How to Gain Instagram Followers: Everything I've Learned Since 10K!

The Road to 100k

Every week, I get hundreds of DMs from bloggers and companies all asking the same question: "How do you gain followers so quickly?" I guess that's what happens when you gain 20,000 followers on Instagram in under eight months! If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you have probably already read my previous Instagram how to guide: "How to Gain 10K Followers on Instagram in Less than 5 Months". In January, I decided that my goal for the year was to get 100,000 Instagram followers. Some people (okay, most people!) called me crazy, but others have been really supportive along with the way! Now that I've made it halfway through the year, I'm proud to say that I made it to 20K followers. Now, only 80K to go! 

I absolutely love sharing Instagram updates on my blog because I know that it helps other people grow their Instagram accounts. So many people have helped me along the way, so I love to be able to take the information I've learned and pass it on! If you are new here -- thanks for stopping by! Take a look at my previous 10K post and then read the following for even MORE ways to do Instagram better!

Here is the 9 step guide:

1. Change the Way you Look at Hashtags
In order to get the highest possible engagement, your first step is to change the way that you look at hashtags. Make sure that you are using hashtags correctly so you don't get shadowbanned. In case you don't know what shadow banning is, let's start with a definition. Shadow banning occurs when Instagram blocks your post from coming up under the hashtags you've selected because Instagram has reason to believe that you are spamming and/or not complying with Instagram's terms. This normally happens when you consistently use Instagram's limit of 30 hashtags and use the same hashtags repetitively. When you use less hashtags, and constantly change which hashtags you are using, you're likely to get better engagement and therefore, more followers. This may also happen if you delete a picture that you have recently uploaded and then reupload it immediately with the exact same caption. Instagram flags this as spam (please change this IG developers!!!). 

Read more about how to strategically use hashtags here.

Read more about the Instagram shadowban here.

@beingsummerlewis  - this is an example of how I use hashtags!

@beingsummerlewis - this is an example of how I use hashtags!

2. Have a Large Following Outside of Instagram
The easiest way to gain more Instagram followers is by finding followers from OUTSIDE of Instagram! For me, my blog brings a lot of traffic to my Instagram page, which in turn gaines me more followers. Facebook is another social media source that has definitely helped me receive tons of followers! By using other sources, you'll be able to direct even more people to your Instagram. So make sure to stay active on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest!

Another way I gain followers is by talking about my Instagram every time I go out. Even the smallest things like telling my waitress that I work on Instagram has gotten me SO many followers! When you start talking to people about your Instagram in your daily life, people will notice your passion and you'll be surprised how many people decide to follow you!  - through growing my blog, I'm able to grow my Instagram! - through growing my blog, I'm able to grow my Instagram!

3. Treat Instagram like you would a Full-Time Job (It doesn't have to be boring though!)
Speaking of working on Instagram, if you are serious about gaining followers then you HAVE to treat it like you would a full time job. Working on it for 10 minutes a day isn't going to cut it! I work on my brand through social media at least 6 hours a day, which doesn't include all the hours I spend talking to companies on the phone or in photoshoots. Although I do realize that most people are growing their Instagram while also balancing a full-time job (yes, I do realize that there are these horrible things called bills and responsibilities), there is definitely still time to work on Instagram! Some bloggers make Instagram their full-time jobs while on maternity leave and find time to work in the morning, during naptimes, and after bedtime. Some people I know get up early before their 9-5 to be on Instagram, and then do it all night after their shift. It is possible to grow on Instagram quickly if you make the time for it! I would advise that at least 4 hours a day dedicated to Instagram is needed to truly engage with your audience in an authentic way and gain some followers!

Just like everything in life, it takes a lot of hard work to be successful and reach your goals! 

Read more about Social Media Influencing here.

4. Have a High Quality Instagram Feed
My Instagram feed has changed A LOT over this past year. I went from taking photos on my iPhone and using Instagram filters, to hiring a full time photographer + editor. My best friends at Mixd Creative Co. are amazing at editing photos, and are currently helping me create a "picture perfect" feed. Although it isn't always cheap to have someone else do the work for you, Dale and Bre Carty at Mixd Creative Co. have been doing this for years and are currently continuing their education as master's students. Not only are they amazing at editing photos, but they also teach college classes in graphic design, are amazing at wedding photography, and slay constantly in the typography department; they are my little superheroes when it comes to making my blog and Instagram feed look amazing. As you can tell from my recent posts, they are incredible at what they do. Hiring an assistant or an editor might be something to look into if you are serious about growing your blog/business. Not only will it help your page stand out, but it will also give you more time that you would have spent doing other things. For me that means taking less time taking + editing photos and using that time to engage with my followers and write new blog posts. 

If you are interested in learning more about Mixd Creative Co.'s photography, paperie, or editing, you can contact them here.

