August 8, 2016
The Do's And Don'ts For Insta-Growth

I am frequently asked about how I grew the We Are Travel Girls Instagram account and tips for other girls looking to do the same. Here’s an insight into what I did and didn’t do to reach over 100,000 followers in less than 9 months.

The Do's And Don'ts For Insta-GrowthDO


When I first started the feature page I spent at least 3 hours per day on Instagram, and I am embarrassed to admit some days a lot more than that! I think this is the single most important thing that led to the success of the page. Obviously this is not sustainable and over time I have had to reduce the hours I spend on Instagram to allow time for other social media channels, writing, managing our website and answering emails (and my day job!). However, I probably still spend a couple of hours a day in total on the app.


You are more likely to get followers back to your account by engaging with other people in your industry, whether that’s style, health & fitness, food or travel. There is a cross over in some of these, but I am less likely to follow health & fitness accounts than I am travel.


Brand collaborations are a way of getting you and the brand exposure, often leading to them using your images and crediting back to you. Just be careful to only collaborate with brands you truly like and think your audience would relate to or be interested in. Filling your feed with “salesy” posts may lead to a quick unfollow.


I have recently been added to a couple of small blogger groups on Instagram where you can chat and support each others Instagram pages, liking and commenting on the images. This is also a great place to ask questions and get advice. I suggest making a small group in the same genre as your primary focus.


There are a lot of blogger groups where you can meet, engage with and in some cases (with very strict rules!) share your content or direct people to your Instagram. These are a great platform to drive traffic to your website or social media pages. Make sure you join our group HERE! Instead of waiting to get noticed and featured on the WATG Instagram account, why not share you pictures, travel tips, questions and blog posts with a community of likeminded girls?!


Look for or set up your own meet ups with other bloggers in your field. This will help people find you and grow your network of engaged followers. Naturally I think people are more likely to follow, be engaged and comment on pages of people they have met, they are also more likely to talk about you and show your Instagram to others. Again, Facebook is a great place to find out about meet ups.


Interviewing other bloggers in your field or featuring them in, for example, ‘Best Travel Instagram Accounts To Follow’ posts will often lead to those featured sharing the story on their own social media and driving traffic and followers back to you. If I am featured I repost the story and add it to the Press page on We Are Travel Girls and my blog.


Try to get featured on either other Instagram accounts or other people’s blogs. Reach out to people directly that often do features on their blogs and see if you can be considered for their next post of that kind. Take the time to write to them properly, with links to your social media and blog. I get a huge quantity of emails either requesting collaborations, to write for us or to the be featured on the Instagram. I have been quite surprised by how many of these I either don’t understand what the person is asking for, have no explanation of who the person is or what social media to look at, or are simply too lazy to even say hi and instead just write ‘post my picture’. Simply being friendly with a short, clear description of what you are asking for can go a long way!


Whilst you are getting started you will have to do guest posts for free, but it gets great exposure to your blog and your social media. You may get approached to do a guest post, but you will have better success by taking the initiative reaching out directly to the websites, blogs, magazines that you think you could write for and tell them why. You can submit a travel post to We Are Travel Girls for consideration here!


Obviously reposting images worked for We Are Travel Girls as it is solely a feature account, but you can do this occasionally on your personal account too. Most people want to be reposted as it sends traffic back to them and increases their exposure. However, make sure to credit appropriately and tag the person in the image! More often than not the person will see the tag and thank you on your post, driving additional traffic to your own page and creating goodwill among fellow Instagrammers.


And don’t be afraid to use lots of them. Yes, it doesn’t look great, but we are all doing it! Once you have a huge following you can ditch the 30 hashtags, but until then research which ones work for your genre and check out what other bloggers are using. If you really want to maximise, you can post your image, use 30 hashtags in a comment and then go back to your original text and add another 30 there too! (Don’t forget #WeAreTravelGirls!)


I am still trying to master this! Sometimes I think the feed looks great, then I post one picture and mess it up. Some studies show that posting lighter images, images with blue and using the Mayfair filter actually lead to much higher likes and engagement. You can also use an app like VSCO to preview what your Instagram profile will look like once the newest image is posted. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but having an overall theme or pattern to your images can make the entire profile look better!


Look at other accounts in your genre and then see who is following, liking and commenting on that persons’ account, then go over and give that person a bit of love on their page. Often you will find that they will reciprocate!


