Do’s and Don’ts of Growing Your Instagram Following

At the recent meetup in LA, I was asked several blogging questions and decided to make the next few blogging tips posts focused on answering some of those questions and offering tips in areas I was asked about frequently.

That being said, here's a few simple tips to keep in mind when growing your Instagram following and that have worked for me:


1. Do share your personality

Post images that reflect who you are and your lifestyle. Let your captions say what you want them to say and give people a glimpse into your life!

Here's an example of Paola from @blankitinerary– she always does a great job of writing her captions that are literally how she is, I love that about her account.

blank itinerary

2. Do be engaged with others

Write back to comments if people ask questions and make sure to like and comment on other peoples photos as well. You want to be approachable. Also comment and like accounts that are in similar niches to yours to be a contributor to the community and not just a self-promoter.

3. Do use hashtags

I always put my hashtags in the second comment, and after I get a few comments they're covered up. I definitely think they help as long as they're specific to the photo…not the super general ones. I've used them since I've started and I'll continue to do so.

Free PDF: Receive my top Instagram hashtags I currently use to gain followers.


4. Do become a resource

Offer value on your page whether it's where to find an item, where to eat, where to go, etc. Make your followers want to continue following you because the resources you offer.

5. Do know your audience

Testing out different pictures (full bodies, flat lays, etc.) that will get the highest engagement. If your engagement is low and you've been doing it for awhile, try switching things up and trying what else works. I use Iconosquare to see my best posting times, highest engaged photos, etc.


1. Don't buy followers, likes, comments…

Don't do it. You may think people won't notice but it's pretty evident to spot. It's also not fair to brands who are expecting a certain reach and are being put in front of fake followers. I think it's an ethical thing and something I'm just not cool with. When I work with a brand I want them to know what they see is what they get- they're not being fooled that I'm something I'm not. If you aren't growing, take that as a sign to try other things rather than opt to buy engagement from fake accounts.

2. Don't obsess over feed layout

Don't get me wrong, I used to be like this. I would never post two outfits in a row because I was worried about what my grid looked like. I got over that about 3 months ago and since then I've been growing faster than when I was consumed with what my grid looks like. Instead, I focus on making sure each photo has a consistent filter, offers value and is relatable. Plus it took the stress out of me finding “filler photos”. Now I'm more focused on promoting my blog posts and showing my daily life.

3. Don’t post low quality photos

An overly pixelated photo is not great to look at and it just looks a bit unprofessional. Always take your photos with a clear camera phone or make sure if you resize a pro camera photo it still keeps a clear image look.

4. Don't over post

Maybe if there's a special event and you want to post more than usual that's fine, but overall as a general rule, space out your photos during the day so you aren't bombarding your followers. I keep mine to usually 3-4 a day, sometimes 5 but I try to make sure there's at least 2 hours in between each one. So if I know I'll be posting more that day than usual, I just post my first photo earlier than usual.

5. Don’t sell out

No matter if a brand is offering you free clothes, an amazing rate or a cool trip. If it doesn't fit your brand and if you truly don't love it, decline the offer or simply don't respond. Time is money and you want to be investing your time and efforts only with products you stand behind 100%.

xx Brittany

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Leave a comment


  1. Sheree May 31, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Thank you Brittany for always providing relevant, on point advises for fellow bloggers!! I missed your meet up (my kids came down with stomach flu that weekend and it was awful) and I was so bummed. I hope you will host another one soon. This post is so timely because I feel like I’m stuck on my Instagram growth.

    While it is hard to not compare with fellow bloggers who started out the same time I did and have amassed a lot more “followers” while I’m just gaining one or two a day I try to stay positive. I know that brands look for a certain number of followers (whether it is fake or not) and many blogs I read and Instagram that I follow host a few Giveaways a month in an attempt to hit that number and hope that the real followers will come after they start getting big name collabs. Long sigh, really don’t want to sell out but it is super tempting to just jump on a Giveaway bandwagon and gain a large number of followers. I know you did a post about the pros and cons of a Giveaway, but it is really tempting…

    Ok, thanks for taking the time to read this mid-length rant. I just wish that brands don’t really just focus on the number game but also the content bloggers can provide.

    xo Sheree

    1. Sia Foch May 31, 2016 at 1:42 am

      Sheree, your comment is everything that I was wanted to say.
      Sometimes there are so many people in my niche that started on the same level with me and now they have a bunch of followers and likes etc.. and they don’t do massliking or massfollowing or something like this! And it makes me wonder how people can find their pages?! And it also makes me think that I’m unprofessional or just need to follow more and more people. I don’t know, there are a lot of secret steps or special tips and tricks to get a bunch of followers and likes?!
      And I just want to know one fact about Brittany: how long it took to obtain 50k and 100k on Instagram? Thanks in advance!

