It was just a little over a year ago that I learned that people actually make money from Instagram. And by people, I mean regular old people like me. At the time, I thought only Kardashian’s did that. I’d like to say I took this newfound information and ran with it but I didn’t. Perhaps it was because I had a newborn and, well, I was tired. But this option was definitely in the back of my mind. I already knew I wanted to monetize my blog, it just made sense to monetize Instagram, too.
More than 6 months later, I decided that I was going to go for it and see if I could generate income from Instagram. Of course, I consulted Google! I read an article that said brands wouldn’t start paying you until you had 5,000 followers, so that became my goal. I decided that by the end of 2016, I would get 5,000 Instagram followers. (By the way, my first paid post was when I had a little over 2,000 followers.)
I hit 1,000 followers within the first three weeks but I did not consistently pursue my goal after that for a good three months or so. In mid May (at about 2,500 followers) I decided I needed to get serious about growing my account and since I was already halfway to my goal with little effort, I decided to raise my goal to 10k by the end of 2016.
I reached that goal last week with 4 months to spare!
(This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information.)
Before I get in to how I grew my account to 10k without taking any paid courses, I want to say this… I am not an expert. All I know to tell you is what has worked for me. You might disagree with me but the bottom line is it worked. And I was able to do it without paying someone to tell me what to do. Not that I have anything against courses. I really don’t. In fact, I’m currently in a really awesome Pinterest course and I have my eye on this Instagram course, hoping to take it soon. However, at the time I started this journey taking a paid course was not in my budget. The closer I got to the goal the more I wanted to hit it without buying a course – I guess I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.
If taking a course is not in your budget either, I want you to know that you can do it!
Here’s how I did it:
- I took the advantage of FREE information. If you are actively working on building your business, whether it’s a blog or otherwise, you likely know that there are a ton of courses out there. And they ain’t cheap! However, there are also free courses designed to give you enough value that you will pay for the next course. If I saw a free course on Instagram, I took it. If I saw a “secret report”, I signed up for it. If I saw the word “Instagram” thrown around in a Facebook group, I paid attention! Though paying someone to tell you what to do is much easier, you can gather the information for free. After all, what do you think the person that made the course you’re buying did?
- I engaged with my target audience. If you want people to follow you then you’re going to have to let them know you’re there! I did this by searching relevant hashtags to my target audience and engaging with people that used them. Engaging can mean liking, commenting and, yes, following. So, how do you find your target audience? Look for accounts similar to yours (chances are you’re already following several) and there you will find a whole pool of people. Search relevant hashtags or keywords to your target audience. Also, check out large accounts that you admire and aspire to be like – who are their followers? In order to see growth from this, though, you have to commit to doing this every single day whether it’s manually or through an automated service like Mass Planner or Instagress.
- I joined comment groups. Getting engagement on posts is vital, for a couple of reasons. If you are wanting to do sponsored posts, then it’s important to have good engagement – as brands look for this. Also, getting immediate comments is extremely important when it comes to getting in the top posts for hashtags. Which, somewhere around 3k, this became my biggest mission. When you get in the top posts, you increase your exposure and more exposure means more followers. The quicker you get engagement, specifically comments, the more likely you are to get on the top posts. Participating in comment groups is huge for this. If you are not familiar with them basically, a DM is created with a group of Instagrammers that are agreeing to comment (many give likes as well) on each other’s posts. Members send their pictures (some groups drop hearts or emojis but I prefer the pictures) to the group and everyone goes to their post and comments. This was very instrumental in helping me to get to top posts which, in turn, helped me gain followers. Here are some Facebook groups that offer comment groups: Instagram Marketing Mastermind, Blogs & Business: Moms who do it All , Mom Blog Tribe and Instagram Comment Pods.
- I stepped up my hashtag game. I used to hate hashtags but when I decided that I was going to get serious about growing my account, I knew that upping my hashtag game was non-negotiable. My first step was to get myself up to the 30 hashtag limit. For someone that hated hashtags that was truly agonizing but I did it! My next step was to make sure my hashtags were targeting the right people, with niche specific hashtags (#toddlermom). I also brought down the size of my hashtags to between 5k and 500k. For several weeks I used hashtags within this range almost entirely, there were occasional exceptions but those were extremely rare. The reason I stuck with smaller hashtags was because I wanted to make top posts for the visibility. I knew that at my size, I wouldn’t be making it to top posts with #momlife and I would basically be completely lost in the shuffle within minutes of posting. Over the past weeks, I have started adding in larger tags (and even some broader tags) but still the bulk of my tags are in the 5k to 500k range.
There really is much more information than this but this is the nuts and bolts of how I hit 10k without paying for any courses. If you are serious about taking your Instagram account to the next level on a limited budget check out my Instagram products.
What have you found helpful in growing your Instagram?