Ep 48: The Instagram Bubble is Gonna Pop, and The Power of an Organic Following

October 23, 2017

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




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In this episode, we’re discussing everything Instagram. We start with a few details about our recent Instagram Auction, and the not-so-small problems that kept us scrambling well past midnight to deal with. We then move into a general discussion on using Instagram as a business tool, and some of our best practices for growing an organic following (and why it matters). And of course we need to juice it up a bit, so we hold nothing back in discussing the trend of buying Instagram followers, giving our opinions on it and even sharing some cases where it has “worked.”

Listen to the latest episodes on: iTunes, GooglePlayStitcher.

This Episode is Sponsored By:
Grove Collaborative
Grove Collaborative is an online marketplace for all of your favorite natural home & personal care products. We signed up a few months ago and set all of our favorites products on a subscription to arrive automatically, right when we need them. Visit to sign up, spend your first $20 and they will throw in a FREE set of Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Products. No code required, but you do need to sign up at

They sent us their Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle with a Window Pane Sheet and their Bedford Smoke Stripe Duvet cover back in April and we could not be happier. Our listeners get $20 off PLUS Free Shipping with code CLJ at checkout!

We’re Talking All About Instagram!
Hosting an Instagram
As DIY and Home Design bloggers, we can sometimes get a surplus of decor items stored around our home. We talk about the auction we held to clear out some of these things, how we approached it, and what we’d do differently next time to avoid the frustrations we had.

Woodcut art print, framed. 57.5”x42”. Starting at $150. Pickup only.

A post shared by CLJ Tag Sale (@cljtagsale) on

Our Tricks for Growing an Organic Instagram Following
We talk about an open source tool ( anyone can use to see the momentum your favorite Instagram accounts have. A few other things we touch on include:

This post I wrote last year about growing your instagram account rapidly and organically.
• finding your content and making it great
• posting what your followers want to see, not what you want to share

Here’s two examples of photos we wanted to share, but didn’t resonate with our followers. And it shows! Don’t take it personally, learn from it!

Here’s the kind of post our followers want to see, and it shows, too!

• engagement – calculating rates, why it matters, and how to improve
• an experiment with Preston’s Instagram account. We gave him tips on finding his niche and what he should be posting and we’re going to see how long it takes him to hit that magical 10K! Give him a follow here.
• using Instagram’s analytics

Hot Topic: Is It OK to Buy Instagram Followers?
Buckle up, because this conversation don’t quit. There’s a trend of buying Instagram followers (and a correlating trend of justifying it) that we just can’t not talk about. We read a comment from a reader on a previous post about it, and also share an article of a blogger who admits she bought followers and claims she doesn’t regret it (the tone of her article does not support that claim, IMO). We also talk about how important the difficulty of growing an organic following is, and ask the question, “Are round-robin giveaways on Instagram just another form of buying followers?” We round it all out sharing our thoughts on the Instagram Bubble we’re all creating and what could happen when it pops.

Can’t Get You Outta My Mind


Julia: Being a loving parent, Jules is constantly thinking about the welfare of our girls. Of course, there’s no shortage of mommy blogs out there willing to tell you that your child is definitely going to die of something in the next week, so add in the death of our beloved Charly and a healthy dose of new-baby sleep deprivation and Jules is on red alert. Enter, the Owlet Baby Monitor. I kid about it, but this thing is honestly one of the greatest things you can do for your baby, and yourself. Jules talks all about it, and how it’s helping her get the best sleep she’s had in months.

Chris: Most of our long-time followers know about the passing of our dog, Charly. She was as great as they come, and I share a few musings on what it has been like to have a pet in our home, and how great it’s been to see so many people express their love for Charly, as well. And while I know every circumstance is different and some people have barriers to pet ownership, I make the case for it nonetheless. If you’re wondering if you should get a pet, you should. And if you’re wondering when, you should do it now.

Preston: Preston shares his thoughts on Charly, as well, and what it’s been like as a friend, finding out just how big a part of his life she was. He shares his thoughts on the Instagram posts for Charly’s final meals, and how sweet and gentle Charly really was. It’s a full round of Charly thoughts from all three of us, because she deserves every bit of it.

We’d love it so much if you could leave a rating and review for the podcast, and thank you for continuing to spread the word about our corner of the podcast world! We love hearing from new listeners every week! 
Have questions you’d like us to answer on the podcast? Email [email protected].
Theme song Headphones by Preston Pugmire




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What do you think?

