Instagram is one of the best social media platforms out there. It is perfect for building brand awareness, seeing entertaining content, finding inspiration, meeting likeminded people and provides many other benefits. For those wanting to build a good Instagram following with excellent engagement it can be a slow process. But by following a few simple techniques you can make your account grow a lot quicker.

Here are some of the techniques I use to grow my personal account (@mikecleggphoto). You may also like my post 5 Reasons Instagram is Great for Travel Photographers.

1 | Stick to a theme

From the start you should choose a theme, such as Travel, Fashion, Food, Lifestyle etc, and then you should stick to it. If you have a travel account and then start posting pictures of portraits then your followers may get confused and unfollow.

Instagram Theme

2 | Stick to a photography style

Try and stick to a photo and filter style. If you use different filters all the time, then when someone looks at your profile they will think it looks messy and are less likely to follow.

Filters on Instagram


3 | Post in square or vertical crop

Posting pictures that are square are popular and get good engagement. But I’ve found posting shots that are vertical crop get the best engagement. This is probably because the viewer can see a bigger image on their screen. Posting a landscape crop image often gets less engagement because the viewer will probably see a smaller image, especially on devices (mobiles) with smaller screens.

Instagram Portrait Post


4 | Engage with similar accounts and your followers

Instagram is a community and you shouldn’t expect people to follow you if you don’t give back to the community. I recommend following and interacting with accounts with a similar interest and leaving comments on photos when appropriate. You should also follow hubs/feature accounts that interest you, and leave comments, praise the account that got featured. This all helps to build awareness. My two hubs include @travelanddestinations and @bestcitybreaks.

Instagram Follow Similar Accounts

5 | Interact and reply to your followers

You don’t have to reply to every comment, but when someone asks you a question you should try and reply. If you notice somebody regularly leaving nice comments on your pictures, then it’s polite to say “thank you” now and then.

Instagram Interacting with Followers

6 | Use 30 tags based on your theme

You can use 30 hashtags in a post and tags help people find your content. You should always post relevant tags, such as if you have a travel account and are posting city pictures of Italy, then there is no point in tagging #selfie or #canada. It’s also worth tagging hubs that are likely to repost your shots. I run a hub called @bestcitybreaks with the hashtag #bestcitybreaks – I then check this hashtag for appropriate content to post.


Instagram hash tags

7 | Get featured by large accounts

A great way to grow your following is to get reposted by feature accounts. These are mini-communities within Instagram and post other peoples content with permission. When your pictures get reposted or featured it will give you exposure to a large audience and may bring you new followers.

A few things not to do…

1 | Don’t buy followers

This often backfires and you are likely to get a lot of ghost followers, ie followers who will never check or engage with your feed. I know someone who purchased 10,000 followers from eBay and have noticed on some days he loosed 1000’s in followers in one go. This is most likely Instagram is getting rid of fake accounts. Another downside to buying followers is that it’s unlikely to increase engagement so you may end up having thousands of followers but getting a disproportionate number of likes. This will make you less appealing to brands who you may want to work with.

2 | Don’t follow and then unfollow.

This is a tacky technique and is not good for the community. I would avoid this and grow an honest feed and be a good member of the Instagram community.



If you are into travel, photography, lifestyle, or just want some picture based inspiration and entertainment, then you should definitely be using Instagram. I hope by using the suggestions above you will be able to grow a large and successful account, and also enjoy being part of the community. Do you have any other tips that work or other comments? Please feel free to leave your thoughts below.

Want to see some of my Instagram posts, follow me on @mikecleggphoto, and also my hubs @bestcitybreaks and @travelanddestinations.

Other posts you may like…

What are Instagram Stories and Why You Should Use them
Instagram – How to Build a Successful Feature Account
Tips on Getting Reposted by Feature Accounts
Vero – A New Beautiful Social Network You Should Try

Posts on Instagram and Photography spots

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Photography Tips - Building an Instagram following


  1. Ruth Bandera

    Thanks Mike for these valuable tips for Instagram novices like me. I will take these to heart to hopefully grow my base organically.

    • admin

      You’re very welcome Ruth. I hope it helps 🙂

  2. Thanks, Mike. I am slowly getting into Instagram, so these are good tips for me. I was especially interested in reading about hubs as they are a foreign concept to me. @Cruisewriter

  3. I definitely need to engage more with fellow Instagrammers and to include more hashtags in the comments. Thanks for sharing your know-how!

  4. Some great points there Mike. I agree with all of them! It takes time to organically grow your account!

  5. Thanks for the tips, I´ll try them out. Recently I neglected Instagram because the follow/unfollow people are so annying and I dislike the new algorithm. But I guess I have to give Instagram a second chance.

    • Mike

      Good luck. I think once you get into it, it’s fantastic, especially for inspiration.

    • Mike

      Yeah totally, I really don’t agree with people doing that. It’s so obvious too. Instagram just takes time but it pays off if you are persistent.

  6. Vivid Pieces

    I love this. I am always on instagram. Thanks for sharing.

Instagram LogoFollow my personal account on Instagram (@mikecleggphoto) for daily travel inspiration.
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