Instagram for Bloggers: 5 Secrets to Grow Your Account Authentically

It’s a joy to welcome Sarah to the blog today! Sarah is a mentor and friend who has experienced much success with her blog at SarahKoontz.com. She works tirelessly to engage her audience and her hard work pays off. This power-packed interview is going to provide you with five secrets to help you grow your Instagram platform beginning today. Let’s get started!


Alison: Thank you for joining me to chat about Instagram, Sarah! It’s quickly becoming my favorite social media platform. You’ve had much success with Instagram recently and I am excited to pick your brain. First, what do you love most about Instagram?

Sarah: Instagram is a social-media platform focused on art and creativity. It inspires users to share the beauty of the world that surrounds them. I love that my Instagram feed is relatively free of the politics and negativity flooding other social media platforms. I find myself drawn to Instagram when I need a pick-me-up after a difficult day.

 

Alison: I find the same for myself, too. I love getting a sneak-peek into an online friend’s life. So, what do you believe is a key secret to success on Instagram?

Sarah: The best advice I can offer fellow bloggers is don’t wait for readers to find you on Instagram. You must be proactive if you want to grow a platform and Instagram is no exception.   Dedicate 10-15 minutes per day to interacting with your followers and finding new ones. Statistics show that approximately 30% of the people you follow will follow you back if you have a quality Instagram account. If you follow 100 new people per day, you can expect to add 150+ new followers per week. 

I follow a minimum of 100 new people each day during the week and spend the weekends unfollowing people who did not follow me back (I use IOS Apps for this – Cleaner for Instagram PRO or Followers+ PRO). When I’m really working on growing my account, I often follow 500+ people per day. I simply visit accounts that have a similar message to mine and follow the people who are following them. I figure, if they like this person enough to follow them, they might also like me. I love following Alison’s followers, because they are the best!

 

SECRET #1 – It’s essential to be proactive if you want to grow your Instagram platform.

 

Alison: I love secret #1. We must steward our time on Instagram and be proactive if we want to grow. Speaking of following accounts, there seems to be a frustrating trend of following people just to unfollow them later. How do we, as Christian bloggers, combat the trend yet still grow our platforms?

Sarah: I’m so glad you asked this question, Alison! It is quite a frustrating trend, isn’t it? Everyone has to decide for themselves how far they are willing to go to grow their accounts. Here’s my personal Unfollow Rulebook:

  • I will unfollow people who are not following me back.
  • I will unfollow accounts that are posting content I don’t like or don’t want in my feed.
  • I will unfollow people who are following more than 2x as many people as are following them and who do not have a description under their name.
  • I will unfollow people who allow their accounts to go inactive (I use an IOS App for this)
  • I will never unfollow another blogger who follows me and posts high-quality content.

These rules help me grow my following, support other bloggers, and maintain quality in my own Instagram feed. They also give me the margin I need to continue to employ my growth strategies on Instagram.

I also set aside time to follow back quality accounts that follow me every 24-hours. Whether we like it or not, the culture demands this. I won’t follow junky accounts or accounts that don’t appeal to me but I try to follow as many as I can.

If someone follows me and I follow back only to discover they immediately unfollow, I just return the favor and move on with my life. It’s tempting to take unfollows personally, but it’s best to focus on the positive and keep moving forward.

 

Are you struggling to grow an authentic following on Instagram? This power-packed interview includes five top Instagram secrets for bloggers! Get started with one of these tips today.

 

SECRET #2 – Follow new accounts regularly and follow-back quality accounts quickly.

 

Alison: Following appropriate accounts seems simple, yet many of us aren’t doing it. Thanks for this secret that seems so simple but will really produce results. Do you think it’s necessary to comment on and like other posts in addition to following other accounts? If so, how much time should we spend doing this?

Sarah: Instagram algorithms reward you for being active on their platform. Having an active account gives you priority placement within hashtags, recommended accounts, and search. I try to respond to every comment on my photos and often go the extra mile to comment on one of their photos in return. It takes a bit of extra time, but I’ve made some really great connections this way. My profile always gets more likes, comments, and follows on days I am actively using Instagram.

 

Alison: What is the best way, in your opinion, to grow a following while staying authentic?

Sarah: It is important to build an Instagram account that you are proud of; one that you enjoy posting to regularly and fits the message of your blog. I view every Instagram post as an opportunity to encourage others and I do my best to respond to every comment with care and consistency. I see no harm in regularly following other accounts, and unfollowing those who don’t follow back. This gives me an opportunity to grow my numbers and therefore reach more people with my positive and encouraging message.