  1. Maggie says:

    This is very useful! I have definitely been hving thi problem and I didn’t know why. I will try these tips. Thank you!:)

  2. Dheep says:


    I love your podcast.. just listening to you guys goofing around!! Hilarious! That should be a whole new brand!! Love it xxx

  3. Monique says:

    Just for fun, a few weeks ago I started a home decor instagram after moving into a new apartment after listening to this podcast. Completely organically not passing 10 followers LOL. But the enjoyment is coming from decorating the place the way I want, getting back into photography as a hobby, and being a part of a conversation that I love (not from watching the number of followers hover between 6 and 8 haha). Thanks for being an inspiration!

  4. DANIELA says:

    Good inf but I think this was a long posdcast. It should be two episodes..
    I only listened about 30min , I will prob listen the rest in another day.
    love your voices and Instagram ????????????

    • Julia says:

      You’re probably right! Good feedback.

      • Katie M says:

        i LOVE the longer ones!! Don’t make them shorter. I listen during my 2hr commute to work. The longer the better. It was such an interesting topic too. Doesn’t necessarily pertain to me as I don’t have a business instagram account, but it’s probably my favourite social media platform, so it was very informative. And I have to say, I whole heartily agree with Chris about buying instgram followers. To me its an integrity thing.

  5. Debby says:

    Such a good episode! Not a topic I had ever thought about before but really found it informative.

    The art in you house is so interesting . It would be great to hear a podcast segment on how you find it There are so many online sources that it can be overwhelming to search sites like Minted and Etsy. Do you have something in mind when you are searching or do you just browse etc.

    I love to listen while I’m stuck in CA traffic!

  6. Sarah says:

    I could not agree with you more!! It’s definitely making me sad that Instagram users are resorting to this… especially when lots of us who were later to the design blogging scene (like myself) try so hard to engage, produce original content, and create real relationships as opposed to taking the bot route. It’s a trying time for Instagram and like you, I love the platform, but it’s really difficult to grow and succeed with this happening. I guess in the end, all we can do is keep producing quality / original content and making genuine connections. That’s when the good / creative magic happens anyway! Thanks for touching on a tricky subject. xox

  7. Christina says:

    I just listened to this episode – and loved hearing your thoughts about IG. I especially loved the end ‘Can’t get you outta my mind” segment – I definitely got teary-eyed hearing you all talk about Charly. We lost our first fur-baby 2 years ago and I still miss him so very much. He was our first baby – before marriage, house, kid – and will forever hold a place in our family. I definitely feel your pain and mourn along with you all. We recently felt it was time to welcome a new fur baby into the family this summer and she has definitely brought a new light into our family – we love her and really love seeing our son bond with her. Although Dave (our first pup) will always have a place her, Maddie has definitely helped us heal a little more <3 Sending you all lots of love

  8. Bethany Polk says:

    This was one of your best podcast episodes! While the instagram conversation was extremely interesting and informative, the “can’t get you out of my mind” segment was so sweet and real. Keep up the awesome work!

  9. Lauren says:

    Wanted to comment on your conversation about Instagram, buying followers, and over saturation. From a personal perspective, the number of followers an account has really has no bearing. I look at all kinds of feeds whether they are older and established or new and fresh. Chris hit the nail on the head in his last comment “content is king”. I will scroll through the first maybe 20 posts on a feed before following to make sure I like most of them. And the reason is because I am becoming more selective of who I follow since there are so many accounts out there and I want the ones most relevant to me. As a result Instagram continues to be a flood of joy and inspiration rather than a newsfeed.

    Just a little something to chew on.

  10. Sarah says:

    I’m sorry for your loss of sweet, beautiful Charly. I have loved seeing her in the photos of your house and was touched by your tributes to her on this episode. It is so hard to lose a pet.

  11. Maria says:

    Loved this episode!! I got such great insight. :) I will say as someone who is jumping in to this heavily saturated market, I sometimes feel a bit discouraged because of the fact that so many people leave their integrity at the door. I am determined to grow my audience organically. And I love the resource for analytics (Social Blade). Not very happy with my D- score, but in time I know I can improve. Love following along!

  12. Rita Crane says:

    This has been one of thee best episodes! SO helpful and informative! Keep up the awesome work!!!

  13. Janette Golomeic says:

    The Owlet is awesome! Definitely helped me sleep better with my second. I used to keep the base in his room (with a towel over the light) and then I could hear any alarm on my video monitor. The blinking lights would have driven me insane otherwise!

  14. Sarah says:

    This was one of my favorite episodes! Thank you for being so honest about the Instagram game. So interesting.

