The question I get more than how are you, is how I got so many Instagram followers. Many ask me if I have some secretive strategies for reaching 20,800 followers on Instagram. Well, I hate to disappoint at first – there is no magic. With all honesty, I don’t plan my Instagram posts. I don’t schedule anything. I don’t follow and unfollow a ton of people in a day. The real beauty of Instagram is its engagement and the opportunity it give us to communicate with like-minded people across the globe.

To touch. To inspire. And to support.

Human connection is still where the real magic is at.

But as some of you know, I also run Instagram accounts for businesses and help them rock their social media presence and to gain more Instagram followers. Here are some tips for standing out on Instagram and attracting more followers!


1. E-N-G-A-G-E

We all know by now that engagement matters, and oh how it does, in so many ways! Especially as Instagram has rolled out its new algorithm, the engagement on your posts is more crucial than ever for getting your posts seen. But there’s more to engagement than hoping to get hundreds of likes and comments. You need to give in order to get back, as in all aspects of life.

Instagram is like any other cocktail party. To grow your network, you need to go introduce yourself to people. But you also need to be nice and give them a little spotlight too. Engage with all those you are following on Instagram. I mean, I’ve even met several of my Instagram followers and message with many of them directly each day! I only follow accounts who I engage with, as to me, that truly is the beauty of the app.

And what comes to commenting, don’t just use a bolt to post ‘nice, cool, wow’ on everything you see. Do it the honest way. Read captions. Ask questions. Share thoughts. Don’t be shallow.

But to grow your account, you should consider engaging outside of your following. Find related accounts through hashtags and through accounts similar to you. For example, take one hashtag per day, go through 10 different accounts you find through it and like and comment on their content – then if your content is appealing enough, they might come back and give you a follow. Tadaa.

instagram followers

2. Get discovered through hashtags

Too often we forget the true potential value of a hashtag. If you wish to gain more followers, you need to get a bit smarter on your hashtag game. First, try to list relevant hashtags to the content you provide. For example with travel, it’s not enough to just use #travel #adventure #wanderlust. And as for why not, there is simply so much content already that yours will get lost.

Find hashtags that are more niche, like #igtravel #nevernottravelling #lifeofadventure. This way you have a chance to get your post up to the top posts of the hashtag, which will give you additional exposure. For example, on my trip in Hong Kong I had researched to find the 10 best relevant hashtags for the city and managed to get each of my posts to each of the hashtags top posts and gained 1,000 followers in a week only by posting photos of Hong Kong.

Hashtags are also a great way to get more Instagram followers by getting featured on bigger Instagram accounts. There are a lot of travel related businesses who have their own hashtag they use for sharing content on their account. For example, I used the hashtag #lifewelltravelled to get featured by Cathay Pacific and their 232k followers. Or #dametraveler on travel photos that include me to get featured on @dametraveler with 217k followers, who mind you, are mostly ladies interested in travel – hello target audience!

And what comes to hashtags, you can use up to 30 (I usually go with 3-10). But to make it look less spammy, post your hashtags as the first comment on your photo to keep your captions clean and fabulous!


3. Turn your Instagram feed into an art gallery

Instagram is an app for visual storytelling. Think of it as an art gallery of your brand or personality. Ensure each photo fits next to each other and shares some visual similarities. Perhaps find a way to edit your photos with similar saturation, temperature, and contrast to create a gallery-like feeling. I use the filters A5 and HB2 on VSCO cam to keep a consistent look on the photos I share. Other great apps for editing your Instagram content are Afterlight, Snapseed, Facetune, and Colorstory.

On Instagram, only post the best of the best. For example, last week as I was having cocktails with some blogger friends, I simply couldn’t share the experience on Instagram as the light wasn’t right for my Instagram feed. For some, it may sound extreme, but quality and consistency of a feed is often the best way to drive followers to an account.

You don’t need to be an artist or a professional photographer to rock your Instagram and to attract more Instagram followers. You can still use your smartphone (just please wipe your lens every time you snap a photo – you’ll see a difference).


4. Show personality

What’s great about social media is that in the end, people just want to communicate with people. And especially on Instagram, we should all embrace that. We should inspire each other. To support each other. And just get know each other. I share a lot about my life on Instagram, on a very personal level. Giving a bit of my soul is worth every message or email I’ve ever received where someone thanks me for inspiring them.

I’m not saying you need to pour your heart out on Instagram but give a little more than just pretty destinations. Share your experiences. Your thoughts. Your mistakes. Struggles. Or be funny. Tell jokes. Make people laugh. Whatever works for you. But remember that captions matter.

5. Stick to a theme

The best Instagram accounts have the strictest themes. I mean, my Instagram is mainly travel / lifestyle / food, so I don’t follow this rule myself. But check out accounts like @ihavethisthingwithfloors or @tunameltsmyheart to see what I mean. Your followers will follow you for a reason, if the reason is travel, give them travel. If the reason is vegan smoothie bowls, only post vegan smoothie bowls.

Hope these tips help you in growing your Instagram feed! If not, drop me a line to discuss in more detail: [email protected]

Let’s engage on Instagram! 


This was so helpful! Thank you for all the info, it was very informative. I’m about 100% sure I’ve been using insta wrong…..but now I know! Thank you Thank you!

Easy to understand, straightforward and helpful. Great post – thanks for sharing. Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

Glad you found it helpful! 🙂 Cheers from Helsinki!

Excellent advice, Veera! It is all about engagement for me and as a bonus, I have met some fabulous people via Instagram 😉

Thanks Nancy! Haha, likewise 😉

Excellent post, Veera. Especially the note about engagement. Yes, it takes time, but I noticed when I slacked off s bit, my growth slowed. And I have several friends I now treasure and have visited who were first met on IG. It’s worth it!

Glad you found it helpful Donna! 🙂 And yes, I sometimes have busy times when I just cannot manage to engage on Instagram with my follwers like I would want to, but you can tell that straight away in numbers hey! But the best thing definitely is how I’ve also managed to build real friendships through it 🙂

Great advice! Thank you very much. You are truly inspiring in so many ways.
Looking forward to seeing you soon again, maybe in Stockholm. 🙂

Not a problem, glad you find it helpful! I am in Stockholm at the end of the month, so let’s definitely find time for coffee!

Wise words as always 🙂

Bookmarked :P! Thanks for this, because as you know, I need this info badly. But seriously, how are you :)?

Well done 😉 Glad you find it helpful Jerry! All the best with your new blog!