Last year Shutterstock’s follower count grew by 10x. Try these five simple strategies for growing an Instagram following, and duplicate the secrets to our success.

Growing an Instagram following requires a lot more work, dedication, and creativity than simply posting beautiful images. An Instagram account requires research, strategy, and a consistent execution plan in order to effectively reach your audience and engage them with your content. Whether you are a photographer looking to promote your work online, or a brand looking to engage an audience through your content, growing an Instagram following can be a great lead generator for future content opportunities.

Here at Shutterstock, we are thrilled to announce that our @ShutterstockContributors Instagram account has surpassed 50,000 followers!

Just last year, we were sitting at 5,000 followers. In just twelve months we saw a massive 10x growth period. Thanks to the incredible content being created by our contributors, our social team gets to share content that resonates with our audience.

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And we don’t want to keep the secrets to ourselves. As photographers, illustrators, videographers, and composers, having an online presence is a valuable tool to have as a creative. Your Instagram has the power to reach new clients, new fans, and new opportunities for you to earn money and gain followers.

That’s why in this article, we’re sharing a few secret tips on growing an Instagram following through engaging content, and strategies you should implement in your creative business. Follow these tips if you are interested in organically growing an Instagram following, and creating an audience that not only follows you, but also supports your work as a creative artist.


Tip #1: Show a wide variety of content that aligns with your brand

Instagram is a visual tool to showcase your best work as creative artists and business owners. Don’t limit yourself to one thing. If you’re a travel photographer, showcasing the diversity of your portrait, landscape, or architecture work on Instagram is a great tool to show your breadth as an artist. If you are a small business owner, think of all the different audiences that you are trying to reach. Build your content resonate with each of them to ensure you’re growing an Instagram following that aligns with your brand.

Representing different audiences on social media

On @ShutterstockContributors, we do this by highlighting a wide genre of image types including still-life photography, creative concepts, impactful illustrations, and more. The wide variety of content consistently highlights contributors from Shutterstock, Offset, Shutterstock Custom, PremiumBeat, and Editorial networks. The last thing we want to do is miss showcasing the beauty of these different marketplaces, and the type of content that they want to see on our Instagram.

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Tip #2: Engagement is everything

Instagram is a community platform that is built for engagement. Engagement of communities, individuals, and cultures around the world. Prioritizing engaging with your network is a pivotal step in growing an Instagram following organically. That means tagging people in posts and Instagram Stories so that your community can engage and re-share your content.

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If you’re a creative artist, consider doing round-ups of other artists that inspire you to cross-share work. And always tag the models, brands, and businesses you work with so they can share your work too. Tag @ShutterstockContributors and use the #MyCustomView hashtag to be featured on our channels. Getting featured by accounts similar to the work you post is a fantastic way to start growing your Instagram following, and getting more visibility on the work you create and share. Engage with others in your communities. A great place to start is by getting to know other creative contributors within your Shutterstock network.


Tip #3: Post consistently

It’s nearly impossible to start strategizing your Instagram until you know where your audience is, and what time they are most likely to engage with your work. Posting consistently, and trying different posting times, is a great first step into starting to analyze the performance of your Instagram posts.

We Grew Our Instagram From 5K to 50K in One Year. This is How. — Waterfalls in Mountains
Shutterstock Image by Kochneva Tetyana

Use a scheduling platform such as Social Studio or Later to schedule your posts well in advance, so you can ensure you are always posting on the platform even when life gets away. Select different posting times to test what works best for your audience, depending on their timezone. The more frequently you post in a time where your audience is most active, the more opportunity you’ll have to start growing your Instagram following. If you post at a time when no one that follows you is online, chances are your content will get buried amongst the thousands of images posted to the platform daily. Find what works best for you by assessing your post analytics, in app or through your desired scheduling and analytics programs.


Tip #4: Post seasonal content and keep up-to-date on trending hashtags

Posting seasonal content is a great way to ensure the content you share is the most relevant to your audience. In the spring, people aren’t searching for images of winter wonderlands. They are looking for fresh floral blooms, picnics, and bike rides in parks. Post seasonal content to have the best chance of resonating with your audience.

On @ShutterstockContributors, we constantly discuss events, holidays, and seasons that are relevant to our global audience. Whether it’s celebrating Holi in India, or Midsummer in Sweden, keep your content relevant to the time and place your posting.

Another way to start growing an Instagram following is by following trending hashtags, and engaging in the content when it’s relevant. Whether it’s the egg that cracked the internet, or the season finale of GOT, engaging in trending topics is the best way to get your content seen by the maximum amount of people possible.


Tip #5: Caption with creativity

A caption is a way to maximize the opportunity to tell stories. It’s the last, final emotional pull that you have to get an audience’s attention to the content you’re creating. Take time to create creative captions that are relevant to your image. Don’t simply put your image out there without a caption. Think of how you want the audience to feel when they view your image and describe it. A caption is a great way to ask your audience questions and engage with them even further beyond the image itself.

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On @ShutterstockContributors, we like to ask our audience’s questions on what they want to see. We also use this same strategy in our Instagram Stories, using the incredible features Instagram’s created including Instagram Polls and Questions. Your captions and words should always be meaningful, with the goal of both connecting and growing your audience.

We Grew Our Instagram From 5K to 50K in One Year. This is How. — Dessert Flatlay
Shutterstock Image by LightField Studios

We hope these tips help you to start growing an Instagram following for your visual brand or business. Be sure to follow @ShutterstockContributors on Instagram if you haven’t already, and use the hashtag #MyCustomView so that we can start featuring your work. We can’t wait to see what you create next here at Shutterstock.


Top image by Song_About_Summer

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