7 tips to feel more comfortable in front of the camera: my transformation from camera-shy dreamer to vlogging Instagram “influencer”

Posting stories daily

If you have ever taken a look at my Instagram, you know that I post stories almost every day: short videos with snippets from my life. Sometimes work-related and polished, but often without make-up chatting to the camera. Every now and then my cat Noedel comes into frame. An average of 3000 people watch it every day. Quite something to get nervous about – and yet I often hear that it seems so easy to me. And frankly, it is!

But that has definitely not always been the case. In fact, if you had told me 4 years ago that I would – voluntarily – show my face on the internet, I would have laughed at you. Right before I crawled into a dark corner, with a red face from the thought alone.

How did I end up making stories after all? And above all: how can YOU also get over the fear of that camera? I will take you along in my transformation into an “influencer”. Hold on until the end, because there are 7 practical tips on the blog horizon so that YOU can get started as well 😉

How Gouden Lijntjes started

One day, I jokingly started my Instagram channel. An extension of my short-lived aspiration to become a fashion blogger, early 2013 (but let’s not talk about that for too long). I especially liked writing and buying weird clothes at thrift stores. I started a blog called “Gouden Lijntjes” (loosely translates to Golden Linings in Dutch) and opened an Instagram channel for the photos.

The fact that I did not do all of this under my own name says enough: I did not want anything to do with the spotlight. For me it was about the clothes. Kind of inconvenient that I had WEAR them to model them. So all my photos looked like this. You can find a few more if you scroll back tad, but I removed most of them. Also check out the recurring casual floppy hand. Or the not-so-subtle bathroom radiator in the background. Pure gold.

From fashion to letters

So my fashion blogger career died a silent death. Still, that old Insta account came in handy when I started lettering just under two years later. In order not to lose my work in my chaotic student home, I posted it on Gouden Lijntjes. But again: it was all about the content, so the lettering. Not about me. Only 1.5 years later, on my very first real assignment in 2016, some pictures were taken of me. Because I was so proud of that assignment, I dared to share it. With my head out of frame, of course. Although I was not recognizable, I noticed that people loved to see the person behind those pictures. And I understood: after all, I found that very interesting to see with others, too.

Ready to shine! Right?

Was this the jump start to a glorious vlogging career? Nope. It still took half a year (Nov 2016) before my face was really visible for the first time (see photo). I asked someone to take a picture of me while I was working: so nerve wrecking! But I happened to know her, and I did it thinking “this isn’t about me, it’s so people see what my job is!”. I cautiously got on the self-promotion train: I had to, because I had graduated by now and only had a part-time internship-like job.

Instagram stories already existed, but I had only just taken a peek around the camera corner. So I really didn’t feel the need to vlog. Moreover, in the end I did not manage to find my feet in entrepreneurial life (probably a separate blog about that once). So that self-promotion train stopped puffing at the first station. Gouden Lijntjes stood still for a moment.

Change in entrepreneurial mindset

Flash forward to more than a year later, December 2017. I had already quit my job and since a few months I went full throttle for Gouden Lijntjes. I was gonna make this work. I had a completely different mindset. As a result, I was even prepared to do the shameless self-promotion that comes with starting your own business. Think: personally delivering flyers in the village where you temporarily live (spoiler: doesn’t work). Or tell everyone, including the postman’s niece, that you have an Instagram account (spoiler: awkward conversations). And fill up the workshop that you organized at the bakery around the corner with your mother & neighbor because only 2 of the 4 places were sold (spoiler: it won’t make you rich, but it was fun). Choo-choo, bring on that self-promotion train!

By practicing with stories the 5 days before the event, it felt more natural to be tagged during Serious Lettering and to post the stories.

And in January 2018 I even dared to take my first selfie. It cannot be a coincidence that there is a familiar face on it… (Nienke Vletter, my so-called ‘work-wife’ with whom I now work a lot)

Vlogging queen ready for take off!

In February 2018 I dared to talk to the camera for the first time! I was on a surprise trip to Italy (when my boyfriend and I were not officially together yet 😉 ) and asked for tips. What. An. Awkward. Face! But I did it!

