HOW TO GET PAID ON INSTAGRAM & WORK WITH BRANDS THAT YOU LOVE

HOW TO GET PAID ON INSTAGRAM & WORK WITH BRANDS THAT YOU LOVE

I thought I would write a blog post about how to get paid on Instagram and work with brands as an Influencer while also touching on the subject from a blogger’s perspective.

Although I call myself a blogger (I find the term ‘Influencer’ oh so cringey…), my main platform is Instagram. That’s where I started and that’s where I have most of my content and audience.

Instagram is also THE social media that brands want to build a presence on, so often times a brand’s social media marketing campaign will be solely focused on Instagram.

 

Why Would Brands Pay for Influencer Marketing?

 

Before I was dragged deep down into the world of the ‘Gram, I used to think it was insane that some brands were willing to pay thousands of pounds to top influencers for a simple photo.

BUT, as I’ve been in the industry a little longer I’ve realised that as crazy as it sounds, it’s a great price for the brand.

Traditional brands normally have an advertising budget of tens or even hundreds of thousands pounds for one single campaign. Sometimes the amount can even be hundreds of thousands for one single video clip.

This is understandable as it usually takes the work of multiple people to produce a successful campaign: a model, stylist, photographer/videographer, editor, etc.

 

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Plus, when the campaign is finished, the brands throw more money at newspapers, TV’s and billboards to advertise their campaign.

I looked a bit into these figures and found out that the cheapest form of advertisement that ELLE UK offers starts from $13 000 (a  weekly newsletter). A half page rollback ad is $140 000.

And what’s even more ridiculous, ELLE UK only boasts a monthly sale of 165k with an average readership of 714k.

 So, if the brand can get away with paying an influencer with 100k followers only $1300 and leave all the creative work up to them, it’s an amazing deal for the brand.

 

Okay, But How Do I Get Paid on Instagram? I Don’t Have Millions of Followers.

 

I’ve touched on the subject of getting paid on Instagram in my post about growing your Instagram previously, and it is a given that you need to have some kind of a following and decent content before even thinking of monetising your platform. However!

The amount of followers you need isn’t actually all that high – some influencer platforms accept influencers with only a  1-3k following (and pay fairly decently).

The reason for this is that your audience isn’t the only way which benefits a brand. Very often they are after marketing material, the content.

 

Read This Next: How to Grow Your Instagram in 2018

 

Paying $50 for someone with a 2k following on Instagram isn’t a big deal if the brand can then use the same image across their social medias, website, newsletter or even in stores.

I started getting sponsored on Instagram way back when I had less than 10k followers because my photography appealed to certain brands.

Some of the brands still use the imagery I created for them which is kind of funny – I’ve come across my pictures e.g. in Dunelm’s recent Back to School Campaign, for which I created content last year.

So, as long as you focus on creating good content and have high engagement rates (the lower your following the higher the engagement rate should be) you can still get paid on Instagram and work with great brands. 

 

Make Sure Your Profile Looks Super Pro 

 

Before applying to influencer campaigns you want to make sure that your profile actually looks presentable. Brands will screen all applicants before accepting or rejecting proposals, and sadly in this industry books always get judged by their cover. So, you want to make sure that your cover looks pretty darn good. 

 

Before applying, make sure that you can tick all these boxes:

 

  • Your profile has a clear focus – fashion, beauty, lifestyle, you name it! As long as your Instagram profile clearly revolves around your niche and ISN’T a personal account, you’ll be fine. This means that you should delete all random pictures that have nothing to do with the direction you want to take your profile to: say buy to cat pics, pics of random items and group pictures.
  • Make sure that you’re actively posting on Instagram. This means that you post at least 1-2 a week, but more is better (3-4 or even every day!)
  • Make sure that your profile aligns with the brands that you want to work with in the future. For example, if you want to work with high-end fashion brands in the future, have a classy, elegant and luxurious feel to your profile. If you can’t afford designer items now, simply emulate the luxe feeling with free props, such as beautiful flower gardens and grand buildings.
  • Make sure that your images are on point! Instagram is very saturated at the moment and it’s getting harder and harder to break into. There are people who are starting out with endless budgets, amazing work ethic and incredible pictures, so if you want to stand out, you need to pay extra attention to your image editing.

After all, brands only need a few seconds to decide if you have the right look for them or not, so getting the look right is often the key in landing collaborations, especially if you’re a smaller influencer. 

 

 

I edit all of my pics with Adobe Lightroom and use my own presets to achieve the look that I’m after. I find Adobe Lightroom a lot easier to use than mobile based apps, and it literally takes me about 5-10 minutes to edit a photo from start to finish now. 

Even though it can be a little bit tricky to get started with Lightroom, the end results are so much better than what I ever achieved with VSCO, Snapseed and other apps. After Lightroom, I also use FaceTune to make minor adjustments to my images, including whitening my teeth, smoothing my skin, and other things like that. 

