But she is also much more than that. The former Chairperson of the UK Sickle Cell Society and Founder/President of ‘Arise Consult’ is a passionate advocate for people with chronic illness. Anne influences many people with her fashion style, travel and lifestyle in general. But sharing content of her everyday life has resulted in her gaining nearly a million Instagram followers. Prior to becoming a social media influencer, Anne had a formidable academic career focused on obtaining an Accounting and Finance Degree as an undergraduate and then attended the prestigious ‘Cass Business School’ in London to complete a further Master’s degree in Investment Management.

Before founding‘Arise Consult’, her career roles included Vice President at New World Capital and Senior Vice-Associate of Marketing at investment bank, Lehman Brothers and Neuberger Berman. Being a mother has changed Anne in many ways, but especially in her views on ‘compassionate’ Fashion for women. She shares her advice to future bloggers and reveals how she became an Instagram influencer.

How did all start

Sabina: Anne, how did you build up the huge following you have on Instagram?

How did all start?

Anne: "I must say it wasn’t an easy start. It was a journey that still continues every day. Firstly, I had an aspiration to be an influencer and role model for family living as well as for people who are challenged by chronic diseases; however, I was not exactly sure how to achieve that goal. I researched multiple platforms and the right platform for me was Instagram. I have now been involved with Instagram for two years and the platform continues to improve in allowing users to post with more sophistication and gain more followers.

I find that I can directly approach anyone in the community and learn from other people’s experiences. A theme that has always permeated my story boards is to promote the awareness of sickle cell disease. As a sickle cell sufferer, I felt obligated to tell positive and uplifting stories that would inspire others to achieve great things in their personal lives. I also found out that this positive approach to life has been embraced by many people living ordinary lives, but who are looking for a ‘new spark’ or who may be facing personal challenges outside of their control.

Building my Instagram following was not something that happened over night. You must post regularly and gradually; through comments and likes, you become to understand what people like and prefer to see posted. Improving on the posting experience is an evolutionary story. Be patient, as success is unlikely to happen quickly".

Interaction with Instagram followers

Sabina: What are your posts all about and how do you interact with your followers?

Anne: "My posts are usually centred around my personal experiences; travelling, beauty, fashion and lifestyle, with an important focus on health. Fashion is almost always a part of my posts and I get to work with my children and family on these aspects. Styles and certain fashion looks become my form of communication, an expression of my femininity, a way to find new statements and rediscover myself.

That is why I love to showcase fashion and beauty aspects. Sharing travel destinations is typically another function of my job description. I am fortunate enough to travel to many places internationally as well as locally across the UK. London itself is a world class destination with so many great photo opportunities. When I am at a location it requires significant schedule and logistics planning so that I can fit in business meetings between getting to photogenic sightseeing locations. Sometimes this can be very difficult to accomplish, and discipline is the key.

"I am also happy to show some details of my family life, specifically woven around those interesting moments I share with my kids, my nieces and nephews and the family’s daily routine. I have found this part of my postings to be very popular. I am sure my followers encounter many of the same challenges I do with having a family, so it is a common bond we share".

Sabina: What is your partnering philosophy with different brands?

Anne: "I am very selective with brands. I usually accept invitations from only a small percentage of the brands that approach me. The first hurdle for a brand that seeks collaboration with me is I must love the product or service. If I don’t hold that passion it will come across to my followers as not very genuine and this will not achieve the marketing results of the product. When I post something which includes a brand, it is because it is the best in the sector. Another key aspect of my personal brand, Anne Welsh, is that I interact with my followers. I work diligently to keep them updated and I personally respond to many of the questions I am asked. This level of interaction is actually a key requirement of the clients that approach me".

Best advice for Instagram bloggers

Sabrina: What is your best advice for people who want to become Instagram fashion or lifestyle bloggers?

Anne: "My best advice for anyone who wants to be a lifestyle or fashion influencer is to be yourself. I think the only way to achieve success is to be original and at the same time be able to translate that originality into your own distinctive brand that companies can see as being useful for their business. My passion for my family, the fact that I suffer with sickle cell disease and where I live have all been instrumental in developing my original offer. I would also follow-up that to say this is a very competitive market and clients are becoming much more savvy in how and at what level they pay Instagram influencers. Using the fashion theme as an example, I consistently showcase my ‘Passion for Fashion’ and prominently display my latest looks on my website and on my Instagram page. You don’t have to have a million-dollar wardrobe, but you have to be thoughtful in what you purchase and research how these pieces can be recycled in unique ways".

Upcoming projects

Sabina: Do you have any special projects coming up?

Anne: "I have a very special project coming up, that is so dear to me. It has been my absolute dream for the last ten years to complete a book that improves the awareness of Sickle Cell Disease. My greatest influence will be to showcase to sufferers that your quality of life can be improved; that there is hope. The book is a memoir of my life, and the daily challenges that I have faced and how I have overcome them to be where I am today. The book will be released June 19 to coincide with the United Nations Sickle Cell Day".

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