When in Seoul Do As the Seoulites Do

I used to associate Seoul with shopping (Myeongdong, baby!). But after having countless visits to the city, I realized there are more to it than just shopping. It is an amazing city filled with mouth-watering (street) food and exciting attractions.  Continue reading “When in Seoul Do As the Seoulites Do”

5 Ways to Organically Grow Your Instagram Following

 

I’m assuming 90% of you who are reading this have an account (or two) on Instagram.

When I first bought my smartphone, Instagram was the first app I downloaded. I loved it then – still loving it now. It’s easy, and I think it is one of the best social media channels I’ve been on. It’s amazing for brands (or influencers) and so much fun for an average Jane (like me!) who wants to share a snippet of their life with the audience.

When I first created my blog’s IG account, I had only 100 followers. But over the past months, my following has increased by 400% and I’m very proud of it. Not a big number per se, but I’m happy with the steady growth.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer or celebrity to grow your Instagram following. These 5 tips work for me and I think they’ll work for you as well.

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FIND A NICHE, AND LIKE PHOTOS IN YOUR NICHE

I mainly share travel and food photos on my Instagram. So I will find people with the same niche and like their photos. I’ll spend some time liking 10 – 15 photos on their IG. Occasionally I’ll drop them some comments and give them a follow. I don’t do this daily, but often enough.

How to find users of the same niche, you may ask? Well, easy, through the hashtags — we’ll get to that later.

CREATE A THEME FOR YOUR ACCOUNT

Once you figure out what your niche is, give the audience something to fall in love with. I find it helpful to have a theme to set my account apart. Filters are your bestfriends, but tread lightly. Instagram’s new update added a number of new filters and controls. But in addition to that you can also download apps like VSCO or Snapseed.

I personally have a preference towards VSCO. My photos were edited with the S2 filter with a few tweaks here and there (saturation, exposure, etc).

Once you’ve settled on a theme, try your best to stick to it. You’ll want audience to be familiar with your account, right?

#HASHTAGS

You don’t have to go crazy with hashtags. Pick hashtags that fit your niche. You can also, if you want, create a unique hashtag  and invite others to use it. This is particularly useful if this hashtag has the specific purpose. You might even be able to build a new community around it.

ENGAGE. ENGAGE. ENGAGE.

Engagement is the key to Instagram — in fact, on all social media channels in general. I didn’t believe it at first, then I decided to give it a try.

When you leave a comment on someone’s IG account, try to leave something genuine. Respond to the comments you receive on your own account. It can be taxing to reply to each one of them – sure. But think of it as something that comes from a potential new follower who loves what they see.

Don’t just follow your favorite celebrities or brands. Instead, follow real people. Be social, make new friends.

STAY CONSISTENT

Post consistently.

You could have the most beautiful theme, or the best quality photos – but it’s easier to lose followers if you don’t post consistently. I’m guilty of not following this tip too; but these days, I try to post at least once a day.

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Whether you’re about to start from scratch or you’re trying to increase a stagnant following, I hope you find these tips useful. If you have other tips on how to grow an Instagram following, feel free to comment below.

While you’re at it, tag your Instagram account below. I’d love to see some new feeds.

 

15 Things You Should Know Before Moving to South Korea

 

I was quite disoriented when I first moved to South Koreaa little depressed, a little homesick. I felt like I was on a different planet altogether.

For the first time, I was hit by culture shock. 

Korea can be a hard place to move if you don’t know what to expect. Getting settle is confusing and the process is very laborious. Many times I found myself thinking “Man, I wish I knew that before I came …” — and I would like to share with you some of those things.

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01. Pack well. Finding larger clothes (or shoes) to buy in Korea is not easy.

This is especially useful if you’re on the larger side. In big cities, sure, you can go to Western-owned stores; but I am not quite sure if it’s the same case at the underground malls. Personally, I haven’t done any shopping there (except for cosmetics) but I did go to one of the malls we have in Daejeon — not much different than other malls elsewhere, only slightly pricier than back home.

02. Koreans will not smile at you as you pass them by.

I did it many times the first month I moved to SoKo. And gave up shortly after. Well, the culture here is different. Don’t take it personally. After a while, I resorted to just a nod or a bow to show respect / say hello. And, Koreans tend to stare at foreigners – especially the ajumma (아줌마) and ajosshi (아저씨). Don’t take that personally either — that’s just how they are.

03. The level of English is appalling.

Google Translate will be your new bestfriend. You will also have to make do with pictures and gestures. Korean alphabet, hangeul (한글), is very easy to learn. It’ll be good if you know some basic phrases — it’ll make life so, so much easier 🙂

04. Korean’s transportation system is fantastic.

I love the transportation system here. Makes it super easy to travel. Buses, trains, subways, taxis — they’re all equally great. And, super punctual, of course. There are transportation apps you could download: my favourites are Seoul Subway (you need, need, need this if you live/visit Seoul) and Daejeon Bus (well, self-explanatory because I live in Daejeon).

05. Koreans don’t wear swimming costume.

… but they will swim in their normal day clothes. They don’t appreciate women showing their shoulders, or wearing clothes with low-cut neckline in public. But, guess what? Super short shorts or miniskirts are appropriate.

06. Internet speed is amazing.

You can pick up wifi signal everywhere. Yes, everywhere. And, it’s free too 🙂

07. There are convenience store everywhere. 

Literally, every 50m from each other. And they all accept payment by credit/debit card for any amount of purchase (I like this, because I don’t like carrying cash) unlike back home where you have to spend a floor amount.

08. Also, millions of cafe. 

Really. I’m not even kidding. There are tons of cafes around — Cats Cafe, Dogs Cafe, Hello Kitty Cafe, etc. — you name it, Korea has it.

09. It is very safe.

You can leave your door unlocked. You can also leave your cellphone on the table while you get up to order food. Nobody’s going to steal it. CCTVs are everywhere. So, you can walk around alone without worrying someone will come and harass you.

10. Your apartment will be small.

The apartment that will be given to you (if you take up a job as an English teacher — your apartment is paid for) will most likely be quite tiny and there will be no separate shower, but instead, a shower head in the middle of the bathroom under which you shower.

11. Foreigners are friendly.

There are a lot of Facebook groups for different cities. It is pretty easy to make friends with other foreigners. In fact, the friends I made so far, are all from various FB groups I became member of.

12. Private karaoke and DVD rooms are very popular.

Known as noraebang (노래방) in Korean — just in case you need to find one. This can be found everywhere. So, get a group of friends together and go sing your hearts out!

13. It is not rude to use your cellphone.

Using your cellphone is not impolite. You can use it during social events, at dinner, etc. — in fact, you can use it anywhere.

14. You can’t do anything without your ARC (foreigners’ resident card).

Without ARC, you will not be able to apply for a phone contract/get a prepaid sim, get a bank account or any other services where government ID is required.

15. You do not wear shoes inside the house. 

You will take them off at the entrance (well, there’s a specific area for shoes) and walk in with your socks/barefoot. Or, in some places there will be “inside shoes” provided.

 

So yeah. There you go. There might be quite a bit of downsides living in SoKo but as a whole, Korea is a lovely place to be. And there are so many things to explore. Take the risk, it will all be just fine 🙂