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The Business of Being Boho: Six easy ways to grow your Instagram following (fast!)


If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently celebrated reaching 10k followers on that platform (woot woot!). It had been a goal of mine for 2013, and I started the year off with under 2000 followers. I love Instagram, and I’d love it even if I only had five followers–so it’s not all about the followers–but if you have a brand, blog or business to promote it’s undoubtedly a very good platform to have a following on.

Many people have asked how I did it–how I was able to organically grow my audience relatively quickly (without being a recommended user from Instagram–which is obviously the fastest way to grow your audience). So I thought I’d share my top six tips on how I reached my goal. I’m going to leave off the super obvious ones, like take awesome photos, post regularly without flooding your feed and engage with other IG users. I’m also gonna leave out the ‘feel-good’ ones like ‘just be yourself’–but you should do that, too. Lots of people take really cool pictures. Lots of people have a great eye, so why is it that some people have huge audiences and other people who are equally talented don’t? Well, in my experience it doesn’t have much to do with luck–it’s about knowing how to reach people. Here is how I did it:

1.) Create image series. Think about your series as stories. People like stories, and enjoy following along a thread and seeing how the stories progress. Add personal hashtags to your series to make them searchable, findable and readable from start to finish. Some of my series this year have been #JustinaInCopenhagen #ThriftingWithJustina and my most recent (and most popular series yet) #StillLifeWithJustina.

2.)  Share your best Instagram images on other social platforms, like Pinterest. You can pin your Instagram images to Pinterest by finding your profile on sites like followgram. Be sure to put your IG handle in the pin description — for example, the description might read something like “Beautiful Ranunculus / @JustinaBlakeney on Instagram)

3.) Instagram Takeovers.  Find brands or blogs that match your aesthetic with substantial followings and offer/pitch to take over their Instagram account for a day (or trade Instagram accounts for a day with a friend!). If you take great photos and offer up this service for free–you’d be surprised how many brands are interested in having a fresh pair of eyes take over their Instagram feed for a day.

4.) Listen to your audience. Study your feed and find a common thread of the types of images that get the most attention. In my case, my audience can’t get enough of flowers and interiors. That doesn’t mean that I don’t post other things–but it does help to get a sense of what really resonates.

5.) Give people permission to share select images. I created this “Joy & Peace” image for Instagram and gave my followers permission to use and share the image how ever they desired–to ‘spread the joy.’  The result was that dozens of people shared the image on their accounts and tagged me in it, and many new people discovered me and started following along that way. :Djoy-and-peace

6.) Shout-outs. This is a pretty obvious one–but shout-outs from friends on IG can really help to boost your following. If you are hanging with friends, tagging them and getting tagged in return can be a fast and easy way for their followers to discover you. Be careful not to overdo it, and as with everything–be authentic and transparent, but a shout out now and then never hurt nobody.

I hope this helps!  Let me know if you have any questions or any other tips for how you grow your audience!
Happy ‘gramming!

Alternative Text Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

76 responses to “The Business of Being Boho: Six easy ways to grow your Instagram following (fast!)”

  1. Great tips, I always do wonder how people do it to reach these dizzying follower numbers. I’ve seen (and that’s only my own opinion, obviously) very average accounts with lots of followers and always wondered about it… Happy to have discovered you on IG yesterday, this post is very timely from my own personal perspective ;-)

  2. Clarissa says:

    I actually got inspired after seeing your posts on Instagram to do a series (I love yours by the way) so I’m glad to see your post on how to grow your followers. Is it weird that one of my goals is to be Instagram famous (on top of Pinterest famous)? Probably, but for business reasons I want to be.

    Thanks for sharing your tips :)

  3. great ideas…….straightforward. easy to put into action. Thanks so much for sharing! ps- perhaps you should add ‘give tips on growing instagram and share on pinterest and other platforms’, because that’s how I found you and I’ll be a new follower. Have a great day.

  4. These are great tips! I knew nothing about followgram, but I am about to look it up now. Thank you so much for posting this…it is a huge help to this foddie blogger!
    #Lindsayaliseo #cookingwithfreinds

  5. Lauren says:

    Great tips, thank you.
    I am particularly smitten with your photos of vegetables and such. I love the flowers and interiors, too. But I am a sucker for Vegan food photos. :)

  6. Stevie says:

    Yes, this is a great post. I just started my IG page and needed new ideas for posting pictures. I love the image series idea, already have one in mind. Thank you THANK YOU Justina!

  7. Ana says:

    Congrats on 10k! That’s amazing within a year! And these are some really cool tips!

  8. These are all fabulous tips…love following along with you! You are amazingly talented!

  9. Hi Justina, that was kind of a master class. I knew about stephanie_somebody teaching at The School IG courses and was always wondering what she’d talk about. I love your feed and I think you have the perfect mix of showcasing portfolio pictures and family pics that just make your stream so ‘human’.

  10. Hello Justina, thanks for sharing your tips! Highly recommended! I love your IG feed and congrats on that amazing result. All the best for 2014!
    BTW, my friend Gudy (see the comment above, what a coincidence ;-)) gave me a skillshare voucher for your table top class and I am really looking forward to start.
    warmly, Sandy

  11. Ludmilla says:

    All these are great ideas, I especially like the first one: telling a story with your images.
    I share my instagram posts on twitter, Facebook, and tumblr, instantly, wish instagram would add the Pinterest share as well.
    I need to remember to add my handle everywhere:) as useful as all these social media posts are it sure seems like a full time job.
    Thank you Justina, you are a wonderful teacher.

    Twitter: @knittinghowto
    Instagram: @buffalogirlsdesign
    Pinterest: @buffalogirlsdesign
    Facebook: @buffalofirlsdesign

  12. Alexandra says:

    Justina, well done! I never post blog comments (horrible, I know, I’m such a lurker…), but this is a great post. I particularly love the image series suggestion- now please tell me you’re making a book out of all of those lovely florals….

    :) Alexandra

  13. Judith says:

    Congratulations on the 10K, Justina and thank you for this IG masterclass! I joined last year and I discovered such a supportive community and many amazing feeds with talented people behind it (like yourself), I just love it ;)

  14. A wonderful post Justina. Great advice but really your photos are so beautiful and your personality shine through, so I’m not at all surprised at the 10K. See you back on IG lovely lady. xx

  15. fathima says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights, really appreciate this! And well done on reaching your goal. Your images and compositions are fantastic :)

  16. tapaliving says:

    You’re the best, thanks so much for the helpful tips doll!
    Hugs and love

  17. These are great tips, thanks so much for sharing Justina! I will definitely put them to use. #5 is my favorite, great idea.

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  19. Danielle says:

    Your photos are so lovely. What an inspiration, so glad I stumbled upon you. Thanks for sharing & happy weekend!

  20. iHanna says:

    Inspiering! Haven’t thought about series/stories like that, will try it out for sure!

    I’m @ihannas on insta btw. :)

  21. Vanessa says:

    Hi, great advice. Thanks! But I have one question – I currently have my profile set to ‘private’ because every time I don’t I get random weirdos following me- including spammers and fake accounts. How do you avoid this while increasing your following? Or do you just take the good with the bad and not care who is looking at your personal life? Thanks

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Hi Vanessa, I think it’s difficult to grow a following with a Private account. I think if you are interested in growing followers, you may want to have two accounts, one for friends and family that remains private, and one for your business, blog or whatever it is that you’re trying to grow that is public. Hope that helps,

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