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How to Be an Entrepreneur and Quickly Grow an Instagram Following

instagram-following I’m super excited to introduce you to Katie Harp! Katie is is a twenty-something, Seattle based, serial entrepreneur and web designer. She is the founder of Rebelsaurus, the mustache-toting, status-quo-breaking website that helps entrepreneurs make websites that are more fun than a camel on Hump Day.

Katie is on a mission to change the world through entrepreneurship and awesome ideas. She likes helping entrepreneurs bring their visions to life through their website as well as working on her own various startups, which range from wedding invitations to a mental health app.


Q: Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey. How did you make your business dream a reality?

A: I started making money online when I was 11 from Google Adsense ads when I had a website teaching web design. I also started designing t-shirts and other products during that time for a site called Cafepress. I sold way too many Twilight fan shirts during that craze (haha).

I’ve started dozens of businesses over the years and have always been an entrepreneur at heart, and my current projects include Rebelsaurus, a web design and marketing business, Resilient, a mental health blog and app, and Sweet Iced Tea, which sells wedding and birthday invitations and other paper products, but the main focus right now is Rebelsaurus.


Q: How did you come up with Rebelsaurus in your branding?

A: The little mustachio-ed dinosaur in our logo is actually named Nelson after my college business calculus professor. I used to doodle a lot in class, from high school onward, as well as write elaborate business plans in class and I came up with a lot of business ideas this way because I was totally not interested in the AP and honors classes I was taking.

Still managed nearly straight A’s somehow though. When I got to college I started putting more of the ideas into practice and actually starting businesses based on the ideas I’d been thinking about for a while.


Q: Tell us about your creative process. Where do you get your design ideas? Are you methodical in your approach or do you act on inspiration?

A: I definitely act on inspiration and usually get fully fleshed ideas in a flash of inspiration, but I also try to put logic into my ideas before jumping into actually designing something. For example, if I’m designing a website I’ll have a design survey from the client about what they’re looking for and what they want their website to accomplish, so I can start by thinking about what the most important part of each page is and build a design around that purpose. Form follows function.


Q: Tell us about your app for Resilient. How did you go about creating it?

A: Building the app for Resilient was definitely a challenge! It was actually originally a web-based Ruby on Rails application (I built the mobile app afterward with some software called Good Barber that converted everything into a mobile app). I built the Ruby on Rails app by following along with some online courses on how to build a Pinterest clone, because Resilient was mainly a website to find inspirational pictures like you would do on Pinterest.

I also hired a couple of developers to do the fancy stuff after I reached my programming limits, but I definitely put a lot of my own sweat and hustle into building it. Then I just had to submit everything to the app stores, and they accepted almost right away. Eventually I created a blog for Resilient and that became way more popular than the app, so I scrapped the web app idea and turned the mobile app into more of a blog reader.


Q: How were you able to increase your Instagram following for Resilient so quickly?

A: I took a class from Foundr magazine’s Nathan Chan about Instagram, and it was so much more awesome and effective than I could have hoped for! There’s tons of tools and little “hacks” you can do to really maximize your online presence and grow quickly, which is how we grew to almost 10,000 followers. A lot of it comes down to sheer volume. Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags per post, so use them! Find the best hashtags for your niche using a tool like Websta.me, and then follow a few hundred relevant people every day (there are tools to speed this up like Crowdfire), and eventually unfollow the people who aren’t following you back.

After a few thousand followers, you’ll start to grow organically and you won’t have to follow so many people. And make sure you post at least once or twice a day! I’m now using the same process to build an Instagram following for Rebelsaurus as my work focus shifts.


Even if you see someone have an “overnight success story,” what you don’t see is how many years they put in before that when they failed repeatedly and had to keep trying without knowing when things would finally work.


Q: What do you love most about your business?

A: One word: FREEDOM. There are times when I’m super motivated and in hustle mode and work 12-15 hours a day, but I also love having the freedom to take a few days off and do absolutely nothing if I feel like it. I can also sleep until noon and never have to wear pants!  I’m wearing pajamas right now, actually, and it’s 7pm. I’ve set up enough systems and automation that most of my business – like the marketing and social media – runs on autopilot whether or not I feel like working. And working from home (or anywhere, really – I only need a laptop to run my business) means I get endless snuggles with my cat. 🙂


Q: What do you find most challenging?

A: Ahh, there are a lot of challenging things about being an entrepreneur, but the uncertainty of everything is probably the most challenging. The income uncertainty each month, especially if you do any freelance work, the uncertainty when you’re starting something if it will ever work, the uncertainty of if a product or service will take off after you’ve put in hours of work. There’s no one telling you what to do every day or what you should be working on. A lot of being an entrepreneur is not knowing and having to act anyway.


Q: It looks like you relocated from the east coast to the west coast. How are you liking it so far? What do you do to unwind?

A: I live in Seattle, and it’s awesome! When I’m not working I like going out with friends to new restaurants and nightlife. I can also hang out with my sister and her fiancee because they just live on the other side of the bridge. It’s fun to explore the city, and since I don’t have a schedule I can just get up and go on an adventure in the middle of the day if I feel like it.


Q: Can you tell us about your new pet?

A: Misty is my new tuxedo cat. 🙂 She’s adorable, but she definitely has a mind of her own. I would describe her as a strong, independent female (haha). She enjoys sleeping on top of my refrigerator and unrolling rolls of toilet paper and biting holes in them.


Q: What are your favorite time management and productivity tools?

A: I actually have a free ebook that lists all of them!  You can download that here. For a quick summary though, I like Edgar and Boardbooster for automatic social media scheduling, Trello for to-do lists, and Evernote for ideas and writing blog posts in progress.


Q:  What new projects do you have going on?

A: I’ve currently finished writing an ebook called Entrepreneur Life Hacks about how to automate and streamline things in your life and business to save time and stress. It’s not just business productivity tips – I even talk about things like freezer cooking and speeding up your cleaning routine so you can make every area of your life more efficient and streamlined! It’s like the Four Hour Workweek for your whole life.


Q: Any words of encouragement for those either starting out or along a similar entrepreneurial path?

A: Things will probably take a lot longer than you expect, so don’t give up or get discouraged! Even if you see someone have an “overnight success story,” what you don’t see is how many years they put in before that when they failed repeatedly and had to keep trying without knowing when things would finally work. Just keep going and keep trying new things until you hit on something that works, and then do more of that.

If people don’t believe in you, find someone who does understand your dream and surround yourself with people who lift you up, even just subscribing to newsletters of your favorite coaches or entrepreneurs online. You can do this!


Guest Post Bio

KatieHarp- 2016-headshot-square

Katie Harp is a serial entrepreneur and web designer who currently teaches web design and marketing with her business Rebelsaurus, as well as running a few other online businesses. Across all her businesses, she loves inspiring people to live a happier life and do what they love. You can connect with her on her website and follow her on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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