Instagram Tips: Improve Your Account + Grow Your Community!

"Do it for the 'gram!" Has anyone ever used that phrase? Or heard anyone else say it before? I've jokingly said it because how true is it in relation to the instagram-obsessed? I know that when I'm taking a photo, I often try to make sure it'll be a good IG post, even subconsciously! To be honest, that's a little scary but if you're in the same boat as I am, don't worry!

Today I'm going to share a few basic tips for Instagram, as well as ways to keep things genuine, simple, and true to you + your brand.

What to post in addition to your personal photos:
+ Your Workspace! Share photos of your desk, your office, your living room, or maybe even your bed. Do you get work done in a coffee shop or at a park? Where do you gather inspiration and ideas? Share that with your audience!

+ Product Photos! What are you making? Cookies, art, a new eBook? Share that with your internet friends! Believe it or not, people are interested in what you do. If they weren't they wouldn't be following you.

+ Quotes! Share your favorite quote or song lyric in the picture or caption. It lets people in on what you like/believe. It's also a great way to motivate someone or share a picture of your hand-lettering that you've been working at improving! Every couple of posts, a photo with words edited over the top could be a fun addition to your feed.

Tips for quality photos + an engaging account:
+ Lots of natural light! Most eye-catching photos are well-lit. A photo that is well-lit also has the best chance of being clear and in focus. If you're limited to fluorescent lights or something with a colored tint, then you'll definitely want to edit the photo or wait until a better time.

+ Keep things simple! Don't post 3 photos in a row of the same thing. You had coffee this morning while reading Kinfolk (swoon) and you want to post it. Great! Just don't post the same thing shot from a different angle 2 hours later...and then again the next morning. One image is enough. In addition, make sure your background is clear. If you're doing an overhead shot or a flat-lay (a picture from above of a few items all laid out) then make sure it is on a plain background. White, wood, slate, or marbled surfaces all work well for this!

+ Edit with a similar style! I love VSCO and the new app from A Beautiful Mess, A Color Story. They are both great photo editing tools, as well as lightroom, photoshop, and afterlight. When you're adjusting the image or choosing a filter, make sure they're in the same genre. The occasional black and white photo is fine, but don't edit one picture with a soft and washed out look and then the next with a vibrant, over-contrasted look, etc. Keep things coherent!

+ Give it YOUR flare! Add elements to your feed that represent you. Whether that is a quote (as mentioned before) or a photo of your daughter, or a picture of your latest masterpiece, give your account some personal touches. By showing the IG community who you are, how you work, and what you have to share, you'll attract all kinds of people who have similar interests and styles that you do! And THAT is where you can start the building of your community!

Growing the community:
It can be tricky at first. But trust me, with balance and patience, you'll watch your audience expand. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you learn to balance the desires for both more engagement and more followers:

+ Have a public account. Chances are if your account is private, people who don't know you won't follow you. If you have a private account because you're posting inappropriate content then you probably shouldn't be trying to grow your community in the first place. Check yourself before you wreck yourself... If your account is private because you don't want strangers seeing photos of your family or where you work, etc. then that makes total sense, these tips just might not work as well because, yes, people are hesitant to request a follow.

+ Don't post with the "like" in mind. If you're only posting things on IG that you think other people will like, then you're slowly going to sabotage the uniqueness and personality of your account. It'll just be like everyone you're copying. Post things that you like with the tips mentioned above in mind. Social media isn't all about who follows you and who liked your image. Double tapping on IG is super simple and anyone can do it, but did your image and your message stick with them? Do they want to see more, or is your image just another coffee cup like the one above it? Post things that matter to you (and maybe coffee is one of those things) but make sure you're being genuine and not just doing it for the likes. You'll lose your creative identity and overall your authenticity online!

+ Respond to comments. This goes for every platform. If someone says they like your photo or caption, say thank you! If they ask a question, respond. Ignoring comments or only answering a select few can seem rude or inconsiderate to some people. (If your account has 3 million followers and you get dozens of comments on each photo and you simply don't have time to answer them all, that is a different story. But if you posted a photo of your new sweater and someone asks where its from, go ahead and answer!) When you engage with your followers, they become your online community (and sometimes even your friends)!

+ Hashtags! These are so important. Hashtags put your images in different categories that other bloggers, photographers, small businesses, etc. can look at. Using hashtags makes your image available to more people and can reach a larger audience. Instagram is mainly run on hashtags, in my opinion.

+ Like other photos. Going to accounts that you like or who are similar to yours and liking 2 or 3 of their pictures might get them wondering who you are. They'll click on your username and realize "Wow! I can't believe I haven't been following this account!" (or something like that). Its something that you can easily and honestly do to get a little attention paid to your IG account. Don't spam people because you might get blocked, but liking a few of their pictures says, "Hey I like what you put out there!" and you might make a new IG friend in the process.

I've read countless posts about ways to grow your IG following or how to brand your account and there is just so much information and so many ideas, but these that I have mentioned are ones I've tried and love. I've met a few new people and gotten some great creative inspiration as well! And don't worry, your account doesn't HAVE to be branded. You're totally allowed to apply these tips to a personal account as well, and in fact you should. My account is a mix of both personal and creative business, and I try to hold to these guidelines as best as I can, and I've seen wonderful results.

In addition, I've added some stock images to my Etsy site that you're more than welcome to use on your IG account. Edit them, add some text, use them for blog graphics. Get creative!

I would love to read your comments and questions on this topic in the comment section below if you have anything to add!


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