.

Is Instagram still a young person platform?

Stuart Grant: As I said at the beginning, there’s one billion people on this platform and growing. And therefore there is your readers are on this platform in some shape or form. So it’s huge so I would not get into that brain space, just go for it. Let them find you and find them because they are there.

It is probably slightly younger but it’s definitely getting older. Thirty-two percent, these were the latest stats I found from 2018, thirty-two percent of Instagram users are aged between eighteen and twenty-four. That equates to three hundred and twenty million people. Here we go, nine percent of users are between forty-five to fifty-four. That’s millions of people.

James Blatch: Yeah. And it’s worth pointing out my demographic for my readership is going to be older and probably male but I’m not sure. It’s worth pointing out, those people on Instagram on that group are ones most likely to be only a Kindle and buying an ebook and buying stuff off Amazon. So yeah, they’re the right, I mean I’m a fifty-two-year-old and quite tech-savvy. I’m the sort of person, people would want to be following then, because I’m most likely to buy their product.

Stuart Grant: Great point. That is really good. And again, we talked earlier about people wanting to share pictures of the photos of the one behind you and others. So they’re going to be on there because it’s a place where they can safely share those kind of images in your instance, so yeah, don’t get hung up on demographics. There’s no such line as my audience isn’t on Instagram. They are.

James Blatch: If it’s a billion people, you only need a small percent of that to be very profitable.

Stuart Grant: Yeah.

James Blatch: If the nine percent of people, in my demographic, want my book, I’d retire.

Stuart Grant: Exactly.

James Blatch: Okay. Right. So, where else have we missed. I think we’ve covered a lot of the big areas.

Stuart Grant: The main thing I should really mention is stories, just really quickly because just kind of top lying things here just, I recommend that you post every other day but stories are the new thing, they have taken the world by storm.

We’re all familiar with what they are and I hope the sort of long vertical video we see on Facebook, started with Snapchat, but has been absolutely obliterated by Instagram and that is the kind of new way of communicating and from what I can see, it’s going to just explode.

If you are thinking of advertising, that would be a great place to start actually, just try some stories. My advice in terms of advertising in that instance would be make sure those stories are authentic so don’t make them look like ads. They did a big study, somebody, I can’t remember who, but where there was a picture of a trainer on a white background it did really badly, where there was the image of the cool dude wearing the shoe on a skateboard, it went nuts.

So think about that kind of analogy when you’re creating stuff, when you’re selling on Instagram. It’s about the reality of it and as I mentioned at the beginning as well, this is about stories, it’s about telling your story. So, you know, once every other day in terms of your main feed, but if you can, you know as many times as you can on a story so just like now, I can just do a quick, you know, just jump, oh John Dyers. I found John Dyers was Jack9903, by the way.

James Blatch: Oh yes. Yeah.

Stuart Grant: So I can just jump on and I’m going to hit my story there and I’m just going to create a little story of you and I.

James Blatch: Okay. Do you want me to do something?

Stuart Grant: No. That’s absolutely fine. There we go.

James Blatch: You don’t want my dancing?

Stuart Grant: We could do me watching you, watching me, watching you.

Stuart Grant: Yeah. I’m just going to post this one anyway. I’ve created a very short story there. I’m just going to quickly post it to my account. Done.

James Blatch: So, I’ve not done a story before.

Stuart Grant: Okay. So you access that by clicking your profile picture on the top left.

James Blatch: Okay. Right.

Stuart Grant: And that opens Instagram’s internal camera which has loads of different stuff you can play around with. Thank you, Instagram for giving us a little video editor. Yup. That’s the one.

James Blatch: So if people were watching the YouTube video. I’m going to put this into screen now so it’s now a video camera. It’s very difficult to control just by looking at it in my hand.

What can I change on here?

Stuart Grant: If you take a photo, just by pressing that button.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Stuart Grant: And then at the very top.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Stuart Grant: Once you’ve got your photo, you’ll see a little smiley face.

James Blatch: Oh yes. What’s that?

Stuart Grant: With a fold. Not that one, the other one. Sorry.

James Blatch: This one. Oh yeah. Gotcha.

Stuart Grant: Yup. And that gives you loads of options in terms of stuff. So you can put the location you’re at, you can mention me because I’m on the podcast, you could do a hashtag.