Millenial Presets are the presets that I use for all my pictures on Instagram without fault. These presets transformed my Instagram game, increased my engagement and helped me secure amazing collaborations for a much better price than what I had previously been paid. Check them out if you’re interested in doing the same and taking your Instagram to the next level!

 

Use Influencer Platforms to Find Campaigns

 

The best way to find brands to work with and get paid on Instagram is through Influencer platforms. This is for two reasons:

1. Big brands almost always use platforms or agencies to find micro-influencers

2. Influencer platforms make it easier for you to negotiate your rates and actually get paid on Instagram

And you want to work with big brands. These brands are the same brands that will spend $80k on an advert in ELLE. They are already established and chances are that you already love and use their products.

By using Influencer platforms it’s easier for you to get into contact with brands that you actually want to support and endorse, and not some dodgy detox tea or “skinny me” coffee brands.

It’s great to support small, local brands but at the end of the day, it’s only fair to get paid for producing work. The reality is that a lot of smaller companies just don’t have the budget to pay for advertisement.

 

Dreaming Of Starting A Blog?

 

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You can easily find a list of influencer platforms by just googling them. The biggest ones out there in the UK at the moment are Takumi, Whalar, TRIBE and Indahash to name a few. US & Australia have their own set of Influencer platforms, and they should be relatively easy to find from Google.

These platforms boast clients such as Dior, French Connection, Lancôme, Swiss Air Lines, Starbucks, etc. You get the point – they will have brands that you love.

They all pay fairly decently too, and you can find their typical rates on their own websites. I recently had lunch with the CEO and founder of Takumi and he told me that they are now planning on increasing an influencer’s minimum rate from $50 to $85 per post as long as they have 1k followers.

Tribe offers $66 for a following of 3k. Not bad, right? If you are looking for influencer platforms that offer additional Twitter, Youtube and Facebook campaigns, try Webfluential. If you are a creator with a combined following of 10k, you can sign up here.

 

Build Relationships Through Email

 

Influencer platforms are not the only way to get paid on Instagram by a brand. When I first started paying more attention to my Instagram game, getting paid wasn’t really a priority for me: I wanted to get invited to all the events and be one of the cool kids!

As you start building a larger following online, brands and PR will find their way to you naturally. BUT, if you are still a small player, you might want to get in touch with them yourself first.

I started to network more “seriously” last summer about a month before London Fashion Week. Prior to this, I hadn’t really received any emails, nor had I attended any blogger events.

At this point I had around 19k followers and thought it would be a good idea to reach out to brands myself.

I went through quite a few bigger bloggers’ Instagram accounts and looked at who they were following. I typed ‘PR’ into the search bar and just wrote down the name of every single PR company that there was.

I then drafted a generic email asking if they had any clients that would like to work with me along with my media kit that includes relevant statistics.

 

Suggested: How To Get Invited To Fashion Week

 

Quite a few reached back and ta-da, a relationship was formed! You can use this emailing technique to reach out to brands directly too, if there is someone in particular who you would want to work with.

If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. (*End cheesy quote*)

If you are thinking of using this technique bear in mind that you most probably won’t get paid on Instagram for any opportunities that you get.

I would still encourage everyone to start reaching out to brands and PR if you’re just starting out with sponsorships, because this way they will get to know your work and you start building a reputation.

Sometimes you need to work for free before you can charge! Plus, it’s always good to have a few great brand names on your portfolio rather than having none!

 

How Do I Ask Brands to Pay Me Through Email?

 

Okay. Let’s imagine that you have successfully entered the stage where you have built a reputation and are getting a bunch of emails from brands on a weekly/daily basis.

They are great brands, but every single email is asking for you to collaborate on a gifting basis: a product in exchange for exposure on your platform.

The simplest thing you can do is to just stop accepting these requests, even if they are coming from brands that you love. Come on, how badly do you really want that £30 Estée Lauder foundation?

What I have learned to do is to just ask a simple question. You can start off your reply with the usual friendly Thank you for so much for your email, I would love to work with you! and then jump straight into What is your advertisement budget?. Simple yet effective.

 

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You can then proceed to explain that you have stopped working on a purely gifted basis. If the brands are interested in working with you, they will get back to you and ask for your rates.

You can then proceed to negotiate and adapt. If you consistently get rejected because the price you are asking for is too high, try asking for a lower price. The opposite is also true.

However, if you are still interested in trying out the product but are not sure if you would promote it for free, just say so! Tell the brand you would love to try the product, but that you cannot guarantee exposure in case you don’t enjoy it (obviously if you do enjoy it, feature it!).

You can also offer to feature the product on your Twitter, Snapchat or Instastories if you have a strong enough presence on those platforms.

Once you start receiving money directly from brands, you will need to start sending out invoices. It’s a good idea to always clarify all the terms of the campaign within the invoice so that nothing is left unclear.

