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8 Steps To Growing Your Instagram Following

Instagram is an incredible asset for photographers and a great place to share your work with the world. This post is designed to help you boost your presence on Instagram and cultivate a strong, meaningful following.

Aerial photo of mountains and rivers with the text '8 steps to growing your instagram following'

The key to all social media is consistency – one post a day is better than none for a week and five in one day. Seeing your photos frequently will help people make a connection with you, which in turn will make them more likely to share your work with their own audience.

Image by Natalie Martin

In the small space above your images you get to define who you are and what you’re about. Don’t waste it with vague or generic phrases that you think people will find inspiring or catchy. Really hone in on your niche and your passions and then link to your strongest online asset, whether that’s your website, your Facebook page or your Etsy store. If one link is really not enough, use Linktree to give yourself a menu of links to the most important pages or sites you want to share.

Image by Ria Mishaal FRPS

Grabbing attention for one image is great, but encouraging people to follow you comes down to the rest of your feed. Consistency is key, particularly if you’re trying to attract clients and followers to a specific genre or niche. Choosing a tone or palette to use throughout your images can really grab attention.

You can choose to use light, airy images or dark, moody ones to add that consistency, or maybe if you love black and white photography, run your whole feed in black and white. Choosing a palette that suits your brand can also help, so each image has that palette and those tones within it.

While it’s tempting to ‘like’ as many photos as possible in the hope people will follow you back won’t lead to anything meaningful in the long run. ‘Likes for likes’ is an empty way to promote yourself. Having 500 followers who genuinely love what you do is way more powerful than 5000 followers who ‘liked you back’ out of courtesy but never check your feed. Search for terms you find interesting and engage with the people whose work you like, give feedback and praise and follow those who you really want to follow. That way you build up an authentic following of like-minded people who value what you do.

Image by Natalie Martin

You can use up to thirty hashtags on each post and the evidence shows that the posts that make use of all? most? hashtags will get the most engagement. You can use sites like Webstagram to see which hashtags currently have the most interactions and pick the ones that work with your brand. You can also create your own hashtag and encourage your followers to interact with your content by using your hashtags on their posts.

As with other social media platforms, reaching out to others for collaborations and joint posts or projects is a fantastic way to give your following a boost. You can increase your following and get your work seen by like-minded audiences who are more likely to follow you with such projects. For example: 1) work on a styled shoot with a makeup artist or stylist with a strong following, who will tag you in the final images; 2) work on a personal photography project with a second photographer where the final images are shared on both profiles.

Image by David F Cooke FRPS EFIAP

If you’re serious about growing your following organically, you can make your life easier by using analytics to evaluate which times of day or types of post work best for you. Tools like Iconosquare help you to evaluate which of your hashtags are gaining the most interaction and which times of day are the best and worst times for engagement with your audience. From this information, you can ensure you’re posting in a smart way, really honing in on the content that is serving you, and finding ways to improve on what actually works for you and your audience.

Image by Sarah Zipell

Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives and often don’t have the time to write and put up three posts a day at consistent times, which is necessary to build a great following. This is where scheduling comes into its own. Apps like Planoly or Later allow you to upload images, write your captions and add hashtags in advance.

The real beauty of apps like Planoly is that they 
allow you to plan the look of your feed. This is because you can upload many images and reorder them to design the look and feel of the overview of your feed. It is great to consider your posts in blocks of 3 (a line in your thumbnail feed) and also in blocks of 9, as that will dominate the view on a smart phone screen.

As previously mentioned, choosing a tone for your images will help give your feed consistency, but what if you would like to post colour as well as black and white images, or you have a variety of subjects to share? Here is where designing your feed will pay off.

Design a pattern to follow, for example posting a quote or a personal picture so that it falls within the middle of a row, and then follow it again every sixth image, so you will have a reoccurring pattern.

Or alternate details and portraits, or portraits and landscapes, and blend colour tones or follow a theme within a block of three – all candle-lit or all autumnal. It will take time to figure this out but the results can be stunning.

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The Creativity Collective’s blog is intended as a community resource exploring creativity, the art of photography and tools for happy and productive living.

It’s written by Ria Mishaal, a professional photographer fascinated by light, love and navigating life as an entrepreneur in the 21st century. Learn more about her and the rest of the TCC team here.

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