How I Gained 60K Followers on Instagram Only Taking Photos On My iPhone
“How do I get more followers on Instagram?” – This is probably one of the most asked questions that I receive from those wanting to grow their accounts. In this blog post I am going to share with you my tips from how I grew 100 followers to 60,000 followers on my page @everthewanderer only using my iPhone for photography.
Yes, that’s right – you don’t need a fancy, expensive camera to get more followers on instagram.
But before we get started on my tips for growing your instagram account, i’ve got something really important to tell you. So listen up and listen closely to this secret.
All you really need is YOU! Show up as yourself and you are already on to a winner. It may have taken me some years to realise that all I needed to do was be myself. In reality, the number of followers that you have doesn’t actually mean anything. It is just a number! I know it seems like some form of success or validation when your numbers increase, but trust me when I say that it doesn’t.
When Instagram first came out it was fairly easy to gain thousands of followers if you wanted to. But then it became a saturated market and was much harder to achieve the goals of the other successful influencers who were ahead of the curve. Nowadays people go to extreme lengths to increase the number next to their name. Using bots, buying followers, joining pods and more. All of which are completely pointless and will just end up hurting your account in the long run.
Why? Because none of those followers are real or engaged authentically. Then you end up becoming obsessed with the quality of your audience and can’t understand why it’s failing. It’s because it isn’t real, that number doesn’t matter! What matters are those real, engaged people who turn up to see you whether there are 100 of them or 100,000. You cannot measure your ‘success’ against someone else because at the end of the day, ‘success’ isn’t a number, ‘success’ can’t be bought. Real success is how you feel everyday, what impact you leave behind and whose lives you change. You being YOU is the REAL success.
OK, now I have given you the all important pep talk I’m going to share with you my story.
My Story- How I Grew Organically To 60,000 Followers on Instagram in a Year
I created my Instagram account @everthewanderer a long time ago as a personal account to show my travels around the world. It wasn’t until I left New Zealand after having been there for 4 years that I decided I was going to make a ‘go’ of Instagram.
When we went on a trip to Fiji, that is where my mindset changed. By starting to take notice of how I took photos and trying to make them more Instagram worthy. I spent hours and hours reading up online on how to become successful and grow my account. I learnt how to frame photos and how to edit. Eventually I found a formula that worked and gradually started growing from 100 followers to 2k, then 10k and then as my skills progressed I got 25k in 2 months and then another 20k whilst living in Whistler last summer. I gained 45k in less than a year. Remember, I did this all organically using my iPhone 8+.
Here’s my timeline:
To give you some context, since I am a travel blogger – during this time I was travelling around the world with my husband Phil. We spent 8 months travelling Europe in our campervan on a lifelong dream trip – this is where I gained 10,000 -15,000 followers. Then we spent 2 months travelling Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines – these 2 months are where I gained another 25,000 followers. We then moved to Whistler in Canada for the summer and I gained another 20,000 followers during the summer. I do believe that if you want to have a travel instagram account, you need to travel. This is my niche – I go into more detail on niches below.
Below are my tips on how I achieved this and how you can utilise them to help you get more followers on Instagram.
Get More Followers on Instagram with these Instagram Growth Tips
When ever I’m asked “how do I get more followers on instagram?” I usually say this – don’t try to rush it, organic growth takes time. I know it is easy to compare yourself to others but please don’t. Nothing comes overnight, there is no quick fix. Take your time being you and you will see growth. We live in a world where instant gratification comes so easily but that isn’t the end goal. At the end of the day, just be you and enjoy the process.
Improve Your Photography
This is probably one of my most important tips. But this is based off my experience in travel. It is necessary to have great photos in travel but this might not be the case if you are in lifestyle. Your personality can shine through much more and having great photography isn’t the be all and end all. Even so, I do believe that improving your photography skills will help.
Let’s take a look at how my photography has changed over the years on my feed:
When I first started Instagram I just took photos that I snapped on my days hanging out. There was an app I was obsessed with that gave them a super vintage look and I was never in the photo. It was always landscapes and food. I also only used 3-4 hashtags and sometimes I just posted with nothing, no comment or tags. Most of the photos were either landscape or square so I wasn’t utilising the space given (5:4 ratio is the best). It was done for fun on my old school phone and I didn’t care how many likes I got. The app wasn’t really a big deal back then – this was in 2012!!!
Now you can see that I have acquired a taste for photography and learnt how to pose, edit and frame a photo. All still with my iphone. These two sets of feed photos are from when I was in Europe and then following on from that our trip in Asia. I have a clear aesthetic and colour theme and this made a huge difference to who followed me.
How to improve your Photography?
You can do this several ways – learn how to frame a subject properly. Learn about the rule of thirds and how to edit your photos. Notice how I haven’t mentioned purchasing a new camera – because you don’t need to. Obviously if you want to be a photographer and get paid for your work then you need to invest in the right tools but if you simply want more people to follow you on instagram then it isn’t a deal breaker.
Learn How To Edit and Use The Free Lightroom Mobile App in My Blog Post Here:
Once you have learnt how to edit you can use presets on your photography (I give a free Preset away in the blog post above). These are filters that are created to give a certain look to your photos instantly. The reason I suggest learning to edit first is because it gives you the tools to be able to edit the presets once they have been applied to your photos. There is no one preset that can be applied to all of your photos so you will need a selection of them to cover all different lighting conditions etc. Once you have figured out what style you like your photography to be, presets help to keep an aesthetic and balance. You can learn more about my presets here.
