Lifestyle

How I Gained 50K Instagram Followers Rapidly and Organically

July 20, 2016  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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Last July (a year ago next week precisely), we were starting our kitchen renovation and I decided I really wanted to start using my Instagram as an extension of our blog and business, instead of mostly for personal use. As scary as that was to say out loud–I wanted to grow my Instagram following. At the time @chrislovesjulia had around 4k Instagram followers, although I guess they don’t give you the coveted “k” until you hit 10k, so rewind–I had around 4000 followers over there and got, on average, 100 or so likes per photo. I told Chris I wanted to to grow my Instagram following, but I wanted to do it in an organic way. No buying followers, no being a part of those round-robin giveaways where you have to follow 20 bloggers who all pooled money to giveaway a Target gift card (and hopefully gain a lot of followers).  I just wanted to see what I could do by putting forth a conscious effort and making a few changes through trial and error. It’s been an intense year-long experiment of seeing what works and what doesn’t, but now, a year later, I’ve gained 50K+ real, loyal followers, average 1500 new followers a week, receive thousands of likes per post and countless real-life opportunities from Instagram.

How I Gained 50K Instagram Followers Rapidly and Organically

It took from the end of July to December to go from 4000 to 10K followers and from then on, it’s been consistent and rapid growth and now I gain hundreds of new followers a day. Today, I wanted to share exactly how I grew my Instagram following in an organic way and what I’ve learned about the process over the past year, summarized into 10 points:

1. Use an actual camera. I switched from using my phone to using a Canon EOS 70D camera (and this lens) for EVERY photo. I’m not going to lie, it’s a hassle to pull out my camera, my tripod (I have this one), take a photo or 10, upload them to my computer, edit one and then send it to myself to post on Instagram, but I’ve also learned it’s worth it. Instagram is a visual platform, designed for people to react to what they see, so it makes sense that a nicer photo would elicit more likes and engagement.
2. Filters are your friend, but tread lightly. Instagram is a runway of photos and there was a time when people would probably scroll right past mine. So while a photo on the blog can stand on its own, without slightly more shadows or brightness, on Instagram–you need to stand out! However, there’s a fine line between adding a filter to a photo to brand it as yours and filtering a photo until it looks nothing like reality. By using the same filter(s) every time, it will gradually start feeling familiar to people. They’ll recognize it as yours, and your feed will start looking cohesive. I use 2 different, but very similar VSCO filters: A6 and J6 (which is slightly warmer) on my photos and I generally turn the opacity down by about half so it’s not so stark.
How I Gained 50K Instagram Followers Rapidly and Organically
3. Stick to your niche. If you really want to grow your following, you gotta give the people what they are following you for. This can be a difficult adjustment, and I learned the hard lesson that the majority of my followers don’t care about my children, what I wear, or selfies. They care about our house and how we live in it. Last summer, after I started consciously growing my Instagram, I posted a picture of me and my sister on her wedding day. It’s what I did that day, I was happy and I wanted to share it. I lost 40 followers. Most people would say, “Well if they don’t like, then they don’t have to follow me.” And that’s true! But if you market yourself as a fashion/fitness/home/mommy instagrammer, and you veer off course, don’t take it personally if people do unfollow you.
4. Posting something is not always better than posting nothing. I generally like to post on Instagram 2 times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. I don’t follow any hard and fast rules of when to post. I’ve heard people talk about “Oh, it’s a horrible time to post” but I have found quality content is never unreceived I know brands and people that post 10 times a day on Instagram and I eat every one of their posts up because they are on brand! However, if I don’t have any quality content to post, if I don’t have a great room shot or a tip to share–it’s truly better NOT to post. One average picture can cause you to lose followers, while posting nothing, only doesn’t gain you any followers typically.
How I Gained 50K Instagram Followers Rapidly and Organically | Chris Loves Julia
5.  Let Them See You. This one is the hardest for me, but has made the world of difference in my following count. Do you know what the difference is between your Instagram account and the next one? You. People shouldn’t have to scroll several times to find out who is running the page. I was once told you should appear in every 9th photo to assign a face to the account and keep it more connected to YOU. Before I start sounding like I’m contradicting number 3 too much, I should add–it doesn’t mean a selfie. It doesn’t have to mean you looking at the camera and posing for the photo. If you’re a home blogger like me, show how you live in your home. If you’re a photographer instagrammer–set up a camera taking a picture of you taking a picture. I love posting photos of us around our home. It provides scale, context and personality to our house. Sometimes that involves setting up a tripod on a timer to take the picture. Does that lessen the moment? Not at all. Is it embarrassing to admit? Yes.
6. Tagging Sources > Hashtags. The number of times my photos have been re-grammed by companies I’ve tagged in the photo as sources is infinitely more than any hashtag exposure I’ve received. It doesn’t mean I don’t use hashtags, because I’m sure I’ve gained some followers from people browsing through #interiorinspo or the explore page, I’m just saying it’s not close to the followers I’ve gained from other people or brands re-gramming my photo because I tagged their product as a source. It’s not essential to the growth of your Instagram to go crazy with hashtags. I mostly just use the brand hashtags associated with the sources tagged in the photos (i.e. our bed from West Elm, I’ll tag West Elm in the photo and #mywestelm in the caption) and I have gotten regrams from pretty much EVERY home brand out there doing that. This also makes my photo appear on their profile. I’ve only received one regram (in all of my years on Instagram!) using a hashtag–#soDomino, which was a nice regram.
How I Gained 50K Instagram Followers Rapidly and Organically | Chris Loves Julia
7. Interact with followers and provide information in every post. I answer what the paint color is on the walls of our great room 12 times a day and that’s not an exaggeration. In fact, it’s so often, I only have to type in a B and my phone will predict Benjamin Moore Hazy Skies. So I know it can be taxing to answer the same questions over and over, but just think of it as more new people are following you, love what they see and want to know more! I always tag sources, direct people to our Shop Our House page for all the sources in our home and I still get questions about where things are from, but I answer every. single. time. They always appreciate it and it allows followers to feel like more than just a number. I also try to give valuable tips and information in every post, even if it’s just sources.
How I Gained 50K Instagram Followers Rapidly and Organically | Chris Loves Julia
8.  Pay Attention to what works and what doesn’t work. I’ve tracked how vignettes, whole room shots, room shots with people, videos, daytime photos, and night time photos do through likes received, followers gained, followers lost and comments for a year. I really love using Iconosquare for this, even if it you do have to pay for it as of last month. It’s full of analytics and will run about $49/year or $5/month. They also have a free 7-day trial if you want to try it. A free option is the Instatracker app. It merely counts how many followers you’ve gained or lost. You can pay to see exactly who unfollowed you (don’t get caught up in that, it does no good) and a few more things, but if you want to consciously grow your following, it’s essential to know the nitty gritty of what’s working and what’s not. In my study, I’ve found, tight-cropped vignettes do the worst. One photo of a wooden spoon on our counter lost me 35 followers so fast I deleted it within minutes. And then I resolved to not delete photos due to loss of followers, but just to learn from it. A whole room shot (or a whole outfit shot or a whole, big, fat juicy burger) vs a tightly cropped sneak peek will always perform better because it gives more information and thus has more value.
9. Giveaways aren’t the answer; Followers tagging friends are. A lot of people think, if you host a giveaway on Instagram, and have all of the people entering tag someone they know, then your following will blow up. It doesn’t work, at least for the long term. You might see a small or even decent boost in your count, but once the contest is over, and they find out they haven’t won, many people will unfollow. Giveaways don’t grow or foster loyal followings. If you’d like to have a giveaway, think of it as a way to reward your current following. So how do you get people to tag their friends and spread the word about your awesome Instagram account? It always comes back to this: Quality content, relevant to your niche will have your followers tagging their friends more often than any giveaway–and then they’ll follow you, too. Our Transformation Tuesdays, where we show before and afters of a space in our home (made through the Flipagram app–pay the $1.99 to remove the logo) always encourage lots of tagging and bring new followers.
How I Gained 50K Instagram Followers Rapidly and Organically | Chris Loves Julia
10. Pay it forward. If a photo makes me smile, I like it. If it makes me stop scrolling for more than a second, I’ll leave a comment. It doesn’t matter how many or few followers the account has. I think it’s just a nice way to be genuine, spread kindness and make someone feel good. If someone gets curious, and clicks on my account through a comment–purely bonus. And always, always credit other Instagrammers if you choose to share their photo. It’s just the right thing to do.
If you are anxious to grow your following, whether you are starting from scratch or your following has been stagnant for some time, I hope this helps jump start your growth. If you have been posting and hovering around the same number, even if that number is in the tens of thousands, it’s time to change something, whether that be the make-up of your photo, the niche you thought you were in, or finding an it factor that will make you stand out.

