Do you compare yourself to others on Instagram? You might look at their likes and comments and feel frustrated that you don't have the same. I think we all feel this pressure. But what I remind myself every time I open up Instagram, is that I want to use it as a tool to grow my business. I want to use Instagram to get people to read my blog and follow my adventures.

We often think that to gain followers we need picture-perfect images every single time we post.

In order to grow your Instagram in 2019, you need only TWO things. To tell your story and to share it in a way that relates to your followers or makes them admire you. That's it. It sounds easy but we all know it's not.

It's hard to figure out the right things to share.

Of course, it's important to utilize and understand the tools and strategies used to grow: which hashtags are working best, the right time to post, consistently posting, and how to create a recognizable Instagram theme. But it's not just that. In fact, you can throw all of that out the window if you don't have an understanding of your why.

And honestly, this isn't something that comes overnight. It's something that you formulate, work towards, and plan out. And I promise you, it's actually a lot of fun. Because when you start really thinking about your Instagram in a meaningful way, you end up finding your stride and what works for you on Instagram.

So here's what's important on Instagram in 2019:

Let's get one thing crystal clear: I don't believe in engagement pods or follow/unfollow strategies.

Why? For starters I think you should follow people on Instagram that you WANT to interact with or that inspire you. I follow about 10 different “meme” accounts. I love them. I want to see what they post. In fact, I want to see what everyone that I follow posts. Which is why I don't just follow in the hopes that I'll get a follow back. Ever.

Secondly, it's a waste of time to work with engagement groups. Sometimes I see people who use them and I evily cackle. That's because I know they are spending HOURS a day commenting and liking on other people's photos incessantly. But to what end? The truth is doing that strategy might help you get a boost in the short term, but in the long run, it's not worth it. So while they are wasting time you'll be growing your account in non-spammy ways. Not to mention, it's disingenuous and misleading to any sponsors you’ll work with. Instagram knows this and continues to work on ways to prevent/punish users who do this.

Everything you do on Instagram should echo back to your overall goal and purpose. EVERYTHING.

I do think there are a few things you can do to help you grow, no matter what stage you're in with your account.

Hashtags – I recommend sharing 30 hashtags that relate to your ideal audience. I actually have a particular way of sourcing hashtags because I know that when you use the right hashtags you can drive tons of people to your Instagram. More eyes on your post mean more likes, follows, and overall engagement.

Theme – When I say “theme” I don't necessarily mean that every picture looks or is edited in the same way. Of course, you can do this, and I recommend different winning themes here. But what I mean is creating a brand that stands out. You want people to look at your image and caption and know immediately that's you. I do this not only on my Instagram pictures but in my stories as well. That way when people are mindlessly browsing they will see me and stop.

Posting at the right time – You want to post at a time where your followers are most active. Instagram has some excellent analytics for this, but it can be tricky. I happen to live in Germany, most of my followers are in America. In fact, I'm from Texas and the vast majority also reside there. So if I posted at 9 am my time not many people would see it. The way the Instagram Algorithm works is that when you share your post, Instagram itself only shows it to a handful of people. If those people interact, they keep sharing it. If they don't, your Instagram will have far less engagement. This is why it's essential to not buy followers or participate in huge loop giveaways. You're essentially getting empty followers that Instagram will deem as uninterested in you. So post at a time when more of your followers are likely to be scrolling so they will see what you share.

Sharing meaningful captions – Gone are the days where you can slap on a silly pun or ask a question and be done. The caption is where you connect. It's where you reveal more of yourself and share why YOU matter to the viewer. Basically, they are important. I'd say just as important as the picture you show.

Now with all of this said, if you focus too much on making your Instagram perfect then you'll be missing the point. I think sometimes people focus so much on creating the ideal grid (meaning, their layout of photos) that their Instagram no longer represents who they really are. If you're constantly worried about a picture “fitting in” with your Instagram layout then you are doing it wrong.

I spoke with a girl recently who told me that she spends hours agonizing over which picture to post or which image was “right.” She's let her fear consume her when it comes to Instagram. And that sucks! That is why so many people, in my opinion, feel stressed when they log on to Instagram. Let's move away from that. Let's make Instagram fun again.

In 2019, Instagram is not about being perfect. It's about being relatable or admirable and showcasing that in a way that's shareable.

When you make Instagram feel forced or like you have to do it a certain way you end up losing passion for actually sharing. We want to make Instagram feel like a representation of ourselves. Look, I get it. Instagram is hard. It's difficult to find what works for you on Instagram. But you can make it work for you.

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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