It’s no lie that back in the day, Instagram used to be a lot easier to grow on. From roughly 2016 onwards, the algorithms and the way Instagram worked changed. I won’t go on too much about this as it is honestly another blog post in itself. But I am sure you are probably aware of this anyway. So despite the fact it seems pretty impossible to grow on Instagram, it is possible, and I hope this blog post shows that. I just want to say also I am so incredibly grateful to have the followers that I do, but I am not an expert in this. This is simply the way that I found the most effective. I seem to get a few questions on this topic, and when asked on my Instagram story you all simply went crazy for the idea of this post. So enjoy!
I was at the end of my first year in university last May, and with a 4 month summer ahead of me I decided it was about time that I really start taking my blog a bit more seriously if I wanted to make something of it. At that point I had been blogging for three years, and had been on Instagram the same amount of time. I had a solid 3200 followers on Instagram however it was pretty stagnant. But I only had myself to blame because I was barely on Instagram. I would literally go on it, post a photos and that was it. I would barely scroll through my feed, never engage with anyone, yet I was disappointed with why I was barely scrapping 100 likes per post and couldn’t gain any followers.
Fast forward a year, I am on 12.6K followers, and my images get between 700-1000 likes per post. I know and want to illiterate *numbers are not important* if you don’t want them to be. And infact, I am a lot better now coming to terms with that then I was this time last year. Obviously, if you want to grow your account then they are a significant factor, however there are other things like quality of content, enjoying the process of creating content to include too.
I had a huge drive and was determined for my blog to become more of a job than a hobby. You shouldn’t get into blogging on Instagramming just for it to be a job, and I will always say that. I quite often get DM’s to my Instagram asking about how I get AD’s, whether people can have PR emails, asking how I started earning. But the simple thing is, I spent three years before hand blogging and Instagramming for nothing. I did it purely because I loved writing, taking photos and exploring this little bit of the internet.
This was just the next step on for me, and it’s not as easy as just simply emailing a brand. I wanted to be quite raw and honest in this post, and say it doesn’t happen over night, and there have been several times where I have had breakdowns about my content. But handwork pays off, and I am sure you guys are just wanting to know how I did it, so here we go.
Now, its okay to just post an image and hope for the best. I did that for years and I look back and cringe. I shouldn’t because at that time I really liked being creative. This point is something I am still working on, but its all part of the creative evolution. To gain people’s attention you have to understand what content you want to post. You need to find a way to edit your images that suits you and will attract the target audience to your page. For me, I started editing my images slightly darker and moodier, and this worked throughout winter. Now, I am taking a more creative spin. I still find myself wondering what the hell am I doing? But the best way to explain it is this…
Moodboard content ideas. Get on Pinterest and save the posts you feel you can create and the ones you like. Save posts on Instagram – this is something I CONSTANTLY do. I am forever saving posts I like on Instagram as not only does it give me inspiration but it helps the reach and insights of your fellow bloggers. When you start doing this you start creating a pattern. You can look at the sting styles you are drawn too and then you know what direction you should take your content in.
There are thousands of presets you can buy out there, and I did that for a while. But the best way I found was to make my own presets, and then I change them for every photo. Some photos I will edit on VSCO with a filter. Some I will just edit on Lightroom. Understanding this process is complex but for me, thats the creative and enjoyable part!
Also, if you have any questions about any parts leave them below or feel free to DM me on instagram!
Like I said above, before May last year I would barely touch my Instagram. I felt so alien to this whole world that was right in front of me. But through engaging, I have discovered a load of new accounts, and a load of new inspiration. Lauren Jewell put it really well in her blog – Instagram is a social media app and its all about community. If you aren’t engaging with other accounts they won’t engage with you, nor will they find your account. It’s a bit like making friends, if you don’t connect and chat with people how will they know your are there?
Engaging on Instagram has become a huge part of my routine and is pretty vital now with the Instagram algorithms. I would recommend at least an hour a day. I know this is to some people quite a lot of time. Sometimes I spend up to 3 hours a day engaging – purely because at the moment I have the time for that. But when I was at uni and working I struggled with finding time to keep up engaging.
I changed my routine, so I got up earlier to allow me to engage at prime time, and then if I had time during a lunch break or on the way home from places I would engage. You don’t have to engage for hours, you simply need to spend as much or little time as you want on it. The more you engage though, the more you will see your engagement on your own posts and followers increase.
Prime Time = the most active hours. These change for everyone, it is basically when your followers are most active. Mine tends to be 8-9AM or 7-9PM in the evening. But the best way to figure this out is to look at your insights.
