I had contemplated whether to write this post up at all, because lets face it; in the grand scheme of things, 1,000 followers is nothing. I’ve seen accounts join this year and already be matching my grand total of 7.3K followers, a number I’ve amassed over seven years of Instagram (give us a follow here!). Obviously I started out just sharing pictures of my cats and food, it’s only the last couple of years that I found my niche in interiors.
Towards the end of last year I was feeling a bit fed up of it all. The only followers I was getting were bots who unfollowed the next day, and engagement was pretty low. I decided there and then that I’d start putting more effort in. I put a plan of action in place, and within two weeks I’d grown 1,000 followers, ending January with 7K, 1.5K more than I’d ended 2018. Again, this could be pittance to some, but after being stuck at 5.5K after seven years, a growth that large that quickly was pretty impressive to me. So today I thought I’d talk through what I did to gain Instagram followers, just in case any of you are stuck in the same sort of situation.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds themself stuck in a scrolling rut. I’m mostly on Instagram in the evenings, and after a full day of working or looking after a toddler, sometimes my brain doesn’t have the capacity left to leave a meaningful comment. Sometimes I can’t even read the captions. But for a week or so, I stopped just scrolling, liking every picture I came across. I slowed down, read the captions, and if I liked the picture, I liked it and left a comment.
More often that not, especially with other interior accounts, you’ll end up with a response to that comment, and I’ve had lots of other accounts follow back from engaging more. I’ve been making sure I engage when following accounts too. Of course, I don’t follow people to get a follow back, but you’re much more likely to have your account seen and possibly followed back if you follow, like a few pictures and leave a couple comments too.
Use all of your hashtags – and don’t be afraid of the big ones
Hashtagging your images is essential to getting your pictures out there. I know, it can be a ballache, but if you’re really organised you can keep lists for certain images in the notes on your phone. And you’re given 30 for a reason, so use them.
If you’re stuck for what hashtags to use, people like Vix Meldrew and Me & Orla have some round-ups you can use. I generally tend to have a little peek at what other people are using and try those out. I like to use a mixture of big and small hashtags; you’re obviously more likely to be seen on a hashtag with only a few thousand images on, but the payoff with the larger hashtags can be much bigger.
Take the picture above. I was actually in two minds whether to even post it, but I did. And it kinda blew up. Before that, the most likes I’d ever had on a picture was about 1.2K. This one got 7.8, was shown to 120,000 accounts, and got me just short of 250 follows. 53,000 impressions were from #apartmenttherapy. That is huge.
Not only that, Instagram have released a super helpful new feature which breaks down what hashtags you’re performing best on. So you can go back and see what hashtags you’re appearing on, and those you’re not. Some of my favourites and best performing are : #scandimaximalism, #simplystyleyourspace, #kitchensofinstagram, #interiormilk, #inmydomaine and #howivintage.
Get involved in hashag competitions
Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but there’s a LOT of interior hashtag competitions. I only take part in a couple, but the one I regularly tag my images for is #myhousethismonth. Not only is that one of my best perfoming hashtags in terms of other users seeing my pictures, but last month two of my pictures were shared on the @myhousethismonth page. It brought in a good few new followers each time.
Stick to a theme
I’ve already spoken about how I edit my Instagram pictures on here, but planning my feed works for me. I always edit all my pictures the same, with gives a coherent looking space. And using the planner on A Color Story means I can plan out what I post to avoid having too similar pictures near each other.
Try something new
It can be hard as an interior account to share something people haven’t seen before. Other than bankrupting myself buying new things, the only other thing I can do is style things differently. Perhaps try out new angles. I set aside time every weekend to potter around the house, styling up shots, stockpiling images for the week. I used to just shoot my home as it appeared (with a bit of tidying, obviously!), but now I make more of an effort to style things.
This is probably one of the biggest things I saw grow my engagement and following. You can’t expect your profile to be found when you’re only posting 1-2 images a week. Without a doubt, my following grew the most when I was posting twice a day, around 7am and 7pm. For me, taking Ada to nursery and running two businesses, that’s pretty hard to keep up with. Mostly now I just post one image a day, always at 7pm. But it’s definitely worth putting the effort in and waking up ten minutes earlier.
Of course, it’s slowed down now, because that’s the nature of the same. But I still consistently gain Instagram followers, and my engagement is still much better than it was.