Looking to hit the double digits on your gram? I got you! Here’s everything I learned about how to grow your Instagram community to 10k followers authentically and organically—from a creator who just hit 10k followers on Instagram!
Oversaturated. That’s the word that kept replaying over and over again when I decided I finally wanted to put my love for London online — and dare I say…become an influencer.
For many people starting their journey, especially on Instagram, everything about the platform can seem like an uphill battle, and let’s face it—you feel late to the game! At least I did.
All the travel bloggers I loved and admired were years established. Who was I to try 5 years too late, not to mention, during a pandemic!
But like most things in life, I let my fear have its moment and when it quieted down, I decided I was gonna for it. And in September, 2020 I started making content around about my biggest passion—London.
Since that time I’ve posted hundreds of pieces of content online, wrote a book, hosted 2 meetups, landed my first 4 figure brand deal, met new friends and got opportunities I couldn’t have imagined even just a year ago (cue celebrating Thanksgiving in front of Buckingham Palace with a brand deal from Hard Rock Cafe…say what?!?!) and on August 20th, 2021 I had officially grown a community of 10,000 travelling London lovers!
Why am I saying all this? Because none of these things would have happened if I didn’t take the chance on myself and my potential. And I want the same for you! In my quote of the day fashion:
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
My first meetup!
So, whether you’re looking to grow your own community to 10k followers (and beyond!) or just get a little motivation to keep going on your content creation journey, this is it! Here’s all you need to know about how to win the Instagram game, authentically and organically:
Table of Contents
Wait…Why Does 10k Matter?
Whether you’re new to the influencer world or just a curious content creator, you may be wondering why 10k even matters in the first place! Well, let me preface by saying…
At least not in the way you think.
There’s a misconception that until you hit 10k you can’t (a) work with brands (b) have a solid community and (c) sell your own products until you reach ‘micro-influencer’ status. But I know tons of creators (including me) who did all 3.
P.S – Selling my first ebook waaayyyy before 10k
So, even though this post is about how to get to 10k, here’s 3 things that matter a whole lot more:
1. Engagement and Community
Now of course, a community of 10k engaged followers is better than a community of 1,000 engaged followers, but not when you compare it to an audience of 10k that barely interacts with your posts. Point being, engagement and community matters way more than numbers!
2. Content Creation Skills
If you’re a content creator you’re probably naturally good at (or have a background in) anything from photography, to videography, public speaking, photo editing and/or writing. No matter your follower count these are skills that companies pay for everyday, whether they’re working with an “influencer” or not.
If you’re a great writer—start freelance writing (no one cares about your follower count!), if you’re a photographer, approach your favorite brand and offer to take license your photos or take pictures for their upcoming campaign (that you don’t necessarily have to put on your own feed!). There’s an endless amount of opportunities for creative skills in the time we’re living in — take advantage of it!
I just finished reading Company of One (so good!) and there’s this amazing chapter on how personality drives business when you’re well…a company of one!
In a sea of oversaturation in the influencing and blogging space, being yourself is the only thing that can truly make you stand out online. How do you talk to your friends? Talk like that to the camera. What hobbies and interests do you have outside of your niche? Share that on your stories!
You’ll realize that attracts everything from ‘your people’ and community to new friendships and a whole load of (amazing) things that matter way more than a 5 digit number.
How Long Does it Take to Get to 10k Followers on Instagram?
In all honesty, there’s no straight answer. For me, it took a little less than a year (granted, I already had around 2k—I just wasn’t posting about London) but everyone will be different.
But thanks to reels (as you’ll soon see!), I think the potential to go viral and grow your following immensely in a short amount of time is super possible. But if you’re wondering how to get 10k followers on Instagram in 5 minutes, this isn’t the blog post for you. But I will tell you…
How to Get to 10k Followers on Instagram in 5 Steps
The 5 things that have helped me the most with my Instagram growth this year:
1. Avoid Any and All Inauthentic Growth
If you’re a content creator for any amount of time you’ll slowly realize half of Instagram is comment pods and fake engagement. Also, for a quick definition:
• Comment Pods:
When several influencers join together in a Telegram or WhatsApp group chat to “beat the algorithm” by engaging with each others pictures as soon as they post, in exchange, to get engagement on their own photos.
