Let’s go back to 2012 when I first joined instagram. Young naive Chloe downloaded the app on her 3rd Generation iPod touch because everyone was raving about it. I remember one of the first few images I posted were of me holding a rabbit and a snap shot of The Incredible Hulk Coaster in Islands of Adventure Florida (which sadly, I deleted from my instagram account when I went on a ‘clean up rampage’). The next three years I posted anything and everything. As you can see by the images, I used to love a full looking feed. When you looked at my profile, I always loved how busy it was and how that there was so much going on. It was full of selfies, food, my dog, flowers, places I had been on holiday and just bits of everything. I saw it as my online scrapbook/photo album in a way.
2015 hit, I was into Tumblr, WeHeartIt and Lookbook and all my interests were focused on fashion. I changed my content and made an obvious effort to post outfit images as often as I could. I hadn’t quite built up the confidence to stand in the street and pose so my backgrounds were either in my bedroom, back garden or against garages outside my house. Up to this point, I was still only doing it because I enjoyed doing it, not because I thought it would get me anywhere. It was just a hobby that I loved to focus on in my spare time. I had also started working at Topshop the year before so I would always try and document the outfits I wore to work and I was also in a fortunate position where I had discount/uniform which meant I could buy on trend items and still have the excitement of creating outfit photos for fun.
It wasn’t until 2017 where I decided to take things to the next level. I pushed myself to go outside and have my photo taken in the street. I really focused on the outfits I was wearing (although when I look back on them now I question what I was thinking haha). As the years went on, my style progressed, the way I shot my content changed and has led me to where I am today. People always asked me how long have I been doing Instagram, and I guess technically the answer would be for 9 years since I first joined the app, but, if we are asking how long have I been doing it professionally (i.e me putting in a conscious effort and getting paid/gifted) then it would be 4 years. The common question I always get is ‘How did you become an influencer?’ and honestly, it just happened. As I explained above, I continuously posted images on Instagram that I loved, I put time and effort into it and with that, my audience grew.
“How can I grow my followers fast?”
“How do you get free stuff?”
“How did you get to where you are now? I would love to have as many followers as you do”
My inbox is always full of questions like the above. To start off with, you can’t grow a huge audience over night, it takes time. You have to put in the time and effort if you want to grow and I think people sometimes forget that. But to be blunt, there’s no quick solution to growing followers.
What can I do to help grow my Instagram?
If you want your page to grow then you need to be posting consistently. Once a month or once a week isn’t really going to cut it. People want to follow because they like to see regular posts for regular inspiration. If you’re just starting out then try and post 4 times a week and then when you feel like you’re ready, gradually build it up to once a day. I know there are influencers out there that don’t post an image everyday and they’ve obviously found what works for them but for me, posting everyday has helped me grow my followers and also my engagement.
Engagement is so important. So comment on other peoples images and support them, and then when people comment on your posts, reply to them! Another thing that helps with engagement is doing stories. Posting Instagram stories everyday helps so much. It increases your views, it increases profile clicks and it increases interaction with your audience. (I suck at doing stories but I’m trying to get into the swing of it again).
This one may seem obvious but really focus on your own style. Of course, you can take inspiration from other people but your profile needs to reflect you. Your style and your personality needs to shine through.
MIXING IT UP.
I was always really scared to change things up because I thought people would unfollow me but I actually think it helped me gain new followers. It’s good to make changes. My style has changed massively, the way I edit photos, the way I pose and even my hair. I think trying out new things keeps it exciting for you and your audience and like I said, helps attract new people. Over the years your instagram is going to evolve and people enjoy seeing that, so as weird as it sounds, don’t be afraid to try new things.
Answering your questions.
DID YOU EVER FEEL EMBARRASSED OR WORRIED WHAT PEOPLE WOULD SAY ABOUT YOU WHEN STARTING?
Of course. I was so worried that people would take the mick out of me or would say things behind my back, and I’m sure people did but I thought why should I let those kind of people stop me from doing something I enjoy.
