As a new photographer wanting to grow their brand and their business, you should definitely start a separate Instagram account for your photography work. It’s a great opportunity to showcase your portfolio and interact with other photographers or potential clients. If you’re struggling to grow your photography Instagram, here are some detailed ways in which you can grow your following and boost engagement. I used these methods to get 300 followers within my first month!
Make the Most of Your Bio SpaceDon’t waste your bio space. Make sure you’re putting everything you need in there for SEO purposes, but also to establish a more personal connection with people who visit your page. First off, you want your name to be eye-catching. Notice how a lot of creatives put their names in all caps, space out their letters, use interesting fonts, or add emojis? Those techniques make their names stand out in a list of likes or followers. It doesn’t have to be too in your face. I just made my name “SHEA JORDAN ?”. Next, it’s great to put what type of photography you do. Are you a wedding or portrait photographer? Do you do landscape or architectural photography? Whatever it may be, let potential followers know what they’d be getting by adding that in your description. Then maybe you can add a more personalized quote, witty pun, or something else about you in the line below. Finally, your last line should include details about contact info, like an email, and/or your portfolio link. Make sure to utilize the website function by adding a portfolio website or YouTube channel!
Post at Least Once a DayThe BEST way to get more followers is to have more content for them to enjoy. Posting each day shows that you’re active and probably helps with whatever the elusive Instagram algorithm is. Obviously, don’t bombard followers with a ton of posts every day, but you should really be posting at LEAST once a day. Maybe you can miss one day each week, that’s understandable. But as a photographer who takes more than one photo per shoot, it should be manageable to get at least one photo per day. Find the best time to post based on your Insights. You should already be set to a business account (if you’re not…what are you doing?). All you need to do is go to your Insights window, click on the “Audience” tab and scroll to the bottom. You’ll see a bar graph with the days of the week and the option to look at Days or Hours. Scroll through to see what hours of the days have higher bars for each of the days. Those bars chart the hours in which your followers are most active. This will vary from person to person depending on their timezone and where most of their followers are located in the world. However, I’ve found that the BEST time to post is around 7am or 8am PST on the weekdays if you’re in the United States. My followers are mostly located in this timezone, so when they wake up and grab their phone right away, my photo will be one of the ones they see on their feed. Plus on the east coast, it’s still a great time for those on their morning commute on the subway or bus to see it as well. With that being said, check your individual analytics to see when your followers are active and to understand what timezone your followers are mostly located in.
Join Facebook Engagement GroupsIf you feel like you aren’t getting enough engagement to grow your photography Instagram, leave Instagram to find an audience elsewhere. The best place to get a supportive group of photographers to help grow your Instagram is through Facebook groups. There are tons of Instagram engagement pods that allow you to post your recent photo and ask for likes, comments, and feedback. This is also a great way to get real followers that won’t unfollow you. I’m a part of this Instagram Photography Engagement Pod (which you can join here). It’s really great because everyone is very active and you can post one photo a day. I’ve established genuine connections with photographers through this group and always get interaction on my posts here. It’s only used for this purpose, which is nice because it stays focused on the members’ posts and doesn’t get flooded with questions, tips, or people spamming with random photos. If you’re looking for a community to ask questions, share advice, asks for constructive criticism and network, Jessica Whitaker’s “build + bloom” group is perfect. (You can join it here.) Every Sunday she has “Support Sunday” where members can drop their Instagram handles and follow one another. I’ve gotten a lot of my followers through this group and everyone is willing to grow and support each other within the build and bloom network. It’s a great community and feels like one big photography family.
Use This Liking TechniqueAnother way to snag more followers (or at least more likes) is by using this method. If you see that a huge photography influencer just posted on Instagram, click on the list of people who liked their photo. Scroll through and check out some of their pages. Chances are they will also be photographers who are looking to grow their page. If I find someone with a decent amount of followers and about the same number of people they’re following, I’ll like a few of their photos and follow them. As long as they aren’t too big (maybe 2k followers max) I can probably get a like or follow back. However, if they have about 1000 followers and only follow 33 people, chances are they only follow really close friends. Check to see if they’re in the same niche as you as well. I’m pretty much guaranteed to get a follow back from other self-portrait photographers because we’re a small but mighty bunch. The reason you want to look for followers on the most recent photos is that they’ve been recently active. You could find a great photography page and follow them without even realizing their last post was in 2015. Plus, if you see that Brandon Woelfel (for example) just posted a photo 5 minutes ago, it’s highly probable that those likers are still online and will see if you like or follow them. Then maybe you can get a follow back right away. See what I mean? Be active yourself and engage with active people.
Create a Genuine ConnectionOnce you follow people, make sure that you stay in contact with them. I’ve been so happy with the small community that I’ve been forming. It’s great to get feedback on your photos from followers who genuine admire and care about your art. I have those few followers that I always know I can expect a comment from, and that truly makes my day. So, if you really enjoy someone’s work, let them know! Comment on how well they did with their tones, colors, framing, composition, or editing style. They will definitely return the love and it also makes your social media experience seem a bit more personal.
Use Instagram StoriesUtilize Instagram stories! Most photographers are so concerned with their feeds matching a certain aesthetic, color scheme, or pattern. That leaves little room for experimentation or personality. Why not use Instagram stories to show your followers a little bit more about you? I like to use my stories to show off new equipment, post polls about what I should do for upcoming photoshoots, or post my before and afters of edited photos. It’s a great way to show your followers some behind-the-scenes of photoshoots, but also to let them know who the person is behind the camera. Your followers can ask questions, answer polls, and be more inclined to respond to your stories through your DMs and get to know you better. Establish that connection!
Use Better HashtagsHashtags are super important for growing and reaching a new audience. Without hashtags, I definitely wouldn’t have gotten my Instagram up to 300 followers in one month! Make sure to do some research before you just slap hashtags on there. Remember you can use up to 30, but use them wisely. You want to have a mix of largely used hashtags and some smaller ones. If you tag your photos #portraits, there are literally 13 million uses of that hashtag as of right now. It’s highly likely that your portrait will not be among the top of the 13 million posts. So what you want to do is start typing a hashtag and look for smaller ones that are still somewhat popular. If you look at the screenshot below, you can see that by typing “portraits” and scrolling down a bit, you can find hashtags with a couple thousand or a hundred thousand uses that will be much more successful. Another trick I use is to look at other bigger photographers and see what hashtags they use. There are some feature pages that have their own hashtags, such as #creativeportraits and #portraitvision. Look for the trends in other photographers’ posts and use those to get more likes. You know when you really hit some great hashtags when those likes come rolling in right after you post the photo! However, you still want to switch up your hashtags with each photo. That way you can reach a wider audience. If you take some fashion-inspired photos, use fashion or style hashtags. If you have a photo that looks cinematic or film-like, look up some hashtags related to that style of photos.
Want more detailed tips on how to take better Instagram photos? Check out my YouTube video on how I take my self-portraits below.
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