How To Get A Large Authentic Instagram Following

Instagram influencers can command thousands of dollars a post, get flown to events, and even be featured in ad campaigns. Here is how you can grow your brand or personal account to start attracting you own opportunities.

Ever since Instagram launched, everyone has become a digital magazine, visually documenting everything from their outfit to what they ate for lunch. Where major Instagram influencers rake in likes by the thousands, most of us are using 20 hashtags to draw in just a few new eyeballs. What gives? Turns out there are ways to grow your Instagram following beyond buying followers from a sketchy service. Just last month, Bloomberg writer Max Chafkin went undercover to be transformed into an influencer and a variety of influencers have recently spoke out about what has helped them grow their audience. It can be done, but it's more time and energy than you would expect! A note ahead of time: These tips are most beneficial for brands or if you want to have a brand for yourself. If you are just using Instagram to share photos with friends and DGAF about followers, just keep doing what you're doing! If you are going more the branding route, here are some strategies various influencers implement that you can adopt.

Don't Snap And Upload

Instagram markets that the service allows people to snap and share their moments with the world, but influencers with larger followings don't just click and upload. When Chafkin worked with Socialyte, a digital agency, to see what it took to be an Instagram influencer he learned that you have to find the perfect shot. If you are taking a photo of yourself or your outfit, they recommended finding walls with an interesting texture or snapping shots in doorways to make the image look more dynamic. Also, instead of just taking your photo school picture style where you directly face the camera, Socialyte's photographer had Chafkin do a variety of poses, like walking across the street or running his hand through his hair, to make your physicality more interesting. You also want to keep in mind what the lighting is like. Bustle's Olivia Muenter walked through all the considerations she gives her photos before uploading and mentioned lighting is EVERYTHING. A beautiful image can be ruined if it's poorly lit. Make sure if you are taking photos outdoor, you are heading out when shadows won't ruin all the photos you take.

Edit Outside Of Instagram

Instagram has a variety of filters to throw onto a shot that change the contrast, saturation, and more. However, major Instagram influencers do not just use an Instagram preset and go. Instagram's editing features don't let you fix a giant pimple or edit out a distracting background item. To lightly Photoshop images, most people use FaceTune as a way to blur out imperfections or whiten their teeth. Even if the image you capture is perfectly edited, there are plenty of other apps that have powerful filters not offered on Instagram. Major influencer (as in making 6-figures a year from her Instagram) Janice Joostema says she uses VSCO and Darkroom for her photos, which each have a variety of presets or editing options that allow users to create their own filters.

Post Consistently

For his experiment, Chafkin was told to post three times a day and to include at least one "lifestyle" post a day, meaning something other than a photo of himself. This seems to be consistent advice on other sites, which claim that how your feed looks is just as important as the individual photos. For example, some suggest using an app like Later that allows you to place photos in a grid, like the ones you see when you tap on an Instagram profile, to see how the photos all flow together. The rule of thumb seems to be that mixing it up so you don't have a lot of selfies in a row helps make the profile look more dynamic overall.

Consider A "Theme"

While you are planning on your Instagram schedule on a grid, another piece of advice many bloggers have is to consider an overall theme. This isn't the same as a prom theme, you don't have to think your theme is cowboys and upload a million photos of horses. It more refers to having a semi-consistent "aesthetic" that ties all of your photos together. Influencers use VSCO Cam or Instagram's presets and apply a similar one to most of their photos to deliver a similar mood each time. For example, Neal Kumar takes sharpened cityscape photos where he highlights the bronze and grey tones. The best thing about an app like VSCO is that if you find a filter you like, you can save it and apply it to other photos easily with just one click.