Get on your Instagram ‘A’ game (and how I went from 5K to 10K followers in 5 months)

A collection of shots from a styled Instagram taken with a canon 7D

I thought quite hard about what to title this article, on the one hand, I don’t want to come across as boasting but on the other I am proud to have seen such quick growth over on Instagram (my happy place) I also know I need a good post title in order to hook readers in <winks> Anyway, you’re here now and the truth is: I have doubled my followers in 5 months but how did I do it?

If you’ve ever read any of my previous posts on Instagram then you might have heard me say

‘there is nothing instant about my Instagram’

Instagram snapshot

I have written about my reasons for believing that it is better to only post your very best photographs and to have a clear strategy in using Instagram as an extension to your blog. I do still do this – most of the time – however, being so stringent in posting frequency and theme began to take a bit of the fun out of Instagram for me, and even though I use Instagram as a tool for my work as opposed to sharing every detail of my personal life I need to be vested in it or I will start to not care, then it becomes a chore and something I have to do rather than enjoy.

So I have let the odd iPhone snap sneak into my feed (rhubarb and custard donut anyone?)

Rhubarb & custard or lime & coconut? Decisions, decisions! So much deliciousness at Bristol harbour side market

A photo posted by Amy Treasure (@mrandmrstplus3) on

I’ve listened to other Instagrammers about the types of images that fill their feeds, I’m the Instagram round-up editor over on the BritMums site and so research and read about Instagram all the time. I’ve joined in lots of conversations surrounding Instagram and attempted to uncover what users want to see.

What do YOU like about Instagram?

Is it the very obvious ‘big camera’ images? The breathtaking portraits of children that have all the soft bokeh in the background and beautiful light? Someone (myself included) has gone to a tremendous amount of trouble to take the perfect image, edit and uploaded it to beautify your feed when you search for #childhoodunplugged

 

Or, is it the iPhone snap of the interesting floor tiles and trendy shoes – hello #FromWhereIStand – perhaps you like the overhead shot of a cappuccino on an aged brown wooden table in a fashionable cafe somewhere. Chances are the same amount of thought has gone into this type of shot but it’s just that bit more instant.

I get the feeling that most Instagram users appreciate a whole variety of shots, but done prettily. Not many people really want to see the piles of washing up, and the snotty kids do they? In reality, I just have to look around my own home for that! I think what we want is to open up Instagram and scroll our feed for inspiration; outfits, home, dinner whatever it may be, but also to get to know the person behind the camera a little better.

What do they eat, how do they dress, what types of places to they go for coffee?

Just not the mess, no one really wants to see the mess.

My point is I have let my feed diversify but I still try to share only the very best, unless I’ve been drinking lunchtime cocktails in which case I may not…

Instagram snapshot @mrandmrstplus3

I’ve mixed up my feed for two reasons:

  1. Although images taken with my DSLR of my youngest daughter are historically my most popular, some days she is just not happy for me to photograph her and I have to respect that. It was turning into a bit of a chore for us.
  2. The more followers I got on Instagram the more brand work I was offered. When brands pitch an idea to me now, although they want the bulk of the coverage here on the blog I am being asked more often to include a post (or three) over on Instagram, it has become quite a hefty part of my contract with them.

I am a family and lifestyle blogger and approached by different brands all the time. A recent example of this is my work with Swisse vitamins, the brand ties in well with my blog and busy lifestyle but has zilch to do with photographs of kids.

Instagram snapshot @mrandmrstplus3

Sticking to a theme can work amazingly well for some and they pull it off perfectly, but for me, I just couldn’t maintain the momentum, it was stressing me out and I knew I had to change direction. I still post mainly images of my children and the stuff we get up to as a family, but I do like to show off the odd cake and I want to be able to do that!

My reasons for concentrating so hard on Instagram and increasing followers are to make myself and my blog more appealing to brands thus increasing revenue.

Yes, I love Instagram and the community feel but ultimately there is no point in having all these followers if I’m not going to do anything with them. I don’t think many people, especially bloggers want to grow their followers just so they are super popular. There is more than likely a reason and if I am completely honest I want lots of followers in order to make myself and my blog more appealing to brands.

The more engaged followers I have, the more work I will get.

In December, I hit 5K this was after a couple of months of being very careful with the images I posted. Since then I have followed about 100 more people than I was in December but the number of people following me has more than doubled to 10.4K.

