How to Get Instagram Famous – A Complete Guide

A Guide to Starting a Fashion or Lifestyle Business on Instagram

Section 1: How to Build a Business From Scratch Using Instagram

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It’s hard not to sound like we’re exaggerating, but have you ever noticed those headlines that tell you about a fashion blogger who’s making $10k or more per month on Instagram? And he or she is getting this much for a single campaign? It sounds unrealistic and maybe you’ve never seen that much yourself, but it’s totally possible to create a realistic income from this type of business model. We’re here to show you the details of how to get Instagram famous and make a living off of doing so.

These bloggers share photos from a breathtaking resort in Bali (and we get jealous) and sometimes they show off their new pair of leather boots gifted to them from a high-end fashion designer. We fantasize about the same kind of success and we think – these people are just lucky. You may even tell yourself: Achieving this sort of success, status and social media following are completely out of my reach. I don’t take good photos, I don’t know how to entertain people, I don’t know how to blah blah blah

[insert more of your flaws and lack of skillset here]. Forget all of these doubts.


And guess what? These people all started with a single follower and eventually grew to celebrity status. Many of their followers had no clue to who these people were before they reached a 300k following on Instagram. Many of their followers still have no idea of who these people are in real life. And know this: the majority of their followers don’t follow them just because they have a massive following. In the sections below we’ll talk about why this is the case.

Throughout this guide we’ll show you how to develop your business as an Instagram publisher and actually enjoy your “job” and your life at the same time. It’s a pretty long guide, but we’ll get you started and on your way to becoming someone that thousands of people want to follow. This guide will also take you through how you can get started whether you have an existing Instagram feed or if you are starting completely from scratch. The Instagram platform was first launched 5 years ago but is still growing as more people and businesses learn to use the biggest visual social network out there. So let’s get started!

If you want to download this guide in PDF format to read offline, enter your email in the bar at the top of this page. We’ll provide you with notifications as we update and add to it.

3 Reasons Why You Should Develop Your Instagram Feed

  1. You can post things of what you love to do and eventually get paid for being yourself
  2. Brands are looking to partner with and leverage publishers’ audiences to reach their target markets (there’s not only money in this, but potential partnerships and sponsorships)
  3. If you’re looking to launch a new business you can start developing a loyal following and see what people are actually interested in (testing your market)

Most of you have already created your Instagram account and don’t want to bore the rest of you with details on how to sign up. If you haven’t, you will need to download the app to your phone from either the App Store or Google Play. After you’ve done so, come back here to follow the rest of the guide.

What is Instagram? (For those who really are just getting started.)

(You can skip this section and move to the next if you don’t need a quick history lesson on Instagram.)
Instagram is a platform that allows photo-sharing and 10 second video-sharing. You or your company can post any activities occurring in a real-time in the form of images or videos. It allows you to connect with your customers, develop your brand, and engage with your followers with a visual story. There are other social networks that allow you to post photos and videos, but there are so many reasons why you want to start growing your Instagram account sooner than later: You can create sub-communities of followers that not only act as a base for fans and supporters, but act as a base for existing and new clientele. Creating a loyal following that includes people other than your family members is like gold to companies or if you’d like to eventually start your own business.

Some of the business reasons why you should actively work on your Instagram account:

  • 30-40%% of major brands are on Instagram and haven’t reached saturation yet. You have the opportunity to reach users in your fashion niche without being overshadowed by bigger brands.
  • If you are targeting users who are between the ages of 13 and 34, you have a good chance of reaching this demographic
  • 68% of all Instagram users are women [Source: L2 Think Tank, Instagram, Global Web Index, Business Insider, Wall Street Journal, Pew Internet Research, UnRuly, Topsy, Twitter, Facebook, Evercore]
  • 16% of online adults who use Instagram have a household income of $75k or more

Blog versus Instagram Feed – Which Should You Choose (First)?

Many of you have been thinking about starting a full-blown blog. But, really, the easiest way to get started is by starting an Instagram feed. When you’re posting to Instagram or Twitter you’re essentially “microblogging”. You don’t have to write any more than a short caption on your photo and you have the option of not writing one at all. So unless you write long blog posts regularly I would recommend starting with an Instagram feed as a publisher in lifestyle, beauty or fashion.

You probably already have a personal Instagram account that you opened and started years ago and that you post to once in a while. Depending on what you’re trying to represent you’ll probably decide to open a new account or develop your personal account. Currently, Instagram limits the number of accounts that have been registered through one device, but you’ll probably have no issues if you’ve only ever created or registered one other Instagram profile. I personally have an account that isn’t meant to shape my brand, but random stuff I post to friends and family.

