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How To Grow & Monetize On Instagram As A Blogger [Ep 71]

By Jessie Festa. This episode on Instagram for bloggers is sponsored by Travelpayouts and also contains affiliate links to trusted partners I think you’ll love!

Interested in learning how to grow and monetize on Instagram?

Well, you’re in luck, as in this episode of The Profitable Travel Blogger Podcast, we’ll be focusing on how to see success on Instagram as a blogger.

By the end of this episode, you’ll understand:

  • How to grow your followers on Instagram
  • Tips for creating an Instagram content plan
  • Ideas for increasing engagement on Instagram
  • How to monetize on Instagram as a blogger
  • Ways to get your Instagram posts seen by more people
  • And more!

Our special guest for this episode is Gabby Beckford of Packs Light, who will be giving us a behind-the-scenes look at how she has grown her Instagram account to 158,000 engaged followers and counting — so that you can do it too!

Table of Contents

How To Grow & Monetize On Instagram As A Blogger [Podcast Episode Audio]

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Grow Your Blogging Income With Travelpayouts ($50 Bonus!)

This episode is sponsored by Travelpayouts, the largest affiliate platform designed for travel content creators.

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Canva. This graphic design tool features loads of templates for creating beautiful Instagram Reels, Stories, and more!

Later. A top social media scheduler, particularly if you’re trying to batch-create and schedule Instagram content.

Instagram tips for bloggers

Instagram For Bloggers [Episode Transcript]

*Note: This is the edited down and paraphrased version of the episode on Instagram tips for bloggers. For the full episode, listen to the audio version linked above.

Instagram is one of the world’s largest and most popular social media platforms.

And if you’re a blogger, there are many benefits to being active on it – from gaining visibility to growing and engaging your community to opening up your pool of opportunities to work with brands and get featured in media.

But, how do you actually grow and monetize as a blogger on Instagram?

That is exactly what our special guest, Gabby Beckford from Packs Light — who has seen major success on the platform — is here to help us unpack.

Gabby will be sharing tips for successfully setting up your profile, advice on how to increase your visibility and engagement, mistakes to avoid, how to monetize, and more!

1. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your tips! To start, can you tell us more about yourself, your blog, and how you got into Instagram?

My name is Gabby Beckford and I am a content creator and blogger at Packs Light.

I am on every single platform, but Instagram is my favorite. I got started writing blog posts on my blog in 2013, which is what all the cool kids were doing back then.

From there, Instagram was the next platform I got on and where I started getting into curation. It was also where people started posting intentionally with the hopes of monetizing, so that’s where I just started posting willy nilly and eventually it just grew into an empire.

2. Okay so let’s start with the basics. Why should a travel blogger get on Instagram? What are the benefits — particularly when compared to other social media platforms?

These days, I think people are annoyed at how often Instagram changes its algorithm and features; however, I still think it’s worth getting on as a content creator or someone who hopes to monetize their following because it is the big player in this social media platform game.

It’s been around a long time and is owned by Meta, which now owns so many other platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp.

Personally, it’s where I make a bulk of my money. So if you’re looking to make money as a travel blogger, it’s a smart place to be.

As far as brand partnerships go, I still think that’s where innovation is happening and I still think that’s the future of social media. So you want to make sure you have a presence on there.

It’s not only where you can create a following, but it can also serve as a portfolio of your work as a content creator. You can show off your skills, talk about yourself, and have visual and written content to support what you do and what value you add to your community.

And with so many different ways to share content on Instagram, it can show how diverse and dynamic of a creator you can be.

3. Now, of course, bloggers are always trying to figure out how to actually monetize their brands. How can Instagram help bloggers grow their revenue?

Monetize with native Instagram programs

Instagram has shown some initiatives lately investing in the content creators on the platform.

For example, in 2020 I was part of Instagram’s We The Culture program, which brought about 100 Black creators into the fold and worked with us on content creation, branding, and the ins and outs of being a creator. And we were paid for that.

There is also the Reels Play Bonus program where you can get paid based on how many views your Reels receive.

These are just a few of the ways that Instagram is investing in the creators on the platform directly.

Work with brands through Instagram

Another way to make money on Instagram is working with brands, which is the bulk of where my IG income comes from.

You can get paid to promote products, services, and destinations on the platform through paid partnerships.

Selling products / promoting affiliate links on Instagram

Another way to promote products, services, and destinations is through affiliate marketing, where you earn a commission on purchases made through your referral link or coupon code.

You can post your affiliate links into Instagram Stories — and that performs extremely well for some people, especially some Amazon affiliates who make a pretty penny with their great Amazon finds.

I also promote my own digital products on Instagram.

