I get a lot of questions asking how I became successful on Instagram and grew my following. Short answer is a lot of hard work and consistency. But really it took a lot of time figuring out what worked, what I was passionate about, what kinds of musicians inspired me, who my audience would be etc.
During high-school I didn’t have Instagram. It confused me, just like twitter, so I never touched it. During my second year of uni I experimented with it, uploading pictures of food I made, the beach, and a few selfies. But then, I discovered the world of Instagram flute players! I spent days just scrolling through katieflute’s account, looking at the beautiful engraved lip plates, gold flutes, and how her pictures were sometimes based on holidays or events, and I was inspired. I tried to find an account like that for clarinet, but insta was dominated by flutes and string players.
I remember thinking about whether or not I could create a page like that. I had no experience with photography, didn’t know what the purpose of a hashtag was, and was mainly scared of people I knew making fun of what I was doing, which was why I had also not created a YouTube channel. At this point I only had 40 followers, but decided to give it a shot. I went home, and took a photo of my clarinet next to my Stravinsky 3 Pieces sheet music. I took photos of all of my instruments, took selfies with my clarinet, and my followers started creeping up. I googled how to become successful on Instagram, found out what hashtags did and how many to use, how often to post etc.
For years and years, I wanted to create a multitrack video, but didn’t know how. I figured out how to use acapella, and recorded the Pretty Little Liars theme. The video did particularly well in comparison to my other posts, so I knew I needed to do more of these. Around this time, I also figured out how to gliss. I posted a video of me playing Rhapsody in Blue and it “blew up” more than I was used to.
I continued posting photos and video over the next year, and my follower count kept growing. I had the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians in the Global Insta Orchestra, and got some cool opportunities like being asked to record something for a soundtrack, and having someone draw my profile picture
The next year was really hard as uni was really full on. I didn’t have time to record on the acapella app, because those videos usually took hours, along with a lot of frustration. There were times where I didn’t post for a couple of months because I was so overwhelmed with study, which led to my follower count slowly decreasing.
I finally graduated from university, so could get back into what I loved most! I knew how frustrated I used to get with acapella app, so needed a new way to record videos. Luckily, my awesome boyfriend is a pro with audio and video recording, so helped me out with getting me a new microphone that wasn’t made for a snare drum, setting up my interface properly, and my best friend Alex suggested I start using Adobe products to edit, so I started using Premiere Pro for my videos. The first few videos I recorded in this was made me soooo excited. I wanted just record 24/7 as it was so much easier, less time consuming and better quality than acapella. The increase in quality led to more people noticing my content, and me being able to produce more of it. There were rumours going around that the Instagram algorithm changed and it was a lot harder to grow followers, but really it is just trying to get rid of spam accounts. I was consistent with what and when I posted, and now I am where I am today.
So, here’s my 2 cents of how to create a more successful account:
1. Know who your audience is. Mine is young musicians and clarinetists. Choose who you want to appeal to, and cater your posts to your audience
2. Have a theme. I always used to be like “I can’t have my account be the same colours, so I don’t have a theme.” False. My theme is clarinet. If your post 3 clarinet related pictures, then a picture of your dog and you at the gym, those followers your gained through your clarinet posts will leave. If you want to post pictures of your dog or something, create a separate personal account.
3. Be consistent. There are plenty of musician instagramers I used to look up to who I kinda forgot about because they haven’t posted in months. You need to create a community of people who know what to expect, and will look forward to your content. I upload once a day, but pick something sustainable for you. Whether that be twice a day, or three times a week.
4. Don’t buy followers. Just don’t. I can tell when someone has bought followers as I’ve never heard of them, but for some reason they have a massive following. You will get spammy comments, and it’s really easy to look up follower growth of any account online to see who has bought followers. Not a good look.
5. Engage. Comment on posts of others when you like their content. If you leave a nice comment, they might want to see who you are and give you a follow. Reply to the people who comment on your posts. If someone takes time out of their day to say something nice, thank them.
6. Hashtags. When you’re getting started, these are your best friends. 12-18 is a good number, but aren’t as important when your account becomes more successful.
7. Collaborate. If there is another account you really like that has a similar follower count to you, ask them if they want to collab with you! That way you get a few of each other’s followers, and help build each other up!
8. Don’t compare yourself to others. Something I’m still working on. Sometimes I push myself to get more followers than someone else, and need to tell myself “hang on Laura, that person is the Principal Clarinet of X Orchestra”. We are all on our own journeys that are completely different, so just keep doing what you’re doing.
9. Follow for follow does not work. Ever.
10. Do what makes you happy! If you hate what you’re doing, you won’t want to create content. Find something that you love doing that you can share with the world, and I’m sure other people will be inspired by your work.
Please remember, numbers do not define who you are as a person. This is just how I grew my account, and tips I would give to 2016 Laura.