I get a lot of emails asking about tips on how to I grew my Instagram following, so here it is! These are my tips and little stories about what I have learnt in the past year. I am just a normal girl with a passion for fashion, I’m not some social media guru or anything so I don’t want to sound as though I’m telling anyone how this should be done, it’s just the way I’ve done it and there are no rules – just do whatever makes you happy!
ABOVE: Shot with my iPhone 6+
It’s been a year since I started my Instagram account for @miss_gunner. When I started this account, I didn’t tell anyone about it. I was scared that my friends might think it’s stupid and that I might be judged. I’m not a fashion expert, I have no formal fashion experience or credentials, but I do know that I love fashion and it’s something I am passionate about – and that was my motivation to kick off.
Miss Gunner is my creative outlet and a bit of an escape from my real job as a dental hygienist. I hope I can continue to build my brand and find an organic way to grow it into a career; but if nothing comes out of this, I have no regrets because I feel so blessed to have connected with so many amazing new friends from around the world that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
My husband gave me the push and said just do it! Sometimes you just need one person to believe in you to start and that’s exactly what happened.
So as I said there are no rules and there is no right way or wrong way, but here are some of my tips on growing a brand on Instagram:
1) Put your best photos up
People are seeing hundreds of photos everyday. You really have to ask yourself, are you proud of this picture? If you are then post it and even if it doesn’t get a big response, you can be proud that it is the right projection of your individuality.
2) Invest in a good camera or at least a good camera phone
I started off with a small Nikon that my hubby bought as my christmas gift. That worked well for a while and I felt like I had to upgrade, and now i use a Nikon D750 with 50mm 1.4f lens. But believe me – there is almost no correlation between a well-composed photo and the response it gets in terms of likes and comments. I probably use my iPhone 6+ on over half of my pics. All my shoes, food, flat lay shots are from my beloved iphone 6+. Unless you’re a photography blogger, your fashion-forward followers are generally going to responding to your fashion creativity and nothing more. So it’s nice having a good camera, but don’t go blowing your hard-earned cash on one if you’re expecting it to make a big difference to your Instagram account.
When I started with 0 followers, I Googled so many ways of how to gain followers and the the most important tip I found was to interact with other people. No one will care about your account unless you show that you care about others first. Consider them your friends and peers. Be nice and be genuine. When I first started I used to go through accounts with similar hashtags like #ootd #blogger and like and comment on the pictures that I like. This allows other people to discover your account through your likes and comments. Reply to people’s comments if you can. It’s always nice to interact with your followers.
4) Never buy likes and followers
Trust me when I first started, I thought about it but it really contradicted my values and beliefs. I’m doing this because I love what I do and I want to have fun with it. It’s not my aim to be popular or famous. I just wanted to share my love with everyone. People will eventually find out that you are buying likes and followers and it will leave you feeling embarrassed. Eventually it will catch up with you. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Im sure it does and that’s why people are doing it but it all depends on the reason why you are doing this in the first place.
That money spent on buying likes and followers, I could be buying shoes! So I pick shoes.
Sometimes for no obvious reason my account will just go dead flat and stop growing. At first this felt like a real blow. But then I kept reminding myself that the goal is to create something I’m proud of, not to be the most popular girl on Instagram. This is a hard one, we all have a bit of ego, and you’ll just have to work it into your daily mantra that you’re not here to win a popularity contest, you’re here to showcase your individuality.
5) Who to follow
My rule is that you can follow and unfollow who ever you want. It is a free world. As much as I would love to follow everyone, I can’t and therefore I have to follow people that inspire me at any given time, otherwise I will be flooded with photos and it will just get confusing. If that person you follow can inspire you, then follow them. Don’t get disheartened when someone unfollows you. It’s just life.
6) Spend as much time focused on building your brand, not your bank account
You hear of big bloggers making big bucks from blogging, but this shouldn’t be your main motivation to do this as you will be disappointed if you don’t. I’m still working as dental hygienist now and my job funds my hobby so there’s no pressure for me to compromise or promote something I don’t believe in. That buys me a lot of freedom and means that I get to answer only to myself.
Your brand IS an asset. It has a value. That value might not appear in your bank account straight away, but it will buy you a lot of options when you start getting approached by the brands you love. Don’t focus on how you’re going to make a business out of this until you really feel a logical path or idea come along. The job is to define and grow your own brand’s value as much as possible, and after that you’ll have loads of opportunities and you’ll be able to think about a business model then.
7) Most important of all: Be yourself
It’s ok to be influenced by others, but use many influences to complement your own individual style rather than feel compelled to copy what others are doing and going places where they are going – it’s being different and being yourself that will make you stand out. Think about your favourite fashion brands – most of them you can tell who designed it just by looking at it. You want people to be able to tell that it’s your photo just by looking at it, and you can’t achieve that by following someone else’s style too closely.
8) Have fun!!!
My husband constantly reminds me that if nothing huge comes of this, then I should be able to look back on my time spent creating Miss Gunner and be able to say that I enjoyed 99% of the experience. If it becomes a grind or a chore at some point, then something is wrong. You don’t want to regret the experience, it should be an enjoyable journey and not ever a disheartening one. So try and not have too many expectations, just do the best you can and be yourself.
So now that I’ve listed eight rules, let me remind you again that there are no rules!!! So don’t take my or anyone else’s advice too seriously! We all have different views on what we want from this. Your aim should be to have fun building a brand, and it’s nobody’s job to judge how you do that, and if they do just ignore them. If you want to get paid by companies to post, then do it. If you want to just get your audience as big as possible, then that’s ok too. Whatever works for you!