Embarrassment, I get that. It feels odd at first and you might even feel silly posing and then posting it online but over time your confidence will grow and the embarrassment will go.
Worried what people will say, let’s be honest, the kind of people that are going to say something are either jealous that you’re doing it and the confidence that you are projecting, or their insecure in themselves so they like to try and bring people down to their level.
If it’s something that you feel passionate about and enjoy, then focus on that and learn to ignore anyone that says anything.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I POST?
I post every single day because I found that helped me grow but back in the day when I was starting out, I would post 4-5 times a week. So don’t put pressure on yourself to post every day if you can’t. It’s important to find what works best for you!
BEST TIME TO POST?
Who knows with the algorithm haha. But I always do my morning post at 8.45am as I know that time works for me, and then if I want to more posts that day I’ll do late afternoon and early evening. But sometimes my posts don’t show up at all for some people because of the algorithm but I’d always suggest in the morning (8:30am – 9:30am) or evening (5:30pm – 6:30pm).
HOW OFTEN DO YOU SHOOT?
So before covid times, I would do a bulk shoot once a week with my friends which normally consisted of about 5 outfits and then throughout the week I would go out and do stuff so would get outfit pictures whilst out and about. But with the current situation I can’t do that. So I’ve started shooting indoors a lot more. I’ll have a day when I know it’s going to be good lighting, and just shoot as long as I can with lots of different looks.
HOW MANY PHOTOS DO YOU TAKE FOR ONE OUTIFT?
I take around 200-300 photos (50 of them are mug shots lol). I get the angle right first, and then I just move around and do ma thing whilst the other person is spamming the camera button. I personally like to have a lot of options to pick from so that’s why I just take loads of images and can pick the best one!
HOW DID YOU LEARN HOW TO POSE AND GET THE RIGHT ANGLES?
Literally just learnt it all over time. So for example, I like my images to be taken from slightly lower and angled up so my legs look longer but I didn’t know that at first. My boyfriend took all my pictures for me in the beginning and I would ask him to take pictures of me from all different angles and then I could look back and see what works best for me/what I like.
When it comes to poses, practice your poses in the mirror!!! I still do this all the time. When I have an outfit on, I stand in front of the mirror and move around to see what kind of poses work well and look good with the clothing that I’m wearing. Also I use Instagram and Pinterest for pose inspirations. If you’ve seen a pose that someone else has done, give it a go. If it turns out good then FAB, if it turns out poop then at least you tried it. I still haven’t mastered the posing, but I move around a lot to try and get candid looking shots but it’s all down to trial and error and experimenting.
HOW TO STICK TO IT WHEN IT FEELS LIKE YOU AREN’T GETTING ANYWHERE?
I’ve been through this feeling so many times and I understand how much it sucks but trust me when I say, you have to keep going. The ‘road’ to Instagram growth is not straight. It’s the most bumpiest thing ever haha. I completely understand how demotivating it feels when you put in so much effort and you feel it isn’t being seen or paying off, but I always try and break it down. So why am I not getting anywhere? Is it because I’m not engaging enough to help with growth? Do I need to change something up? Whether that would be different sort of locations, or a different filter etc. If it’s really making you feel poop then you can always take a break for a few days or longer until you feel motivated and excited again to create content. But you have to remember that Instagram isn’t always your best friend. You’ll have really good phases with growth and engagement and then suddenly out the blue you’ll have a bad phase.
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON USING OTHER PEOPLE’S IMAGES FROM PINTEREST AS FILLER PICTURES?
Personally I don’t see any issue as long as they state the image is from Pinterest or they actually tag the account that the image if from. If you see an image on someone’s instagram that you want to repost, I would message them asking if it’s okay and mention that of course you’ll tag them as the source.
HOW TO PREVENT LOSING FOLLOWERS?
You can’t. Unfortunately it’s something that you don’t have full control over and I wish I could give you a better answer but it’s the honest truth. It’s hard not to take it personally when people unfollow you but people’s style and preferences change which results in people unfollowing and clearing their instagram.