How to Rapidly Grow Your Instagram Audience From Scratch With Ayesha Afreen

After posting great content for a year, Ayesha Afreen, now with an Instagram account of over 47K followers, still enjoys every second of learning new things and creating useful content for her audiences.

If you’re also interested in knowing more about how to build a thriving community from scratch, read more to find out how.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi! I’m Ayesha, I’m 20 years old and I’m based in Bangalore, India. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with the majors; Media Studies & Mass Communication, English, and Psychology in 2021.

Right after I graduated, I started preparing for an entrance exam which is very popular in India, Common Aptitude Test (CAT) to get into an MBA college. While preparing for this exam was when I started my Instagram Page: Life of Aye, to keep myself motivated and motivate other students who are preparing for an exam or just trying to graduate.

I was always keen on creating content for social media but I did not expect so much support and love for my content in such a short time. It has been a year since I started my page and now has 47,000+ followers. I didn’t want to pursue a Master’s degree anymore, at least for now.

So, I started working as a full-time Associate Instructional Designer in December 2021 for a startup in Bangalore. The job role included collaborating with SMEs of Clients who were MNCs, and creating tooltips and flows on web applications for End-Users.

I’m someone who really enjoys creative work and always has to put my creative mind to use, but this job was inhibiting it as it didn’t require any creativity, which is why I left my job in August 2022, to be a full-time content creator. I also started selling Notion Templates and I’m planning to sell digital products, and start my Youtube Journey as well.

My hobbies include Crocheting and Painting. I love design, and art and have a knack for researching and learning new things every single day.

What do you think about creativity, is it born or learned?

I believe all individuals are born creative; for instance, children don’t have to think inside the box because they aren’t aware of the box (boundaries and restrictive thinking). But creativity in adulthood depends on how much you train your brain to think creatively.

No matter the way of channeling it, some do it through art, some do it through writing, and some through building a business; training your brain to be creative is what I believe in. I think creativity is learned.

Based on your own experience, what makes a great content creator?

A great content creator is someone who can put their thoughts through any form of content (digital content in this context), and once it reaches the target audience, it does any or all of the following things:

  • helps them learn something;
  • makes them think;
  • entertains them;
  • motivates them to do something.

And then comes the next set of rules, such as being original, being consistent, pushing yourself to keep learning, understanding your style of content, and having a flow of work.

What’s your secret to constantly having new ideas for posting?

Like most content creators, my inspiration comes from the things I consume. For instance, when I’m reading a book and come across something new that I feel like my audience would love to know, or when I read a blog and share some tips.

Apart from that, I have a brainstorming session either first thing in the morning or when I’m about to sleep, which are the times I feel least burdened by other chores and tasks. I scroll through Instagram, Pinterest, or sometimes Youtube for ideas and note them down on Google Keep or Notion.

What is the key to growing your community on Instagram from your perspective?

Having the courage to take risks, fail and start over again.

Instagram’s algorithm is equally a mystery for creators and users alike. Sometimes you are trying hard, posting every day, and you don’t see your content reaching the target audience. Those are the most critical days when you don’t see results, but you must keep pushing yourself to create.

I think getting past this invisible barrier is something not everyone can achieve, but once done, you start to grow your community. Along with this, you have to have a rough idea of your niche, which audience you want to bring to your page, and what your main goals are for your Instagram.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Content creation is a rewarding job despite being vulnerable to online hate and trolling. I go through the messages and emails I get from my audience once a few days, and I always take screenshots of the ones where they appreciate me or thank me for my content. I save these screenshots in a folder and look back at them during the days when I am in a rut. Apart from that, striving to be better every day and learn as many things as possible keeps me motivated.

How do you use Effie and Notion in a way that maximizes your productivity?

Notion is something I use to plan and organize all my projects. It is like a second brain. Notion is very malleable to customize how you like, but I don’t like adding many elements. I like minimal interface to avoid distractions which is exactly Effie’s vision, which is why I am glad I found Effie.

Here’s what one of my Notion pages looks like. This is for my Instagram content. Starting from the Ideation phase to checking off the task after posting. I use a Calendar to block my tasks, and content schedule and have a daily to-do list at the top of my page.

Here’s how Ayesha uses Notion to organize her projects

I mainly use Effie to Ideate and Script my content. I just list down all the random ideas I have as a list and then start connecting the dots using the mind-mapping tool of Effie. I want every piece of content to tell a story and be cohesive. Effie helps me do that through lists and mindmaps.

List created in Effie

Here’s how I scripted one of my posts about Effie:

From a list to a mind map

Other than Effie and Notion, what other tools you often use when creating new content?

I believe in minimal and no code tools.

  • Canva for editing my posts and stories.
  • Mobile app: VN to edit my reels by adding different fonts, music etc.
  • I use Google Keep for quickly jotting down ideas on the go.
  • I also use Google Workspace (Calendar, Email labels, Tasks, Drive) to block time, keep track and store all my content and resources.

Anything you’d like to say for someone who just started content-creating on Instagram?

Stay consistent no matter the results, upskill a lot, take inspiration from multiple sources, and always create with a goal.

The right people will find you and join your community eventually!

Want to know more about Ayesha? Feel free to check out her latest post on Instagram (@life.of.aye) for more study tips and tricks!