So I can’t believe that I am writing this now a year on from taking my Instagram seriously with over 7K followers. When I first started my account properly I took my just over 1500 followers on my journey and grew my account. Thanks to any of those OG’s which have stuck around and thanks to all the new followers I’ve picked up along the way. So this blog post I guess is just a post to talk about my journey this last year and some of the tips I have picked up along the way. So many of you have asked me specific questions around my growth and I will make sure to answer some of them in this one blog post. I do just want to say from the beginning I by no means now think I am an expert in this, god knows Instagram changes its game every day but I do know that what I have been doing and have learnt to do, has worked for me.
In this last year of blogging I have done so many incredible things that I never thought this account would allow me to do. I have made some really good friends Ruby (Rubyofmyeye), Emily (Emilyclareskinner)and so many more. I have had the opportunity to attend opening events at restaurants, bars, and cinema complexes, I have also had the opportunity to work with some incredible brands such as Boux Avenue, Isawitfirst, Pixi and Dermalogica just to name a few. But all of this would not have been possible if I hadn’t of bit the bullet and just started! Anyway I am sure you guys are all dying to hear about what tips I’ve got on growth and engagement so I will get right to it.
My first tip that I can’t stress enough is engagement, Instagram is a community, you can’t expect support from others if you don’t support their page as well. There are so many lovely people in the blogging community and not taking the time to engage with their content is a mistake! Instagram is a social media app, key word in this is social, in order to grow your account it is so important to be social with other people on the app. Engaging with other people on the app can not only help your engagement and growth but it could also lead to building friendships with other bloggers which is invaluable. So your thinking okay I do engage with people that I follow but what else do I need to help me grow, well unfortunately its not as easy as just engaging with people you follow its important to engage with people who follow you to keep them engaged in your content so they don’t unfollow and also engaging with people who could be potential followers. What I mean by potential followers are people who follow people similar to you in your niche or post similar to you, the best way to do this I have found is to use certain hashtags that you already use on my own images and engage with people on them because they will have similar feeds to mine or be in the same niche.
How long do I have to engage for?
Have you ever heard of the term what you put in is what you get out, this is something I feel really sums it up, if you don’t put much effort into engaging with other people then people aren’t going to do the same back to you. Since lockdown I have had more free time to spend engaging with others and building relationships with other bloggers which has helped my page to grow to where it is. I am going to be honest with you on how much time I spend engaging and you are going to be shocked, so I actually probably spend at least 3-4 hours a day engaging with others, some days it may be less and some days a lot more. I always make sure to engage for at least 1 hour a day in the ‘prime time’ that my insights tell me. Now I know what your thinking, where the hell do you find the time to do that and not look unsociable sat on your phone! Well since lockdown I have not been working and my uni work is pretty much done so I have had a lot of time on my hands to sit and engage. Will this last when I start my job no way!! That is why I am making the most of the time in this isolation to grow as much as I can. But I think even if you can manage just 1 hour a day at the prime time for your audience you will see an increase.
What is prime time?
If you have a business page on Instagram it is really important to learn what it all your insights mean. So I work out my prime time by going on to my insights and looking at the audience section, at the bottom it lists times in a bar chart, this is where you can see when your followers are most active, this is your prime time.
How to find a niche
So niche is the area in which you blog about, so mine is fashion mixed with lifestyle. There are so many niches out there but in order for your account to grow you need to pick a niche for your account and stick with it. People follow you for your content and if they can’t see what type of content your page creates why will they stay? I noticed the importance of this when I went on holiday to Bali, I was surprised to see a decrease in my following during my holiday. It wasn’t until I got home from holiday and went back to posting fashion that I realised people follow me for fashion so may not have been as interested in my holiday photos. So I guess to answer this question you find a niche by picking something that you enjoy posting about and something that you yourself like seeing on Instagram.
What’s different now from when you first started blogging?
For me I seen a massive influx in followers since my first real shoot with another blogger, this is the date I kind of use as the date I started blogging properly. So what changed ? Well I got myself a real camera, this was the first big step into taking my account more seriously, I loved following other bloggers who did street style shots and I knew my Iphone 6 was just not going to cut it anymore. So I saved for a month and bought my camera which I still am using now from Amazon, it has been the best investment I have done for Instagram and it only cost me £250. What else has changed, I started to shoot outside on actual streets rather than in my garden or in my room, I started creating content like the content I loved from other bloggers in my niche. When I started upping my content game I saw an increase in my growth on Instagram. Now I am still always trying to up my game and have found it difficult shooting back at home again but its been fun trying to use the space I have to create content for my page. Another thing that’s different now from when I started, my brand collabs, we’ve all done it we all used to accept pretty much any collab we could get when we first started because you just couldn’t believe a brand would want to work with you, well it’s all changed now, I actually turn down way more than I do post because I don’t want to collab with a brand just to have another collab.
Do hashtags work?
This answer is difficult to answer for me I am in two minds whether it does or not after a recent post of mine had a reach of 0 from hashtags and got over 700 likes yet a photo with a hashtag reach of 2,000 only got 500 likes. I always use hashtags just incase they do work but I am not sure of their real impact some times as I am not sure its what finds me new followers. That being said I search hashtags which is how I engage with other people. However, if you are just starting out I highly recommend looking at other bloggers personal hashtags for example mine is #laurensjewells as this is a great way to find new people and for people to find you.
My last few tips are consistency, this doesn’t mean you have to post every day but I do recommend you post as frequently as you can, the more frequent you can post the easier it is to grow. That being said, don’t just post something that you aren’t proud of just to have a post that day. Consistency in what you are posting is also key to growth, I have found that when I posted out of my niche on Instagram I actually lost followers, why, well because that was not the content they followed me for.
Following trends, be sure to keep an eye on what is currently trending in your niche whether that’s a cloud coffee or a pillow challenge be sure to create some content geared around this. By jumping on a trend you can use the relevant hashtags giving yourself a greater chance of having your content pushed out to a greater audience.
I think its important to remember this didn’t happen over night. In August I was on the cusp of 4K when all my growth slowed right down, I stayed stuck on 3990 for nearly 2 months. This is where I got to the point with Instagram that I thought I don’t know if I want to do it anymore. I was putting in so much effort to create content and it wasn’t paying off like I wanted it to. My photos were having such a poor reach that no one was engaging, every day I was waking up to people unfollowing. So I took a break, well my version of a break, I started posting what I wanted, no matter if it was Iphone quality or camera quality. I wouldn’t say this helped my page in anyway but it helped me stop fretting over follower count. So if you are reading this worrying that you’ve been stuck at the same number for so long don’t worry we have all been there!!
On a final note, my DM’s are always open if you do have ay questions, as said at the start I am not an expert in this and don’t think I’ve mastered Instagram but I think it is important to share what is helping me at the moment as it may help some of you guys! Please do let me know if you see any difference in your accounts after using these tips!