Here is an example of a before and after using my Barcelona Preset. This is a one click edit and it saves so much time in the editing process.
Content is King
You might have heard this saying before and it is one heck of a statement. Content doesn’t necessarily just relate to your awesome photographs, it’s in the captions and stories that you tell your audience. It is what captivates them and encourages them to converse with you. When you can relate to your audience through incredible story telling, that is the winning formula.
It’s social media after all, it is a place to be social with others. Create connections with like minded people. Share your interests and be honest. Follow #hashtags that relate to your niche and comment on other peoples posts who you have something in common with. You can use copy cat audiences, so find someone that you follow that is similar to you and look through the comments from their followers. Go and comment on those peoples posts. This is utilising a copy cat audience and by doing this you will bring more like minded people to your page.
Jump on Trends
Hop on to current trends, whether it’s a national holiday or current affairs discussion. People love to discuss these types of things and are relatable. They are not only great for engagement but if there is a calendar with all of these events for the whole year (and there is) , you have just sorted out a tonne of your content topics for the foreseeable future. Can I get a hell yeah?
Know Your Niche
If you can stick to a niche this will make it a lot easier to identify your target market. But that doesn’t mean you need to only talk about that one topic. For example, on my page @everthewanderer my niche is Travel but I also talk about other topics like social media and blogging, self care and the environment. Pick your main niche and your favourite 3-5 content topics then create content for each of those. Each topic will have its own audience so instead of having just one audience you can combine 3-5 audiences which will in turn increase your following. How awesome is that?
Stories and IGTV
Instagram is definitely transitioning into a video content platform. That means people are spending more time scrolling videos than photos. Utilise this to your advantage and use your IG Stories, IGTV and create video on your feed. You may have heard about the new feature REELS, which is Instagrams version of Tiktok. These appear on your followers home page and not on your feed, so they are an extra piece of content to keep your audience engaged.
Hashtag and Tagging Strategy
One of the easiest ways to get more followers on Instagram is by having a comprehensive hashtag strategy in place. You are given the opportunity to use a maximum of 30 hashtags and I recommend using all of them. The only annoying thing is you will never know which hashtags worked the best so you have to ensure that you are using related ones to your content.
Try to make sure that the hashtags that you are using don’t have millions of uses already. Your posts will just get lost in a sea of posts immediately. Ideally find hashtags that have less than 200k posts already. For example, if you take a photo of the Eiffel Tower you will find that the #eiffeltower has 6.3million posts. If you use #eiffeltowerparis it only has 60.3k posts and therefore your posts won’t get as lost in the home feed. There is no point spending all that time editing your beautiful photos for them to just get lost in the feed. Spend time finding related hashtags so that when people are searching for content similar to yours they can find it.
You want to also make sure that the hashtags aren’t banned as this will end up with your posts not being seen. For example #bikinibody, #beautyblogger and #sunbathing are all banned and seemingly normal.
You can tag in community pages and hope that they will share your photos – this is a great strategy for gaining more followers on instagram.
It is important to post consistent content – this is in relation to both quality and frequency. When you post quality content (imagery and caption) you engage existing and new audiences. When you post regularly you keep your existing audience engaged and invite new followers to your page. If you post inconsistently not only will your audience lose interest but you won’t be putting yourself out there to gain a new audience. So try to post at least 1-2 times a week or more if you feel like it. The more you post (in feed, on stories, REELs, IGTV etc) the more opportunities you have to engage.
Remove Ghost Followers and Gain Followers on Instagram
Bots are a problem and they will cause your engagement to plummet. The same can be said about ghost followers – these are accounts that have no real value. They follow you and that is it, they don’t engage or ever have any intention of doing so. You can recognise them because they all look pretty similar:
- They have no profile photo
- They follow thousands of accounts and have only posted 1 photo
- All of their photos are identical and just look weird
- They are an inactive account
- All of the above
If you really want to gain more followers on Instagram, it is important to block these accounts from following you when they do so. Otherwise you will end up with thousands and thousands of ghost followers over a period of time and it is pretty darn hard to remove them. Not to mention a bit annoying to see your follower count go down dramatically when you do get around to removing them all one by one. Trust me this isn’t fun.
Once you have removed all of the fake accounts and have an audience that is filled with true fans you can begin to show up on their accounts more often. Your engagement will increase and thus you will find more followers.
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Hey there! I'm Rachel Hughes aka Ever The Wanderer. I am a Digital Media Creator and long term travel expert. I help people realise their worth and what they can achieve.
Travel A-Broads (Sara & Candace)
This post is so genuine and helpful! We are just starting out and working towards building an engaging audience and love the feedback you provided here. It’s amazing how much you’ve grown and your travels sound like so much fun! ❤️
Ah thank you so much. I am so glad that you found it helpful. Good luck on your page, I’m sure you will do awesome!!
Wonderful post! Great first point about just being yourself, so important and definitely easy to lose sight of.
Just discovered your stuff and will continue to follow with interest!