If you can, try asking for the brand to pay you in advance or at least go 50:50 with you.

 

There is nothing more frustrating than chasing down payments from months and months ago. I once collaborated with a brand that was based in Italy and seriously considered suing them because their payment was late by months. My best friend is a lawyer and confirmed that the law was on my side.

However, it’s still such an unnecessary hassle to go through to get a pretty negligible amount of money and who knows, laws might be different in other countries with regards to these kinds of issues.

It’s not worth taking the risk. Luckily in my case, the company did eventually pay, but I learnt my lesson.

 

Dreaming Of Starting A Blog?

 

Don’t Be a Sell-Out

 

Once you build a reputation and start getting offers from various brands it can be tempting to say yes to everything. Let’s face it, it’s pretty appealing to get the same amount of money from promoting a product as you do working a few days in the office.

However, your career as an “influencer” will be very short lived if you take this path. To ensure that you won’t lose credibility with your audience, I would suggest that you do these two things:

1. Never ever promote something that you don’t believe in

2.  Stick to the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule)

The Pareto principle says that 80% of your results come from 20% of the work you put in.

It’s a general law that can be applied to anything in life e.g. You wear 20% of the clothes that you own 80% of the time;  The richest 20% of the world hold 80% of the world’s income, and so on.

 

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Therefore, in my opinion it would be a good idea to stick to having a maximum of 20% of your content sponsored on Instagram to protect your reputation, and leave the remaining 80% of content non-sponsored.

You can of course test how well your audience responds to sponsored content on your channel and make up your own laws.

These are my top tips on getting paid on Instagram and working with brands as an influencer. I hope that the article was informative and that you gained something new! Let me know if there is anything else that you would like to know and I will answer you in the comments!

 

How Much Do I Charge?

 

Updated June 2018 I started using these techniques when sourcing out paid content on Instagram around the time that I had 30k followers, and I’ve been making similar amounts of money ever since then. Even back then, I used to charge around $250 per post, and got paid that. However, my engagement was a lot better than what it is now.

I currently have around 51k followers on Instagram and charge anywhere from $200-$345. Sometimes I get offered more, sometimes less. The amount that I make from Instagram on a monthly basis differs, but it can be anywhere from a couple hundred pounds to $2000. This month, I made about $900.

Even at this point I prefer to work mostly through apps, because it takes away the hassle in payment and emailing brands constantly back and forth. However, I have heard that other people who have a similar following on the gram charge up to £500-£600 per post.

This can of course be tied to many different things, such as engagement. If you feel like you should be getting paid more than what you get offered from the apps then by any means, start reaching out to brands via email and negotiate better rates.

Also, I have to mention that if you are asked to post a video on Instagram, charge way more than what you would charge per picture. I would normally charge at least £500 per Instagram video sponsorship.

Personally, I’m quite happy with the rates that I get now, especially since my engagement isn’t amazing (about 2%).

I’m also working on reducing the number of sponsorships that I accept, and making more money through affiliate sales and my blog.

 

* Pin it for later! *

How To Make Money On Instagram & Get Paid - How to use social media to land brand collaborations and offer promotions and paid posts - my top tips for small businesses.

 

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HOW TO “GET BIG” ON INSTAGRAM – HOW I GOT 50K+ FOLLOWERS

HOW TO “GET BIG” ON INSTAGRAM – HOW I GOT 50K+ FOLLOWERS

How to grow your Instagram is one of the most asked questions I get online, so I thought it was about time I wrote a detailed post about it. I know that there are many similar posts on the Internet already, but I hope you learn someting new from me.

I don’t consider myself “Instagram famous”, but I have managed to grow my account to 51k by following a few key steps.

How To Grow Your Instagram Followers in 2018 - the best tips for bloggers and small businesses to get more exposure and opportunities on Instagram & social media.

Now, on to my tips on how to grow your Instagram in 2018!

 

Pick a Theme and Stick to It

 

When you have made the decision that you want to become more “serious” or professional on Instagram, you need to think of a theme. What is it that you can see yourself posting about for the next 2-5 years consistently? I say 2-5 years because your interests are likely to change within the span of a year.

My theme now is predominantly fashion, with some added lifestyle and travel aspects to it. When I was first toying with the idea of creating a curated feed on Instagram, I considered fitness. At that time, I went to the gym religiously 4x a week and was lifting heavy weights.

I thought Instagram would be the perfect platform to show off my progress. However, I wasn’t sure if my passion for fitness would last, and it hasn’t.

A theme can also mean a colour theme. For example, you could choose to only post neutral images, white images, etc., so that your feed looks uniform. Once you have picked your theme, don’t diverge from it. No one wants to see pictures of your cats or cousins if your theme is make-up, for example.

