10 Ways I Grew My Instagram Following Successfully

The number one question I get e-mailed & asked about is how to grow your IG following or start a blog. Well… it’s a toss up between that and hair questions (which is next on my “to tackle” list- I might get around to it someday).

So let me start out by saying that if you have e-mailed, commented, messaged, snapped, whatever-ed me, and I haven’t gotten back to you- I’M SO SORRY! One of things I have come to realize and accept as my blog/IG has grown is that I just can’t keep up with everything. Similar to the busyness of my personal life, my business side has grown tremendously and although I feel extremely grateful to be able to say that, the perfectionist and people pleasing side of me absolutely hates when I drop the ball because I have so much going on 24/7. I’ve had to learn to prioritize and often times getting back to people is at the bottom of the list as horrible as that may sound. In this season there are many things that take precedent over it. So please hear me when I say that it’s not personal and I’m not ignoring you on purpose. I wish I could e-mail you all back but I might just go in-sane if I tried 🙂 I literally just can’t do it all and I’m accepting that as an okay thing as time goes on.

So this blog post is for those of you who have asked me how I do what I do and how to get started. My suggestions/tips below are things that I believe have worked for me in helping gain a following on Instagram. Is some of it luck or coincidence? Sure. But like any job, I do believe there is strategy and meaning behind it all.

Okay, and last thing before I get to it 🙂 I went about “growing my blog” differently than a lot of bloggers. Typically, those who have been in the business for a while grew their Instagram following through their blog, rather their blog through their IG (me!). You can go about it however you want, but my point being that I just can’t/won’t and literally don’t know how to give advice on how to start a blog. That’s the truth! If I’m being real, I’m still learning that side of things myself. The IG world has been my jam and my main focus from the beginning because it’s the basis of what I love to do. Taking pictures of my kids/family has been something I’ve always enjoyed. In fact, if you scroll back to the beginning posts on my Instagram, you’ll get a feel for what I’m talking about. Back before I was @ellabrooksblog, I was @mamamelly5 , and enjoyed capturing fun shots of my family just for fun (I’ve thought about going back and deleting them because they’re not as I guess you could say “put together” but I kind of love having that history remain there. Every once in a while I’ll scroll back to the beginning and look through just for fun- I mean, Ella was only 8 months old in the first picture!! Que the tears…) – That’s kind of how I fell into what I’m doing now… because I seriously love it. Photography, family, fashion, inspiring and encouraging others …. it’s what I love and am passionate about.

