Instagram can be really intimidating when you first decide to start posting your planner photos online. For many of us, myself included, we started looking, following, and watching other accounts before we started our own. We see the beautiful white pages with the perfectly hand scripted lettering, and we think to ourselves – there is no way I can do that. So we start to doubt ourselves and put this imaginary pressure on on an account that might not even exist yet.
This post isn’t about fear or anxiety in starting a new account on Instagram. No, this post is about how to start to grow your following and enjoy this amazing planner and Bullet Journal community. I do want to say that some of these tips may come off a little superficial, and they are. But the reality is that there is an aesthetic that is visually pleasing to a large population of potential followers online. And on the other side, many of these tips are super authentic and should be acted upon as so.
If you are sharing your photos and ideas to Instagram or Pinterest, than you need to make sure that your photos are good quality. That means good lighting, interesting spread layouts, and clean and bright pages. It’s kind of the formula to a good photo online. So what next? Do you go out and buy a whole photo studio set up for your Instagram? I mean… if you have the knowledge and money, go for it. But for most people, we don’t have either of those things to invest right now, so I will share what I do use and do to achieve the look I am going for.
One of the things you will need to start your photos off in the right direction is good old fashion indirect sunlight. If you can, take your photos by a window or outside, but not in direct sunlight. Direct sun will blow out your color and brightness of your photo, and it’s really hard to take it back instead of brighten it up on a photo editing app. If you don’t have access to a nice window or outside, take it in a bright, well lit room. You want to do your best to create as little harsh shadows on and around your journal while you are shooting.
Second, you will need to find a good photo editing app.
I personally love Snapseed. It does everything I need it to in regards to photo editing. The user interface is easy and it’s a really powerful, and free, tool you can download on your phone or tablet.
There are a lot of great apps out there to try. I’d recommend trying a few to see what you like. Here is a link to a good article on The 17 Best Photo Editing Apps for iPhone and Android in 2019
Interact With Other Accounts
This next tip is something that you might already be doing, but you might need to step up your game. Read posts, answer questions – provide more than a heart emoji when you comment on a photo. Many times you will see someone ask a question in their caption. “What are you doing this week”, “What’s your favorite pen”, “Who’s ready for the holidays!?”. Drop a meaningful comment that adds to the conversation. These type of comments will usually create conversation. This conversation leads to others checking out your account and feed, and the chance of a new follower.
Growing your account is also more than just quantity. While it is nice to see those follow numbers rise, creating a strong and loyal network of friends and like minded accounts is even more important. I can’t tell you how awesome it has been to get to know other bullet journalists from around the world. A lot of these community friendships started with a comment on one photo. Then you start to see more of their work or maybe you send them a Direct Message letting them know how much you like their work.
NOTE: These one-on-one conversations should always be authentic. PLEASE DON’T ASK FOR A FOLLOW. You will find much more organic growth through genuine conversation versus begging for someone to follow you.
Another great way to get to know people is through their Instagram stories. Take some time and go through your followed accounts stories. Comment, vote on their poll, and respond to what they are sharing. This is a social media platform that values interaction – so interact.
Some of my favorite accounts that have the BEST stories:
Join or Create an Instagram Engagement Group
I’m sure there are some analytics somewhere – but these groups do have value when used correctly. An engagement group is usually a group created with like minded accounts who work together to post, share, and comment on each others posts with the hope of catching Instagram attention and increasing the likelihood of more people seeing the post.
Before you go creating a group or joining one, know that many of them have rules. Many of these groups require you to like and comment on each members post within a certain timeframe. It could be within the hour, half day, or day of the shared post. To create value, the post comments should be at least X-amount of characters. I will warn you, this can be VERY time consuming. I have been a part of 2 different groups over my 2 years of having my account. Both have been by invitation and both have started very strong and fizzled out after about a month. But, that’s okay. You don’t want to spend more than a monthly to a month and a half in an engagement group. Eventually Instagram will get hip to your going ons. So switch it up!
For me, the biggest value of joining these types of groups has been getting to know others in the community. Some of the people that I would consider my closest insta-friends were all people I met through engagement groups. It started off very focused on the task at hand, but it soon turned into awesome chatrooms and learning more about one another.
Get Smart with Your Hashtags
I recently created a list of he top hashtags that I have used over the years. These are collected from popular posts, friends posts, and a general google search.
It’s important that you connect your hashtags to your photo. This is a place to hashtag the planner you use, the pens or stationery you used, and to add popular hashtags to get your work seen more.
A Few Favorites
As I mentioned about my own collection, check out what other people are using in their posts. Talk with your new bujo account friends and ask them what they are using. Make a collections page in your journal to keep track or keep an easy to use note in your phone to copy and paste into your posts.
A recent resource that I learned about from my design buddy @Steveraboin, who has done a number of posts about growing your account, is Instagram Hashtag Generator, Display Purposes. This gives you a really awesome copy and paste option that provides the most popular and recommended hashtags around a topic. Be sure to switch it up and edit through to make sure that what you are using makes sense for your post.
I hope tha you find some of these tips and resources helpful as you continue to grow your social media accounts around your planner and bullet journal. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any tried and true tips to growing your followers.
Mark – @Menwhobullet