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Ready to scale-up your productivity, master your mindset and strategise like a marketer?

Then read on for insights that will drive you to rise to the next level in your life and business.

Flori catches up with Insta Expert Elise Darma to talk about all the latest must-do's and insights to be across when it comes to growing your business on this social media platform. 

If it's the former, this episode's definitely for you as Flori catches up with Insta Expert Elise Darma (who has a following of 75k+ strong!) to talk about all the latest must-do's and insights to be across when it comes to growing your business on this social media platform.


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  • How your number of Instagram followers is not directly related to your opportunity to monetise
  • The answer to the age-old question “how many times a day should I be posting”
  • Instagram post scheduling tips
  • What you need to do with hashtags to get your followers engaged
  • Why your sales funnel should be in place as you grow your following




Everyday, online business owners are leveraging the hottest social media platform today – Instagram – to generate leads, book in clients, make sales, and strengthen their brand’s authority.

Elise Darma hosts no-fluff courses and workshops that cut through the noise when it comes to Instagram marketing – so that you can get the most out of your social media efforts, while freeing up your time to do the work you love.

As an agency business owner of Canupy Inc since 2013, Elise has collectively grown Instagram accounts to over 250,000 followers, brokered 100s of deals between influencers and brands, and has created more blogs and newsletters than she can count.

She’s been featured for her Instagram expertise in publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Brit + Co, Elite Daily, Teachable and Later.






Facebook: @elisedarma
Instagram: @elisedarma



Flori Pyke: [00:00:53] Welcome to Episode 30 of the Raising Her Game Podcast. We are Anna and Flori, the queens of small business and we deliver female entrepreneurs both the business and mindset tools needed to start, grow and scale your small business for success. It's me. It's Flori. And I'm super excited to be able to introduce you to a bit of an Instagram guru if I might say so myself, a fellow Canuck as well which is always very exciting. This is Elise Darma and Elise I'm going to hand over the reins to you now just to share a little bit more with our listeners about yourself and what you do. Yeah share it. Give it all. I'm so excited to have you here.

Elise Darma: [00:01:33] Well thanks for having me. It's great to connect from one side of the world to the other even though you are a Canadian as well. I always love the stories of, well especially Canada and Australia. My dad is from Malta and he grew up in Australia and then he met my Canadian mom. She brought him over and then we all grew up in Vancouver. So I have family all around the world and that's part of what kicked off my obsession with travel. When I was like twelve or thirteen my mom got a job with an airline and we were able to travel quite freely on standby, in business class, and they introduced me to travel at a really young age. Actually before this time is when I first went to Australia with my dad. That trip really opened up my eyes of like holy cow, life on the other side of the world. It's pretty cool. There's so much to see and explore. By the time I graduated, my dad was like ‘yeah go explore’. So I took my savings basically all of it, almost went through all of it and went to Europe for 30 days. And I felt so at home. It was crazy. It was so different but so comforting at the same time. I eventually went to a school back home in Canada. Then I moved across Canada to Toronto. Finished my degree in Radio and Television Arts which gave me a really cool background in media which at that time like social media was not what it is today. Digital media was not what it is today.

Flori Pyke: [00:03:18] So how long ago was that by the way like that you took that degree and kind of started? Yeah it sounds like it started to generate this interest in social media. Well how long ago was that?

Elise Darma: [00:03:29] Yeah from 20 to 25 I spent my years trying a lot of different things. Most of them I didn't like and that's what brought me to my last program in university where I finally finished my degree. I loved media. I love storytelling. I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to be on air. I thought I would love that. So I literally did the degree because I thought I would enjoy it which was a big change for me. And what I ended up studying was like screenwriting, how to film, how to edit, how to run a radio show.

Flori Pyke: [00:04:01] Cool. I can see like where all the creative juices are coming in because like you know on your website and on your Instagram like some of the photos you have they're out there and they're so fun and cool. But you have to be seriously creative to come up with that kind of imagery. So now it's all coming together for me.