      -xx, Sia

      1. Brittany May 31, 2016 at 9:39 am

        Hi Sia!

        It took me 6 months to gain 10k from when I started my account and 16 months from there to hit 100k. After 100k it took me 5 months to reach 200k. The growth starts to become exponential but it’s definitely slow in the beginning.

    2. Brittany May 31, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Hi Sheree! The main thing to keep in mind is a giveaway is not the same as buying followers. When you buy followers or likes you’re sending payment to a third party that sends accounts they created your way- but they don’t have a real person behind those accounts, you’re only paying to increase your likes or followers number even though they aren’t real… and you would have to do the same for the next photo because the followers you bought aren’t going to be liking your photos. It’s pretty pointless.

      A giveaway on the other hand, real people are following the account in hopes of winning the giveaway. The major downside to this is you will get a ton of unfollows once the giveaway is over. There will be people that stick around though and that’s because they genuinely like your account. You aren’t “buying” followers with a giveaway and could definitely try it out to see what your net gain is. I just wouldn’t do it all the time as the only way to grow, as you will get quite a bit of unfollows and that’s not helpful to keep you motivated weekly.

  2. Ellen Smith May 31, 2016 at 1:53 am

    These are such good tips! I haven’t really thought much about my captions. I just try to put in what I feel is natural and then I try to interact a little with my IG followers!

    Really helpful post!


  3. michenn (@michennblog) May 31, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Great tips but the one that stood out to me was the Don’t worry about your feed one. I’ve been reading a few Instagram tips and having a cohesive and pretty feed was always one that I saw. . .and it’s also the reason I’ve been trying really hard to have a varied feed but I totally get what you mean about filler photos. Hmm, I might try going back to not being concerned about having two OOTD’s in a row. . .

    Thanks for these tips!


    1. Brittany May 31, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Hi Michenn! Ya I wouldn’t stress about the layout as much- most of my non-blogger friends don’t even view the feed as a grid, they scroll the other way and if they like the photos on the persons account, they’ll follow.

      Just post the photos that relate the best to your audience and that reflect your style/lifestyle naturally.

  4. Kristy May 31, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Thank you so much for the information. Specific details like this are so helpful and encouraging! Love your content. Keep it coming! :)
    – Kristy

  5. Jessica Anderson May 31, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I love when you do these Instagram and blogging tips Brittany! You’re so knowledgeable. I’m having a hard time with not obsessing over my feed layout right now since I’m just starting out and I feel like it needs to look perfect. I know that’s not the case though.
    And to Sheree and Sia who commented above, if you want, I can e-mail you and let you know what has helped me immensely with growing my Insta lately. In the last 3 days, I gained about 300 followers which is huge for me :)

    1. Ruth June 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      I would really appreciate if you could email that to me as well! I am having so much trouble gaining and retaining followers and it’s pretty discouraging.

    2. Tsvetelina September 20, 2016 at 8:13 am

      Jessica, I love your comment about Instagram and would love you to email me what helped you. I’ve been obsessive over the filters I use and this totally slows me down. Here is my email if you get a chance [email protected]

      Thank you so much for your time.

  6. Alexandria May 31, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I always appreciate all your tips! What if you know you gave great pictures and are STILL not getting a good response. I feel like I should be getting more engagement on IG, but I’m not. Gggrrrr.

  7. Marisa M May 31, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Thank you for this post! As someone who has been on instagram for a while but just recently started up a blog, this is super helpful. I’m so looking forward to growing my followers and getting to engage with them!

  8. Hannah Rheaume May 31, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I SO needed to read this! I feel like I am always pushing out quality content and imagery that people will genuinely like but my followers just aren’t growing. Giveaways have worked for me before but again, not all of those followers are engaged with my content which is frustrating. Collaborating with other bloggers that are larger than me has worked and helped a lot. I guess we always want what we don’t have, especially in a competitive space like blogging. It is hard not to compare myself to other style and travel bloggers with larger following that started the same time I did. GAH the struggle is so real. I would LOVE your opinion or if you have any tips!

  9. Kendra Scruggs May 31, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Thanks for the tips, I just recently started a blog and have been trying to grow my Instagram following. It’s been slow but I just need to stick with it!!

