Gaining a significant following on Instagram is probably the most important catalyst in a blogger’s career. I’m still in shock that one platform can launch a whole career, but that’s definitely been the case for me. Over the course of a year, I grew from 2,532 followers to 100K. After hitting that 100K number in August of this year, I got bombarded with emails asking how I did it and for advice. To be honest, I’m a little hesitant to be offering up advice since I feel like I’m far from being a pro at it, but I do remember all too well how frustrating it was when I first started out.
Here Are My Top 5 Tips:
- Focus on content first: Instagram is a visual medium so having great photos is essential. I highly recommend investing in a good camera if you’re a blogger, but plenty of my favorite Instagrammers just use their iPhones for Instagram content. I like to do a mix of both. Do what works for you, but make sure your photos are crisp, clear and visually interesting. I think it’s important to create some repetition in the types of photos you post as well. On a typical day, I tend to do a close-up, mirror selfie or #OOTD shot and a full body shot of what’s on my blog that day. Using the same filter or editing apps can also help create a cohesive feed. My favorite apps are Snapseed, Facetune and VSCO.
- Be consistent: Consistency comes in a close second to great content. You want to make sure to stay in front of your audience and remind them that you exist! It’s so easy to get lost on Instagram especially with the algorithm change. I use Iconosquare to map out the best times to post every day.
- Engage with your followers and other bloggers: Early on, this was the only way I saw growth. After all it is called “social” media so you have to socialize! Comment and like other accounts that are similar to yours or those that inspire you. Bigger bloggers might like your photos or comment on yours which in turn could help you gain some of their followers.
- Tag brands and accounts that might repost you: This is such an important tool for growth. When a brand or account with a large following reposts you, you’re essentially getting access to all of their followers. If your photo appeals to their followers, they’ll likely hit the follow button on your account too. I will say it doesn’t happen overnight though. It takes consistent reposts of multiple accounts to see significant growth.
- Utilize Iconosquare: I’m a former stock analyst so I’m all about the analytics. Iconosquare has been so helpful to me in understanding my audience. You can not only view the best times to post, but you can also see your most liked photos and compare your metrics to your peers.
And A Few More Words of Advice:
Don’t buy followers or likes: I’ve seen a lot of talk lately on Instagram about people buying followers and likes – which I guess has been happening in the wake of the algorithm change. Personally, I haven’t noticed people that have been doing it, but I thought I’d throw a word of caution out there. Don’t do it, it’s just not worth it. I’m a firm believer that you can accomplish anything by working hard so instead of taking the seemingly easy route, just put the effort in. Believe me, it is possible! If you buy your way to the top, you won’t feel good about hitting new milestones and you really won’t have learned much along the way. Moreover, your followers might disappear once Instagram catches on and then you’re back to ground zero.
The algorithm change can help you: Yes, you read that right. The algorithm change is not quite as bad as people are making it seem. In fact, I would argue that it has helped me grow. How? Because your followers are more likely to see your posts regardless of the time of day as long you’re posting engaging content. That last part is key here…post engaging content. Of course not everything is going to be a home run, but the algorithm change has really made me be more thoughtful about every photo that I post. I always ask myself what will my followers gain from seeing this photo? Is it a well-styled outfit that will encourage them to rethink the way they mix and match their wardrobe? Or is it a photo of a cup of coffee that will encourage them to…I don’t know….drink coffee? In all seriousness, a photo of a cup of coffee can actually be beautifully styled with glimpses of your jewelry, bag and heels, but my point is that those “filler” photos that people were using so much of to create a pretty feed may not work as well with the algorithm change because they typically get fewer likes which means your next photo may not pop up in as many of your followers’ feeds.
Be true to yourself: This goes without saying, but staying true to yourself is always going to work better in the end. When I first started out on Instagram, I wanted to be a home blogger and basically post photos of myself in pretty midi skirts in suburbia every day (which is so not me). Once I gave up that idea and started dressing like myself again I almost instantly started gaining a following. I really do think your readers/followers can see right through an act. They want to relate to you so just be yourself so they actually have some sense of who you are.
Be patient and kind: Can it be frustrating to see people surpass your growth that haven’t been doing it for as long as you? Sure, but instead of saying “why not me” say “good for you.” Seriously, there is no way organic growth is happening for someone who’s lazy or doesn’t deserve it. To have a well-curated feed with beautiful and engaging photos is more than a full-time job. So be proud of your fellow #girlbosses who are finally seeing their hard work pay off. Some of my favorite bloggers that started when I did have gone on to grow 5x to 10x faster than me and witnessing their growth only inspired me more. Seriously without the Aimee Song’s of the world where would we all be? The more that bloggers grow, the more the business of fashion blogging becomes a sustainable industry that we can all grow in.
Shopbop Yellow Top (wearing an XS) // Kate Spade Leather Jacket (more affordable version here) // Gucci ‘Double G Buckle’ Belt (more sizes here) // Levi’s Jeans (wearing a 24) // Kurt Geiger Leopard Heels (sold out, similar here) // Saint Laurent Sunglasses (similar more affordable version here) // Henri Bendel Lizard Bag