  Instagram Feed Versus Blog
Publishing Snap a photo, post to Instagram. Write a 500 word blog minimum, but you have to take the time to think through a creative topic and prepare photos.
Time Required to Publish 1-10 Minutes 1 hour to several days
# of Photos to Post to Make it Worth the Reader’s/Follower’s Time 1 2-4
Platform Phone Desktop is easier. Unless you don’t mind typing and editing 500+ words on your phone.
Cost Free Free or Hosting Fees + Domain RegistrationTotal Cost is about $70 per year ($9.95 Domain Registration + $4.95 per month hosting fees)
Set-Up Time 5 Minutes 5 Minutes for Barebones Website up to several hours/days to develop, improve and refine your brand and content.
Conclusion MUCH EASIER THAN TRADITIONAL BLOGGING CREATE A PLACEHOLDER IF YOU EVENTUALLY DECIDE TO MOVE TO THIS PLATFORM. (For example, register a domain and just add an opt-in form and links to your social channels.)

How to Get Started

We’ll make it as simple as following a checklist, literally. You don’t have to watch videos and you don’t have to read a 100-page PDF or go through an entire course on Instagram marketing. These options are available to you, but you can get started by reading this guide that’s just about 15 pages long if you print it out.

Your First Checklist

Take 2 Minutes to Update Your Profile. Before doing anything, make sure you do the things below.

  • Create an Account: Go to either the App Store or the Google Play Store and download Instagram to your phone.
  • Upload a photo: Upload a photo to your Instagram profile
  • Enter a short description of your business: Enter a short description of your business
  • Add a website URL: Add a website URL, product page or an opt-in page

Your Second Checklist

  • Link Your Account to Other Social Networks: Link to your Facebook business page, Twitter account, Tumblr and Flickr.
  • Upload at Least 6 Photos: They don’t have to be perfect. Just start adding photos and you can later remove them as you take better shots.
  • Download the Repost App. If you’re just getting started you’ll wonder what to post and likely not come up with anything good. To get your feet wet you can download a repost app and repost photos that reflect what you like. This will give you inspiration to post your own photos.

What to Post and When

Why does someone follow another user’s Instagram feed? You can answer this question by asking yourself “Why would I follow someone else’s feed?”

Once you put yourself in the shoes of someone else you’ll start to understand what you should post. It eventually boils down to who you are and the fact that you’re an interesting individual to the person who’s following you. If you are trying to really get a clear idea of your feed and the types of people you’re targeting you can go through the brand identity exercise. This will give you an idea of exactly what to post. Instagram has their own rules about what you can’t post, but for the most part, your photos should be a reflection of your life or your brand.

After you get an idea of your brand and what you stand for we can more easily answer the questions “What do you post?” and “When should you post?”

Brand Identity Worksheet

Download the Brand Identity Worksheet Here

You’ll be able to fill out the answers to the questions below and save them to remind you of who you are and what you represent. You can skip this section for now and take a look at the worksheet later.

This part of your business is often ignored because focus is often placed on what you’re actually selling than who you’re selling to. It’s important to understand who you are as a brand so your connection to other people has longevity. When I use the word “Brand” I’m not only taking about companies, I’m talking about your personal brand. When your friends describe you, what do they say?

When I talk to companies who sell products I remind them that connecting with products can be short-lived, but connecting with individuals on an emotional level will create a loyalty to a brand that is often hard to produce when you’re simply just selling them your products or services. Below is a model that you can use to develop your brand identity that I share with businesses who sell physical products or services. You can still apply this to your personal brand and it will start to give you a sense of what you want to reflect in your posts. You can either use the checklist or download the PDF template that you can fill out and save.

It looks like this.

This is based on the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism






Rallying Cry

  • What is Your Vision?
  • What is the Heart & Soul of yourself and your brand?


  • What do you do? (may not be distinctive)
  • How well you do it
  • Quality or Performance Standards

Internal Culture & Values

  • Core beliefs
  • What will you never compromise on?

Shared Values & Community

  • Ideas that both you and your follower agree are important
  • Passions and affinities

Noble Purpose

  • Larger goal or cause you aspire to serve
  • Ambition, what you want to change in peoples’ lives

Aspirational Self-Image

  • What connecting with you/following you tells others about the follower
  • How your followers want to be seen

Note: Running through the exercise above will allow you to refine your messaging to your followers and what makes you different. You’ll refine this over time, but it’s a good place to start when it comes to defining who you are to your followers.

What Should You Post?

If you do a search on Instagram to find inspiration you’ll come across thousands of ideas. There’s a specific “look” that many of the Instagram photos have and it has to do with being in the moment. It’s essentially capturing a moment or the detail of what inspires you. Many people do this and you’ll find that the angles of their photographs are not what you normally see in a catalog or on an e-commerce site. The photos are very personal and the person capturing the photo puts the subject of the photo within the context of their life and their environment.

In section 8, we give you 23 Post Ideas broken down by category.

When Should You Post?

I’ve found a few ideal times depending on which country I’m targeting. For example, the best posting times I’ve found are in my local time of 8am, 12noon and after 10pm. Below’s a snapshot of my Posting Time versus Engagement (source: Iconosquare)










The best way to test is to actually post and then come back and check out your engagement rates in tools like Iconosquare. I like to think through my own use of Instagram and when would I typically open the app and scroll through the feeds. This can give you a good starting point if you’re looking to attract followers who are like you in age, career, etc. Of course you have to take into consideration the factors that affect engagement rates. For example:

  • Post Type
  • Time Zone
  • Hashtags used
  • Work situation of your followers
  • Your followers’ Instagram Use
  • Quality of Photo
  • Uniqueness of Photo
  • Call-to-Action
  • etc

Developing an Editorial Calendar and Managing Your Posts

It’s perfectly okay to post random, spontaneous photos on your Instagram feed. But sometimes you want a more organized approach so when you are producing content like clockwork and working with sponsors you’ll have an organized way to manage your content.