There are many recommendations of what time to post your pictures to boost your engagement. Think about your audience and the time of day. For example, posting on a Monday at 3.30pm means most people are at work and not scrolling through Instagram. Also be mindful of different time zones across your country or the world. I am based in London and have found weekday posts at 7.30am, 1:00pm and 6.30pm work well for me. Wednesdays are considered the best day for engagement, whilst less people post on Sunday so you may get noticed more.


Tools such as Crowdfire allow you to see who is following you, which accounts are engaged, recent un-follows and more. A lot of people swear by these tools to see who their audience is. Personally I haven’t found it that useful for me, but that’s not to say it’s not worth trying it.


There is so much advice on how to grow you page, including what I am writing here, but you have to find what works for you and then once you do, do that more! You are much more likely to stick with regular posting once you find a routine that works with your schedule. For me, I found that doing posts during my morning and evening commute was a perfect way to pass the time on the tube. Remember, for most of us this is a hobby and not meant to be a second job, so be sure to find a method that you enjoy!


A little kindness goes a long way, so try to say thank you if someone features your picture. I am personally more likely to post a girl on We Are Travel Girls more than once if she acknowledges the post. I am not saying you must be eternally grateful and shower us with love when we post you, but it is really nice when I get a little message or a quick thanks for the feature on our page! This applies to when people include you on their blogs or publish your material, so share the good news with your own followers by reposting the story and drop the author a quick email to say thanks.


I have made lots of connections with women around the world through Instagram and hope to meet more of them on my travels. People are incredibly receptive to direct contact and will take time to give you advice and offer their own tips on how to increase your followers.

The Do's And Don'ts For Insta-GrowthDON’T


Nothing is more obvious than when someone is paying for likes. 5,000 likes when someone has 10,000 followers just doesn’t make sense and only dilutes the genuine likes. Now there will be occasions when the percentage ratio is like this, due to Instagram’s algorithms getting you onto the top of someone’s posts you might like page or if you are lucky enough to have one of your pictures go viral, but in general I think it very unusual to get to this level.


If you are looking to eventually earn money from your Instagram or do brand collaborations, why pay for your followers? They will not be engaged and your likes will be way too low compared to the number of followers. Some less savvy brands may not notice this, but the bigger, well known companies will look at your genuine engagement before agreeing to work with you.


A lot of people follow only to unfollow and say that it really works to gain more followers quickly. While this might be true at the very beginning of your account, your time would be much better spent genuinely engaging with accounts by making thoughtful comments on pictures.


I ignore people that post ‘follow for follow’ comments on my Instagram. This is just weird to me and feels very ‘spammy’. If you like my page and are interested in the content I share then follow me, but that doesn’t mean I am obliged to follow you!


Often you may not even realise someone has featured your account without credit, but if you do its super annoying (see my comment earlier in the Do’s). If you don’t see it, its likely someone else in your genre will and will alert you to it. It takes a lot of time and effort for people to take that perfect picture, so make sure they get the credit they deserve!


Obviously we all want to get noticed, but commenting on every picture on someones account telling their followers to follow you can get annoying! This is especially true if you are a very similar page. For example, I would not go over to Darling Escapes or Sidewalker Daily and ask their followers to follow We Are Travel Girls and use #WeAreTravelGirls on every one of the pictures they feature! If you really want to engage with that persons community, contact the account owner and see if there is a way to promote each others pages in an authentic way instead. I did this with some of the other female travel feature accounts and its a far better way to collaborate and support one another.


Thankfully I haven’t found hostility to be too much of a problem on We Are Travel Girls, but I have seen some incredibly unkind (bordering on abusive) messages to other girls’ accounts I follow. Remember that there are real people behind every account, so if you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, please don’t say it over the Internet! In addition, if the photo is attached to a blog post, take the time to read that post before making assumptions and commenting negatively.


Paid liking services are used by many Instagrammers to reduce how much time they spend on social media by automatically liking and commenting for you. These programmes engage with people based on selected hashtags and users that you identify. I wouldn’t rely on these services, primarily because they violate the Instagram Terms & Conditions and could get your account permanently banned. Also, many common hashtags are used for spam and pornographic content, which can mean your account is automatically saying ‘wow, epic view!’ to a naked girl! I saw this happen to a very well know travel blogger which made it clear to me they were using these paid services.


With over 500 million active Instagram users per month there are plenty of followers to go around. Accept that your account, style or photography may be imitated, but see this as a positive and not a negative. People obviously love your content and are looking to you for inspiration that will help them to develop their own creative ideas and to improve their own page!

I hope that some of this advice can be integrated into your own growth strategy and help you to reach your follower goals! This is what worked for me, and maybe you have had a different experience with some of my ‘don’ts’ having worked for you.