  10. Shannon May 31, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Brittany – I must admit, these posts are my absolute favorite from you. Your advice is so spot-on, and I love seeing the method behind the instal-madness from accounts I enjoy & follow (i.e. yours!). One that really spoke to me was the Layout one. I found myself getting so caught up with that and then getting stressed about when to post! It ended up killing my vibe because then I’d post a picture pertaining a post from days ago because I finally had the grid right – which at the end of day makes zero sense. Organic everything (growth, following, content, etc) is the way to go. Hopefully, brands do catch on to the fake followers – it truly is a selfish lose-lose for everyone. It gets frustrating at times because I’ve been growing very slowly, but I know I have to keep going at it – I try really hard to not get caught up by the numbers. Having true followers is so important to me because it’s all about the online connection! Thank you again for all your advice. x Shannon

  11. Lindsey May 31, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Iconosquare changing their website due to Instagram’s new API has got me so ahhhh! The new layout makes it much harder to respond to comments on your photos and the “Followings” feed is going away unless you add 50 handles to track in separate feeds (not to mention the page reloads every time you like and comment on a photo). It’s how I did all my engagement since doing it on the phone is so cumbersome- are you doing okay with the Icono Pro?

  12. Nyuta May 31, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Great tips! Trying to make my IG feed in one theme and make more interesting photos :) Hope will find great way with your list :)
    Thank you!

  13. Kelsey May 31, 2016 at 11:28 am


    Thank you so much for these posts! You are extremely helpful! I’ve learned so much from you!

    Instagram is such a great tool for bloggers but there are so many things you have to learn to make it useful. I really appreciate these tips!

    Also totally unrelated but I love you on snapchat! Your family seems so sweet and genuine and I appreciate you sharing little glimpses of y’all’s lives.

  14. Maggie May 31, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Great tips!! I have slowly, slowly been growing my Instagram. But I’m getting there!! haha :)

  15. Kaitlyn May 31, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! These are definitely good tips, and answered a few questions I had. Thanks again!

  16. Lavena May 31, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you once again as always stellar advice!

  17. Melanie May 31, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you so much again for the tips. I remember reading your previous tips on your blog site and have continued to bare this in mind with my instagram feed. I just try to keep it honest and simple, and have enjoyed interacting with others through comments and replies. Oh but how I dislike receiving invitations to buy followers, it’s so annoying. I’m happy to grow my following honestly and legitimately because at the end of the day, those who are following have some genuine interest in what I’m posting. Thanks Brittany again for all your help, tips, and fabulous fashion.

  18. Elizabeth T. May 31, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Thank you so much for these tips <3 :) I always look forward to your blogging tips every week, but whenever you write about Instagram, I'm extra intrigued because you've grown your IG account so successfully (and in a short time too)! I've been putting some of your previous tips to use, and they're really working! Although it's slow, the growth is steady, and I'm really enjoying challenging myself to post engaging photos! :) Thank you for this week's tips!

    XO, Elizabeth

  19. Kateryna June 1, 2016 at 12:05 am

    I’m so grateful that you share these helpful insights! Especially useful is the part concerning engagement with your niche users and growing your own reputable brand!

  20. Andréa Viza June 1, 2016 at 7:06 am

    such great helpful tips.
    it can be a little discouraging but like you said if the followers are fake and not engaged – it shows.


    A.Viza Style

  21. Christine June 1, 2016 at 8:43 am

    These are awesome tips, thanks for sharing. I love that you did a LA blogger meet up, that was so cool to see so many influencers come out and have a chance to meet you!

  22. Andrea June 1, 2016 at 10:23 am

    These tips are great! I’ve been obsessing over how my grid looks, rather than content posts. Such a great tip to stop worrying about the overall look of your grid and just using similar filters!

  23. Jillian Woods June 1, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Great post and very helpful advice! Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. Jane June 3, 2016 at 12:58 am

    Loved these tips, although I am incredibly bad with captions!

  25. Esther June 3, 2016 at 6:19 am

    Thank you so much, one would think they know but the little specifics you have shared are so so helpful.
    Thank you for investing time into giving us such great content and Info xoxoxoxoxo

  26. Caitlin June 3, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Great advice – spot on! I admire people who have a really clean, cohesive look to their Instagram feed… but no matter what I do, it’s just never going to happen for me. I just have to accept it! :)

  27. Tanielle June 7, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Hi Brittany!

    I had a quick question – sometimes, I get comments from companies asking me to use my photo with links to their terms of use. For a new blogger starting off, is it a good idea to allow them to do so?

