So you’re a frequent traveller, and you already share your travel journey with your family and friends on Instagram, but now you want to up your game, and become a travel influencer. First things first – where do you begin?
Travel accounts on Instagram are increasingly popular, and there is a LOT of competition out there. So what can you do to up your following and stand out from the crowd? Follow these steps to help you on your way to becoming an Instagram travel influencer.
1. It’s all about content
Our first piece of advice would be to be as unique as you possibly can when posting content. Find a niche and stick to it, and you’ll find there is a lot less competition, and so a lot easier to appeal to potential new followers. For example if you’re an animal lover, than why not document your interactions with animals you meet along your travels.
Andrew Knapp is a travel influencer with over 600,000 followers; he travels with his Border Collie, Momo, and documents his travel on Instagram. His niche has earned him a much sort after blue tick! Knapp is a great example of a unique travel influencer that is successful yet still manages to be authentic. It’s important to remember that your followers follow you because they are interested in YOU and your content, so be real and true to yourself, don’t simply copy other people’s content and ideas.
Content is what the whole of Instagram is about, so ensure you are posting high quality photos. These don’t need to be taken on an all singing, all dancing camera; a smartphone with a high quality camera will do. But there is nothing worse than seeing blurry, pixelated content when scrolling through your Insta feed – that’s one sure way to lose followers.
3. Be consistent
If you’re truly serious about gaining more followers and likes then you need to be consistent. To begin with you need to be ideally posting at least three times a day in order to gain interaction, and get your name out there. Once you begin to see an increase in your following you can post a little less, but the key is it’s all about consistency. If you’re posting sporadically your posts may not be seen by much of your following, this is all due to Instagram’s highly complicated algorithm.
To ensure you are reaching as many people as possible, you can test out different times of day and record which posts are more successful dependent on the time and day they were posted. It is also worth exploring your audience insights on the app, this will give you an idea of where the majority of your audience is based, and at what time they are most active, and therefore the best times for you to be posting. There are a number of apps that you can download which will help you to keep track of the best times to post and even schedule in posts so you’re not having to do it manually. Many of these are at a cost, but a few such as Later (TAG) do offer free trials, or a limited amount of scheduled posts for free.
4. What’s it all about?
So you have a great photograph that you are going to post, but it’s no good simply posting the photograph, you have to give it a caption. Captions nowadays seem to be just as important as the photo itself, people love to know where the photo has been taken, why it was taken, how you were feeling etc. Tell a story behind the photograph when writing your caption, or something meaningful that relates to how you were feeling at that time that might inspire others.
Your followers will love to get to know you through your content, so a caption is a great way to give them an insight into your travels. Ask questions and engage with your audience, and ideally write a few sentences that will keep people interested. If you have visited somewhere that perhaps didn’t meet your expectations, then tell them why! People that follow travel influencers are often travellers themselves and want hints, tips and advice on what to do, and where to visit when travelling, and captions is a great way to get these messages across to your following.
5. Let’s talk #hashtags
Hashtags – the world seems to revolve around hashtags these days, and is perhaps the most important tool you will use when trying to become a travel influencer. Without hashtags you can completely wave goodbye to upping your following. If you want to become a travel influencer than you need to get down with hashtags. To begin with every photo you post needs to contain at least 10 hashtags that relate to the photo. Don’t make the mistake of hashtagging things that are completely unrelatable to the image, it will only draw in the wrong audience that won’t follow you, and can be annoying to other Instagram users.
When researching try to ensure you choose hashtags that have less posts ideally ones that have between 30,000 and 700,000, rather than ones in the millions as these hashtags are less likely to be seen, although it is worth throwing a few relevant big hashtags in there. We would always suggest you hashtag the location, theme, the local tourist board and related key words. Do your research on popular hashtags for example if you’re a couple travelling then make sure you use great couple hashtags such as #coupleswhotravel.
The maximum amount of hashtags you can use on any one photo is 30 hashtags. To begin with we would recommend you try and make as much use as possible of the hashtags available, then as you progress you could use slightly less. Unfortunately Instagram does not track the amount of hashtags in each post, so you will have to keep count of these, if you use too many, none of the hashtags will work. Also be sure that you aren’t repeating exactly the same hashtags on every single post, Instagram is extremely clever and will know, therefore your posts will get seen by less and less people, and greatly affect your engagement and following.
A great idea when you are first starting out is to create your own hashtag, not only does this allow you to track all of your images when you search your hashtag, it also encourages others to use it in their own posts. This is an excellent way of building your following, many successful influencers have done this and now their hashtags have millions of followers and posts! Make it easy, snappy and relevant, and use it on every one of your posts, and encourage your followers to use it too.
There’s so much we could write about hashtags it probably needs a separate article (we are working on it), all we can say is the main thing is do your research, and always be relevant.
6. Get tagging
Tagging is becoming more and more important on Instagram. If you have a really great photo of say an animal at Australia Zoo for example then be sure to tag @australiazoo for the chance of them reposting the photo. It’s a great way to get your content potentially reposted by generic travel accounts, tourism boards, establishments, retailers etc. that could result in a boost to your own following. You can tag multiple accounts in your photos, but again be sure to be relevant with the tags, and don’t overdo it.
