I started my Instagram account on a whim. We had been in our new home in CT for about 4 months and I needed a creative outlet. I was unsure if I should just use my personal Instagram account and share design ideas that way. I bounced ideas off of my good friend Rachel and she was SO great to encourage me to use my nestingwithgrace account and get serious. And I did just that. Within the first 6 months I had close to 50k followers then a little over a year I had 100k followers. It was crazy to me and a lot of work, but the type of work that I love and am passionate about, the kind that gets me excited to start the day. It really made me happier and still does. If anything it has become a way of journaling for me that I never imagined. I was recently shopping at my favorite shop and ran into my kids darling babysitter. Her mom was with her and was trying to coax her into asking me “that” question. Her mom said she was being too shy to ask. She finally came out and asked, she wanted to know how and what I did to get so many followers on Instagram. I shared some tips with her and realized that I have been asked that question pretty often. So I thought I would write them down and maybe it will help others if they are trying to pursue their passion on Instagram!
#1- IDENTIFY WHO YOU ARE Decide what kind of account you want to start and come up with an EASY name to remember. It could just be your name and I see many accounts that are just their name. I have a home/design account and wanted to do a name that could also be my blog name. Nesting with Grace came from my daughters middle name, Grace when I started “nesting” and getting our home ready for her arrival. I share more than just home and design. It has naturally turned into a lifestyle Instagram account, very similar to my blog I share what I love and what my family loves.
#2- EMULATE Start following other accounts that are like your account or what you would love your account to grow into. With over 500 million accounts on Instagram there are A LOT of amazing photos out there. I watched those Instagram accounts I loved to see how often they were posting and what was working for them. I noticed that most accounts posted twice a day. I actually just listened to a podcast of someone that has close to 250k followers and she said that she tries to post 8 times a day! She is a food/fashion/lifestyle blogger so it works for her. It wouldn’t work for me. I posted at least twice and still try to.
#3- SHARE THOUGHTFUL PHOTOS I actually use my nice Nikon camera for all of my photos. I transfer all my photos with THIS wireless adaptor that saves me SO much time, it is basically like taking a photo with my iPhone but with my nice camera. I did not at first. I didn’t have a nice camera. But I would edit the photos and try to make sure they all had a similar feel. And there are MANY accounts that use their iPhone and they have a huge following. I do not use any filters on my photos, I have seen some that do and it works for them because they post every photo with that same filter. Instagram is ALL about the pictures and consistency. If a picture you took was crooked STRAIGHTEN it! If you are a home decor blogger don’t share a room that is dirty, but share one that is lived in, there is a difference. If you are not happy with the picture don’t share it! And be thoughtful in the posts you share. I love the accounts that get personal and share more than just a pillow, but that is me. You want your over all feed to tell your story so people hit that FOLLOW button.
#4- PLAY HASHTAGS Hashtags were big for me when I started. Since I am a home and design account I followed Instagram accounts like Pottery Barn, Home Goods, Serena & Lily etc. I used the hashtags they suggest people use for a “repost” typically you can see a companies hashtag on their main Instagram profile page, the page where you hit the “follow” button. Whenever I would post an image with their product in it I would use their hashtag. I typically post hashtags after my main description in a separate comment. I keep a list of hashtags in the notes section on my phone and I copy and paste that over when it applies to a post. Hashtags are important if someone is searching for specific things, I have searched certain hashtags to get ideas on something or to find good accounts to follow. I don’t use them for every photo and I can get kind of lazy about it now, but I know it is what helped to grow my account initially.
#5- TAG PHOTOS I know my account grew because my photos were shared by other Instagram accounts like mine or big companies reposted my image. For instance if I had a rug from Lulu and Georgia I would tap on the rug and tag the company in the photo to say I “took a picture of them.” That way it would alert them when a photo was taken of them and hopefully they would like it and share it. I have to say I get tagged a lot in photo’s by people trying to grow their account, it doesn’t really work that way, the best people to tag is a company that wants to show their actual product in homes.
#6- BE CONSISTENT Post often so your followers don’t forget about you. I see a lot of Instagram accounts that are killing it. And they might not have 100k followers but they have A LOT of interaction and that is what sponsors look for. They want to see people are engaged and really look to you for ideas in your niche’. Also be consistent with the with the type of photos you post. I love to see lifestyle pictures and people living in their homes, so that is what I share and have always shared. You won’t see me post a selfie or me working out, I save that for my personal account, because it is not consistent with my brand. I do take pictures of homes or some family shots, but they are still consistent with my look.
#7- BE BRAVE AND BE NICE There are really no rules with Instagram except to be brave and always nice. You will go as far as the work and effort you put into it. Put yourself out there and there will be others who it relate to. Reply back when people have questions or have a comment. Don’t be afraid to delete the not so nice comments, it is your account. And be nice to other Instagram accounts that you follow- comment and like their photos and share their accounts on your accounts by tagging them in the description and telling your readers to go follow them. It is not cool to just tag them in the photo and not mention their name in your caption or even worse to mention their name at all. Basically make some friends! I have actually met some of my Instagram friends in person and now am happy to call my real life friends.
#8- REACH OUT I had several smart people reach out to me and ask to share each others accounts. Basically I share you and you share me, in a natural way. Typically reach out to people that you really love their account and have a similar number of followers as you. Form a support tribe that you can ask questions or go to if you need some support.
#9- DO MORE OF WHAT WORKS Your account won’t be like anyone else and you should not by any means try to copy. This is a big world and a need for everyone. There will always be someone with something bigger, better, faster, more followers than you, but know one is YOU. It is a helpful tool when you start your account to look at others, but do not compare. Analyze your own account and do more of what gets the most “likes”.
#10- BE A SPONGE I am always trying new things or listening and reading any tips I come across. A few things that DID NOT work for me-
Instagram Pods– where you are in a message group on Instagram with other similar accounts to yours and you notify the group after you post. That way everyone will go and like or comment on your post. I felt like this was a waste of time. I did not see a change when this was done and I honestly don’t want to be on my phone that often.
Giveaways- I was asked to join a couple of groups and put money towards a gift card to giveaway amongst a group of Instagrammers. I NEVER did this and did not like the idea of having to “buy” my followers in a way. I have hosted giveaways for brands that want to giveaway a product. I do charge a fee to do this as I do anytime I host a brand. It takes time and my reach is worth something. That being said I do it as a service to brands. I do not feel that it grows my Instagram account. There was one loop giveaway that DID grow my following and it was a $1000 giveaway to a painting for one of my favorite artists.
Buying followers- I am not sure how this works or what dark ally you go down to buy followers. But you can tell the accounts that have paid for their followers. There is no engagement or loyalty. I do not see the purpose or point in this. Brands are not stupid, they can see a fake.
I am really thankful for all of my followers on Instagram they really jump started my blog and career. I do make money from sponsored posts on Instagram. I will only work with companies that I would personally purchase or support on my own. Believe me I turn down A LOT of opportunities that are not a fit and would feel phony even posting even if the pay is amazing. Leave a question below if I missed anything you have a question on!