 

SECRET #3 – View every Instagram post as an opportunity to encourage and inspire others.

 

Alison: This secret forces us to make a mindset shift, but I believe it will have tremendous impact on our platforms. It causes us to serve our audience first and foremost, which follows the example of Jesus in Scripture. Sarah, I’ve heard that branding is key. What are your thoughts on branding?

Sarah: I struggle with the idea of branding on Instagram, and here’s why: There are a handful of people whose accounts are so pretty and cohesive, it makes us mere-humans feel like we’ll never measure up. Instead of branding, I prefer to focus on messaging. The key focus of my blog is inspiring women to explore the beauty of God’s design, so I share lots of quote graphics and Bible verses with a smattering of real life photos. I love taking pictures of my food, but I don’t post those on Instagram because they don’t fit my message.

 

SECRET #4 – Instead of branding, focus on messaging.

 

Alison: I love your advice to focus on messaging over branding. These secrets are excellent! Next question: how consistent should we be, and how do you suggest posting and engaging regularly?

Sarah: I’m on Instagram every day. The more time I spend there, the more I want to spend there. If you are relatively new to the platform, I encourage you to start with small goals. Focus on quality rather than quantity!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Are you following more people than are following you? If so, take some time to unfollow accounts that aren’t important to you. It may sound minor, but people won’t view you as an influencer if are following more people than are following you back.
  2. Start using 15-30 appropriate hashtags per post. This will immediately increase your visibility and help new followers find you.
  3. Start following 10, 30, 100 people each day. There are free apps to help you unfollow so your numbers don’t get too skewed.
  4. Make a commitment to post to Instagram at least 1x per day, and try to respond to comments in a timely manner.
  5. Try out InstaStories. It’s a great way to get visibility on Instagram. (I haven’t done it yet, but I know many who have.)

 

Alison: You mentioned hashtags. How can we find and utilize good hashtags?

Sarah: When I got serious about growing my Instagram page, I dedicated a whole day to searching for good hashtags. I did various Google searches and spent a lot of time clicking through Instagram and jotting down hashtags that fit within my niche. I organized my favorite hashtags into 3 lists: Quote/Scripture Hashtags, Personal Photo Hashtags, Bible Study Hashtags. These three lists are easily accessible in my notes on my iPhone, so I can just copy and paste as needed.

 

Alison: I’m going to keep hashtags in my notes, too. That makes it simple and fast. What are some of your favorite hashtags to include with every post?

Sarah: I use the maximum number of 30 hashtags on every Instagram post (I always put my hashtags in the first comment).

Here are my 30 favorite hashtags for the Christian Blogging niche:

#womenintheword #bedeeplyrooted #yourinfluence #givemeJesus #faithinspired #gracemakers #beautyfromashes #goodnewsfeed #shedelights #thecaptivatingwoman #chooselovely #leadhership #womeninministry #womenwholead #thepointedlife #christianblogger #christianlife #christianmom #christiangirl #christianliving #christianwoman #flashesofdelight #livebeautifully #livethelittlethings #thehappynow #thrivewhereistand #shereadstruth  #wellwateredwomen   #butfirstJesus  #womenintheword

Check out this list of 30 hashtags for Christian bloggers! #christianblogger @sarahekoontz Click To Tweet

 

Alison: Thanks for sharing your list. Let’s move on to pictures: what kinds of photos do well on Instagram?

Sarah: People do like to see your real life pictures on Instagram, but they also like seeing pretty things. So I always take time to stage and edit my photos for maximum appeal. Sometimes I snap a picture and it just doesn’t meet my standards, so I share it with friends and family on my private Facebook instead. I’ve found that my followers respond well to pretty quote graphics, so I use my WordSwag App and free images from StockSnap.io to create graphics just for Instagram.

Another great tip is to utilize the “share” option to share your Instagram posts straight to your Facebook page. Since both platforms are owned by the same company, they reward you for using this feature, and posts shared directly from Instagram to Facebook often get higher engagement than other types of posts. Give it a try and see for yourself!

 

SECRET #5 – Take the time to stage and edit your pictures for maximum appeal.

 

Alison: This is such an important component of Instagram, because like you said at the beginning, many users love Instagram because of its focus on beauty and art. What tools or apps do you use to edit and create your photos?

Sarah: I’ve included my favorite apps above. WordSwag changed everything for me, giving me the freedom to create Instagram graphics on my phone when I’m waiting in the carpool lane. I also depend heavily on the apps that allow me to track unfollowers. I also use VSCO App to edit images on my phone and the Repost App to share other’s work in my feed with proper credit.

