There’s no denying that Instagram has become one of the most powerful resources for photographers of all styles and levels. Pair a strong social media presence with a solid photography website and you’ll become a powerhouse in your field. But building a robust social media presence is not as easy as creating a stunning online portfolio. Learning how to promote your Instagram account takes time and energy, but it can have a huge impact on your professional career.
In order to improve your Instagram presence and grow your account you’ll need to make the most of the platform’s features, from the profile picture to the hashtags. Each step of the way will pose new challenges, so you should see this process as a marathon rather than a sprint. Consistently taking care of your Instagram account promotion will lead to much better results than burning out all your energy right away.
These 15 actionable tips will teach you everything you need to know about how to promote your Instagram:
Optimize your profile
Develop your creative trademark
Explore the hashtag opportunities
Keep up with trends
Promote your page on other platforms
Establish valuable partnerships
Tag brands and people
Host a contest
Geotag relevant images
Try out paid ads
Engage with others
Maximize your Stories
Find the best posting times
Keep your audience updated
Track the results
01. Optimize your profile
Since you only get one chance to make a first impression, having a polished profile is an absolute must if you’re trying to promote your Instagram. Start by choosing a handle (or username) that people can understand and remember easily. In most cases, this will be your name or some adaptation of it. If you choose not to include your full name in your username, be sure to do so on the “name” section. This way, people will easily be able to find you on the platform.
As a photographer, your Instagram bio should include basic information about your work, such as the types of photography you specialize in, where you’re based, and a contact email. Needless to say, you should include a link to your professional photographer website to encourage users to visit your portfolio and learn more about your services.
Last, but most definitely not least, you’ll need a professional-looking profile picture. There are three ways in which photographers tend to go about this. One, you may ask a fellow photographer to capture your portrait or use candid images they may have captured during your time together. Two, you can come up with self portrait ideas that truly reflect your personality. Or three, choose one of your shots that perfectly sums up what you do.
02. Develop your creative trademark
In a time where nearly every third person worldwide carries a decent camera with them at all times, developing a personal photography style should be at the very top of your priority list. If you want people to remember your work, your images should have a cohesive look and feel that is unlike that of any other photographer.
This creative style can be based on anything distinct to your work: the types of camera lenses you use, the subjects you photograph, recurring tones and colors, or your use of vibrance and saturation. Whatever it is, make sure its core guidelines are flexible enough to adapt to any type of project without limiting your creativity.
03. Explore the hashtag opportunities
Getting acquainted with hashtags is a crucial part of learning how to promote your Instagram account. Tagging your posts will allow you to maximize your exposure to a relevant audience, as your images will be seen by people who are interested in the type of work that you do.
In order to find the best photography hashtags for your images, start by looking at what other photographers in your field are doing. Chances are you’ll see some of the same hashtags coming up on several accounts. Pair these up with both broader and more niche hashtags and test which combinations give you the best results. Additionally, using local hashtags is a great photography marketing idea if your services and work are location sensitive.
Make sure to switch the hashtags you’re using every so often, as rumor has it the platform penalizes users who always stick to the same ones.
04. Keep up with trends
And by that, we don’t mean blindly jumping into any new trend you come across. But you should be aware of the latest photography trends, both in your niche and in others to ensure you’re always on top of your game. This applies to both your work in the field as well as the ways in which you promote your Instagram account, as these trends affect how businesses use imagery as well as how photographers engage with each other.
While you shouldn’t feel obligated to follow trends that diverge from your creative style - for example, those referring to color treatment and panoramas - other trends, like drone shots and environmental approaches, might bring a breath of fresh air to your portfolio.
05. Promote your page in other platforms
One of the most impactful ways you can promote your Instagram account is through other platforms, both online and offline. Start by adding a link to your profile on your professional photographer website. This will encourage site visitors to follow your Instagram account in order to keep up with your latest projects. If you have other social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, make sure to include your Instagram handle there as well.
As for the offline world, one of the most valuable networking tips for photographers is to carry business cards with you at all times. These should include your name, the URL of your online portfolio, social media handles, and the email address where people can reach you. After all, you never know when you might encounter a potential client.
06. Establish valuable partnerships
In addition to the ability to easily share your work with the world, one of the biggest game changers of Instagram for photographers is the fact that the entry barrier for professional partnerships has nearly banished. A practice once available only to a handful of professional photographers, is now a reality for amateurs all over the world. In fact, online collaborations have become one of the most common paths to becoming a professional photographer.
But before you start reaching out to brands as a photographer in search of a partnership, you should start by joining forces with other creatives with similar goals. In addition to helping you promote your Instagram to a broader audience, collaborations will also allow you to learn from the work of others and further strengthen your photography skills. Plus, you’ll be building beautiful relationships with like-minded individuals. What’s not to love?