What do you think?

  1. Very Informative Post. Thank You For This Article.

  2. Love the amazing post, keep up the good work.

  3. This post is still relevant and so helpful to me. Thank you for taking the time to write out what has worked for you.

  4. Ann Sorenson says:

    Thank you SO MUCH! This article is fantastic! I’m gonna get to work right now!!

  5. Tanja says:

    Oohh yes – found your post at the right time. Finding your way on Insta as a start-up is really tricky. Thanks for your insights, appreciate it. <3

  6. Canberk says:

    All the information which have you shared with us is really very helpful for my business.
    Thanks

  7. Napua says:

    i am dumbfounded. i dont post too often. and when i do it’s a decent shot. we have a very small following. and ive lost followers who i thought were good friends. you probably have no time to take a peek but i’d love your opinion on what im doing wrong. i’ve stuck pretty closely to your list so im feeling a little defeated!

  8. Devin says:

    Great article. I think my overall takeaway is to primarily provide excellent content and the followers will come. Thanks!

  9. Thanks so much for this! I listened to you on Luann’s podcast and realized there is a LOT more I could be doing to grow my following while staying genuine. Really appreciate these tips!

  10. Savannah & The Lion Heart Project says:

    This was wonderfully helpful and validated a lot of what I have been doing already.
    Thank you for being genuine and not just another “buy my app and you’ll get all the followers” person.
    I am grateful.

  11. adcart says:

    thank you for this article.

  12. Number 8 is really helpful. You have to really know what works and what doesn’t work for your niche. If you don’t reach the point where you understand what your followers want you’re doomed to fail.

  13. Chris says:

    Number 10 is the best. You deserve your followers. :)

  14. Meghan Brennan says:

    Hi! I am wondering if you still use Iconosquare or if you’ve found something else you like more, sine the writing of this post?

  15. Ashley says:

    Great insights and tips! I am currently relying basically only on hashtags, and my phone camera is shit, so I know a few places where I can improve!

  16. Chantelle says:

    This is one of the best articles on growing social media I’ve read. Thank you for your insight!

  17. Great post! lots of good tips for getting IG folowers. Thanks for sharing

  18. Lucy says:

    great article, lots of good tips, thank you!!!

  19. Megan says:

    I absolutely loved this post! Clear and kind! I have just started to macrame and eventually hope to sell it. I have started a business Insta account and I’m trying to attract followers/buyers. So this was so great! Thank you.

  20. Chef Pam says:

    Hi. Thank you so much for such useful information. I have a question…what are your thoughts on how to choose the best name for your IG account?