A free tool you can get started with is called Trello. With Trello you can schedule your posts and see what’s coming up visually. You can also easily drag and drop images and manage things through your phone. As you grow your account you may look into more sophisticated tools that cater to Instagram, but Trello is not only a great start, it’s free.

Screenshot of Trello for Scheduling Posts

Screenshot of Using Trello for Scheduling Posts

Screenshot of Trello and Scheduled Posts

Each column that you see is a list. Each photo represents a day on my editorial calendar unless I am doing multiple posts per day. I basically have it set up to have 4 Columns. Each column is a “List” and each “List” contains “Cards”. Each Card contains the image, posting date, color label and caption. Here are the 4 columns.

  • Posts: My regular posts
  • Sponsored Posts: Posts that I am posting as a result of working with a brand
  • Done – Sponsored Posts: Sponsored Posts that are complete and posted
  • Done – Posts: Posts that are complete and posted

It’s as straightforward as that in the beginning. You can add due dates and color labels to differentiate between the types of posts. For example, if you have a beauty feed you may break it down into a few types of posts: Inspiration, How-To, Close-up and Sponsored

Depending on what you want to do, you can create a schedule and rotate between these types of feeds to keep you on track and organized when posting.

Screenshot of Trello and Dragging Posts into the “Done” List

Screenshot of Trello and Dragging Posts into the “Done” List

The screenshot above basically shows you how easy it is to drag cards into different lists when I am finished posting them.

Screenshot of Trello in Calendar Mode

Screenshot of Trello in Calendar Mode

The above screenshot just shows you that you can switch back and forth between the calendar and the visual list modes.

We can finally move on to the next section. The next section’s imporatnt because it’s what you’ll need to do if you want to become Instagram famous.

Section 2: How to Grow Your Following
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We all have this chicken/egg problem where we want to grow our business, but those of us who don’t have a massive following wonder – who will follow us if we don’t look like a popular account? We’ll give you some tactics on how you can grow your following both organically and with some help.

How to Grow Your Following Organically

Engage with users who don’t yet follow you

Engagement is key. Sometimes it becomes challenging to manage incoming messages and comments on a growing account if you’re trying to check everything via smartphone. I’ve personally had this problem and I’ve actually had people get upset for not responding back to them or engaging with them. Here’s a free tool you can use to manage your comments and engagement so you know who you’ve responded to and who may be awaiting your response:

When you use tools such as this you can take some time out of each day, or whenever you have a free moment in your day, to browse through photos, respond to comments and like the photos that you see.

Comment Management Using Iconosquare

Comment Management Using Iconosquare

Know Who to Follow

That’s right. Forget the problem of growing your account, you don’t even know who to follow! I’m half joking, but many people don’t even know who their audience is. This is a straightforward way of not only following the right users, but testing to see if they really are a fit for your brand. You may want to attract a certain audience, but the only way to find out if they like your feed and what you publish is by getting them into your circle.

For those who just opened an Instagram account and are starting with zero following it may be difficult to get others to follow you. It’s natural for us to start following someone only if we see others following them first. So how do you get people to follow you first?

A good place to start is by doing these two things:

  1. Make sure you have at least 5-10 photos posted so people know that you are an active account and worth following back. In fact, make it a routine to regularly post to your account until you have the luxury of posting at random, spontaneous times. Use a service like am (paid and automatically posts) to schedule photos or Latergramm (free and does not automatically post).
  2. Follow the Followers of Your Competitor: Look for brands on Instagram that are similar to yours. Basically, look for your competition and follow their followers. Tap to view their followers and start following them. Instagram has a limit of 60 relationship actions/hour (Follow/Unfollow), but I recommend starting with following 50 people on Instagram per day.

Take Instagram-Inspired Photos

I don’t expect developing your brand on Instagram to be an easy task and it will take time to really create the best photos that replace written communication. However, it is an easy task to take and upload a photo. We can get philosophical about taking Instagram-inspired images or we can just start taking photos and refine who we are over time. Instagram is all about the photos you post. If you don’t know where to start here are some basic steps to get you going in the right direction:

  • Find Hashtags That Describe the Things You Like Wearing or Doing: What are three words that describe your brand? What are some of your hobbies? Then do a search for these words and see what comes up.
  • Find the Photos that Inspire You: Find the photos that inspire you and feel are a good representation of your brand. Tap on it to see what other hashtags that person uses to describe their photo and discover even more awesome photos.
  • Repost the Photos that Inspire You: While you figure out and get your feet wet in posting you can repost other people’s photos and give credit to them using the Repost app.

Ways to Kick-Start Your Growth

We gave you some tips to grow your account organically, but for those who have questions around using services, we’ll go through them here.

