June 27, 2017

The Strategies I Used To Grow My Instagram Following…That Appear To Have Worked!

Strategies to grow your Instagram following

Strategies to grow your Instagram following

Give it a year they say don’t they?

The “give it a year” thing seems to be a wide spread philosophy that can be applied to all walks of life when it comes to a long term goal setting.

I gave my Instagram a year. Not in the way of an ultimatum as in “Grow damn you or I’ll break up with you!”

It was more of an “I promise to nurture you and see what happens M’kay?”

I didn’t set out to more than double the numbers – I honestly didn’t think that was possible. But I did want to put in a concerted effort, apply a little strategy and see what fruits such an approach might bear.

And if memory serves, I think the algorithm came in about just over half way through my experiment so I have a view from both sides of the interference fence!

Before we get started on what those strategies were, there are a few background points worth noting…

First and foremost, if you don’t love a curated feed and are sick of another This Is How I Did It post then I won’t be offended if you leave now. Nothing to see here!

Investing in Instagram alone is not the way to go in my humble opinion. Having a blog to support your efforts will help. Besides, you own your blog. You don’t own your Instagram feed. Mark Zuckerberg does.

I’m pretty certain that being active on Pinterest, Twitter and FaceBook all play some part in growth as a whole. If I see a blog or Pinterest board I love, you can bet that I’ll follow them on Instagram too. And vice versa.

There is no one size fits all, secret winning formula. And don’t let anyone kid you that there is.

Blogging and making notes

silver rings worn with a dark manicure

The Stats Part

I’d been on Instagram since 2011 and was an obsessive a fairly regular publisher anyway. Without a strategy I went from 0 to 7,000 in four years.

With it I went from 7,200 to 17,300 in just over eighteen months.

Strategies to grow your Instagram following…give them a go and see!

What exactly is your feed about?

Nail down your message, vibe and aesthetic.

I mean really nail that sucker to the floor! I got help with this from my mentor and creative consultant, Monica. And I think it was fairly crucial that this was my first step as it feeds into and drives everything else.

Getting someone independent to take a look and tell you what they actually see, what they might like to see and how they perceive your feed is crucial. And eye opening too! Without Monica’s input I think I would have floundered on for evermore.

Alongside implementing these strategies here and here, it made me seriously think about the type of actual content and imagery I wanted to publish.

Get some Face Time

One of Monica’s observations? Put more of yourself on there! I am the Online Stylist. Me. Amanda Start. But I wasn’t appearing much in my own feed.

If people are visiting for style inspiration and you’re not showing how you like to style up your favourite pieces, why would they come back? So many people I speak to (and lots of them who you’d never think it of!) are not initially comfortable with putting themselves into their feeds.

Then they try it. It works. And so they get used to it. And keep doing it. It’s just a case of getting over yourself. Personally I think I could probably get over myself more but I’m always a work in progress!

And I don’t think this should be unique to style bloggers. Followers like to see the face behind any creative business, blog or concept.

online stylist desk space

the curated closet book

Black and white vintage Vogue cover print

Post regularly at the same time everyday

I know we have The Algorithm ( 🙄  ) now but I was doing this before it came in and I’m still doing it now. And the numbers are still (slowly) going up. So I’ll keep doing it.

Good posting times for me appear to be 8.00am, 1.00pm and 6.00pm – all ish I would add.

Use Iconosqaure to find out what your peak engagement times are and stick with them.

Be ruthless…

…with what makes the cut when it comes to the images that go into your feed.

I used to publish so-so pictures because I had nothing else to post – oh the rising panic of that feeling!

But don’t. If you have nothing to post that comes up to the standard you’ve set yourself, then don’t post.

The key is to build up a stock of images, all ready and edited and maybe already placed on your Mosaico or Planoly grid. This way you DO always have something good enough to post.

Once in a while I’ll allocate a couple of hours of an afternoon to shoot some flat lay, life style or outfit photos to boost my stock.

When you add these into the shots you’re gathering on the go, it becomes easier to be ruthless with what ends up in your 3 x 3.

copper tray and a book stack

Hashtag Don’t Ignore Your Hashtags!

Kick the arse out of those hashtags!

I know, I know. I often see people saying that multiple hashtagging looks a bit desperate. Or that they just don’t like to see lots of the little blighters underneath a beautiful picture and thoughtful caption.

But love or loathe them, they’ll make your feed far more discoverable. And if you want to shimmy them down the page, you can do the paragraph return, dot, dot, dot thing. Yes…that’s a technical term.

And not only that but by searching under your own particular hashtag jam, you’ll find a gazillion feeds out there to inspire and motivate you. All posting things that you love!


Engaging Conversation

I talked about engagement here and I can’t stress enough the importance of it – not just for the personal community value you’ll get from it but as a growth strategy too.

Having meaningful (or meaningless come to that) conversations on Instagram is a good thing.

It builds friendships, support, trust and understanding. It answers all the important questions such as “Where did you get that pom pom clutch from??” and “For the love of God, when will my pre-teen daughter’s hormonal strops stop?”

The latter sadly is no longer a conversation I can be seen to have on Instagram as said pre-teen daughter is now on Instagram herself… *insert scream face emoji here*

relaxing with tea and books on the sofa

online stylist and Biscuit

Wearing: Crocus Drape Shirt – Jigsaw c/o | Trousers – Hush : Madison Culottes similar | Watch – Michael Kors | Nails – Essie in Wicked | Bangle – COS | Buckled Leather Ballet Flats –  & Other Stories

A few other notables…

Congratulations if you’ve made it this far! Not long to go now!

