Who the hell was I to volunteer to teach a class on Instagram?
I haven’t been using Instagram for very long.
I have less than 100 followers on Instagram.
I’ve never taught a class before.
But I did. Despite challenges like having to split the class up and finding a suitable venue. I almost gave up halfway through; I was sure I could not get enough people to sign up. People probably think I am a fraud to teach AND charge for it!
In the end, I did it.
The class could have been better in some ways. But it turned out MUCH better than I expected, I am happy with the returns, and that is enough for me.
I hope to teach again.
James Altucher had taught me the concept of “plus, minus, equal”. Basically, to master any field, find your plus, minus, and equal.
Plus = A mentor who can guide you
Equal = People with similar knowledge levels with whom you can discuss ideas
Minus = People who know less than you and can benefit from learning from you
I didn’t know where and how to find minuses. Then, one day, my friend Sam announced that he was looking for trainers.
Sam Choo is an Internet marketing coach and founder of the 3000+ strong Singapore Internet Marketers Facebook group. It’s a community of internet marketers he built from scratch without using Facebook ads. Every month, he runs several great-value-for-money workshops on various Internet marketing topics.
This year, he called upon subject matter experts within the group to step up and teach. Raise your profile and share your knowledge with others, he exhorted.
I volunteered to teach people the basics of optimising their Instagram pages for marketing success.
I love Instagram. It’s such a wonderful platform for creative expression and a treasure trove of inspirational content. I publish photo essays on travel, food, and Pokémon(yep) related topics there. After tinkering around with Instagram for more than a year, I’ve discovered some effective tactics for growing my reach and following organically.
Only … I am not a smashing hit on Instagram. Yet. I’m no influencer, nor have I raked in massive sales via Instagram.
I showed Sam my Instagram page. Can I teach? Sure, he said, you know more than the average person. You don’t need to be a master to teach others, just a few steps ahead of them.
Plus, minus, equal. Of course.
Get at least five people to sign up for my Instagram class. The fee was 70 Singapore dollars per person. Any less than five, and Sam and I won’t be able to cover our costs. Then we’ll have to cancel the class.
- Create a series of weekly ads (not paid ads, just regular Facebook posts) to get people interested in signing up
- Post the ads in the Singapore Internet Marketers Facebook group
- Folks who click the web link at the bottom of each ad will be directed to a landing page (also written by me) hosted on Sam’s website
- That’s where they can sign up and pay
I had one month to pull it off.
About three weeks before the day of the workshop, I panicked and wanted to give up.
I had just two sign ups.
I messaged Sam. “I’m not confident that I can do this. I think it’s because I am not a huge success on Instagram yet, so people are not too keen on learning from me.”
The gist of Sam’s replies: Why keep comparing yourself to others who are so much more successful than you? Why not focus on what you do know? A teacher is essentially someone who can curate knowledge and experience, then deliver it in a way that is uncomplicated and memorable. You’ve been experimenting with the platform. You work in Internet marketing. You can be that someone.
I promised to continue promoting my workshop to the community.
I would do whatever I could to make this project succeed.
OK, let me talk about my ads, which were a key component of my marketing. I had as much fun creating these as I did talking to people about Instagram.
For every ad, it was important that I do these:
- Make it persuasive. I followed copywriting guru Colin Theriot’s Viking Velociraptor formula for writing irresistible copy. I like it because it is versatile, straightforward to implement, and effective.
- DON’T just list facts and figures. So Instagram acquired 700 million users by April 2017. So what? Facts and figures don’t mean much on their own. Why should my target audience care? Spell it out for them!
- Pick an attention-grabbing picture to go with the copy. From my experience, social media posts with pictures tend to get more engagement than those without pictures. To seize attention, I used funny memes. I also took screenshots and doodled on them with my phone’s stylus pen.
- Reply to people who responded. First, this creates a conversation about the topic, which gets people interested in learning more. Second, every time there is a response, the post gets pushed up to the top of the group newsfeed so more people will see it.
- Repeat the key message in different ways. The trick is to keep reminding people while not boring them. I promoted my Instagram workshop using various methods: images, stories, case studies, statistics, and even a half-hour video interview.
- Enjoy and be enthusiastic! Who says I can’t have fun while trying to make sales? I kept everything – from copy to images to interactions to my video interview – light-hearted. But passionate, too. I loved talking to people about the immense potential of Instagram.
Of the four mini-advertorials I created, this is my favourite:
By the time sign ups ended the day before my workshop, I had nine attendees. Unfortunately, not everyone could make it on the same day, so I held one class for four people and another for the rest.
The show WILL go on!
I arrived at the class venue – a small café near the city centre that Sam recommended – half an hour early to grab a quick dinner and do my mental preparations. I had put together a deck of 50+ PowerPoint slides, “How to Transform Your Instagram from Zero to Hero”.
Time to shine!
The good thing about small groups is that teaching feels more intimate. I got everyone to sit around my laptop as I presented, while engaging them in a conversation. It would have been more intimidating if I were addressing a room full of people like a lecturer.
Confession: I was winging my presentation a little. I didn’t have time to prepare a script or go through what I wanted to say for each slide. All I had were a few key talking points.
But it turned out I needn’t worry so much about preparation. As I spoke, the words came from a deep well of experience and knowledge within me. We got into some fun discussions about Instagram, social media marketing, and the challenges of Internet marketing today.
Things went just as well for the following week’s class. I really should not have worried so much about my capabilities. After all, I have been working in Internet marketing since January 2016! So, when I got questions like the differences between Instagram and Facebook, writing attention-grabbing social media copy, or how to use hashtags effectively, I had no trouble.
When it all ended, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
I DID IT!!!
My biggest takeaway from this experience is this: Don’t underestimate my knowledge and capabilities.
I may not be an Instagram influencer or making loads of money off the platform. But I do know enough to produce, market, sell, and teach a three-hour class on beginner-level Instagram marketing.
I see that I have been suffering from binary thinking: I am either a master or a noob. No! Sam is right, I don’t have to be a master to teach. I just have to be a few steps ahead in terms of experience, knowledge, and skills. It turned out that I have much more of those than I thought. I should’ve believed in myself more!
There was also no need to prove my expertise by sharing cutting edge strategies and tactics. What I thought were basics or common knowledge, like how to find and choose hashtags, were pure gold for some of my class participants.
I feel more confident of myself now. Empowered, even.
That’s just from succeeding in a challenge I set for myself to teach a workshop. What else am I capable of doing? How big is my potential? Can I “make a dent in the universe” in my own unique way?
Well, I won’t know unless I try.