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Instagram has over a billion users, so it should not be that hard to grow and get many followers, right?

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. It does matter on what you think is growing and having many followers. Do you think someone with a million followers is big on Instagram? Can someone with 1000 followers also not be big? And what about someone who has 2000 followers, but also 1000 comments under every post? I think it is an interesting discussion. 

Instagram photo
Photo by Ian Dooley

2860 followers

On the day I am writing this (March 2021), I have exactly 2860 followers on Instagram and have created this Instagram account in 2016. At first, my goal was not at all to gain followers, just to share my adventures. I felt like I was bothering my followers on my personal page with all my travel adventures, I could not stop talking about it!
It is still not my main goal to gain followers, but to meet like-minded people, share my experiences and hopefully one day I can make money with Instagram… 

So do you think 2860 followers is a lot? If not, you might not even want to continue reading. But I have a lot of interaction, had one awesome collaboration and know many of my followers… does that not count? 

In this blog I will share my tips on how to grow!

Photo by a unsplash. Instagram
Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

Small Index

1. Enjoy!

What people can forget is that you have to enjoy what you are doing. If you dont enjoy what you are doing and have to motivate yourself every time you post, people will notice that. 

Would you like to follow people who don´t like what they are doing? 
I am also saying this, just in case you want to grow rapidly.
Maybe it won´t work out, or it´s a multiple years plan. Are you willing to invest so much time and will you still like it if your goals won´t work out like you want within a month, a year? 

I have created my Instagram page in 2016, like I mentioned above. At first I only did it for fun. The last year I would like to grow more, so that I can earn money. But this is definitely not easy, since 2016 I have only had one fun collaboration. The reason I am continuing is because I still enjoy sharing my experiences and talk to like-minded people. 

Jerash Jordan
Dazzling Jordan

2. Why do you want to grow?

Ask yourself the question why you want to grow on Instagram. 
Do you want to sell products? Do you just like it? Would you like to meet many like-minded people? 

For some reasons you don´t need a lot of followers. Do you want to sell products, then you have to find customers.
I also believe engagement sometimes can be more important than having a lot of followers. What if you have 50.000 followers, but only 100 likes and 6 comments? So ask yourself what your goal is and what you need for that. 

Congost de Mont-Rebei, Spain
Congost de Mont-Rebei in Spain!

3. Interaction

Then the third thing that is very important is interaction.

Follow

Follow people who are posting about the same subject as you do. It´s always good to get more ideas and know people in the same field. I am following people who are also crazy about travelling and lately also mostly Dutchies. I am intrigued by how many Dutch people have travel pages! 
I love to see other pages about travelling and get so inspired by all the stories. Do the same with your niche! Do you love architecture, then follow people who also love it!

Respond to comments

Respond to comments you receive under your posts. I think commenting is a good way of getting to know each other. 
I try to add a question to every post I make and when people answer those questions, you have good interaction. 

(Examples: What is your dream destination? Which country are you from and how is… ? What is your opinion about…? )

Barcelona Spain
Barcelona!
Barcelona Spain

Start conversations

Once you start following people and they will follow you back, start conversations with them. Send them a DM and tell them the reason you started following them. Trust me, people will love it! 

I have been doing this lately with all the people who followed me back and have amazing profiles. It takes a lot of time to keep track on all the conversations, so I recommend you to respond twice a day if it is overwhelming. However did I have the most funny conversations like this and also learned a lot!

I have had blogging tips, funny conversations about football, learned more about other cultures, got tips for cheap photography courses, invited some people for the groups I am in and much more. In this way I am really happy I started doing this. 

The other advantage is that you kind of trick Instagram´s algorithm. Instagram is often only showing photos of people you have a lot of engagement with, so if you have conversations, they will see your photos faster! 

Respond to others

Respond/like/save other posts/ respond to stories and be genuine when you respond to others. If you always respond like ´This is a great picture!´  People will start to notice that. 
Be unique and yourself! Often when I respond to others, they will do the same to me. 

I also heard saving pictures is nowadays more important for Instagram. So try to make save worthy pictures and ask your followers to save it.
A sentence I have seen numerous times lately is: `Save this photo for later, whenever you go here and here.´

Groups

Join groups. This is a tricky one, as you mostly have to be invited to join a group. But I recommend you to join a group, because in there interesting things will be discussed and it is a chance to meet like-minded people (p.s. also ask everyone to follow each other, win-win 😉

If you are not getting any invitations, create a group yourself! I noticed there was not a Dutch travel group yet on Instagram. So I invited some people and they all got excited. Right now 40 people are part of it.
They told me about the ´saving photo´ thing for example. 

