By now, most Shopify store owners are aware of the importance that social media plays not only in the everyday lives of their customers but in the purchasing decisions of their customers as well. However, with Facebook Ads and Google Ads taking center stage, Instagram is often overlooked as a marketing tool, even though statistics show that customers regularly use it when they shop. According to two extensive research studies commissioned by Facebook, the first from LRWTonic and the second from Ipsos, of the people surveyed, 83% said that Instagram helps them discover new products or services. Furthermore, 81% said that Instagram helps them research products or services, and 80% said that Instagram helps them decide whether to buy a product or service.
Through the rise of influencer marketing, many Instagram influencers have been able to leverage their followings to grow brands, start ad businesses, and sell more of their products online. To get a better idea of how this is done, I caught up with Gavi Staloch, a 19-year-old photography entrepreneur and Instagram influencer who is also the founder and CEO of CityKillerz Ventures.
1. Let’s start from the beginning before you built your store. How did you grow your Instagram following from zero to what it is now? How many followers do you have? So many people who start a store first and then try to grow a large following on social media struggle with it. Do you have any words of advice?
So my total following is 975,000. When I started running my business I only had two pages which were CITYKILLERZ and 206SHOOTER, which is my personal page, and at the time I think CITYKILLERZ had about 50 or 60k and my other page might have had about 10 or 20k. I was just posting consistent content and focusing on posting the stuff that was really working well at the time with engagement, and from there I was able to leverage the following and build a business out of it.
2. How did traveling from a young age influence your photography style and when did you realize that you wanted to (and could) turn photography into a business?
What I sell right now are Lightroom presets which are basically filters for people’s photos. I started selling my presets on my friend’s website which is also a pretty big page when I was 15. My first paycheck was around $300 but I was only getting 30% or something, and that’s when I realized I could pretty easily set up a store since I was starting to get a decent amount of followers at the time. I decided to set up a store and I partnered with another photographer friend on a revenue-sharing agreement.
3. Tell me about the City Killerz brand? Does City Killerz make money directly from your Instagram accounts since you are an Instagram influencer with affiliate and influencer marketing or anything, or is all of it through selling your filters at your store?
I do some brand deals with brands where I’ll have them send me a product and I do a certain amount of posts on my Instagram pages for them, but mostly it’s just pushing people to my website.
4. Explain how the filters that you sell work. I also understand that you have developed your own filters along with selling other people’s filters on your website. What is unique about the filter sets you designed and how did you learn the skills needed to develop them?
The filters are for a specific photo editing program made by Adobe called Lightroom. Most photographers in the industry use Lightroom, and all of these products are compatible with Lightroom. They are basically saved settings on an edit of a photo that you can just apply to a photo with one click. I learned the skills through editing my own photos. A lot of people use presets but most don’t realize that they can be selling their presets. I think the presets I sell are unique because I have a bunch of different photographers on here, so it allows people to look for some of their favorite Instagramers and learn their editing style.
5. How do you draw traffic from your Instagram accounts to your store? Do you advertise promo deals and sales on your Instagram accounts?
I push people by doing story swipe-up posts with a link where I’m pushing a product. I also do that with feed posts where I always have a link in my bio, since I have a lot of people that look at my account. That way the link is visible to them and they can click on it to get to my website. Also, I have certain products that I release and then post about it. I also do Instagram and Facebook advertising which isn’t directly related to my Instagram pages, but that’s another way I push people to my site.
6. Who are your clients? What types of companies run advertising campaigns through your brand? Are they all in the photography industry?
No, they aren’t all in the photography industry. I have actually done work for MVMT which is a watch company, I’ve done some stuff for Four Seasons Hotels, a bunch of different brands. The followers for my pages are 73% male, and 73% of the total followers are 18-34 years old, so it’s a very young audience and a lot of different brands are interested in advertising for that reason.
7. Do you feature work by other artists alongside your own photography?
Yeah so 206SHOOTER is my own photography, and then I have CITYKILLERZ, CITYGRAMMERS, and STREETS_VISION which are all other people’s photos getting featured. Each page has a hashtag where people can submit photos, and then I pick the ones that I want to feature from what was submitted.
8. You must travel a lot to capture images in different cities. What is your schedule like?
I travel every 2 months so not super often, and a lot of the time I have something else going on in each particular city and I just schedule free-time so that I can shoot there.
9. What are your short term and long term goals for your company?
My short term goal is to continue to release new products along with some online courses hopefully. So just growing this business. My long term goals would be to eventually get into private labeling some stuff and get into building a different brand as well.
10. So is the company just you or do you have employees?
It’s just me and then I contract out to other people for certain jobs.
11. Do you have advice for other store owners especially as it relates to social media? Instagram definitely fits your brand because you are selling products that are directly related to photography and Instagram is a photo-focused social platform, but do you have general advice about how to grow followings and use social media to support a brand?
Yeah, Instagram is definitely better for certain brands than others, but I think the hardest struggle that most people face with social media is that they focus on what they like and they post what they like and it doesn’t go that well. For me, right now, half the photos that I post I don’t even like that much, but I’m just aware of what is going to get good engagement and help my page, so my advice would be to focus on what is doing well already.
12. Do you fulfill all the orders for your Shopify store on your own or do you work with a fulfillment center? What is your process like for fulfilling orders and running your store?
All my products are digital downloads and my website automatically fulfills each order.
13. What else would you like our readers to know about your brand and your photography?
I have thousands of orders in over 50 countries.
14. Who is your favorite photographer and why?
I’m a big fan of @Vuhlandes. He’s a friend and incredible photographer from Detroit. He documents his local area and the people of it.
CityKillerz Ventures Follower Statistics
This article was originally published by our friends at Storetasker.