Elise Darma: [00:04:22] Yeah the images on my website are me being in characters, essentially. If you haven't seen it yet at, but you know the reason why I dressed up as characters on my website was a form of protection and you might not get that impression from the images but I was for a very long time afraid of having a public personal brand. I didn't necessarily want to be the face of my own business. It felt way too vulnerable and scary to put my real self out there [Flori agrees]. So the way that felt comfortable to me and this was after taking improv for a year and stepping into a character role and how you could actually protect yourself that way. So I decided from my website to dress up as characterised versions of certain personality traits that I have and that's what you see.




Flori Pyke: [00:05:11] So that's really interesting like I hear amongst our students, we hear that a lot. A lot of our students, they're hesitant to put themselves out there and to be the face of their brand. And yet as you know and we all know when you can be the face of your brand and personally connect with your audience, it's a lot more impactful and powerful than just having a logo or some image. And so I really love that spin that you have adopted where you are able to do that. And yet you're doing it in such a creative way. And you're still able to personally connect with people but it gives you that comfort. I think that's just brilliant. And I just want to just jump in there because it's a very cool spin that you've taken on that.

Elise Darma: [00:05:54] Yeah. Well thank you. Yeah it was. It was literally just a means to an end to get my personal brand out there but make it feel safe in a way too. So yeah I know I've jumped around in my story a little bit. But I decided to go to Bali for the new year. This was 2015 when I flew into Bali. Spent a couple of weeks there. Then I went to Hawaii, spent a couple weeks there. So this was 2015. I continue to start an agency, grow that brand. In the summer of 2016, I was like my business needs to grow. I need more clients. I'm going to grow my personal Instagram account as proof to clients that I can grow them through Instagram. So I spent the summer then developing a personal brand. That was the first time. I pulled my old travel photos. I started telling stories in my captions and by the end of the summer I think I had like 30 thousand followers. And then I had a whole other audience of people following me who didn't want my agency services. They wanted to know how was I travelling so much. How did I start my own business. How was I growing on Instagram. So that was the start of really a personal brand. And that was when I clued in and realised there's business coaches out there. I could hire someone to help me figure out what this is that I have on my hands because I'm not really sure.

Flori Pyke: [00:07:15] Okay awesome. So obviously you know Instagram is something that when we came across you online, I got really excited. I was like oh my gosh she's an Insta guru I need to get her on. And I definitely want to ask you like a few questions about how you have done this because obviously now… what is the size of your audience? About 70 thousand, is that right? [Elise agrees] So yeah that's a lot of people [both are laughing]. That's a lot of people in two years. So yeah I'd love to kind of pick your brains you know. Where do we start here? I've got some questions here and I think it'll probably start kind of opening the can of worms that is Instagram. So I think one of the first things that I want to ask you is and I ask this almost from a selfish standpoint but I'm sure our listeners will be able to relate as well. But so how many times should you post per day? Because I have seen and heard such conflicting things around how much to post and I've tested certain things. But I'd love to hear your opinion on this. 



Elise Darma: [00:08:25] Yeah. A lot of people will tell you what worked for them right. But it might not be what works for you. There really is no exact step by step recipe for Instagram growth when it comes to every single brand. So that's why you probably get different numbers. And like even what I share it's like this is what worked for me. So this is what I recommend. And you just kind of have to test it and see if it does work for you. Before we dive into like the nitty gritty of Instagram strategy, one thing I do like to share is especially because your audience is business owners and when they hear of oh Elise has 70000 followers that's how she's successful with Instagram. I just like to share that you don't need that many followers to even monetise your following and the way Instagram has changed especially in the last year, you can do so much, so much with like a thousand.

Flori Pyke: [00:09:18] Yeah I totally agree with you by the way. Yeah.

