photo: iStock

I’ve been using Instagram for five years to showcase my style, travels, and a little bit about me. In that time, my audience has gone from 30 followers to more than 30,000. Today, the social media app is a big component of the way I make money as a blogger and fashion influencer. Besides sponsored Instagram posts, which I get paid to create, I also get many other opportunities, from styling work to hosting events to traveling the world.

Just this week I'm speaking on a panel at the Latino media conference Hispanicize in Miami about just this. Here's a preview of what I'm going to share on building up your followers.

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1. Grow your following with hashtags. Daily, the most popular ones are posted on many websites. You can google this to keep up to date. I use: top-hashtags.com to do this.

2. Use good lighting for your images, especially with your selfies. Stand in front of a window or get a LuMee case like Kim Kardashian West. The smartphone case has LED lights. 

3. Respond to your Instagram comments to engage your followers. People love to be acknowledged, and it’s important to take the time to thank them. 

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4. Get artsy and take your time snapping your images until you get one you LOVE.

5. Post a variety of pictures such as selfies, landscapes, positive quotes, and more to keep your followers interested. 

6. Editing software can help brighten your pictures and make them look better. I recommend FaceTune, which you can use for anything from selfies to landscape images.

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7. Post one to two times a day when possible, but don’t go more than 24 hours without posting if you’re trying to build your following. Post in the morning when people are waking up and around bedtime when people are home relaxing. 

8. Plan your posts ahead of time. Use tools like Hootsuite to help you organize your images in advance and track your monthly progress. 

9. Spread your posts throughout the day, from the morning, noon, and evening, when people are most engaged. 

10. Be prepared for the haters. Ignore them, or if you feel like you must respond, do it with kindness. I recently answered someone who was body-shaming me.

11. To stand out, keep your Instagram fresh and unique. Too many people copy each other’s style. My Instagram is a reflection of me, so there’s a lot of color, landscapes, style, and empowering quotes. 

I think Instagram is one of the best platforms out there. It can help you tell stories digitally just with a single image.

Annie Vazquez is a Founding Creator and fashion blogger. When she's not writing for Vivala.com, you can find her at thefashionpoet.com.