So I slowly got into being in front of the camera. And of course it is a gigantic cliché: it got easier with every step. Now I am in front of the (selfie) camera almost daily and I have no problem with that. I enjoy being in touch with my followers. Sometimes they send me messages that they recognize themselves in my stories, or I can help them with something that they got stuck with in the creative field. And, not unimportant: I get most of my sales from my Instagram channel, which is certainly made possible by my stories.

So it took a while, but in the end I am now easily in front of the camera and make personal stories that help my company grow. Do you want that too? Here are a few tips to get you started:

1) Start today. Or rather: now. Make a story of what is in front of you and post it. Bad light, no context, crazy timing … it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you bite the bullet. Tip-within-tip: the next time you text a photo to a friend, remember: can I also post this as a story? (Answer: Is it a nude photo? Then, no. Everything else probably yes 😉 ).

2) Don’t think too much. It’s your channel, and you have to start somewhere. So don’t worry too much about what others think. Your stories don’t have to be perfectly filtered photos of content with high potential to go viral. 10,000 people will not immediately watch. And after 24 hours it is gone. Creating great content follows automatically. Just do it, you can do it!

3) Look yourself in the eye. Instead of that crazy camera that gets on your nerves. That looks very natural, and gives a lot less stress. I promise, you get used to it. Also keep your phone about eye level!

4) Experiment with all options. There are different fonts, filters, stickers, polls … feel free to try out what suits you! Don’t feel obligated, but it is great fun. Moreover, these functions are almost all aimed at making your stories more fun and to increase interaction. And you want that, because …

5) Find the interaction. Instagram LOVES interaction. Interaction means that your followers respond / click on content that is in your story. By using this smartly, you not only help yourself up in the algorithm, but you also get to know your followers better. Throw in a poll once, or ask your viewers an open question. Be genuinely interested, and you will get genuine followers back.

6) Keep an eye on your statistics. At the bottom you see the number of viewers. Usually that is about 7% of your total followers: not much at all. If you notice that such a number is putting you under too much pressure, just leave it alone for a while. But it ultimately gives you valuable insights about what works for your followers and what doesn’t. You’ll notice, the more you post, the higher that number generally gets.

7) Think continuity in the story. They are not called “stories” for nothing. Have you made your first few stories yet? Then you can start thinking about continuity. Think about how the stories reach your viewer: do they know the context? Maybe you should give a (short!) introduction, an introduction to where you are going? Does your last story leave an unanswered question? It’s all about storytelling, baby.

Foto van de website van Charlotte van ‘ t Wout

bonus tip: Follow Charlotte van ‘t Wout’s #Longstoryshort course. I took it last year and was very enthusiastic. Apparently I already did a lot of things, like adding emotions to my story and building my stories as a journalistic piece – although I only learned what that meant from Charlotte. Now I pay extra attention to it! I also learned many new things, such as natural story transitions, the use of good light, and I can go on like this for a while. Don’t get intimidated by all these terms now: the course will help you to really get started even as the ultimate beginner who has never made a story. And to start right now. Because in the end that is really the only thing that matters.

Charlotte is currently offering the course in English, and has set up an affiliate program that I participate in. So if you register, I receive a contribution (you don’t pay anything extra, of course). Good to know, but that’s not why I recommend it. Because I really only do that when I’m excited about something 🙂 (just like about this affiliate sales strategy from Charlotte by the way: really, follow her if you want to be surprised by brilliant and charming sales techniques. She’s very open about everything) .

Because her target group is mainly Dutch, a small group takes part in the current (English) course, instead of the 1000 Dutch participants who normally participate per round. So perfect to have an intimate, personal experience with the other participants. The course is therefore only available in English, but if you have mastered that and you are interested in stories: consider it seriously. It’s such a great kickstarter! And if you decide to do so, please use the button below 🙂 Then you help me out as well!

And even if you don’t follow a course: YOU can do it too. Start simple, and just do it! Before you know it, you’ll be shining in front of that camera like a real #influencer. I can’t wait to see your stories. Will you let me know in the comments if you have already posted a (selfie) story?

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