We've all seen them. Model accounts on Instagram with hundreds of thousands of followers. Tons of likes, comments, and almost somewhat of a "community" seems to exist around these accounts. Whether it's a fitness model, an alternative model, a fine art model, a portrait model, or even an "adult" model, these individuals tend to have super-active accounts, a brand of their own, and a style of their own.
As some of you may know, building a presence so large on Instagram isn't an easy task. Sometimes, it may seem like an impossible task without the use of racy posts, Instagram "spam" bots and automation, fake likes and follows, or simply just being a celebrity.
What many people don't realize is that a large following doesn't necessarily equal a successful career. A follower count is completely empty if those followers don't convert into sales, bookings, or create opportunities for you. Many large accounts, such as @JenSelter are able to turn their feeds into an opportunity magnet and land modeling contracts, sponsorship agreements, endorsements, travel opportunities, and other great bonuses.
However, none of this is by accident. Using Instagram to build an effective following over a large following can be a method of not only starting a new modeling career utilizing the platform, but also to boost your current career to new heights. Instagram, as much of social media, is an "organic extension of life" on the internet. In a nutshell, it's not all that complicated, and you should treat it like it's a platform for sharing your life and what you believe in.
Here's a quick, easy guide to starting and growing your modeling career and opening up opportunities on Instagram.
Step 1: Begin Building Your Brand Image
If you've noticed, successful Instagram pages tend to have a certain style, or a certain way of doing things. They may have a certain logo, a certain style of photograph, a certain way of using the "Stories" feature, a certain feed layout, etc. In the case of modeling, this begins with your username. Often, using your actual name, a phrase that defines you, or a "stage" name tends to help build your character. Next, a nice, eye-catching photo as your profile image helps too. Possibly the most important aspect here though would be your "niche", or the TYPE of modeling that you intend on pursuing. For example, @HeidiLavon brands herself as an alternative model with heavy emphasis on tattoos and body art. It becomes apparent when you visit her feed, look through her posts, and begin to get to know who she is. She posts a certain type of image that follows her brand.
For you, that would mean to build a page around the person that you WANT to be know for on Instagram.
Step 2: Begin Hashtag Research
Before going on an all-out posting spree, uploading tons of images, make sure you know how to categorize them. Instagram is a platform that puts emphasis on the use of hashtags, or those little words with the "#" sign before them. For example, in the case of Heidi Lavon, a tag she may use that's relevant to her brand would be #tattoomodel or #chickswithink. Many of these tags are easily found by observing accounts similar to the kind of modeling you would like to do and looking at the tags incorporated in their posts. Alternatively, you can also use a tool like Hashtagify.Me to research tags some more. For our own models, we tend to use a mix of these two methods. Ultimately, you want to gather 20-30 tags that are industry-specific, and some that are also local. For example, our models may use tags such as #longisland and #longislandmodels in their posts.
Step 3: Create AWESOME Content!
Your feed won't gain momentum until you have a good set of content that people actually want to see, comment on, and share. Your photos should be high-quality, interesting, and unique. No, nobody wants to see a picture of your breakfast (unless of course, you run a page about #pancakes). That means that you, as a model, need to put HEAVY emphasis on professional photography with good, high-end retouching, and a great story. The start of any modeling career is building a portfolio, so now is the best time to hire a professional photographer to begin creating your brand image. When we work with models, we tend to begin working with them prior to any branding. We work on creating a brand image for them so their posts get seen, and potentially go viral.
As far as your caption goes, your posts should ask people to engage with you. Perhaps ask a question, ask for an opinion, or ask people to tag their friends. Instagram rewards posts and accounts with lots of activity with...you guessed it...more activity! The more activity on your posts, the more it will be seen!
Step 4: Network, Collaborate, and Network Some More!
What's the best way to work with big names in the industry? Makeup artists, fashion designers, bloggers, feature accounts, photographers, and others?
Instagram, like much of life, operates and grows based on the relationships you build with other people. Start reaching out to individuals and brands that fit your modeling style. Leave comments on their posts, like them, follow them, and send them a DM (Direct Message) and spark a conversation. Good old collaboration and conversation isn't dead, and directly asking people who's work or product(s) you admire for a collaboration is a great way to network. You'll find that as your following grows, many of these accounts will become more receptive and open to collaborating with you on a project. In the beginning, it may be slow, but with time and dedication, you WILL grow! You've got nothing to lose by saying hello, right?
For my own page, @AakaashBPhoto, I tend to focus on messaging brands as well as large "Feature Accounts" that curate awesome, epic work from photographers for hundreds of thousands of viewers to see. I've opened up plenty of doors and built some amazing relationships by working with some of these pages. Not only that, but getting featured on these pages (which is no easy task) also helps with overall following, brand awareness, and fanbase. Check out the slides below for a few of these pages:
Step 5: Keep Your Portfolio Fresh And Up-To-Date
Much of being a model is consistently having your professional work out there in the open for people to see. Make sure you shoot frequently and post often to maintain a steady flow of activity and interest coming through to your brand. Usually, my marketing team recommends posting once a day, once every other day, or a minimum of at least twice a week. However the more "noise" you make within the Instagram space by posting epic, awesome photos that gather lots of attention, the better. Much of making noise involves being consistently active, so post as often as you can. Keep up with liking, following, and engaging with your fans, the people you admire, and your friends too. You should strive to be very active and present on the platform. People who engage with you should know that you'll respond back to them.
Also, for added emphasis, taking pictures of your breakfast/cat/dog/hamster/car/mirror selfies/blurry iPhone selfies/selfies in general is not a replacement for high-quality photographs that truly depict who you are. Just sayin'. Keep the non-professional posts to a minimum. If you want to broadcast your life to your fans (which you should), use the Instagram Stories feature.
Step 6: Maintain Your Reputation
This one's a given. In a nutshell, just be a good person online. Avoid conflict with people, calling people out, or any other unprofessional childish behavior that can compromise the image of your brand. Stay approachable, friendly, and energetic. Kindness and openness rubs off on other people. If people visit your page and see a bunch of conflict, they'll leave your page for good as quickly as they stumbled upon seeing it for the first time. Keep it classy!
Well, there you have it! Aakaash B Photography's quick and easy guide to Instagram fame and opening opportunities as a model!
There are tons of outlets available for you to promote yourself as a model, but having an Instagram presence these days is absolutely crucial to success.
Aakaash B Photography helps build personal brands for models both new and established multiple times per week by creating creative, unique photographs coupled with industry-level retouching for ultimate impact and value.
Interested in starting a modeling journey of your own?
We serve the Long Island, NYC, and Tri-State Area.
Send us a message and ask about how we can jump-start your portfolio and your branding efforts on Instagram and other networks!