    I also wanted to share that I had a similar reaction as Julia after our beloved dog died- I became absolutely convinced that my husband was going to die in a car accident, to the point that we finally got our butts in gear and got life insurance (which was a good thing I guess). And for a few months he had to let me know when he arrived safely to and from work. Just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone!

  15. THANK YOU! That was so informative. I have a measly following (organic :)) but I am working to expand my design business. Your insight was so helpful!
    On another note, I am truly sorry for your family and loss of Charly. We had to put down our dog a couple years ago and it’s one of the hardest things I have done. I hope all your memories and captured moments keep you a little warmer.

  16. Lacey Graham says:

    I admittedly entered a loop-giveaway once, mainly because I decided to just give it a try (it wasn’t a common thing yet) and I won a Macbook. I will also admit that I un-followed pretty much everyone I had to follow during that giveaway. Since then giveaways have become such a common thing and are annoyingly everywhere. I love the fact that you don’t buy your followers or do the giveaways. Also, like someone else commented, people who follow you just to try and get you to follow back are the worst.

    Also, has anyone noticed that if you follow a certain type of account (home design, fashion blog, online boutique…) that other similar accounts will follow you trying to get a follow back? How does that work? Do they have something telling them people who are interested in their type of account?

  17. Kelly Kestler says:

    Thank you Preston for the joke about the bluetooth headphones for making me laugh in the middle of my tears. Still so very sorry for your loss. <3

  18. Getting to the heart of promoting yourself and your website and your design ideas, what’s your definition of success?
    What’s the goal with all this sharing and getting followers?
    I can’t wait to listen to the episode and I love you guys!

    • Julia says:

      We strive to have a flourishing community of home lovers–that’s our ultimate goal. Since this is also our job, a loyal, organic following also attracts brands within our niche that we can partner with in many different ways and tackle more projects while also putting bread on the table.

  19. Rachael says:

    100% agree with jumping on the pet bandwagon.
    Yes, when we loose them (and it often happens too soon) it’s crushing. Yes, they can be a lot of work (but really, many things in life that make in impact are). But all the work, expense and eventual sadness pales in comparison to the joy they bring.

  20. Shelley says:

    The people that play the follow/unfollow game on Instagram are the worst. Their transparency is so obvious.

  21. Lu says:

    You guys are so funny! Great tips…

  22. Michelle I says:

    Oh man, Chris hit the nail on the head about the loss of a pet. We lost our golden and I couldn’t put into words about why is was so absolutely devastating, but it’s very true what he said. They love you unconditionally and it is so absolutely heartbreaking. I am in tears now :( It’s been 3 years and I still cry about our Molly, she was the sweetest soul. So sorry about your loss <3

  23. Jen Riley says:

    I’m a long time reader and love what you guys are doing. Your kitchen was a huge factor in giving us the courage to go with black cabinets. And I love it!! Now if only those concrete counters would install themselves :)

    But, what really led me to comment was that I just started an Instagram account and I’m trying to navigate all the information out there on growing your account. I read your post from several months ago with your tips for increasing your following and found it to be really helpful. Thanks for that! And I’ll definitely be listening to your podcast.

    Lastly, my condolences on Charly. I know what it’s like to lose a beloved pet and my heart goes out to all of you.

  24. Kara says:

    Love this behind-the-scenes episodes– keep ’em coming!

    I started looking at “engagement rates” for some Instagramers I follow and noticed that A LOT of wedding/lifestyle photographers have rates at 15% or higher!! I suspect this is because they’re in a community of people who all comment/like each other’s posts, but since they’re not looking for brand sponsors there is no disadvantage?

    Do you think this helps them get lots and lots of new followers? and in this case “potential clients”? Does this “trick” Instagram new algorithms? It still seems fishy and disingenuous to me.

    • Julia says:

      There is definitely brand partnership opportunities (big time!) with wedding/lifestyle photographers. There could defintilyel be a community of highly engaged friends. Or their numbers could be just low enough that the engagement rate is still very high. That’s something we touched on briefly, but could have focused on more. Diminishing returns is definitely prevalent in Instagram, which is why once you get up there in follower count, a 1.8-3% engagement rate is considered good. Crazy!

  25. Emily Ward says:

    Fantastic discussion! You guys should seriously consider writing an e-book on the Instagram marketing topic. I also really appreciate that you guys do not buy followers or participate in loop-giveaways. Keep doing what you do – I love seeing you be successful with the blog!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

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