I’ve tested out a few services on a few accounts to see the effectiveness of certain tactics and will share some of the results here.

Tactic #1: Leverage Your Existing Followers

One way to get followers to your Instagram account is to simply ask your existing followers from other social media channels. Sometimes a little motivation is needed to get them to follow you on another platform; this is where Gleam comes in and where contests can be helpful. I’ve used the service to basically force existing followers to follow my account if they want the opportunity to win something we’re giving away. At the end of the contest you can randomly select a follower for the giveaway and Gleam automates this process. You’ll be able to see who did exactly what and you’ll also have the opportunity to collect contact information if needed.

You can post directly to Facebook and Twitter and leverage your existing users that way. When individuals see you’re posting from Instagram, they’ll likely go to your profile, check you out and then follow you.

You can watch a quick video here on how to connect your account to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.:

Tactic #2: Use Services That Offer Custom Growth

The growth services we offer work well not only with our customers, but we actually use these services for our own accounts. With a combination of automation and humans following the right people, it’s literally like a full-time person helping you grow your account. You are essentially connecting with people who want to be connecting with you and who are real.

Here are some statistics on a sample account that grew from 23 followers to over 4600+ in 5-6 months. Since then we’ve received paid and gifted offers to this account. And this account is not really that active, but we do have some nice photos on the feed.

And lucky for you, we’ve developed a database that allows us to help you connect with the right people and grow your Instagram account. It’s like hiring a part-time assistant to manage your social media following.

Click Here to View Pricing


Account Rate of Growth Using Our Services

Account Rate of Growth Using Our Services

Tactic #3: Run Contests

Building a strong, responsive community is one thing, but getting followers if you have a zero to very little following is another challenge in itself. Many people talk about how building a great community, great content, etc. will naturally attract people to follow you on Instagram. While this may be the case in theory you will probably need a focused effort on increasing your followers. Generally, no one wants to be the first person to follow you and Instagram users will likely follow you if they see other people following you. It’s another chicken-egg problem, but we’ll show you how you can overcome this challenge using contests.
When you run contests you can require users to follow your account first.
1. Create a hashtag that’s not too generic that can easily be identified with the brand’s contest.
2. Make contest rules straightforward to lower the barrier of entry for the contestants.

Here’s a quick checklist of how to run a contest:
One very direct and effective way of getting people to follow you is by running contests. When you
run contests it will actually require people to follow you (or whatever action you decide) before submitting an entry. They don’t have a choice about it unless they decide not to enter.

Here’s an example of an Instagram-specific contest form using

Instagram Contest Form

Instagram Contest Form on Gleam

You can require users to do any of the following before entering:

  • Comment on a Blog Post
  • Write a Blog Post
  • Subscribe to RSS Feed
  • Bonus
  • Custom
  • Like a Facebook Page
  • Submit a Facebook Photo
  • Google +1
  • Follow a User on Instagram
  • Like an Instagram Photo
  • Submit an Instagram Photo
  • Follow a User on Pinterest
  • Pin Image to Pinterest
  • Pin Images from Pinterest Board
  • Question
  • Choose Image
  • Single Choice Question
  • Multiple Choice Question
  • Follow a User on SoundCloud
  • Like a Song on SoundCloud
  • Subscribe to Email List
  • Enter With Twitch
  • Follow a Channel on Twitch
  • Enter for Twitch Subscribersv
  • Tweet on Twitter
  • Tweet With Hashtag
  • Retweet
  • Follow a User on Twitter
  • Watch a Vimeo Video
  • Visit a Page
  • Viral Share
  • Subscribe on YouTube
  • Watch a YouTube Video

Contest Checklist

  • Decide What Prize to Give Away: What will you offer to users in exchange for their contest entry? Do you have sponsors that could offer a giveaway?
  • Sign up to Gleam: Click Here to Create an Instagram Contest
  • Submit Your Contest to Directories: Although you may get tons of people to subscribe and enter the contest using these directories, they may not be the targeted group of people that will be engaged with your Instagram account. To get started, however, you will need to build a real following from somewhere. As you build your Instagram account, the more people that see you have growing follower base, the more likely they are to follow your brand. After getting this kick-start you’ll want to grow your brand more organically and target the right group of people to follow you on Instagram. You can find the list of directories provided by Gleam by clicking here.

You’ll see that the quality of these followers are not as high quality individuals who are actually interested in you. This is just one way of growing your account for free.

Side Note on Buying Followers: I discourage this practice 100% for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that your followers will likely be fake. The second reason is that you won’t get any increase in engagement and so these followers will not lead to anything productive (loyal fans, sales, revenue…) And one last reason (although there are many more we can list) is that these followers will eventually get purged and deleted from your account. You can get an idea of what this cleanup is like by reading the story here. Just prior to this purge I actually tested out a 1500 follower purchase. By the time Instagram started purging fake followers (which, at the time, I didn’t even know were fake) I ended up with the number of followers I started with – 23 total.

