1. Pick Your Passion
Identify not what you’re good at now, rather figure out what you’re going to do no matter what: No matter if someone is watching — If there’s a camera there or not — If you have friends into it or not.
It’s a long road from 0 to 1,000 followers and even longer to 100,000. You’re going to get haters, trolls, ambivalence. And you’ll need to lean into them. The worst will allow your fans to come out and defend you. So you really need to be there no matter what, doing something you are passionate. Doing your passion is better than doing the latest hot trend.
Following your passion makes it easier for people to follow you. And makes it easier to find collaborators. Get known for being the go-to person for that ONE thing. Here are three examples of people who put their passion in their work and it shows.
Remaining true to your passion will help you maintain a sense of balance and make your eventual success so much more worthwhile.
Trends come and go. Sometimes they come to you. Be the person that’s been doing it for years and you’ll have a huge catalog already built up when your passion becomes mainstream.
2. Identify and Isolate Your Problems
Ask yourself tough questions
Are my captions too short?
Am I providing great context?
Are my photos as bright,clear, and crisp as possible?
Am I replying to all comments on the content that I post?
What am I doing this for?
Who is my ideal follower?
Where can I find them?
What do I want to change about the world?
Find people who are doing better than you and measure yourself against them in every way. Are they taking better photos? Do they drive more conversation?
Identify at least one thing to improve.
3. Improve Your Weaknesses
Not just one, a few, or forty. Yes, I have over 40 ebooks and kits and instruction books on Instagram in a google drive folder. I can go back to this and get inspiration any time I want.
Hubspot’s How to Use Instagram For Business is a deep dive into Instagram. Over 40 pages of insight. You’ll learn how to set goals, tips for measuring success, examples of brands to pull inspiration from, Glossary of Instagram terms.
Foundr’s How to Get Your First 10,000 Instagram Followers provides a huge amount of research and examples. Includes successful case studies that you can replicate. See how they went from 0–200k followers in under 8 months.
While some are paid and some are free, I find it is best to download and come back to later. Sometimes it takes a couple reads to understand a concept and have the opportunity to act on it.
Subscribe to Email Newsletters
Daily or weekly newsletters about social media help curate news and new features.
Jumpwire Media provides an easy to read weekly email newsletter. They cover all social media and have interesting offbeat asides as well. Sign up here. In one newsletter they linked to an article each on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and a screen that shows million dollar art in your home.
Commit to learning one new photograph technique tutorial a week. Trying out new techniques expands the possibilities and expands your ceiling of creativity. Most Photoshop tutorials take under an hour to do.
Take photo courses.
Find a photographer or instructor’s Instagram or website that you like their work and sign up for their local workshop, week-long intensive or local community college cheap semester course. Spend the fifty to a hundred dollars on a local photographer’s workshop or week long intensive. Check your local Apple store for free classes, too.
While reading is a much needed step, getting hands on experience is super valuable. Get out into a field, see how a photographer plans out their shots, looks for inspiration, hunches down and clicks. It’s exciting.
Just a few simple crafts can change photos for the better. A blank wall is a canvas for your creativity. Add some writing, a word, a pattern. Learn to make shadows with paper and normal lights. It can bring life to a simple photo. Just a few dollar store buys can provide you a whole weekend of activity.
Just like photoshop tutorials, craft projects can take less than an hour. Also you can end up being the go-to production designer for everyone else’s Instagram photos.
Plug: No Bots About It! a collection of 12 essays to help you grow a community of stark raving fans on Instagram.
4. Post Every Day
Be relentlessly obsessive.
Just do it.
Quality from Quantity
It’s only within a larger scope of work that you will see each post’s quality. Sometimes our craziest, zaniest thing done on a whim ends up transforming your feed. If you’re posting product that looks bad, learn from it. Only from creating a ton of content will we find out what we are capable of. It’s also a conversation. To start the conversation, post.
Deleting is Okay
A trick I’ve learned is that deleting is totally okay. It’s okay to go back and delete posts later to clean up or get rid of old work you are not proud of any more. This allows you to post 3 posts in a row around the same thing and gauge later which one does better.
Feel The Rhythm
Posting every day also gets you into a rhythm of going to the platform. Instagram has scheduling apps but you still have to physically post it when the time comes to post. Take this time to reply to comments and find some inspiration. Scheduling posts saves a lot of time each day.
Only Takes Minutes
If you have 5 minutes today, you can post. If you post from your phone, take your phone to the bathroom, post from there. IF you’re not posting every day, get some Activia.
For More On this topic read: Post Every Day
Thanks to all those who read early drafts: Nicole, Christy, Jen, Amelia, Charlotte