In the last 18 months, my Instagram following has grown from 1,820 followers to over 170,000 (of the bloody loveliest people, even if I am a bit biased).
I'm in no way a social media expert or remotely tech-savvy - I've found new followers through organic growth, word of mouth, and really committing to creating useful content.
While I'm winging it to a certain degree, there are some points I thought I could share if you are looking to increase your presence and grow your audience on the 'gram.
Here are my five top tips to increase your audience on Instagram (with real followers!):
1. Post what you love
More important than algorithms, the time of day you post and any hashtags you might use is concentrating on creating content you really enjoy. If you are posting things you love, that you have put effort and time into, your account will resonate with the right people.
I have never worried about the 'best' time to publish a post or created posts for the sake of it. And the less time spent over-analysing is more time available to work on content that is genuine and well presented.
In my experience, if you're posting something because you love it, believe in it and genuinely enjoy sharing it will strike more of a chord than any computer generated formula!
2. Be yourself, tell your story
Whatever the focus of your account, your story is what will keep people interested and draw new followers to your page.
I'm not the first person to talk about self-care, parenting or to post illustrations - but I am the only one who can share my experience and tell it from my point of view.
Captions and Instagram Stories that are relatable, meaningful or give insight into who you are will help you form rapport and relationships with other people online. Make the most of the social aspect of social media, even if your area of expertise is saturated, you are one of a kind!
3. Make it pretty
Thinking about your grid as a whole, and having a pleasing overall aesthetic is a great way to encourage people to hit 'follow' when they land on your page. If the most recent nine posts all sit well together that makes for a much happier looking grid than something a bit more haphazard.
I don't plan content more than a couple of days in advance because I enjoy sharing posts that are honest and not contrived. I do consider how posts will look next to each other though; I keep to a colour story and make sure there aren't too many similar style posts together. You don't have to be formulaic or too rigid - and apps like Planoly are perfect for planning and scheduling if you find it hard to envisage how a series of images will look together.
4. Use your insights
While I'm clearly not a big fan of following any Instagram rules, I do use my insights to help me when I'm drawing up new work to post.
If I have a caption or message in mind and am deciding the best way to communicate it, then looking back at old posts and identifying which ones had the most engagement can help. It's easy to see what type of image your audience reacts best to - and from there, whether it's selfies or simple type, you can learn and develop your style to keep making the posts people love.
5. Be consistent
When I planned to give my Insta account some more attention at the end of 2017, one of the things I had to work on was consistency. Making sure I was putting the work in and prioritising this platform over the others. These days, I usually post each morning (because this time works well around my family life). It means that people know to expect a daily post from me and so they look out for it if it hasn't popped up in their feed automatically. It might be that you post a couple of times a day or that every other day is what works best for you. Whatever it is, stick to it, and your audience will learn when and where they can find you.
For me, it was never about becoming an 'influencer' or trying to become Insta-famous (I'm far too dishevelled for that!) it's about using the platform to share more of my work and reach new people and illustration clients. Keep doing what you love, for the right reasons, and people will find you!
Do you have any tips to add? I'd love to hear them!