IG snapshot follower numbers compared side by side. How I doubled my follower numbers from 5k to 10k

Here’s what I did to double my followers:

  • Posted my best images but tried not to get too worried about them being perfect all the time
  • Aby and I built up a successful hashtag community #LittleFierceOnes it currently has almost 17,000 uploads.
  • Hashtags! I use 30, the list below are the ones I use the most and find work the best, it does take some experimentation.
  • Unfollowed people that don’t follow back unless I love their feed
  • Used an app like Crowdfire to follow people similar to those in my niche (I did this to get to 5k and just use it to track unfollowers now)
  • Engage, engage, engage! Like and comment on other pictures as much as possible

Hashtags I use on a regular basis:

#LittleFierceOnes #noordinarykids #myweekofhappiness #Wandeleurspark #clickinmoms #lovemyblog #ABMlifeissweet #darlingdaily #mommyblogger #mummyblogger #thehappynow #childhoodunplugged #RSlove #Flashesofdelight #humansofjoy #livebeautifully #simplepleasuresoflife #our_everyday_moments #simplychildren #simply_children #liveauthentic #candidchildhood #howyouglow #nothingisordinary #KeepItWild #littleandbrave #myhappycapture #lifecloseup #MyHappyCapture #CelebratingMotherhoodIG

Aby has the most EPIC post all about hashtags over on You Baby Me Mummy so do check it out for loads more ideas. There’s a whole wealth of info on the subject of Instagram on Aby’s blog, and she’s a really good example of when having a theme on Instagram works brilliantly, she’s not short on brand work either and has a magical way of weaving it into her content and making it work!

A few tips…

If you are going to start up a hashtag, make it original and different to others in your niche or it will get lost and people won’t be interested. You do need to work on building a community and Aby and I do this by liking and commenting whenever we have time and also by featuring our favourite images of those participating in the community on our own feeds. Aby also features her favourites every week on her blog, and I feature a round-up monthly.

Using an app like Crowdfire can be really useful, get rid of all the people that don’t follow you back, I always liken social media to having a conversation with someone and them ignoring you. Now obviously National Geographic aren’t’ going to follow me as they have literally millions of followers but I enjoy their feed so I follow them. However, if I’ve made the effort to follow someone and like and comment on their gallery but get nothing back unless I REALLY love their feed I will unfollow.

It is a numbers game, after all.

Engagement is so important, just going on to the popular feed and liking pictures will be beneficial in getting reciprocal likes back. I now belong to a couple of smaller communities where we support each other on Instagram. Having a community on Instagram is vital especially since the algorithm change.

If you search Instagrammers by hashtag #LittleFierceOnes for example and comment on the images you like you will definitely get likes/comments/followers back. Just think about when someone comments on one of your images, do you click through and like one of theirs back? Do you follow them? Engagement is one of the best ways of building numbers quickly.

Pop over to Instagram now and engage, find an account you like and comment on their pictures, do this a few times a day and if your own gallery looks good you will find your numbers going up in no time.

Let me know how you get on and if you have any Instagram tips let me know in the comments!

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Comments

  • Alexandra | I'm Every Mum

    Written on 24th May 2016

    Reply

    Fantastic article Amy. Super helpful. I started unfollowing non-followers. I was shocked how many people I was supporting and engaging with regularly that weren’t following me back. I actually find this quite rude when it’s people you’ve met personally. I was following 1500 plus people that weren’t following me back so slowly I’ve been unfollowing the non-followers (unless, like you say, I LOVE their feed). I adore your feed, it’s stunning, and Aby’s. I got mine to 1,000 in February following some of you guys tips after being stuck at around 562 for ages, and I’m now about to hit 1,500. Obviously nowhere near the success you’re having but it’s starting to creep up. I read another great article recently too which I’d pass on to you if I could remember who it was by. So helpful when people like yourselves share your knowledge, so thank you xxx mwa

  • Laura @dearbearandbeany.com

    Written on 24th May 2016

    Reply

    This is really great, thanks for sharing lovely. I love Instagram and trying hard to work on my gallery. I’m nearly at 1K followers, but it’s hard work. I will look at doing some of your tips. Xx
    Laura @dearbearandbeany.com recently posted…Living Arrows 21/52My Profile

  • Angela Milnes

    Written on 24th May 2016

    Reply

    fab post Amy. I have juts started to enjoy Instagram and am making that my goal for the rest of the year to increase my following. I’m happy with my Twitter but need to work hard on my IG. I do find it hard work but will keep going.