Elise Darma: [00:09:20] So I just want your listeners and viewers to understand that you don't need to get to seventy thousand followers to see success. That's what I teach my students in my course Instagrowth Boss which is now solely for online business owners. And I almost feel like having that many followers is kind of a detriment to me because I miss the days when I had ten thousand followers, twenty thousand, thirty thousand, engagement on my account was way different. When your account grows to such heights, the algorithm and how your posts are seen by your followers totally changes. So actually a very small percentage of my followers even see my posts or engage. But when you're a smaller account like five hundred or a thousand followers, most times the majority of your followers see your posts. And so that's why you can have such a powerful impact on your business with a thousand. So that's really who I help. And I almost feel like growing a brand new account today from scratch that's not based on me but just to show online business owners like I still monetise my business through this account with a thousand you know [Flori agrees]. So majority of people who I help have less than a thousand and they're generally trying to get to ten thousand. People want ten thousand because that's when you can get the swipe up feature in your stories with a business account [Flori agrees]. So I just like to say that right off the bat but to go back to your question, when I grew the most and just based on what I read from other people who have grown and who I talk to, posting once a day consistently is generally the best to go as far as growth. Now there are some accounts that have a ton of content and they all recommend to post multiple times a day so that you always are kind of seen in your followers feed. But I think for business owners what's reasonable to stick to because consistency is actually what's most key. The algorithm rewards you for consistent behaviour in the app. So if you could commit to once a day then I think that's perfect for consistent growth.

Flori Pyke: [00:11:30] OK. Good to know. And what about in terms of your approach to your content hosting, like how do you plan for instance the week ahead of posting you know do you sit down on a Sunday or Monday and prep all your posts or do you have a theme that you follow for a certain day of the week? How do you broach what you're going to post basically and are you organised about it or do you kind of fly by the seat of your pants? What's your spin on that?

Elise Darma: [00:11:58] So I personally generally fly by the seat of my pants. However I don't recommend that [Flori laughs]. So what I think for the client…

Flori Pyke: [00:12:06] I love the honesty.

Elise Darma: [00:12:08] Don't do what I do. It's a classic of like I'll take care of all my clients and then I'll be the last one and if I get to it, great. So yeah, being more consistent with my own content on my Instagram is actually now being worked into my workflow with my business. ‘Coz with my clients you know we batch schedule their content weekly so we can advance. We've also experimented with monthly but we just find that things change like we specialise in e-commerce brands. So some things might change. Promos might come up. We just found that scheduling in a week in advance was perfect and that's what I recommend to my core students as well. And how to know what to schedule. This comes down to so many things. But really like the branding and the positioning of your account. Who are you for. Like you don't need a million Instagram followers but who are you really trying to reach. That's what you want to make sure you're clear on when it comes to your profile picture, your bio, your CTA, your link, your actual link. So all that needs to be in place. And then when you look at the feed, the content of feed itself, what I recommend is choosing themes. And I really love choosing five themes because if you just rotate between like today's theme one, then theme two, three, four or five each day, you will never have two things side by side or on top of each other when you have those five. So I really like five themes. My personal account has grown with two themes. You don't need five. You could just choose how many work for you. Definitely a minimum of two but what you want to do is choose these themes based on what content is actually going to relate to your target follower the most. So even if you're building a personal brand, people think it's about themselves but it's not. It's like yes it's these aspects of yourself. It's stories of yourself but you're really pulling those aspects and those stories out to talk to your target follower. So for example when I work with clients you know we go through a brainstorm of themes so that the e-commerce brand wanting to attract you know someone interested in clean living, minimal lifestyle maybe you know we're selling like simple high quality jewellery right. So if we're looking at what themes we want to share it would be all content themes related to what that target follower cares about. Like say let's say I'm an independent jewellery maker. That way we can make it a personal brand. So maybe if I'm an independent jewellery maker and that's the person I want to attract I'm going to share a theme about like my minimalist lifestyle which is shown in my jewellery designs, my 100 mile diet, maybe my boyfriend, my relationship or my dating life because that also has a tie back to jewellery right. Maybe quote cards, so maybe inspirational things that I relate to and therefore my target follower relates to. And then the fifth theme could be the jewellery itself. Like the lifestyle product images in action. So there you have five themes based off a personal brand. That's generally how we figure out what we're going to post that you're never stuck there being like oh I have to post what do I share today.

