Ep. 28: Building a Profitable Business on Instagram with Allie Dattilio

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn—guys, there are 100 million different social media platforms we can build our businesses from. And what a time we live in right now that within an instant someone across the neighborhood or even the WORLD can know who we are and what we do.

I’m so excited today because we’re going to talk about Instagram. Instagram happens to be my platform of choice. I love that you get all the visual goodness and not all the extra junk that comes along with some of the other sites. So, I’m particularly excited because today we have Allie Dattilio; oil painter, mixed media artists, and widely known for per signature 24k Gold Leaf Landscapes she created right out of her studio in Hagerstown, MD (literally right down the hall from us!). Guys, these things are insanely gorgeous.

When not in her studio, Allie can be found blowing raspberries into her scrumptious baby’s belly, tending to her family’s’ organic garden, hanging out with her husband Mark, and remodeling their fixer-upper into their forever home.


After graduating from St. Mary’s College in Maryland, Allie stayed local and continued to prioritize her art by working part-time within a gallery while also painting part-time, too.

“I just knew that if I got sucked into kind of corporate world full time, it’d be really hard to get out. So I made the conscious decision—which is difficult ’cause also very competitive and I want to climb that ladder—but I made the decision to find positions that would allow me to work part-time and then paint part-time.”

After moving back to Hagerstown, Allie realized the need to get online in efforts to reach her ideal clients.

“So initially this was right out of college before Instagram was even a thing. I got kind of into the blogging world and tapped into interior design blogs . . . which was kind of my ideal clientele, getting my work out in front of the right people.”

From blogging to Pinterest to now, Instagram, Allie has been able to create a growing and profitable business all from the palm of her hands.

“I think I started an Instagram maybe by around 2013, but I would say I got really intentional and strategic with it about 2015 and that’s where I saw of the biggest momentum and kind of snowball from there.”


You hear it so often: I’m not a salesperson. I could never sell my products on social media. What would I even say? I don’t want to seem snakey or like I just want everyone’s money.

When it comes to attracting ideal clients and creating revenue from social platforms, knowing how to post takes precedence over what you have to offer.

“I don’t want to just sell a product. So, even in my current approach with Instagram, it’s really just sharing my story, sharing my process, sharing my pieces, you know, intentionally getting my audience interested and hooked on the work I’m doing. But then very strategically selling in very specific moments, not all the time. You know, serving my audience, providing them really great content and then selling. But it’s not about just the sales.”


What to sell? When to sell? How to sell? It can seem like an impossible code to crack. The neat thing is—there’s no one or right way to get your business growing. But, there are definitely methods that help.

“It’s all about building that anticipation and sharing that process and getting them to engage and buy into it. So that then in that one moment that I am ready to sell, they’re ready to buy.”

As an expert within an industry, the work put into something can almost go without realization to those viewing from the outside. Through methods such as timelapse videos and behind the scenes content that allows followers to visualize the process, you are able to create work you potential customers can connect to.

“Being an artist, [Instagram] is really the perfect platform because it is so visual. So lapse videos of me working and painting tend to go kind of viral on those and really catch on. I’ll share my process working, detailed shots, also sharing kind of my inspiration in my captions and sharing kind of where my heart is and just creating elements that my potential buyers can connect to and resonate with . . . So it’s really just making it approachable for them.”


Within 10 seconds of scrolling through your grid feed, a person will decide whether or not they are going to hit that beautiful ‘Follow’ button—crazy, right? A lot of people don’t realize just how vital a consistent, branded social media presence can be for their business.

“That the moment someone lands on your page and sees your grid—in that moment, they know who you are, what you’re about, what kind of work you do, and whether or not they want to stick around. They’re going to decide in just this few, few seconds. So I am very intentional.”

From the verbiage within your captions to the look of your images—cohesion is important. You want potential followers (and in time buyers) to very clearly understand what it is you have to offer them and why they should stick around for more.

“I think sometimes people overthink this, but I just try to stay true to myself and to write like I talk. And I think the more honest you are, the more consistent you’ll be. Like, don’t try to be someone you’re not—just be who you are and that’ll come through.”


How many of you are guilty of the ‘ole post and ghost—ya know, those days when you go active for maybe 5 minutes, post what you needed to post, then completely disappear afterward? Hey, guilty over here, too. The thing with social media, however, is that it is your business, meaning in order to get the results you desire—you’ve gotta be willing to show up just as you would for a 9-5. It’s a full-time gig.

“I think people can get a little frustrated when they don’t immediately see that growth. And Instagram’s kind of fighting against you these days with the algorithm. But if you just keep showing up, putting in the work, you will see real results eventually.”


Followers. It seems like one day you can jump up 30+ followers, then the next day drop by 50. Oh, another follow-unfollow person. Oh, another fake account. Oh, I didn’t post for two days and lost 20 followers. Oh, people are following me but none are engaging. What is this game?! *cowers into corner*

I get it, social media can be, well, a bitch. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the more you know about YOU and your business—the easier it all gets.

“A big part is recognizing your ideal clients and where they’re spending their time on Instagram . . . Who is that person and where are they spending their time? Where are they spending their money and what other accounts are they following? So it’s showing up on similar accounts that I know they’re going to also be spending time.”

By truly knowing your ideal clients and remaining authentic as a person/business, you will be able to attract the right, quality followers.


To hashtag or not to hashtag? We say—# (especially when just starting out). Hashtags are a great way to reach more ideal clients within different hashtag-group communities.

“You are allowed up to 30 hashtags on each post in your feed. So I use all 30. I will though post them in as like a second comment separate from my initial caption just so it doesn’t really clutter things up. Um, and then I also, I have sets of hashtags. I have about three or four different groups of 30 hashtags that are relevant to the type of image I’m posting.”

But how do you choose which hashtags to use? How do you stay intentional an ensure those 30 #’s are actually working?

“There’s a website called displaypurposes.com . . . it’s a hashtag generator where you can just put in one topic and then it’ll automatically generate 30 hashtags for you. So that’s a great place to start. From there though, you’re going to want to tailor that down and customize it really more towards you because they’re going to be pretty generic for me. I also avoid any really broad hashtags. So my kind of sweet spot is a hashtag with around 100k posts. Beyond that, I think you get lost and there’s really no purpose to it. If it’s too small, also, it’s probably not something people are searching for. So around 100k posts.”


With the new IG algorithm, it can feel uneasy to merely rely on it to get what you have to say across. That is why Allie is a firm advocate for email marketing.

“I think Instagram has that kind of initial handshake and that introduction, but because of that algorithm, nothing these days is guaranteed . . . So I’m, you know, using Instagram to tell that story and get people hooked. I’m using my audience there and then leveraging that audience to build an email list.”

One of the hardest parts with an Instagram Biz is transforming those followers and engagements into long-lasting buyers and revenue.

“They’ve kind of taken it to that next level saying that I’m not just a fan, but I want to buy. And so by sending that email out, that’s really where I get all of my sales. All of my money is coming from that email list. And again, they probably 9 times out of 10 found me on Instagram. But because of that algorithm, you just can’t depend on it. So taking that to the next level that has been really key and seeing my revenue increase.”

(Tune in to hear which email list platform Allie has been using for years!)


Ok, guys, there are SOOO many more nuggets of information Allie provided for mastering your Instagram and turning it into a profitable business. I mean, I could’ve talked to her all freaking day about this stuff. So to hear more on the world of hashtags, intentional posting, email lists, selling through DM’s, her personal journey, and other strategic methods—tune in to the full episode!


FacebookInstagram | allie.dattilio@gmail.com

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