James Blatch: So I hit mention and what’s your.

Stuart Grant: StuartGrantUK. So that should bring me up. I think you’ll follow me. Yeah. I’m not quite Barack Obama but there we go. And I will then get a notification to say that you have shared a picture.

James Blatch: And that’s it. That story’s gone and there’s no… Unlike… So I know I have to choose how I show, that’s a thing that confused me a bit at the beginning with Instagram. You can do a post, just to one person. Which I guess is the same on Twitter or Facebook. Well Twitter. But we want to be sharing our story, rather than close friends only or individuals.

Stuart Grant: Yeah.

James Blatch: And that’d done. So with that story, I don’t get in that circumstance to type any comments or hashtags. No you can, we just didn’t get that far.

Stuart Grant: Okay.

James Blatch: Where we were there with the little smiley face, there’s the option to write text, you can add music, you can put your location, you can do a hundred and one things, it’s filters.

And it can be video as well, of course.

Stuart Grant: Video. Yeah. Up to fifteen seconds. It’s insane. It’s literally a little video editing tool inside the camera so have a play. You can’t break it. And it’s certainly the thing that people are beginning to use, you can do different layouts with your photos, you can do video and picture. It’s an incredible bit of kit.

And I just encourage you to play with it but use it as often as you can, a couple of times a day would be a great start.

James Blatch: Yes. Okay.

Stuart Grant: Just literally pointing. It doesn’t have to be well produced, it doesn’t have to be a beautiful photo. It can just be, here’s my coffee cup or here’s my microphone or here’s that bit of work I’m doing or here’s a picture of my dog. Just the story of you. That’s what we’re looking for here. Tell me about you.

James Blatch: I’m feeling energized. I always do after these conversations. I must follow it up. Because Instagram is the one, I’m drawn to Twitter. I love Twitter. I’ve said before, it’s my platform. And all my friends just don’t like Twitter, they’re not on it, they don’t get it, they’re like Facebook whatever, I’m a Twitter guy.

I do a bit of Facebook as well but Instagram, every time I’m on it, I like it and yet I’m struggling to bring it into my routine. I’m struggling for it to be, when I have my washing up time or whatever, I’m struggling for Instagram to be the one I go to but I need to remember because I do enjoy it.

I want to ask you about scheduling because this is something that as businesses or people with a slightly more professional approach to our social media, this is an area that can be very helpful to us, if you still have that sincerity in your posts which is where you can sit down and back up some posts and then schedule them to go.

Is that something that’s easy to do on Instagram?

Stuart Grant: You can’t actually do it inside Instagram. There are third party, loads of them, tools. If you know already, there is a new thing inside Facebook called Facebook Creator and you can schedule all of your videos and posts from inside Facebook for Facebook but they’ve just introduced, I think it was launched about two weeks ago, the same for Instagram, so now you can schedule all of your posts and everything.

James Blatch: In Facebook Creator and you can have them just for Instagram?

Stuart Grant: Correct.

James Blatch: So I could do that on a desktop. Because I’m in my fifties and I have to work on a desktop. I can’t do everything on a phone.

Stuart Grant: In fact, it doesn’t work on a phone at the moment.

James Blatch: Yes!

Stuart Grant: So it’s only on a desktop but if you haven’t found it yet, then do a google search. I think it’s something like or something. And it will come up and you have to sign in and then it adds to your, kind of, Facebook profile and you can go in and schedule, you know, whatever you want, anything. So from your Facebook posts, all the way though to your, and there’s something a little bit more organic and authentic about using a third party tool that is actually Facebook.

James Blatch: Yes.

Stuart Grant: So there are plenty out here. There’s Buffer, and Crowd fire and all the usual sort of suspects. But the Facebook creator does allow you to schedule stories and Instagram TV and all that sort of stuff. So it’s a great little tool.

James Blatch: Superb. I’m going to do some scheduling. I’ve had ideas. I’ve had good ideas. I’ve got my dad’s flying logbooks, which I absolutely love.

If your father was a pilot, one of the great things of the logbook, you know what he was doing everyday for about fifteen years of his life. There’s the dates and I have thought time and time again, I should just do a post on that day, like, sixteenth of August, he flew Vulcan XH four three three from Bassingbourn to Cambridge. And do a pictograph and find a picture of the aircraft and I would be interested in that sort of thing. And a very small niche of other people would be interested in but they would be my people.