Post Good Quality Content: Focus on Image Editing

You don’t necessarily need a professional camera for Instagram, but you do need to learn how to edit your images. There will always different editing styles that are trending and popular, so if you’re aiming for engagement, this is something that you should take into consideration.

A couple of years the most popular pics used to be all about a white, minimalist background, whereas right now busy pictures with warm tones and  low saturation are doing crazy well. Some influencers who are great examples of this editing style include Ohh Couture and Isabella Thordsen.

A couple of years ago, most people would tell you to use VSCO, Snapseed and Facetune for editing, but right now it’s all about Adobe Lightroom. (Well, Facetune is still amazing!)

Lightroom is the one app that has made the BIGGEST difference to my editing because it simplifies the whole process – you can create your own presets, save them and just copy and paste them onto all your pictures. This way, you can edit literally hundreds of photos in under a minute.

The main difference between Lightroom and VSCO is that instead of slapping on a filter, you can actually fine tune all the colors, lights and point curves of the picture. It may sound like a similar process, but it makes a world of difference. I personally noticed that my engagement shot up a LOT after switching to Lightroom presets. 

Millenial Presets are the presets that I use for all my pictures on Instagram without fault. These presets transformed my Instagram game, increased my engagement and helped me secure amazing collaborations for a much better price than what I had previously been paid. Check them out if you’re interested in doing the same and taking your Instagram to the next level!

Although Lightroom is a bit trickier to use than VSCO or other editing apps that you can use on your phone, once you get the hang of it it will be easy peasy. Other than Lightroom, I still use Facetune to make minor improvements to my pics, like smoothing out my skin and whitening my teeth. 

Know Your Audience – Use Data to Your Advantage

 

To really understand how to grow your Instagram in 2018 you need to know your audience and give them more of what they want to see. There are two main sources for you to satisfy your thirst for analytics: Iconosquare and Instagram for Business.

Both tools give you a quick insight into what your most popular posts are, where your followers are from and what age they are. Both of them have their flaws as well.

How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018 | How To Grow Instagram Followers Organically 2018How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018 | How To Grow Instagram Followers Organically 2018How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018 | How To Grow Instagram Followers Organically 2018

How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018: Know your audience and analyse your data

The Instagram Business Account is free for anyone to get, and it gives you access to all data that you could possibly want, ranging from post reach to the age of your audience.

Having used both IconoSquare and the Instagram Analytics, I think Instagram’s own analytics are far superior. The only downside? Your growth stagnates. I am not sure if this is because Instagram’s algorithm doesn’t push your posts as much, or if people are just less inclined to follow a “business”.

How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018 | How To Grow Instagram Followers Organically 2018 How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018 | How To Grow Instagram Followers Organically 2018

How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018: Know your audience and analyse your data

IconoSquare is a separate platform which doesn’t affect your account’s growth rate at all. The analytics it provides are less comprehensive and you have to pay a yearly fee ($56) to join. It may be worth it if you don’t want to get Instagram’s analytics. They do have a free 14 day trial, so check them out.

Related: How I Earn Up To $2000 /mo On Instagram

 

Which ever platform you use, analyse which posts tend to do better on your page and post more of them (in moderation). For me, my best performing pictures are of my hair, but there’s only so many times a month that I want to upload a picture of my hair… (The image I’ve used is old data – I don’t use iconosquare anymore.)

Be Consistent

 

Consistency is key in everything you do in life. The Instagram algorithm favours users who post more than once a day. It has also been shown that bigger accounts that grow etremely fast post multiple times a day.

However, if you haven’t yet achieved celebrity status, I would advice against posting more than 2 times a day as it can be annoying to your followers and you may end up losing them instead. And remember to not post random pictures that don’t fit your theme. Quality over quantity, always.

Be Active

 

Newsflash, Instagram is all about engagement. If you want other people to take an interest in your life, you better take an interest in theirs first. Follow similar accounts to yours and engage with them on a daily basis.

Spend at least 5 minutes a day liking and commenting on pictures of the accounts that you follow, and the same amount of time on the explore page. You can even type a certain hashtag into the search bar (e.g. #londonblogger) and like all images that please your eye. When commenting, it is best to be genuine and not post spammy comments with a hundred heart emojis etc.

If the person who’s image you are commenting on has captioned their post, read it and try to comment on it. Over time, you form “insta-friendships” through this technique. The more active you are on the platform, the easier it is to grow your Instagram.

I hate to bring up the Instagram algorithm here, but the more active you are on Instagram, the more the algorithm pushes your posts. If it sees your account is engaging with other accounts, it will think “Oh, these accounts have a relationship. I should probably make it easy for them to see when the other account has posted.”

Social media brand builder Gretta van Reil (15 mil+ followers) has talked more about the impact of account relationships on how to grow your Instagram in a podcast here.

P.S. This goes witout saying in my opinion, but always reply to comments! There’s nothing more annoying than a blogger who doesn’t reply to comments, especially questions. Be polite.

