Recently I keep getting asked how I have gained so many followers on Instagram as well as what I do to get companies to send me free stuff and even pay me to post photos of their products. Well today I am going to spill the beans on what I did! In 6 months I was able to gain over 12000, yes 12 THOUSAND, real life Instagram followers. No I am not trying to sell you some course or ask you to buy anything. Everything you need to know will be in this blog post! Everything I have learn about Instagram will be right here. From when to post to how to get free sh*t. I’ve read a lot of articles that say they will tell you how to gain X amount of followers in so and so time and they glaze over the facts that every body already knows but I plan on going into detail about as much as I can about every Instagram related topic I can think of. Here is an index to make it easier for you to navigate but I suggest reading the entire thing!
- Deciding you who are on Instagram
- Discovering who your audience is
- Themes (yes we do need to talk about this)
- Creating Content
- Figuring out what time to post
- How To Get Free Sh*t On Instagram
- The ultimate secret to getting Instagram followers
Deciding who you are on Instagram
Why are you on Instagram? This is the first question you need to answer before we go any farther. I am a fashion blogger and Instagram is the best platform to share visual content (ie selfies lol). So why are you on Instagram? Whether its to promote your own business, blog or just to try and get Insta-famous and have companies fighting over you to sponsor their products you still need to narrow down your why. Your why will help you decide on the next most important topic. Take the time to figure out why you want to use Instagram and if its the best platform for you.
Discovering Who Your Audience Is On Instagram
Before we worry about getting you followers you need to know a few things; who is your audience and what is your niche. Are you a travel photographer aimed at young solo travelers or families traveling with young children? A fashion blogger for older women or little girls? Decided not only what you will be doing but who you are doing it for. My Instagram is all about fashion and aimed at young girls and women looking to embrace life. I share not only my style but inspirational quotes in my captions to help motivate and inspire people. Choosing your audience and your niche is very, very important as it will hep give you direction and you will be able to skip the phase of not knowing what to post.
Having a defined niche may seem like it might make it harder for you to produce content or work with companies. But what it actually does is help you. Whatever niche you choose needs to be something you can claim to be an expert in. People that are experts are so because they focused in on 1 or a very select few subjects and studied them until they knew as much as they possibly could. The same thing goes for you. I have been doing fashion related things my entire life and can claim I am an expert in fashion, style and trends because not only do I actually know about it I portray myself on Instagram like I do. Even if you’re not an expert yet that’s okay. As you work on your niche and learn more about it you will be. Choose something you are passionate and excited about.
Yes, themes. The bane of everyone’s Instagram existence. A concept easy to grasp but yet so hard to implement. I was very reluctant to commit to a theme as I, like many others, get over things rather quickly. Themes become boring and you want to change it up BUT WAIT! Look at your favorite Instagram Influencers, chances are they have a very clear theme. The most successful people on Instagram have themes, so you probably should too. The trick to choosing an Instagram theme is to pick something that’s easy for you. I take all my pictures in the same location, which ties all my photos together. A theme can be a photo filter, an editing style, or even the angle a photo is taken at. It can literally be almost anything but the trick is when someone looks at your feed they should be able to tell right away what your theme is. It’s a tricky beast I know. This is something that took me a long time to figure out how to master and to be honest I probably took the easy way out. Think about what you want to share on Instagram and try and find a cleaver way to connect it together.
Creating Beautiful Content for Instagram
Your content is going to be the most important aspect of becoming a successful Instagram Influencer. Your content is your core and it needs to be amazing, but don’t go spending thousands of dollars on a new camera just yet! After you have decided who your audience is and what your niche is, start doing some research. I have a second account that I use solely for research. I follow brands and people in my niche or ones that are very similar and look at what they are doing. Ask yourself, what makes this person successful? Do they have an intriguing feed? What is their theme? What are their followers commenting and what kind of photos are they posting? Take some time to figure out what they are doing right (and wrong) so you can use these to your advantage.
So now that you have chosen a topic it time to create the content! The type is up to you. I focus on fashion so my content revolves around personal style. Most of my content is pictures of myself in different outfits sharing where I purchased them from. Having a topic will help narrow down what kind of content you should be posting. You wont ever see me post a picture of golf clubs since that is not my niche. It is easy to diverge from your original focus. As over-sharers we tend to want to put every aspect of ourselves online but you must resist. No one cares what you ate for lunch if your Instagram is about jet planes. Yes you can deviate from your main content a little but what ever you post should still be relevant to your purpose in some clear way.
