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Instagram strategies: Building an audience as a blogger

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Instagram has quickly established itself as a blogging game changer. It’s a great way to publicize your work, and it is used as a secondary blogging platform where each picture is expected to tell its own story

So it goes without saying that you must have good quality images. It can be forgiven if you have really artsy/creative type images, but they’d have to really interesting in order to keep people around. You can take the short way and just post a loot of booty pictures, but as a blogger looking to make some money from the trade, you should know that very few brands will take you seriouslyFollow for follow.

1. Follow for follow

Let me hit you with some stats. Song of Style, unarguably one of the biggest names in blogging right now has 2.1 million followers. How many is she following? 769. Same with The ChriselleFactor (@chrisellelim), who has 480k followers, and only 840 people she’s following. Even our own Thisisess (@this_is_ess) has 64k followers but follows only 218 of them.

song of style
@songofstyle

My point? Your Instagram feed is crucial in determining the type of content you put out. What you expose yourself to on a regular basis will affect what your picture standards are, and the end result will show on your timeline. This is why this strategy – follow for follow – is one of the worst ones out there. Not everyone takes their insta seriously enough to put out good content, and if you just follow anyone that’s kind enough to follow you, you will end up with a lot of none sense on your homepage.

So I suggest a very selective approach on who you follow back. I stick to people who inspire me, people whose pictures are what I want mine to be when I grow up. It means that people will follow and unfollow me on a regular basis because I rarely follow back, leading to a slower rate of Instagram growth but I think it’s worth it. The few who stick around aren’t there because you follow them – they’re there because they appreciate the content you put out, and they are the ones more likely to hit the like button than just scroll through. And you need that engagement if you plan to ever make any money off of your instagram efforts.

 

this is ess
@this_is_ess

@this_is_ess

NB:

This isn’t to say that you should go on an unfollowing spree. Don’t go nuts hitting that button because they don’t inspire you, because it’s the fastest way to get unfollowed as well and end up starting from scratch. Stick with most of the people who followed you from day one, back when you refollowed everyone. Just keep it in mind moving forward that what you see on your feed affects what you put out, so search for accounts that inspire you, teach you or entertain you, then follow them.

2. Like for likes

Personal favourite. It’s an easy way to show appreciation for those who take time to check out your profile without making the full on commitment that following back is. That’s why this is my favourite strategy of them all, because it makes them feel valued and encourages them to come back over and over. So when someone likes one of my pictures I go to their profile and like three. And no, I don’t use the hashtag (#like4like) because it comes off as desperate and I don’t need to advertise my intentions/beg for attention.

While you’re at it, don’t buy followers/likes or any of those quick fixes because the day instagram clears out fake accounts, it’ll be clear that you don’t have much to offer and there’s just no recovering from that. Growing organically is essential for long term success because fake followers won’t like your pictures or support your work.

crystal olisa

3. Features

This works two ways, where a brand is either getting featured on someone’s Instagram, or a brand is doing the featuring. Getting featured exposes you to a large audience because people tend to click on the source of the image (you), and if you’ve taken the time to build a solid profile they are likely to follow you for more.

Doing the featuring, on the other hand, is where you feature images on your timeline and credit the owners. Look at brands like Lenovo. They feature pictures of their products in use, giving the customer free publicity on their platform because they credit the images while gaining free PR photos of their products. To top it off, more users follow them in hopes of getting featured. genious, isn’t it?

african fashion bloggers
@africanfashionbloggers

They barely have to work for it, because the users tag them in the pictures, meaning that all they have to do is look through what’s available and pick the best ones. You can only do this if you’re an established brand like Lenovo, if you have a massive audience like Olympus Penn Cameras or if you’re an upcoming brand that’s recognisable like African Fashion Bloggers.

4. Hashtags

These are crucial,  and not just in how often you use them, but in how popular the ones you choose are.Those of us who see Instagram as a potential business will not only choose our hashtags very carefully,  but also click on the hashtag to see how others are using it.p to get inspiration. For example, the hashtag #badday has over a million posts under it, yet its variation #baddays has only 62 thousand. Likewise with fashion related posts. #fashionblogger has over 8 million post under it while #fashionbloggers has about 600 thousand.

hashtags

 

This is where the strategy comes in because a hashtag that’s used by a large number of people has more people clicking on it to check out what similar minded people are up to. When I post something under #styleblogger, I make sure to not only click on the resulting link to see what else people post, but to also like the pictures that interest me in the hope that the people will be compelled to check out my profile.

And this works – I’ve gotten followers from this, I’ve connected with people from across the world in our comments. It’s real connections like these that ensure that your content gets the interaction it needs to get brands to notice you. Which brings me to my final point – that some people will never hit the like button just because it’s you, and that’s okay. I have people who’ll tell me in person that they love my latest work, but who don’t follow or like anything I post online. And that’s okay. Not everyone needs to support what you do, and those who don’t shouldn’t be your focus anyway.

Be sure you check out my Instagram (@crystalolisa) to understand what I’m talking about. As always, thanks for reading! Leave any thoughts you have in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

 

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