9 Rookie Mistakes That Stop You From Gaining Followers On Instagram + How To Avoid Making Them

Becoming an Instagram Influencer isn’t as simple as taking out your iPhone (or Android) and taking aesthetic pictures. Instagram influence is a business like any other business, and that’s why only a fraction of wannabe influencers end up becoming genuine influencers. If you want to become a legitimate influencer then you should avoid these eight rookie mistakes new influencers make.

Rookie Mistake #1: Not Defining Your Brand

All popular influencers have a well-crafted brand that they’ve taken their time cultivating. Ensuring that when people think of them, they think of something in particular. Why do you think Kim K isn’t taking pictures of herself cooking with no makeup? Her brand is more sexy and less stay-at-home-Pinterest-mom. 

This is something any aspiring influencer can learn from the Kardashian-Jenner clan: define your brand in its early stages. Because if you’re struggling to gain traction, it most likely has to do with a lack of brand focus.

How To Avoid This Mistake?

Before you start publishing content on your IG, create an outline of what your brand is. Answer the three questions that will help you define your brand:

1// What do you do?

Are you a fashion, health, family, photography, crafts, fitness, food, beauty influencer?

2// How do you execute what you do?

Do you prefer taking pictures, videos, or writing? Or a combination of these three?

3// What makes you different from others?

Why should people follow you, or like your pictures? What makes your content particularly unique?

If you’re struggling to define your brand, research popular influencers who are in a similar niche as yours, and see how you would improve their content or strategy.

Rookie Mistake #2: Being Problematic In The DMs

Celebs know that DMs aren’t a private form of communication, anything you say is just one screenshot away from going viral. Even a harmless chat exchange can be taken out of context by someone seeking to “cancel” them. That’s why most celebs don’t interact with followers via DM and prefer responding directly in comments.

How To Avoid This Mistake?

Only say in the DMs what you would say publicly.

Rookie Mistake #3: Creating A Meaningless Bio

Most influencers’ bio links to other projects, but that wasn’t always the case. Your bio is the prime real estate and can help you grow online, that’s why, as all successful Instagram influencers know, you should use your bio to entice people to follow. It’s a quick snippet of your life, and a sneak-peek into your feed, it’s succinct, catchy and unique. What else would you expect of a 150 character bio?

How To Avoid This Mistake?

Don’t waste the precious 150 characters afforded in your Instagram bio b typing out your roles like Stylist @Ulta| Entrepreneur| YouTuber. Be more creative. Let people know what you’re about, and WHY they should follow you without using all of the 150 characters. 

Rookie Mistake #4: Only Following People For A Follow Back

The hashtag “follow back” movement is dead. In all honesty, the follow back movement never worked, it only created fake engagement, which Instagram doesn’t take into account when recommending accounts. Not only does Instagram ignore these follow-for-follow accounts, but the consequences of participating in these campaigns can also be dire. By participating in a follow-for-follow campaign, you’re only jeopardizing your growth on Instagram and preventing yourself from becoming a reputable influencer.

How To Avoid This Mistake?

Follow people with a specific goal in mind. Either follow them for recognition, inspiration or to reciprocate their goodwill. You don’t need to follow everyone that follows you, but you need to ensure that your feed is engaging enough that it justifies you not following everyone.

Rookie Mistake #5: Trying To Compete With Established Influencers

You don’t have 10 million followers so why are you trying to behave as if you do? If you’re just mimicking what other popular influencers do no one’s even going to notice your pictures. Be different, and find the composition that’s befitting of your personality and style, whether that’s using different filters, poses, or angles. You should also avoid comparing yourself to established influencers, to escape becoming known as a clone.

How To Avoid This Mistake?

Create monthly goals. Be specific – yet realistic – about how many followers you want to gain, how many posts you want to publish,  and how much time you want to spend researching and learning your craft. Doing this will distract you from becoming obsessed with an influencer and their feed. 

If this fails, unfollow any influencer you’re developing an unhealthy obsession with so you can focus on your content. 

Rookie Mistake #6: Not Having A Budget For Instagram

The most successful influencers spend a significant amount of money on curating content for their Instagram feeds. Why do you think beauty or fashion influencers are constantly buying makeup and clothes, and trying different styles? Their entire brand is based on their looks, so looking good is essential. But, many new influencers make the mistake of either spending too much on curating an Instagram feed or spend nothing at all, both of these are incorrect strategies. You want to keep your feed exciting without breaking the bank, and that’s what every established influencer has discovered: the balance of spending on their Instagram feed to spur growth.

How To Avoid This Mistake?

Create a weekly or monthly budget of how much you’re willing to spend on your Instagram feed that can be as little as $10 to as much as you’re able to afford. By planning your spending for the month you’re also able to schedule when specific posts will be uploaded.


Rookie Mistake #7: Buying Likes and Follows

Regardless of what any Fiverr seller tells you, Instagram can spot fakes, bots, and bought followers and likes, and they’re clamping down on accounts who do this. But, popular influencers know that fakes ruin engagement, and drain credibility, plus they’re a nightmare for Instagram’s algorithm. Fakes:

Ruin Engagement: Bought followers and likes will cause your account to have disproportionate numbers. You’ll either have more likes than comments, more followers than likes, or a weird combination of both. If brands do ever want to work with you, they’ll consider your engagement and with numbers out of whack, they won’t want to work with you.

Destroy Credibility: The more you grow the more eagle-eyed your followers will become, if you’ve bought likes and follows in the past, people will think you’re still doing it, making your popularity and growth less credible.

Affect Instagram’s Algorithm: Instagram won’t know who to recommend your images to because the majority of your audience would be bots. 

How To Avoid This Mistake?

Don’t buy likes and follows. Rather, invest in a good Instagram strategy or a brand manager, which you can also find on sites like Fiverr.


Rookie Mistake #8: Asking Your Friends and Family for Follows

The Kardashian-Jenner clan can follow each other all they like because they’re keeping the clout in the family. But, if your family is like most families in America, they’re a bunch of ‘cloutless’ (aka ordinary) individuals. 

Plenty of new influencers are chasing numbers, so asking friends and extended family for a follow makes sense. But, by doing this you’re essentially creating a giant ping-pong game. What happens is your pictures only get recommended to people within that circle and so the game of ping pong begins.

How To Avoid This Mistake?

To grow organically and sustainably on Instagram, you should focus on being appealing to people outside of your circle –  people outside of your ping pong circle. 


Rookie Mistake #9: Thinking You Can Become An Influencer Overnight

Overnight success takes years to acquire. People only obtain “overnight success” because others aren’t aware of them until they’ve achieved a certain level of success! It’s a catch-22 situation. 

How To Avoid This Mistake?

Post consistently, even at times when you’re experiencing lulls in your engagement or you’re not gaining any new followers.

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