Section 3: All About Hashtags

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How to Use Hashtags

Why do you need to use hashtags? Besides Instagram using their magic ball, (okay, maybe their programming) you can help them figure out how to categorize your photos and account by adding hashtags that best describe your account. You can also help users find your photos if they do a search on a particular keyword. An article from Social Media Examiner helps you understand how best to use them.

The Hashtags You Use versus Popular Hashtags

When you post a photo to Instagram use popular, but relevant hashtags. If you want to compare how your use of hashtags compare to popular hashtags on Instagram Iconosquare gives you a visual tool that lets you see this. In go to the “Optimization” section you’ll see a side-by-side view of the hashtags you use compared to these top hashtags found on Instagram. If you use some of them they will be highlighted in your list. A screenshot from iconosquare can be found below.

Your Hashtags versus Popular Hashtags

Your Hashtags versus Popular Hashtags

“Compare the tag you use and the most popular tags. Top tags get searched often, try using them (when relevant). With a dark background, the tags you’ve used and that are also part of the 100 most used: these are good, keep using them.” Source: Iconosquare

As you start using hashtags you’ll start seeing how they can be useful to you as a publisher.

Some Tips on Using Hashtags

  • Use the appropriate and relevant tags
  • You can use, at most, 30 hashtags according to Instagram limits.
  • Many larger brands recommend only using 1-5 hashtags
  • While you grow your audience you’ll likely end up using more, which is okay. Overtime you’ll refine what’s working for you and what’s needed.
  • If you use a brand’s hashtag they’ll be able to find your lovely feed (if they are tracking their brand on Instagram that is) and make them aware that you exist
  • To get ideas and inspiration on what to post, do a hashtag search and see what photos come up.
  • If you’ve developed your own brand you can create a hashtag that’s specific to you and have your followers use this when you run contests, etc.

Section 4: How to Monetize Your Instagram Feed
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Outline the Value of What You Offer to Brands

One of the first things that bloggers do when they feel comfortable enough to start promoting their blog is to create a media kit. This will help when they want to connect with media and potential advertisers so they can quickly describe who they are what they offer.


For blogs we’ve created a PDF that you can fill out and turn into your own media kit/rate card. You can download it below.

If you’re a purely Instagram publisher, the rate card may look a little different, but we’ve outlined some of the important statistics to include when you create a media kit.

Sign up at the top of this page to get information on our webinar next month where we provide some of these tools.

Things to include in your media kit or rate card when promoting your Instagram property:

  • Who You Are
  • What You Believe In
  • Your Target Market and Audience: Wikipedia gives a great definition…“A target audience a specific group of people within the target market at which a product or the marketing message of a product is aimed (Kotler 2000). For example, if a company sells new diet programs for men with heart disease (target market), the communication may be aimed at those men but also perhaps at their spouses (target audience).”
  • Demographics
    • Gender: Are the majority of your followers male or female? What percentage?
    • Age Range: Break down the age groups and give percentages for each group
    • Occupation: Are they high school or college students or professionals in a specific industry?
  • Number of Followers
  • Sample photos of what you post

Note that I don’t include the ratios of followers to following. It’s a matter of engagement and not always the numbers. Of course the numbers will help you increase your engagement, but I would always choose someone with high engagement over someone who has high ratios.

[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h3″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”true” style=”font-family: Georgia, Serif;”]How to Know How Much to Charge Per Post[/x_custom_headline]

When it comes to blogs and other forms of advertising we can use so many tools to determine how to appropriately charge for a post. For blogs we can show the unique visits, page views, length of time on site, etc. We can use tools such as Google Analytics to see so many details, but it’s a little more challenging with Instagram. There are third party tools that will give you some insight on the rates at which people are following you, who’s following you and the number of comments and likes. Some of these things you can easily see on the Instagram account itself.

Post Calculator

After having many conversations with brands, we know that many fashion brands are looking for the number of followers on Instagram and on Twitter. Based on this we’ve developed a calculator tool that will allow you to determine how much you should charge per post. You can simply log in with your Instagram account and Twitter account (if you have one), enter the URL of your website and we automatically calculate how much to charge per post based on some of the factors that brands feel are important.

Note: We’ve had a few issues with the calculator working in Internet Explorer so if it does not output any results try using other browsers such as Safari, Firefox or Chrome to use the calculator.

Click here to Use the Instagram Post Calculator

Instagram post calculator

Instagram post calculator

How to Reach Out to Sponsors for Paid and Gifted Posts

There are several ways to reach out to sponsors or have sponsors reach out to you. This will definitely happen as you grow your following and create an Instagram account that they feel is aligned with their target market. Here are a few ways to reach out to sponsors:

  1. Be an ambassador for a brand if you truly identify yourself with their products and what they stand for. You may already be purchasing their goods/products and so it’s the right fit already. They don’t necessarily know you’re posing about their products, clothing etc. unless you use the right hashtags or tag that brand in your post. With over 300 million users you need to stand out somehow and the most appropriate way to do this is by tagging that brand when appropriate.
  2. Reach out via email to the brand manager. Be ready to produce your media kit, rates and what you accept so it makes it easy for them to work with you. We’ve started curating a list of brands that offer these opportunities, but may not be publishing it to their website. You can add to this list so other publishers know the opportunities available to them. Here’s the list.
  3. Sign up to sites that help with sponsored posts. In the next section we list the sites that help with rewarding and/or paying publishers. In these types of marketplaces many brands post the opportunities they have available and will collaborate with the best fit publishers.

