Despite the rise of TikTok, Instagram still remains the go-to platform for browsing photographer portfolios and connecting potential clients with artists. For our studio, Lin & Jirsa, we try our best to track the source of leads. More and more, our leads are coming directly from Instagram, with about 15 leads (of the 300+ booked on average each year) being traced directly to the social media giant. Of course, there are also the untraced leads that may have originated from IG in addition to the leads that IG may have assisted in convincing and converting. So how does a photographer start building a following? Here are 10 tips on how to increase Instagram followers for photographers.
In this article, we’re going to cover the following tips:
- Start with Your Immediate Network
- Interact with Your Target Audience
- Schedule Your Posts
- Post High-Quality Content
- Post Consistent Content
- Use Your Account Sparingly for Marketing Sales and Products
- Don’t Focus All Success on Numbers
- Find the Best Times to Post
- Integrate with Facebook
- Learn How to Use Hashtags, Tagging, and Locations
Note: This article was originally written in 2018, with an update in 2021.
1. Start with Your Immediate Network
Nobody likes to drink at an empty bar. While you never want to be “that annoying friend” that continually markets his business to his friends, a subtle follow request from your business account is absolutely acceptable and establishes a foundation to build upon. Most of your family and friends will jump at the opportunity to support your business.
2. Interact with Your Target Audience
Really, this tip on how to increase Instagram followers for photographers deserves a longer explanation, but we’ll keep it concise for the sake of this article. In short, participate on Instagram with your target audience, following them, commenting on their posts, and liking their posts rather than only interacting with your current network. This involves strategies like following the followers of your fellow industry professionals and even competitors.
For example, If you know that a lot of your South Asian Wedding audience follows an account like Maharani Weddings, then interacting with posts from these accounts can lead to more exposure within that niche.
3. Schedule Your Posts for Consistency
Posting consistently can be difficult and time-consuming. The great news is that Facebook has added the scheduling feature to their Creator Studio, so you no longer have to pay for a scheduling service like Schedugram or Later.com.
4. Post High-Quality Content
When it comes to content creation, consider these 7 ways to ensure you’re posting high-quality content. We use the Acronym CHAIRED, which stands for the following:
C | Concise or Short
H | Humorous or Cute – e.g. Pet photos, flower girls, baby photos
A | Amazing – e.g. “Wowzer” sunset photos, impressive floral setups
I | Intimate e.g. Deeply personal posts about life
R | Relevant e.g. Tips for your target audience
E | Engaging – Including questions with your photos
D | Diverse – e.g. Posting photos and videos
While every post does not have to include every aspect of CHAIRED, the more aspects it does include the higher the likelihood for success as measured by engagement.
Bonus: Watch out for “Llliteracy” – spelling mistakes and other errors drop you in the eyes of readers. Even an expert post turns into spam if it’s full of grammar and punctuation errors. Learn to write competently. If you’re not good at it, have the text proofread by a specialized company like writemyessays or similar services. You might even consider finding a copywriter on Upwork or another service. Lastly, another option would be AI writing software such as Jasper, which we discuss in this article.
Below is our all-time most successful post as measured by engagement (featuring the beautiful newborn of our former studio manager). Notice how it fits qualities of “Cute, Intimate, and Relevant.”
Our studio manager Jackie & associate photographer Ryan gave birth to a handsome baby boy a week ago and our team couldn’t wait to share the news! Meet Jake, our newest team member & the most precious cargo you will find ??? #jakemaddoxhanson
A photo posted by Lin & Jirsa Photography (@linandjirsa) on
The following was also a very successful post. It fits the qualities of “Amazing” because of the unique location and the photography tricks applied. But it’s also relevant and intimate since it’s actually from my very own engagement session.
Could this BE any more enchanting?! Chris & Vy’s Bonneville Salt Flats engagement session is seriously out of this world! #linandjirsa Producer & Styling | @jenne_chanthaboury Makeup & Hair | @Haileeday_ Tux | @friartux
A photo posted by Lin & Jirsa Photography (@linandjirsa) on
5. Post Consistent Content
What do you want your Instagram feed to be known for? If someone said “Check out this account! It has great ___________,” what would you want that blank to be for your account?
Caroline Tran, a renowned photographer and educator, often stresses the importance of curating your photos and showing a consistent style. Below is a screenshot of her account, which clearly illustrates how she walks the walk.
Clients tend to book what they see, so maintaining a specific style lets them know what to expect and gives you a clear plan of what to deliver.
Of course, the degree to which you make your feed consistent is a business choice that should depend on your style, niche, and audience. You can get some inspiration from the best social media campaigns of 2021 here.
At Lin and Jirsa, for example, we have decided to show more diversity in shooting, lighting, and post production styles simply because we know that our clientele is so diverse in their style preferences, and we do our best to accommodate.
6. Use Your Account Sparingly for Marketing Sales and Products
Sometimes people use their accounts to over-market themselves. “Yes, we know you have mini-sessions going on! We don’t need a reminder post every two hours!” But more often than not, photographers underutilize Instagram for marketing. Don’t be afraid to announce a mini-session or subtly showcase/market your new albums or canvases.
At times, these posts may not get as many likes and comments as regular content, but if it helps you convert actual sales and add to your revenue, then it’s well worth it. After all, what’s the point in putting so much time and effort into your social media if you can’t use it to generate income every now and then? Let’s discuss further below.
7. Don’t Focus All Success on Numbers
Related to the last point, some posts will do better than others and THAT’S OKAY! You don’t have to aim for hundreds or thousands of likes with every post. If your post on your new albums only receives 1/4 of the engagement as your regular posts, it doesn’t mean you should stop posting them, especially if they are leading to sales. Just use your judgement by using the numbers to help you make decisions, without being a slave to them.
8. Find the Best Times to Post
You can use Account Insights within Instagram or consider paid services like Iconosquare to track pertinent stats, including the best times to post, engagement, and follower growth over time. However, you can also use your intuition and think about when your users are most likely to be engaged with your content. For our Instagram account, it happens to be 8AM, 12PM, 5PM and 8PM. You can also use best practices based on mass data like this.
9. Integrate with Facebook
We can’t stress enough the importance of developing time-saving workflows. If you’re posting manually from your mobile device to Instagram, you should also consider linking your Facebook account so that images post directly to your timeline as well. Besides, the Facebook algorithm loves Instagram posts.
10. Learn How to Use Hashtags, Tagging and Locations
Of all the tips on how to increase Instagram followers for photographers, this may seem the most obvious, but we still see many photographers not using or misusing all three.
- Hashtags – Get into the conversation by finding popular and unique hashtags that cater to your specific audience. What hashtags are being used by your target audience and future clients?
Tip: Put a list of 30 maximum hashtags in your first comment rather than cluttering your caption space. Having a paragraph as a caption takes away attention from the image.
- Tagging – Be sure to tag your clients, models, and all vendors involved in the shoot!
- Locations – Be sure to add a location to your image so that anyone searching that location will see your work!
[Related Reading: Answers To Why Your Instagram Is Stuck At Low Engagement]
Conclusion | Bonus Tip – Don’t Overthink It!
The last bit of advice is to remember that every business is different, including yours. So make sure you don’t do something just because you hear of others doing it, including the advice given in this article. With any social network, being genuine and being yourself is important to attracting and retaining engaged followers. So have fun, develop your own voice, and come up with your own strategy. You can find more in-depth information on building your photography business in our Photography Business Training System. In it, we share ALL of our strategies, templates, and workflows that we’ve used over the past decade, to build one of the most profitable photography studios in the world.
Did we miss anything? What works for you? We’d love to know in the comments.