I remember when I first started Instagram. I had SO many questions- how often do you post? What time of day do you post? What do you write in the caption? How do you grow? I was stumped, but I was determined to be successful at it. In the 2.5 years since I have started my Instagram account, I’ve grown to 118,000 followers and it is my favorite place to connect with my readers.
I wanted to share with you my tips on getting started and answer the questions I had. I’m of the mentality that we should all help each other grow! There is room for everyone and I want you to be successful! I’ve had so many cool opportunities as I’ve grown my account and want you to have the same joys.
How often do I post?
First of all, you can post whenever you like. BUT if you want to be successful, you should take it seriously. At the minimum, you should post 5 times a week. I post every day. Once every 3 months or so I’ll take one day off. Why am I so dedicated to this schedule? Because Instagram’s algorithm rewards Instagrammers who are consistently posting on the platform. Aka, they’ll show your content to more of your followers if you post constantly.
Plus, Instagram is now my job so I treat it that way. However, if you don’t have anything good to post or say, skip a day. It’s better to not post than to put up mediocre content.
I also experimented with posting twice a day, but I struggled with having quality content to share more than once a day. Plus, people were unfollowing me when they were seeing too much from me. For some niches, twice a day works so post more often and test it for yourself. But for most people, I suggest to post once a day everyday.
What time of day should I post?
The answer to this one is another question- when is your audience on their phones scrolling Instagram? My main reader is a young mom- so I put up my post right around dinner time when she finally has a second to breath. I’ve experimented with different times to see what works best as well. I post at 6pm EST every night (or as close to that as possible). I’m living in Florida now, but when I was in Utah, posting at 7pm MST did better for me. So test it out!
If you sign up for a business account with Instagram (which I suggest), you’ll get insights with then your followers are on the app to help with when to post. After looking at mine for this post, I might try a 3pm posting.
how to I format my caption?
Making a caption on Instagram look pretty can be tricky! I like to add emoji’s to break things up (I have 5-7 that I constantly use that work with my “brand”). If you want to add paragraphs to your caption, I swear by Later.com. You can schedule 30 posts with them each month for free, so that’s where I type up my caption.
how do I drive traffic to my blog through Instagram?
I see the mistake of newer Instagrammers doing the following- post a picture and the caption says “to learn more, read my blog.” Sadly, it isn’t that easy (and it doesn’t work- the post bombs and no one clicks anyway). I’d suggest to think of Instagram as a place where you can give- give a tip, give inspiration, give an insight, give a laugh. And then, at the end of your caption, if you still want to, ask for a click.
My goal with Instagram isn’t to drive traffic to my blog. For me, my Instagram is a part of my online identity (a big part!). I see it as social proof that I have a message to share that people want to hear. Its where I post pictures and curate my brand. Because I’ve grown an audience there and have a “look,” brands pay me to advertise their product. That works well for me!
I know some bloggers have a huge following on their blog and then their Instagram is an extension of their blog. So they can get away with captions that say “see more on my blog.” (Gal Meets Glam is a great example of that). But you have to work up to that.
So to drive traffic to your blog from Instagram, I’d suggest the following: 1. When you have a blog post to promote, post the best photo from the blog post and then give some advice or insights from the post. At the very end of the caption, add “to see more of how I ….., click the link in my bio.” On the same day, share some Instagram stories about your project with a slide asking people to go to your blog (more on Instagram stories below).
why do people use special links in their bio?
Instagram is tricky with links- essentially, you have one link in your bio (that you can change by editing your profile). Its a pain to change, so you have some options. 1. leave it as your blog link. 2. change it each time you post a blog. 3. Use a service so that readers can click on one link and then see options.
I go with option 3 and pay for it (I pay through later.com since I like using them to schedule my posts as I mentioned before). There are free options (Link Tree is a popular one). When I first started, I was super frugal with my money so I don’t suggest paying for one until you’re making enough money on your blog/Instagram to rationalize it. The free options aren’t as pretty or easy to use, but they do the trick.
I LOVE having one link where my readers can click through old posts and see what I was referencing. I link to my blog and also use affiliate links to make a little extra money. Having links options with one click helps my blog traffic AND it serves my audience– so its a win win experience.
how do you post automatically to Instagram?
There are a few companies that do this- once again, I use Later.com (you can do it for free for 30 posts a month). Tailwind will also do this. This is a newer feature by Instagram and it is SO nice that they have made this! But I rarely use the feature. Why? I like to tag people in the photo, set the geotag, and then add hashtags once the post is live (things you can’t do automatically with a scheduled post).
The only time I use the feature is if I will be going to an event (like a concert or wedding or flying on an airplane) where I can’t post quickly. I’d also use it if my 9-5 job was Instagram and I didn’t want to think about posting on the weekends or while I traveled.
what do you do if someone reposts my photo?
Instagram is a sharing place. The best practice when doing a repost is to ask the person permission, wait until they say yes, and then post it with tagging them in the photo and the caption. But we all know that doesn’t always happen.
If I am tagged in the photo or caption, I am grateful for the extra exposure and flattered that they liked my photo. Getting shared by another Instagrammer is the easiest way to grow your account so this is a good thing! Even now, with 118k followers, I get so excited when I am reposted!!!
So many times I see newer Instagrammers getting all worked up over people sharing their content. “They didn’t ask permission!” “I didn’t get any new followers!” My best advice is not to worry about it and spend your energy on taking pretty pictures. I promise, its a good thing! Leave a nice comment and be grateful. This means you are taking pictures that people like. THAT IS THE GOAL!!!