• Fake Engagement: Including buying likes, comments, followers etc.
I get it. As a creator, both can be super tempting. But when your entire growth is based on tit for tat (i.e you only get followers when you follow others, only get likes when you like their content first or only get comments and engagements when you ‘return the favor’) you’re not building a community of real Instagram followers.
Why organic growth matters
• Brands are getting smarter: When a brand works with an influencer, it’s because there’s expecting a return on investment (i.e a person buying their product or service because of you). If your account is filled with fake ghost followers and blank profile pictures, they’re not getting any benefit from collaborating with you. Brands only want to work with influencers (rightfully so) that have actual people behind their follower number, not bots!
• Your engagement rate will suck: Engagement rates are one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to being a content creator. It signifies how much your community interacts with the content—and is super important to know when working with brands (you can find your engagement rate here).
But for example, if you have 2,000 followers and only 15 likes per post, it’s pretty obvious your engagement rate is abnormal for your following size and can hurt your account in the long run.
• You won’t know what content actually works with your audience: The worst part about ‘faking it til you make it’ on Instagram is ultimately your analytics. Knowing what content resonates with your audience is key to creating the content your community needs and improving and growing along the way.
If most of the engagement on your account is from comment pods or bought interactions, the real will be mixed with the fake—making it that much harder to make the content your audience actually wants to see from you!
All in all, growing using shortcuts isn’t helping you in the long run. Grow organically and you’ll be golden my friend.
2. Decide on a Niche (and stick to it!)
“Niche” is one of the most overused words in the content creation world, but for good reason! Lemme paint a picture:
Imagine you’re on your dream holiday. You’ve just finished exploring and can’t wait to sit down for an evening meal. You get to the main road and see two restaurants, the one with the blue door says “Tony’s Homemade Pizza—we do the best pizza in town!” and the one with the yellow awning says “Rob’s Pizza, Indian and Chinese Restaurant—we do the best pizza, Indian and Chinese food in town!”.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not trusting Rob over Tony…he’s got too much going on!
When you choose one topic to create to create content around (i.e your niche) you can:
• Become super knowledgeable on your subject matter:
Deciding to make content solely around London has made me so much more knowledgable about my city than a general ‘travel blogger’.
As a content creator, you’ll by default, be a jack-of-all-trades but when you hone in on a specific subject matter to make content around, you won’t be a ‘master-of-none’ you’ll be a master of one!
• Create content easily:
When you stick to one thing, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to create content.
When I sit down to think of ideas, I’m never indecisive about what I’m going to talk about—because it’s all about London and travel, 24/7 baby!
But by focusing on my niche, I always know what I’m creating before the brainstorming even starts and can create content 10x easier than if I didn’t know what my focus was.
• Charge more from brands:
When you have a niche audience, you’re basically holding a treasure trove of people interested in one thing, which is golden to brands!
Say you’re a vegan blogger. Of course, you keep your content fresh and fun, but at the end of the day it all comes back to #veganlife. If I’m a new vegan brand looking to promote my new restaurant, who do you think I’d want to work with? A generic food blogger, or the one who has my exact ideal (vegan) audience?
And if this unnamed vegan blogger wanted to charge me more than the generic food blogger, it’d make sense! Because the chances of her followers being interested in my restaurant are 10x higher.
P.S – If you’re in travel content creator and need help niching down this blog post is for you!
3. Optimize Your Profile
To get to 10k followers on Instagram, you’ll need to optimize your profile as soon as possible.
In the age of the internet, attention spans are short. If someone lands on your profile and can’t tell what you’re about within the first five seconds the likelihood that they’ll hit that follow button is slim to none. Here’s how to optimize your Instagram profile for success:
• Your Profile Picture:
Think of your Instagram profile picture as your first impression—you gotta make it count! Save the body shots for your feed and make sure you’ve got a clear headshot (avoid sunglasses if you can) so you’re easily recognizable to your followers.
