How to Grow as a Photographer on Instagram

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

We’ve all been there, battling with the invisible yet seemingly invincible Instagram Algorithm as our arch-nemesis. Even after posting, and posting, and more posting, your follower count appears to have slipped into a coma.

Seems relatable? We've got the fix.

While there’s no magic potion that’ll make you the gram alpha overnight, we do have a few tips that can increase your reach and discoverability on the platform.

1. Build a niche

Simply put, find your style and speciality.

The Instagram algorithm relies heavily on the ‘interest factor’ of users. Your feed, not individual posts, should instantly convey your focus of work at one glance. Is it fashion portraits? Street photography? Landscape? What is the vibe of your feed?

Don’t litter your feed with anything and everything. If you do that, you might get a like on your post, but not a follow.

Having a niche also increases your chances of landing on the explore page, as Instagram identifies the interests of the user and displays similar content to connect them to creators.

Note: This stage comes after you’ve experimented and dipped your toes in all sorts of water. Gain exposure from all the fields, find what you love the most, and develop your niche.

2. Upload quality content

This is your Brahmastra, your ultimate weapon.

You don’t have to upload the 10 different shots you took of the same subject. Be selective and upload your best work only. Get rid of the ‘Good Enough’ attitude.

Next, ask yourself, what makes my content different?

Create content that is relevant yet unique, relatable, and loaded with creativity. It should have the power to offer a different perspective.

No amount of money, marketing techniques, or networking will get you a following if your content is simply not good enough.

3. Be consistent

Do not upload once in a blue moon or spam all photos in one single day.

The latter might backfire even more. Focus on consistency by spreading out the posts over a period of time.

If you’re still establishing your presence on the platform, you should be posting at least 3 times a week (best if once every day). And this should be done without compromising the quality. This frequency matters because the algorithm gives preference to fresh content.

With that being said, do not beat your brain into coming up with ideas. Go easy on yourself and hit pause if it gets overwhelming. Let it come from the heart.

But please don’t let that break last for weeks and months on end. Keep hustling.

4. Post strategically

It’s not only about hard work, but also smart work.

First and foremost, switch your account to a professional profile i.e the creator account in the settings. It gives detailed insights and statistics about your own account activity and of your followers. Worry not, it’s completely free of cost and easy to navigate.

Carefully study your audience with the help of these graphs, and make a note of the time and days your followers are most active to get the maximum reach.

Do pay due attention to what they like and don’t. Eg: Did you lose or gain followers after your last upload? How many impressions did your post get?

Once you’re done analysing the activity and response pattern, make a schedule for posting and stick to it.

This has a dual advantage; you will get more organised and can streamline your efforts, and your followers will readily wait for your post or actively search it out later.

Pro tip: Use Instagram posts preview apps (available on Play Store) to schedule your posts in advance and also get a good preview of how your feed aesthetic will look after uploading.

5. Use hashtags, locations, tags

Hashtags are key to discoverability.

Don't use their upper limit i.e 30 mindlessly. Make sure you use relevant and frequently used hashtags, and tag accounts that feature other creators’ posts.

For instance, if you are shooting street, definitely use #_soi #StreetPhotographyIndia etc.

Do not forget to add the location and local hashtags for the area, for example, #delhi #IndiaGate etc.

Do the same for any big event or festivals, e.g. #republicday #theyyam.

Pro tip: Often established creators have their own feature hashtags to promote the work of budding artists. Use these hashtags by creators in your niche to connect with them and a chance to feature on their account. E.g #NustaHaramKhor #MaiBhiSadakChap

6. Be your true self

Repeat with me, I do not have to sell my soul to the devil.

Your art is by you, and for you first.

With all your efforts being directed towards building a follower base, it's easy to give into what the audience wants and lose your true self.

While it’s important to meet the interests of your followers, yours as the creator’s matter as much. So, find a middle ground and work your mojo.

If you put out your genuine avatar on the platform, you will