Some might say that accruing 35,000 Instagram followers is impossible when you aren’t a celebrity, but Hayley Elder of Travel in your Twenties has managed to do just that.
By sharing her adventures across the world, Hayley generated a captive audience who nominated her to Miss FQ’s 2017 Influencer Awards in the Travel Category. In her hotel room in SkyCity where she was staying for the award ceremony, she chatted to Verve intern Beth Owens about how to build an online following and what inspires her to keep travelling.
What was it that inspired you to start ‘Travel in your Twenties?’
Turning 20 was a massive deal for me; I’d had my childhood and teenage years, so I started thinking about what would make me happy and fulfilled in this decade of my life. At 19 I went on my first European trip, and it opened up a whole new world for me of different cultures and ways of living. I decided that I wanted to dedicate my entire twenties to travel to make the most of being young and not having serious responsibilities.
How did you accrue such a massive Instagram following?
It’s very strategic process; I read literally every book and article about Instagram and how to use it to market yourself, and one of the key points is really getting yourself into a community. I spent at least half-an-hour a day looking for other travel Instagrammers to follow and leaving comments to form relationships. However, because I focused so much on building connections with content creators I did neglect the community I was creating; when Instagram changed its algorithm from displaying the most recent content to the content you most engage with I got a little caught out. I’ve learned from that mistake though and I’m really focusing now on that community aspect and interacting with my followers more, such as re-posting other people’s ‘travel in their twenties’ rather than just my own adventures.
Any upcoming travel plans?
I did a three-month trip in Europe recently, so I plan staying put for the next little bit. My brother is moving to Japan next year so I definitely want to visit him there, plus I am also potentially moving to London! So no fixed plans yet, but definitely a lot in the works.
Secret to taking a good Instagram photo?
If you really scroll back on my feed you will find some terrible ones from early on! They were really over saturated, but I’ve improved through practise. It’s super important to properly set up the shot and figure out where is the best place for you to stand first rather than trying to fix it through editing. Also: lighting! You can have the best composition, but if the lighting is off it just won’t work.
Forge your own path, and try not to be influenced by what other people think. Travel will help you figure out what you really want from life because it’s such a process of self-discovery when you are put outside your comfort zone and normal routine — you learn things about yourself that you would never have guessed.