We hope that this article has inspired you to grow your Instagram account. If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.

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The Do's And Don't For Insta-Growth

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  • Reply Andreia Leite August 8, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Thank you for sharing this Becky. Very wise words. I never thought of timing my instagram posts – but I will certainly give it a try and see how does it works for me.
    And yes, I also find it very annoying when someone “follow and unfollow”. I just don’t see the point! I follow the people that inspire me and not because he/she is following me.

    Keep up with your good work. Loving your blog! x

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls August 8, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      Thank you Andreia – glad you found the post useful and hope it helps you in the future! xoxo

  • Reply Cavaforlunch August 8, 2016 at 11:37 am

    What a great article, Becky! I follow most of these and it has really helped to grow my following. However, I must agree that I really dislike all those who automatically follow you – only to unfollow a few hours later. I saw a travel blogger, who I used to admire, follow and unfollow my account all the time… In the end, I got so annoyed that I just blocked her. Haven’t been to her blog since either. But great article xx

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls August 8, 2016 at 6:29 pm

      Thanks so much Christina! I was already following you from my personal account and now from travel girls too. Yes, the follow unfollow is hard. I followed too many people at the beginning and then missed out on seeing pictures from my favourite accounts so have been narrowing down who I follow, but i keep finding new great travel accounts!! ha ha 🙂

  • Reply Morgan August 8, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you so much Becky! Perfect timing as I recently launched a travel blog and I’ve been trying to find the best ways to meaningfully attract the right followers for my site. Your suggestion to find like-minded people in the industry with which to engage is a great one.

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls August 8, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Thank you Morgan. Yes I think engaging in groups in your genre is key, it has really helped me to chat with other girls with travel blogs and also opens opportunities to work with one another in the future!

  • Reply Cait August 8, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Great Tips! I will try these and see if I can get past 200 followers! LOL… I am in love with this blog though, traveling is so addicting, can’t wait to take my next trip to Cape Cod!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls August 8, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks Cait! Great to hear that you found the post useful and thanks for the support for our blog!

  • Reply Suze - Luxury Columnist August 9, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Such a helpful article, Becky. Two questions, what do you think of Later to schedule photos and have you ever been to an Instameet? I’m also based in London and have been meaning to go to one!

    • Reply Becky van Dijk August 9, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Thank you Suze! Really pleased that you liked the article! I haven’t used any of the later scheduling apps, I did download one a while back but it wasn’t super user friendly so I gave up before even trying! I think these types of apps will have come along way since then so if I find any I will let you know. I haven’t been to an instameet yet, but WATG will be hosting travel girl meet ups in the future! xoxo

  • Reply Aude August 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Thank you very much for all your advice Becky! The most annoying part is for sure the follow-unfollow game that sometimes makes me want to delete my whole profile because of how frustrating it feels but your posts gave me many new ideas so thank you and keep on the good work!:)

    • Reply Becky van Dijk August 9, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks Aude, glad you liked the article. Yes, follow / un-follow is weird, I followed a bunch at the beginning (and didn’t unfollow) but it meant I ended up with like 5,000 people I was following! I have been trying to reduce it so I see all the accounts I really love but its hard, when I keep finding new ones I like too! xoxo

  • Reply Naomi | AuthenticChica August 15, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Great article Becky, love the don’ts too and coincidentally I wrote a very similar article a few weeks ago on my own blog as well.. Great to see we are on the same page on a lot of things and happy to read u don’t like the automated tricks and f/u methods either. Yay to real engagement and organic growth and very well done in only 9 months!!!?
    Xxx , Naomi

    • Reply Becky August 30, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks Naomi – your article was great too! I think we can all grow in a real way if we put the time and effort in!!! ?

  • Reply Becky August 22, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Thanks for the article Becky! I recently turned my instagram public and would like to get more followers to my account. Some of these tips I figured out. Others like commenting on photos more, are things that I haven’t thought of.
    The follow/unfollow is driving me nuts! Just when I think I’m getting a few follows I loose them. 🙂

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls September 25, 2016 at 6:22 am

      Thanks for your feedback Becky, glad liked the post! Good luck with your Instagram growth!