 

 

Use Hashtags, But Do Your Research

 

How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018 | How To Grow Instagram Followers Organically 2018

How to grow your Instagram in 2018: Use hashtags

How to grow your Instagram in 2018 the fastest way? Make it easy for people to find you! Contrary to popular belief, the most popular hashtags are not the best hashtags to use.

To put things into context, if a hashtag is used 100 times in a minute, how many minutes will it take for your post to sink to the bottom of the hashtag page? Not very many. My tactic for discovering hashtags is to go to the accounts of people who post within the same niche as me (fashion) and take the tags that they use.

I like to mix very popular tags (100k+ images) with hashtags that are less popular. The best way for you to get noticed is if your image stays on the top9 pictures for that specific tag for a long time. Here, I’ve used the tag #minimalfashion and my picture remained in the top9 for the entire day.

If you are featuring any branded items in your post, make sure to tag the brand, and also use their hashtag if they have one. They might end up reposting your image, which gives you added exposure. Here, I’ve tagged Runaway the Label.

UPDATE: As of recently hashtags have stopped working for many accounts. Read “Shadow Banned on Instagram?” next to find out if your account has been banned from the explore page and if so, what to do about it.

Post During Prime Times

 

Timing is everything when posting on Instagram. Generally, the best times to post are around lunch or after 6 pm in the evening. There is a great app called Prime for Instagram, which allows you to see your personal prime times and engagement on your profile. If you have an Instagram business account, you can find the same data in your business insights.

This data has to be taken with a pinch of salt however. The Instagram algorithm works in mysterius ways, and sometimes you will find that alternative times work better for you. Keep testing and tweaking your content every now and then!

How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018 | How To Grow Instagram Followers Organically 2018 How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018 | How To Grow Instagram Followers Organically 2018

How to grow your Instagram in 2018: Post during prime times

Participate in Loop Giveaways

 

UPDATE: I have now participated in a Loop Giveaway myself and I don’t recommend them any more. Read about my experience here: The Pros and Cons of Instagram Loop Giveaways.

Do you ever see those amazing giveaways on your feed that promise the winner a MacBook, a pair of Louboutins AND $500 in cash? Yep, those are most likely loop giveaways.

Bloggers usually participate with up to 20 other bloggers and buy a very tempting prize for a single winner. Usually, participants need to follow every blogger that is in the loop, and tag a couple of friends in the comments.

I am not kidding when I say that I’ve seen accounts go up from 19k to more than 100k+ within the space of a year just by using this tactic. Another account went from 820k to 840k just from one giveaway.

I have personally been part of one loop giveaway, and my followers increased by 1k in one day. The way in which Instagram’s algorithm works is that when a lot of people start following you, the algorithm thinks: “Oh, this account is worth following.

I’d better push it to the explore page so other people can see it”, and so you get even more followers than people who actually participate in your giveaway.

Granted, some of those followers will be spam accounts which will lower your engagement and be annoying to get rid of. Loop giveaways are probably the most powerful way to increase your Instagram following, but that’s where the catch lies.

No one wants to tell you where they found the person hosting it. In my opinion, your best bet would be to organise one yourself, and email other bloggers with a similar following to see if they are interested in participating.

If you can’t find any loop giveaways, regular giveaways are a great idea too. On top of improving your follower count, it will help you create a community feeling on your page, and gives you a chance to give back to your amazing supporters.

So, How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018?

 

TL;DR: The basic rules of Instagram haven’t changed. Be active, post great content, post often, reach out to people and post at the right times. If your feed is aesthetically pleasing and you’re a great person to communicate with, your account will grow. All good things take time.

Did you learn any new tips on how to grow your Instagram in 2018?

I feel like this topic has been exhausted to its core, but I hope you got a few new ideas on how to grow your Instagram in 2018.

Good luck on your Insta journey! Do you have any other tips on how to grow your Instagram following that I should know of?

 

Dreaming Of Starting A Blog?

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How To Grow Your Instagram Followers in 2018 - the best tips for bloggers and small businesses to get more exposure and opportunities on Instagram & social media.

 

 

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Instagram Loop Giveaways – Are They Worth It?

Instagram Loop Giveaways – Are They Worth It?

This week I wanted to discuss something that has given me a bit of a headache over the past few weeks. If you’re following me on Instagram (here), you may have noticed that I recently participated in Instagram loop giveaways that increased the number of my followers quite significantly.

I went from having 43.6 k followers to now having 55.7k followers. I’ve talked about how to gain followers on Instagram previously and mentioned that Instagram loop giveaways were probably one of the most effective ways to increase your following.

Now that I’ve actually done an Instagram giveaway myself, I want to revisit the topic and give the pros and cons of the method.

 

What Are Instagram Loop Giveaways?

