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The Blogger Behind WeWoreWhat Decided to Flip the Camera on Herself, and Now She Has an Instagram Following of 1.7 Million

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

Six years ago, after transferring from University of Wisconsin, Madison to FIT in New York City, fashion blogger Danielle Bernstein decided to launch her now well-known blog WeWoreWhat. After taking photos of her friends’ outfits, Bernstein decided to “flip the camera” on herself. It turns out, her thinking was spot on. People were hooked by her chic, personal style, and pretty quickly her following grew.

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Shortly after starting her blog, Bernstein expanded her reach and tapped into Instagram in 2010. Fast-forward seven years, and today when people think of a fashion blogger, usually one of the first names that comes to mind is WeWoreWhat’s Bernstein. With an Instagram following of more than 1.7 million, a knack for fashion and solid business skills, Bernstein has leveraged her blog and social media channels to launch a full-fledged business that includes ecommerce, editorial and social.

Of course, it’s not easy running an account with nearly 2 million followers, on top of an actual business. We caught up with Bernstein to learn how she’s used Instagram to boost her business and her tips for success on the photo-sharing platform.

 

the sexiest red coated skinny jeans • part of my @7fam collab exclusively sold @bloomingdales (link in bio) shot by @jeffthibodeauco #wwwxbloomingdales

A post shared by Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) on Oct 16, 2017 at 10:06am PDT

How did you get your start with Instagram?

WeWoreWhat started as a street style blog while I was at FIT six years ago. I had just transferred from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and was blown away by the difference in how girls dressed for school. I started taking photos for outfit inspiration for my friends back at Wisconsin. Eventually I flipped the camera around and started showing my own personal style and realized it resonated with people. This was right around the time that Instagram was becoming popular, so it just made sense to begin posting on there, as well as my blog.

I started Instagram [in 2010] just around the time that it launched. I think the first picture I ever posted was my 18th birthday cake -- it was so poorly edited and didn't have any great casting or hashtags. But obviously as the business and the blogging industry grew, I learned the way and we kind of made up the rules as we went along. Then it became part of my business.

What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?

I used to use Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Wordpress, which is where my blog is hosted, but now it's mainly WordPress [for] my blog [and] Instagram. Sometimes we forward things onto Twitter and Facebook. I don't use Pinterest anymore for my social following, [it’s] kind of just more personal.

I think most people check Instagram more than they check anything else. Now that you can do Instagram Stories, it took out the need for Snapchat, even though I still use Snapchat for some things. But I love that it's a good mix. Your Instagram Stories can kind of be this reality TV version of your life and then your Instagram page, for me, is more editorial, a little more clean cut and looks more like a news feed.

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[Instagram] is where a grew the biggest following but also the biggest conversion rate. When I would post something, a brand would tell me that it [sold] out that day. Things like that validated that my Instagram was powerful in a sense so that's how I realized I should focus on it.

 

Back in the city, running errands in my new @zcdmontreal kicks (vintage jumpsuit) #zcdmontreal

A post shared by Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) on Oct 19, 2017 at 12:10pm PDT

How much of your time do you devote to it?

It's hard to put a number on it. Some days I'll be on it every few minutes, other days I'll check it twice a day. It depends on how busy I am. If I'm traveling or if it's during fashion week, I'll be posting constantly but I won't be actually looking at what other people are posting.

Every post is different, but the apps I use for editing are Snapseed, VSCO, Facetune and Chromic for videos. I've gotten pretty good at editing my photos, it only takes me a few minutes.

How do you promote your account? What's your number one way to gain followers?

Networking, for me. My account is the product of organic growth. I've always been a fearless networker and that's something that I give as advice to people. Through that I've been able to meet certain people and create relationships with brands [who] I've in turn worked with and been mentioned by on their Instagram channel[s].

How do you engage with others on the platform?

I like to respond to my followers and my direct messages as much as possible. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with it but I like to answer questions and be interactive. There will be a day where I'm like, "OK, I'm ready to answer DMs," [or] I'll do a Live Q&A and people will ask a ton of questions and I'll get to as many of them [as] I can.

 

Post vino and charcuterie.

A post shared by Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) on Sep 25, 2017 at 6:52am PDT

What's your content strategy?

In the beginning, I was pretty strict: the first has to be an outfit photo, then it could be a photo of my shoes, then it's [a] location photo. [But] as I grew, I didn't keep up with that as much -- I just post what I feel like. If I don't post every day then I definitely feel bad. I want to keep consistency. I like to post my outfit that I'm wearing every day, where I am, what I am doing, what I'm eating. And then if they're sponsored posts, I mix them in in an organic way.

How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?

Instagram Stories was a relief. I made sure to take the strategy I had with Snapchat and evolve it to that -- keeping it like a reality show. You're following my everyday move, where I am, what I'm doing and really getting to see the behind the scenes.

And swiping up to links of products has been a game changer for people like me -- so really just utilizing [these] tools that Instagram has released to make my brand grow bigger and faster.

What's your best storytelling trick?

My best storytelling trick would be like I'm talking to my best friend. I try to talk to my followers as if they are people I've known forever and really let them into a portion of my life that most people wouldn't get to see.

How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?

It's all about authenticity and staying true to my brand. I represent this new York native, young girl living in a city, and I think that's really relatable and aspirational at the same time. That's where I try to keep my focus over the years.

 

?time with @belvederevodka

A post shared by Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) on Sep 8, 2017 at 9:33pm PDT

How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?

My Instagram is a very core part of my business and it's built into any brand collaboration that I do. Everything is priced out based on the extent of the collaboration, and that's something that my agent controls.

We look to work with brands that I authentically use or wear. If I don't, I always try out the product first before I agree to work with a brand so that the collaboration is as organic as possible. [For example], St. Ives was a perfect fit because I've been using their product[s] since middle school.

What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform

Consistency is key. It's really hard to stand out now -- it's an oversaturated industry so being different is important, really finding a niche and a place in the market that doesn't exist and filling it.

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What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?

That it's easy and little to no thought goes into it. There is content planning and scheduling that goes into all of my posts.  I always say my Instagram is like the editorial version of my life and if you really want to know who I am then you have to follow on Instagram Stories or Snapchat. It's like the glossier version, so everything is not as perfect as it seems on my Instagram Page.