Posts in this series
You’re probably getting annoyed, and wondering when you’re going to get all of the tips and tricks for actually getting your numbers up. The truth is, you’re probably not going to get many followers if people don’t enjoy your curated content. This is why I suggested having about 10 photos to start with. When someone looks at your profile, they immediately see your last 9 posts. If there’s nothing there, they might wonder why bother following you? I spend a lot of time on Instagram, I can tell when followers were bought, or when people have used strategies similar to my own and failed. I will teach you how to measure your success as you go along, but you have to have your basics covered. Let’s take a look at equipment, content planning, and some basic hashtags.
You will probably need more than a cell phone camera to catch amazing shots, but you can curate a good feed without a fancy camera. Once you reach 10k followers, having a nicer camera will play a major role in setting you apart from your competitors. To celebrate my 10k, I bought myself a new DSLR Nikon D5300, but only a few of my first 350 photos were created using my photographer’s high end camera. If you’re buying a new camera, opt for one with wireless download capabilities. It reduces the number of cords you needs and just makes sharing so much easier!
- iPhone 7
- Polaroid Cube
- Fuji Instantfilm Camera
- Canon Powershot G5
- A few pics of me from a photographer friend shot on her Nikon.
- Tripod (I couldn’t have done it without this)
- Selfie Stick (Not my thing, but I do have one)
Here are two photos from each of my most frequently used cameras:
It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have, if it isn’t charged or with you, it will do you absolutely no good!
Top Secret Tip! If you really want to be an Instagram pro, when you plan your outfit for the next day, plan your camera!!
- If you are going to the zoo, bring the big camera.
- If you are going to the beach, bring the waterproof camera.
- If you are going to a house party, bring an instant film camera.
- If you are just going to work, bring your cell phone.
- If you are going out alone, bring your selfie stick or tripod!
Just think ahead! Do not forget your camera, and make sure you bring the one or ones most appropriate for your activities. Just like you check the weather each morning to plan your outfit (come on, you really should…) do the same with your cameras and equipment!
Now that you have a focus for your Instagram account (See Part 1 Here) and some camera equipment, think about what you’re going to post. An interesting instagram account almost always has planned content. In a perfect world I would post at least 6 times a week. Probably two pictures per week for each of my three areas of focus (Travel, Culture, & Fashion).
Daily & Monthly Hashtag Themes
This is a huge undertaking, real work. If you don’t feel ready for it, there are some short cuts you can take to start engaging with the greater Instagram community. There are several well known hashtags for each day of the week. You can join in on these anytime you want. You can do one every day, or just once a week. Or even do two in one day! It’s pretty easy, and helps link you with other instagrammers with similar content and/or interests. I’ve bolded a few of my favorites. Also you’ll notice weekends are a little slower and Wednesday/Thursday are the hottest days on Instagram.
|Day of the Week||Most Popular Hashtags|
If you’re up for more of a challenge, look into 7 Day (check out the nature challenge that’s hot now) or month long instagram challenges. They don’t really fit in with my current social media plan, but it is a great way for someone new to Instagram to get involved in the community and help you plan what to post!
Weekly/Monthly Curated Content Outline
If you have your own ideas and content ready to go or in the works, you might be ready to plan your own instagram content calendar. You can do it with pen and paper, google calendar, or fancy apps. I’ll talk more about the app I like most for this in my next post, BUT you have to have the photos ready to go in order to use the app. I, for one, am not THAT organized yet.
I’ll walk you through what most of March will look like for my Instagram Account. It will give you a good idea of all of the things you should be thinking about AND it will force me to make my monthly plan.
…Many hours later…
So I sat down and decided to write out my monthly instagram plan, and well, I failed. I filled two weeks VERY easily. But the end of the month was a challenge to complete. I have some photos stocked, need to do a few shoots, and well…who knows what else might come up. So instead of a full month, I’m giving you about three weeks.
My Monthly Instagram Calendar
Without much effort, I have at least two posts from each of my three categories for each week (Travel, Culture, and Fashion). I also have my promotions and giveaways planned out and worked in along side of my normal content.
You should be starting to realize this is no longer just a recreational hobby, but more of a job. Sometimes you can reuse an old photo, but you will need to be constantly producing new content.And now that we have all of these ideas, we actually have to figure out how to get great shots to captivate our audience and attract new followers.
Photo Shoot Basics
Making the Most of a Photo Shoot
Whether you’re a blogger, an instagrammer, or both, you’ll be taking a lot of photos. In addition to having the equipment, make sure you have locations in or near your home where you can easily do photo shoots with good lighting. You can purchase lighting, buy screens, etc. I have my front stoop, my rooftop, my backyard, and two staircases I use for a lot of my fashion shoots. I also have a couple of gardens in my neighborhood I might try out this spring.
Turn to instagram for inspiration. This is where following a few Instagram accounts in your niche comes in handy. Some of my best pictures include tossing leaves like a child, underwater selfies, gymnastics on the beach. Don’t be shy. Go for the shot, or as some say, do it for the gram. I think my biggest #ididitforthegram moment came when I traded in my suede heeled boots for muck boots and helped my brother-in-law feed cows on Christmas day. I was literally walking around in three inches deep of cow shit. But that picture of me with the red headed cow Michelle was pretty epic.
And most importantly, find yourself an Instagram husband. If you don’t have one, a good friend will do.
This is your chance to shine. You must be creative or you are not going to get the followers you were hoping for, and you definitely won’t get the sponsors.
Things to Avoid: Collages & Videos
Collages and videos do not typically do well. Instagram is a quick visiual stimulant. Unless it is amazing, only your mom and grandparents want to watch your 15 second clips. And no one is interested in looking at the minisucule graphics in your collage. Avoid using these. If you think it works for your niche, give it a try. I can promise you, my 10k followers are not a fan of these things. I did create a video for my 10,000th follower. It was a 3 second clip of me doing a cartwheel on the beach. It actually did very well, it might have my most likes ever…but again it was 3 seconds!! So, if you do try video and collage, keep the big picture in mind. If you have content that is better shown in video, consider a youtube channel!