Instagram feed at 10K vs. Instagram feed at 20K

5. Work With as Many Companies as you can
Guys and gals, pay attention here. Over the last few months, I have really come to love working with brands to influence their products. Whether it be a product exchange, sponsored post, or a repost from a brand -- it helps me just as much as it helps them! Not only does it allow me to get free stuff that our family actually uses on an everyday basis, but normally they will also give me a discount code for my followers (does it get any better?!) or even pay me to post about their brand (oh wait, it does get better!). Another great thing about working for brands is that they will sometimes repost your Instagram posts which allows your account to be seen by all their followers. Also, don't be worried if you are doing a lot of product exchanges and can't seem to get paid sponsored posts. Do an amazing job with that you get, and the paid posts will come!

Hit that subscribe button because I'm going to be posting a new blog post about how to make money on Instagram SOON! 

@beingsummerlewis  - working with companies is great because it's great networking + allows your followers to get get products for a discount (or free)!

@beingsummerlewis - working with companies is great because it's great networking + allows your followers to get get products for a discount (or free)!

6. Post Numerous Times Every Day
Instagram has explained to many (of what I would call) high profile Instagrammers about the importance of posting at least twice a day. Before our move, I was posting up to four times a day and my impressions, reach, and engagement tripled! With moving to Antigua this past week I've been posting once a day, or none at all, and my insights went way back down. It was a great test to truly see how much posting numerous times a day helped my Instagram grow! 

You may be thinking, "How on earth am I going to post four times a day? I don't have the content!" Well I'm going to share with you my little secret on how I was able to post so often (usually without pissing off too many of my followers). ;)

Here was my pattern for posting: (one that I plan to get back to soon)

  1.  A new photo/video that I've never posted
  2.  A sponsored post for a company that I'm currently working for or a outfit post. Every other day this post will also direct people to a new blog post.
  3. A follow Friday, Throwback Thursday, Mom Crush Monday, Taco Tuesday, Whatever-the-Heck Day post (these will normally be archived later). Also includes those funny holiday posts like National Donut Day or National Best Friend Day. 
  4. An Inspo post of either something that I have found on Pintrest or a repost on Instagram from an account larger than mine. My followers love them, it gives me an extra post, and the account who I repost them from takes a look at my profile. It's a win-win-win!

7. Engage with Others
In order to receive the highest amount of followers, you must engage with the ones that you have. By staying active on your followers feeds, their followers will begin to notice and will take the time to check out your page (and probably give you a follow as well!). Another way to make sure that you are always engaging is by commenting back on your OWN post. I'll be the first to say that I am REALLY bad at this one. I find myself posting a photo on Instagram only to go check my email or do 100 other things instead of taking the time to write back to my comments. Something that I have found helpful is blocking out 2 hours after every post to focus on responding to comments. Not only is this important for engagement, but the more comments that your post has, the more people will see it because of Instagram's algorithm and how comments work into it (very valuable for hashtag top posts). 

My favorite way to engage with others is by engaging with my Instagram Support Pods. Pods are support groups normally made of 15 accounts or more that commit to engaging with your posts. The purpose of these groups is to make full use of Instagram's algorithms by receiving immediate engagement on posts, which bounces your post to the top of everyone's feed! It also allows you to network with other people in your same niche, which in turn gives you amazing engagement.

Read more about how to join and use support pods here.

@beingsummerlewis - commenting back is important for engagement!

@beingsummerlewis - commenting back is important for engagement!

8. Change your Niche as your Audience Changes
This was a hard one for me. It took me out of my comfort zone of focusing primarily on mommy blogging. Although my followers still enjoy reading educational posts on parenting, there are a lot more fashion, travel, and general Instagram bloggers following me. My new audience loves reading and seeing posts about outfits, travel destinations, and how to guides about Instagram and blogging. So instead of focusing on myself as a mother, I am now focusing more on myself as a lifestyle blogger, which has grown my Instagram because now different types of people with different passions are following me.

9. Everything you need to Know about Instagram Stories
Up until a few months ago, I was using Snapchat as the main way to show off my daily life. One day I realized that this was actually hurting my Instagram. When we post Instagram stories -- our followers are more likely to hit our profile to see if I've posted a new photo or to check out my website. And now that Instagram has filters! Let's be honest, Snapchat just can't compete anymore. To receive your greatest engagement, you have to have an Instagram story up at ALL TIMES. At least one, although I recommend having at least 5 or 6 stories up within a 24 hour period. 

Another thing... Instagram now allows you to add locations and hashtags to your stories. USE THEM BOTH EVERY TIME. Think about it, every time you use a location or hashtag you have the possibility of having your story shown to thousands of people looking at stories from that location or hashtag. This is a great feature that Instagram has to help you be seen by more people, so use it every time you post a story.

@beingsummerlewis  - Not every Instagram story has to be perfect quality, but make sure to add a location + hashtag!

@beingsummerlewis - Not every Instagram story has to be perfect quality, but make sure to add a location + hashtag!


Comment below your best tips or questions for gaining followers on Instagram!