We’ll let you in on a secret: over the past four months, we’ve been using our own Instagram account as a case study. We’ve been testing different things out to see what would garner the results we were looking for: more Instagram followers. And we are pleased to say that we can finally report back. In this post, we are going to share six very simple changes we made which enabled us to gain 10,000 Instagram followers in four months.
With the amount of algorithm changes the platform has been going through over the last twelve months, we felt like we were fishing in the dark when it came to growing our follower count. For most of the time, we had been posting 6 days a week, at a time which meant most of our followers would be awake, and we were growing – slowly. But after reaching our first 10,000 followers on Instagram, we wanted to see if we could develop our own Instagram strategy for our account.
As the below screenshots show, we reached 10,000 Instagram followers on 1st May 2019. At this time, we had been travelling around Australia for exactly a year. In mid-July, we flew back home to the UK, and we had 16,200 followers. By the end of August, we had 18,200 followers, and we reached 20,000 Instagram followers on 10th September 2019. During those four months, we had been travelling full time for only half of that time. This goes to show that travel bloggers do not need to be constantly on the move to run a successful Instagram account!
All we did was make six very easy changes to the way we managed and approached Instagram. These have
Before we begin, let’s get one thing straight. If you want to grow your Instagram account, move away from shady practices like follow for
If you want to check out your own engagement rate, use this calculator. There are loads out there but this is a good place to start to get yourself familiar with your own rating. Anything between 1-3% is considered
The Six Things We Changed to Gain 10,000 Instagram Followers in Four Months
1: We Posted Every Single Day
Before, we would post Sunday-Friday and skip Saturdays. According to our follower stats, Saturday was our quietest time. We felt that we didn’t want to ‘waste’ a photo if no one was going to be online to see it. However, as soon as we started posting a photo on our Instagram every single day, we started to regularly gain 100 followers daily.
Lightbulb moment: Instagram WANTS you to be using the app as much as possible. If you post seven days a week, there is a higher chance that your account will be more ‘favoured’ by the powers that be when it comes to the Instagram algorithm. If you post on the app, spend time engaging with others (more on this later), and generally increase your use of Instagram, then you stand a bigger chance of being seen, and getting more followers. Therefore, posting more regularly is one of the best ways to accelerate your Instagram growth.
2: We Spent More Time Editing Each Photo
We have always edited our photos using a mixture of Lightroom and Photoshop. We use a collection of our own presets, and to begin with that was enough for us. Then, as we watched more online tutorials and spent more time trawling through Instagram itself for inspiration, we started to utilise the more complex tools Lightroom and Photoshop have to offer.
For example, we found that when we used the brush and the gradient tools in Lightroom, our photos gained more engagement. We also found that images we had edited in Photoshop, from simple outfit colour changes to more creative edits like the one below garnered more attention too. Eventually, we were giving more time and love towards the edit of every photo we posted to Instagram.
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There’s a whole world out there for you to explore, why rush it? Slow travel is how we have always wanted to see the world, but we never knew what the term even meant until a year or so ago. To be able to pack up all that we need and hit the road without restrictions like tight turnarounds and luggage allowances is perfect. Partly because Kez always has too many clothes to try and fit into one backpack 😂 Travelling to Tasmania via @spiritoftas was the perfect solution for us as it meant that we could pack all our camping equipment and ALL OF OUR AUSSIE LIVES up into one car and set sail. The trip over here was chilled, not rushed, and pretty much the best way to restart our lives on the road. The next time you travel, be a spirited traveller. What do you do to make sure you get to your next destination super relaxed and ready to go?
Think of it this way: what’s going to taste better, the own-brand premix gin and tonic can, or the lovingly crafted G&T from the fancy new gin bar in town? People appreciate something more when it’s had more effort and care put into it. Photos on Instagram are no different.
Psst! For a sneak peek at how we edit our photos, take a look at this IGTV video:
3: We Learned More About Photography
This one goes hand in hand with the above. In order to edit great photos, you need to be able to take great photos to begin with. We had very little manual experience with our camera, a Sony A6000 when we bought it. However, we were determined NOT to be those people who spend money on a decent camera, only to keep it forever in AUTO mode. We took the time to learn and play around with the manual settings on our camera. Hey, we made a LOT of mistakes in the process, but it’s all part of the fun!
Now, we only shoot in manual, and although we can’t proclaim to be photography experts, we know the difference between shutter speed and aperture, and how to set these up for the shot we are trying to get.
You don’t need to spend loads of money to learn photography either. There are lots of free, super helpful tutorials around on YouTube, or even books or blogs. The great thing about photography is that there is always room for improvement. Even if you are starting from the very basics of how to compose a shot, there is someone out there who will be able to guide you.
