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Spammy title, right? It’s mean in these streets, you gotta do what you gotta do 😉 But it’s the truth… there are tried and true practices you can use on Instagram to increase your likes and followers and I’m here to share some of my favorites with you! Now I’m not drowning in followers, but I have experienced exponential growth since putting these tips into practice. If you want immediate growth have JB ask who you are, post a bikini pic with your model sis, or receive flowers from Kanye West. For the rest of us, try these out.

1. Lighting is EVERYTHING: This is the MOST important factor in producing high-quality content for Instagram (or just pictures in general, but y’all are only looking at them on IG so why waste my time). Natural light is your best friend. There are two great ways to utilize natural light. My favorite way is to find a shadow in the daylight. Make sure that the subject of the photo is completely covered by the shadow to eliminate any weird lines. And although you are fully in shadow, make sure the sun is shining in your direction.

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I practice what I preach so hardcore, I had no pictures in direct sunlight to use and borrowed this from A Beautiful Mess.

If you are inside, move the subject of your photo by a clear window in the daylight. I will occasionally hold a white poster board up in front of the object and adjacent to the sun for even better lighting (poor man’s white box).

2. Profile Branding: Long-time Instagram users will tell you that individual quality photos are important, but the overall brand of your timeline is what turns new visitors into long-term followers. Scroll down on your profile to where you can see about 15 photos on your screen. Do these have a cohesive feel? Maybe the same color scheme, a posting pattern, or you consistently use the same filter? I began practicing this over the summer (you can scroll back and see a clear divide in my images) and have seen my following increase. The scheme I have is bright and colorful. I achieve this by using the same filter in PicTapGo! every time (a combo of Sweet Tooth and Sugar Rush).

Below is my timeline and a few examples of chicks killing the game. Slay bloggers, slay!

Instagam Branding

@JuliaHengel is one of the best examples of Instagram profile branding. Her husband even wrote a must-read article about it on his blog. Seriously, it’s life-changing. You gotta check it out!

3. Photo-Editing Apps: I have three photo editing apps I use regularly. The trick is to edit your photos in such a way that they don’t look edited. Minimal effort, maximum reward… I like it. The first app I use is AfterLight. I will crop to a square, increase the brightness and saturation, and then sharpen it a bit. Then I go into PicTapGo! This app is fabulous because it lets you save your filter combinations as one action. Then its just one click and you’re done. The final app I use is Snapseed. I only use this one for its selective editing feature. Say you took a picture in direct sunlight, but Cortney’s tips be damned! You’re using it anyways. You can select the shadows in Snapseed and increase the brightness to even out the image’s color. Beyond these three, I use Photoshop occasionally. That’s an entirely different article (or 10), but I don’t know how folks live without it!

Best photo editing apps

4. When to Post: Check this out. There are literally times in the day that your images will receive higher engagement. I mean folks have done research on this… what a time to be alive! According to Huffington Post, photos posted at 2am and 5pm receive the most engagement. Likely because it is an unpopular time to post, but users are still scrolling through their feeds. Sundays are also the least popular day to post, so photos potentially receive more likes because they have more eyes on them.

When it comes to how often to post, 1-2 IGs a day is about par for the course. That leads me to my next tip…

5. Quality over Quantity: Don’t you dare post a crappy pic just because you haven’t posted anything in a couple days! My lazy trick is to go back in your blog and grab a quality image to #tbt, #fbf, or #latergram. Or rework an old photo by cropping to emphasize jewelry or a bag. Accessories need their chance to shine! Your followers are thinking they’re getting fresh new content, but they ain’t! Here are a few examples:

Instagam Branding 2
For those of you following along at home, yes my phone was starting to die.

6. Engage with your Community: Seek out other bloggers, follow Instagram’s suggested users, geotag photos, throw on a hashtag or two (nothing cray), etc. Each of these things will get more eyes on your Instagram page. Let a fellow blogger know she’s got #HairGoals or that you’d sell your first-born for her bag. I always try to follow users who frequently comment on my images. Heck, I’ve made real-life friendships with some of them!

If you want to be extra spammy, try the round robin giveaways. While I don’t personally love the group contests, if they didn’t work, bloggers wouldn’t be paying to participate in them so often!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for ya! If there is a secret trick, please let me know in the comments. It would save all of us a ton of time 😉

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