Instagram is a visual platform, and Julio Freitas, founder of the Bozeman, Mont.-based design studio and flower farm The Flower Hat uses it as such. But judging by the captions he includes with his images — news about his workshops, road trips he’s taken, what Dahlia are blooming in his fields — he is also a man who knows the power of words.

“I always write the captions, and I will always create my own content,” Freitas says. “That’s the piece of the business I will never let go of. Because Instagram provides such a direct connection with my customers, I like to be the one reaching out. I’m glad there are content and social-media managers out there to help those who struggle with creating an attracting feed for their businesses. But I will always do my own. And probably spend way too much time on it!”

It’s an approach that’s worked for Freitas, who started using Instagram in 2013 and has organically grown to more than 70,000 followers.

who Julio Freitas, founder of The Flower Hat, a floral design studio and flower farm in Bozeman, Mont.

why we like it What’s not to love about photos of amazing fresh Dahlia bursting with colors – and a few workshop pics and creative captions thrown in for good measure?

front and center A lot of floral designers might hesitate to put themselves in their Instagram posts. Not Freitas – and it pays off. “Over the years, I’ve found that putting myself in front of the camera always get good results. It’s not about being a model, having the perfect clothes or hair. I don’t overthink it. You can go back and see; I’m almost always in a black T-shirt, a flower hat and a bunch of flowers. That’s it. People want to see who is behind the beauty. It’s so easy for us to be the photographers and take photos, but putting yourself in front of the camera, although awkward at first, can pay off!”

laid back While some Instagrammers follow a more rigid posting schedule, Freitas takes a more informal approach. “I see Instagram as a such a casual photo sharing app, I try not to take it too seriously when it comes to post frequency. I post when I have beautiful things to share, and I have noticed that the more frequently I post relevant, beautiful photos, the more my audience engages. If I go a few days without posting, I see an engagement decline on the next post, and it akes a couple posts until I start seeing normal engagement.”

beyond social A social-media platform like Instagram can be great for spreading the word about your business, but at the end of the day, Freitas says there’s always something more important to consider: relationships. “In the world of social media, everything is very volatile. Remember when MySpace was everything? You had to have a page. Now it’s come and gone. Instagram is the same way, and one day, probably sooner than we think, it will be obsolete. I always tell my workshop students: If Instagram went away tomorrow, I’d still have a very healthy wedding/floral business because of the relationships I’ve made in my community over the past decade or so.”

pay to play Freitas has never paid for new followers – “My account has grown organically from day one,” he says – but he has occasionally gone the advertising route on Instagram. “I will sometimes use paid ads to promote an event, such as Dahlia tuber sales, hat sales, etc. I’m not entirely sure they work, but I do see higher reach numbers in the statistics.”

see for yourself @theflowerhat