    Thank you as always!

  28. Dominique June 8, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Your blog is so, SO informative! Thank you so much for all the great tips!

  29. Morgan June 9, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Loved this post! I am still working on growing my following, but it’s a slow process. I’m ok with it though, because I’d much rather have real followers than buy them! I have noticed a few bloggers that buy their followers and likes, and its painfully obvious :/ Loop giveaways are really tempting, but I’m just not a fan of them in the long run. I had to unfollow people who posted them on a daily basis. While it stinks seeing their feeds grow faster than mine, I’d rather have more engagement!

  30. Moji June 12, 2016 at 1:24 am

    This post is everything!
    I’m one of those who obsess over layout so I am constantly loooking for “filler”posts or I post nothing. All that’s about to change now! Thank you for the information.

  31. GiGi Eats June 21, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I hear you on the OVERPOSTING thing. I post once MAYBEEEE twice a day… Never ever more. I also only let myself go on Instagram at max 3 x a day! I don’t want to be SUCKED IN! haha!

  32. yael steren July 2, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I have no idea why I am only discovering this series you write about now!! I started blogging about two years ago and it seems like more and more people are so competitive and don’t want to share anything, so can I just say what a delight it is to see a blogger willing to open up and help!!! I have a question about the whole buying followers and likes situation – I can clearly tell when people are doing it and yet it seems that brands will still work with those bloggers. I don’t want to go that path but then it’s super frustrating knowing i’m getting passed up for collaborations in favor of other bloggers who are buying likes, etc. Do you think brands are ever going to really drill down and pay attention to what is going on behind the scenes? Thanks so much again! I”m seriously going to spend the next few hours reading through all the articles in the tips section! yay!!! xx yael

  33. Shirley July 10, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Hi Brittany! This is very useful post and I should learn. However I had a very hard time to grow my instagram account. I started over 1 year but I gain only 400 followers so far. I really don’t know what the problems are as I do see many of my friends are growing super fast. I do post consistently and most of the time I post once a day. I am going through a hard time now and feel very frustrated.

  34. Faye August 2, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Hi Brittany! I read every one of your posts and to be honest you’re one of the reasons I decided to start my blog (although for now my page is “under construction ” ). Being inspired by you I decided to work on my Instagram account first and see how it goes. Recently I accepted a collaboration proposal from a clothing company but really don’t know what to expect … They work mostly CPA collaboration basis. Is there a commission range I should be aware of ? Or even better what should I be aware of ? Recently I came across an article about affiliate programs saying bloggers should not accept to collaborate for less than 50% commission! This company has only checked my Instagram account since as I mentioned earlier haven’t started my blog again yet they came to me with a proposal!?
    Would really appreciate if you replied to any of these questions , thank you so much!!!!
    Always love your tips ! xo xo

  35. Shelbi August 10, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Hey Brittany, so you mentioned you gained 10k followers after six months of opening your Instagram account. Were you posting 4 times a day then as you are now? You would always suggest posting that often? Do you have a certain time of day you shoot your photos?

  36. Vivian Aimee October 2, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Oh my goodness hashtags definitely work! I looked at your pdf and used it on my recent photo and received so many more like and gained followers too!!! Awesome, thanks love♡

  37. Kara Chua November 22, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Hi Brittany!

    This might be the first time I’m commenting, but I have been following you for probably about a year now and I gotta say. You impress me every time.
    I just felt like I had to comment on “Don’t obsess over feed layout”. I’ve been super obsessed with that, what to post as fillers. But I never really have good fillers to begin with. So I end up posting something that doesn’t really fit my brand. Anyway, thanks for this! I can now post as freely as I can!


  38. Lilly December 6, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Loved reading this! I have really been trying to grow my following and obsessing over my feed layout so it is good to hear I can focus more other things within each photo. Thanks for being willing to share tips and help others succeed.

  39. Zoe January 15, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    in order for you to get to 10k in just 6 months, did you just do hashtags and post consistently with good photos? I literally hashtag my pics to the max amount and I never gain followers that stick around? I just wonder if there is a secret out there that quickly gains followers that I just don’t know!?!?
    Anyway, you are awesome and I have so much respect for you. You are truly doing what you love and I wish I could too.

  40. Erin Czar March 30, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Reading, learning, hoping growing! haha
    Thank you,

  41. Pingback: A Little Somethin' Sunday #41 - Sinful Nutrition

  42. Lisa Mas September 16, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Loving all these blogging posts. Coming from you, it feels like GOLD!




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