A tip for selling on Instagram Stories

When selling through Instagram Stories, there are creators who are streamlined and they can have a repeatable template. I think the reason that happens is that creator has trained their audience over time through trial and error to recognize they’re selling something great when that template is used.

For me, the process is a bit different. I don’t have a single template, but I do have a kind of strategy when posting to IG Stories. I’ll post something really funny that gets a ton of engagement. Then when people are interacting with me and replying, I kind of slip an ad in there where it won’t interrupt their viewing experience.

In short, every creator has to have their own strategy and understand what performs well for them; but you’ll need to test out different content types to see what works best for your audience.

4. Let’s backtrack for a bit. For someone who is brand new to Instagram, what are some best practices for setting up your profile?

Have a photo of your face

Have a clear image of your face in your profile picture. This will help you build some level of brand recognition as a blogger.

If you’re a destination type account then maybe you don’t need your face in your IG profile; but, you want to have something really recognizable as your imagery for your profile picture.

Have a clear Instagram bio

Then in your IG bio, make sure that you have some keywords in there.

And I don’t mean #blogger, #Instagram, #FollowMe. Those are not the things you want to have.

Instead, you want to include words that people are searching for — because Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t just a think for blog posts, but also Instagram.

So if I pulled up my bio right now, it will have keywords related to solo travel and becoming a digital nomad. And it will sound authentic and relatable, because that’s what my content is about.

Really sit down with yourself and think about the content that you’ll be making on Instagram. Consider, if you wanted your profile to show up for people searching on IG, what would someone have to type to find you?

Put that in your bio. Again this is great for SEO, but it also makes it clear to your audience what you post about and why they should follow you.

5. Okay, so you have your profile set up. What types of content should people be posting to Instagram?

That is the question right? And that’s a question that I cannot answer. That’s what you as the listener or reader have to answer for yourself.

It’s interesting because maybe if you asked me six months ago, I would have said you have to be posting Reels because that’s just what Instagram wants.

However, now I’m seeing a shift that static images are making a comeback.

So, I would say post the content that your audience likes.

The best way to figure out what to post on Instagram is to look at the data. Create 20 posts for Instagram, publish them, and then look at your analytics. Pinpoint what content types are resonating with your followers — that you also enjoy creating, because that is an important part of this too.

Personally, my top Instagram posts are ones where I’m telling personal stories that are authentic and that resonate with my audience, so try that, but also try other types of content to see what works.

6. Do you ever repost Instagram posts that you’ve already shared?

Absolutely! I think this is every top creator’s best kept secret.

For instance, last year I had a viral post on Instagram and jumped 120,000 followers in one day. I could have reposted every single post I’d previously ever posted because they would have been new to a majority of my new audience.

So yes, you can repost the same exact video and the same exact caption. Personally, I’d probably change it a little just in case you have some super fans that will remember your past posts; but, you really want to make that content live as many lives as it possibly can.

7. You’re so good at consistently posting interesting content, so I’m really curious how you come up with your content ideas and if you have a set Instagram content plan?

While I don’t have a set content plan for Instagram, I do look at the data and let it guide what I post.

I do this every year, and I really try to pinpoint what types of posts resonated with my audience and why — so that I can do it again in the following year.

For me, solo travel does extremely well. In fact, my viral Instagram post was about solo travel. The other thing that works well is short form videos that incorporate trends.

Anytime that I’m sitting around, I’ll batch create some content for the week. And because I looked at the data, I know my posts will revolve around one of those two things.

I’ll scroll to get inspired, to find trending sounds, and will even find other creator videos to stitch.

I also love posting in the moment. For instance, I’ll be on a hike in Vietnam and I’ll get a rock in my shoe, and I’ll be like “There is nothing more painful in this world to me!” And then I’ll think about how people relate to overly dramatic things and I’ll post in the moment.

That type of IG content typically performs very well for me — despite it typically being lower quality or low production value. It works though because my audience has come to expect this type of authentic content from me.

8. Now let’s talk a bit about visibility. Once someone creates their post, what are some things they can do to help it get seen by as many people as possible?

Share in-feed posts to your Instagram Stories

Whether you post a static image or video to your feed, share it to your IG Stories.

You can simply share it as is; but what I like to do is include a little lead in with a few slides before it. So, I might say:

  • hey, this is what I’m thinking today
  • this is why I’m thinking it
  • let’s continue this conversation on this new post that I just posted

From there, they’ll click on it and will be led to the comment section where I engage with them.

Respond to comments

Speaking of engaging with my Instagram followers, I reply to every single comment.

I think about it like this: if I wrote a letter to somebody and they didn’t respond just because they’re popular or busy, I wouldn’t write again.

So I like to respond to every comment and make everyone feel seen. Also, I think having a lively comment section helps with Instagram engagement.