  21. Josh McLaglen says:

    Having a successful Instagram account these days in not less than a challenge. It’s like being a celebrity if you have a great following list on Instagram. Wizboost helped me a lot by giving me a lot of active followers in a very less time. It was like a dream for me. Wizboost made my life so easy and I cannot maintain my Instagram account without Wizboost anymore. All thanks to Wizboost for making my account look so cool and for making me not less than a celebrity, lol. It made my all day work easy as now I don’t need to pay most of my time on Instagram because Wizboost has got my back now.

  22. Thank you this feels insightful. Although, I’m trying some of the methods. The main problem seems retaining followers. It is not manually possible to handle both Instagram and work or to remain active 24/7. Are there any free post scheduling apps that you would recommend?

  23. Elix says:

    Very useful post. Thanks for sharing this!
    I think that Instagram is the best nowadays for promoting. So many people don’t know how to promote his account. Nowadays Instagram became the most popular space
    for advertisement and becoming popular or promoting your product. Have a lot of followers is just necessary if you have a business.
    I think the most popular and easy is to buy fast followers or promote your account using specialized bots like ingramer.com.

  24. Kelly says:

    I know this is an older post of yours, but I had to leave a comment! Thank you for sharing how to gain followers in a healthy and ORGANIC way. So many online influencers get caught up in the numbers, but in reality that will do no good if these followers you have aren’t truly in love with the content you bring to the internet.
    I’m currently in the process of building a blog, while also trying to build my followers on social media, like Instagram. However I know the only real way to make an impact online is through dedication to promote content I care about, which means taking my TIME when building a following.
    So, thank you again for this lovely post! I can’t wait to implement these tactics while trying to build my online voice. <3

  25. Kylie says:

    Thanks for the helpful post! Question – do you post via your phone or have you figured out a way to post to Instagram from your computer?

  26. Derika says:

    These tips are amazing! Literally going to put them to use immediately!

  27. Are you really telling the truth !! That you have real followers and no bots cos as of now u have 189k followers and average likes I can see in ur post is near 3000 , where as my account I. E @saclorine have 2600 followers and my average likes are about 1000. Either you have a very bad engagement or you must be having some inorganic followers. Don’t take me wrong it’s just that I spent some time reading this blog and your numbers doesn’t add up .

    • Chris says:

      Our following is 100% organic. If you continue growing your audience on Instagram, you’ll begin seeing the diminishing return as far as engagement goes. Instagram doesn’t show post content to everyone who follows – especially for business accounts. For this reason, stories is becoming more and more important, because they do show for everyone.

  28. Navya says:

    Very helpful post. Hope it will help me in growing my insta followers..:)

  29. Ryan says:

    Thanks for writing this up! I find that it’s always important to post often, but not to force it. Your audience appreciates quality over quantity.

  30. Aanal says:

    Great tips! Do companies help to grow organic followers. I do not intent to have fake ones but mostly engaging followers.

  31. Liza says:

    Thank you for sharing

  32. Murray Thomson says:

    And now 172k followers…WOW! I look forward to implementing your advice and growing my own account. I’m currently so close to that coveted ‘k’ :)

  33. Melanie says:

    Hi there! I love your post, but when I go to subscribe to your blog, it is very confusing – You have to choose Yahoo mail or 2 things I have never heard of. Just a heads up! :)

  34. Great recommendations! I read every word!

  35. This is really very helpful. Instagram has really become an “essential” when it comes to social media marketing and creating a following for your brand. What can you say about tools for instagram like hashtag generating tools such as Hashatory? Do you think this can help us in building a genuine following in Instagram?

  36. Taylor says:

    Yes great share thank you for the advice! Engaging with your community and niche is one of the most powerful strategies that I have found to get relationships and followers!

  37. C.H.C says:

    I hardly ever comment, I will now. Great user engagement technique there, subtle.

    hope its crusin all right.

    C.H.C

  38. Smm Buz says:

    wow that is a great and very helpful post, i really love this post

    Thank you so much for lovely guide

  39. Great ideas, thank you for taking the time to share this. I have over 3,000 followers and I’m hoping to grow that a lot more. I currently use an iPhone 8plus for pics and video. I also throw in great quality clips that I get from videographers who film my concerts. Hopefully I can get more growth momentum soon. Thanks again!

  40. thx for this post. i have a small business, and only just started on instagram after thanksgiving. the instagram “typical user” is generally much younger than my clients, but i thought it could be “fun” (if adding one more business to-do can be fun) and a way for potential clients to see a slightly different side of what i do/who i am.

    since i’m so new, i only have about 100 followers, and that fluctuates from day to day from around 95 to 105 – which i’m ok with because i’m looking to get “real” followers, not f4f, or other followers that are trying to “sell something”. (and i have an app to track leavers and most have not “liked” anything.) and i try to only follow accounts with original photos, and that, if they don’t “relate” to what i do, would not be “off-putting” should a client or potential client have a look at who i’m following.

    but here’s my question: you mention that your close-up shot of a spoon lost you 35 followers in minutes…. i know there’s a lot i don’t really understand about instagram – but why on earth would folks un-follow you because of one photo? to me that’s completely illogical. plus, who has that kind of time? couldn’t it just be a coincidence that you lost followers (maybe bot followers?) around the same time as the photo?

    if you have a moment, i’d love to hear your thoughts. cheers!

  41. Dheep says:

    I love this post and thank you SO MUCH.

    Does anyone else sometimes feel social media is like shouting at the top of your lungs through a megaphone ????…

    IN THE DESERT ????!!!!

    Good to know that there is life out there.

