How This Former Counter Makeup Artist Turned Her Love of Style Into Millions of Followers
Editor’s note: In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.
Since she was a teenager, Camila Coelho has loved makeup and fashion. She moved to United States from Brazil when she was 14-years-old, and during college, she worked at the Dior makeup counter at her local Macy’s and started her own business as a makeup artist.
In 2010, she launched a blog dedicated to creating her favorite looks. Fans of the blog encouraged Coelho to launch a YouTube channel for step-by-step tutorials. Today, between two YouTube channels, Coelho has more than 4 million followers.
She also has more than 7 million followers on her Instagram account. With Instagram, Coelho attributes the success of the account to the fact that she takes fans along for the ride as she travels the world and is immersed in the fashion industry, this year getting the opportunity to walk the Cannes Film Festival red carpet and close the Ralph & Russo Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2018 runway show.
Coehlo now works with big name brands including Louis Vuitton, Lancome, Revolve and coming full circle, Dior. She shared her insights about why authenticity is key to social media success.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you get your start on Instagram?
When I started on social media, Instagram didn't exist. The first platform that I had was YouTube and then I created my blog upon request from my followers there. Then Instagram came up. Today it's the platform that I grew the most. It's where I share a little bit of everything. With Stories now as well, I'm sharing video. With YouTube, I only post one video per channel as week, and it's mostly tutorials. But on Instagram you see everything, my lifestyle and what I'm doing in my everyday and also my fashion content.
How much of your time do you spend on a post, and what does that entail?
I travel so much. A lot of these trips are work trips. So my strategy is when I'm home, I'm creating content mostly for my other platforms, but for Instagram it just follows what I'm doing. If I'm in Cartagena, where I just was, my goal is to cover what I'm seeing in the city and also sharing with my followers my looks of the day. That is why people love the Instagram so much -- it's more real. Real time, real life, more personal. I like to make my Instagram very curated.
What's your content strategy? How do you decide what and when to post?
[From start to finish it's] going out, taking a photo, then looking at all those photos and choosing one and then editing it. If I have two photos I'll see which one looks better on my feed. I like to have my feed curated, organic and real, but pretty and telling a story.
When I'm dressing myself I'm already thinking of a place, creating a picture in my mind of where I'm going to shoot the outfit. Sometimes it takes a lot more time than you expect. I'm my own creative director, my own stylist, my own editor. Sometimes for one photo it could take three hours for that post. It's a lot of work behind it but I'm enjoying what I'm doing. To be curated and to be beautiful sometimes it takes more time. But there are some that I took in 15 minutes.
How do you leverage your Instagram account and to what extent do you monetize it?
When I started eight years ago, people were not making money. It was a happy surprise when brands started reaching out, but then I was also careful. Before, I was posting organically about these products I loved and not getting paid for it. But once a brand offers you to advertise a product, I feel that I need to try it and approve it before talking about it. If I don't believe in it, it's not gonna be organic, it's not going to be natural and my followers will notice. I say no a lot. Much more no's than yeses. It's about quality over quantity. [I want to have] long-term relationships with brands, not just doing one-offs and forgetting about it.
What advice do you have for other people who want to build brands on the platform?
A lot of people know that this could be your job. Being on social media, you can be famous in a way and make a lot of money. People have that view of influencers. My advice is not to rush into it. First of all, find something that you love talking about. If you just do it you do it, later on you'll find out that there is a lot of work and if you don't love what you're doing, it's not going to work out. Find your passion, work hard and be professional. Believe in yourself and be authentic. Authenticity is everything. Don't try to be someone you're not to get a certain type of following. You have to be yourself. Whatever you show on social media, when you meet your followers in person, they will know you're the same person that they see on social media. Being organic and authentic is number one.
What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
People think that it is super easy and that we're just travelling the world living this amazing life and just posting whatever we're doing. I love what I do, but people don't see a lot of the hard work. Sometimes I'm working almost 24/7. I'm on my phone, I'm editing a photo, I'm sending emails to my team to post on the blog. On these trips that we do, they are amazing and fun, but it is a content trip. I feel a responsibility to cover the most for my followers to deliver good content.
Here are five posts Coelho believes most represents her brand:
Who are you rooting for on this #WorldCup ? ? As a Brazilian and a huge soccer fan, of course I am rooting for ??!!! Here is my first World Cup makeup look - recreate it with the colors of your Flag! ————- Pra quem pediu, tá no ar a primeira make “Copa” pra gente torcer pro nosso BRASIL! (uma versão fácil, prática e super fashionista)! Link no stories! ?? Sempre fico super animada com a Copa (amo acompanhar os jogos, e sou daquelas que grita e se emociona - aiiiiii Vai Brasil!!!). #WorldCup2018 #worldcuprussia2018 #Brasil #Brazil
A post shared by Camila Coelho (@camilacoelho) on Jun 16, 2018 at 6:31am PDT
"This post is an example of campaigns and editorial photoshoots."
A post shared by Camila Coelho (@camilacoelho) on Jun 5, 2018 at 8:04am PDT
"This post shows my personal life with my husband Icaro."
A post shared by Camila Coelho (@camilacoelho) on Jun 27, 2018 at 3:54am PDT
"This post is an example of street style photography, attending fashion shows and events."
This morning after @maisonmargiela show - wearing their beautiful coat and puffy maxi bag!? #pfw -------- Essa manhã depois do desfile de @maisonmargiela usando a jaqueta linda da marca (e a maxi bolsa - que está super IN). #ootd #look
A post shared by Camila Coelho (@camilacoelho) on Feb 28, 2018 at 8:57am PST
"This post is an example of influencer work trips with brands like Revolve, whom I’ve been partnered with for over three years."
A post shared by Camila Coelho (@camilacoelho) on Jun 29, 2018 at 4:23am PDT