If you've been a follower of mine, you know that I am super transparent with everything I do. From my swamp demon looks in the morning on my Instagram stories to my blog income reports. Very recently, I hit an Instagram mile stone by hitting the big 5k mark. While that actually doesn't really mean much when it all boils down, I got a lot of questions about how I got there and just general questions about how to gain instagram followers. So, in the spirit of being myself, I am going to tell you some things I've been doing to lead me to this very space today.
Gain Instagram Followers | From 0 to 5k in 18 Months
- I own a local business that displays things people like seeing: When I first started my instagram account for Thyme and JOY, I had just moved to Charleston at the end of 2016 not really knowing what I was going to do. After about 6 months, I started my personal chef business which enabled me to immediately start posting content of what I was doing or cooking. I am lucky that people really like seeing food as it's something we all encounter every day. If I had opened a dog toy business or a fencing company... I can't say I would have been as popular.
- I have a solid business foundation: The business is compiled of many different facets to make it more noticeable to customers when they are searching for my brand. The foundation of my business is my website, which I was able to make look professional and design exactly how I wanted it by looking at Youtube videos like those made by creators like "Create WP Site" (here). After this was done the next step was to build a following on social media to attract customers to the site and buy my products.
- I have a purpose for my Instagram and look at growth as a side effect: I used to care about the numbers so much until I realized that the numbers weren't equaling dollars or opportunities. The objective goal and purpose of my IG is to drive traffic to my website where people get value, or to gain perspective clients in my personal chef business. Once I was able to focus on those two things, growth was a bit more steady and had some depth behind it. If you don't really have goals for your IG or a purpose behind it, just have fun with it and don't worry about the followers.
- I started getting out there IRL (in real life): THIS is probably one of the most important things I've done. I feel like people who have businesses online completely undervalue their role in the local community. Finding people in real life to connect with is SO IMPORTANT. The relationships are solid, you get introduced to others in your field and you eventually bring in long-term engagement and support from them. I've had coffee with many people, have been to many networking events and even started a local business bestie group that has been so key in my life. When somebody says "we should meet up!" give them dates and times you're available immediately. Even if it doesn't workout as anything. You are showing the world you are ready for connection in all areas.
- I spend time engaging in hashtags: most days I click on a few different hashtags that are relevant to me, my community or business. I like about 10-20 pictures and leave an engaging comment on their feed. If nothing else, it helps people know you exist
- I found a specific niche: healthy food, cooking and recipes are my thing but if you want to be involved in an online community, you need to further niche down and ENGAGE. For instance, after my first Whole30 I was hooked. Not only did the program do amazing things for me, but the community was outstanding. It's much easier to connect with people when you have a specific thing you're interested in like keto diets, dog rescue, roller derby, interior design, surfing etc. My love of the Whole30 eventually led me to become an official partner which provided more opportunites for me including meeting some of my very best friends and starting our own local community Wholey City
- I unfollow people who make me feel bad about myself: let me be honest here and tell you that I used to avoid posting a lot of things because I felt bad for not being as far along as X person or not having enough followers as X person or even not LOOKING like X person. I went ahead and unfollowed people that made me feel bad about myself EVEN IF I REALLY LIKED THEM OR IF THEY WERE MY FRIENDS. Its true! Instagram is a crazy world and you need to do what's best to protect yourself. Even if that may mean you hurt others. I say that this helped me grow followers because after I stopped feeling bad, I felt I was able to be more of myself and post whatever felt like me without the borders of someone elses success.
- I treat my social media like a job: To date, I have received about 10 clients from instagram. This means whatever I do and say makes an impact on my business which means I do have to dedicate some time to it and deliberate focus to where it's going.
- I figured out my key balance: if you want followers, you can either buy them like some local businesses unfortunately do *cough* OR you can post racy pictures and/or fancy shots of products and ridiculously elaborate smoothies all day to appease the masses. You will get followers but you wont get PEOPLE... I hope that makes sense. I've found that posting a mix of things people want to see (pretty pictures of food and recipes) and things I want to post (soapbox moments, offending beauty counter reps) works best for me. This way I don't feel like a shell of a person and people see some depth when they follow. Always ask yourself what things YOU want to see and follow. Remember that you are giving a lot more than you take, especially at the beginning. What can YOU do to help or provide your followers with value? For me it's been healthy recipes, kitchen tips and just being fucking real about things that people don't usually talk about.
- Instagram Stories: I feel like a story QUEEN! Ever since they launched I can't stop. It's like a vlog of my life in little snippets and it is SO fun for me. I feel like pictures can only tell so much about a person, but stories can really open the door to who you are if you want to let it out. I've gotten my fair share of trolls and unfollows from stories but I have also gotten a slew of people who thank me weekly for being myself and that just feels damn good!
- I really just don't care sometimes: Sometimes, real life is going so well that I could give 7 flying fucks about how to gain instagram followers. I cherish these times because it makes me appreciate the fact that there is so much more joy to be found in life outside of a screen. Coincidentally, those times I really stop caring my IG seems to grow more organically on its own. Try it!
- I have a partner in crime: I met LeeAnn of Chucktown Art last year in my business bestie group and we connected immediately about all things local business with a big focus on IG. We both share our struggles and successes daily and honestly have fun figuring it all out while also ripping our hair out at the same time. LeeAnn is always strategizing and testing things that work for her and others and has become very proficient at knowing what you need to build a local following and beyond. She even created a guide to help gain instagram followers and likes that can be found below.
Overall, I will say that to gain instagram followers you need to be prepared for it to not be easy. Growth can be slow, painful and take a lot of time and strategy. Remember that Instagram is a tool in your life. You can use it to make you happy or you can use it to piss you off and tear you down. Be yourself and don't let it determine your value to this world! .... wow! I am sappy AF today ...What are some of your tips to gain instagram followers?
Be sure to follow my Instagram adventures @thymeandjoy