    Thank you Chris Loves Julia, for your insightful advice xxx

  42. Traci says:

    Hi Julia, great post! I love the tips and explanation of each. Nice job on making us feel like growing our IG is doable. I’ve been hovering around 2K forever :/ So, I just took notes on your post and looking forward to experimenting. Cheers!

  43. Mine says:

    Great article. Exaclty what i was looking for. Thank you.

  44. Great read. I’m a little over three months in and ironing out the details, slowly. I’m finding my niche but having difficulty showing it (so that’s what I’ll focus on in the upcoming months). Other than that, I’m following what you have suggested (as did another mommy blogger I adore), so i’ll be sure to focus on the niche aspect.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this as it’s incredible helpful to bloggers starting out.

    Looking forward to following along on your adventures!

  45. Wow, that is a great post. I will experiment and see if it can work on my underwear niche. Thank yo so much for sharing with us.

  46. Erin says:

    Thank you for an HONEST and insightful post about growing an Instagram following. :-) I have been blogging for about 9 months and trying to grow my Instagram seems to be the slowest grind. I’m sad to say I’m not even to 900 followers. I’ve turned down numerous requests to participate in loop giveaways because I want to do exactly what you’ve done – grow organically. #4 and #8 are two tips that I’m going to go really stick to going forward. This is the best post I’ve found about this topic and I search all the time. Thank you!

  47. Hey Nice article. keep it up

  48. I’ve searched everywhere and this is the best article I’ve seen yet! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  49. Carolin says:

    This is a really great post! Finally someone who doesn’t promise any false miracles. My number of followers has been stagnant for a while now so hopefully some of these tips help.
    Your IG photos are amazing by the way ;)
    All the best Carolin

  50. Sam C says:

    These are really great tips! The most useful I’ve found to date, thank you for this!

  51. Helen says:

    Thank you for your honest take on growing an IG following. It’s refreshing to learn through your personal experiences, rather than a generic “best practices” guide. I’m curious your thoughts on image burnout and staging of shots. More specifically, do you struggle (as the creator) to find and express new shots? As you mentioned, creating a consistent look helps create your brand in the viewer’s eye, but is there a point that all the images start to blur? Regarding staging, your account appears to have many natural family moments. Do you struggle with this staged v natural look, or is staging just part of the IG game for you?

    • Julia says:

      I really try to capture natural moments in our home, especially with our girls–they don’t know how to do candid! Haha! But I might tidy up around them before I snap something!

  52. Maya-Jade says:

    This is SUPER helpful information! I’ve been researching how to grow my new public IG account for a few weeks now, and some of the info I saw here wasn’t included elsewhere.

    • Ashley Michaelsen says:

      Hi Julia! Did you know how to work your camera before you bought it? Did you teach yourself? Is that still the camera you would recommend for someone like me who is kinda savvy but I have never shot with a real professional camera before.

      Thanks!

      • Julia says:

        I am completely self-taught. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and had a 30 minute one-on-one class with a photographer that really helped!

  53. Christy says:

    Get article! Thanks for sharing. Curious to get your thoughts on using a bot to help automate a lot of the growth? I’ve heard Instagress, Gramgress.com, and MassPlanner are the best 3.

  54. Thanks for all of these amazing tips. I’ve been hovering around 7K (actually, 7,000) for some time and I would love to take it to the next level. Thank you!!

  55. Cameron Kinney says:

    Great post and awesome examples. It’s great to see your examples of tests that you’ve done. I made the mistake of buying followers way back when and it really hurt my account for a while. I tried a company called RelaxedSocial.com a couple months ago and they have helped me gain a ton of engaged followers. There are lots of non-sketchy ways to get help if you don’t have time to do everything on your own.

  56. Gurpreet Singh says:

    Comment*like and followin

  57. SmmCares says:

    When I was new I purchased some fake followers which was dropped within 3 months. I think one organic follower is better than one thousand fake followers. Fake followers are useless. So everyone should focus on organic and niche marketing.

    • Elix says:

      Very useful post. Thanks for sharing this!
      I think that Instagram is the best nowadays for promoting. So many people don’t know how to promote his account. Nowadays Instagram became the most popular space
      for advertisement and becoming popular or promoting your product. Have a lot of followers is just necessary if you have a business.
      I think the most popular and easy is to buy fast followers or promote your account using specialized bots like ingramer.com.

  58. Naomi says:

    I read this post when you first published it, and I just re-read it because you linked it in your latest Friday post. It comes in a time I really need it because my own Instagram account has suffered from lackluster engagement in the last few days that I can’t account for -is it the latest update linking it to a new Facebook algorithm?? – and it’s driving me nuts! Reading this reminds me that whatever the cause, I should just take a step back and refocus on the heart of my instagram account. Thank you for the reassuring voice in a sea of ‘You’re doing it wrong!’ – I know that’s why I keep coming back to you – here on the blog and on Instagram;)

  59. Lauren says:

    Great tips – different than what I’ve ready other places. And now I’m so intrigued I have to follower your account! :)

  60. Sofia Laura Zammitto Benasayag says:

    I think this article is spectacular. I believe in a lot of what you mentioned, and I want to have happy, organic followers who love my content not just some pointless game of going around trying for people to follow me for no good real reason or purpose. I’m assured followers are delighted when they view your content. I want that too. And I’m happy to know that it’s about ‘hard’ -work & love. Thank you for this wise, productive, & super great article.

