Instagram Like You Mean It

I get asked pretty frequently about how I have managed to build a community around Instagram, and to be honest I feel like my answer is NEVER what anyone expects.

Generally the exact questions people ask are something along the lines of  "How did you get so many followers?"

 "Do you like get tons of free stuff?"

"What hashtags should I use?"

I am in no way the leading authority on Instagram. I don't have that many followers and to be clear here and going forward I'm not dissing anyone's use of Instagram. I'm one of the few people who genuinely loves most facets of the app. I love that there is a way that people can make money off of their honest opinions of products, even if that gets abused from time to time. I love that if you build a following and a community, naturally you can build a business. I love hashtags and I use them frequently. 

But I feel like sometimes when we ask questions like this we're missing the point. The best part about Instagram is building and being a part of communities. It's being able to support your friends, your favorite businesses, and your local (and sometimes global!) community. 

You can definitely build a successful business and community using Instagram, I promise you that. But the groundwork of implementing tips and tricks is knowing that it does matter whether or not you care about the people you follow and those who follow you. 

Now there are definitely tricks, don't get me wrong! And I'll happily share some now, but know that my experience is rooted in the fact that I love your selfies and I'll like every photo of your lunch and/or your feet on different cool floors. 

1) Using hashtags to group your photos with other photos that are similar to yours can be great! This will bring like minded people to your page who just might love what they see and follow along. People say that using hashtags is dead, but I still enjoy it so I do it whether that's true or not. 

2) Styling photos is never a bad idea. Re arrange your coffee & your planner as many times as you want! No one cares and everyone does it. 

3) Take photos in good, even light. You guys. Everyone can spot bad lighting. Good lighting helps unless you're going for a grainy look. 

4) Try taking your photo a few different ways!  Frame it, reframe it, style it once or twice, frame it again. Mix it up and then you'll have something to choose from. 

5) Edit in A Color Story, Afterlight or VSCO! Make your photos look exactly like you want them to. And if you're into making your photos all look similar, you can develop a formula in these apps. 

6) Only work with brands that you like and tell people why you like them when you post, whether it's sponsored or an unsolicited endorsement. 

7) On that note, don't be afraid to make a media kit and pitch brands that you'd like to work with! They may say no, but if you're into it you can definitely try!

8) If you like someone, like really really like them, on Instagram, say so! Interact with people you like. Comment on their posts. 

9) Tell all your friends about accounts that you really love. All of my favorite accounts from people I don't know in real life have come from someone saying "Hey, do you follow...? They're a film photographer from a different part of the world and I think you'd really like them." And my friends are right. I do really like them. 

10) Don't take any of it too seriously and enjoy your real life too. Instagram is great. Let it be fun, let it be a place where you can meet new people, and if you're ever feeling insecure just log out for a little bit, know everyone feels insecure sometimes,  and go do something that makes you happy.