I signed up for Instagram 3 weeks ago and to date have posted 85 photographs. I’ve covered a range of topics in an attempt to research the type of photographs that people find most popular. I am a complete Instagram novice fighting my way through the do’s and don’ts of posting successful images.
While I have only gained a small following (100) they are predominantly complete strangers (97) I regard this as a small success. A million miles away from being instafamous but a very small step to success, nonetheless. However in comparison to the number of followers my actual engagement rate when I post a photograph is quite a high percentage. Food, alcohol, sunsets and photographs of my Jack Russell, Ziggy have proven to be the most popular.
If like me you are new to social media you are probably wondering what the importance of this is.
If you are just posting photographs of your life, your hobby, your favourite pet or an unhealthy obsession with food and cocktails, just for fun, then great, keep it coming and do as you please. There doesn’t have to be a theme or any particular aesthetic that you need to adhere to. However if you are looking to generate an income from Instagram then you need to have more of a planned attack to seriously grow your following.
Successful instagrammers keep to the same theme to compliment their brand, this can be in the way of only posting images that are all in a similar vein, have the same colouring or perhaps have a similar editing technique. They aim to be more aesthetically pleasing rather than a random collection thrown together.
Selecting Your Theme
Pale pastel images are particularly popular for lifestyle and beauty. Food and drink posts are best served with rich warm hues for comfort or bright light crisp white backdrops for minimalism and summer fresh themes. Adventure posts tend to be more vibrant blue, green, grey hues. A splash of red is always eye-catching when posting a fashion shot. You get the gist. Once you start noticing rather than just looking, it really becomes quite obvious.
I have found that if you don’t particularly have a theme in mind, using an Instagram planning app like Planoly or Preview allows you to move your images around and practice and plan out how they look before uploading. I still need to narrow down my actual ‘theme’ although the more images you post the more you actually realise yourself what fits well together. Let your own eye determine the aesthetic that is right for you and your audience.
Viewing some of the top followed instagrammers can help you to see what images, colours and editing appeals. For the purposes of researching your theme avoid celebrity Instagram accounts (unless you are a celebrity) as they attract hundreds of thousands of views regardless.
If you are looking to be paid for posting photographs on Instagram then as a rule of thumb you should be aiming to achieve a minimum following of 2000. I’m a long way off that point and it is still early days……..watch this space or even better give me a follow.
Signing up for paid posting opportunities from organisations like TRIBE is a great way to be creative, have fun and make a little bit of income. It does rely on you having a reasonable following. You can set your own fee for payment although it does give you a guideline and it’s always best not to be overly greedy as they will have a limited budget which they want to maximise. Opportunities that you apply for set out the brief for your photograph along with some ideas for product placement. I am also told by frequent users that they have proactive payment arrangements in place so there is no hanging about waiting too long for money after your photo has been accepted.
The recently launched ELLEfluence app is gathering a popular following and as its new to the market has some exciting opportunities.
How many images to post
I am currently concentrating on posting a combination of new photos and shots I have previously taken interspersed in between and aiming for 3 to 6 posts daily. This does seem like a high number but as a beginner I am going for quantity over quality initially until I garner some traction and discover what works for me. Recommendations are that you post 1 to 3 times daily.
What time to post
Studies say that between 11am – 1pm and 7pm – 9pm are the best time to post. However again this is something I feel you should experiment with depending on your targeted audience. I have personally found that my best engagement is from 7am – 8am and then again from 6pm to about 8pm.
Other blogging tips you may be interested in:
Caption your shot
It’s also a strange phenomenon how much pressure you initially feel to add an amusing or pertinent caption to your photograph. There are those that aim to be witty and I personally quite like this style to be somewhat amusing. For my liking the more corny the better and I do always like a pun. Then there are those that aim to be informative and specify each and every detail exactly. There are those that just go for a string of emojis and those that tell you the entire ‘day in the life of’ that ultimately brought you to the selection of the particular photograph. There are also those that are succinct and let the photograph speak for itself or look for engagement by asking you to caption it yourself.
Interacting and posting comments and creating captions for others is exactly what you should be doing to gain those engaged followers.
Hashtags to make you sink or swim
The pressure is on to select the right and avoid the wrong hashtags. Choosing the right combination to make your image standout amongst the millions is no easy task. Changes to the algorithm mean that posts with high engagement are top dog rather than the previous chronological posting. Competing with images which have the hashtags with the most occurrences are not necessarily the way to go and you should research your niche and find less popular hashtags to grow your individual following. Aim to add a combination of at least 10 hashtags per image and don’t forget to tag those brands and places.
It’s actually interesting when researching banned hashtags too, my favourite being #saltwater and #easter – how bizarre!
Looking For Love
Did I ever think that I would be influenced by whether my snaps were popular or not? certainly NOT. Curiously though the psychology of wanting to be liked and accepted definitely does creep in.
It’s a funny feeling when you post a photo and you are immediately discovered and liked. Double clicking to be awarded ❤️ the universal sign of appreciation is quite exciting. The flip side to all of this is the disappointment that you feel when a photo you think is absolutely wonderful, fails to register even enough likes to take it into double figures. It’s a cold, hard world out there in the ether so be warned!
Let me know your best experiences of Instagram or even your worst. If you’ve got any tips for me definitely get in touch.