  61. Ivana says:

    Hello,

    I am happy to hear that you had a good experience with growing up your profile organically and I think that many people will find your advices useful. But considering the fact that nowadays people are usually in a rush with their time I think that most of them won’t have the time in order to fulfill other people’s aesthetic desires. Also, all the other aspects are extremely engaging because you will need to constantly like other’s posts, reply to comments, follow people in order to be followed back and so on. When I started my profile, I was using the same methods as you’ve previously mentioned and the only thing that was increased was my stress due to my inability to respond to my other obligations. After a while, I did some researches and I found out that many users are buying likes and followers and that opposing to the popular belief that they are bad for your profile, people who actually do that are happy that they decided to take that step. I did it from the following site https://www.socialmediadaily.com/instagram and once it was done, I doubled the number of followers and likes within a night.

    I strongly recommend this way of aiming towards you goal.

    • Julia says:

      I disagree with your method, but I appreciate the opposing point of view.

      • Jessica says:

        I work in advertising and Instagram have started to identify accounts that have bought followers and are shutting them down. If your numbers have increased as you say overnight then Instagram can see this and identify you have bought followers.
        They won’t ask questions before shutting you down and there is no way to get your account back.
        Be careful buying followers. Some of our clients have lost their accounts and are starting again from the beginning.

  62. Jasmine M says:

    Based this post you have written, I need to focus on numbers 1 and 3. I take a decent amount of photos with my phone and I feel like my phone’s quality probably isn’t the best for showcasing stuff on Instagram. I also don’t really have an actual niche. I am pretty much all over the place. So I know that is something I need to work on too. Thank you for creating this post. It helped me realize a few things I that I must focus on.

  63. Mary Lee says:

    Initially, I’d used hashtags and follow for follow, like for like… But I passed to promotion bots several months ago. First it was instagress.com unfortunately it was closed. Then I found instanobel.com . I got more than 200 followers per day. It’s satisfies me))))))))

  64. Monica says:

    Great insights. When you think about Instagram everything is simple when you spent more time on it, you begin to understand that the mastery is in the attention to detail. Like you said about the filters, most people just slap them randomly without thinking twice.

    The interesting thing about point 5 ”Let them see you”, you know what puzzles me when Instagram users see a person it’s proven that those pictures get higher engagement. When it come to Pinterest is the complete opposite for Pinterested.

    Loved how you explained the tagging part.

    Best,
    M

  65. Blen says:

    Hi this is good idea

  66. Christopher says:

    I’ve noticed that since I’ve put the time and effort into planning my whole feed with Plann (have you tried that app?) my following grows much quicker!

  67. Dina Wilkinson says:

    This post was excellent, I wish you wrote more I found myself actually reading every word and not simply skimming the page for the types. Your writing was fluent and your content felt genuine. Thank you for this advice, it seems super helpful and I’ll start putting it into practice. My only issue is that I’m starting from 0 and not 4000. Wish me luck and ps your blog is absolutely beautiful its at 121k at the time I saw this article

  68. michael says:

    excellent contribution! thank you! will take all this to heart. i am a photographer and while i started in fashion, i now do more nature and people and documentary photography. you say stick to your niche – so if i have 5 niches should i start 5 IG accounts? there are people who started following me who i know expect me to show fashion and portraits (due to a wedding film business that i started a few months ago) and now with alaska and oregon nature shots, i am sure they are like wtf is with that guy. indeed, every day about 20 more people follow me, and that has been going on for months. but i only have 60 more followers than 4 months ago. this must mean, almost all people who follow me unfollow me again for some reason! could also be that those people just follow me so i will follow them, and then unfollow me again so that their accounts don’t appear like they have thousands of followers. IG awesomeness.

    anyway but i AM all of these photographic styles. i am not like some other guys who just do alaskan wildlife. or only shoot weddings. or only black and white portraits. there is more to being a photographer! i also shoot vintage looking wedding films that are totally unique (freundvintage.com) and make corporate and brand films (freundfilms.com) and i feel there is a common thread in my work, it’s just not one singular “style”, like so many people nowadays have one look. do you recommend doing more than one IG?

    also, did you just by starting to post really good photos taken with a good quality camera, start to have more people following you? my photos have been taken by very expensive equipment but unless i hashtag a lot (displaypurposes) i feel like only my close friends like my posts. should i just be patient?

    anyway thank you for your authentic and raw and totally transparent post. love your taste as well! Michael

  69. I daily use Instagram and had huge success with the right hashtags. Picking the right hashtags really work well for me to increase my followers. Time to upload and content you wrote about the pic is really important for increasing your followers. Your tips are useful and I really appreciate your efforts behind this article. Thanks..!!

  70. Cameron Kinney says:

    Great article. So many people are looking to grow their social following and this is very useful. I recently tried working with a company called https://relaxedsocial.com/ and I have been very impressed with the results. Thats my tip!

  71. Rama says:

    Using relevant Hashtags are an integral part of any niche. Since that’s how people can actually get to see your posts, it is very important to research and use good hashtags to increase visibility of your profile.

  72. Joel says:

    Thanks for the post! Clear and actionable points. I particularly like points 9 & 10 and plan on implementing a more thoughtful approach with our giveaways for sure.

    Thanks,
    Joel

  73. We have grown one of our Instagram accounts 100% organically to 53k followers https://instagram.com/vanila.design/ and that is part of our company https://vanila.io .

    We started at the mid of summer 2016, and did steady and slowly.

    How we did it ?

    – Follow > Unfollow > Crowdfire to see who unfollow you. (CrowdFire doesnt support Instagram features anymore)

    – Have your own hashtag

    – Use some apps to easy repost others posts.

    – Pick only the best content which will be interesting to your audience

    Repeat!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aa5b3044f1886ac2fb1ad285b6c0166f40c3e2cb4ee86fea44e4d59150ec4337.png

  74. Lucy says:

    I think it’s only possible with apps or special services like zen-promo.com I use for a long time. Only with this app I achieved what I have now.

