How to Be an Instagram It Girl

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I think we all know by now that Instagram is one of the best ways to grow your brand and influence online. However, it can be a tricky platform to master - and sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle against the dreaded algorithm.

Lucky for you, I've picked up a few master tips in the past few years that have helped me grow my account to nearly 13k engaged, dedicated followers - and I'm here to share them with you!

(P.S. let's be friends on Instagram!)

Create a hashtag strategy.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on each post, and I suggest you use them all. That's 30 chances for new people to see your content, especially with the recent updates that allow users to follow hashtags that they enjoy.

However, you don't want to use super massive hashtags that are really general, like #love or #instagood. They have millions of photos in the tag, which means the chances of your photo being seen in that hashtag are slim to none, unless you already have hundreds of thousands of followers.

Find a group of relevant hashtags that you like to use, then save them in a note on your phone for easy access when you post. I like to add mine in the first comment to make it look cleaner, but it's totally up to you.

There are countless posts listing massive amounts of hashtags to use (like the ones listed below) so I won't go into too much detail here. My favorites to use are #myunicornlife #thehappynow #thatsdarling #livethelittlethings and #flashesofdelight.

Here are two MUST READ posts that give you a full breakdown of amazing hashtags and their uses:

>> Instagram Hashtags for Bloggers That Will Triple Your Likes by Venus Trapped in Mars

>> The Best Hashtags to Get Your Instagram Noticed + Shared by The Nectar Collective

Define your ideal follower.

It's important to know who you're trying to attract with your content. Take some time to really think about who would resonate with your content and who you want to reach. Then, you can more easily target them when engaging, using hashtags, etc. Think about what hashtags they use, what accounts they might be following, and where they might be checking in.

Follow, comment, and like similar accounts.

Explore your favorite hashtags to find likeminded people that post beautiful photos, and when you see one you like, leave a thoughtful comment, double tap, or even follow. Many times, that person will reciprocate the gesture, or at least check you out. If they like what they see, they just might follow back!

This is also a good time to scout out some of those "ideal followers" we were talking about. Look through the followers lists of accounts that are similar to yours, and engage with those people. Since they already follow and like someone's content that's similar to yours, it makes sense that they might like yours too. 

Work with the algorithm, not against it.

I wrote an entire post about the myths of the algorithm and how trying to "beat" or "hack" it will only hurt you in the long run, but it boils down to this - the algorithm is here to stay, so you might as well accept it. You're not shadowbanned and no amount of ridiculous tricks or wishful thinking will magically make your engagement better. Yes, it's rough out there for everyone. Engagement is down and growth is slow. But using all of Instagram's features correctly, switching to a Business account to access precious analytics, and continuing to create beautiful content will pay off in the end.

(Don't believe me? I've seen the most growth in my account so far in 2018 than since I started Instagramming in 2013. I've nearly tripled my follower count since January.)

Find your community.

The best advice I can give is to find a community on Instagram. Find likeminded people with similar interests and content and then support the heck out of each other. It's tough out there for creatives and bloggers, especially on social media. Finding those people you can bounce ideas off of, get advice from, and just generally commiserate with is invaluable.

Create a beautiful aesthetic.

One of the single most important things you can do to encourage growth is to create a beautiful, cohesive feed aesthetic or theme. That way, when people land on your profile, they're immediately met with photos that blend beautifully together and make them want to hit follow.

The easiest way to do this is to define a single editing style that you use on all your photos. There are all sorts of editing apps out there, but my favorite by far is Lightroom. Their mobile app is totally free now (you don't even need to have an Adobe subscription!) and it has the most powerful tools.

Plus, Lightroom presets are the perfect way to get a cohesive, well-branded and beautiful feed with no hassle. And lucky for you, I've developed a line of presets based on my own editing style that has helped me triple my followers this year and work with some incredible brands. And they can be yours for less than the price of a coffee date or a good glass of rosé. 

Shop them here: