Liz Joy, the Stamford, CT-based founder of the wildly popular blog Pure Joy Home and Pure Joy Paperie stationery line, shares her best tips on building buzz digitally—and how to turn that into a thriving business.
“I’ve always been a very visually driven person,” says Liz Joy, 31. After working in the corporate world for a number of years, the art history major and mother of two decided to pursue that passion full-time: In 2013, she launched a handcrafted stationery line, Pure Joy Paperie, then a lifestyle blog, Pure Joy Home, two years later.
But it wasn’t until she started Instagramming last year that her brand—and online presence—skyrocketed, going from 2,000 followers to more than seven times that number (14,500 and counting). “The paperie business picked up, there were more eyeballs on the blog, and brands started to want to partner with me,” says Joy, adding that she now receives up to 30 stationery orders and 10 requests for brand collaborations per week. Most recently, she did a sponsored post with tabletop pieces from Juliska and wines from Kendall-Jackson. Due to demand, Joy also expanded her stationery line to include custom letterpress wedding invitations. Here, the Stamford local talks about harnessing the power of social media, how to time your posts right (avoid 5 p.m.!) and why social engagement is everything right now.
CULTIVATE YOUR IMAGE
“When I first started out, I had to market myself. I used social media because it was free, and it was just a great way to connect to your audience. Then I thought: What’s my message? I decided mine would be: A bright, happy life equals joy, with the people you love. Every post I put up reflects that mission. I also signed up for webinars, including one that was all about dissecting your own Instagram, from writing your profile to how to make sure those first nine images that appear on your feed really represent your brand in the best light.”
POST INSPIRING IMAGES
“To get more followers, you definitely have to style your Instagram shots. Some images can be raw and uncut, like a shot of my kids in the bathtub; it’s too cute to resist. But otherwise, that plate of food needs to be on a piece of marble (or marble wrapping paper that looks just like the real thing!). Then shoot in natural light, with fresh flowers in the corner. Think of your Instagram like a personal magazine: It’s a curated collection of images that represents your brand to others.”
KNOW WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE WANTS
“I experiment to see what content works best. For me, fashion performs 300 times better than anything else I post. Interior design is number two, and my kids are number three. I try to post about three times a day. I avoid times when I know people are on the move—for example, 5 p.m. is a horrible time since everyone is leaving work. Instead, I’ll do it around 8:30 or 9:30 a.m., then around lunchtime, and in the evening when people have downtime.”
ENGAGE YOUR FOLLOWERS
“Social media is an ever-changing and quickly-moving world. Engagement is now huge; the new Instagram algorithms will determine how many impressions your photos have, and track how long you hover over an image. So I leave off captions with a question (like ‘What do you guys think of this?’) so people feel compelled to respond. Followers want to feel a personal connection to you. I’m also getting into Snapchat, where you can really be yourself. I don’t have makeup on, and I tell it like it is—I can see that people are responding well to that. I might film myself walking in the house and say, ‘Hi guys, I’m walking in with my kids. Look how messy this place is, and I just cleaned it yesterday!’ Everything is very spontaneous.”
PARTNER WITH BRANDS YOU TRULY LIKE
“Brands often contact me to partner on posts. But I only post about things I would actually use or wear. The content has to align with my personal brand and vision. If not, and it seems forced, it turns you off to that person. I don’t want to take that risk.”
STRIKE A BALANCE
“Not everything I do is in the moment. I often back-file a lot of images to put on Instagram later, which saves time. While my business is about being on my phone, I try my best to only post when the kids are involved in something else. I don’t want to be looking at my phone instead of their cute faces! I also think it’s important to pace yourself and take breaks so you leave your followers wanting more.”