  75. Tsvetelina says:

    Loved this post, thank you for the advice. I checked iconosquare and their basic plan is $9. Do you thing is enough to help me grow my instagram or I need to go to Elite plan?

    Thank you

  76. I love this post! Thank you for sharing. I used to do modeling and had an instagram with tons of my modeling photos, which allowed me to gain close to 70K followers. I decided to quit the modeling and pursue a different route and three years later, now I’m in banking. Since I deleted my old instagram and created a new one, It’s such a struggle gaining followers. I’m posting content of my involvement with Forbes or my outfits of the day or my daily life versus being in a bikini LOL! This was encouraging and great to know that bloggers out there are earning their followers the right way. Great work! :)

  77. Lisa says:

    One of my favorite things about you two is that you are so willing to share your secrets to success — or that you don’t make them secrets. Thank you for sharing those lessons you have worked so hard to learn!

  78. What would you suggest to someone who has a service or a different type of business
    What should they display pictures of

  79. AdamW says:

    I’m using Rexam’s Instagram Pocket Rocket.. awesome and easy method to grow Instagram account and earn from it. I’m using it about 10 days, earned good so far (about $500).

  80. Justin says:

    This is great advice, I’ve come to love IG more than facebook.My follows have kind of hit a plateau at around 400.

  81. David U. says:

    I did almost the same things but also I use special service on zen-promo (com?) to find new followers. I don’t feel shame of that because it works

  82. Lauren says:

    This so useful – I’m trying to increase traffic on my newly launched blog. Thanks so much! Lauren – theyoproedit.com

  83. Mike says:

    Great tips and really beautiful feed.

  84. This may be the best blog post I’ve read about truly growing your Instagram account in a strategic, ethical and thoughtful way. Most blogs only vaguely state that you need good content, but your post pays attention to the details and how to maximize the platform. Thank you so much for sharing with us all!

  85. This is really helpful! I like the educational side of blogging from all aspects, especially about home decor, design and renovation since my husband and I are slowly fixing up a 1903 cottage (and I’m blogging about it).

  86. Keri says:

    Really good tips to go by! Tip 3 is so true. I’ve had to totally switch my personal instagram into something that looks more like a business and professional feed.
    hillkeria.com

  87. Kim says:

    Julia,
    #3 made me so sad! I love seeing the occasional personal photo… I’m not following you just for the gorgeous photos of your home… I also love seeing the kids, weddings, etc. An occasional peek into your personal life feels to me like you’re giving us a gift. Sorry to hear that many people don’t feel that way.

  88. Thanks so much for posting this! I’m finding that people are more likely to like and follow on Instagram as opposed to reading a whole blog post. As a new blogger it can be frustrating sometimes. Great tips! Time to save up $ for a camera upgrade.

  89. Gina says:

    Great post. I went from reading over 20 blogs daily to 2 (yours & cupofjo). Your Instagram is ??!

  90. Nihal says:

    Great post and I find you very generous with anything you have learned which so genuine and kind. ?

  91. Beth Light says:

    Loved reading this post ~ so timely for the predicament I’m with trying to grow my IG and blog…I was growing steady (have been on IG now a year) but now losing momentum…I found your account a few months ago via the #ikeakitchen hashtag because we are also fellow IKEA kitchen remodelers ~ and recently completed are 2nd IKEA kitchen ~ your post is motivating me further to get our remodel blog post done! Love your home, designs, honesty and authenticity and looking forward to following along on IG and with your blog! Beth @1111lightlane

  92. Ju Ann says:

    Thank you Julia for sharing! I have so much to learn from you. You inspire me to pay more attention to producing content.

    Keep going Julia. :) You have a new fan here.

    Thank you for sharing the camera + lens you use. Have you tried using mirrorless cameras though? I was looking at getting one instead of a bulky DSLR.

    Ju Ann (@ngjuann on IG)

  93. Andrea says:

    I loved this article and I am so glad I found your site. I guess I discovered you through explore on Instagram. It was the photo of you standing in front of your stove. I liked the look/feel of the photo and loved the name. So I clicked through to see what you were all about. I was so happy to have found you.
    I am going to be starting a lifestyle blog soon and seeing yours has inspired me. Thank you!

  94. Jennifer says:

    I found this post so interesting! There are very few home bloggers that I follow. But after reading their blogs for several years, I decided to follow them on instagram because I liked getting that little sneak peek into the more personal aspect of their lives. It was not so long ago that through one of their instagrams, I found yours! I don’t remember what it was that pulled me in, but I decided to follow you as well. Once your photos started showing up in my feed, it drove me to your blog. Long story short, your blog is now one of my daily reads. I just wanted to let you know that you are definitely doing something right on instagram. So huge thumbs up for this post!

  95. Felishia says:

    Love everything you said. My husband and I are all about DIY’ing when it comes to our own lives, and I do get to live out many of my design ideas with my clients as a designer but as much as I want to share my own, I don’t do it very often…..I’ve tried blogging a MILLION times, maybe this info will help me grow my website, business, Instagram,, and all that techy stuff that I’m not so great at, lol, all the while having a crazy life at home with quadruplets, 3 boys and a girl, and an older son, a dog, and a new fixer upper!! Thanks for sharing the info on pictures and creating a cohesive identity!!! Great Read! Thanks xoxo.