The only time I was upset when someone reposted my photo was when it was of my son and they didn’t tag me at all. Reposting a photo of a person under 18 without consent of the parents is against Instagram’s Terms and Conditions so I asked the person nicely to take it down, which they did. The rest of the time, I love it!
who should I tag in my photo?
When you post a photo to Instagram you have the option to tag people. I tag as many companies that I can possibly think of that I’m using in that photo! I am a home decor account, so if my desk is from Overstock and my flowers are from Whole Foods, you better believe that I tag them!
Why? First of all, it helps my readers. They can click the photo and see right where I got something. Secondly, you might get reposted by a huge company. I remember, when I had less than 5,000 followers, I used fabric for a project. I tagged Joann Fabrics and guess what, they reposted the photo!!! I got hundreds of followers and I was so grateful!
I’ve been reposted by Pottery Barn Kids, Overstock, Paypal, Grandin Road, Framebridge, and many more. It is such a great opportunity to grow my following with other home fanatics! So whatever your niche is- tag whoever you are using!
What is up with Instagram Stories?
Instagram stories are where you can record a 15 second video of what you are up to and share it with your audience. It will disappear after 24 hours so it doesn’t have to be perfect. It is where your readers can get to know the real you and see the behind the scenes of your feed.
If you are not doing Instagram stories, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! Lots of Instagram users rarely scroll their feed, but watch stories. I use stories to drive traffic to my blog, to grow excitement for a project I am working on, to make more money (companies pay more with sponsored posts to have you share stories), get comments on my posts and to connect with my readers.
Use your stories to connect. Run polls, ask questions, do q&a’s. Get to know them and let them see who you really are. This connection in invaluable to your brand.
I make sure to post 3-5 times a day at minimum. Once a week, I try to show my face and talk into the camera even though it is awkward. Why? I want to tie my face to my brand so people get to know me and feel personally connected to me.
why do some people have the option to swipe up?
On Instagram stories, you can add a link and have people be able to swipe up to go to the link. To get it, you have to have 10,000 followers and a business account. This is a huge perk because it helps drive traffic to your blog or to affiliate links.
If you don’t have 10k followers, use the link in your bio to drive traffic through your stories.
What are the little circles on someone’s bio?
Those are called “highlights.” If you record a story that you think your readers would like to see longer than 24 hours, you can create a highlight and save it. I suggest to save things by category. For me, I have each room as a highlight and so people can see the whole makeover from beginning to end. If I get a bunch of questions over and over again, I’ll make a story and save that to a highlight too.
how do people have pretty photos for their highlights?
For me, I made my own! You can do that too (I use picmonkey.com) or find some for free to download (just google free Instagram highlight covers or icons) or you could buy them on Etsy for cheap (I’m obsessed with these). You need to add each highlight cover as an Instagram story first to be able to use it.
why do people follow me and then unfollow me?
Its a growth strategy. They follow you in hopes that you’ll like their content and follow back. My advice is to follow whoever you want regardless if they are following you or not. If you love their photos and they inspire you, follow them! If they unfollow, but you still love their photos, keep following. If someone follows and you don’t like their stuff, don’t follow.
I know it can be hard to grow followers and then see them drop. Everyone means something to you! And they should! I am grateful for each of my followers! And I know that especially when you are small each one really counts! We all started from zero and I know that its a fight to earn each follower. Just know that the first 1000 are the hardest to gain. It’ll get easier.
Please don’t get discouraged when some unfollows. Put out your best content and comment on other people’s photos that you love. Find your niche and get engaged with what they’re doing. Pretty much, don’t put a ton of energy into when people unfollow. It sucks, but know that if you put your head down and do your best, that it will give you great results.
what’s a loop giveaway
A loop giveaway is when accounts get together, buy an awesome prize, and do a giveaway (so it costs money to do one, the price differs depending on the prize and how many people are in the loop). To enter, a person has to follow everyone on the loop. It is a way to massively grow your account is a small amount of time. I know accounts who have grown by 20k followers in a day!
But it sounds too good to be true because it probably is. Why? A lot of the followers will unfollow after the giveaway ends. Plus these are followers who just want free stuff. I personally want followers who are interested in what I’m doing, inspired by me, and will buy what I suggest. That way, I can work successfully with companies to sell things.
I personally have never done a loop giveaway since it doesn’t line up with my goals as an Instagrammer. You can decide if they are the right fit for you or not.
what other suggestions do you have?
I love, love sharing my Instagram tips! I could honestly go on and on with my insights that I’ve learned from the past 2.5 years of Instagramming. And so I decided to share my best tips to a private email list. I start with 5 days of beginner Instagram tips. Things that I haven’t covered here like- what to put in the bio, how to make a pretty feed, hashtags and where to put them, tips on writing captions, and the course I recommend taking to grow your Instagram.
After the first 5 days I then email with my current insights about Instagram every two weeks. Things like best practices when hosting a giveaway, how to make money through affiliates on Instagram, how to find companies who’ll sponsor you on Instagram and on and on.
If that sounds interesting to you, I’d love to have you! Just enter your information below to join!
My goal with this post is to answer the questions I had when I was just starting out. And the ones I’ve seen asked again on forums and by other blogging friends. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I am happy to answer them.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.