Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Yesterday marked 1 year since I launched my very own blog Passport&Tanlines, and in this year my Instagram has grown with more than 25.000 followers. When I started taking my Instagram more serious back in May 2017, I had reached around 5000 followers without actually working for it. So I might have had it easy, but the last +25k I’ve worked hard for. A lot of people doesn’t know how much work it really takes, and they think it’s all about “just posting pretty pictures”. But think again. Here’s my tips on how to grow your Instagram.
Start caring about your pictures
When I look back at my first pictures (if you scroll far down on my Instagram you can see them), I can see that I didn’t care that much about them. I thought I did, but compared to now I really didn’t. It was fine with a cute wall in the background or sitting at a little cafe with a glass in my hand. But hey, if you want to stand out that’s just not enough! You can ask yourself this: who does this inspire? The answer is hardly no one. It’s just not inspiring. Granted, it can be ridiculously hard to keep creating amazing content, but you can’t expect to grow if you’re not doing anything about it.
This was pretty much how my Instagram looked like when I started. Do you see what I mean with just posing in front of a wall? Boring! No more, Honey!
Learn how to edit
Good Lord, every time someone asks me for advice with their Instagram or asks why they’re not growing, I take a look at their profile, and I can instantly see why. Most of the time their pictures are not inspiring, and it looks like they don’t care, but a factor that’s just as important is editing.
Editing is like 60% of the whole picture! You have to learn how to edit, otherwise it can be a waste of time anyways! I see so often that people just edit with a basic Instagram filter or a filter from VSCO, that just about every other “fashion/lifestyle” blogger uses. You can have the best pictures in the world but with a bad edit it doesn’t matter. My editing game completely changed when I got Adobe Lightroom for my computer – and my Instagram began to grow so much faster! Here I edit with my own presets, which are basically one-click filters. (Psst! If you want to edit like me, you can buy my presets here!)
The left one is edited with a bad VSCO-filter, the right one with one of my own presets. See what I mean, it does a lot to the picture?
Download a preview app
Now, once you’ve learned to edit, you have to make sure that they all fit into your Instagram feed. I use the “Preview” app, to plan when to post each picture so that they all fit, and makes my feed look better. This is also super important, so that you don’t post the same outfit on top of each other.
In this preview app, I can plan my feed. The ones with an Instagram-icon in the corner are the ones I’ve already posted, and the top 6 are the next ones I’m gonna post (so far). It’s super easy to move them around and rearrange.
This is one of the things that kills me the most. Well, I like engaging and making new friends, but if you want your pictures to do really well, you need to like, comment and all in all engage all the time with other Instagrammers. I tried one time to engage with the first 10 posts every time I opened my Instagram, and my own engagement grew like crazy! But I ended up using so much time every day on Instagram, and I don’t want that. I don’t want to spend too many hours every day on social media, I prefer to enjoy my life and be more present in the moment. But it’s nice to know it works!
Staying on engagement, it helps a lot if you join engagement pods. Now, some bloggers are “so proud that they’ve build up their Instagram without pods”, but don’t think negative of it! I don’t see the pods as help for engagement anymore, but a way to get new friends! Some of the girls I’ve met in the pods, are some of my biggest inspirations, my biggest supporters, and always the first ones I ask for help or tips. We share and learn so much from each other, and I’m so happy that I got to know them. That wouldn’t have happened without the pods, so I can highly recommend them! The main point of engagement pods are that you like and comment on each others pictures, and then sharing your own post afterwards. This way you engage with other Instagrammers, and your post gets likes and comments, boosting your own engagement. How to join the pods differ a lot, and I wish I could be of more assistance on this matter, but I always get invited to join, so I’m not exactly sure on how to find them. The easiest way is probably to ask other Instagrammers if they know of any pods you can join. There’s thousands of them, so I’m sure you’ll find some.
Write captions with a question
A trend amongst all those fashion and lifestyle bloggers is to just write a quote in the caption, and boy am I tired of it. But if you compare their number of comments to an Instagrammer that writes an engaging and personal caption, they’re basically non-existing. Because what are people supposed to comment to another basic quote? I try to always write a question in my caption to “force” people to comment.
Another perfect example of non-inspiring Instagram pictures.. This was shortly before I started my blog, and I just wanted a cute (horizontal) swimsuit and beach photo, which I then edited with a bad VSCO-filter. Watch and learn, kids.
Use Instagram stories
Another way to engage (but this time with your followers) is to use Instagram stories. I try to post at least one story every day. I’ve heard rumours about Instagram monitors your activity with posting, making stories, engaging and so on, and that the more active you are, the more they’ll bump up your content. I don’t know if it’s true, but it can’t hurt.
This is one of the best ways to gain followers. Exchange shoutouts with similar accounts to your own. A shoutout it when you shout out another account in your stories so that your followers will notice the account. Mainly aim to exchange shoutouts with accounts that are reminding of your own account, since their followers will be more likely to follow you.
Use all 30 hashtags
Let me ask you a simple question: how is people going to find your pictures if they don’t follow you? By using hashtags. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve rarely heard about anyone who browses hashtags, but there’s apparently so many people that do! I’ve tried to post with and without the 30 hashtags, and I see a clear difference. I get fewer likes without the hashtags, and more when I use them. It makes sense. I know that you probably think it looks lame, but the alternative is fewer likes and slower growth. So if you’re really serious about growing your Instagram what’s really most important?
Only post vertical pictures
So this was one of the things I really wish I’d known when I started. I thought it was nice to post horizontal pictures, and thought it more “photographer”-like. Then I learned through other bloggers, that if you ever want to get featured, you should only post vertical pictures, or it’s just not going to happen. I think it’s because it allows you to see more of the picture on a phone screen, but till this day I still don’t know, I just never posted a horizontal picture after being told that.
In my early Instagram days I was perfectly happy with horizontal pictures. I love this picture, but now I’m sad that it’s not vertical.
I hope you can use some (or all) of these tips. Some of them are definitely something I would’ve loved to know when I first started. So feel free to share them if you found it useful! Now I hope you’re ready to go create some amazing content – and if you’re in Copenhagen, here’s a guide to the most Instagrammable places in the city.