Helen Perry is an Instagram specialist and the woman behind the @NotAboutTheKids Instagram account. She’s a former BBC journalist and self-confessed social media lurker who, after attending a how-to workshop, had a lightbulb moment. Since then, she has been teaching others how to build their Instagram following and engagement with confidence.
Helen spends her time running Instagram workshops and webinars, encouraging her students to just jump in and get started. I love Helen’s energy, it is fantastic to see someone so enthusiastic about sharing their passion with others.
Helen clearly loves being creative, and Instagram is a great outlet for that. She’s got this infectious no-nonsense approach to social media and she is more than happy to help others along the way with her bitesize advice. It is absolutely brilliant for start up small businesses and entrepreneurs to unravel the misty world of Instagram. I attended a short day course with Helen on video for Instagram and after discovering InShot (WHAT AN APP!), I’ve never looked back.
Let’s find out Helen Perry’s story in my latest Getting Naked With interview…
NakedPRGirl: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
Helen Perry: I was born in Belfast but raised in England, and have lived in Berkshire for most of my life – glorious Reading currently!
NakedPRGirl: What did you study? What was your first job?
Helen Perry: I studied English Literature at the University of East Anglia. I was incredibly fortunate to have access to a free university education (I’m that old!) so all I really had to consider was ‘what’s my favourite subject’ rather than ‘will this lead to a job and is it worth getting into debt for?’. It’s one of the greatest privileges of my life. My first job was at Boots the Chemist on the record counter selling actual vinyl and cassettes (said I was old).
NakedPRGirl: What was your big break?
Helen Perry: After I left university did some work experience at my local radio station and fell completely in love with broadcast journalism, but I guess my ‘big break’ was getting a job for BBC News at Radio 1Newsbeat in 2002. Chris Moyles was on the breakfast show, and it felt like I worked in the most exciting place possible. The best of times.
NakedPRGirl: Tell me about your business, what is the idea behind it?
Helen Perry:I started my Instagram account @notaboutthekids to get back to work after being a full time mum. The idea was to educate myself about how to use social media, it turns out lots of other people would like to know how to do it better too. Now I share what I have learnt about digital marketing with small business owners with big dreams.
NakedPRGirl: How did you come up with the business plan? And name? Who did your branding for you?
Helen Perry: The name is a mood, people tend to get it – it’s about creating something for yourself that is nothing to do with your role as a mum. About the next chapter. My photography style has heavily influenced my branding but I have also always had support from the guys at Feel Good Creative. I really believe that you have to invest in yourself and your business if it is going to fly, you can’t do everything on your own.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your USP?
Helen Perry: These are good questions Claire! I think that I can offer a warm and accessible way to tackle social media marketing for people in my community – women, generally, aged 35-55 who are not necessarily digital natives. If I can do this so can they. We’re on the same journey. There are still so many male thought leaders in marketing. We need to change this one business at a time.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a particular career highlight that stands out?
Helen Perry: My time at BBC news almost without exception, what a weird and wonderful place to work – I still miss it. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to be able to do creative work all of my life, it’s all I’m good for!
NakedPRGirl: What’s your personal style? Have you had to look at marketing yourself as a brand?
Helen Perry: My personal style is denim and red lipstick, I think it helps to have visual cues in your personal style on social media. Anything that helps people recognise you quickly when they are scrolling is useful. Keep it simple.
NakedPRGirl: How did your focus on Instagram evolve? Do you spend a lot of time planning / scheduling on this platform or is it more organic?
Helen Perry: My approach to posting is organic and spontaneous to a fault. I’m sure it is much easier and less stressful to plan. I post about what feels relevant and true at that moment, it’s how to get a conversation started.
NakedPRGirl: Do you rate any other social media platforms? LinkedIn or TikTok for example.
Helen Perry: Absolutely, I don’t have the bandwidth to dedicate to it currently but I can see that investing in LinkedIn would be great for my business in future. There is still great organic reach on the platform and a desire to see more creative, engaging content posted there. If it’s where your audience hangs out – then that’s where you should be.
NakedPRGirl: I’ve been to one of your fab courses, is this a big focus for your future? Any tips for other people on how to run their own – in person or virtual?
Helen Perry: Well the pandemic has propelled my business forward because I have discovered the huge potential for live online learning. Although you can never replicate the real-life connection – being able to reach people, wherever in the world they are via webinars, is a game-changer for me. My advice is to invest consistently in growing an online community of people that you will, from time-to-time, sell to. In my experience the best way to convince followers to work with you is by first sharing advice and value for free.
NakedPRGirl: I love your newsletter The Switch, how did that come about? Any tips for others who haven’t started a newsletter yet?
Helen Perry: Just start! A newsletter and mailing list are even more powerful for selling than a social media audience, this is one of the big things I have learnt in the past year. If you are going to write a newsletter as a way of encouraging people to sign-up to your list, make it worth reading. What can you share every week or month that your ideal follower will find genuinely useful and entertaining. A newsletter is not a straight-up marketing email.
NakedPRGirl: How have you seen your industry changing over the last few years?
Helen Perry: I’ve only been in my industry for a couple of years but yes – I have noticed changes. Social platforms are in a constant state of flux, and new ones spring up. On Instagram I think posting has become more messy and casual, thank goodness.
NakedPRGirl: Where do you see it evolving in the future? Especially post Lockdown?
Helen Perry: Post lockdown, I think there will be much less place for staged you-should-want-my-life aspirational content. Brands are under enormous pressure to be visibly anti-racist and diverse following the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement.
NakedPRGirl: Who in the industry inspires you?
Helen Perry: Content marketing specialist Janet Murray is a great business woman and rarely gets it wrong. Creatively, I love Fearne Cotton’s output and work ethic. Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast is the piece of digital content that I wish I had created myself. It’s magic.
NakedPRGirl: How do you split your time between business and real life?
Helen Perry: It’s a total mess. I work from home more or less constantly. Can’t lie! I’m trying to get better at taking full days off.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a motto or mantra that you live by?
Helen Perry: Just start. Showing up consistently is vital and done is way, way more effective than perfect.
NakedPRGirl: Where would you like to be in ten years time?
Helen Perry: Running a profitable creative business that helps people out of their comfort zone to share their brilliance.
All images courtesy of Helen Perry. Visit the Not About The Kids website at www.notabout-thekids.com.
Follow her on Instagram.
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