07. Tag brands and people
Tagging relevant Instagram accounts on your images improves the chances that those users will share your posts with their audience, or maybe even reach out for a collaboration. In addition to the people or brands that actually appear in the photos, you might want to tag hub profiles. Commonly considered to be among the best photography Instagram accounts, high-quality hubs share the best work of photographers specializing in certain fields or locations.
Make sure to tag a limited number of accounts that are somehow related to the image. Otherwise, it might come off as spammy and have the complete opposite effect. Furthermore, whenever you're not tagging subjects who appear in the shot, try to put all your tags around the frame of the image so they won’t cover the scene when revealed.
08. Host a contest
There’s nothing people like more than free stuff, which makes contests possibly the most effective method to promote your Instagram. Unlike the type of photography contests you are probably familiar with, in this case photos are the prize instead of the submission. Simply ask people to follow you and share one of your photos or tag friends on your post for a chance to win a print or digital copy of your work.
If you sell photos online, encourage people to visit your site to look at your whole offering. In addition to driving traffic to your portfolio, chances are that some visitors will choose to purchase your work once they find themselves on your site.
09. Geotag relevant images
Using photography to raise awareness has become one of the biggest photography trends of the decade, and it doesn’t seem like it will slow down any time soon. One of the main points made by this movement is the fact that geotagging social media posts has damaged certain destinations maybe beyond repair.
With this in mind, you should only use the geotagging feature to promote your Instagram account when working in certain venues or locations, rather than natural reserves. This is especially valuable for fields in which location is highly relevant, such as in wedding, event, or portrait photography.
10. Try out paid ads
As great as getting free followers is, paid Instagram promotion offers you much more control over the type of audience you want to target and which specific posts you want them to see. While this might sound too intimidating or out of your reach, the process is actually much easier than you probably imagine.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to promote your Instagram through paid aids, take a look at this comprehensive beginner’s guide to Instagram advertising.
11. Engage with others
Since we’re talking about a social media platform, it should hardly come as a surprise that engaging with other users is one of the most efficient ways to promote your Instagram. It’s important that you keep in mind that the end-goal of the platform is to help you connect with people, not getting as many followers as possible. Take the time to answer comments left on your posts as well as sharing your own ideas on other users’ images.
In addition to helping you create meaningful connections, meaningful engagement is picked up by the Instagram algorithm as a sign that your account is very active. This will directly increase your chances of being seen by others.
12. Maximize your Stories
Once deemed as an unnecessary feature, Instagram Stories has grown to become one of the most active and powerful parts of the platform. While the ephemerality of this content continues to be its strongest value, new additions such as polls, message boxes, music, and post sharing have made Stories nearly as popular as the main feed.
You can use Instagram Stories to share behind-the-scenes footage, discuss upcoming projects, hold Q&A sessions, encourage users to visit your photography services page, or promote your Instagram posts to make sure your audience doesn’t miss any of them.
13. Find the best posting times
Despite what some might say, there isn’t a “best time to post on Instagram,” especially since the feed stopped being chronological. However, you might be able to define certain times of the day during which your audience seems more engaged. For example astrophotography feeds tend to see more action through the night, as people dream about how it would be to lie under the stars instead of standing in a light-polluted city.
Since your Instagram audience is most likely located throughout the globe, the best way to find out when to post is to test out different schedules. Even then, consistency is more important than nailing the specific hour at which most of your followers are awake. If people know you post on a regular basis and share several Stories throughout the day, they’ll be keeping an eye out for your content even if they’re not online at the time of posting.
14. Keep your audience updated
Just like the dad in every Disney channel movie, many people are now vicariously living through others thanks to social media. And while this practice can become quite dangerous, in most cases it’s simply a source of inspiration. As a photographer, making your audience feel included in your latest projects or expeditions can empower them to follow in your footsteps and work toward their dreams.
This is especially true in more adventurous fields such as travel photography, which can inspire not only fellow photographers but also people who simply want to explore the world. But you don’t need to swim with whale sharks to open your audience to new experiences. Wedding, sports, and food photography are also great examples of stories that can encourage your followers to log out of social media and go create new memories of their own.
15. Track the results
Once you start building your photography career, you need to start thinking like a business person. Unfortunately for most, this includes a lot of numbers and even some math. As you test different ways to promote your Instagram, track the results of each one to determine what worked, what didn’t, and what you can improve.
Think of this basic-level tracking as the first step towards starting a photography business. Each step you take to promote your work takes you one step closer to becoming a successful entrepreneur.