Instagram Tips: Getting that First 1K

So, as of a few weeks ago, I have finally hit 1,000 followers on the There She Goes Again Instagram! It’s still small fry stuff compared to other travel instagrammers, but as a newer account, it’s a giant step in the right direction. I wanted to wait a week or so just to make sure the numbers stayed (currently getting close to 1,200 as we speak!), and, well, they have!

I’ve written in different Facebook groups about my Instagram tips, but now I want to put everything in one, cohesive post. It’s going to be a doozy, but I hope you find it helpful. I’ve also divided it up into categories, so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck reading tips you’ve read a trillion times before.

I really started growing @thereshegoesagn in mid-March 2016 when I was around 390 followers, so in 3 months I’ve increased it by almost 800. I take a snapshot to record every two months on my private Instagram so I can see my progress. Everything I’m listing below is exactly what I did to grow.

Let me know if you’ve employed some of these tricks, and if you have any of your own to add!

 

BUILDING YOUR FEED

instagram-tips-feed

my feed

  • Pick a name that makes sense and fits your brand. 

First of all, if you’re reading this you probably want to use Instagram to support your overall business. With that in mind, you need to pick out a relevant Instagram name. Very few people can get away with just using their regular names, and it’s usually because they already had a strong following before Instagram was even a thing.

  • Figure out your niche.

And no, just saying “travel” is your niche is not enough. You need to get much more specific than that. Defining your niche early will help you with creating your feed. Are you luxury or a backpacker? Do you want to appeal to the extroverted traveler or the introverted traveler? Extroverted means high saturation, colors, energy. Introverted means quieter, less saturated colors. Decide before you begin so you’re not backtracking later.

  • Create a clean, concise, and informative profile.

Get to the point of what your account is and what you’ll offer. Also make sure to add in your e-mail and your website in the URL section if you have one. I wouldn’t recommend trying to add more URLs than just the clickable one. Keep in mind, as well, that the bold section can come up in search engines, so be mindful of what you put there.

** GRAMMAR IS STILL IMPORTANT


  • Make your profile PUBLIC.

This should go without saying, but I just came across a bunch of accounts in a follow feed that were all private. I’m frankly not going to follow you if you’re set to private. To me that says your account is just that, private. If I don’t know you personally, why would I follow you then?

 

WHAT TO PUBLISH

awesome example of cohesiveness: @helloemilie

  • ONLY POST HIGH QUALITY PHOTOS.

I know you’re rolling your eyes because most Instagram Tips start with this, and it’s like, “Yeah, okay, whatever. I get it.” However, hear me out. This tip is the cornerstone of your success. It’s the necessary foundation, and yet somehow I keep coming across accounts that do not abide by this rule, and then they wonder why they’re not growing. Your blurry selfie is not business account worthy. Put it on your personal account if you really want to post it. If you ever think about using that blur tool in Instagram, step. away. Your images should be sharp and clear. Also if you’re taking a photo of a horizon and it’s crooked (not artfully but like you couldn’t figure out how to make it even), that just looks sloppy.

It’s worth looking up some photography tips. Rule of thirds is always a good one to start with. Growing your followers organically is not going to happen if your feed is half blurry selfies and half reposted, messy looking quotes. Imagine trying to get an account in your niche’s attention. Okay, so they noticed you. They’ve clicked back to your page and it looks blurry and the photos are bad. Why would you expect them to follow you? Despite it’s name, you should not treat Instagram as instant. It should be used as a sort of portfolio for your work.

**Taking your saturation key all the way up does not a good photo make.

  • Make sure these photos fit your brand.

Taking this a step further, it’s not enough for your photos to be high quality. Make sure they fit your brand and your niche. If you’re trying to promote calm, slow travel, it makes no sense to post a photo of you bungee jumping in bright colors. If you’re an adventure backpacker, don’t show me luxury suites. If you’re all about solo female travel, don’t show me photos of you kissing your partner all the time.

  • Keep your feed cohesive. 

On top of all this, keep your feed cohesive. Don’t jump around in your color palette! Your photos should mesh with each other someway or another so that if someone scrolls through your feed, everything goes with each other. You can do a few things for this:

Stick to a few colors and don’t move away from them (@gypsea_lust or @veerabianca are good examples). Another is to use the same filter settings for each photo (searching “VSCO filters” on Pinterest will help get you started if you’re not sure how to do this exactly). A really advanced one that I still don’t quite understand is to make sure the colors in your photos are all the same tone. A girl in one of my FB groups mentioned this, and @helloemilie is a really good example.