So, here are my personal top 10 tips…

  1. Good Photography- Plain and simple, you can only go so far with mediocre photography. Does that mean go out and find a professional photographer? No, not necessarily. It definitely depends on who your target audience is and what your goals are. If you don’t think photography comes natural to you and you need some help in that area, there are IG photography workshops out there. You may have to pay a little, but it’s worth the investment. Good photography separates the average from the best in my opinion. And I’ve learned that once you have a solid following, you don’t have to be as picky with your photo selection all the time. I don’t know if it’s because you’ve already somewhat captured them (you know what I mean) but it’s okay to throw in a “not-so-good” one every once in a while. However, starting out, it’s vital in order to build that initial following.
  2. Keep it REAL! – There are two things I have learned people crave in today’s society… keeping it real/authenticity and encouragement (which I’ll get to next). Keeping it real goes a long way… farther than you may think. People (women especially) want to be able to relate to you. Here’s a little proof… go to my IG or another blogger you follow and look at the amount of “likes” we have on the pictures where we are “keeping it real” as opposed to the “I’m so pretty ones”. Count the number of likes. Almost always, those pictures will beat out any “pretty picture perfect” picture (say that ten times hahaha). But do you see what I mean?! It’s obvious women want to be able to relate. I kind of see it like an instant connection between the two of you. And not only does it work, but it’s admirable. There’s not much more I respect in a person that I look up to than watching them expose those not-so-perfect parts of their lives, too.
  3. Encouragement- this one kind of tag teams #2 because I think they go hand in hand. Let’s be honest, life isn’t always a walk in the park, which is why I think encouragement is something everyone naturally craves. It’s also another connection point between you and your followers. While I feel like this is something I love to incorporate on my feed because it’s me keeping it real and I’m just really honest about my feelings (ha), maybe it isn’t for you and that’s totally okay! I don’t think this one is absolutely necessary, just something that I know has been beneficial in what I’ve loved to focus on because it’s who I am and who I want to be in helping others.
  4. Consistency- This one is big. Your followers want to know you’re there, engaged, and reliable. So whether you post twice a day (I personally wouldn’t suggest more than that- maybe three- but no more 🙂 -, once a day, or once every few days, be consistent. A week is just too long to go without posting in my opinion. Remember, I’m giving tips in order to GROW your IG following. Consistency will help.
  5. Feed’s feel- I think I could have worded that better (HAHA!) but basically what I’m trying to say is what is the feel/look of your feed? Are you into your squares matching up with each other? If you don’t know what I’m talking about- check out my IG. I (mostly) try to post pictures that aren’t the exact same so that when people stumble upon my profile, the look of my feed is a little more appealing to the eye. A lot of people don’t focus on that and have no problem gaining followers, so it’s not a must! However, whatever it is you are posting, be consistent. If you’re into editing a certain way (btw- VSCO & Pic-Tap-Go are my go to apps for editing) stick to that vibe. If you’re into certain poses, stick to those poses. One of the things I’ve learned is that it is 100% okay to post similar pictures regularly. Naturally you would think that your followers would get sick of them if they are seeing the same kind of picture often, however, it’s quite the opposite. They follow you for a reason. They obviously like those kinds of pictures. Find your feel and stick with it. Don’t switch things up on your followers or you will start to see un-follows.
  6. Hashtags- Always use hashtags. Search and find the trending/popular ones and use them regularly and often. If you need help finding them, feel free to copy/paste from your fav bloggers… hey- we all do it 😉
  7. Follow Fridays- Once you’ve gained somewhere around 2-3K, I’d encourage you to start participating in weekly/bi-weekly follow fridays. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about- it’s a simple way to team up with other bloggers and gain exposure to new potential followers from each other’s feeds. Search the hashtag #ff or #followfriday and see for yourself. Also, keep in mind that you’ll want to collab with feeds that are similar to yours as far as content and number of followers.
  8. Giveaway Loops- Another way to gain exposure to new potential followers is to buy into giveaways. There are all different kinds of loops you can participate in- the general idea is you are buying into a giveaway to (potentially) one of your followers. Example: You and X amount of bloggers will pitch in $30 to give away a $500 gift card to Nordstrom. Each person who enters the contest will have to follow every blogger participating in the giveaway. This one has proven to be a great way to gain a good amount of followers (as not everyone will unfollow you when the contest ends). Keep in mind that it isn’t something you want to do weekly. You want to grow your feed in the most organic way possible IMO as you want to stay true to your followers who are following you for a reason. Does that make sense?
  9. Engage in similar feeds- Spread the love! Like, comment, post, share etc. … you want to be engaged and commenting on other IG feeds that you follow/admire. This was something I heavily focused on in the beginning, and I gained a lot of followers that way. People are curious and when they see you commenting, they want to know who you are/why you’re interested/etc. – be engaged and make sure you are following other feeds you admire because your pictures might pop up in the explore page (another great way to be seen).
  10. Originality! – This one is big. Big big big! You’ve got to remember that there are hundreds & thousands of people trying to do what you’re doing. What separates you from them? Do we want everyone to “make it”? Yes, but ultimately & realistically, certain people will gain more followers than others based on their feeds. But what about their feeds? Find something new, original, but make sure it is YOU! If you try to copy someone else’s vibe, yours will be second best. I definitely think inspiration is good and I get inspo from people I follow all of the time! But, you have to find your niche and stick to it. That’s where I believe you will find success.

Last but not least (and this isn’t a number for increasing follower engagement but rather a matter of personal encouragement & opinion)- because this trend has unfortunately been on the rise… please, please do not buy followers or likes! There are so many reasons I’m against it- the biggest being it is strait up cheating. What a lot of bloggers don’t know is that engagement is huge when it comes to collaborations. Companies want to see how interested your followers are and they will be able to see right through if it isn’t true engagement. Believe it or not, even the big time people sometimes do it and I cringe when I see it. It just doesn’t settle well with me and obviously isn’t right. Don’t sell yourself short! Not to mention, IG does a clean up every so often and gets rid of all fake accounts. I know that increasing your following can be a tough task but you can do it, guys! Be consistent, be true to your self, and don’t stop. Don’t stop! Consistency and hard work pays off big time. It’s funny because when I started this journey a little over two years ago, I e-mailed Cara Loren (someone I admired from afar as she had obviously succeeded in the blogging world), and asked what her advice would be for newbies like me. Her words are exactly what I just said to you- be consistent and word hard. I remember reading it and kind of rolling my eyes like, yeah… right! Blogging?! It’s as easy as taking pictures and posting. ha- Wrong! There is soooo much more that goes into it that people don’t see. This isn’t me complaining but being flat out honest that it takes a TON of commitment, sacrifice, and hard work. Is it worth it? Absolutely. If you’re willing to go for it 100%!