Flori Pyke: [00:15:33] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay awesome thanks. And obviously like this is a big one and I know that so many things play a part in driving the followers and one of them is engagement obviously.So how do you drive engagement on a post? What's one of the keys you think that enables you to drive the most engagement on a post?



Elise Darma: [00:16:00] Yeah so one strategy I've loved for a long time relates to hashtags. So when you do your hashtag research and save 30 targeted hashtags that relate to your target client but also can tie into your content. What I've always loved to do is once you post you know share the hashtags either as the first comment or in the caption [Flori agrees]. And then what you can do as far as engagement is click into the hashtags, maybe your top 5, maybe your top 10. Click into the hashtags that are most relevant to your target audience. And check out that hashtag. You'll see generally the popular posts of the hashtag but you'll also see most recent posts. So what I love doing is going into the most recent posts of a hashtag and checking out those posts because most likely if someone's using that same hashtag they're going to relate to and like my content. So I go into those posts that are also using those same target hashtags and I like and I comment and I engage with them first. What you're doing is if they just posted using that same hashtag, chances are they're still live in the app just like you are [Flori agrees] so they’re seeing your notification live, like so and so just liked my post, so-and-so just commented. So they're more likely to see it. Check you out. And if you did your targeting correctly then your profile is exactly what they're looking for. And then they'll go ahead and follow. So that's a way to that engagement on a new post, in front of people who aren't following you. If you want to get engagement from people who are following you, what I really love today is using Instagram Stories. So it’s a newer feature in the last two years I think [Flori agrees]. It’s maybe not even new or considered new anymore but what I really love is it's really easy to like when you have shared your post when you're looking at it, there is a little airplane symbol and you tap that and that's an option for you to share it to your story. So when you share it to your story, you can add tags you can change the background color you'd like to find a gif that says tap here right and then I put that gif on top of my post. It's like a preview of the post. And then I share it to my story. And I used to like create right aligned text that has a hook. It creates little curiosity like you have to see the post to find out. So what happens with that feature is when they hit that tap area or they just hit the post area. It literally takes them to the post and I feel like it's a direct jump from my story to the post. I really like doing that right after I post as well.

Flori Pyke: [00:18:49] That's pretty cool. I haven't tried that. Thank you. And we talk a lot about social media, Instagram being part of it. Obviously that it is super important to be on social media. But also that it plays a bigger part in your overall sales funnel and your marketing strategy. So for you how long would you recommend to a client or a student how long would you recommend that they spend on Instagram for instance on a daily basis because I know that we see a lot of people spending hours and hours and hours and they don't necessarily get sales or results because it's kind of not part of a bigger strategy so what's… do you have any advice on that?



Elise Darma: [00:19:28] You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that Instagram is kind of the start of someone's funnel leading to the rest of their business. It's an acquisition channel right. And what I mostly teach my Instagrowth Boss for students is marketing and branding and positioning through the medium of Instagram. And that's what a lot of people miss. But Instagram can be super super powerful if your target person is hanging out there like if that's where they're hanging out you know you should be active and you should be using those engagement tactics to find new people and get in front of new people. But you need to have the flow in place right. Like if it is the link in your bio that leads to a free resource for someone that would be super super helpful for your target person. Great. You've attracted them to your Instagram profile and this is where I went wrong. Right. Like I just grew my personal brand for the sake of proving to future clients that I can grow my account. But I was… I didn't have a mailing list. I wasn't capturing any information from anyone. I hit thirty thousand followers and that's when I turned to a business coach and I'm like ha, what do I do with this right and so when I did create a freebie and a change that try to get people over to my mailing list, it was hard. It was like they’ve already gotten used to following me. They weren't really taking action to get over onto my mailing list so if you can start that from day one, it's really, really powerful. And then from there when they are on your mailing list, you want that next step. Maybe it's an email sequence that you've written or you know…

Flori Pyke: [00:21:10] You’re nurturing them right.