    Angela xx
    Angela Milnes recently posted…Making My Blog Fabulous On Days In BedMy Profile

  • Emma

    Written on 24th May 2016

    Reply

    Wow, that is amazing! Well done on hitting 5k. Brilliant. This is really interesting to read. I love instagram and have been working to improve that and I am slowly increasing but I still have a very small following. I tried to have a theme and it didn’t work. I found it to restricting. I now just go down the route of sharing photos that I think are nice. However, I am in total awe of the instagrams that have such lovely themes. With regards to hashtags, do you just remember them all or is can you copy and paste them? I find that I use the same ones all of the time so a shortcut would be fab :-) x
    Emma recently posted…Our review of the P&O Britannia Cruise – part 1My Profile

  • Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    Written on 24th May 2016

    Reply

    Thanks for sharing this Amy – well done on hitting such a huge milestone, although I’m not overly surprised – your feed is beautiful! Really interesting read for me – I’d love to grow my Instagram more, but I’m really reluctant to go down the overly themed route. It’s just not something that I feel I can commit to and maintain, and it’s great to read that you’ve been able to relax the theme while still growing. I do really need to work more on hashtags – I use a few, but it’s a real struggle to remember them all, and for some images I don’t even bother!

  • Francesca Gott

    Written on 26th May 2016

    Reply

    I’ve slightly neglected my Instagram. I have over 5600 followers on Facebook but just over 500 on Insta. I need to work on it! Thanks for this post. Very useful :)

  • The List #89 | Mr and Mrs T Plus Three

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    […] week I am linking Get on your Instagram ‘A’ game (and how I went from 5k to 10k followers in 5 months!) Aby is linking  Time-saving tips for busy bloggers and Boost your success with 12 daily […]

  • Mackenzie Glanville

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    Instagram is by far my fav social media platform because I just love photography and I love looking a t pretty things, hence why I follow yours! I love posting on Instagram and sharing my fav shots, some are planned and edited and others are spontaneous when I am out letting people know what I am up to. Great post, and I agree I wrote a post about decluttering social media, I don’t follow everyone who follows me unless I like there feed, and I don’t just unfollow if someone doesn’t follow me, I don’t expect famous photographers to follow me, although I have been lucky to get some amazing followers. Have great week and thank you for hosting #thelist
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…Catch your dreams little oneMy Profile

  • An imperfect mum (Catie)

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    Brilliant article, thanks so much for sharing these tips. My IG numbers have increased since following the advice to find a theme and stick with it. I love IG. My IG is also not instant anymore. I am going to be more interactive as you suggested as I have started to get some great comments. Thanks to Aby recommending the hashtags. Thank you for hosting
    An imperfect mum (Catie) recently posted…Weekly Roundup #21My Profile

  • lizzie ( firstooth )

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    I love your honesty here. There is definitely a purpose for more followers but it’s what we give to them too. Although I love seeing beautiful pictures and I much prefer getting lost in Instagram than I do Facebook, I also like seeing personal pictures and getting to know the person. I guess like a celebrity, I’m nosy as to what their life is like. Really great tips I enjoyed reading over a tea! Thanks for hosting #thelist x
    lizzie ( firstooth ) recently posted…Flawless Friday May 27th (Includes Embarrassment)My Profile

  • Kate Tunstall

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    Such a great post hun, really helpful. I’ve only recently joined Instagram but it’s already my favourite – I love it! I really want to spend more time on it (when I find more time to spend…) but already I’ve implemented the use of more hashtags and the difference is phenomenal! Thanks for sharing. xxxx
    #TheList
    Kate Tunstall recently posted…“How Can We Protect Our Children from Bullying?”My Profile

  • wendy

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    This is fab Amy, so many useful tips. I love your Instagram feed, pictures are always so beautiful. I definitely need to put more work into mine, it is growing verrry slowly. I don’t spend half as much time on it as I want to though. Going to check out some of these hashtags now xx #TheList
    wendy recently posted…Our camping holiday in SomersetMy Profile