 

Alison: This interview has been so helpful. Thank you for sharing five excellent secrets for growing our Instagram accounts as bloggers and influencers. Any final words you would like to share about Instagram?

Sarah: I’ve discovered that my following grows in proportion to the amount of time I dedicate to the platform. If I had to quantify my efforts, I would guess that I’ve dedicated 5-10 hours per week to Instagram since January 1. That’s a lot of time! But the hard work is paying off and my account is active and flourishing.

 

Alison: Where can we find and follow you on Instagram, Sarah?

Sarah: Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I hope that your readers will find some valuable nuggets to help grow their Instagram accounts. I’d love to connect with each and every one of you on Instagram. You can find me at instagram.com/sarahekoontz. Be sure to leave a comment on one of my images to introduce yourself. That will help me know to follow you back and support you on the platform in any way that I can.


After talking with Sarah about her Instagram strategy, I am excited to dedicate more time to growing my own account in the upcoming months. Sarah’s Instagram account is less than a year old and she has already reached the 5,000-follower milestone. She has gained 2,500 new followers in the last 3 months! And she believes that you and I can do the same if we commit to the process and apply the Instagram secrets she shared in this interview.

Sarah also shared her goals for 2017 with me, one of which is to reach 10,000 followers by the end of the year. She is a dedicated, hard-working blogger and I believe that she will reach – and surpass – this huge goal. If you gain nothing else from this power-packed post, please walk away knowing that consistent effort combined with a solid strategy pays off on Instagram.

Let’s look at Sarah’s Instagram Secrets one more time:

SECRET #1 – It’s essential to be proactive if you want to grow your Instagram platform.

SECRET #2 – Follow new accounts regularly and follow-back quality accounts quickly.

SECRET #3 – View every post as an opportunity to encourage or inspire others.

SECRET #4 – Instead of branding, focus on messaging.

SECRET #5 – Take the time to stage and edit your pictures for maximum appeal.

Grow your Instagram platform authentically with these five Instagram secrets! #blogger #blogtips… Click To Tweet

I encourage you to begin implementing one or two of these secrets today. Dedicate time daily to build your Instagram platform. And know that I’ll be learning and growing right beside you.


Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design through her writing at SarahKoontz.com. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life. Follow Sarah on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Pinterest. Read Sarah’s full bio Here.

8 thoughts on “Instagram for Bloggers: 5 Secrets to Grow Your Account Authentically

  1. Hi Alison! It’s been so long since we’ve connected. I miss linking up with you. 🙂

    Thank you dearly for featuring one of my favorite bloggers. I’ve followed Sarah for sometime now and she is super inspiring to me. I love her writing and have enjoyed watching her flourish as a writer over the past year. (Sarah: that book contract can wait! You ARE in God’s will in the mean time-ministering to fellow bloggers like me.)

    I loved what Sarah shared here today. I’m a homeschooling mom who fights for stolen moments (usually at night when I’m brain dead) to blog to God’s glory. My Instagram account is virtually inactive, but I’ll do my best to get back up on that horse.

    Blessings to both of you beautiful and godly ladies!

    Lots of Love,
    Tiffiney

    1. Your words always bless me, Tiffiney. I do hope we get to meet face to face one day. I agree with you on the book contract, I’m enjoying how God is working in the waiting.

    2. Hi Tiffiney! Thank you so much for stopping by & leaving such a sweet comment! Sarah is one of my favorites. I’m always inspired by her level of dedication and detail. And her Instagram account is just incredible! I’m with you – stealing moments from a very busy life to blog when I can. And, to be honest, I need these Instagram tips just as much as any other blogger. Unfortunately Instagram falls to the bottom of the list. Anyway, I appreciate your kindness and hope you find some pockets of time to build your Instagram platform!

  2. Wow, this is really useful information! Thank you, Sarah and Alison. I had no idea about these “secrets”. I recently started following 5 new people a day (and I thought that was a lot). I kept wondering what the secret to a successful Instagram account was. I really appreciate what you’ve shared here.

    1. Happy to share, Dawn. It took me a while to figure out what worked best for me, but I’m telling you girl…..these secrets work and are worth the work. Blessings to you (and all the new Instagram friends you’ll be making very soon).

    2. I’m with you, Dawn! I was not really doing much following/unfollowing – and now I feel like it’s the secret sauce to Instagram! Thanks for commenting.

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