Stuart Grant: That is gold dust. That is exactly what you should and could be doing and what an offering to your audience. Now that is absolutely jewel in the crown stuff and there is people looking for that kind of stuff. Absolutely, if you have access to anything like that, I would think that particularly there is an audience out there to be had.

James Blatch: And that’s why I was asking really about scheduling, because I can’t imagine, finding the time every day to do that on the phone or even doing it easily on the phone, just because of the logistics of photographing, putting a couple of photographs together but sitting down for a couple of hours and scheduling a month’s worth of posts. I’m up for that.

Stuart Grant: And as I said, if you post every other day on your feed, that is actually only 15 photos.

James Blatch: Yeah. And I’m still posting organically as I go along.

Stuart Grant: Exactly.

James Blatch: On top of that.

Stuart Grant: So you haven’t actually got to find a huge amount. And don’t be afraid to post the same thing twice or different variations on it. You had your suit fitting yesterday, didn’t you?

James Blatch: I did. Yes. I should have definitely posted that. I’ve got some pictures from it. So I could, I’ll do that after this because I went on different platforms and yes, I did a cover shoot in my fetish, RAF in the 1960s.

Look we should say a couple of things. First of all the book that you’ve written for SPF is available, if you go to the website and look under the resources tab, you’ll see that all our books are there including Stuart’s Instagram book.

And you are offering to do some consultation for people. Paid consultation but a low rate to get people, getting us started.

How much would it cost and what can people expect to get from that?

Stuart Grant: If people don’t have the time to sit and work all this out in great detail, or even read the book, as part of my business I offer consultations for businesses to get them kick started really to get them taken from not really necessarily knowing everything there is to know to knowing a lot more.

It’s a case of, you want to catch me on Instagram, it’s @stuartgrantuk or you can go to my website which is and we can talk about, maybe an hour or so of my time for about fifty dollars.

And I can really take you through, your bespoke kind of account and see where we can help you to improve it, optimize it, see what you’re missing, all that kind of stuff, just on a visual kind of Skype or whatever, one to one.

James Blatch: Superb. Stuart. Love you, long time, fifty dollar. Well for half an hour.

Okay, look, I think we’ve covered all the main areas. I know the book is detailed, actually the editing phase of the book went on longer than we both expected, just because it’s a lot of detail to Instagram that we haven’t touched on, we’re not going to be able to in a forty-five minute or even hour-long interview on the podcast. The book is really worth having a look at the moment.

Is it a platform that changes a lot Stuart? That’s the bane of our lives when we teach platforms and write books and so on.

Stuart Grant: Well, yeah. It is. And you know, as we were writing the book, they launched Instagram TV which I know we haven’t talked about too much but it’s basically the long form version of Story so it’s video over sixty seconds.

And, yet, we had to introduce that at the last minute to the book and they have made changes since so it’s not 100% up to date because it’s just tiny little logistical changes that are bound to happen. But we’ll try and update that as time goes on.

James Blatch: And the broad principles are all there and that’s just an occupational hazard of being in this area. If you look at any training on any social media platform, you’d be surprised if it’s identical to what you’re looking at.

Okay, Stuart. Brilliant. Thank you very much for joining us. We’ve had a fantastic chat. It’s flown by and I know, on behalf of everyone, they’re going to want to say, best of luck with your continued treatment. I know you’ve got five more rounds of chemo which can be punishing but you look amazing at the moment.

Stuart Grant: Oh thank you. I have a really nice battle scar there. Yeah it’s really fine and I really appreciate this time. It’s great to be back on the podcast and thanks for all your support guys.

James Blatch: Okay, there you go. A really great interview with Stuart. I want to thank him very much for that. I do feel enthused about the Instagram platform.

Are you a big Instagrammer, Mark?

Mark Dawson: Not massively, I have to say. Lucy is. You can only pick so many and my focus is mainly on Facebook.

James Blatch: I’ll tell you what. For a little bit, lets see if we can do something very meta and do an Instagram Live into the podcast. If I could go live on this, checking connection. You’re now live.

