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My secret journey to 10k Instagram followers as an artist | A real-time diary

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Hi there! So this is a different kind of post than I’d normally write.

I decided to keep an online diary to keep track of my goal to reach 10,000 active Instagram followers as a visual artist.

This is a secret post no one but a few people, who actually signed up to see this post, will see. I’m going to be vulnerable and show you my statistics. Feel free to comment with your own statistics so that we can keep each other motivated and exchange advice.

This is a safe space! :)

By the way, I use a lot of tables in this post so if you have trouble viewing the tables on your phone you can either turn your phone sideways or view this post on your computer!

How I will document my progress

At the end of every month, I’ll:

  • Document the number of followers in total
  • Document the number of accounts my page has reached
  • Document the number of accounts that engaged with my content
  • Document the number of content I posted (excluding stories)
  • I’ll analyze what happened and write it down
    • Things that went well, what went wrong, and anything that stood out to me

I put my statistics in a table so you’ll get an idea of how my account is doing.

My statistics before I began my journey:

I started my journey at the beginning of December 2022. Before I actively started to grow my account, at the end of November 2022, I had these statistics:

# of followers# accounts reached# accounts engaged

I didn’t get a chance to document the number of accounts that I reached and the number of accounts that engaged with my content so apologies for that.

My strategy:

After doing countless of research this is what most social media coaches tell you to do in order to grow your Instagram following:

  1. Reels, reels and reels
    • Reels are currently the one and only way to reach new people
  2. Keep ’em engaged in your stories
    • Keep your current following engaged by providing content in your stories
  3. Posts are secondary to reels
    • Single-image posts are more likely to hit the explore page but create less engagement
    • Carousel posts (multiple images in one post) create more engagement but aren’t as likely to hit the explore page

My strategy is to post about 3 reels a week (every other day). If I can’t post a reel I try to post a still image. I treat my stories as an inner circle peek into my artist-life. This includes lifestyle content and WIPs.

December 2022

I finished my first month of my journey to 10K active followers!

At the end of December, my statistics were:

# of followers# accounts reached# accounts engaged# content added
8 reels
1 image

Okay, so I actually gained quite some followers. It might not seem like a lot, but I’ve been stuck on 784 followers for months. So gaining 50 followers is a huge victory for me.

December Analysis

I uploaded 8 reels and 1 image. I noticed that the reels performed far better in terms of attracting new audience + engagement than my regular image post. My regular image post got 16 likes and my best-performing reels got 306 likes and 2,6K views.

This proves that the algorithm truly prefers reels over still images.

January 2023

I finished the second month of my journey!

At the end of January, my statistics were:

# of followers# accounts reached in past 30 days# accounts engaged in past 30 days# content added
6 reels
5 image

I gained a total of 12 followers!

# accounts reached

Scary how few existing followers I actually reach. But this does explain a lot!

January analysis

So I ”only” gained 12 followers. I think there are 2 main reasons for this:

  • I took a pretty big break
    • I uploaded nothing from December 15 to January 2
  • I uploaded 2 fewer reels
    • Instead of 8 last month

I actually got COVID on the morning of Christmas eve and had to recover for a while so I didn’t post anything new until the new year. Apparently, the algorithm doesn’t like this and it ”punishes” you by showing your first few new reels to fewer people.

I uploaded fewer reels but I did post more images. Again, the reels attract so many new people which is why my ”reached” statistic is still pretty high.

My ”engagement” statistic increased as well, and this has to do with the fact I uploaded more images. Conclusion: images = engagement from current audience and reels = reaching new people + new followers.

I have one reel that now has 3K views and 500+ likes, but only 2 comments. Another reel has almost 200 likes but 0 comments…

Since I want active followers my goal for next month is to find a way to reach my current audience and let them engage.

February 2023

At the end of February, my statistics were:

# of followers# accounts reached in past 30 days# accounts engaged in past 30 days# content added
6 reels
6 image

February Analysis

February is a few days shorter than other months so I have 1 or 2 content pieces I didn’t post. This month was very slow. I experimented a little bit with different kinds of audio on my reels.

Instead of following the rule of >4,000K – <10K audio I used audio that had much higher and much lower uses. Turns out, they didn’t do so well.

I’ve also come across some posts from social media ”experts” who said that the Instagram algorithm will be focussing more on static posts in the future.

Adam Mosseri, the guy who basically runs Instagram said that they may have pushed reels a little bit too hard in the past. Maybe this means that we don’t have to churn out reels anymore?

I did upload a reel in which I made an envelope for Valentine’s Day. This reel did super well and has the highest amount of likes I’ve ever gotten. You can check it out here.

I think it got so many likes because

  • I used a lot of hashtags I’ve never used before
  • It was a trending topic (posted on Valentine’s day itself)

It did well even though I used audio that had been used over 409K times!! The algorithm is so weird sometimes.

For next month I’ll be doing the same thing I have been doing. Maybe I’ll hop on some of the current trends!

March Analysis

I haven’t posted any content to Instagram as I’ve had terrible art block. The number of followers is exactly the same as in February.

I did gain a few followers but due to not posting I also lost a few followers which result in roughly the same amount of followers as last month. Interesting.

April analysis

I’m currently at 865 followers….. I’ve only published 1 reel. I am, however, killing it on Pinterest having 640K views this month! I’ve hit 792 followers in just a few months.

May analysis

Sorry.. I’m still on a hiatus! But I’m slowly uploading over at Youtube.

Something I noticed

I noticed that my reels pick up after a few days of posting. For example, I have a reel in which I sketched a character and it did nothing for about 4 days.. it got stuck on a few hundred views and almost no likes and comments. After 4 days, the views skyrocketed to almost 2K views + 300+ likes.

Don’t delete reels if you think they tanked: wait a few days or even weeks to see if it eventually picks up.

Something to keep in mind:

After spending the last few years on Instagram, I came to the conclusion that the number of followers you have should be seen as something organic. The number of followers won’t always increase. In fact, it grows but then decreases all the time. And then, it grows again.

As long as your audience will grow in the big picture, you’ll be fine. Don’t be upset if you see people unfollowing you. It’s absolutely normal.

You’re guaranteed to attract the following people:

  • People who will F4F (follow for follow)
    • These people will follow you as long as you follow them back. Eventually, they’ll unfollow you
  • People who follow in bulk
    • Some people will follow random accounts in the hope you’ll follow them back. You can check this by clicking on an account seconds after they’ve followed you and refreshing their page. If after every refresh their following account goes up, you’ll know they will eventually unfollow you too
  • People who actually enjoy your content
    • These are the people you want to attract
    • They may unfollow you eventually, but the time they spend following you was valuable and that’s what matters

Feel free to leave a comment with your statistics and strategy so we can learn from each other! :)

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Instazoom

    I loved how you document your progress at the end of each month. The tables you use are very helpful in understanding your account growth. It’s great to see how you focus on different metrics like total number of followers, accounts you reached, and accounts that engaged with your content. This detailed view really allows us to understand how your strategy is working and what actions you can take to improve.

    1. Laura M.

      I’m so happy you find this helpful!

  2. Ivan Lim

    Hey Laura,I’m initially inspired by your Pinterest board and signed up your email letter, and now I’m here, reading some quality stuff, thanks you for your documentation of the journey for Instagram! Also can you share your journey with Pinterest in the future? looking forward for your future content 😊.

    1. Laura M.

      Hey Ivan! I’ll start sharing my Pinterest journey as well :) Anything in particular you want to know that would be helpful?

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