Don't Make These Seven Instagram Mistakes

Don't Make These Seven Instagram Mistakes

Instagram is a great way to promote your photography business. Not only can you make yourself seen by potential clients in your area, you can also be seen by millions of users across the world. With more than 300 million users though, it can be easy to get lost within the massive crowd. There are a lot of things that you can do to help grow your following, but there are also a lot of things you can do to hurt your following. If you want your business to be the next Instagram sensation, then don't make these seven Instagram mistakes.

1. Having a private account

I’ll never understand this. You have an account setup for your photography business so that you can show off your work, then you set the page to private so that no one can see it? The majority of users are not going to send you a follow request just to see if they like what you are posting. So what ends up happening is you only get followed by current clients, or your friends and family. If you are posting images to your page that you don't want everyone to see, then you shouldn't be posting them to your business account. There is always the option of having two separate accounts, one for business and one for personal, but I don’t think that's the best route to go. Instead, post all your images to your business account and only show things that you are ok with everyone seeing.

2. Posting too many personal images

You have a business account for a reason. To show people your professional work and abilities. When people click to view your profile, that’s what they are going to expect to see. They don’t plan to see a bunch of cell phone images of your food, sunsets, and pets. If you have a business page, then you need to treat it like one. If all you want to post is cell phone snapshots, then make your account strictly a personal account. There is nothing wrong with wanting to post snapshots to Instagram, but it becomes a problem when those snapshots become associated with you professional business. There is also nothing wrong with posting personal images to your business page. These personal images make you more real and relatable and can help build a stronger following. The key here is to make sure the number of professional images strongly outweigh the snapshots.

3. No location in your profile

I see this mistake not only within Instagram, but also on people's websites. You have got to tell people where you are located. Not only does this tell potential clients that you are a valid option, but you will also get followed by people just because you’re a professional in their home town. If you want to segregate yourself as the traveling destination photographer, then say you’re a destination photographer located in XYZ. That way people know you will travel and they also know how far you will have to travel. This will also save you some time answering questions. I get asked a few times a month where I’m located, and I already have my location as part of my profile.

You need to tell people where you are and what you do

4. Using multiple images to create a large gallery image

Not only does this not bring in new followers, it will cause a lot of people to unfollow you. The majority of people following you will only see your images as they come across in their news feed. When you post six small images to create one large gallery image, your followers don’t see the large galley image, they only see the six small images. This causes frustration as they have to scroll through all these images in their feed. There are a few users who do this well, but you have to make sure that each individual image can stand on its own. The majority of the time though, each image alone doesn't make sense. When posting images like this, you also limit yourself in how you post because posting a single image causes your entire gallery to fall out of alignment.    

The left is how it looks in the gallery view, but the right is how it looks in a followers feed.

5. Too many posts per day

This kind of ties in with the above, but followers will get frustrated if their feed is getting clogged up with only your images. I have seen users who post 10–20 images, one right after the other. If you want to post more than once a day, that's totally fine, but you need to space each post apart by at least an hour or two. This gives other people time to post so that your images don't show up right besides each other in your followers' feed.

6. Not being consistent

This is a big one. People need to know what they are going to get if they follow you. If you’re a portrait photographer and all of a sudden you start to only post landscape images, you will start losing followers. Likewise, if a user looks at your account and can't figure out what type of work they can expect, they may lose interest in following you. It’s very similar to building a portfolio, you will do a lot better picking a single genre then you will by trying to be a master of all trades. Similar to posting personal images, it’s completely fine to post different things, as long as the majority of your work is consistent. I love to do light painting images so when I post these, I make sure there are a handful of wedding images between them (or I post wedding images that have light painting in them).

You can see that I post a couple different types of images, but they all have a consistent look and feel.

7. Don’t beg for likes and follows

This includes commenting on images asking them to follow you, tagging people in comments asking for likes, and any other begging process. Not only does it not work, but it will just get you blocked by almost every person you try it on.

just don't do it...

What do you think? Do you make any of these Instagram mistakes? What do you think the biggest Instagram mistake is?