Include calls to action

If you are not including calls to action in your Instagram captions, you’re seriously missing out on engagement.

I’ve noticed this on myself. I’ll see a funny post with a call to action like “Put this in your story to make someone else laugh today.” If the caption includes a CTA like that, I’m way more likely to do it. Sometimes people need that reminder.

Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags are very secondary for me; however, I do sometimes look at the data and see a hashtag that takes off. Because of this, I do include about 3-6 very relevant hashtags in each post.

I also use the Instagram Reels category feature. I haven’t really seen data to show this helps, but Instagram recommends doing it and it’s easy to do.

Use trending sounds in Reels

The Instagram strategy that really helps my content get seen and engaged with is using trending sounds. You’ll know a sound is trending as it will have a tiny arrow next to it.

So if I have an idea and I’m looking for a sound to match, and I have a choice between a sound that’s not trending and a sound that is trending, I’ll always go with the trending one.

For example, if I want to create an IG Reel sharing seven digital nomad visas that came out this week, I’ll look for a trending sound with seven beats so I can have the different visas show with each beat.

I think it’s psychological. Like when someone hears a sound over and over their brain wants to stop and finish it. Or maybe they want to see how one creator puts a spin on something they’ve been seeing constantly in their feed.

9. What are some of the top strategies you’ve used to grow on Instagram?

Along with the Instagram strategies mentioned in the previous question, I also:

Create content series

For instance, I just got back from the British Virgin Islands. As I post about the destination, people get excited and want to know more about it, so I’ll create at least 10 posts about BVI.

People can just scroll, scroll, scroll and save, save, save really conveniently.

This is also smart because if a post goes viral a month later — which happens pretty often — they’ll have other related posts to look at.

Get press attention

Another way I’ve grown on Instagram is I’ve gotten a lot of press. Each time I’m featured in a publication like The New York Times or Conde Nast I’ll get a bump in followers.

Create shareable content

This all being said, my top strategy for growing on Instagram is really creating good, authentic, shareable content.

And by shareable I mean Instagram posts that have a lot of Gabby in them; that include my personal stories and my perspectives — like that rock in my shoe in Vietnam that only I can tell.

So tell those relatable stories that are unique to you that also resonate with your audience.

10. Do you use Instagram Highlights?

I do use Instagram Highlights, though really more for convenience than strategically.

For instance, I’ll save all of my content from a particular trip to an IG Highlight, or if there is a question people constantly ask me or a type of content they ask for I’ll save that to a Highlight to easily find it and share it with them.

Even though they’re not popular, I also use Instagram Guides for this same reason; to provide value and authentically care for my audience.

11. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see new creators on Instagram make?

It’s only because I have been on Instagram for so long and have this level of success that I think I can say this: trying too hard. This is one of the biggest mistakes bloggers can make.

When you’re starting out, you’ll feel like you need to post five times a day and follow 1,000 people, and emulate these popular creators to be successful.

But the truth is, this can lead to burn out and frustration because you’re not being your authentic self. You’re trying to follow the recipe to someone else’s chicken noodle soup.

Instead, you need to post authentically and consistently.

Don’t worry if your Instagram content isn’t perfect or your video has fuzzy audio. Post, and then learn as you go.

By just posting, you’ll hone your skills and will gain more data to understand what your audience wants from you.

And don’t worry about virality or obsess over numbers. You might go viral from a random video and gain 1M followers, but those people will just be expecting that dance again. It’s much better to grow a genuine following and focus on quality over quantity.

12. Thank you so much for sharing your Instagram wisdom! Before we sign off, can you let everyone know where they can find you?

Alright, now I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you feel inspired and empowered to use Instagram as a tool to grow your blogging business.

Don’t forget to grab access to my free resource library for bloggers. There are a ton of social media resources in there.

Also, thank you once again to our sponsor, Travelpayouts. Make sure to sign up to grab a $50 bonus on top of your first payout with code “JESSIE24”.

And of course, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes sharing these bite-sized strategies for bloggers who want to turn their blogs into profitable full-time businesses.

Happy blogging!

Grow On Instagram & Social Media With These Helpful Past Episodes:

How To Grow & Monetize A YouTube Channel As A Blogger

How To Create A Pinterest Strategy That Grows Your Blog Traffic

How To Start, Grow & Monetize A Successful Facebook Group

How To Use LinkedIn To Grow & Monetize Your Blog

How To Use Twitter To Grow & Monetize A Blog

How To Grow Your TikTok Account & Make Money As A Blogger

How To Enjoy Social Media – Growth Strategy Included

Click here for all profitable blogging podcast episodes.

 

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What tips would you add to this guide on how to grow & monetize on Instagram?