As a platform where images and videos rule — and with over a billion users — Instagram is the perfect social media site for photographers to show off their skills and build an audience. From wildlife and landscape photography to portraits and travel, Instagram is filled with all kinds of incredible pictures that the internet makes more accessible than ever.
The competition amongst photographers for attention is high, though. Everyone seems to be vying for engagement and followers. How can you amass a sizable audience when so many people are also sharing their images, and the platform is harder to master than you imagined? Let’s note some practical tips for photographers using Instagram. This list is not about how to hone your craft itself, but rather how to use Instagram for marketing purposes:
Develop your personal style
Okay, we’ll address one piece of actual photography advice: develop your personal style. While it’s great to explore different genres and shake your material up whenever you feel like it, people expect a certain level of consistency on Instagram. Every brand struggles to understand where this line is for them: how do you balance between always showing people new things so that they don’t grow bored, yet consistent and “on-brand” enough that people don’t think you’ve strayed too far?
You’ll have to find where this line is for yourself. Whether you post photos of wildlife one day and then portraits the next, maybe the unique way you capture images defines your signature style that people associate with you. You’ll be much better off if you have something that distinguishes you from the crowd.
Grab the right people’s attention
Building an audience requires making yourself noticeable: using hashtags, liking and commenting on other posts, following other people, and more. You don’t have to spend all your effort targeting individuals you hope will follow you, though (thank goodness). The strategic thing for you to do is grab the attention of feature accounts, which curate other photographer’s work on Instagram.
Lots of people follow these accounts already because they show off the best of the best, so having one of them feature you can help you tap into their existing audiences. Wix Photography, Canon Photos, Portrait Page, and Visuals Collective are examples. Use their hashtags so that they notice you, and say yes if they approach you for featuring.
Keep size in mind
The size of your image files make a difference. Portrait images, for instance, are ideally 1080px by 1350px with a 4:5 aspect ratio, so familiarize yourself with ideal sizes to optimize your photos’ displays.
Include important information in your bio
You should have a business account instead of a personal profile. This way, you can provide your contact information, such as an email address and phone number, so people can get in touch with you for business purposes. Instagram business profiles also come with Instagram Insights, which provide valuable analytics regarding your campaign.
Put effort into your bio itself. You have limited space, so include a link to your website, portfolio, or other page you want to share. Covey who you are and what you do with the space Instagram permits. Make your personality obvious. Use emojis and formatting to make it fun and easy to read.
Remember how important hashtags are
The probability of someone stumbling upon your profile is extremely low due to the sheer amount of photography profiles that exist on Instagram. If you want people to find you, then you need to use hashtags.
Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags on your posts, but it’s generally advisable to use 8-12. Research the tags that are trending and most advantageous for you; don’t use simply anything that has a high post rate in an attempt to grab attention. A tag with hundreds of millions of posts may drown you out, so use hashtags that will actually maximize your exposure and work your way up. If you need help putting your content in front of the right eyes, then you can buy real Instagram followers to give your profile a boost.
Write enticing captions
Your photography is the ultimate purpose behind your Instagram account, but don’t underestimate the importance of a good caption. Captions can be funny, educational, amusing, or otherwise provide context and a description for the image above. Tell people where you took the photo, why you decided to do it, what was running through your mind, or something else — and don’t forget to tag people who commissioned it or locations you were in.
Take advantage of analytics tools
You’ll struggle mastering Instagram if you try to do so without guidance. Instagram Insights is helpful, but other analytics tools can provide you with further information that can steer your efforts. The more you know about your followers’ demographics, most successful posts, and your audience’s habits, the better you can amend your strategy to optimize its effectiveness.
Instagram is an excellent place for photographers, but building an audience presents challenges. If you succeed, though, then Instagram can be great for your business. How will you try to grow your presence on Instagram?