Elise Darma: [00:21:12] Exactly. Yeah it all comes down to what your business funnel is. But you definitely want to capture people as you're growing. Because like I said you do grow and you reach a certain number, the algorithm changes and your posts are seen less and all that great stuff.

Flori Pyke: [00:21:23] Yeah yeah yeah right. And so yeah I mean in terms of like would you say as a rule of thumb like don't spend more than you know 15 to 20 minutes on the platform because like for instance yesterday, I think it was yesterday or the day before that, I saw a post in our community of someone who was tracking how much time, it was like an app on their phone that tracked how much time they spent on every single social media platform and has like weekly analysis presented to them and they had spent like seven hours on Instagram for the week. And you know for them it was like what am I doing? You know like the penny really dropped. So I think it's so important to kind of almost set these parameters with oneself like how long I should spend on these things because they are, they're like you just get like sucked in right.It's such a time warp.

Elise Darma: [00:22:15] And where they using that Instagram time solely for posting for business or was that also their scroll time as well?

Flori Pyke: [00:22:232] I'm guessing it was probably a bit of both.

Elise Darma: [00:22:25] Instagram is designed to suck you in for sure [Flori agrees and laughs]. That's why it's probably the most popular app right now. It's designed to keep you there. Like the way Instagram's pushing video content to people or the explore page is designed to give you like the sexiest, the most eye catching content based on your history. Like the content that you typically like or comment on, Instagram is seeing that and then they're curating the best stuff and giving that to you on your explore page. So it's very easy to get sucked in. So you do have to have kind of parameters for ‘this is my posting time’. It's like work time versus scroll time and same thing happens to me too. I get sucked in too and I have that same app and it's frightening [Flori laughs] for sure but a lot of time can be saved with the batch scheduling ahead of time. If you schedule an hour into your Monday or your Sunday whatever it is where you format the content so you can use your own photos. You can create images in Canva or graphics in Canva, you can source out stock photography, but just spend the hour or maybe you just put it all in a bank or maybe you have an assistant or a V.A. who sources that content for you and then just keep it in the library. You can look at your week ahead and be like Ha. Monday is blah blah blah holiday and Tuesday I was going to release that new blog post and you know Friday is like my Friday fun day so you already kind of have an idea of what you want to be seen on those days. To save time from being in the app because the app takes way longer to like punch in a little caption. Yeah you know I just highly recommend finding a scheduling tool. I really like using Later. I did a class with them too and they're really great about you know Instagram education but I really recommend like using that hour to pull the images that you want for the week and then writing a caption and typing it versus texting it on your phone, typing it out and scheduling it in for the week and then you're done and then what you can do even if you schedule them all at the same time and again with the time question people always wonder what's the best time to post. Who is your target follower and when are they most online? Most people are online like when they're trying to kill time on Instagram, it's like they've just woken up and they're scrolling, they're in line for their lunch and they're scrolling. They're commuting to or from work and they're scrolling. They’re about to go to bed and they're scrolling. So really think about who your target person is. When are they online killing time. Set that as your time you know and you could even do it the same time every day. You can set an alarm on your phone like oh it's 12pm my post just went out. Let me jump into the app now and then and engage with people who are commenting. So you've done most of the work right. You've scheduled it, you've written it. When that post actually goes live, that's when you want to be in the app because you want to drive as much engagement to it as quickly as possible. So replying to comments you know, reaching out to other people sharing in your stories. That's when you want to do that.