You’ll also want your profile picture to reflect your brand. For example, a smiling headshot of me at a beach in Spain might look lovely, but it wouldn’t exactly vibe with me being a London travel blogger (where the weather is DEFINITELY not beachy).
• Your Name:
Even though we’re all operating on handles and alias on the gram, don’t forget the power of using your name! The first thing people should read on your profile should be your first name.
This immediately helps them make a connection to you as a person (not just an Instagram handle), plus brands and new followers will be able to address you properly if/when they DM you.
Try to stick to just your first name so you’ll have some characters left over for…
• Your Title:
Filling this in is a bit tricky as you’ll only have about one to two words to get this right. But whether you’re a ‘travel writer’, ‘journalist’, ‘fashion blogger’ or ‘dog lover’, a title is super important for helping people know what you’re about instantly.
• Your Category:
Personally, I don’t think this bit makes too much of a difference. But if you’re a product or service based business or if your main ‘thing’ isn’t Instagram (for example, I put ‘Local and Travel Website’ in mine to remind my followers of my blog and hopefully redirect them there!) it could be useful to add.
• Your Bio:
Ah, the bio. So many things to say…and so little characters! Personally, I don’t think there’s any perfect way to write an Instagram bio, but it should state what you do, your email and a call to action (i.e ‘read my latest post, ‘buy my book’, ‘more on the blog’ etc.). Whatever you do, make it yours! If you like emojis, splash a few on there, if you’re a bit cheeky—reflect that in your bio!
• Your Website or Link Page:
If you’re reading I hope hope hope you have a website! And if you don’t, get on it now! The end of your Instagram bio should always have a link to your website and links to find out more about you. I personally use a page on my website to do this as it counts towards my blog traffic—but sites like Linktree and Disha Pages are great too.
4. Help People
I once took a blogging course that said you always want to be the kind of influencer that says ‘learn from me’ rather than ‘look at me’.
Personally (and I think it’s a really good thing) the social media world is changing. People don’t want perfection, they want reliability, but more than that, they want information that can help them in their lives.
P.S – Of course, people will always just want to be entertained as well (think Tik Tok dance videos) but if you’re reading this, you’re probably not in that category
Living in London is nice, but if all I did was post pictures of myself in my favorite city saying “Look at me!” I would never get these kinds of comments and DM’s:
Whatever your niche is, be sure to make it helpful. You can do this easily by adding the word “you or how to” to everything you post. For example “What outfit I wore today” could easily be turned into “How to style a cute summer outfit on a budget”—same content, but what’s more helpful to your community?
If you’re saying to yourself right now “But wait, I’m not an expert on anything yet!” then wrong! You’ll always be an expert at your life, and sharing your journey, whatever it may be, will always be relatable to someone.
If you’re ever in doubt just turn to the simple question “Could this help someone?” if the answer is yes, you’re well on your way to getting 10k loyal followers who learn something new from everything you put on the interwebs.
5. STAY Consistent (using my secret tip)
There’s not much in life you can get better at if you don’t stay consistent—but we tend to forget that when it comes to creating content online.
At the end of the day, making your brand on Instagram is almost like having your own tv show. But imagine if your favorite show up and left without any warning halfway through a season—would you keep watching? Of course not, they’re playing with your heartstrings!
When I was stuck in the pandemic, I started putting my quote of the days on Instagram (I’ve always had a binder with hundreds of them) and haven’t missed a day since.
Now, I wouldn’t always recommend this level of frequency, (after all, if you need a social media break—you should take it!) but staying consistent on Instagram is one of the top reasons I was able to get to 10k followers this year.
If you decide you’re going to post 3 times a week in your feed with 1 story frame a day, then stick to it! Because that’s way better than saying you’ll post 6 times a week with 10 stories a day, getting overwhelmed and throwing your phone out the window because the Instagram algorithm has ticked you off yet again.
