Here’s How I Went From Zero Followers To Winning Instagram

Spot relies on great imagery to deliver a compelling place-discovery experience. Here, Spot's content and community lead, Kelly Lack, shares simple tips that have helped top Instagrammers build beautiful portfolios (and huge followings).
Off the bat, you should know that this is not an article about how to game followers. I possess no secret intel there. The main reason I have the numbers I do is because my personal account has twice been featured on Instagram’s suggested-user list. That, plus a couple of articles about it and regrams by big brands, including Design*Sponge, Steven Alan, and AFAR magazine, have accelerated my follower count. But none of this would’ve happened had I not been posting halfway decent photos. And that’s what this article is about, since it’s actually way easier than you’d think.
There are five quick facts you should know:
1. I wasn’t an early Instagram adopter. I put up my first shot in mid-2013.
2. I have no inside contact at Instagram, nor do I have insight into their selection process.
3. I am not a “photographer,” and have received no proper training outside the one film-photography class I took years ago in college.
4. I’ve shot 99% of the photos on both my account and Spot’s account with my iPhone, NOT a camera.
5. I work pretty much nonstop during the week, so I take most of my photos on weekends, making what I can out of limited shooting time.
So, what’s the big secret?
While there are overarching tips I could share — shoot during the day, pay attention to your background, avoid overly cluttered compositions — my No. 1 secret (or crutch, as true photographers might call it) is mastering photo-editing tools. And I don’t mean heavy-handed photo filters (I’m looking at you, Valencia).
Read on to see what I mean.

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