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Michelle von Kalben: “Give value”

Give value: A great way to get people interested in your services or products is giving value — for free. I personally published a free eBook called „Beneath the Surface “where I talk about ALL of the possible methods that have helped me to grow an engaged audience on Instagram. Some people didn’t understand why I gave […]

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Give value: A great way to get people interested in your services or products is giving value — for free. I personally published a free eBook called „Beneath the Surface “where I talk about ALL of the possible methods that have helped me to grow an engaged audience on Instagram. Some people didn’t understand why I gave them so much value for free but it is as simple as this: potential customers will get a better overview of what you can offer and therefore they might be more willing to spend money on your products.


As a part of our series about How To Leverage Instagram To Grow Your Business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle von Kalben.

Michelle von Kalben, a female entrepreneur and content creator from Germany, found her passion for photography early on and made the decision to pursue this career full time in 2019. Social media opened up many opportunities, that helped her reach success by doing what she loves and that’s why she founded a digital company teaching thousands worldwide to successfully build their brands through social media and taking their businesses to the next level.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’m happy to chat with you today! Photography and digital art have always been a great passion of mine and I was constantly seeking for ways to make my passion become my full-time job. I didn’t only want to become a local photographer but expand more globally and that’s how I learned to use Instagram as an amazing business tool. It allows you to get your name out there and find potential customers or clients.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I honestly couldn’t pick one specific story since the whole process of making a life-changing decision of building up my dream business is the most exciting thing I have ever done in my life. It required me to learn an endless amount of new skills and taught me so many valuable life lessons. There are constant UP’s and DOWN’s during my career.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I made the decision of building my own online business, I was too scared to embrace my photography and digital art, so I wanted to try out other business models first. I started out in the eCommerce niche trying to sell physical products. In order to learn the most about it within the shortest amount of time, I bought a course that cost me 1500€. Back then I didn’t have a lot of money saved up, so that was a very important decision which turned out to be my biggest mistake so far. I ditched the whole idea right after I had learned everything about it because I realized that I wanted to gain success with it for the wrong reasons: making a lot of money in a short amount of time to prove to people that it is possible to build an online business.

I acted too quickly and wasn’t fully aware of my dreams and goals. Thinking back, it still makes me shiver, but at the end of the day, I’ve learned a really important lesson: listen to your guts, work hard for your dreams, believe in yourself and know your WHY.

Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our discussion. For the benefit of our readers, can you explain why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I am a photographer who always loved to share images on social media. I made the decision to treat my social media accounts as a part of my job. I used all of the knowledge I gained over the past years to grow my account from 0 to over 30K within a few months. It showed me that I know everything that it takes to grow on social media. I started teaching the strategies that I used myself to thousands of people worldwide and the ones who implemented everything I taught, started achieving results after a short amount of time.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

Instagram is a very steady solution, but unfortunately, it takes a lot of patience to grow an active and engaged audience there. TikTok is currently the best platform to go „viral“with, but it definitely requires a very cool way to market, an amazing product and a lot of luck. I would suggest everyone to combine both and see which one makes more sense for your services or products.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share five ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Plan your content wisely: The content you post on Instagram determines what type of people you will attract to your account. As a business, it’s important to not only market your products on the platform, because people will get tired of it pretty quickly.
  2. Give value: A great way to get people interested in your services or products is giving value — for free. I personally published a free eBook called „Beneath the Surface “where I talk about ALL of the possible methods that have helped me to grow an engaged audience on Instagram. Some people didn’t understand why I gave them so much value for free but it is as simple as this: potential customers will get a better overview of what you can offer and therefore they might be more willing to spend money on your products.
  3. Make use of all the features: Use your stories, DAILY. Show your team and some „Behind-The-Scenes “. If you are a personal brand make sure to talk as much in your story as possible, this creates a better connection to your audience. Your followers want to know WHO you are. Besides that, use all of the new features that Instagram releases. I started using Reels immediately when they came out and a lot of my videos went viral because Instagram was pushing them in the beginning.
  4. Don’t care about quantity, care about quality: a lot of influencers, content creators and businesses are trying to grow their audience as much as possible. But what you need to understand is that you can have 1 Mio. followers and make 50.000 dollars a year. But you can have 50.000 followers and make 1 Mio. dollars a year. It is crucial to define your audience and create content based on what interests them. If you only sell in Europe, it won’t help your business to gain hundreds of thousands of followers outside of Europe.
  5. Analyze: without analyzing your data you will never understand what you can improve. Keep an eye on the insights Instagram gives you as a professional account.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As a woman, I know how hard it can sometimes be to be in the creative industry. While there are a lot of appreciative and supportive people out there you will eventually also cross paths with the one’s that title you as „the girl who only stands in front of the camera“or „the girl who only has to look pretty to succeed“. And it couldn’t be further away from the truth. That’s why I want to encourage especially women to show their skills and start a business by doing what they love. There are so many hidden talents out there just because people are too scared for the negative reactions of people.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to chat with Gary Vaynerchuk. There is something really inspiring and motivational about his brutal honesty and I would value his opinion on my goals and strategies a lot, since he has many years of experience and basically started from nothing. He is the best example of what is possible if you are passionate, dedicated and hard-working.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

Thank you too. It was amazing chatting with you!

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