Good luck, guys! I really hope that was helpful for a lot of you and you’re able to take at least one or two things and implement them into your IG journey.





  1. October 5, 2016 / 7:02 am

    Thanks for sharing!! I remember stumbling across your feed when you were still mamamelly5! It’s been so fun to witness your journey! You’ve come so far and I am so happy for you! I also remember messaging you and asking for advice and I’m pretty sure you said the same exact thing – work hard and be consistent & true to yourself! xx

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 5, 2016 / 9:49 am

      Thank you so much, girl! Truly means a lot!

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:57 am

      Hi girl! Thank you so much- means a ton! Good luck to you, friend XOXO

  2. October 5, 2016 / 9:52 am

    Thank you so much for sharing and I have to say that you are one of the few bloggers who responded to my email a couple months ago which I appreciated so much. 🙂 Thank you for these tips. xoxo You are doing great.

  3. October 5, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve read TONS of blog posts on how to grow and yours by far is the best advice!

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:56 am

      Hi Jackie! Aw- that means a ton- thank you so much! Good luck!

  4. October 5, 2016 / 3:10 pm

    Awesome thanks for sharing! I always get mad that people buy their followers. I don’t have a lot but it’s cool. One day:)

  5. October 5, 2016 / 3:11 pm

    I love this! I’m always on the look out for encouragement and advice with blogging, it’s an intimidating world of bloggers out there! I think one of the most challenging things was finding my blogging “identity” (I’m still figuring it out, identity crisis in full swing over here! Haha!) Thank you so much for a sharing your tips ❤️

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:55 am

      Hi Audrey! Yes- that is huge! And sticking to it once you find it! Good luck, girl!!!

  6. October 5, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve been an admirer of you and your blog and it’s so great that you are willing to share your “secrets” with us newbies!

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:55 am

      Hi girl! Of course.. I hope it helps you out! & thanks for the sweet words- means a ton!

  7. October 5, 2016 / 5:14 pm

    Great post! Wise words! I admire your work and just realized I’ve been calling you Ella in past comments! (Im SO sorry!) Hopefully will be able to catch you at a meetup soon as I am in Northern Ca also! Keep up the great work!

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:54 am

      Hi Valerie! Thanks girl! & no worries- I get it just about everyday 😉 I don’t even correct people anymore haha. Good luck to you!

  8. October 5, 2016 / 6:05 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I just recently started my blog & I truly admire your advise! I have been following your blog & insta for sometime now & I love all your posts! You’re beautiful btw!

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:53 am

      Hi Nicole! Thank you so much, girl! That means a ton! Good luck to you XO

  9. Lindsey Tolin
    October 5, 2016 / 6:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I am working on starting a blog but find it a little challenging being a new mom and finding the time! I will definitely keep these tips in mind!

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:53 am

      Hi Lindsey! The struggle is real! Seriously- I have those days too. Just do what you can when you can. Good luck girl!

  10. October 5, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    love these kinds of posts and reading advice from others. thank you for it!! and for just saying it how it is!

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:52 am

      Thanks Brittney! Means a ton 🙂

  11. October 6, 2016 / 9:41 am

    LOVE all of your advise!! i just recently started a blog http://www.keepingupwithkristen.com and its been a work in progress. I’m kinda learning as i go and its definitely a lot harder then i expected. I’ve also been really trying to get my instagram to look a certain way which has also been a lot of trial and error. I think i’m finally starting to understand how to get my feed to look a little more cohesive and how to edit my pics better! Everything about this post screams my name. I’ve always wanted to start a blog but i never knew how. I didn’t want to go into instagram and blogging thinking i’m only in it for the money. But the opportunities that it offers to work with so many different companies and how many people i can connect with from all over the world makes me really want to try hard to get to where you or others are at! THANK YOU for this post and thank you for sharing your life with us!! From one mother to another…Xo

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:51 am

      Aw. You’re welcome, Kristen! You’re right- a lot of it is trial and error and learning as you go. You’ve got this, mama!

