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Finding 10K followers on Instagram might seem like an unthinkable task for a beginner. I initially never thought it was possible. Like many people, I began using instagram to share photos with my family and friends. As I explored the app (literally, in the explore feature) I found a few strangers to follow, and I became intrigued by the stories they shared on instagram. As I followed these people in their daily lives, I was fascinated by the fashion and fabulous trips. I was officially an Instagram addict, checking the app every time I was hopping in a cab or waiting for an elevator.
Later in the summer of 2015, I encountered one particular follower who changed the way I looked at instagram forever. Because of him, I realized Instagram could be used for more than sharing photos. It was an opportunity to build a community and network with people you might not otherwise encounter. The photos were just the link behind the stronger connections that could be formed. The opportunities available were almost endless, but in order to play, I needed to step up my Instagram game. With a new outlook on Instagram, I steadily gained a few new followers, and received a few extra likes from strangers over the next few months.
By the end of summer 2015, I had about 200 followers, and by Thanksgiving my following had grown to 500. At this point I was seeing a lot of really great instagrammers, but I also realized they weren’t all that different from me. I was confident I had a chance at becoming a top instagrammer, if I put in the effort. I went from a casual instagram user to creating a personal brand and working Instagram like it was a part-time job in just a few months. Around mid-February, I celebrated my 10,000th follower with cartwheels on the beach.
Reaching the 10K follower mark is definitely attainable, but it is not easy. It will require creativity, dedication, patience, and time. A lot of time. A few of my friends started this journey with me, but have dropped off for various reasons. I’ve tried writing this information out a few times, and unfortunately, it is going to be a book. I cannot condense my thoughts on how to become a successful instagrammer into one short article. It’s just not that simple. And there isn’t one clear path to get there. I have created a mini series to share the secrets of how to reach 10K followers on instagram. And it’s a work in progress. While I have achieved my initial goals, I have set quite a few new ones for 2017! This first installment will help you get started, set goals, and narrow your focus.
For the purpose of this article, I’ll assume you already:
- Have a public account on instagram. You are not going to get many followers if your account is set on private.
- A few pictures. You should have at least 10 photos and continue to add at least 1 quality photo each week. You only get 7,500 follows on Instagram, and people don’t want to waste them on users who don’t actually post any photos! Don’t worry too much about the hashtags now, I’ll get into that more later. Don’t be afraid to play around with them though!
- Have already found all of your friends and family on IG.
- Follow a few “celebrity or product” accounts which you enjoy. Maybe @KimKardashian or your favorite basketball team and players. I know my mom follows @kellyandmichael and the @FoodNetwork. I chose a few actresses, museums, local restaurants, and clothing brands. Follow things you like, this is important. I’d suggest finding about 100 accounts you follow for pleasure. You will need some inspiration on how to create great content. Make sure you’re also following a few competitors (people whose accounts are similar to your own!)
If you haven’t done all of these things, stop now and GO do them!!! It won’t take long, I promise.
The Big Picture (get it? 😉 )
What is your end goal? That’s something only you can answer.. Athletes, businesswomen, teachers, lovers, and travelers have all been known to set goals. Goals provide long-term and short-term motivation and help you organize your time while focusing on the prize. Each of you will have different end goals and even more diverse strategies on how to get there. The one thing you should all have in common is the fact that you have a goal. Take some time to reflect on why you want to be an instagram superstar.
- Are you trying to increase awareness for your blog?
- Grow your business? Share your knowledge of beauty products and test free samples?
- Make others envious of your taste in fashion?
- Create a community of skateboarders?
- Just share photos of your travels with your friends and family and your 10,000 fans?
- Show others how to become a vegan yogi?
Setting My Personal Goals
I realized I live a pretty fabulous life. I live in one of the world’s hottest tourist destinations, visit museums, attend cultural events, dine at nice restaurants, travel to beautiful destinations, and have a lot of fun doing it all. There were a handful of successful lifestyle bloggers, whose lives weren’t all that different from my own. They are also getting a lot of awesome free clothing, trips, and meals. And maybe even making some money off of it! This didn’t seem like such a bad addition to my life! After reflecting on my end goal, I decided to create a personal brand and become a social influencer.
And if you haven’t noticed already, you have to be a little bit of a narcissist to do this, and have thick skin. Fortunately for me after 10 years of online dating, I can handle it. But not everyone is going to like you, and some people are just down right nasty. Luckily you can delete comments, and if your skin is thick enough and you’re having fun with what you’re doing, it shouldn’t bother you too much.
