How to become a travel influencer on Instagram

Our Ask the Creator series continues to explore the exciting journeys of some of our best Creators and the steps they have taken to transform their passion into their job. This week we speak with Zoë Timmers a Photographer, Content Creator, social media Influencer and producer. Read on for her story, check her Tuesday Takeover and get inspired!

How did you become an Influencer and how has that changed your life?

My career before becoming an Influencer was as a freelance TV producer, producing documentaries for the likes of the BBC and Sky. I joined Instagram in 2011 but didn’t really pay it much attention (I was still busy being a telly producer!) until 2012 when I started posting. At first Instagram was another way for me to be creative through photography, but like many others, as my profile grew brands began to approach me to work with them, so I decided to make the move into photography full time.

Where do you take your inspiration from?

I take a lot of my inspiration from other users on Instagram and I still love being part of a community of photographers and Content Creators. The community has changed a lot since over the years but the essence is still the same.

How long did it take you to settle on your particular online style/persona?

I don’t think it took me that long. I look back at some of my early posts way back in 2012 and the style is essentially the same. I’ve always loved taking photos and hope that my years as a TV producer has helped me tell a story through my images.

What was the toughest stage in building your follower base?

I would say the toughest stage is now! Back when I started, everyone –myself included – could grow very organically (albeit some with the help of being put on Instagram’s famous and now defunct ‘Suggested User List’). It was purer then. No one buying followers, no one buying likes. And of course now, with Instagram hitting 1 billion users there are so many more accounts vying for attention, and that makes it harder to keep building.

How do you choose which campaigns to take and not take?

I shoot mostly travel and lifestyle, but am always open to anything as long as it stays on brand for me. I love to be challenged and will always consider campaign proposals that feel out of my comfort zone because that’s what is going to push me forward.

How do you prefer to work with brands?

Every brand is different – some work through agencies, some via PR’s and some direct. However, what works best is when the brand gives the most freedom to the Creator. It is the Influencer who knows their followers best and that’s what everyone wants – good engagement for the Influencer and the Brand.

What’s the best/worst experience you’ve had working with a brand?

This is a hard question to answer. I am lucky enough to not have ever had any really bad experiences. It surely isn’t helpful when you have followed the brief to the letter, then you deliver the content and the brand changes their mind! The best experiences are always when I have almost complete freedom in how and what my content is, and that shows great trust from the brand in my abilities.

Do you feel brands understand you as a Creator when they engage with you?

I think they do most of the time, although I still do get the odd random campaign request. About a year ago I was contacted by a cat food company who were convinced that my followers would love the campaign they were working on. In the end I had to be quite firm and explain that it wouldn’t work for me as I don’t have cats, have never posted a shot of a cat and that actually, I’m not a big cat fan! I do find that talking directly to the brand (or via the agency) on the phone (yes, an actual telephone call!) really helps clarify the brief and often new ideas sprout from those early conversations.

What strategies, formats, platforms and creative solutions do you believe Creators should be using to drive success?  

Too much thought can go into this. I honestly believe that it’s important to stay true to yourself and continue to make content that you’re proud of and that pushes you creatively. I’m not against strategising etc to create more success for yourself, but too much time spent trying to figure out ways to beat Instagram’s algorithm is not healthy!

Too much time spent trying to figure out ways to beat Instagram’s algorithm is not healthy!

What are some of your top tips on how you can use more recently available tools such as tagging, Instagram Stories and clickable links?

Instagram Stories are big and continue to grow year on year. This year 400 million Stories are told a day, up from 300 million and with the positioning of Stories at the top of your Instagram, it’s hard to ignore them. You have a better chance of being discovered if you’re sharing great content to Stories on a regular basis, as it’s a much smaller pool. But there is an art to creating engaging Stories and I still believe a ‘story’ is at the heart of it.

What are your thoughts on the ongoing debate around fake followers?

Sadly this was going to be an inevitable issue on the platform as it grew. It saddens me that people feel they need to buy followers to inflate their accounts and it means that those who create great content may miss out on work because brands choose users with more followers without knowing they are fake. However, more and more brands are spotting the users who buy followers so hopefully it will become a more manageable issue!

This post is also available in: Italian

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