Before you start a very smart thing to do would be to build up a collection of content. This was something I wish I would of done before I started. Running out of good content to post on Instagram is a common occurrence that happens more frequently than I would like to admit. The best way to fix this is to have a library set aside of content that you can publish in times when creating new content is hard to come by.
Because I know you will want to know all the equipment I use to take photos for Instagram.
The Best Time To Post Instagram Photos
So you discovered your niche and have beautiful content to share but when do you post it? There is no correct answer. The best way to figure out is to do some test. In general the best time to post is in the morning before school/work, during lunch and before bed. After many a trial and error I discovered my best times are 8am, 2pm and 10pm. I still play around with posting other times and depending on your location it might be totally different. This is the one thing that there is no full proof way to know before you try. A good way to find times to post are to keep a note of when popular people in your niche post and see if there is and consistency among them. If they all post around 4pm try it out and see if it works for you too.
How To Get Free Sh*t On Instagram
So we have come to the best part of the post, or second best depending on your “why”. You want to know how to get free stuff from companies on Instagram. If you have completed all the steps above chances are a companies have already contacted you. Some things not to be overlook though: be sure your bio makes it clear what your niche is. Under your name should be your niche in a few words. Also make sure to include an email address and make sure its semi-professional. No one wants to email [email protected] about doing business. [email protected] is perfectly fine though.
Another thing many new Instagram influencers over look is the need for a media kit and to send professional emails. This person/company is looking to “hire” you. Remember whether they are giving it to your for free or paying you, you represent your brand and your brand is your business. A media kit portrays a certain level of professionalism, that even if you don’t have a large following, will make you look better in the eyes of the company. Also remember to take the time to get up to date stats to share with companies that reach out to you. InfluencerDB is a great place to start. PeopleMap is great too!
To be honest you can get many small companies on Instagram to send you free stuff my just sending an email asking for it and agreeing to post about it on your Instagram. Yes some companies will ignore you but some won’t . Take the time to follow, like and comment on the feed of any company you are interested in. I have been doing this more and more often and it seems like they end up contacting me before I even get the chance to reach out to them. Establishing a connection beforehand makes you seem more genuine and less like one of the many spammy Instagrammers trying to get free shit.
The Ultimate Secret to Getting Instagram Followers
Okay so now what every one has been waiting for… the ultimate secret to getting Instagram followers. I hope you have all read this entire post because if not this secret will be wasted on you and you’ll come back complaining that it did not work. If you haven’t taken the time to define who you are and why you’re here then the next task is impossible. Follow these easy steps to gaining an insane amount of ENGAGED Instagram followers:
- Find at least 5 Instagrammers with large followings that are very, very, very, very similar to you
They should be in the same niche and post the same kind of content as you. If they look like you that’s a plus, I am not kidding either (this is only relevant if your photos are of you lol).
- Engage with the followers of said 5 people
I target the followers of black, female, fashion bloggers with natural hair whose style is very similar to mine. Unlike a regular business, Instagram users don’t have to pick one over the other. If they like someone who post content similar to yours chances are they will like you too. They don’t have to unfollow them to follow you.
That’s seriously it. Feel free to find more similar accounts to add to your list!
I know on Instagram we love to target people using certain hashtags but the thing is most people that use Instagram aren’t doing it for a business or purpose. They are posting pictures of their cats and school lunches. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what you do they just don’t post about it. I think the old way of searching hashtags is time consuming and most people using the #fashionblogger are fashion bloggers but there aren’t a million of them that are going to follow me and I am trying to become Inst-famous here! Sarah down the street or across the world post pictures of her bff’s but she follows (insert famous Instagrammer in your niche here) so chances are she will think you great too! I think doing it this ways gets us a lot of followers we might otherwise not engage with.
If you read my entire post you won’t have to worry about your engagement lowering because your feed is freaking awesome and you know for a fact (or at least pretty sure) the people you are reaching out to have some interest in your content. This is what I have been doing for the past 6 months and its been working very well for me so give it a try.
So lets do a recap and leave a comment answering the following questions:
- Why are you on Instagram?
- Who is your audience and what is your niche?
- Do you have extra content for when making new content gets tough?
- What are the best times to post for you?
- Can you think of 5 big Instagrammers in you niche?
I hope I answered all the questions I have received but feel free to ask me any Instagram questions in the comments!