Measurable Goals: Why 10k?
Once your account is established and you know WHY you are on instagram, the first step is to set a measurable long-term goal. I wanted to create a personal brand, and become a social influencer, but how does one do that? While you can get work with less than 10K followers, your opportunities really open up once you pass the 10k mark. I started some sponsored food and beverage items at 500 followers, more at 3k, a few more at 5k, but 10k is really a strong baseline number to present companies if you are seeking sponsored posts, collaborations, or brand ambassadorships.
My initial goal was to find 1,000 followers by the end of 2015, but I passed that at some point in December and was closer to 2500 by the end of the year. Once I started seeing a steady increase in followers, I reset my goal to 10k by the end of February and 20k for the year (check in with me in 2017 to see if I hit the big goal!) Update, I did it!! My 2016 end of year total was just over 29,000 followers.
- 10K Followers by February 15th, 2016
- 20K Followers by December 31st, 2016
- 50K Followers by December 31st, 2017
After setting a long-term goal, you need to break it down into easily attainable tasks. And don’t hesitate to re-evaluate as things change (for better or worse).
Short-Term Goals to Reach 10K Followers by February 15th, 2016
- 1000 new followers per week
- 200 per day (if I am only doing this 5 days a week)
- 20 per hour, 10 times per day
- 200 per day (if I am only doing this 5 days a week)
Short-Term Goals to Reach 20,000 Followers by December 31st, 2016
- 1000 new followers per month
- 250 followers per week.
- 50 followers per day, 5 days a week
- 250 followers per week.
Notice what was initially a weekly goal has now become a monthly goal. Once you hit 10k, it does get a little easier. Since hitting 10k a week ago, I’ve had over 500 new followers with very little effort on my end. The strategies I used for gaining new followers have changed since hitting 10k, and the goals and direction of my social media usage are adapting as well.
Additionally, I’ve been using the extra time to focus on my blog and other social media accounts. While having a successful Instagram account is great, your opportunities extend even further if you have a blog to go with it.
Create a Brand
Now that I had a numbers goal and a motivation, I needed a name and a theme for my instagram account. Until Thanksgiving my username on Instagram was firstinitiallastname. BORING!! I spent a lot of time thinking of names, and eventually decided GingerontheGo was the perfect moniker for me. I work 70-80 hours a week, take one weekend trip for myself each month, and try to maintain an active social life in the evenings. On the go is an understatement (maybe superwoman?), but it works. Come up with a catchy name for yourself! Don’t be afraid to brainstorm with friends! Once you select a name, reserve it on all social media platforms (even if you don’t think you’re going to use them). Also try to avoid really lengthy usernames.
And then the hard part. What exactly am I going to post pictures of? I have some nice clothing, but my wardrobe isn’t endless. My job working with children can be a bit messy, so I’m not exactly dressed to the nines for work. I travel, but not all the time. Parties and events are fun, and I usually enjoy them, but I’m not sure those types of posts will bring in the most followers and engagement. Fitness is a popular niche, but I still haven’t mastered the art of fitness photography. Don’t worry, I am trying. And then there’s food. My life involves all of these things, so I went with the title “Lifestyle Blogger”. You can certainly focus on any of these areas, or mix it up. Just don’t be too broad. Make sure you can classify every photo you post.
- Culture (museums, food, music, local tourism, etc)
For now, I’ve axed fitness as a category, but you might see it pop up under the travel and fashion subheaders. Have a plan, it can be flexible, but you must have some kind of idea of where you’re going, or you’ll never get there.
You might be wondering what to do if you’ve already been instagramming for awhile and your past photos don’t really go with your new theme and focus. I deleted several older photos when I branded my account. And delete those selfies. If it doesn’t tie into your new theme, it doesn’t belong in your feed.
You need to have a well curated account before you start promoting yourself to other users. Follow these steps carefully, as they are the building blocks for creating a successful account and personal brand.
Look for my next installment on how to plan and create interesting content, the best apps to help you grow your instagram following and hashtags 101. While you’re busy setting up your account (or polishing up the one you already have), I’ll be gathering more information for you. Subscribe to my blog for future installments or follow my blog on BlogLovin!
Please post comments about the topics covered here or about questions you’d like to see addressed in future installments.