How to become someone worth following on instagram


I love instagram, for me it’s a much cooler version of twitter because you have that strong social aspect but it’s all visual and i’m a visual person. I’ve been writing this post in my head for a while, and i’m pretty sure there are other articles similar to this out there but I feel it necessary to write one of my own.

This post will hopefully turn you into a better instagrammer and help you get more followers along the way. So here are a few do’s and don’ts. Use. don’t use. It’s completely up to you ; )

1. Only post the photos you’ve taken

People will probably unfollow you if you are constantly taking screen shots of Pinterest photos and posting them on instagram. Pinterest has it’s place and it’s not in instagram. If you want to show people all the cool things you’ve found on the internet start a Tumblr or a blog. Every now and then this is okay, but when it’s like 10 a day, people will start getting annoyed.

1.1. Also try use your phone only. Using your fancy camera and then uploading it to instagram is cheating ; )

2. Don’t overdo filters.

I know the instagram filters are limited, but they’re limited for a reason. There are a ton of other editing apps you can use, and it’s fine to use them but only put one filter on. Don’t go and make it super saturated, and add harsh vignetting, cracked effect and then on top of that put on heart shaped bokeh (you know what i’m saying). Go easy.

(My favourite filter is Valencia. It mutes the colours nicely but doesn’t change the photos appearance too much.)

3. Subject matter

There’s no right or wrong, just mix it up. Give me variety. People might unfollow you if you’re always taking a photo of your sandwich in the exact same angle, on the same table. Unless they’re amazing sandwiches, and look different everyday. New background, new plate, in a heart shape? Put in a little effort if you’re going to do it everyday. Same goes for your children, your cats, parts of your house, roads, beaches, sunsets, you and your friends pulling faces or smiling prettily at the camera. Don’t post it unless it’s really interesting, or really pops with colour!

4. Selfies (this probably should be under subject matter but deserves it’s own point)

I don’t mind a self photo once in a while. Yes you do have really pretty blue eyes. but i’m bored after the 7th photo of this. If you’re going to take self photos at least be wearing a really cool or crazy hat, or a nice outfit (but even this can get old if you do it everyday). It’s not a bad thing, just variety is king.

5. If you’re at a really cool cafe/restaurant use the geotags.

I’m sure i’ve done this tons of times before. You take a mysterious photo of an awesome place but don’t tell people where you are, maybe to get the reaction “Where the heck are you?” That looks amazing! What would be really cool and helpful is if you to tell me you’re at La Cigalle restaurant in this nice town in New Zealand, because I’m totally going to want to try that place if I ever end up there! It’s good for the place you’re supporting and it’s just sharing, caring and being nice! and it’s nice to be nice.

6. Use Hashtags.

But don’t over use them. You don’t need to hash tag #love #sunset #holiday #feelinggood #summer. Just write a little description rather, hashtags aren’t decorative, they’re functional! Use it at a wedding or event and tell your friends what the official hash tag is eg. #Harbourwedding. So later you can use it to see all your friend’s photos from the event all in one space. Or #catsofinstagram if you’re a cat lover.  You can go find pictures of other people’s cute cats as well as tag you’re own ; )

7. Be selective.

This probably goes for all of the above, but don’t just post a photo of anything and everything. It’s awesome when you’re travelling to take that epic photo of the Eiffel tower so we know you’re in Paris, and we’ll probably love that you shared a few of your amazing Parisian lunch’s and your favourite painting of all time, but live in the moment a bit. Save some of your trip photos for facebook. We don’t need to see a picture of every street, every sign, every person, every monument, every drink, every meal. You don’t HAVE to document your whole life on instagram, just give us a taste and leave us wanting more, so that when you do post it’s awesome and we’ll give you the time of day and probably give it a like* (Everybody likes a like).

8. Interact

Comment/like other people’s photos. I’ve “met” some of the nicest people on instagram who have the same taste in everything as me, and I feel like I know them so well : ) that if we ever meet we’ll feel like old friends!


A couple more tips for getting great pictures.

1. Make sure you always have a lot of light otherwise your photos will come out grainy and blurry (try not to use flash). On the screen press what you’d like to be correctly exposed, it really helps to light your subject correctly.

2. Take the photo with the normal iphone camera app before putting it into instagram. For a few reasons. 1: You’ll always have the original on your phone. 2: Sometimes instagram can get slow/buggy if you have too many apps open and it doesn’t take a clear photo because either you move or your subject moves. 3. It’s got a lot more functionality like zoom, better focus and exposure.

3. Use airplane mode: if you think you might regret sharing that picture, or if you just want to keep your instagrams private. Publish them on airplane mode, they will fail but will save a copy to your phone and then you can delete the failed photo off your feed afterwards

4. Be as still as possible and use the press-to-focus function to get those sharp pics.

5. Try different angles.

6. Keep your eyes peeled for cool opportunities.

7.  Have fun. I may make it seem like it’s a serious business, but it’s really just about sharing cool things, and meeting and interacting with cool people too!


ps. I’m @emmajanenation on instagram, and after writing this post you are welcome to call me out if I do any of the above. I’m pretty sure i’m guilty of a few of these! hee. ; )

Happy instagramming.

(Did you know the FIRST photo was uploaded to instagram two years ago today?! See what it was here.)

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Kathryn (Becoming you)
    July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Great Tips Emma Jane – i will be sure to come back and reread these….

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