One of my highest performing blog posts was written about a year ago. The topic? How to grow your following. And I think it still remains one of those things that we all want to know the ‘secret’ to. So whilst I don’t have the ultimate wonder formula (anyone?!) what I do have is an updated version of what has worked for me over the past two years. And if anyone has any of their own tips I’d love to hear!
Fresh, Engaging, and Consistent Content
I’ll start with what in my eyes is the most important part of growing an Instagram following. Posting fresh, engaging, and consistent content. Easier said than done though, as this can be a real toughie. And it has been for me. How can we think of new ideas that people are going to relate to and want to read? How can we make our pictures stand out from the millions of others on Instagram? Here, I’d advise finding your ‘niche.’ What do YOU want to talk about? What do YOU want to take pictures of? What issues and topics are important to YOU? Keeping a little journal for as and when ideas pop into your head can be a good move. Naturally, it’s still difficult. Ideas don’t always come a’poppin’- no matter how much you need them to. Writers block is definitely a real thing. As is managing to shoot that creative flat lay. When I’m stuck (which is regularly) I’ll trawl Pinterest for Instagram inspo, and flip through Blogosphere magazine- a mag specially curated for bloggers. This can be really, really interesting when it comes down to it. I’ve gained endless blog topic inspo from this mag, and have learnt a lot along the way, so I’d really recommend it if you’re an aspiring blogger or just looking to get your mojo back. Speaking of mojo (or lack thereof) I definitely lost mine around about Christmas time. I wasn’t feeling it, so I didn’t post so much. There’s nothing wrong with this on a personal level. If you need time out, take time out. But don’t be surprised if you lose a few followers along the way. The key to obtaining and maintaining followers is to post regularily. If I’m not posting anything then I should expect to lose a few followers. And that’s fine. But it’s definitely something to be aware of. Take a few days out, certainly, but if growing your Insta is high on your to-do list then think twice about going off the radar for a week.
Use Other Bloggers as Inspo. But Don’t Copy
Feeding in to the above point regarding the creation of great content, don’t be afraid to look to other Instagrammers photography styles or blog posts to inspire you. Bloggers I enjoy include South Molton St Style, Fashion Slave, and What’s In her Wardrobe, all of whom who are great, engaging writers who endlessly leave me thinking, “Arrghhh. I wish I had written that!” And that’s how I know they’re doing something right. From reading their posts, I realise what sparks an interest in me, and I can go on and write my own piece. Being inspired, and copying, are of course very different things. Copying is a big no no. If you think you’re likely to be influenced by someones post and unintentionally copy, it’s maybe worth while reading a whole selection of blogs on the topic you’re considering. Then you can get a broader set of opinions, before you create your own. Consider it research. Like anything, you aren’t going to go in unprepared, right? And if you’ve been inspired by someone elses post it’s also polite to credit them, or mention their post within yours- so long as your put your own fandabbydozie spin on things. To summarise, research the posts that spark a reaction in you, then put your own unique spin on it and voice your own options. Same kind of idea with Instagram photography.
I rabbit on about this one so much, but I can’t emphasise it’s importance. At it’s most basic, selfish level, engaging with other peoples posts is such a great way to generate traffic back to your own feed. And that’s just from the business minded side of things. Better though, is the fact it’s a great way to make genuine friendships. I know I really appreciate it when someone has gone out of their way to compliment me on post they like, so I like to do the same with something I like of theirs. The absolute best part of blogging and Instagramming is the friends you make. The friends who just ‘get it’. They get why I post pics of myself flat out (spoiler alert it’s not cause I love myself) and they get why I choose to live my life sporting a flower filled wicker basket whilst looking for the most floral brunch spots going. To clarify, that’s an exaggeration (you never know these days!) But yep, the laughs we get are priceless and if we can make friendships whilst helping our pages grow then I am most definitely all for it.
Be Stat Savvy
We’re lucky to have a whole array of stats at our disposal, and it’s so important to make use of these. On Instagram we can gain insight into such things as the best time to post to how many people have viewed your page that week. Have a look on Social Blade. When did your followers spike? What did you post that day that warranted such a growth? I think this is a great basis for beginning to ask these questions about what changes you can undertake to get the most out of your blog. What did I do differently this week? What kind of post got the best reaction today? If we’re constantly checking the stats, we’re constantly building our brand by giving our followers what they want, when they want. And just like that, you’ll notice growth.
Keep Things Professh’
It feels obvious, but I think it’s something that needs to be reiterated to us all. Don’t post any old thing. Think about what you’re posting. If you’d love to work with a certain brand at some point down the line, keep in mind that your photos should be thought out to a certain extent at least. And don’t feel you need a camera- I have one, but my iPhone is just as good. I use Facetune to up the whiteness of backgrounds and to tinker with different aspects of my photography to make them stand out. Overall, I try and keep a slight ‘theme’ to my Instagram account. This is as basic as not posting two outfit shots side by side, making sure to break my feed up in a more visually beautiful way. The app snug is really great for seeing how your feed will look, before you actually upload your shot to Instagram. In terms of your actual blog Etsy have some great web designers who do exceptional jobs creating a website unique to you- check out Riss Design who did mine for me. (I do love it, but I feel like I’ve outgrown it a little and am looking to update so any advice please and thanks?!) Alternatively, Pip Dig have a great selection of easily installable themes for both Blogger and WordPress. Finally, I’m not the best speller, but I make the effort to check my work is grammatically correct. Obvs some things will slip through the net, but get someone to proof read your work.
We all know the old quote. Manners cost nothing. And it still applies to absolutely everything. I endeavour to thank everyone who has gone out of their way to comment on a post. I always reply to emails and direct messages (even if they can be a bit late!) but I think this is a great (and basic way) to build fantastic relations with everyone who is involved in the growth of your blog. A thank-you takes a second, but the impact lasts much longer.
And One Final Point…
Don’t beat yourself up about how many followers you have. We shouldn’t feel inferior to those who seem to be powering ahead of us. Comparison is the thief of joy, and all that. Everyone grows at their own rate- and that’s OK. Plus there’s obviously more important things in life. But there is a silver lining for the blogger with the smaller following. More often than not, brands are looking at the micro influencer to sell their product. And due to this, the pressure to buy ‘bot’ followers is (largely) gone, and rightly so. Either way, someone who has a 1k strong, engaged and interested following is so much more valuable than someone with a weak 150k following. If you continue to engage with your followers, your page will grow in a genuine, organic way, ultimately allowing you to reap the benefits. So let your growth be slow, but let it be sure. It’ll take a while, but you will get there and it will be worth it.