Since I began my “I’m Giving You A Year Instagram!” project, things have moved on significantly – for one there’s the algorithm which I don’t profess to fully understand.

Frankly I don’t have the time to bother and I refuse to let it take away my enjoyment.


Alongside the visual beauty us ‘Grammers crave there’s now a penchant for meaningful and insightful thoughts and comments. This is only ever a good thing.

Relatable and attainable is all. Whether it’s in your images or your words, something that’s real, shows your flaws, faults or insecurities will do you way more favours than all the glossing over in the longer term.


How does your Instagram serve your followers? This is a concept I always stress at blogging workshops… and it really helps to think in a similar way about your Instagram feed too.

Does your tribe come back simply for an uplifting, escape the moment feed? To shop your wardrobe? Or for the things you tell them that provide them with the Me Too factor?

What ever they want, make sure you’re giving it to them. And don’t be afraid to try a little Attract & Repel theory.  Thank you Jenna! 😘


A few “lucky break” type things can help with growth too.

The occasional piece of press coverage, brand engagement (from the right brands that are in synch with your values) and working with said brand on things like Instagram takeovers or campaign specific projects will all help.

Actually scrap the luck thing. Any of the above only comes with a lot of hard work.


Shady growth tactics don’t work. Promise me you won’t do this!

Phew… that’s me done!

I hope you found this L O N G old post useful and I’d love to know if there’s anything you’ve tried in particular that’s worked to help grow and strengthen your Instagram feed?

Feel free to drop me and other enquiring minds a note in the comments below!

If you’re on an Instagram mission of you’re own then you might find the lists below helpful…

People Who I Think Know Their Stuff And Are Worth Reading:

Jenna Kutcher
Sara Tasker at Me & Orla
Dominique at All That Is She

People who do the ‘gram and do it well for a lots of reasons: (as in I love their images, their vibe, the service they provide and their words)


Really good editing Apps and tools:



Shop The Post

Photography by Sarah Lou Francis

19 comments on “The Strategies I Used To Grow My Instagram Following…That Appear To Have Worked!”

  1. Just got to the bottom of this post thinking what an absolutely brilliant piece of content it is, and how I should definitely be doing ALL of these things (but don’t most of the time). So imagine my delight to find out that you’d mentioned me! Thank you Amanda. I’m honoured to be mentioned alongside these amazing ladies. xx

    1. Hey Helen! I’m SO happy that you liked the post and found it useful! I really loved writing it.
      And I think your Instagram is just SO beautiful – it provides me with my daily calm moment so I for one would be happy if you posted lots more!
      Amanda xx

  2. Good Morning, just the post I was looking for as I am just starting out – really useful and inspirational. Have a happy Tuesday Amanda x

  3. This is such a great post to read. Especially as I am at the beginning of my journey. And giving myself that “year” to see what happens. But very much enjoying it. Thank you for this. X


  4. Excellent post Missy! I find my creative inspo and enthusiasm wavers and I end up posting the same old same old – was in need of a kick up the butt so signed up to Sara Tasker’s insta retreat this very morning and then read this – spooky!

    1. Excellent Kate! Its great for digging a little deeper – just don’t get obsessed over the numbers you lose each day as opposed to gain. Theres a lot of follow/unfollow bot stuff going on!
      Amanda xx

  5. Morning Lovely!

    Just the post I needed – thank you! I’m having a hate relationship with Instagram this week – having upped output, all I can see is my following going down! It’s so hard not to go down the “nobody is interested in what I’ve got to say” path when this happens! I’ve also just signed up for Me & Orla’s instaretreat, but I really think I need you to be my Monica!



    1. Hey Jo!
      Firstly so glad to see you’re doing the Isnta Retreat too! I think it will be a game changer!
      I know how you feel – its hard not to take it personally when you’re putting in the extra effort but there’s so much more at play here I think. The bot thing has a huge impact on daily numbers and remember its not personal. Those who always engage with you are the ones who will stick with you and become the important followers you need to nurture. You don’t need the others!
      Its about strengthening as well as growing I think.
      Keep on Keeping On Lovely!
      Amanda xx

  6. What an inspiration and amazing post! Thank you for sharing this with all of us! 🙂

    I have been searching the web high and low for tips on how to improve my Instagram whilst I was setting up my new online clothing boutique, and this has been so helpful. I have come away with so many ideas I don’t even know where to start…I better start writing my list!

    Thank you so much again, you’ve got a new email subscriber from me 🙂 Can’t wait to see more!

    Jade xx

    1. Hi Jade,
      Aw thank you so much! So happy to provide some help and inspiration!
      So excited to hear you’re just beginning your journey with the online clothing boutique. Instagram can be such a great help in launching new businesses…and so enjoyable to create too!
      And thank you for signing up! Looking forward to providing you with more Online Stylist content!
      Amanda xx

    1. Thanks so much Clare!
      I hope they help but the one thing I would say is do it all with love.
      Otherwise it all gets a bit irksome when you don’t find the numbers growing as fast as you’d like.
      I am literally obsessed with Instagram

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