When Christy Laurence was struck by a freak illness that rendered her unable to work, she returned to her first love – drawing and painting – to save her sanity while she was house-bound. Taking to Instagram to share her art, Christy quickly become frustrated that she couldn’t see how her photos would look in her profile before she posted them.
This lead to Christy developing Plann: a planning, scheduling and analytics app that is now used by 60,000 people in 50 countries across the globe and has netted Christy multiple awards including Best Social/Lifestyle App, Summer 2016.
How did Plann evolve from an idea to an app?
It was definitely not a quick process! After the idea had woken me up several times and I finally had the motivation to develop it, I researched a lot about how I might put the idea it into an app format. I spoke to lots of my artist and business friends asking if they had similar problems and I found people were doing all sorts of things! From private Instagram accounts to post first, to snap grids in Photoshop and even Paint! One of the most important things was understanding if this was a solution someone would be willing to pay for. $100,000 is a lot of money to spend on something if it doesn’t create a viable business, so I spent many hours asking questions, and if someone was interested, I asked them to commit their email address so I had enough real evidence that it was going to be worth it.
How did the app get started?
I watched hundreds of hours of YouTube, used up all the space in my phone downloading apps and drew up wireframes for what each screen function would look like. Then to understand how much money it would take I sent the idea off to a bunch of different app agencies around the world. From initial idea to app store, Plann took almost a full year to create and put my credit card severely into the red.
What barriers did you need to overcome to bring Plann to life?
There were three main barriers that I faced. The first was making sure I was still healing and looking after myself in order to grow a business. The second was that I didn’t have any tech experience, so I had to do a lot of learning, a lot of research and ask a lot of questions! When you’re a little naïve you just don’t know what you don’t know, and it took three attempts to build Plann with three different teams who just didn’t get it. And the third barrier was that it cost a lot of money and heartache. Thankfully I found a team who rebuilt the app for the third time and we’ve been working together happily growing a business.
What did you learn about yourself through the process?
I learned that I have a lot more resilience than I thought (so many things can go wrong with tech!), and a huge capacity for learning new things quickly!
What are your top 3 tips for artists and creatives wanting to harness the power of Instagram?
- Posting your work and running isn’t going to sell your work, but making quality relationships with your audience and thinking bigger with strategic partnerships will put you head and shoulders above others.
- Understand how to ‘story-sell’. Take your audience on a journey of your business: people buy from people, so make sure you’re sharing your business journey and values along the way!
- Instagram DMs are one of the best channels for growing a business (they aren’t filtered!) so start by reaching out to someone who has a different business from yours, yet shares the same target audience, and see how you can work together!