This is James from Self-Publishing Show. Oh yes. I can. There you go. It’s going to go round and round and round. This is what it looks like when we’re recording the Self-Publishing Show. This is live. This is going to go out next Friday.

We’ve just been talking Instagram with Stuart. Round this way you can see me, hello this me. That’s the screen I check my picture on. That’s how I talk to Mark. Mark’s now tugging his beard, which means, I don’t know he’s confused.

Mark Dawson: No, I’m not confused. I’m just looking into your shed. See.

James Blatch: Oh are you now. And this is my browser, there in the background is the spreadsheet with all the interviews coming up. We’re not going to show that because we might change it around in the future.

But we’re talking Instagram and if you’re an author and you’re not using Instagram, you will want to listen to next Friday’s episode with Stuart Grant because it’s about this platform and how important it is. Actually how fun and easy it is as well.

And there’s even, if you do listen next week, there’s going to be a description of Mae West which is coming up in a moment.

Mark Dawson: Yes. Very true.

James Blatch: We’re going to talk about Mae West. Okay, we’re going to leave that, I’m going to leave this live now. Thank you very much indeed, if you’ve watched this for a few minutes, this is a recording session that we need to carry on with to get this podcast out, next week from the Self-Publishing Show. People waving. So I don’t see you waving and Hazel is waving. I’m waving back. Okay there we go. I’m going to end this podcast, live in the podcast. We could do this again maybe and plan it better, in the future.

Mark Dawson: I’m going to end this podcast.

James Blatch: You’re going to end this.

Mark Dawson: 190 episodes and done.

James Blatch: Right. Next week. Friday, whatever it is, next week it is going to be this episode you can watch yourself on this.

Mark Dawson: So for everyone who’s listening on the podcast, I’m really not quite sure how I can explain what James has just done. He’s tried to do an Instagram story live, I think and it seems to work, pretty much but probably wasn’t the best listening you’ll ever have so apologies for the five minutes you won’t get back.

James Blatch: Okay.

Mark Dawson: You can put the phone down James.

James Blatch: That’s Instagram. Let’s park that for the moment and don’t forget there’s the book on our website that goes in the resources tab. Yes a little bit of fun thing.

So we talked about Mae West. And I feigned ignorance about my Mae West and Mark said you must know who Mae West was. And of course I kind of do but I didn’t think about it at the time.

Mark Dawson: Feigned interest. You feigned it very well.

James Blatch: I did. Yeah. I wasn’t thinking straight. I was confused by the smell and aroma of the 1960s jet equipment but yes, a lot of people have pointed out that apparently the Mae West is so named because Mae West was famous for her large breasts and that’s what, you looked like, when you put on this life jacket. I have to tell you this was not a hashtag era, was it 1940 to whenever.

Mark Dawson: No. Probably not.

James Blatch: So somebody coined that.

Mark Dawson: Yes but interesting. I can see that as possibly being the reason it was given that nickname. Seems as buxomness as anything else.

James Blatch: Somebody on Twitter sent me a video Mae West lines and it’s golden each one. If you have a spare five minutes. Look at that or just google Mae West’s funny lines.

Mark Dawson: Lots of us did have a spare five minutes but they just wasted it looking at you on Instagram live.

James Blatch: Yeah. Okay. I think we’ve come to the end of everything.

Mark Dawson: We have. Yeah. The end of everything.

James Blatch: The end of everything. It’s been a packed episode. It’s been a busy week and we are going to be recording a few more, probably on Monday or Tuesday to cover the time when we’re away. And we’re going to hopefully do, actually we should say this as well Mark, we’re going to hopefully do a live episode of the show recorded at NINC, we’ve got a space available to us, I’ve got the equipment so we just need to round up.

Mark Dawson: James’s bedroom.

James Blatch: A couple of guests and you can come there. You can even ask us questions. We’ll have a young Tom with a roving microphone. So we’ll do that in Florida next week, if you’re attending NINC.

Otherwise, we hope to see you at the drinks either in Vancouver or in Florida, and until then it’s a goodbye from me.

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from him.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

Mark Dawson: Goodbye.

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Support the show at, and join us next week for more help and inspiration so that you can make your mark as a successful Indie author.

Publishing is changing, so get your words into the world and join the revolution with the Self Publishing Show.

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