Open Menu

How I Built an Instagram Following

Sofia Espinoza building an Instagram following

Before I became D Custom’s strategy intern and social media guru, I was just another aspiring marketer, trying to figure out what made an Instagram account worth following.  

In late October, I started my own fitness-centric Instagram, or #Fitstagram, with the sole purpose of posting healthy meals. I wanted to hold myself accountable and share recipes with my friends. Little did I know, people were starting to like my content. Somehow, I managed to get to nearly 1,500 followers in just nine months.

Related: Don’t let old, bad content ruin your social media presence. Here’s how you can tidy up.  

I’m not claiming to be an Instagram influencer, but I’ve been doing something right in building an Instagram following. Here’s what I did to establish my social media presence — and how brands can do the same.

1. Choose a Subject

Your Instagram is part of your brand, so your account’s theme should be relevant to your company and its industry. For example, the purpose of the D Custom Instagram is to show our vibrant office culture, stacks of awards, silly but hardworking employees, and other day-to-day activities.

The subject of my Instagram is health, so it features recipes, exercise tips, and current health trends. An account’s theme can vary, but one thing is definite: When you stick to a certain subject, you end up building an Instagram following with an audience who knows what to expect. This helps you gain (and keep) your followers’ attention. 

2. Stick to a Color Scheme

As a brand, visual consistency is key to building an Instagram following. When someone first scrolls through your feed, he or she will judge its cohesiveness subconsciously, so be sure to make a good first impression.

I usually stick with clean, white backgrounds because I like a minimalist aesthetic. Finding a consistent color palette and being cognizant of clashing backgrounds both contribute to a beautiful feed.

3. Take Good Pictures

People want good photos in their feed, so ensuring photo quality is key to building an Instagram following. Taking Instagram-worthy photos isn’t as easy as it seems — a lot of thought goes into creating the perfect image. Here are some rules of thumb for taking photos that merit a spot on your feed:

  • Search for good lighting. The right balance of light and shadows allows for detailed, dynamic photos that engage an audience. My style requires bright, soft light to make my recipes and workouts stand out. 
  • Consider the overall composition. Because I’m usually taking pictures of food or workout equipment, I normally arrange for the element of focus to be in the center. However, sometimes it’s more interesting to the eye to have something off-center, but it really depends on the subject.
  • Take multiple photos. The more photos you have to choose from at different distances and angles, the better final photo you will end up with. 


A post shared by Sofia (@healthyespo) on

4. Post Every Day

Posting the right amount of content is key to maintaining and growing follower count. I found that posting once a day — not necessarily at a certain time of day — was the happy medium for my audience. Planning your posts is a balancing act: Post too little, and people will forget who you are; post too much, and people will get annoyed. Finding the right post and frequency mix requires trial and error. But, in time, brands can build an Instagram following eager for their next post.  


A post shared by Sofia (@healthyespo) on

5. Use Hashtags 

While hashtags can occasionally cross into cheesy territory, they are super helpful for building an Instagram following — most of my followers found me through relevant hashtags. Brands can also create their own hashtag, like D Custom’s #LifeAtDCustom tag, to encourage audiences to follow suit.

To ensure you’re using relevant and related hashtags, keep up to date with trending topics. For my Instagram, a current trend is vegan foods and recipes, so #Vegan and related hashtags are instant traffic boosters for my posts. Tip for brands: Find one or two influencers in your industry and see what hashtags they’re using to inform which ones may be relevant for your posts. 


A post shared by Sofia (@healthyespo) on



6. Post on Instagram Stories

Posting on Instagram Stories lets your followers know that your account is active and you’re creating new content. From behind-the-scenes video to live event coverage, Stories keeps your audience engaged and up-to-date on your brand. 

Want to see how I practice what I preach? Check out my photos on D Custom’s Instagram and see what else we’re talking about on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.