Are you Dutch and want to join the travel group? Send me a DM on Instagram!

Networking

Meet with people in real life and broaden your network. Ask those people to follow you haha 😉
I have met Karla Tomaselli (My Instagram queen! I was so nervous meeting her!) when I lived in Sevilla. This was so much fun and I still love to follow her on her journey.

In real life people also are more open about their tips and it was so good share experiences with each other. I had never met Karla before, but we were following each other a pretty long time and always commented under each other´s posts. For that reason I felt like I already knew her a little before I met her. 

Unsplash photo
Photo by Thanuj Mathew

4. Content

Profile picture

First things first: take a look at your profile picture. You might not have realized it, but this is basically the very first thing people look at.
Is your profile about fashion, but on your profile picture you only see a book? Do you think people will click on your profile when they see that profile picture. In your pp it should directly be clear what your page is about.

Is your page about cooking, then choose for example for a photo of you with a pan in your hand!
The more interesting it looks… the more people want to look at your page. And if you follow my advice about commenting under other people´s photos, other people might see your comment, which is unique and see a fun profile picture. This is basically all people need to go to your profile. So be seen, be unique!

Biography

Change your biography (the small space on top of your page where you can add something personal). What do you have to offer and why do people have to follow you? 

Add your name to make your profile more personal. Here you of course also have to add your website. 
Please use some emojis, because this makes your profile more playful. To be honest, people are a bit lazy and won´t read a big piece of text, so make it short, use emojis and hopefully people will scroll down to see your photos. Just like the profile picture, people only need 1 second to decide whether they like it and want to follow you.

Chefchaouen Morocco
Beautiful Chefchaouen in Morocco
Chefchaouen Morocco

Quality

Have good quality of content. Also make sure your content matches. People often only first look at your last few pictures, unfortunately (just under the bio). 

I have written a different blog about some easy apps I use to make sure my content has good quality and to make sure my content matches. 

In addition to that, also make sure your captions are of quality. Don´t only use the standard sentences like Travelling – It leaves your speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. We have all heard about these quotes, so come up with something special. If you don´t have any inspiration at all, then okay!
Try to be personal and unique. Tell a little about yourself, your experiences and why you started with this page. 

 

5. Extra

Statistics

Do you have a business account? If you don´t, know that it is free to use.
If you do, check your statistics. This is how you can find your statistics in the app: Go to your profile, click on the 3 stripes in the right upper corner and tada; your statistics.

Here you can discover many things, including which day and time it is best to post pictures. Quite useful right? I would definitely recommend you to post once a day or every other day, so that followers don´t forget about you and they notice your pattern.

Hashtags

Use relevant hashtags (#) on your posts. So far, I have not heard of the perfect hashtags tric. Yet you should preferably use ´small´ hashtags.

What do I mean with ´small´ hashtags? Well go to your post and act like you want to add a comment, using hashtags. If you add #travel, you might see this is a ´big´ hashtag, over 10 million people have used this before. So you might want to use hashtags with a smaller amount of numbers, that people only have used 1000 times.

Reason for this: if the hashtag is not that often used and people look on it, your photo might pop up faster, then within all those 1 million other photos on the other hashtag. It will be more difficult to stand out. If you do, congrats!

Another thing you can do is create your own hashtag. I have created #aborntraveller and #a_born_traveller, so whenever someone searches for those hashtags, my photos will mostly be visible. I recommend you to do the same! 

The last thing about hashtags is the amount of what you should use. Some say you should use between 13-20 hashtags on your post, some say all 30. I mix it up as I am still not sure what Instagram expects from us. 

Image by Karolina Grabowska

Reels

Lately, using reels has been more important for Instagram. So make use of this tool. I have to admit I have not used it a lot, but practise and use it. It might increase your engagement. How do I know this? By being part of a group 😉

Stories

Next to reels, you also should be active on your stories. People love to see what you are doing all day, we are soap fans 😉 

When you use stories, try to add polls or questions, so people have to respond. Like I have said before, people are a bit lazy. They rather click on a ´yes´ in a poll than writing an answer. This way you are also increasing your engagement.

Don´t buy followers

Please don´t buy followers…
Like I said at the start, you can have a million followers, but if you only have 200 likes on every post and only 5 comments… people will understand it is fake. Do you really want to play that game? 

The last thing I want to tell you again is, have fun! Instagram should be something fun. I hope you enjoy doing it.

I hope these tips will help you. Let me know if you have more tips and if any of these tips were new to you. Also tell me your IG name in a comment and let´s follow each other!

Books and Instagram
Photo by Ella Jardim

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