Instagram is always riding the fine line of being the most favorited social media platform, to being the most hated, hard to grow, and difficult platform to master. The trouble is that Instagram is such a visual tool. We often get swayed by pretty photos and unrealistic snapshots of life. But as the platform has grown and changed over the years, I've learned that if you want to really use Instagram to grow your blog, which is the most important factor for me, then it's really not at all what we traditionally think when it comes to content creation.

You see, Instagram really isn't about YOU at all. Unless you're a celebrity (which, most of us aren't). It's about creating a community that wants to learn, achieve, laugh, or affect others in a meaningful way.

Instagram is one of the best ways I connect with my readers. But it's more than that. It's one of the best ways to grow my pageviews, gain more readers, and even potential buyers. All in an authentic way.

Instagram connects everyone in a visual way. It remains the fastest growing social network of the year. There are over 1 billion people on Instagram each MONTH! On top of that, it’s not just a large audience but a highly engaged audience. In fact, it’s the MOST interactive and engaging app out there. But how can you actually use it to grow your blog?  Whether or not you feel frustrated by Instagram, you can absolutely leverage Instagram's tools to help grow your blog. And I hope to outline how.

How I Use Instagram to Grow My Blog

My Stats

Believe it or not, Instagram is one of the highest traffic sources to my blog. I believe the reason for this is my consistency to remind people I have a blog. I share it in every possible way. I link it in my bio, on my stories, and even in my captions. I use call to actions and encourage people to read my posts or sign up for my newsletter. I constantly direct people to read my blog.

To me, Instagram is just the highlight. It's the headline of the news article, not the full story. Which is why it's essential to figure out your why.

Instagram has helped me to make money, grow my blog, and it's even been influential in my move abroad. Essentially, Instagram has helped me create the life I want to live. But it does take some time and strategy. Here's what you cannot leave out.

Why do you want to grow your Instagram?

Can you seriously answer the above question? It's so important. Understanding and honing in on why you want someone to follow you will help you dramatically grow your Instagram following.

So often, I get Direct Messages and emails asking, “How do I grow my following and engagement?” The question I always respond with is: “Why do you want to?”

There are millions of users out there, so many people sharing beautiful photos and interesting captions. The key to standing out is understanding your point on Instagram. Or your why? If you can figure out why you want to grow your Instagram this will help you figure out your target audience, what pictures to share, what hashtags to use, and even what time to post.

I've talked before about creating an Instagram theme. This relates to creating brand recognition or sharing photos that your audience will know off the bat is coming from you. But this doesn't necessarily mean all the images need to look alike. Instead, it means that your audience should identify with the type of posts you share because you consistently echo back to your overall goal.

My goal for my Instagram is to get people to read my blog. I want to consistently attract people that might read a post on travel or blogging. That helps me understand what kind of images to share and captions to write. I also know that since new people are following to remind them that I am a blogger. So I might share an old post here and there to help them get to know me.

Bottom line, why are you on Instagram and what do you want to achieve from it? Answering that is the most important thing you can do to grow.

Community Counts

The Instagram Algorithm is a tricky one, but also very advanced. It can quickly fish out spam comments. For example, “Cool pic :)” isn't going to have as much weight as a meaningful, heartfelt, well-thought-out comment: “Thanks so much for sharing your journey! I've never been to Strasbourg before but since you wrote about it, it's on my list! Thank you for always inspiring. Where are you headed to next?”

This isn't just a comment, it's a conversation.

The algorithm isn't just about comments and likes, there are a whole lot of other factors that are at play. And this post details that out. However you look at the algorithm, Instagram wants to see that your community is engaged. No matter the size.

Admirable or Relatable

There are two types of accounts on Instagram: admirable or relatable. Say this with any kind of adjectives you want, but the fact remains there are only two kinds.

Humans are selfish. Let's get real: we follow someone on Instagram because we want something out of them. Maybe they inspire us. We want to dress like them. We like their captions. We want to take a photo just like that. We want to travel there. The list goes on.

All of these things are relatable or admirable. When I go to post a picture on Instagram I like to think to myself: can people relate to this? Will this inspire them? Truly, your Instagram should be one of the two.

Break the rules

Despite saying all of the above, the beautiful part of social media and the online world is that there are no rules.

I think because of social media we go into our own world and feel the world revolves around us a little. The good news: it doesn't! That means you can make mistakes and people aren't taking note. No one cares as much as you think they do. Which means you have room to share the grainy pictures and the shots you think no one will like. Because in reality, it's okay to not follow the Instagram rules we like to subscribe to. As long as you're being yourself and sharing something your community cares about (which is a lot of things!) than you're doing it right.

I've written about things like…

How to Create an Instagram Theme

Hashtag Strategy

Understanding the Instagram Shadowban

The Best Time to Post to Instagram

And while I stand by these posts, I also know following these rules doesn't equal success.

There are no exact rules. Instagram is not an exact science. It's more of an evolution that follows your journey. And that journey has ups and downs.

Sometimes that photo that you spent hours agonizing over doesn't perform well. This happens to me all the time. And I think to myself: I could have spent that time working on my blog.

Truthfully, my blog is the more profitable platform. So I have to snap back to reality and realize that Instagram is just a piece of the puzzle.

If it feels overwhelming you aren't alone. But if you get to that point, take some time off to realize if you stop this it won't ruin everything.

Don't grow your following

We so often compare ourselves to others on Instagram. We want more, likes more followers, more everything. But what about the people that are actually following you? So often we get concerned about growing our following we forget to focus on those that already are. So my advice is to take a step back and focus on those that are.

Answer all your comments. Start conversations. Look at their profiles. Answer your DMs. BE HELPFUL. Start creating your own fan club. No matter how small.

In turn, I find that when you stop stressing so much about growing, you end up doing so anyway. People want to share about those that have helped them. Or those that relate to them.

Tips for Promoting Your Blog With Instagram

Of course, there are some technical things you can do with Instagram to grow your blog, here are my favorites.

Add a link in your bio

Simply copy and paste your link and add it to your bio. This is one of the first places people look when they go to check out your Instagram profile. So make sure they have access to your best posts, home page, or the link is related to what you are talking about.

Use Stories

The beautiful thing about Instagram Stories is they allow you to give a more in-depth look into your life, behind-the-scenes, and your blog. I try and share at least one blog post of mine a day. I use the swipe up feature (for business accounts with 10,000 or more followers) to remind them to read my blog. This guide to Instagram Stories can help you find new ways to share and grow your engagement.

I recommend using different features within stories (polls, gifs, swipe ups, questions, etc.) to further engage your potential readers.

Have a Business Account

Having a business account allows you to gain insights on which posts are performing best, how often your posts are being clicked, and so much more. There's been a lot of back and forth on whether or not a business Instagram account is actually helpful but I think it is necessary if you want to use Instagram to grow your blog.

Share in Captions

When I have a new blog post, I like to share an Instagram post that relates directly back to my new post. I will often share a caption that directs people to my link in bio, stories, or tells them to go to my blog. Make sure you use call to actions in your captions and stories to encourage people to read and share.

Having an engaged and interactive community means they are more invested in you and more likely to read your blog and follow up with your posts.

Every follower on Instagram is a potential reader or even customer. Paying attention to them, understanding their needs, and sharing about your blog on Instagram consistently is a great way to grow.

The ULTIMATE Hashtag Library!

Literally 1,000s of hashtags broken down into categories!! One of the best ways to grow on Instagram is to use strategic hashtags to be discovered and gain likes and interaction. This ultimate list will help you gain followers and interaction, immediately!

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