Sites that Reward, Gift Items and Pay Publishers

  1. SocialNative:
  2. Shopping Links:
  3. WhatsBlog:
  4. RewardsStyle:
  5. Social Rewards:
  6. Klout:
  7. CrowdTap:

For our growing list of Publisher Rewards sites, click here. If we didn’t list one that you know of please submit one or add one in the comments below and we will add it to our list.

Experience with Social Native

Social Native did a great job with managing a promotion on Instagram by providing requirements, timeline and payment. Below are some screenshots and an example of our experience with Social Native.

Here’s our personal experience with a Social Native promotion. Here’s the timeline of communication and payment.
If you have any other suggestions to add to this list, please feel free to comment below or add it to this list and we’ll edit this guide to reflect your addition.

Campaign Goals

Brand Awareness

When you help a brand generate brand awareness it’s likely because they are new or maybe they’ve been around for a while, but most people don’t know they exist. Perhaps they’re a brand or boutique store that’s transitioning from reaching offline customers to online customers.

Either way, you can help a brand develop awareness and share with potential consumers what they have to offer.

When you work with a brand and they want to drive “Brand Awareness” you can start by asking them or even helping them with developing brand awareness.

  • Know who they are as a brand:
    • What do they represent?
    • What is the lifestyle that their buyers should identify with?
    • Who are their buyers?
    • If you are a good representative of their ideal customer, describe yourself and how you want to live your life. Describe your brand in 3 words or phrases.
  • Find Hashtags that Resonate with the Brand:
    Once you’ve described yourself in three words, search using those 3 words in the Instagram app and see if you identify any of those photos with your brand. If so, tap on the photo that resonates with you and see if there are additional hashtags that describe your brand.
  • Measure Results: Brand Mentions:
    Measuring brand awareness can be done in a few different ways. Google analytics can be used to measure traffic going to your website from Instagram, but when it comes to measuring the brand awareness on the Instagram platform itself you can use other tools such as Iconosquare to see if people are mentioning your brand in hashtags by using @[username] to mention the brand.
  • Measure Results: Hashtags:
    Are people using hashtags related to the brand? If so, how frequently is this happening and is it connected to specific campaign or contest?
  • Measure Results: Photo Tagging:
    Are people tagging photos of themselves using the brand’s products? If so, how frequently is this happening?

Website Visits

  • Add URL to Profile: Your URL does not have to be to the home page of the brand’s website. You can make it to a specific product page, a contest page, Facebook page, etc. If you use landing pages you’ll know that having a specific call to action is important.
  • Post a Photo with Specific CTA: Post a photo that contains a product where you can make a specific Call-To-Action. For example: Include in the description of the photo, “We are giving away 3 of these bracelets. Click link in our profile to enter.”
  • Create a Contest or Promotion: Create a promotion or contest that will encourage people to go to the brand’s website.
  • Landing Page: Since the interface for Instagram is limited, you can’t create buttons for people to click on to get to your website like the Call-To-Actions buttons you can create on Facebook. (Instagram may be changing this soon. See some of the articles referenced in the resources section at the end of this guide.)

The only way for you to drive your users from a post to your website is by telling them to do so in the description of the post. You can do this by telling them to visit the link in your profile for more information. If you’re running a promotion or a contest you can change the link on your profile and it can go specifically to the contest page. Or you can include a link that will go to a specific product.

  • Measure Results: Google Analytics: Measuring the traffic to your website is a lot more straightforward than measuring brand awareness. Using Google Analytics or another tool you can filter the time-frame in which you were running your campaign to drive more people to your website and see if there was an increase compared to other days. You’ll likely see a drop after you stop posting and telling people to click on the link in your profile so this is a good indicator that any changes in traffic that occurred during your campaign was a result of your deliberate efforts to drive traffic to your website. Go to the Tips section to see how you can tell if you’re driving traffic to your site from Instagram.
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Like direct mail you can get people to call a number or go directly to your store with a specific code to get a percentage off at the physical store. Generally, people are too lazy to go to a store for a specific sale to buy one shirt. Promoting physical events provides an experience to the individual that’s worth the effort to leave the house.

Section 5: Marketing Your Instagram Feed & DIY Public Relations
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As you start defining yourself and your brand on Instagram you’ll see a steadily growing follower base. If you post amazing photos you’ll likely see your account grow a lot more quickly than those who don’t put as much work or effort into their feed.

There are ways to gain more attention to your Instagram profile and the first way is simply publishing photos in the essence of Instagram. When you post these photos you are branding yourself to represent a specific style, way of life or expertise. Connecting with the brands that reflect who you are and what you believe in will be a natural fit and so you will want to focus on these companies or businesses.

We offer a list of brands that are also on Instagram that you can search through for collaborations and possibly create some high-profile relationships. You can use our tools as a start to connecting with the right brands.