  • Make your captions worth it. Use them to engage your followers.

One of the key components of your Instagram is going to be engagement. One of the ways to get your followers engaged is with your captions. If you post a picture of a sunset and just write “sunset,” then how am I supposed to react to your photo? I’m not going to want to leave a comment. If you change your caption to something like “Saw the most beautiful sunset yesterday. Where’s the best place you’ve seen one?” it makes it much easier for someone to engage. Or you could do something like “Tag someone you’d like to see this sunset with!” You might feel a little silly at first when your comments are low, but trust me this practice will help in the long run.

  • Tag bigger accounts.

Another thing you can do, and I’m still working on, is tagging bigger accounts in your photos! Some don’t care, some use it to repost you, and some may not like it. Try out different tags and see what happens!

GROWING YOUR FOLLOWERS

another example of a lovely feed: @emmakateco. Her brand is whimsy and dreamy, all of these pictures match that.

  • Don’t be stingy with who you follow

Listen, unless you’re posting bikini shots or you already have an established presence outside of Instagram, you’re not going to attract much attention only following 100 people. I’m not saying go and fill up your allotted 7,500 followers all at once, but follow people that match with your niche or whose account you genuinely enjoy. It’s okay if your following is less than your followers for a while, you’re new. But don’t get too caught up in it too much. You can go through and clean that all up further down the line, but as you’re beginning it’s not important. The important part is establishing a presence within your niche and creating a beautiful, reliable account.

  • Utilize your hashtags properly.

This is so important, and I still see new accounts not utilizing them properly. Heck, didn’t utilize them properly until three months ago. The whole point of using hashtags is to reach potential new followers. The way to do this is to a) get into the top posts or b) get reposted on a larger, curated account (be sure to check out our favorites). If you only have 100 followers and get maybe 20-30 likes a picture, you’re never going to get into the top posts of mega-tags like #wanderlust. Research some niche-specific tags and aim to match the number of posts they have with your engagement ratio. You’re much more likely to get into the top posts of a tag with 2,000 posts than 1,000,000.

Curated accounts are also a pretty good account boost if they match your niche. I’ve been reposted a few times and while they haven’t hurt, they haven’t resulted in an influx of followers. However, what they do is help give your brand notice. If you keep getting reposted into different curated accounts, then your niche audience is going to start noticing you. I remember that’s how I found @seoulstateofmind. He kept popping up in curated Korea accounts, and I finally clicked and followed because I liked his content.

Another thing is to focus on local tags as a traveler. Before you head to a new country, see what tags they’re promoting. This will really help give your account a boost, especially if you continue to use them (just using one once isn’t going to do anything).

  • Interact. Interact. Interact. 

Most importantly, interact. Unless you’re a celebrity, no one is going to just care about your account on its own. You can have Mario Testino level photos and the wittiest captions known to man, but no one’s going to just notice your account. You need to interact. Share the love, and you’ll see it come back. Slowly, but surely.

  • Like, Comment, Repeat.

One of the best ways you can interact with potential new followers is to: like + comment. If I’m going through a “find new followers,” spree I’ll straight up go to a bigger account in my niche, look at their followers, and begin scrolling through public accounts that use hashtags. I’ll like a handful of pictures and leave a relevant comment on their most recent or one I really enjoy. Yes, it feels a little spammy, but think about how many times you’ve clicked on an account because they appear in your notifications multiple times in a row. Plus, if you genuinely do like their account, you can follow!

  • Be consistent.

Instagram is also all about consistency. The best bet during growth is to publish once a day. Find a good time for interaction (and this takes time to figure out!) and publish! I set-up my photos in VSCOcam  about six photos in advance. As I said earlier, if you’re taking Instagram seriously as a business portfolio, there’s really nothing “insta” about it. The thing is, if someone checks out your account, and it shows you haven’t posted in a week or even more, then the chances of them hitting that follow button are pretty darn low.

  • Above all, PATIENCE.

Guys, building a following or building anything takes patience. You can’t expect to blow up after posting nine photos. It takes time to build your community. Slow and steady wins the race. Keep doing all the above and soon you’ll see growth. I mean, I started my account May 2015. Until I started taking it seriously and applying the above, I had less than 400 followers (this is March 2016). From March to June, I sat down and seriously looked through tips, Facebook groups, and even watched a webinar or two to figure out the best approach to growing my Instagram.