 

Instagram loop giveaways are essentially the same as a regular giveaway where a preselected prize is given to one winner.

The way in which Instagram giveaway differs from usual giveaways is that there is a catch – in order to win, the contestants have to follow many bloggers to be eligible for the prize. Instagram loop giveaways usually look something like this:

 

All the accounts that are participating in the giveaway are looped to one another through the captions on an image. It’s not unusual to have up to 40 accounts linked into one giveaway.

And yep, if you want to win the prize, you need to be following every account. The reason why people bother following all these accounts is because the prize is usually not short of amazing – you could win a new MacBook Pro, an iPhone 7, Loubutin shoes, a Camera AND Kylie Cosmetics all in the same giveaway.

 

Do People Actually Win Prizes from Instagram Loop Giveaways?

 

Yes, they do. However if you look at the numbers, it’s very unlikely that you will win. There are usually around 18,000 entrants on a big giveaway, making your chances of winning one in 18,000; or 0.0056%. Your odds are better than winning the lottery, but otherwise pretty slim!

 

Why Do Bloggers Participate in Instagram Loop Giveaways?

 

Instagram loop giveaways are of course done because bloggers and other public figures want to have a larger audience. It is incredibly hard to grow your following on Instagram nowadays as the platform is becoming increasingly like Facebook.

Instagram hasn’t yet reached the point where it would be completely impossible to grow without paying for sponsored ads, but it looks like that could be the future of the platform.

Instagram loop giveaways work well to boost your audience size for a while, but there are other things that you should consider before jumping into an Instagram giveaway straight away.

 

Instagram loop giveaways | how to grow your following on Instagram | Instagram growth hacks | Instagram tips

 

My Experience With A “Mega Instagram Loop Giveaway”

 

Before participating in an Instagram giveaway, I had about 43.6k followers. My growth had plateau’d on Instagram and I was only growing by about +30 per day.

I was eager to reach the 50k mark but with my stats then, it would have taken me 7 months to get there.  I had seen a couple of other accounts do loop giveaways and reaching 100k just by participating in them, so I thought I would give the giveaways a go.

I knew someone who hosted Instagram giveaways so I got in contact with them (they can be found here). The price that you need to pay to participate is quite obnoxious – it differs per giveaway but it’s usually in the hundreds of dollars.

Ridiculous, I know. Anyhow, I had come into some money that I wasn’t expecting just in time for the giveaway so in my mind, all stars aligned and I threw my money at the organisers. Within 3 days, I had gone from 43.6k to 58.8k followers, a total gain of 15.2k – success, right?

Wrong. These followers are only following you because they want to win the prize. After the giveaway, you start losing a LOT of followers, which can be quite scary. Up until now, I’ve lost about 3 k followers.

After the initial scary drop in my follower count, the negative growth seems to have stagnated and I’m now sitting at 55.7k, not growing but also not losing a significant amount of followers.

This is to be expected, of course, but it can be very disheartening to see, especially when you don’t know when it will end!

 

Instagram Loop Giveaways May Negatively Affect Your Engagement and Reach

 

During the loop giveaway my engagement was at an all time high – some of my pictures even got four thousand likes (my average is about 1100), but after the giveaway I noticed that both my reach and my engagement were down compared to what what they were before the Instagram giveaway.

It would be logical to assume that both these factors would grow by the same percentage as my following did, but that wasn’t the case.

The average number of people that my post reached before the giveaway was about 6k according to Instagram analytics, after the giveaway it’s about 5k, which makes no sense since I went up by about 35% in followers.

My pictures before the giveaway got about 1200 likes, now they get anywhere from 600-1000 which is very strange. I was expecting my reach and amount of likes to at least stay the same. Instead, they dropped.

 

 

Why is that? I’m afraid I can’t give you a straight answer to that, but my own speculation is that the Instagram algorithm is not in favour of accounts that keep losing followers, and therefore it limits the exposure of the pictures from those accounts.

The algorithm must also show my pictures to accounts that are not interested in my content, scroll through it and therefore negatively affect the exposure of my content on the platform after that. Well, this is my own theory, but it does explain what I’m going through.

I hope that both my reach and engagement grow as my account goes back to normal, but until then I can only hope for the best.

 

Instagram Loop Giveaways May Negatively Affect Your Sponsorships

 

Speaking of engagement, you might sabotage your chances of locking down sponsored work if your engagement drops too much. I work with various companies on my Instagram, mainly through influencer platforms and sometimes through email.

I had figured out that an Instagram giveaway could have some sort of an impact on my sponsorships before participating in one, but I was hoping that the effect wouldn’t be too large. What happened after the Instagram giveaway threw me off guard a little and left me at least £1000 worse off than I would have though.

Influencer platforms have access to all your data, so they see all suspicious behaviour that is happening with your account. When an account goes up by over 10k followers in one day, it’s instantly suspicious.

