Special Guest Interview: Girl Around World
Melanie Faulknor runs the Instagram account, Girl Around World (@girlaroundworld), showcasing bright and vibrant images of traveling women around the globe. Want to feel inspired to see the world? Check out her account!
How did you come up with this Instagram page and why?
I originally created the page as part of an online travel shop I was running at the time, so its initial purpose was to display product. Once I started exploring Instagram more, I fell in love with the vibrancy and creativity in so many accounts that I wanted to do more than just post product pics. The page became what I wanted to see on Instagram - happy, colorful pictures of beautiful places.
Is photography your true passion?
It is definitely one of them! I have to add traveling, story-telling and my family to the list too though.
What were some things you weren't expecting when you started this project?
I never expected it to take off like it did! I’m still shocked at how it’s grown.
Tell us your secrets! How did you grow this account and turn it into a business?
When I first decided to move away from products, I spent a lot of time on Instagram checking out other accounts to see what I liked and what was already out there. I was immediately drawn to accounts that focused on bright colors. While there were other travel feature accounts at the time, there was nothing that focused on travel and vibrant colors, so I thought I would be doing something a little different if I focused on that. Then I started contacting accounts I liked, asking them if I could feature their photos and do takeovers of my account. This built up a small base and then I took it from there, which included creating some of my own content. I only just shut the store down earlier this year, so I’ve just started with the account as its own business in the past few months. That transition was incredible. As soon as I made the switch, opportunities started coming in. For those just starting out, though, it’s all about reaching out and asking people if and how you can work with them. If one account or brand rejects you, then just keep going! Start out with smaller brands so you can get experience and build a portfolio.
What are some things you struggle with in regards to your business?
Right now it’s mostly time. I have a three month old daughter and I love spending time with her so much that I have to be sure to carve out time in the day to focus on my own stuff. Otherwise, before I know it, the day is already done.
What is your ultimate goal for Girl Around World?
It will always be a feature gallery but the ultimate goal is to create more of my own content and to expand the brand with some major partnerships.
What has been working for you lately?
Planning in advance. I’ve always tried to plan out the next nine posts so I can make sure they visually flow together and in case life gets chaotic. This way I know I have my content ready to go no matter what.
As artists, Instagram is the best way to showcase our work. For many of us, it's a struggle to gain an audience through this platform. What is some advice you'd give to those trying to obtain a presence and fight the algorithm?
Even with 98k followers, the likes a photo gets varies dramatically. I’ve noticed that location makes a big difference, which I know doesn’t help everyone, but photos that I hashtag with Italy or Morocco always get more likes than anything else. Ultimately, hashtags matter (this was before I started tagging the location on pics, so it is the hashtag). Play around with hashtags that work for your content. When I first started out I spent HOURS a day on Instagram contacting people whose content I liked to see if we could collaborate, and I studied the hashtags they were using. Not everyone would respond to me, so don’t get discouraged if people don’t respond. I also had a few accounts do shoutouts for me in the early days. I would only recommend that the audience seeing the shoutout is directly related to your content.
// Tell us your business mantra! \\
Love it or leave it. I think one of the reasons the page grew is because I abandoned what I wasn’t loving about Girl Around World and only focused on what I really loved. I concentrated on the photography and left the product focus because in the end, even though product was my original goal, I didn’t love it. And time is so precious, if I’m not doing something I love or working towards it, I feel like I’ve wasted it!
Do you ever edit the photos submitted?
I added a filter once because the submitter asked for help, but other than that, no. I feel like the people who post the original pictures have their own vision for it, and I don’t mess with it.
Is Girl Around World your main focus or do you have other projects and jobs as well?
I do have another job as a video game Producer, and I’m a new mom too, so I can’t say it’s my main focus, but I do work on Girl Around World daily. The author and mother Toni Morrison once said she would, “write at the edges of the day”, so that’s when I do my own work - very VERY early in the morning.
What has been the most rewarding experience with this project?
Meeting other Instagrammers. I haven’t met anyone in person yet but the women I have connected with are so motivating and inspiring!
What can we expect from Girl Around The World for the rest of 2018?
I’m hoping to hit 100k before the year ends! I also have a few projects starting up but the results of those won’t go public until the New Year. :)