I hope you enjoyed the video and are feeling inspired about Instagram. I am going to repeat some of the things I talked about here but I'm also going to add some extra stuff, so it's worth reading to the end even if you think you picked it all up from the video!
Planning Your Images
One of the major changes I made to my Instagram stream was when I started to build a library of images that I could used when I needed to. At first I did this when I knew I was going to have a busy week but then I realised the value in doing it at least once a week. It enabled me to create beautiful images in great light and then share them through the week without any stress. It stopped me obsessing over Instagram all the time! That can be nice once in a while but when you're juggling four little children, a home and a business, it can all get a bit much!!
Now I like to pop into my Instagram stream a few times a day for a few minutes at a time but only focus on creating images for it about 3 times a week. I gather things that I want to use for these Instagram shoots. Sometimes I collect things together over the week. Sometimes I have ideas when I'm in the shower or out for a run. That's great but I wait to act on the ideas until I've got time and good light.
For me I know that I need 7 flower images a week for my morning images. I then like to post 3-5 other images a day, so I need quite a big library to keep that going. But that's okay! I can still achieve that in about 1-2hrs a week. And that's more than worth it for the amount it helps my business to grow.
Taking Images In The Moment
It's great to build a stock of images and plan ahead but it's also wonderful to still take images in the moment. You might be walking through the park when the light is gorgeous, you might see a beautiful store front, you might go on an inspiring day trip. All of these things will make great content for your stream and it's lovely to post images in the moment too. Just make sure that the images connect to your Instagram gallery. Otherwise you might want to post them on one of your other social media streams.
Also be careful about over posting. I know how tempting it is when you are somewhere wonderful to want to post all the images of all the things...right now! But think how your audience will feel. Will they feel a bit bombarded by your images? Will they like them all? Leave comments on them all? Probably not. But they might if you spread them out a bit. I have a little rule for myself... I make myself wait a minimum of 2 hours between each post on Instagram! It's kind of funny sometimes when I am literally refreshing and waiting for it to say 2 hours but I know that it's a helpful way of me spreading things out.
Building Your Gallery
When you choose what image to post next on Instagram take a look at what you have posted before. Does the new image look good next to what has just gone before? Will it clash or look wrong? Do you need an image with a bit more breathing room this time? Or would a close-up work well? Have a look at how streams that you like do this well and make some notes. Once you are aware of building a gallery on Instagram that looks good these decisions will become easier. Sometimes I need to create a linking image to tie two images together. Or sometimes I just look through my image library to find something I haven't posted yet that will work as a bridge between the two.
Make sure you are sharing a range of images. Close-ups, ones that fill the frame, ones that have plenty of negative space, ones that are more pulled back, etc. This helps to build an interesting gallery.
Remember that new followers will be looking at your whole gallery page and not just one image when they decide whether to follow or not. I often like one or two images but decide not to follow someone because their gallery feels too muddled and random.
Also remember that you can share images in other places too. If something doesn't feel right for your Instagram gallery, there will be another platform you can share it on. Twitter or Facebook for example. And, if I can't find a place for an image on any of my public platforms then I either post it to my Personal Facebook page or send it to my Dad!!
Building Your Audience
Always a big question. How to get more followers! I have built my following on Instagram over time but I do now have a new Instagram account for my family/lifestyle images (with a new blog coming soon!), which I am building from scratch. It is interesting to see what is working there.
Engaging with other people is very important. Commenting on other images and liking them are so important in gaining new followers. Challenge yourself to leave two comments a day for a month or something like that! And remember to reply to any questions on your own images and if you have time to reply to non-question comments too. I know I need to do more of that!
Be consistent and post regularly. You don't have to post every day but I think that if you do post most days, even if it is just once that it will help build your following.
Hashtags are another great way to build your following but use them carefully. Don't use too many and think about which ones you use. Hashtag research can be really time consuming but really beneficial. You want to be using hashtags that connect you to the right audience and potential new followers. You need to think about the kind of audience you want to build and find the hashtags that those people like to use.
Making a note of the hashtags people you admire are using is a good starting point. As long as they are connected to what you are doing of course! And making an effort to enter the daily/weekly/monthly hashtags is so worthwhile and once you know which ones you want to enter each week then you can build that into your image planning that I mentioned above. For example my own #floralfridaycompetition that I run each week or my friend Catherine's #FromMyKitchenCompetition that is run each weekend.
I will share more hashtags in the Facebook Group over the weekend and I'd love to hear some of your favourite ones too.
I hope that has helped answer some of your Instagram questions today. Please ask any more you may have in the Facebook Group and I will pop in and answer them later today and over the weekend!