What happened in my case was that one of the platforms I was working through flagged my account because of this. The platform was one of the biggest sources of sponsored content for me, so I was pretty upset by what happened.

I emailed the company and they told me that I could try to get my account approved again in 30 days, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that!

It’s now been about 3 weeks so I can’t report back to you yet, but if my account was flagged for life because of this loop giveaway, there’s absolutely no point in participating in them – as I said, I’ve lost quite a bit of money already and if this trend continues then well, I’m screwed!

However, most brands are looking for influencers that have an engagement rate of at least 1%. If you are confident that your engagement will remain above this number, you may want to consider Instagram giveaways as a way of growing your account.

My engagement rate was about 2.6% before the giveaway, and it’s about 1.5% now. Therefore I would suggest that you steer away from loop giveaways if your engagement levels are any lower than what mine used to be.

 

How Often Should You Do Instagram Loop Giveaways?

 

As I said previously, the price to enter a successful Instagram giveaway is in the hundreds of dollars, so for that reason alone it would be wise to steer clear of participating in them too often.

But what is an acceptable amount of times if money is not an issue? I recently listened to an interesting podcast by one of Fohr Card’s founder’s, James (here – great series by the way!) where he discussed the subject.

He suggested that it is acceptable to participate in an Instagram giveaway about four times a year. Any more than that ‘reeks of desperation’ and may affect your sponsorships in a negative way.

James says that he would not work with creators who do any more giveaways than that, and it’s good to trust an industry expert when it comes to a subject like this.

With that being said, there is of course no need to participate in a loop giveaway to grow your following. If you can find ways to grow without doing them, well done. Keep doing what you’re doing.

 

Conclusion – Are Instagram Loop Giveaways Worth Participating in?

 

The short answer is yes and no. The price that you need to pay when participating is very big and you don’t get engaged followers out of it. The biggest negative factor for me was the way in which the loop affected my sponsorships.

It’s no secret that once you have a larger following, you can charge more. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to try it out, I’m not going to lie. However, I’ve lost more money than what it was worth because one of the platforms I worked through flagged my account.

Instagram giveaways might be good for you if you’re not already working with companies or if you have a very high engagement rate (4-5%). Otherwise I would highly encourage you to be careful about them.

If you’re finding it very hard to grow and want to move up in the “follower bracket”, you can try it out for yourself and see if your experience is any different to mine. Personally, I’ve decided to practice a little bit of patience and stop stressing so much about my follower count on the gram – I’m going to work with what I’ve got for now.

 

Dreaming Of Starting A Blog?

 

Update March 2018 – Why Doing An Instagram Loop Giveaway Is My Biggest Regret

 

It’s been about six months since I wrote this post and sadly my situation hasn’t improved – Instagram’s algorithm seems to have completely banned me, and I’m still losing followers.

I’m now sitting at 52k followers, which is still not bad, but my engagement is 1.5% – it used to be 3%. The drop in both my growth and engagement hurt for a while, but I’ve stopped caring now.

I’ve just accepted that I can’t win with Instagram anymore, and I’ve ventured out to blogging and YouTube. In a sense, I gave up.

I haven’t been working as much with brands as I used to, and what I said previously still rings true – I think I lost about £500-£1000 in sponsored content per month because I participated in an Instagram loop giveaway. So, don’t do it kids.

Other people who I’ve spoken to experienced a similar thing – I haven’t met anyone who has gained a positive impact from doing Instagram loop giveaways.

Well, I bet the accounts that have hundreds of thousands of followers did gain momentum from these posts, but that’s probably only 3% of people who have attempted giveaways.

So, if you’re planning on participating in Instagram loop giveaways, do it at your own risk. The damage may be irreversible.

 

Read These Next

How to Get Paid on Instagram and Work With Brands That You Love!

How To Grow Your Instagram in 2017

How To Get Invited To Fashion Week As A Blogger

 

Have any of you readers tried Instagram loop giveaways? What were your experiences? Let me know if you have any further questions down in the comments!

 

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Are you shadow banned on Instagram?

Are you shadow banned on Instagram?

This week on The Chic Pursuit I wanted to discuss something that has been causing quite a lot of frustration in the blogger community in the past weeks.

If you are a blogger yourself or very active on Instagram, chances are you have heard of this phenomenon already. I’m talking about the Instagram shadow ban. So, what is it and how can you find out if you have been shadow banned by Instagram?

 

Have you noticed changes in Instagram's algorithm keeps changing in 2017? The latest change has been the shadow ban, which Instagram have now been called out for. Are you a victim of the new ban? Read the full article to find out and what to do next.

 

Recent Changes In Instagram’s Algorithm – Hashtags Are Now Irrelevant?

 

I wrote about the changes in Instagram’s algorithm a few months back, where I described how bloggers have lost engagement on their pictures because Instagram limits the exposure of professional images (read: anything not taken on an iPhone).

