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Monday, October 12, 2015

How to Grow Your Instagram Following Quickly and Effectively (Without Buying Followers)

How to increase your instagram following quickly and effectively has been a major topic of discussion recently amongst bloggers. Since I have grown my Instagram from 600 followers to 7K (and growing) in the past couple of months, I thought I should write a little guide on how to gain followers and keep them.

Curating Content

The very first thing you need to do is look at your photos. Yes, everything thinks their photos are fantastic, but take a hard look at them. What is the composition like? How are you editing them? How do they compare to top Instagram users?

The first way you can do this is by figuring out what the theme of your Instagram is. Assuming you're reading this from the perspective a blogger or business owner, this means that your content needs to be a representation of your blog and the things you post about. Instagram for bloggers (who want to really up their following) and business people should not be the same as your Facebook feed or an online diary of your daily life. I said this recently to some bloggers who were quite offended by this statement, but it is true if you're serious about growing a following. You aren't going to grow by posting 15 daily selfies, photos of your kids eating cereal or a badly composed picture of your dog sleeping. This doesn't mean you can't post these things, as Instagram is a window into your daily life, but it just means you need to be more pragmatic about what you post.

My top tip is to have three or four themes you photograph most (i.e. fashion, animals, travel, nature, etc.) and include those most often. Of course, you can sneak in other photos here and there, but these are what your followers will expect from you. You also need to think about how your Instagram landing page looks as a whole in addition to how each photograph looks. If you landed on your account out of nowhere, would you want to follow it?

Your Instagram is your calling card and a photographic representation of your business. 

Taking Better Photos

Do you need to tote around a DSLR to snap things everyday? No, though some people do. You don't need to be Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz to up your photo game on Instagram. In fact, most people with large followings are amateur shutterbugs.

In order to up my game, I did take a course at a local college, but you definitely don't have to. This site gives you a whole wealth of information on crafting better photos. The iPhone Photography School also gives you some great information on how to take better photos on your phone.

Editing Photos

Most people with large Instagram followings often have bright photos, though there are some who run a constant theme throughout (i.e. pink or blue undertones). The VSCO app is by far the gold standard for creating the perfect Instagram photo. Sometimes I even use VSCO on the photos on my blog. I typically apply a VSCO filter before applying a second one directly in Instagram. Dana Fox of The Wonder Forest has a fantastic video on how to edit your snaps for success using VSCO.

Add Hashtags

Tag for Likes is a great app that will give you the best hashtags to use for different themes in photos. I have seen my engagement skyrocket just by using this app to find the appropriate hashtags.

Get Social

Some bloggers are afraid to up their follower count, but don't be shy and get out there. People aren't usually going to find your Instagram account out of nowhere, so follow people who follow other bloggers similar to you or businesses similar to yours and interact with their photos. People will more likely engage with you and you'll definitely find some new pals.

Create a Great Bio

You only have limited space to create an Instagram bio, but it should include your location, what photos people should expect and a way to contact you for brand opportunities. If you have room, include a link to something on your blog or a short sentence about you.


Try posting different styles of pictures or at different times of day to find out what your readers connect with the most. Not only that, but it is really fun to figure out your own style!

Get Studious

If you're serious about Instagramming, you can also take courses online from the Insta-greats. Shop around, but the top three I find to be the best include: Helene in Between , Dean Street Society's Instagram with Intention (which offers a FREE webinar with no obligation to continue the course), and Beth G Harper's course. 

Study Big Instagrammers and See What Makes Them Tick

Does this mean copy other Instagrammers? No, absolutely not. Instead, see what works for them and why they have so many followers. Note what kinds of styles they use, the composition of their photos, when they are posting, their frequency, etc.

Some of my favorites include:

Helene in Between 
Josie from Fashion Mumblr
The Freckled Fox
Dean Street Society
Rosie Londoner
Beth G. Harper

Happy snooping! :)

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  1. So awesome that you were able to grow your following so much! I'm working on building mine up now as well!

    1. Yay! Good luck! x

  • Thanks for the tips, I need to start having a theme and have a better look to my overall account

    Nashia | MakeupandBeautyMayhem

  • I love these tips. I'm horrible at hashtags, so using that app will probably benefit me a ton. Plus, I love looking through hashtags to see people's take on the same theme.

    1. I used to hate hashtags and think they were kind of annoying, actually. Now, I get it! ;) x

  • Loved this post!

  • Nicole Lauren BlakeOctober 29, 2015 at 12:51 AM

    Thanks so much for this, these points are really helpful. Just changed my bio a little bit a downloaded the Tag for Likes app!
    My Instagram is if anyone wants to visit it and let me know what they think!

    Nicole |

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