  • Annette, 3 Little Buttons

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    Such a great post! I have only recently started using Instagram and I have to admit it is very addictive. I love seeing a mixture of amazing shots and candid ones. I have been using snaps from my iphone, but perhaps I need to get my game on now. #TheList
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons recently posted…Summer Living Room InspirationMy Profile

  • Cheryl @ ReimerandRuby

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    Great tips! I love Instagram over facebook however I’m a bit lazy engaging with other people out there. I should really be diligent and start being active with my social media accounts. Thanks for sharing this! #TheList
    Cheryl @ ReimerandRuby recently posted…Reimer’s homemade pizzaMy Profile

  • Madeline

    Written on 27th May 2016

    Reply

    I’m really enjoying instagram at the moment, and am a ‘big camera’ girl for the most part. Thank you for the list of hashtags, that’s really helpful, I’m still learning what ones are best to use! x #TheList

  • Edward

    Written on 28th May 2016

    Reply

    Very interesting post. Thanks for the tips. I looking at all ways to build unique a following for my blog and growing instagram is something I want to do.

  • Petite Pudding

    Written on 28th May 2016

    Reply

    I am new to the instagram world – already my kids are getting a bit fed up, but I love taking pictures and am in awe of some of the amazing talent I have already seen. Thanks for your useful tips, this is definitely an area I want to expand #thelist

  • My Petit Canard

    Written on 29th May 2016

    Reply

    Fab post! Instagram is one of the channels I am quite new to (sacre bleu!) and have yet to crack. Its definitely one that I want to start to focus on over the next few months, pay it more attention and really grow it so this is really helpful. Ill definitely be doing a bit of a check on who I am following and who is following me back, and making more time to post and comment. Its such a lovely channel, I’d really like to make it work for me and my blog too :-) Emily #TheList

  • Joanna @mumbalance

    Written on 29th May 2016

    Reply

    Very, very informative post. Thank you for putting it together!
    I enjoy Instagram and recently started putting in more time into it, with good results – not as good as yours though xx
    #thelist

  • Tammymum

    Written on 30th May 2016

    Reply

    Thank you this is really useful I’m still quite a mewbie on Instagram and have a slow growth, so this has been a really insightful post. Also massive hats off to you, that’s a fab increase in 5 months xx #thelist

  • Sarah

    Written on 1st June 2016

    Reply

    Wow 10k followers! You obviously know what you are doingThanks for sharing your fabulous tips. I will start using them instantly as I’ve gotten behind on Instagram lately. #thelist

  • Cal at Family Makes

    Written on 1st June 2016

    Reply

    This is a brilliant and really useful post, IG hasn’t been my focus so far but I really should do it more. Can I ask a silly question, though – how can you tell if people are following you back after you’ve followed them (without having a brilliant memory!)? On Twitter if you look at your list of people you follow it clearly states ‘follows you’, but I can’t see such a thing on Ig? TIA #TheList

    • Amy Treasure

      Written on 1st June 2016

      Reply

      Thank you! That’s a good question – I use the crowdfire app but there are loads of apps that can check who isn’t following you back then you can bin the ones you’re not bothered about and keep the ones you are!

  • Silly Mummy

    Written on 2nd June 2016

    Reply

    That is an impressive growth – well done! I don’t use instagram at all, but I can see the point of people wanting to see pretty pictures that effort has gone into – after all fb is packed with pictures so instagram needs to be a bit different, I would think. #thelist

  • Mirka Moore @Kahanka

    Written on 8th June 2016

    Reply

    A fantastic post with great tips. Need to focus more on good hashtags I think as I do not seem to get that many likes despite a good following ;-(

  • Louise | Squished Blueberries

    Written on 14th June 2016

    Reply

    Brilliant post, thank you for all the tips. I am edging closer to 1000 followers since I started using 90% big camera picsand working the hashtags. At the moment I pretty much only post photos of my kids because that’s pretty much all I take photos of for some reason so I suppose I have a theme. I’m not sure if it’s working or not though because I feel like I have had quite slow growth compared to some people and I saw a thread the other day when people were saying that no one just wants to see pictures of your kids all the time because it’s boring :-/ I dunno, I like pictures of kids! Anyway, I love your feed, sorry for rambling! X

  • mummytries

    Written on 31st August 2016

    Reply

    Quite possibly the best post on IG I’ve ever read. I so need to up my game, and know this will help. Thanks Amy xx

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