The newest change to Instagram’s algorithm is that now, hashtags don’t work on these images either! What do I mean by this? Literally what I have just said. Hashtags may be irrelevant for professional quality images.

The phenomenon has been dubbed the “Instagram shadow ban” because Instagram has not come forward with it officially, and you won’t know you have been shadow banned unless you check your own profile through a different account.

 

What Is The Instagram Shadow Ban?

 

Women's fashion blogger The Chic Pursuit talks about the Instagram shadow ban and what to do if you have been shadow banned by Instagram

If you are serious about your Instagram and are using it for professional purposes, chances are you are using hashtags to increase your reach and audience. Every single “How to grow your Instagram” article on the web tells you that hashtags are important, and not just any hashtags, but specific and niche tags that take lots of time to research.

Except that they aren’t. With the new changes on Instagram, hashtags that are attached to images that are shot on a professional camera do not rank in the algorithm AT ALL according to some photographers.

The images cannot be found in the explore page by users who aren’t already following you. What do I mean? Check this out:

 

The Instagram shadow ban and what to do if you have been shadow banned by Instagram

(Images courtesy of PetaPixel)

Crazy huh? I know Instagram can do whatever it pleases with its own platform, but I can’t help but feel this is somehow unethical. Instagram has responded to the questions with an official statement here, however they don’t give any solution to the problem and are only referring to the issue as a bug with the algorithm.

I don’t believe it – my theory is that they are be doing it intentionally in the hopes of selling more ad space. Instagram’s solution to the shadow ban is that creators should focus on creating engaging, quality images, but how can quality be enough if your target audience can’t even find you?!

Hashtags used to be the “search engine” of Instagram, but it seems like creators have to come up with a new strategy to reach their desired audience.

 

How Can I Know If I’ve Been Instagram Shadow Banned?

 

If you have noticed a significantly lower engagement on your images in the past few weeks/month, chances are your account has the Instagram shadow ban. There are two methods for verifying your ban.

This website here is the quickest way to check if your images have been restricted, but reports say it might not be the most accurate method.

The best way to check is to create a second account, NOT follow your primary account and then go under the hashtags that you have recently used and try to see if you can spot your image. If you have been shadow banned, you can’t find your image under the tag!

The most accurate way is to repeat this with 3-5 acounts who don’t follow you.

 

What Can I Do To Remove The Instagram Shadow Ban?

 

Women's fashion blogger The Chic Pursuit talks about the Instagram shadow ban and what to do if you have been shadow banned by Instagram

 

Move Hashtags Into Captions

 

If you follow bloggers, you may have noticed that a few of them have moved from putting tags in the comments to putting them in the caption. Will this alleviate the ban? It’s your best bet. From personal experience, smaller, more niche tags work the best if you still want to rank in the algorithm.

Oh and, start using an iPhone for your images if you really want to get on Instagram’s good side. In Instagram’s eyes, Professional Images = Business Account = Limited Exposure.

 

Mix Up Your Hashtags

 

If you are constantly using a set of tags that you copy paste into your comments, try mixing them up. Check your tags to make sure none of them are broken or banned by Instagram. (If you click on a tag and see either a blank page or pictures flowing in a random order, don’t use the tag.)

 

Stop Using Bots, Engagement Pods and Third Party Apps

 

Other’s have also reported that any kind of account automation may lead to a shadow ban, so it is best to keep your interactions organic on the platform. Instagram’s guidelines are stricktly opposed to automation, and by giving up bots your account may return to normal in 24-48 h.

Sadly, Instagram may also interpret any third party service as a ‘bot’. If you use any app to measure your Instagram analytics (other than Instagram itself), consider stopping this. This also applies for engagement pods like those found on Telegram.

 

Seize Activity

 

An Instagram shadow ban may also be caused by over activity on the platform. If you’ve followed a lot of people at the same time or gone on a liking spree of 300 images per hour, chances are that Instagram will take note. Try holding back activity for 24-48 h and see if your account returns to normal.

 

What’s Next For Instagram?

 

So, what is the future of Instagram? Do you think it will become the next Facebook, which is basically a dead platform in the eyes of millennials? It’s a scary possibility for those of us who use it as their primary platform for their blogs.

All I can say is that the age-old saying which stock investors use now becomes relevant in social media: diversify, diversify, diversify. The more platforms you use, the safer you are. Also, your blog is the only platform you truly own as well, so invest in that.

Although, if you rely heavily on traffic from Google’s search engine – be wary. You have no control over that either! E-mail subscribers are what you should be aiming for.

 

Read These Next

How To Get Paid on Instagram and Work With Brands That You Love

Instagram Loop Giveaways – Are They Worth It?

How To Grow Your Instagram in 2018

 

Have you been Instagram shadow banned? Let me know in the comments!

Read more on the subject here: coverage by Alex Tooby and Plann That

 

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