How to get more followers on Instagram with your travel photos
It’s not just gourmet delights, coffee and fashion that has us salivating on Instagram – have you noticed how many people (like this bunch) share amazing places to visit and extraordinary experiences you could be having?
I’m one of those people.
Back in April 2012 my dear friend Kate (@loves_laughs) suggested I join Instagram, as she thought I’d love the social sharing and photography aspects. As usual, she was right.
My first post was of my cat, Hudson (yes, I posted cat photos). But then over those first few months, I posted more and more of my island home, Tasmania.
I’ve always added captions to explain where the place was, why I liked it and sometimes, a dash of really bad dad-joke humour. People seemed to love it, and they were starting to follow me from all over the world.
In September 2013, I pitched a 10-day, 10-person Instatrip around Tasmania. It was a huge step, one that opened doors for me. My next trip was to Canada – a life-changing moment that I still can’t believe actually happened. However, it told me that I had a voice people wanted to hear – which was both amazing, and terrifying.
Using Instagram as my ‘day job’ didn’t happen overnight, but there are definitely things I did along the way to build my brand and position.
Want to know how to get more followers on Instagram with your own travel photos? Here are some questions I hear fairly often, and my answers.
“Are you a professional photographer?”
That would surely help, but I have no training in photography. I didn’t even study it at school.
I have always enjoyed snapping moments though, and have been told I have a natural eye for pleasing compositions. I am self-teaching constantly with my DSLR, however my mobile phone still travels with me, as some of my best shots were shot with it.
I am professional in my business; a part of which is photography. But I don’t consider myself a ‘professional photographer’.
Tip: Find your own style of photography, as that’s what will stand out from the crowd.
I post travel-style photos, usually taken in a way so that viewers could imagine themselves in that same moment. Quality is always important.
“Do you need to understand the travel industry?”
I didn’t just fall into travel when I became popular on Instagram – it’s an extension of a long career within the tourism industry. I have a bachelor’s degree in tourism and have worked for government and private sector organisations for years.
Tip: Basing your Instagram on a passionate area of your life means you naturally bring authenticity and credibility to your posts. For me, that’s tourism. I’m used to working with the industry and understand what goes on behind the scenes. If it tried to post about fashion though, I’d fail, as I know nothing of the industry.
“Instagram is visual, so what’s the point of writing captions?”
For travel Instagramming, there are key aspects that need to be included – first and foremost is a picture that grabs you, second is ‘where’. What’s the point in a client paying you to promote their destination if you don’t say where it is?
Tip: Captions are one of my unique strengths in the travel Instagramming industry. I’ve always written informative captions, so my followers expect to read about the places or experiences as they are keen learners. For your followers, it might be different – have you asked what they like? You need to find the voice that works for you, and your followers.
“Are hashtags worth the effort?”
I used to tag a lot, now it’s just a few. In my captions, it’s all about the client/destination tag.
It really comes down to personal preference what you put into the comments. There are hubs for every taste and niche that might like what you’ve posted. In Australia, I tend to keep it to #SeeAustralia (for @Australia) and the state/region I am in at the time (eg. #ThisIsQueensland for @Queensland).
Tip: Targeted hashtagging is far more fruitful that simply dumping in thirty vague or generic tags.
“I post but no-one notices me. What gives?”
There are over 300 million folks on IG, posting more than 70 million photos a day. On average, they spend just 21 minutes per day in the app.
Posting an image to IG is just one part of the process. If you really want to be ‘seen’ more, you’ll need to do a combination of things – sorry, there’s no magical key for ‘success’ on IG.
I go through the Explore tab often and search hashtags of the places I am visiting. I comment frequently, letting people know when I find images that catch my eye and what I might have learnt from them. I don’t care if they have ten or ten thousand followers.
Tip: Spend as much time on other accounts as you do your own.
At the end of the day, you need to do what helps you feel happy. If you create a profile that isn’t ‘you’, then it’s going to be harder to maintain momentum and creativity. Part of the fun is discovering more about yourself, your interests, skills and passions.
By the way, my cat photo is still on my profile.