I feel like I’m in a sea of a zillion people all trying to grow their Instagram for one reason or another. My reason? Traveling and experiencing new countries and places has always been TOTAL CRACK to me and I’ve always felt like I would be really good at a sort of destination/hotel PR person. Once I figured out (a little too late, maybe) that something like that existed and it’s actually possible to do so, I jumped on it and I’ve been attempting ever since.
Bomb #1 – You ain’t gonna get famous
If you are in this game (and game it is) simply to grow grow grow to be insta famous a la Lauren Bullen (@gypsy_lust), your chances are slim to none. If all you want is the free stuff and the free trips and you have zero passion behind it or behind writing about it then you’re in for a huge disappointment. Sure, there are the odd few accounts that absolutely BLOW UP, but that’s likely not going to happen to you and here’s why…
Bomb #2 – Bad timing
Most of the big Instagram accounts got their start a few years ago, before the hype, before it went un-chronological, before the words “Instagram Influencer” even had a definition. After starting this and attempting to figure out Instagram for about 11 months now, I think I’ve got it divided up into about three time periods for starting.
Starting before Facebook bought it-
If you started taking your Instagram seriously before all the changes in 2016 when the chronological feed was no more, that’s what I like to call the Golden Era. This is when you had the best chances of growing and growing fast because everyone was on an even playing field. There are good and bad things to this. It’s good because, duh, everyone was equal. But bad because, well, there really is some terrible content on Instagram that you were forced to look at it because they were first in the lineup. Now the algorithm pushes the “best” to the top. BUT…but…that robot in Silicon Valley absolutely cannot dictate what’s actually good and what’s actually bad. It’s all in how much exposure and reach your posts get. No reach, no likes, the robot thinks your content is bad when actually, it’s excellent. But nobody knows about it. Because of the robot.
You will see that most (but not all) of the really huge accounts we all admire not only are huge and important and beautiful and inspiring because they truly ARE all those things…but it’s because they started at the right time. Why do I feel like this is something that nobody is saying? Naturally, people want to be positive and encouraging to their audience and saying something like “I started at the right time” isn’t exactly helpful to those of us slugging along. But it’s true.
Starting after the chrono shift but before summer 2017-
There was about a year span in between all the changes and around Fall 2017 that if you started, which was after the Golden Era, then it was still okay. Cue: me. I feel like because Instagram tweaks it’s algorithm ALL THE TIME, that it was still trying to work things out and therefore you could either grow fast or fall flat. I did both. I knew nothing when I started in February of this year, and then once I started learning I still wasn’t growing fast. There was an algorithm turning point at sometime this spring, which skyrocketed mine and many other people’s growth. I was growing minimum 100 a day and this was when my feed was not great AT ALL yet the algorithm, for some reason, gave me a lot of exposure and so I was gaining fast. (Lots of accounts currently still grow that fast!) Then, of course, they started tweaking again and…
If you have started recently you may have a harder time than in the glory days of yesteryear. The reach and impressions just aren’t what they used to be. That’s not to say you won’t succeed, so DO IT! I have all the faith in the world that you can succeed on this platform, absolutely, you just may have to be more on your game than ever before to get that growth. I see account after account after account that have started recently and are so beautiful and good that I could cry, but their growth is just slow and steady. I’ve also seen several accounts that even though they started recently have skyrocketed to the next galaxy of success. That’s all due to the algorithm and some luck at being featured and getting your name out there. But above all…
Bomb #3 – If your content sucks, so will you
If your account is good, you will grow. It’s as simple as that. “Good” is always going to be in the eye of the beholder, sure, but you also have eyeballs and you can tell when a feed looks nice whether it’s your “taste” or not. For example, there are some stunning accounts that are the dark, moody, nature outdoorsy type. It’s not my style, but I can step back and say “wow okay that’s amazing”. Simply put, you have to give the people what they want. Instagram is a visual platform and if you want to stick to not editing your photos because you like them to look more “real” or whatever, then great, you do you and you stick to what you believe in, honey! But don’t expect the followers to come in droves either. I knew this one person who was like that…they said they refused to edit their photos because they didn’t want to and then complained and complained that they weren’t getting any followers. That’s now how this works. That’s not how any of this works. However, don’t ever, ever start editing your photos in a way that you don’t love just because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do. Don’t give up what you believe in just for the masses…but do find an editing style that you like.
Feeds come down to two things: Quality & Cohesiveness. If you are posting grainy, unclear photos, then step up that quality game! You don’t need fancy equipment. Phones take better photos than most point-and-shoot cameras these days anyway! If you have a pixely photo that you really like, maybe just skip it no matter how much you like it.
Pick a color scheme and stick to it. Even if you slap that Lark filter on every single photo, stick to it. Edit all your photos similarly to where everything flows nicely. Your most recent 9 photos and about 5 seconds are all you have to impress someone enough to give you a follow. If your feed doesn’t look nice and put together upon first glance, forget about it.
With all that being said, don’t be discouraged about when you started or if you are wanting to start soon. There is so much room out there for everyone, you just need to know how the game works and know that, above all else, Instagram is visual and your content needs to be on point and beautiful. I am constantly tweaking mine and it’s not even close to being perfect or flowy all the time and I have posts that flop too. As a matter of fact, the algorithm seems to be against everyone lately, so don’t let it get you down! We are all in this together. Whatever niche your Instagram is or will become, the community you will find in it is one of the best things that has come out of all this. You absolutely can succeed!
If you want more insight or actual help on getting started or building your following and content, reach out! I do consultations for $25 and, I promise, having someone give you actual feedback on your profile and legit tangible information to help you grow is invaluable. I had a consultation with @lifeofchristy_ a looong time ago and it was one of the best things I’ve done. But also, because Instagram changes so much, all the tips, apps, advice and tricks we talked about back in the spring can hardly even work anymore! There is always something to learn. Let me help! Go to my “Work With Me” page! #shamelessplug