It is also worth tagging the location of where the image is taken, ideally you will have left by the time you have posted, you don’t want to be giving away your exact whereabouts. If you’ve visited a waterfall, and then tag the location of that waterfall it will help your followers to then visit the same place, which they will really appreciate!
7. Be interactive
This is really important. It’s no good have people commenting on your photos, liking them, following you etc. if you aren’t doing the same. Always reply to any comments that you receive ideally with words rather than emojis, and if it’s within 10 minutes of them commenting, it will make the photo more relevant on Instagram’s algorithm. It’s also great to interact with your followers, they are more likely to continuing following you, if you make a conscious effort to interact with them.
You also need to be commenting on and liking other people’s photos, ideally you should be spending at least 30 minutes throughout the day doing this. Not only does this make you a more active user in Instagram’s eyes, it also get’s your name out there, and allows you to build relationships with other Instagram users. Having a community on Instagram is really important; you will meet like-minded travellers, get advice, discover new places, and have other influencers that will recommend your account – which can always only be a good thing!
When it comes to following we would always recommend following accounts that first inspire you, and secondly you should follow accounts with a similar following to you and be sure to interact with them. This again comes back to a community that you build on Instagram in which you can all help and work with each other.
8. Tell a story
Instagram stories have grown massively in popularity over the last few years; it always used to be about Snapchat, now it’s all about Instagram stories. We are massively on board with stories and think it’s a great way to keep your following engaged and give them a real insight into your travels on a daily basis.
We’d recommend if possible that you post a story every day, you could either post content live which is often a lot quicker and easier, or you could save up content from throughout the day and post in the evening. Make your stories interesting, and interactive; make use of the ‘add-ons’ such as gifs, music, location tagging, questionnaires etc. Stories are a great way of seeing what your followers really like, be sure to reply to any comments you get, and take on board any suggestions they may have, after all they are your audience!
Make sure you are ‘real’ in stories, your followers will love to see the real you, and any trails and tribulations you may face during your travels. It will make you seem a lot more human and relatable.
9. Get highlights
So after you have created all these great stories, you don’t want them to vanish after just 24 hours. In this case you can now create a highlight on your account, so for instance you could create a highlight called Bali, in which you can add all of your best stories to from your time in Bali. This highlight will sit at the top of your profile and can be viewed at anytime by anyone, although you won’t be able to track views or who has seen it, like you can with stories.
If someone if visiting your profile, highlights are a great way to encourage them to begin following you. If you adding highlights than just be aware that you can only add a certain number of stories to any one highlight, so you have to be selective as to what stories make it to your highlight. We would recommend that when using your highlights you add an image to the very beginning which will act as an icon on your feed (see below). These really tidy up the visuals of your account, and give quite a professional feel to the account.
10. Get visual
There are quite a few ways to visually make your Instagram account stand out among the rest and will result in more people following your account. One of the ways to make your account more visually appealing is to have a colour scheme, or theme.
For example, if you’re mainly visiting beaches you could have the colour blue as your theme, so when people go onto your account page, they are wowed with all the amazing different blues, which will also be easy on the eye as there wont be a lot of harsh contrasts. However, you have to be careful when doing this as repetitive content is a big no. You don’t want your followers to get bored quickly, so keep the composition, poses, etc. different from one image to another.
You could also try sticking with the same filter on all of your photos, giving it a distinct look. This will make your account very visually appealing but may sometimes affect the quality of a photo. In this case it is all about balance, when posting content just be aware or previous posts and be sure not to create too harsh contrasts and you should be fine!
11. Create a brand
Lastly, as you begin to see your following grow then you can look at making your account brandable. What we mean by this is, is there any other potential revenues you could look at expanding your brand to? Could you create a product from your brand such as clothing, social media filters, etc. Or is their potential to start your own website in which you can give more in-depth travel advice?
As you grow you will find it a lot easier to collaborate with other influencers, retailers etc. and begin to get paid for your content through ads or recommendations. When it gets to this stage be sure to only endorse products that you truly believe in and would actually recommend to a friend. When you begin to earn revenue from Instagram, it opens up a whole new minefield, so for the moment focusing on building the following, it’s a long, and time-consuming process – but so worth it!
So there you have it, everything you need to be doing to become a successful travel influencer. Trust us, its no easy feat; building a brand on Instagram takes a lot of time and effort. You have to really be dedicated to make it work. At the end of the day, for a lot of the very popular travel influencers, Instagram is their source of income through advertising etc., therefore it is treated as a full time job. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, then the end result can really pay off, and you can not only find yourself earning a living from this platform, but also influencing and inspiring like-minded travellers on their journeys around the world!
Just a word of caution, it is extremely easy to get caught up in the world of Instagram, so it may be wise to have a ‘day off’ from posting once a week, simply for your own wellbeing. We would also suggest that you truly experience first hand all of the amazing sights you are seeing whilst travelling, and don’t spend your whole time viewing it through a lens or sitting on your phone.