I don't know about you, but I'm tired of hearing some of the same old jargon from people online who claim that all you need to make it on Instagram is to take good pictures and post consistently. Yes, for sure, but do you really think it's that easy?
Instagram, if you're serious about it, is a full-time job. It's a game, and as fashion and lifestyle blogger Ami Klinker with over 30,000 followers tells us, "if you don't keep up, you're left behind."
Ami is a Chicago-based blogger who treats Instagram like a business. Her Feed is full of her personal style, travel shots, and other day-to-day things that inspire her. She blogs about her life and all its happenings at Klinkerbell, an extended version of her Instagram account where she writes about beauty, fashion, and even has an online store where she sells some of her clothes.
I asked Ami about some of her best tips and tricks for using Instagram. She shared with Gadget Hacks her advice on building and maintaining a seamless and influential Instagram account. We edited the chat below for clarity.
Bettina Mangiaracina: I remember looking at your account a couple of years ago and I noticed you took some really cool, edgy fashion photos. When I went to check out your account again, I was shocked. Your account grew overnight. What happened?
Ami Klinker: Haha, yeah. I was reposted by a brand that had almost a million followers. That's really where I got a kick start. Before that, I had like 1,000 followers. I realized that there was a method to gaining more followers on Instagram. Over time, I just kept getting better and better at it.
BM: So what did you have to do to be reposted by this major brand?
AK: I was truly not even trying to get reposted. It was never even a thought that crossed my mind. It was this clothing brand called UNIF. They are like a really grungy, punk nineties brand and they're also obsessed with dogs. I just so happened to post a selfie of me wearing one of their sports bras and my dog was licking my face in the photo. I think that was the right formula for them because my dog, she's like a completely black dog and UNIF is obsessed with black pugs. And they reposted me.
AK: I woke up the next morning, and all these people had just started following me. That's when I realized that if you can get reposted by brands that have big followings, more people follow you. So I started paying attention to what brands do a lot of user reposts, and I would start making photos similar to their aesthetic.
BM: So you went looking for brands to match yours?
AK: Exactly. Once I started doing that, I was getting reposted about once a month. I kept that up for awhile until I started growing more organically without needing help from other brand's following.
BM: That's amazing. I think it would've taken me a long time to figure something like that out.
AK: It was just by chance. I also realized while doing this that engaging with people was important too. So while I was trying to get people to repost me, I would go to these brand's accounts or other bloggers who had huge followings, and I would go to who was following them and go through their followers and see who they followed. I just started engaging with all of them. It was really time-consuming up front, but it worked.
BM: How many hours a day do you spend on Instagram?
AK: Ok, so on the iPhone there's a section called "battery," and it will show you the battery usage, like how long in the past 24 hours and past seven days you've used an application. I'm looking right now, and in the past 24 hours, I've been on Instagram for two of those hours. In the past seven days, I've used 8.3 hours of my battery on Instagram. So that's about 1-2 hours a day on Instagram. That's a lot.
AK: Since Facebook bought Instagram, their algorithm has changed a lot, and it screwed over a lot of people. Now, you have to become more creative. It's all about engagement. The more you interact with your followers, the more likely you'll show up in their Feed. Now Feed isn't in chronological order but based off of how much you interact with a follower. I have to spend even more time now engaging with my followers. I'll go through my own followers' lists and like their photos, comment on their photos ... I spend a good 30 minutes a day doing that so I can try and get back on their Feed, so I can try and get my engagement back up.
BM: What phone do you use to do all this?
AK: I have an iPhone 6s, but as far as for my photos, my boyfriend has an iPhone 7, so I take my photos on that. I am so loyal to the iPhone. When I get a chance to upgrade my iPhone 6s, I'm going to get the 7 Plus just for the fact that it has an amazing camera!
BM: Do you use any apps alongside Instagram? Like VSCO or another photo-editing app?
AK: I use the iPhone Photos app to straighten and crop my photos. Then I'll go into VSCO. I usually use the A6 filter every single time so that I can keep that cohesive look to my photos. Then I'll adjust the exposure and sharpen it in there. I'll also use Snapseed for more fine tuning.
BM: Do you use Snapseed for its blurring or healing tools?
AK: Yeah, I usually use it because they have brushes you can use for saturation. I have a darker Instagram Feed, it's pretty black and white with random color, so I'll use the saturation brush to kinda gold-out the colors.
BM: Do you take photos within VSCO or just edit them?
AK: I just edit them. I have a friend who takes photos within VSCO, but I'm just a creature of habit, and I'm so used to the camera on the iPhone. I know how it works and I don't feel like learning something new. If I get a really good, crisp photo, I won't even need to edit it within VSCO.
BM: Do you use apps alongside Instagram to help with engagement, like hashtag apps or anything else?
AK: I've found certain hashtags work best for me, and I'll just keep them in my notes app and then copy and paste them into my photos. I am in a couple closed Facebook groups about Instagram. They'll post updates about Instagram, suggestions, ways to increase engagement, so that's helped a lot.
BM: Do you have any tips on using Instagram Stories? It's such a new platform, and there are so many things we haven't figured out yet.
AK: The thing that I found the most useful is hashtags. I'll hashtag relevant tags and then shrink it itty-bitty tiny, so you don't even see them. If you go to search #fashion, at the top, you'll see all the Stories with that hashtag. If you do this, you'll get a substantial amount of more views on that Story versus the ones you don't hashtag. I've also noticed videos of you talking to your followers are more likely to get people to watch your next Story.
BM: Lastly, who are your top three Instagram accounts to follow?
Follow Ami @klinkerbell on Instagram to see what look she is rocking next!
Follow me on Instagram @b3t.tina to see how I'm currently using these tips and tricks on my own profile page!
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Screenshots by Bettina Mangiaracina/Gadget Hacks