Click here to access our search tools

Connecting with Other Publishers

Other publishers such as bloggers may be featuring stories about entrepreneurs, women in business or social media influencers. They can cover stories from those who are just starting out to those who are making 4-5 figures a month. Keep in mind that you can get your name out there with mentions and links back to your Instagram profile or website by connecting with other publishers and bloggers who are not necessarily in your field, but who write about what you’re trying to achieve or journey in business.

In the next section we share with you the places where you can pitch yourself.

Here’s a PDF that you can use a template or simply just use to track your activities as you work with other publishers.

Download the PR Tracking Tool Here

Places to Pitch Yourself

When it comes to getting mentions in publications or features you’ll see that it’s not about promoting your feed, but how you can add value to the reader or that specific audience. Unless you have a crazy newsworthy story, most journalists will not be interested. They are writing to give value to their readers and they are not around just to promote your brand. So how do you pitch yourself if it’s not to promote yourself?

Think about your own expertise in who you are and what you’re about. Are you developing an Instagram feed around yourself or a brand? When you understand what your expertise is you’ll be able to reference what you do and add your Instagram profile when they ask for your bio.

Here are the list of places to which you can subscribe and receive requests from media outlets and journalists:

  1. HARO (Help a Reporter Out):
  2. Source Bottle –
  3. PR Leads –
  4. Media Kitty –

Section 6: Business Resources & Tools

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How to Manage & Organize Your Business Relationships
Collaborations & Contact Management:

Online tools have allowed me to manage my business of several thousand users from the comfort of my own home. I don’t even pay for most of these tools.

Most of the time the brand will already have an idea of what they want when it comes to their campaign. You may be working with a third party or their PR team and they will just provide you with instructions. Other times you may need to help the brand, who isn’t well-versed in influencer campaigns, to create something from scratch.

Here’s what I use to manage collaborations and closing deals.

  • Hubspot: I use this mainly for tracking my communication. A lot happens via email and I need a good way to know when I last communicated with them or what I need to do next to follow up. You can create a well-oiled machine and process using tools like HubSpot.
  • SideKick (add-on to HubSpot): I use Sidekick to track emails. The only con for me is that I have to use Google Chrome to use this feature. Otherwise, it’s very helpful and definitely saves some headache understanding who you need to talk to next.

How to Create & Manage Campaigns

When you help brands develop campaigns, they may ask that you direct the user to their page, follow them, then have the user click on their link… This is nearly 5 steps that the user has to take in doing anything and far too much work in my opinion if you want engagement or if you want them to participate in a contest or campaign.

Quick Tip on How to Track Campaigns Using Free Tools

You can use, the URL shortening tool to traffic the traffic coming from your Instagram account. Unless someone has shared the URL on Twitter that it’s being spread around, it’s a good way to know who’s actually clicking on your links from the Instagram app.

Some Advanced Information for Campaign Tracking

Although this lead capture tool is not free, I want to share it with you so you can see how I make it easier for the user to get involved with the brand.

  1. I use LeadPages
  2. Because I host my own website, I can use the plugin to redirect the user to my domain and have a specific page dedicated to the Instagram campaign. It would look something like this:
  3. I generally set up an opt-in page from Leadpages that allows me to capture the user’s information if they want to enter the contest. This way, they don’t have to keep hopping around from one Instagram account or another. Brands may or may not provide you with a link, but if they don’t you can start tracking these things yourself to see how much influence you have with your followers to get them to actually perform some action when you ask them to.


  • Don’t make every post an advertisement of your product.
  • Don’t use your product images for your Instagram images. While this may be acceptable for Pinterest – the other visual social platform, people who use Instagram are looking for photos that inspire them.
  • If you’re running a campaign and you’re directing people to click on your profile link to your website, make sure that link goes to the campaign page. You don’t want people to get frustrated clicking on your profile link that goes to your main website and they have to search for the specific page you’re trying to promote.

Tools for Managing Your Business

Project Management: Teamwork
Teamwork is free up to two projects. You probably don’t need more than this to start and you can start managing what you need to do on a daily basis as well as prioritize and add due dates to reach your goals. It keeps my activities on track and keeps me completely organized and all information easily accessible.

Accounting: Waveapp
WaveApp allows me to import and connect my Paypal transactions so I know what’s going in and out. It’s a good way to manage your expenses so when it comes time to doing taxes you’ll have a good breakdown of your business costs. This is a good start to managing your books and it’s completely free.

Payments: Stripe and Paypal
You’ll have to accept payments in some form and using Stripe and Paypal have been the best ways. Most people will know how to use Paypal and it’s generally a requirement when working with Influencer networks to get paid.

Editorial Calendar: Trello
You saw some screenshots of Trello in the first section and how you can use it to manage your posts. This tool is free and a good start if you’d like to stay on a schedule. Staying on a schedule allows your followers to look forward to and expect your posts.

Scheduling: ScheduleOnce (Paid)
Using ScheduleOnce is like having an assistant and it helps to automate your appointments by connecting people with your real-time calendar. It allows you to send reminders, confirmations, instructions and blocks the time in your calendar, all without you having to do more than send the person the link to the scheduling tool.