Flori Pyke: [00:25:40] Okay. Awesome. Alright. Now I’m gonna start to wrap up because I can hear my three week old absolutely losing it… [both laughing] Dairy Queen time for him. So for our listeners, some people might not get this in Australia because we don't have Dairy Queen [both laughing] It's time for the milk bar. Now for our listeners, to grab your share notes please head over to our site If you love this episode definitely let us know. Drop us a review. And Elise I have absolutely loved chatting with you today. Thank you so much for all your knowledge bombs around everything Instagram. Now for our listeners, can you tell us a little bit more around where we can find you if you've got anything, any value adds, freebies? Where else can we learn from you?

Elise Darma: [00:26:38] Yes I have a ton. If you want to follow my Instagram strategies and my behind the scenes, the best place is follow me on Instagram @elisedarma. You can totally just kind of see what I'm doing in my stories and apply that to your own. I really recommend that. It's kind of like funnel hacking but you’re Instagram hacking me. Totally recommend that. But then as far as free resources my hub is really at my blog at elise darma dot com. I have a ton there like a free masterclass on right now it's how to gain your next 1000 followers in 30 days. I'm probably going to be shifting that in a little bit so but I guarantee if you're you know checking out the class right now it's still gonna be what's working now for Instagram growth for business owners because that's who I work with. That's who I love helping the most so head to for free training with my master class. If you're more of a reader, head to my blog. I publish generally an Instagram related blog post a how to blog posts like weekly so there is a ton there too. Yeah.

Flori Pyke: [00:27:47] Okay.Fantastic. And one thing we always do here on the Raising Her Game Podcast is basically wrap up with a parting thought and I'd love for you to share this parting thought with our listeners. If there's one key thing that you'd like our listeners to walk away with from our chat today what would it be?

Elise Darma: [00:28:07] Yeah parting thought… I think this goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning before we started recording. But sometimes you get so deep into the hustle and the posting everyday and keeping up with the Joneses that you sometimes create a business or create a brand you’re like what is this, do I still want this. This is a monster of a business. So if you're finding that you're feeling that way with Instagram like it's becoming overwhelming I just let people know it's okay to take a break. You know it's okay to chill. You see me doing that on my own feed too I don't post everyday anymore maybe once a week sometimes. I really, really strongly believe in setting up the systems like the batching right, the batch scheduling or having a V.A. help you with the comments or replying to people's stories. You don't have to do all that yourself if you are a busy business owner [Flori agrees]. You can definitely hire it out. You can definitely create the system because it might be more important for you to actually take the weekend off social media and go outside and go hang out with your family.And I'm totally speaking from experience because I had to take myself online, or sorry offline [both laughing]. I got to take myself offline and I took myself to a self-care yoga retreat because I just wanted to put myself in a totally different tangible world experience you know. So if you're feeling like that with your online business or Instagram in general, set up the system, the process in place now and it generally means hiring a V.A. but believe me there are a ton of Instagram marketers looking to help business owners like yourself. I trained them in my course Instagrowth Boss so there's plenty of people looking for Instagram marketing work. You can hire them and that way you can kind of step back from that a little bit and give yourself those digital detox and those breathers that I think are so so important when you're running an online business.

Flori Pyke: [00:30:13] Yeah. Such good words of advice and I love that little digital detox. I’m so re-using that. That's so appropriate [both laughing].

Elise Darma: [00:30:22] When you think about how much time you spend looking at screens it's crazy.

Flori Pyke: [00:30:26] No. I hundred percent agree. Well thank you so much again Elise. I've super enjoyed chatting with you and I know our audience is going to totally lap today's episode up. So thank you so much. And to our listeners remember ladies be brave in your business.



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We're incredibly excited to be able to share our business insights via the Raising Her Game Podcast. We aim to provide you the very best content each week to help you elevate your business game so you can take your life and business to the next level. We'll tackle the topics that will get you increasing your productivity, mastering your mindset and strategising like a marketer. If you're enjoying the show, you can help spread the love and pay it forward by leaving a review. It will make it easier for other female entrepreneurs in business like you, to find us and kick their own goals.








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