  12. October 6, 2016 / 9:55 am

    These are great tips, thanks for taking the time to share them! xo

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:51 am

      Thanks Chelsea! Appreciate it xo

  13. October 9, 2016 / 1:57 pm

    Thanks for this post! You’ve listed a bunch of helpful tips and given heartfelt advice. Can’t wait to implement some of these steps on my instagram! @holly_canon http://www.hollycanon.com xo Holly

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:50 am

      Thank you, Holly! Good luck to you, girl!!!

  14. October 11, 2016 / 10:47 am

    Melissa- Thanks for taking the time to put all of these fab tips into one amazing post for us amateur bloggers!! ❤️ It’s such an overwhelming world, that of keeping up on Instagram and blogging, but I also feel like when you love it, that shows and helps it grow. I can definitely see that in your work! Xoxo.

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 11, 2016 / 10:49 am

      That means a ton, Kelly! Thank you so much, girl! Good luck to you XO

  15. October 11, 2016 / 1:27 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I look up to you so much as a blogger and Instagram-mer (<—new word?? :)). Thanks for the great advice and encouragement!

    xo, Anna

  16. October 14, 2016 / 11:43 am

    Thanks for sharing your tips! I need all the advice I can get as a beginner blogger! I was so clueless on what to blog about in the beginning, until I became pregnant and had our son. Now I’m overflowing with topics and I never know which one to choose! Just curious, how do you come up with your next topic? I love your IG and blog. It’s always consistent yet different, and you always keep me interested! (It’s probably because of your adorable little ones too..)

    Thanks again!
    Cady @cadyceubanks

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 14, 2016 / 3:06 pm

      Hi Cady! Thanks so much! I try to make sure I cover all areas that I share throughout my blog/IG regularly. Fashion, family, inspo… I try to rotate and post on all three and more- there’s def no right or wrong- just whatever you feel led to share that captivates your audience. Good luck 🙂

  17. October 14, 2016 / 10:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I love love love your feed, blog & snaps! I came across your feed when you were pregnant with Jude, I was due the day after you! It’s been so fu to follow along.

  18. Hillary
    October 18, 2016 / 10:56 am

    Thank you so much for sharing, what camera do you use for your pictures besides an iphone?

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 18, 2016 / 11:03 am

      Your welcome 🙂 When my husband shoots, he uses our Canon Rebel. Otherwise my photographer Ashley uses a much nicer camera 😉 not sure what it is exactly

  19. October 21, 2016 / 9:55 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have been looking foward to hearing something like this from you, and you gave some great advice that I will DEFINITELY be sticking to. I started my blog in June and its HARD! But I love it so much. You are such an inspiration to me! I was curious though, how did you discover and implement your “style” or “feed feel?”

    Thanks again!

    • ellabrooksblog
      October 24, 2016 / 2:05 pm

      Hi Tessa! I think it goes back to what you’re focusing on whether it be more fashion related pictures, kids pics, inspiration, etc…. once you get into the flow and consistency of what you’re posting- you’ll notice a natural feel- if that makes sense? It’s always best to stick to what you’re focusing on rather than going a million different directions.

  20. October 27, 2016 / 2:03 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this!

  21. October 27, 2016 / 2:04 pm

    I do have one question though Mel, how do you keep the consistency of your feed in one style category. Do you only use certain filters, etc?

    • ellabrooksblog
      November 1, 2016 / 10:55 am

      Hi Elise! A lot of times I do use similar filters, yes… but for me that’s not my main priority (It’s different for everyone)- I like to focus on how my pictures line up (aesthetics), lots of color, and making sure I’m posting pictures of my blogs focus (family, fashion, inspiration) consistently. Hope that helps!

  22. Erin
    August 7, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    Question, who takes the majority of your photos for you? They are very consistent (which as you said is important). Do you have different people helping?
    Thanks for sharing!

    • ellabrooksblog
      August 21, 2017 / 9:59 am

      Hi Erin!

      My husband takes almost all of my pictures. I do have a few photographers who will take family pictures of us every so often but that’s not a weekly thing.

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