Engaging might seem quite forward for some people and you might be wondering ‘how the hell do I just start engaging?’. For me this process started with connecting with people in my feed. Leaving a few nice thoughtful comments. Then I started branching out to connecting with people using the same hashtags as me. You get to find more people with similar interests. The more you start following this process, the more comfortable you become. You will find people will return this, and you start making friends! Its lush! But avoid being spammy. Really take thought into your comments and engage meaningfully.
Hashtags are an important part of raising your reach on Instagram (aka how many people view your post). Instagram allows you to use a maximum of 30 hashtags on a post, however I will always suggest between 20-25 because sometimes you can over do it and get a hashtag block. I change my hashtags to match every post. If you repeatedly copy and paste the same hashtags on each post it will be seen as spam and your posts won’t be found on the hashtags.
I do sometimes wonder how the hashtag algorithm truly works. Some posts I will get a reach of 2000 just through hashtags, and sometimes it will just be 99, however my likes are pretty consistent. So I am becoming a bit skeptical, however I’d rather put them and have a change of getting that extra reach, than not.
I think its so easy to be overcoming by the idea of gaining followers and watching numbers go up and down. It can quite easily take away the fun of creating content. Lockdown has been a blessing when it comes to this. Yes, I have more time to engage, but more so time to focus on the content I want to create. If you don’t post images you like then your followers can tell. Its better to see images you want and reflect you rather than images that you think you’ll just post as it follows your theme.
So I think my main pointers are…. Engage for a minimum of one hour (if you can, if not however much you feel is necessary). Put thought and care into making your content and enjoy that process. Remember it doesn’t happen over night – sometimes I will lose nearly 60 followers in a day. I only started seeing results when I was consistent with engaging and posting content.
Please feel free to leave any questions below, I know this was quite a ramble, but hopefully you gained an idea! Let me know if you see any effect to your accounts and leave your accounts below so I can go follow!
You can always have a scroll over on my INSTAGRAM. Or if you wanna tweet me then find me at @EMILYCBEAUTY!
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So useful, great tips xx
Thank you so much!
Love this so much!
Some great tips here Emily! I need to engage a lot more on Instagram and now is the best time to do so with all the time we have! x
Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk
These are fab tips! Thank you so much Emily x
Thats okay! x
Thank you so much for sharing, this was so helpful..
Thank you for reading!
Thank you! I needed to read this!
I’m really trying to find my space on Instagram, but it’s really tough! You’re never quite sure what you should be posting or when, but thanks for sharing 🙂 x
I totally get that! x
Instagram is such a creative platform – I love seeing what content others are coming up with. The one thing that frustrates me about it is the whole follow/unfollow culture – it makes growth even harder than it is already!
I can’t stand it! I see so many people doing it. I can always catch it out because those people often request to follow my private account!
This was an interesting read, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I’ve tried pretty much everything with Instagram, usually just for testing purposes. And I do agree with you, this is the best strategy. Engaging with one’s audience is so important on so many levels and I’ve made real friends on the platform that way. My account grows slowly but surely, and instead of feeling any sort of pressure over it, I love following the number going up (even though it going down for a bit does annoy me every time it happens).
Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog
I FEEL this! My account goes through ups and downs, sometimes I will literally grow like 10 followers a week and I am like excuse me?? But its sometimes out of our hands and the best thing to do is just enjoy and engage!
This was such a good and inspirational read! Congrats on your following and excellent engagement numbers wow. I have always steered away from hashtags and promotion/engagement because my Instagram is personal and never wanted to feel ‘sell out-y/influencer-y’ but I definitely want to build my following and will use these tips x
Thank you so much! And yes they are a must! Its essential to utilise them!
These are some great tips, thank you for sharing! I usually struggle with hashtags as I’m not sure which ones to use for each post, but seeing now that too many is not good I will look through mine more carefully from now on.
Maya x || http://www.voguebymaya.co.uk
Definitely research your hashtags before you post! It will make such a difference, even if its just to be able to engage with more likeminded individuals!
I love these tips. Definitely going to start incorporating them – I know my down fall is the engaging with other bloggers part!
xxx Lauren | http://www.laurencarmen.com
That was mine too!
wonderful tips! Thank you!
Thats okay! Thank you for reading!
Ah this is actually so helpful! I’m in a similar boat at the moment as I have been blogging for so many years out of passion but now want to turn blogging into more than a hobby. I kick myself that I didn’t take advance of how easy it was to grow a following in like 2015! I started a new account over summer for fashion etc and have defo seen that engagement is key! This year it’s something I want to pursue more. x
I am so glad you found this helpful!