As elaborated in my welcome blog post, I launched my photography passion on Instagram. Instagram is probably the most powerful tool and the easiest social media platform for both professional photographers as well as amateur photographers who are just beginning. Instagram provides a great platform to showcase your work, connect with other photographers, and receive feedback.
1. Have a Business Account
A business account is the first step to a professional Instagram account. It will allow you among other things to have access to Instagram Insights. To read up on the other benefits of an Instagram business profile and how to switch over check out this article. You can convert your personal account to a business account or start from scratch with a new business account. If you convert your personal account you have the benefit of starting with a group of followers like friends and family who already like your amazing photos.
2. Find Your Niche
Just like any business, it is important to define who you are as a brand. There are many different kinds of photography out there and it is smart to make it clear to your followers what kind of page you are which lets them know what they can expect. For example, my focus is on highlighting the power of mobile photography.
3. Use a Proper Editing Tool
Instagram promotes the shoot and post mindset with the use of their filters but if you want to step up your game and get serious you need a proper editing tool, for example, Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop Express. These tools will let you bring out the best in your photography without slapping an obvious filter on top. Here are some great tutorials to check out.
4. Only Post Your Best Work
This may seem like a no brainer but you would be surprised at how many photographers post a bunch of unedited photos in each post. One stunning photo will do more than a whole bunch of shots that most people won’t see because they won’t scroll past the first one
5. Follow Relevant Pages
Try to find accounts that are relevant to your niche. Show them some love and engage with them, odds are they will engage back. You can also find accounts that repost photos and engaging with them can earn you a repost which in turn will generate engagement for your account.
6. Use Hashtags
Hashtags are critical for giving your photo the maximum exposure. Try and do some research on which hashtags are used often and have high search results as well as follows. Here is a great research tool It is important to use a mix of highly searched hashtags and very unique hashtags specific to your photo. Also, try and avoid spammy my hashtags like #followforfollow.
7. Write Engaging Captions
Time to brush up on your writing skills. Your captions should be captivating and descriptive. Try telling a story about your photo or ask a question. Try to create captions that encourage conversations, and entice your audience to respond. You also need to stand out from the competition and break through the noise, and the best way to do that is to be yourself and reflect you (or your brand personality). At the very least you can briefly describe what is going on in your photo. The more personal the caption is, it makes your followers feel connected to you and will make them want to engage with you.
When people comment on your post try and respond. If they actually take the time to write something more than a thumbs up, respond in kind with a real response, not just "Thanks!" or an emoji. Make your followers feel like they are part of a close-knit community.
9. Post Consistently and During Peak Times (use scheduler)
It is important to try and post around once a day. It is also important that you understand the best times to post. There is a great article where a lot of research was done on what is the best time to post on Instagram, I recommend reading it here. In addition, it is very helpful to use a scheduler as it is hard to always be available at the best times each day. I love using Later as it has a pretty good free plan and you can earn more by referring people. It also works for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
10. Ignore Fake Followers
Don’t get too caught up trying to get as many followers as possible. It's really about quality over quantity. It is much better to have a smaller group of highly engaged followers than 10 thousand followers but none of them like or comment on your photos. Also, beware of people trying to sell you followers, you never know what the quality of those followers are and if they are active accounts.
11. Use Hubs
Hubs are Instagram accounts that curate and share other users’ images, sort of like an online gallery. These accounts usually feature images related to a specific topic, which can be anything from a photography genre to a color scheme or subject matter.
Find them, follow them, interact with them, use their dedicated hashtag, and hope to get featured. It will boost the exposure of your account and help you attract relevant followers. For more tips on Hubs read this.
12. Create or Join Groups
Engagement groups are a great way to get feedback and interact with likeminded photographers. Sometimes you will get invited to a group or you can start your own, try to find photographers interested in the same types of photography so everyone is genuinely interested and not just after free engagement.
That’s it. One last note is that this won’t explode overnight. Expect this to take time and effort and hard work to grow your account into something substantial. Don’t get bummed out just because it isn’t growing as fast as you would like. Keep working at it and you will get there!