For more information about the equipment and software we use, take a look at this blog post.
This step is important because, at its very core, Instagram is a visual platform. The images you share are the first thing your followers, or potential
4: We Batch Wrote Our Captions
We can’t take full credit for this one. We watched an awesome tutorial over on Later.com that explained why batch writing your captions – or writing them all in advance – is the way to go.
In the past, we’d write our captions a few minutes before posting our photo. Needless to say, they were often random, rushed, or just a bit boring. Then we started reading more into how to craft the perfect Instagram caption. We learned about the need to inspire, educate, or entertain your followers with every caption. Using this, we began to critically review each caption we wrote, and we tweaked it if it didn’t inspire, educate, or entertain.
After watching the Later.com tutorial, we also began to try to ‘bleed’ in every first line. This is just marketing speak for ‘grabbing the reader’s attention immediately’ with something emotive, controversial, surprising, or funny. We saw immediate improvement in the engagement levels on our individual posts, as well as an increase in our Instagram followers. Our captions, in conjunction with our photos, were stopping people’s scrolls, and what’s more they were converting them into followers.
We sit down, usually at the start of every week, and write out all of our captions for our planned posts for that week. It takes us about an hour. The best way we’ve found to do it is to record speech to text in our Notes app on our phones. That way, the captions sound more personable and they read like we would talk.
5: We Utilised Stories More
Video content is becoming more and more valuable when it comes to social media marketing. 1200% more shares are generated by videos than by text and images combined on social media platforms. When Instagram introduced IGTV back in 2018, it gave users a way to share organic video content directly on the platform. However, IGTV still requires a basic understanding of video editing (we mean very basic, we have next to none and we still post to IGTV occasionally).
Stories are another way for users to share video content with their followers. They are more immediate, uncut, and real. We use them for behind-the-scenes content, life updates, realtime videos from our trips, and sharing news.
Before, we’d really only use Stories if we were travelling that day, or to share a new post on our feed. However, Stories are a great way to broaden your reach. You can geo-tag them, insert hashtags, and directly mention other users within them. When we began sharing Stories on a daily basis, we found that we were gaining more and more Instagram followers.
To start with, we were a bit lost as to what to post, especially as we weren’t travelling full time anymore. We started uploading ‘a day in the life of’ style posts, where we would share our to do lists, our important tasks for the day, things we were cooking, and dog walks. As well as this, we spoke more about the things we do for work.
If you’re stuck for things to post about, or think that the knowledge you are sharing is commonplace, remember this: what is old news and obvious to you, is new to somebody else. People love to see the person behind the account, and they love to learn more about you. Using Stories has been a great way for us to reach more of our followers and engage with new people.
6: We Spent More Time Engaging with Others
We’ve found that one of the best ways to get more Instagram followers quickly is to spend more time on the app GENUINELY ENGAGING with other users. Every time we post, we take about an hour or so to comment on posts on our feed and on the explore tab. We also comment on the top nine posts that appear under each hashtag we’ve used. And we aren’t talking about comments like ‘great!’ followed by five or six emojis.
Comments need to be genuine and relevant for you to see any benefit from them. Firstly, you risk being flagged as a spam account if you simply copy and paste the same mundane comment on 100+ posts. Secondly, the person whose photo you commented on is highly unlikely to want to reciprocate or even just check your profile out if you obviously make zero effort whatsoever.
When you are engaging with other accounts, think about what you are doing and how it could attract, or alternatively repel, potential followers. If the caption asks a question, answer it in the comments. If the photo is of a place you’ve been, share your experience of visiting that place. Stop seeing comments as a one-sided, ‘me me me’ thing; everyone can see straight through those and you won’t see any follower growth as a result. Genuinely engaging comments, like a chat you’d have with a new friend down the pub, are the ones that will build you loyalty and a following in return.
So, There You Have It – Exactly What We Did To Gain 10,000 Followers on Instagram
We’ve shared some hard truths and some (hopefully) helpful tips here with you, to help you to grow your Instagram account. We purposefully documented all the things we stopped doing, started doing, and switched up which enabled us to get an additional 10,000 Instagram followers.
If there is one thing you take away from this whole blog post, let it be this: Instagram is a SOCIAL NETWORK. It makes sense that those who use it to be social, i.e. by sharing photos on it regularly, engaging existing and new followers with genuine comments, and spending time utilising all aspects of the app, are the ones who will grow the most.
And it goes without saying that even if you follow all of these steps, we cannot absolutely guarantee that you will see the same results we did. It’s not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. Spend time testing out different strategies and seeing what works for your account, for your audience, and for your niche. Instagram is a commitment. If you’re looking to become an overnight sensation and an instant influencer, you’ve come to the wrong place.