Yesterday, after 3 years and 1 month of running @pizzablonde, my account hit 10,000 Instagram followers. I’ve been looking forward to this milestone and had a great time celebrating today with champagne that got delivered to me courtesy of Drizly, and my favorite pizza ever, a large pepperoni from Frank Pepe’s. (Thanks Matt for driving to get it! :*) A lot of things have changed since that fateful day when I first thought “Wouldn’t it be funny if I posted every pizza I eat on Instagram?” so here’s kind of a diary entry looking back on it.
So, 10 thousand people. Crazy. I’m not one of those people who has thousands of Facebook friends, and I’ve lived in a town where the population is smaller than that, so a lot of times, this number feels huge. Other times though, I think about how almost 50,000 people live in my current zip code, and there are dogs who have 10x as many followers on Instagram as I do. I’m sure that if I put as much effort into my dog’s Instagram as I did into @pizzablonde, he’d probably have a bigger following. As much as I love my dog though, pizza is the center of this little passion project.
Like I mentioned above, this all literally started out as a joke. At first it was on my personal Instagram account, but foodie accounts were just starting to be a thing and I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to stop flooding my own feed. It was during a trip to Santarpio’s that I decided, without much thought, on calling it “Pizza Blonde”, registered the username on all of the platforms I could think of, and bought this domain name.
If you scroll back to the beginning of my account, the photos are a lot different than what I post now. I was a little heavy handed with the filters, didn’t really focus on having good lighting, and was using my old iPhone 5 so the quality wasn’t great. The main point was just kind of, “haha I eat a ton of pizza.” I think it took me a year to get my first thousand followers. It took another year to get to around four thousand. This third year, I took it more seriously, and what do ya know, my following grew a lot more!
Instagram is the main thing, but I try and maintain posting on Facebook and Twitter… some weeks are better than others. I wrote a lot of blogs during the first year and a half of having this website, but then just kinda let it die. As I began to take this seriously again, I put in the effort to revamp the posts I already had, customize a theme that I like, and expand my writing so that it isn’t just pizza review after pizza review. I also try to blog more often and stick to a schedule – no more posting once a month. The blog revamp began back in August, and again, what do ya know… my blog stats have gone up exponentially month after month since then.
Being a social media “influencer” is kind of a weird world that I didn’t expect myself to be in. I worked hard to get a genuine, engaged audience, and now opportunities are coming up to eat what I sowed. I take pride in the fact that I’ve never bought followers or used bots or anything. Since I switched over to a business Instagram account, I have access to a whole new level of stats, and the number of times people see my photos a week absolutely blows my mind. Social media is powerful.
Somewhere along the way, @pizzablonde stopped being a fun joke, and started getting real. I’ve been able to start collaborating with companies, attend press events, and even traveled to Domino’s headquarters for a few days to see the behind the scenes of how they run and make my own Domino’s pizza. I’ve met people who I wouldn’t have otherwise because we came together over our love of food. I’m driven to learn more and be better at this thing, and I’m gonna keep reaching for the stars. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to quit my job and travel the world to eat pizza. Crazier things have happened, right?
Anyway, I want to wrap this up with saying thanks to everyone who has supported this little venture along the way: My boyfriend and friends who put up with me needing to fit pizza dinners into vacations, and the amount of pizza I eat in general. My family for fostering this love of pizza in the first place when I was growing up. All of my followers from all over the world who love pizza as much as I do and share their favorites with me. The restaurants and companies who’ve collaborated with me based on the fact that I love pizza and have this digital community who does too. And lastly, everyone who’s given me advice and taught me how to navigate this world along the way.
I didn’t go to school for marketing and have been learning as I go. Hopefully sharing my experience will help somebody else who’s in my shoes. Cheers to this crazy ride, and what could happen in the next 3 years. (Thanks again for the bubbly, Drizly.) Watch out world, Pizza Blonde is coming for ya!