Section 7: Tools & Tips for taking better Instagram photos
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As we improve this guide, we will be adding some information from Instagram publishers on how to take the best photos that invite engagement, more likes and more followers. Without using apps or additional equipment the best thing to use is natural light in front of a window or outside. It will make your photos look professional and vibrant without having to use filters or a lens that you would find on a professional DSLR camera.

Below are some articles you can reference that gives you a good starting point.

  1. Articles
  2. Apps

Section 8: 23 Instagram Post Ideas
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When you create a lifestyle, fashion or beauty feed you don’t have to post photos of just those things. You can post photos of what you do and what you love. This is what makes Instagram feeds unique and interesting. Here are 25 post ideas that you can reference if you get stuck.

A.    Styling

  1. How you wear a brand’s clothing
  2. The context and environment in which you wear the clothing
  3. Show the packaging
  4. Show the different outfits that you can create with the piece of clothing
  5. Show some cool places you go to while wearing the brand’s clothing

B.     Food

  1. Carefully arranged and colorful breakfast fruits
  2. A cool restaurant that you went to on an evening out
  3. A nice presentation of your meal
  4. Smoothies, especially the healthy ones, take great photos because of their vibrant colors
  5. Farmer’s market and the cute sundress you wore while picking out fresh veggies

C.     Travel & Experience

  1. What local spots have interesting themes or photo-worthy décor?
  2. Are you going on vacation? Snap some shots and queue up your content.
  3. Find places that we would envy and where we wish we were with you
  4. Beaches are a fun place to take photos with the natural light and fresh air. Show us your natural or summer looks.
  5. Are you at a resort that has an infinity pool or a swanky bar? Take a photo of yourself sipping a martini or just looking chic.

D.    Theme

  1. Holidays – Note these dates on your editorial calendar so you post something in celebration of these holidays.
  2. Seasons – Fashion Week defines their shows by season and location. And you can do the same with your Instagram account. 😉
  3. You may opt to do weekly or monthly themes on your account. This helps you decide on what to wear and do.

E.     Promotions

  1. Contests
  2. Giveaways
  3. Campaigns
  4. Sales
  5. Events

Post Idea Articles

Section 9: How-To Guides and Additional Tips
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When You’re Ready to Create a Full-Blown Blog

You can go either start a blog on hosted platforms like WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger, but if you’re serious about developing something bigger in the long run you should set a placeholder for your domain. Use the tool below to check if your domain name is available.

Domain Check Tool

We are updating an older version of starting your own blog. Please sign up here if you’d like to receive this update.

Connecting to Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter

When you connect your account to Tumblr, you’re basically blogging your Instagram posts to the Tumblr platform and hitting two birds with one stone so to speak. With the little time I’ve spent on Tumblr I know that they allow you to customize things even down to the HTML level. So it’s a good way to develop a “Blog” without actually putting any additional time into it.

Here’s the link to the video that shows you how to connect your Instagram account to Tumblr.

How to Measure Your Statistics and What it All Means

Within our database we’ve gathered data about publishers and brands, statistics from measuring their traffic, the organic keywords they rank for and the number of followers. We’ll be adding this information to the guide in the next few days. Please sign up in the bar at the top of this page if you’d like to receive this update.

How to Use Google Analytics to Check Traffic from Instagram

  1. On the left side navigation, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source Medium
  2. Then in the right frame under “Source/Medium”, click on “(direct)/(none)”
  3. Choose a Secondary dimension. Under the heading “Users”, select “Mobile (including Tablet)”

Screenshots are below.

Check Instagram Traffic in Google Analytics

Check Instagram Traffic in Google Analytics

Check Instagram Traffic in Google Analytics

Check Instagram Traffic in Google Analytics

Check Instagram Traffic in Google Analytics

Check Instagram Traffic in Google Analytics

If you’d like to know more about a particular topic we’ve discussed in this guide, please feel free to add them to the comments below and we’ll address them as a reply or on our webinar.

Section 10: Links & Resources
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Example Businesses

Articles Around the Growth of Instagram

Updates on Instagram

Tool Comparison Chart

Fashion PR Girl Iconosquare FriendorFollow
Follow Users Yes Yes Yes
Unfollow Users Yes Yes Yes
Who You’re Following Yes No Yes
Who’s Following You Yes Yes Yes
Mutual Yes No Yes
See Likes No Yes No

Tools to Manage Followers, Engagement and Growth

Tools Mentioned Throughout This Article



Project Management


Hosting for Websites


SiteGround: SiteGround

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Register Free to Download Resources
2016-10-31T13:42:33-07:00July 26th, 2015|Guides, How-To, Instagram|4 Comments

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  1. Kim (Shopping Links) August 2, 2015 at 4:04 am

    Thanks for the mention! A great guide and incredibly comprehensive. Well done x

  2. […] Guide: How to Get Instagram Famous […]

  3. Shayne November 10, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    What a comprehensive list. thank you for sharing these tips!

Comments are closed.