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37 Comments

Andrew Griswold's picture

I make all of these mistakes...ugh! ; )

Kyle Ford's picture

This guy

Jason Vinson's picture

such a rule breaker!

Andrew Griswold's picture

Making my own way man! Actually my email inside my bio has been a HUGE benefit too. Easily getting my contacts I would have never have gotten before. These are great tips though Jason. You are obviously doing something right on your page right now.

Eric Pare's picture

@the_gris is instagram. He can do whatever he wants :::))

Wayne Denny's picture

I agree with pretty much all of these, especially #6. I've been on a landscape kick lately (especially after a trip to Iceland) with about my last 25 pics being landscape related and pretty much doubling my followers (all the way to 400 lol) in the past month & half. But I know as soon as I go back to portraits, I'll start losing people left & right. Oh well, can't win 'em all...

I think you're right, and I think that's the point of #6. If you aren't consistent, the general population of your followers will be divided on what content they like, so you'll never be able to please everyone / you'll get people unfollowing.

olivier borgognon's picture

Agree, am in accordance with all this and none of these elements. It is very much some common sense to me, but it might not be for everyone, and this could clearly make things more complicated.

I'd add that efficient tagging and hash tagging helps be "explored".

Ah, good ol' Flickr lingo. I'd just add that while maybe it's a detail, the hashtags themselves are not what get you "explored," it's that they allow users to search / find your photos, gaining more likes, which in turn makes them more likely to be explored.

Senen Llanos's picture

Im happy to read this. doing good so far

Sorta related, don't open a Twitter account just for your Instagram auto-tweets.

Dani Diamond's picture

Solid article.

Jason Vinson's picture

thanks Dani

Ryan Singleton's picture

Very true I know I've unfollowed people because of number 2 and 5

Chris Adval's picture

I kind of get #6, but what if your account is specifically yourself as the brand like Chase Jarvis's instagram as he does shoot commercial/advertising work which is pretty diverse genre itself, or do you recommend we create 1 genre dedicated instagram account for each genre we shoot or focus in at least a lot of our energy?

Jason Vinson's picture

I think there are always exceptions and if you can make it work then rock on. I definitely suggest to only have a single account for everything though.

Martin Van Londen's picture

Closes browser, opens Instagram, adds location to profile. Me RN.

Duke Pham's picture

Thanks for sharing

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Maybe it´s just me, but if people post their coffee (with or w/o "latte art") I need exceptionally good reasons not to unfollow.

Jason Vinson's picture

agree... unless its followed by a story of a client meeting or explanation as to whats going on. If its just coffee art then bye bye. (unless the majority of their posts are epic)

Jeff Carpenter's picture

I think along with #5, not posting enough can really hurt you too. I often forget to post for days on end and it is reflected in my (lack of) followers. Great article though and definitely a lot of great points!

Jason Vinson's picture

totally agree. I try and post daily (minus the weekends) and can see a drop in engagement when I take a few days off.

Eric Dejuan's picture

Consistency is one of my biggest fall backs.

Chris Reale's picture

Disagree with #4, to an extent. Chien Chi Chang , a Magnum photographer uses this to great effect. I would agree if you posted 8 images that turn into one large picture of your cat that that would be useless..

Jason Vinson's picture

totally! like i said, their are people that do it well. I think in the case Chien, his work is so above average that you he could do whatever he wants and and still rake in the follows.

Drew Pluta's picture

None of this matters, people will still screen grab your images, crop out your watermark, and repost your work, and you'll never get any traffic or recognition for it. Modern social media is mostly a video game, something to do with your hands and eyes, not so much your brain.

Jason Vinson's picture

I don't think I'm following the point you are trying to make here?

Joakim Drake's picture

I have to have a pretty good reason not to unfollow someone posting 9 images in a row to form a gallery image. Thanks for the tips, Jason!

Anonymous's picture

Great article Jason. With #1, I was always under the assumption that if people can see your photos, they wont necessarily follow you. I thought that the "mystery" would be incentive to click the follow button. Thoughts?

Jason Vinson's picture

There just isn't enough there to cause a enough mystery in my opinion. There are to many private accounts that have nothing to offer and a user has so many non-private account to choose from that it's to easy to move along to the next account.