 

MORE INSTAGRAM TIPS

  • Join Facebook groups that target Instagram. 

If you ignore everything else on this page and just take one tip, this is it. Facebook groups have been crucial on finding tips to growing my account. I first looked into a group I was already in, Girls vs Globe. I then found the following groups:

Instagram Fabulous – This is a pretty good group if you want to get your engagement up in the beginning. They run different threads each day such as following, liking, and commenting. I only ever participated in liking threads. I’ve since left this group after my engagement was up high enough that I didn’t quite need the like threads anymore, but it gave a good boost, especially if a photo didn’t do as well as I’d hoped.

Instagram Master Marketingmind – I really love this group and Alex Tooby’s approach to Instagram (her big success is @menandcoffee). When you sign-up to the group, you can also sign up for her super informative free course.

Instagram Posse – This is a fairly new group I joined, but it’s the most real and business like when it comes to instagram. They also have really effective (and free) activities for growth. Their guides are the most affordable, and I do love that Terri is a travel specific Instagram, which is more relevant to me, personally. If anything their comment pods are worth the join!

I’ve looked at tools and tips from other “Instagram gurus,” but I didn’t find them very useful or worth your time mentioning. I won’t list them here, but if you’re ever curious about if I’ve tried one or not, e-mail me and I’ll let you know my thoughts.

  • Never buy followers or likes.

NEVER DO THIS. Companies are beginning to look at your engagement. Anyone with a credit card can buy 1 million followers. Everyone knows when something smells fake, fake, fake. Don’t do it.

  • Don’t steal images.

This should go without saying, but, yeah, don’t steal images. Ask for permission to repost and always credit. ALWAYS.

  • Remember to treat this as a business. 

Don’t let people unfollowing you hurt your feelings. It’s just business. If you were a sales associate, you know not everyone is going to buy from you. Just let it go and keep pushing out great content.

  • Seriously, use it to connect! 

The best is if you can make friends from Instagram in real life! When I was in Hanoi, I met up with @_lauracollins, and we had such a blast! I messaged her for tips on Instagram and then we decided to meet-up! She also showed me a coffee shop and a restaurant I would have never gone on my own! If you’re really lovin’ an Instagram, find their site and their other accounts or send them a DM!

instagram-tips

That’s it! Those are all the Instagram tips I employed to grow my account to 1K. I’m really excited about this, as it’s a milestone I’ve been wanting to hit.

Now I’m on the road to 2K, 5K, 10K, and more! I’m starting to use different approaches now that I’ve broken 1K, and I’m hoping to start looking more specifically at my engagement and working with businesses in the future.

I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned in later posts! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or need clarification!

9 Comments

  1. December 1, 2016 / 5:55 pm

    These are great tips. You are awesome! Thank you :-)

  2. September 28, 2016 / 6:53 am

    This is so useful, I’m just starting out and trying to use Instagram as my main tool for drawing people in but my head was a jumble of tips. Thank you for this concise list I can follow and make I stay on the right path!

    • September 28, 2016 / 8:25 am

      Hi Frances! I”m so glad you found it helpful :) I was SO overwhelmed when I sat down in March to grow my instagram, and this was all I wish someone had listed for me before I did. Getting to 1K takes such a different strategy than getting to 5k or even now as I’m approaching 10K, but everyone always wants these fast results without realizing that with the speed comes a lot of work and what it means to have an Instagram following. Do e-mail if you ever need more advice and thank you for reading!

    • July 11, 2016 / 8:59 am

      Of course :) Glad they were helpful!

  3. June 21, 2016 / 6:57 pm

    Hello!!! Thank you so much for this post! I am still trying hard to get my half thousand… But I am enjoying my path! :) I adoooore @helloemilie !
    I will put all this in practice, wish me good luck! :)

    • June 21, 2016 / 10:32 pm

      No problem! I hope you find it helpful :) I really found these tips useful as I was growing to 1K. And right? Her photos are such a dream! Good luck!!

  4. Suze - Luxury Columnist
    June 21, 2016 / 10:17 am

    These are really brilliant tips, and I like the idea of using the same hue in each photo. I met SeoulStateofMind’s sister, she’s a British blogger

    • June 21, 2016 / 10:31 pm

      Thanks! Yeah I love the idea, I just need to master my photography abilities to actually be able to do it haha. And I remember reading that! So cool!

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