  96. allison says:

    so I am not a blogger, instagram to preserve memories of my kids, and smile when 12 of my friends like a picture I post. But as an individual, I can totally confirm: I only follow people i find to be valuable or provide really inspiring images (including yourself). I HATE it when a blogger asks me to follow for a give away, and have done it a couple of times only to then go back and delete all the accounts after the give away is done because I feel like those people are cluttering up my instagram feed. Thank you for providing good/interesting/ fun/ sweet/ humerous/ inspiring pictures:) I love them:)

  97. Aimee says:

    Hi Julia, thank you so much for this post! I have been following your blog for about four years and have loved being a part of your journey. Your home is beautiful and I can tell you guys work so, so hard. Would you ever consider taking a look back at your blogging journey and going over what you did to really make it work? (IE. how much time and money you started with in the very beginning to now, the present day?). I’m asking because I would like to start a blog, and have actually laid the ground work for one, but I am getting a bit “stuck” because I have a 4 and 6 year old and they have me running in circles most days :) Also, we are trying to figure out how much money we can carve out each month for projects. While I do this, I’m just wondering, if we start slowly (say, I post once a week), would that be worth it? Or, maybe I should not worry about all this in the beginning, and just do whatever I can and build the blog up from there? I know reading blogs can take a few minutes, for us readers, but creating a post actually can take quite a bit of time, especially if it’s about a big project. I’m just trying to find some balance and wondering how much time and effort you put into it when you began the process. Take care! Your blog is wonderful and you guys are a talented team :)

  98. Tanae says:

    I am the silent type of follower both on blogs I read, which now is down to a very small few, and on Instagram. I always think way too hard about what to say and if it will sound strange or not come across like I want it to. I can never seam to write things out well, but I could talk your ear off… Because of this I always keep my thoughts and comments to myself and never add my 2 cents… but after reading this article I feel like I should “do the nice thing” as you mentioned and let you know how much I have loved your blog, Instagram feed, and the podcasts! I have been a longtime blog follower, and started renovating my first house when you were living in Utah. We ended up moving around the same time you did so I felt like our journeys were on a similar track, plus I also live in SE Idaho so I was really excited to have a blogger I follow so close. (nerdy i know). At first when you were able to do so much with your house and make so many quick changes and improvements, while my husband and I weren’t financially ready to yet, it made me envious a bit. I kept thinking how in the heck are you making all these changes so quickly, and I would feel sorry for myself that I wasn’t where I wanted to be with my house. Well long story short(-ish).
    You guys are still way ahead of us on getting things done, but I don’t mind anymore. You have been more open, honest, and authentic on updating your house than any other blog i’ve read. I can’t tell you how much you’ve help me in prioritizing our projects, setting budgets, saving, and making a plan. When I would think…”how are they doing this” you tell us! You mentioned you paid off student loans, you use a budget, you plan together, this is “your thing” you prioritize. I love that you are honest about sponsors and that you link to everything! I honestly can’t believe how nice you are to questions people ask you…I now have your house colors memorized due to the amount of times you answer that question so nicely! Truth to be told, you guys won me over as a complete fan with the podcasts! I thought you seamed good before listening to your podcasts, but your personalities in real life is so great. You and Chris have such a genuine authentic voice there and I love it. I have several friends that all listen to it and we refer to the topics and funny things that are said frequently! You guys are honestly so great, and I feel that in social media we don’t always see that- so thank you for being such a great example of kindness and authenticity and for encouraging me to remodel my home in a way that is true to myself and a budget! SO SORRY for the long post! You guys are great and I truly appreciate all of the time and effort you put into all your projects!

    • Julia says:

      Tanae, This is the nicest, most thought-out comment we’ve ever received. Thank you so much for following along, silently for so long and now for opening up and writing this. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

  99. Emily says:

    Julia, I am taking a class this summer to fulfill my Master of Library and Information Science degree called “Social Network Analysis.” Last week we completed an assignment to create a piece of original content, share it online in some capacity, and get 10,000 likes within one week. I chose Pinterest as my mode of virality. I am sad to say, I did not reach my goal, but I learned a lot along the way about what works and what doesn’t. I wish you had published this about 2 weeks ago! I am definitely going to share this post with my class for future research. Thanks!

  100. This is why I love following you. Thank you for posting this and thank you for keeping it real!

  101. jackie says:

    As others have already commented, this post was super interesting! I have long wanted to start a blog, but feel like some of the ins and outs are a bit overwhelming. Yet, this post encourages me to just try it.
    Also, I find it interesting that people stop following someone for one Insta-picture (i.e. the spoon)?!
    At any rate, huge fan here from Pittsburgh :)

  102. Sarah Purk says:

    This is perfect information for someone just getting started like me and my husband! We very much look to up to your business/brand/blog! I am definitely inspired now to do things the organic way, and this article has helped me push away temptations to buy followers completely. Thank you- keep posting beautifully!!

  103. Anna says:

    It is so funny that you have seen the actual stats on the fail that is the tight shot. I don’t know why they make me so bugged…Ok I do…I have seen these rooms (that I love) 1000 times and I don’t need a tight shot of someones dresser with a singular new chotchy on it. It feels like a lazy insta cop-out. I thought it was just me, but apparently 40 other people hate them too ;)

  104. Kates says:

    I love the images you post. I am pretty sure I send about every 3rd image to either my husband or my sister showing them something i like about your home! Your house is so approachable and doable from a design stand point. Nothing crazy out there (except maybe the indoor swing -but now i totally want one) but totally awesome because of that. Makes me want to share them with all my friends I talk home design with.

  105. Anna says:

    Yup, this doesn’t apply to me at all, and it was still refreshingly honest and interesting. Okay, on the topic of engagement…I had 100 questions on the door painting and didn’t get an answer :(
    So here I go again. When you hand paint a door, do you mean you hand brush the inset parts and roll the rest with a roller? Do you keep it hanging or remove it if you are handpainting? I prefer the sprayed look, but don’t know if I want to change up my process. Thx!