Test out different content amounts and see how much time per week you can realistically dedicate to creating and publishing content (P.S – Limiting the amount of time you spend looking at other people’s Instagrams will give you a lot more time for that btw!).
Once you know your capacity, you won’t have to stretch yourself to the point of overwhelm because you know how much content you can physically put out each week, making consistency way easier than if you were just winging it on a hope and a prayer.
If you’re still struggling though, I highly suggest you use my secret (not so secret) tip to staying consistent as a content creator—attaching your existing routines to posting, engaging and doing stories. For example, after I do my workout and get dressed, I’ll post some stories. Working out and getting dressed are both things I do everyday, so it’s easy to link it with the reminder to interact with my community.
For you this could look like posting right before or after your workday, replying to comments over coffee, or answering DM’s on your commute. As long as you do the same actions at the same time of day you do another habit that’s pretty set in stone, the more natural it will become to stay consistent—promise!
Bonus: Make Reels
Without a doubt the majority of my success on Instagram has come from making reels. Instagram reels have officially changed the game, and if you want to know how to get to 10k followers on Instagram, there’s really no better way.
Especially with Instagram announcing the platform as ‘video-first’ now, videos aren’t the future, they’re something you need to learn to do in the present. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be golden!
Not to mention reels are where your reliability can shine through, your chances of reach are the highest they’ll ever be on Instagram and you never know what will go viral (like this reel!).
This may sound like counter advice, but if you’re stuck on where to begin with reels I highly suggest getting on Tik Tok. You’ll quickly notice most of the best performing reels on Instagram are actually just repurposed Tik Toks—and I do the same! Using this process:
1. Find a Tik Tok Trend:
Scroll through your ‘For You’ page and find trends that you (a) find relatable (b) find informative or (c) find entertaining
2. Use the Sound to Make a Tik Tok Relating to Your Niche:
Now onto the fun part, the best part about Tik Tok trends is you apply them to nearly any niche. For example, I applied the ‘Nobody’ Tik Tok trend (where someone ‘runs away’ from something they don’t want to do or a truth they found out) to my personal experience with my family asking “When are you moving back to America?” all the time, and it was a total success!
3. Don’t Forget to Remove the Watermark Before You Post on Instagram
I always post my videos to Tik Tok first, then download them for Instagram. Unfortunately, there’s a big ole watermark on your Tik Tok when you do this, but to remove it just go to SnapTik and insert the link to your Tik Tok. It’ll download it instantly for you—watermark free!
Always Remember to Take Care of Your Mental Health
Despite all these tips on how to get 10k followers on Instagram, none of it matters if your mental health is suffering.
Being a blogger or content creator should give you energy. It’s the chance to build your own brand from scratch, discover your passions and grow a community. But if it’s draining you instead of energizing you, something’s definitely off.
Before you go on your journey I hope you can check out this post on how to protect your peace and mental health as a content creator —because it really is more important than anything else!
Good luck with 10k! You got this 🙂
Want Help Growing Your Instagram?
After doing a poll on my Instagram a lot of y’all said you wanted my help personally with growing your social media and building a community online. And as always, you speak—I listen! I now offer social media coaching and consulting on a one-on-one basis.
Instagram/Blog Audit: Need help upping your social media game? Candace will review your Instagram (quality of photos, reels, engagement, editing style, feed coherence etc.) and if applicable, your website (SEO, blog posts, pages) and create a detailed list of feedback for both.
Discovery Call: Hop on a one hour call to analyze your brand goals, niche, content creation strategy and everything you’re currently doing to grow your brand and community. You’ll also be able to ask me your biggest questions and pain points when it comes to content creation and/or building a brand online—nothing’s off limits!
Bespoke Content Schedule: Need ideas? Let me take the work off your hands! Get a customized content schedule from Candace based on a detailed analysis of your account. This includes: 10 Reel and Caption Ideas, 10 In-Feed Posts and Caption Ideas, 5 Story Theme Ideas and 5 Sets of Custom Hashtags to Use For Your Niche.
Or we can do all 3!