  • Reply Tina | Redhead Explorer September 22, 2016 at 8:18 am

    @BECKY, I know exactly how you feel. I hate the follow/unfollow numbers game. I don’t mind if people don’t follow me back because I usually follow accounts whose content I really enjoy and would like to see more of it, not because I want someone to boost my follower numbers. Of course if the interest is mutual – that’s great but it shouldn’t be a requirement. Of course I guess a lot of the unfollowing is also done purely automatically by a a software but that doesn’t change much because it again shows automatized actions and not real interest

  • Reply Tina | Redhead Explorer September 22, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Hello and thank you for this really useful post- great insights and practical tips! I found your site via Instagram today and I am really impressed by the quality and the stylish look :)!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls September 25, 2016 at 6:25 am

      Thanks for your comments Tina, glad you liked the post! I actually put the site together myself, and want to learn to code next! Becky x

      • Reply Tina | Redhead Explorer September 25, 2016 at 7:25 am

        Greta job, looks lovely 🙂 I can recommend Rails Girls for coding- it is a series of events held around the globe: you learn with a mentor for 2 days and then you can join local groups, get tips from the community, etc.

  • Reply Arita October 8, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Hey Becky , I just found your site via Instagarm and it’s 2:12am New York time and I can’t seem to put my phone down , by far one of the most genuine ,down to earth blogs I’ve read and I can’t wait to submit my own stories with you girls :))
    This article seems so helpful and I’m really excited to apply these tips into my account that I recently made public but for the past few months I haven’t seen much progress , and by reading this post I realized why :/
    Thanks for these awesome tips and keep up the AWESOME work
    Arita @aritaontheroad

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls October 8, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Hi Arita! Thanks so much for your kind words, its really great to hear that you love the site and what we are doing with the community. We are really looking forward to seeing your submissions. In the meantime make sure to join our private girls only FB group, there are lots of girls in the group sharing their own blog posts and creating Instagram pods to help with engagement, Becky x

  • Reply Kaylee December 11, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Hi Becky! Thank you for this post. There is so much information out there on how to increase your followers / likes but a lot of it encourages all the “don’t” methods that you’ve mentioned above. I feel the same as you and don’t want to take part in ‘spammy’ or misleading activities just to gain a like here or there. I love to see genuine followers engaging in my posts and will only genuinely follow someone I’m interested in. Glad to see it will pay off in the end!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls December 12, 2016 at 2:59 am

      Hey Kaylee, thanks so much for reading! Yes, its alot of work to grow the account, especially if you are doing it authentically and now with the new algorithms even harder. But there is no point buying followers or having followers find you because of a bot as they will never be truly interested in your content, in the long run this will work against you when working with brands. I have spoken to many brands who are happy to work with people with much smaller following if they can see true engagement from an audience that is actually interested in the product, destination etc. That was really intersting for me, because most people think its just the size of the account that matters! Good luck with the growth and hope some of my own experiences and thoughts will help you! Becky xxx

  • Reply Becky van Dijk — How To get There February 9, 2017 at 2:38 am

    […] was simply being super active. I wrote a post, The Do’s and Don’t’s Of Insta-Growth sharing what I did to grow the account, but honestly it was quite simply down to the hours I spent […]

  • Reply Dawn March 27, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Thanks so much Becky for this. I am trying to figure out how to grow my IG acct and found this article really helpful.

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls March 27, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting Dawn, so pleased to hear that you found this helpful. I am going to be doing an update to this soon and also something other posts about tips for blogging on my personal site Just drop me an email if you ever have any specific questions! XO, Becky

  • Reply Amber April 11, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Awesome read, even though it’s a few months old it’s still so relevant! I can’t believe people just email you “post my photo”, that’s crazy rude!! So glad to hear you don’t support the automated Liking and Follow/Unfollow methods of gaining followers, it’s so hard to compete with that and it’s not really fair play. So many big accounts use it too ?

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls April 11, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting Amber! Yes, I get alot of emails and messages like that unfortunately, and some alot worse to be honest. I grew everything organically, and I think this is better in the long run – auto liking and follow / unfollow is a short term attitude that I think brands realise – so its better to grow slowly and have a small following that loves what you do than, than a huge following that isn’t that interested. Many brands have told me they don’t look for huge follower count, rather look at what your content is like and if you fit their brand, and have an audience that trust you, which in the end is more important! XO, Becky

  • Reply The Ultimate Guide To Building Your Facebook Following May 4, 2017 at 10:37 am

    […] Kaila Yu is a top blogger based in Los Angeles, and was the former lead singer of an all-girl rock band! She has a combined social media following of 580,000+ and has been regularly featured in print and media publications around the world: including The Rolling Stone, FHM, MTV, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and more. Read Next > The Do’s And Don’ts For Insta-Growth […]

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