    • Julia says:

      Sorry about that! Our doors all have a wood grain texture to them so we a roller wouldn’t really work well. When I hand brush them, I literally use a brush the entire time. Start with the insets and then do the main parts. I keep it hanging if hand-painting.

  106. You’ve done an amazing job growing, and the amount of work you place in everything deserves all the success! Thank you for being so cool, and this post was excellent. You’re one of my fave ladies because of your authenticity. Thanks for always being so open! I’ve gotta try the tripod thing and put myself in more photos ?

  107. Great post, sister. Feeling inspired.

  108. Abby S says:

    As a follower of several bloggers, I’d say #6 and 7 are the biggest ways to keep me around, personally. Nothing’s worse than asking a sincere question and being ignored. Though I can only imagine how annoying it is to type BM Hazy Skies SO. MANY. TIMES. Enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing.

  109. Darcy says:

    I agree with some other commenters — I am not a blogger, yet I was incredibly taken in with this post! It was very interesting — I love to learn about the behind the scenes of successful blogs and this was very much like that! It was kind of like learning about the psychology of marketing and why stores set up their end caps the way they do/why we are drawn to certain items in stores! As I was reading, I kept thinking: Yes: I do appreciate that, that does make me like something, I do want to follow for that reason!

    Also — I just listened to your podcast for the first time last night — Loved it! And, Also…not to be creepy, but Chris has a sexy voice!! :-) You two are great together!

  110. Karen F says:

    This is a great post!! And I am not a blogger. This was super interesting.

  111. Jo says:

    This was such a fascinating read. I really admire your transparency with the blog and how you challenge yourself to create new content. Thank you for being a blog to admire and fun to read!

  112. Kensley says:

    I found this post very intriguing! I’m not a blogger and don’t Instagram for a job, but I LOVE the behind the scenes stuff. I totally noticed when your insta shifted last year! I completely applaud you!! That is so much extra work! It has clearly paid off though! I always look for your posts first thing in the morning and if I don’t get to the blog then (ya know, kids) I usually do thanks to the evening post! I do love how much you insert your family and life into the blog and Instagram because that’s your life! I love seeing posts about the girls (Charley included). Maybe it’s just because I’m a long time follower and I feel like we are besties (no? Haha). I’ve also had you reply to my comments and comment on my own pictures and it really is appreciated! I can attest that you practice what you preach and are doing a great job at it! Love the blog, love the podcast, and love the Instagram!

  113. LOVE this! So helpful, and I’m excited to put these in action!

  114. Thank you! I’m working toward growing a following on Instagram and have admired yours for a while! It is very well put together, beautiful, professional, etc. etc. This is very insightful and generous of you to share!

  115. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS! I have had Instagram branding on the brain, and this is the most helpful article I’ve ever read. I’ve also been so annoyed with the chain hashtag campaigns that are everywhere. I absolutely love your beautiful feed! I’m definitely going to take all of these tips to heart.

  116. Johanna says:

    Julia, Sweden is hot and sunny today and I should be thinking about what bathingsuit I wanna wear but all I can think about is the sweather you’re wearing in that picture. Were can I get one?

  117. Jamie says:

    These are great tips! You have one of my favorite blogs (and instas!) – you’re definitely doing it right! xo

  118. Kaitlyn says:

    Incredibly interesting post! I am always interested to know the business practices behind blogs I admire (though I am not a blogger myself at this point in life). Thank you for putting this together! Nice to know you can grow your following without tactics that wouldn’t sit well with me personally. :)

  119. I first fell in love with your blog and the way you share your life in an authentic and natural way. Then you guys came out with a podcast – which 1) makes my 1-hour commute to work infinitely better and 2) I’ve listened to it religiously and pretty much feel like we’re BFFs now (delusional, I know). And just when I didn’t think it was possible to like CLJ any more, you write this post.

    Even though it seems like EVERY OTHER BLOGGER is going the loop giveaway route, I have mostly resisted the urge to gain followers though quick, non-organic ways like these. So your story is an encouraging one. I especially relate to the point of including photos of yourself in organic ways – that’s definitely something I’ve struggled with, so I’ve stopped posting my face completely. :)

    And oh, the stories I could tell about posting a personal photo and losing hundreds of followers as a result! My husband and I have a running joke that his face is the most off-putting thing I could possibly share on IG because every time he’s in a photo, it’s an immediate loss of 40-60 followers! For the record, he’s quite handsome (if I do say so myself). :)

    I don’t know if this is up your alley, but I’d love to see a post on writing engaging, authentic Instagram captions.

    XO, Oksana

  120. Maggie says:

    Can I say something kind of funny with the hopes you’ll take it in the best way possible? When I go through my daily blogs in the morning, I like to check titles/topics first to see what i’ve got lined up to go with my coffee and then read them in order of least meaty to meatiest… leaving the best for last, if you know what I mean. I read this post first because I’m not a blogger, only instagram for my friends, and thus figured this post wouldn’t really interest me. But you reeled me in, Julia! Super interesting and I love learning more about the behind the scenes stuff related to having a career that is reliant on social media. I know some readers can be picky about what they want from their favourite blogs but I like not knowing what to expect and that there is always something new to learn!

    • Britt says:

      I have to second that! While this doesn’t apply to me, I was really captivated reading this, and also applauding you for not going the atypical route–the route that drives me a little bonkers–that some bloggers do to gain followers. I love that your hard work of just paying attention to what you followers like got you the following you deserve!

    • Kim says:

      OK – I’m “thirding” this! I loved reading the “behind the scenes” just out of curiosity. But I also had to tell you that all through reading it, I kept thinking how much I love your instagram – I never knew how much thought went into the reasons I like it so much! So much work – thank you!

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