I mentioned during my Instagram questions yesterday that I would do a blog post elaborating on the the topic of growing your Instagram following. This is a pretty common question among people just starting a blog or wanting to gain more traction with their business account. It is even something I think of myself from time to time. The idea of gaining notice in the saturated world of social media can seem like a daunting task. There are a few methods I have picked up along the way that have helped me, but after nearly four years of doing this I have found there is no simple answer.
WHERE TO START
If you are just starting out, one of the biggest things that helped me at the beginning (and to this day) was continuity. If you think of your work as a brand from early on and come out with crisp clean images that represent your work well, people will notice. I also think it is so important to be showcasing your work outside of Instagram. I am not someone that wants to put all my eggs in one basket and after seeings the changes Instagram has made over the past few years, I would never rely on Instagram only. It is a great platform, but I love my blog. You can only do so much on Instagram, but with my blog I am able to share more images, elaborate on topics, build out shop pages and build better client relationships. The blog is the foundation of everything I do, so if Instagram went away tomorrow I wouldn’t feel like I lost my work.
I started this journey four years ago with zero followers. Once a few friends and my family members started following I was maybe up to 100. From there I was super consistent with my posting. Sometimes two times a day, I tried to have content planned ahead of time in order to take the stress out of finding something to post. I still do this – planning out content or having photos ready to go is key. A lot of fashion bloggers post more “in real life” if they are showcasing their daily outfits which makes a lot of sense. However if you are focusing more on interiors those shots can be a lot harder to take off the cuff and lighting plays a huge role in how everything looks. Have a game plan and figure out what works for you in terms of scheduling, but it helps to post frequently at the beginning. If you disappear for a week at a time, people have a tendency to be on to the next thing.
KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS
I have said this so many times, but I think it is important to reiterate – you don’t have to be good at everything. I have worked with Torrey since very early on because we were starting our businesses around the same time. I love taking and editing photos and am plenty good at it, but I am not a professional photographer. I still shoot a lot of my own stuff, but working with her to shoot a bunch of stuff at once makes my life so much easier and enables me to focus more on day to day work. If you aren’t great at taking photos and you want to establish your brand consider working with a professional or honing your own skills through online courses.
This is specific to those of you interested in building your design centric social media, but really knowing your space is important. If you love light and bright photos, but you live in a dimly lit home with poor natural lighting – chances are you will not be able to achieve that look shooting on your I phone. This would be hard even with the nicest camera if you don’t know what you are doing. If you want to showcase your space and the lighting is less than ideal, maybe switch up your approach to photo editing to avoid blown out photos with the lights on. Or really consider working with a photographer to try and make the most out of your space. I can’t tell you how many times I have come across an account where the styling is beautiful, but the photos are so bad and in turn it makes everything look worse. For me, photos are huge so my best advice is to invest in that. Whether it is your time or the money to work with someone. I spent hours learning how to use a DSLR camera, teaching myself Lightroom and just now four years in, stepped up my camera gear. You can read this post to get more insight into photography and editing.
[Basic color stories are pleasing to the eye. I do this now without even thinking about it, but having continuity though your photos adds interest. I edit my photos so similar to how Torrey edits the ones she takes so there isn’t a super obvious difference between which is which.]
UTILIZE INSTAGRAM STORIES/ ENGAGE
I loved when Instagram stories came around because it enabled me to show more little moments other than just photos. I love sharing my music, my morning routines, product round ups or anything else that gives more insight into my life beyond what a photo can do. If you are comfortable talking into the camera (I hate it, ha!) this is a great space to do that. It allows your followers to get to know you a little better and latch on to your personality, not just the work you create. This is the space where I tend to have more fun and don’t care about being as edited.
I also find engagement to be a crucial component for building out your brand or following. Take the time to respond to comments and answer your DM’s. I will get the same question 20x a day and will still answer every single person who asked. I don’t always get to comments right away, but I do make an active effort to engage with people taking time to follow me. You wouldn’t have any growth if it weren’t for the people who took in interest in what you had to offer. I no longer really care about the number of followers I have because the truth is I don’t find it really matters as much. I have worked with brands when I had 20k followers that I thought I would need 100k plus for them to even notice. Your work and work ethic will speak for itself, so my advice is to focus less on the number and more on what you are bringing to the table and if you are proud of the work you are doing!
SUMBIT YOUR WORK TO OTHER PUBLICATIONS
This is one of the main sources of growth I had early on. I actively submitted photoshoots and work to other sites such as The Everygirl, Glitter Guide, SMP living, Inspired by This – anything I could think of. My first home tour happened about a year in and took me from a few hundred followers to a few thousand overnight. Getting featured on a big website can be super beneficial for getting your foot in the door. The nice thing is they all make it very easy to submit your work for a chance to be featured and you can do it often. I also would tag these sites in my Instagram photos in the hopes that they would re post something of mine. It started to happen quite frequently which is how I ended up getting some of the brand work I still do. It really takes one person – the right place, right time, to notice what you are doing and it can take off from there!
I hope this post was able to give any of you struggling a bit more insight into where to begin or how to move ahead when you are stuck. I will say that in the four years I have been doing this, so much has already changed. I am not sure if I were to begin all over again today what my exact approach would be, but it is never too late to start. Ultimately my best advice is to have fun with it. If you like what you are doing, others will latch on to that. My following is still relatively very small for how long I have been doing this. I have seen people who started around the same time or after far surpass me in terms of followers, but you know what? I really love what I do and I am proud of the work I put out and the community of loyal followers I have built, so it doesn’t bother me. I know it can be stressful if you are trying to build a business out of this, but nothing good happens overnight – it really is such a constant evolution. I am happy to answer any questions you may have from this. There is so much ground to cover, so feel free to DM me or leave a comment if you want to go over anything else. I will also be doing a post soon on how to get into design if you don’t have a background in it, so stay tuned!