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whatminjacodes [she/they]
whatminjacodes [she/they]

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How I build my social media brand in 2021 - after having two accounts with over 10k followers

I've been an active Instagram user for about 6 years. I started posting on Instagram because photographing has been a dear hobby of mine and I felt I don't do it enough. I wanted a place where I could post pictures with low effort and Instagram seemed like a perfect place for that.

I've had two accounts that both have had over 10k followers. I posted flat lay pictures of my life in the first account and the second (and current) account is gaming related, where I talk about games and post pictures of my collection.

Two screenshots showing examples of what type of pictures I take and post in Instagram
Examples of what types of pictures I have been posting on my two Instagram accounts.

I've been feeling I want to create a new account at some point and decided to write how I start the planning process. Remember that this is what works for me and something else might be more suitable for you.

For the sake of this blog post, let's assume I'm creating a tech/programming related Instagram account. Same tips can still be applied to different themed accounts too.

By the way, there's a summary in the end for people who just want TLDR!

Deciding the subject of the account

There's actually a lot of planning to do even before you log in to the account for the first time! I want to have a good plan of what I want to achieve before I even create the account. Then it's easier to get started and stay on topic.

I start by thinking about what my goals are and why do I actually want to create an account. Who am I posting for and why? Becoming famous isn't usually a good goal :) You need to narrow down the subject and actually have meaningful content.

It's easier to think of a higher level first and then start going into more details after that:

  • do I want to be an expert on something?
  • do I want to educate or entertain others?
  • do I want to promote some product or my own company (and get clients by doing that)?

For example, if I would like to brand myself as an expert on some field and do thought leadership on Instagram, I could then post about the chosen field, promote blog posts that I have written or show pictures or videos about when I'm giving a talk.

If I choose to educate people, I have to narrow it down a bit. I could be educating people about, for example, native Android development. I could then choose if I want to create beginner tutorials to help people get started or maybe do something intermediate or advanced so I could also learn more myself while educating others.

If I was a freelancer, it could be beneficial to promote what I do. Display different projects I have created and try to convince possible clients they want to use my services.

There's many different ways to plan posts but usually it's a good idea to (mostly) stick to what you have decided. If you first post a tutorial about native Android and then next day about web development, it can drive away your followers because the posts are only sometimes relevant to them. You can't please everyone so better to choose who you want to interact with and why.

Get inspiration from others

After deciding the subject of my account, I usually try to find people who already post something similar. I go through hashtags and check different profiles that I find.

I don't mean you should copy everything that others do, but getting some inspiration is never bad! I might like the way someone takes pictures or what type of editing they use and write it down. Or I might like the way someone uses Instagram features like carousel (a post with multiple photos or videos that can be viewed by swiping left) for posting tips about some subject.

I plan what types of pictures I might take, so it gets easier to actually take those pictures when it's time to create a post.


Using hashtags is basically a requirement for your account getting found, unless you guide traffic from other sources like Youtube or a blog! You can currently use up to 30 hashtags/picture and it's up to you how many you want to use. Sometimes I only use 10 or so and sometimes I can think of all 30 tags that are relevant to the picture.

I feel that using a mix of popular and smaller hashtags works well. If you only use hashtags with millions of pictures, it can be difficult to get noticed from the mass. That's why I only use a couple of popular tags (because after all you could get lucky and get featured in these tags!) and mostly use hashtags that have less than million published pictures. I also add some that have less than 100k published posts, because these can drive followers to your account in the long run.

Example of how searching different hashtags you can find tags that have less posted pictures. "Developer" tag has over 3 million published photos and "developers" have less than one million.
Example of how you can find hashtags that have less published posts. "Developer" has over 3 million, but "developers" have less than million.

While going through accounts that have similar content as what I want to post, I also write down what hashtags they use. Then I write the ones I like in the notebook in my phone. It's easy to copy/paste them from there whenever I'm posting a new picture.

The hashtags should be related to the picture you have posted, so don't use for example #kotlin in a post that has nothing to do with Kotlin or native Android development. There's an option to report posts that use hashtags that are not related so if you get reported often, it might affect how much visibility you get in the platform.

General things to consider


I have found having a posting schedule works for me, because without it I know I will forget to publish anything. I usually post a picture every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This has been a suitable schedule for me without Instagram feeling like a burden. Though if I start posting more "serious" topics in my new account, I will probably switch to posting twice a week because then it takes more time to plan the captions.

You can always start with fewer posts and if it feels like you have time to do more, you can then start posting more often. Instagram algorithms are magic and there aren't any tricks to get your account noticed, though it seems that Instagram values consistency (be it once a week, a few times a week or every day, as long as you are consistent over time).

I think it's better to post whenever it suits you the best rather than thinking of "the best time of the day" to create content. Maybe the best time approach works if most of your followers are from one timezone. But for example the top 3 cities where my followers are from are: Helsinki, Melbourne and New York. Good luck trying to find one time that works for all :D I usually just post after work because then it's like one last chore before switching to my free time.

Instagram communities

I actually think this is the most important point for your account to start growing. Find other people who post something you like and be active on their published content. Write meaningful comments and become Instagram friends. It's almost like networking with your colleagues.

Whenever you leave a comment that's meaningful, someone might see it, maybe learn something from it and then check your profile because of that. If they like what they see they might start following you.

I also think it's important to answer all comments that have been left under your posts. It creates a feeling of belonging in a community. I see Instagram as a huge forum and possibility to communicate with other people, share knowledge and interact.

Picture quality

I have mixed feelings about advising people to post high quality photos. It's always the number one tip in any Instagram tutorial that you need professional, good looking photos taken with a DSLR camera. Maybe it helps, but especially the last couple years the trend has been showing real pictures and snapshots from your life rather than the perfectly lit, commercial looking photos of people posing (no hate towards anyone who does this, I have pictures where I pose too!).

I have seen accounts that take "badly" lit photos of their game collection with phone camera and they have tens of thousands of followers. People will follow you as long as you post something meaningful. And anyway the more you take pictures, the better you also get in it. So my point is not to stress if you don't know how to take amazing photos - yet. You will learn your own style which you like and it can as well be more on the documentary side of photographing.

Summary (or TLDR)

This was a long post and I hope you got some inspiration to get started with your account! It's also good to remember that being active on social media is a lot of work. It might seem simple because you only see someone posting pictures every now and then.

Some people might get lucky and start getting followers fast, but for most it requires a lot of work and might even take years! I got lucky with my first account and I got into a suggested users list on Instagram, which grew my account into 10k in less than 6 months, but the second account has taken 4 years to achieve the same.

Here's a recap or TLDR about what was mentioned!

  1. Plan the subject of your account
    • thought leadership?
    • being an expert on subject sharing knowledge to others?
    • educational account for beginners?
    • promoting your own company/freelancer work?
  2. Use hashtags for getting noticed
    • max 30 in one post, no need to use all and only use relevant tags!
    • use both popular and smaller hashtags
  3. Decide a schedule that suits you
    • consistency is usually the key in Instagram, people know to expect posts from you
    • no need to post every day, rather post less and better content than often not so well thought content
  4. Join Instagram communities
    • be active on posts that other people publish and make friends from the community
    • always answer the comments you get
  5. Don't stress about the picture quality
    • you will learn your own style of taking pictures
    • there's nothing wrong with posting more documentary style photos rather than professional, commercial looking photos

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