Blogging 101, Fashion

Instagram Tips – The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram

Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell

Hey guys,

This post is a post that is a long time coming. It is a subject that has gotten so much backlash, caused so much drama, and is also a mystery for many bloggers starting out. But now that I have interns who help me with my every day social media, I teach them everything I know about maintaining and growing my social media channels. There is so much that goes into growing your social media, and Instagram is a big part of it. For those starting out it might seem overwhelming when you are not growing at the rates some bigger bloggers are. But what most people don’t realize is there is a lot of back end people don’t tell you that goes into growing Instagram. And unfortunately it isn’t always fair and it isn’t always organic growth either. So this post isn’t your cookie cutter Instagram tips post you might read everywhere else. This post is the nitty gritty ugly truth about growing your Instagram.

Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell

So let me share with you my story when I first started. Before I started  blogging I had two Instagram accounts one personal and one fitness. My fitness Instagram grew to 10k in less than two years organically because I shared my fitness transformation on there. To this day it still grows with little maintenance and faster than my personal/fashion Instagram. However I don’t post consistently nor do I interact with my followers there so I don’t have the best engagement.  On the other hand my fashion Instagram has great engagement but grows at half the rate even with the help of engagement pods and constant interaction with my followers. It was frustrating the past year learning the algorithm and trying to grow my fashion Instagram, and let me tell you I have tried every Instagram tips. It was a year of trial and error, and I have finally come to a point where I finally found a system that works for me.

But if you really want to know the ugly truth about growing your Instagram here are some ways business and bloggers are growing their Instagram.

1. Follow and Unfollow method

Have you ever had a business/blogger follow you and unfollow you the next day? Well don’t take it personal but this is one way they are growing their Instagram. I hired a company to grow my Instagram and they used this method and let me tell you how much I am still recovering from it. Yes it gets you results, but you also end up following random people’s account that you don’t know and sometimes they even unfollow your friends. I wish I never hired someone to run my account because it was a waste of money.

2. Buying Followers

Yes this happens and it is so easy to do! For $50 you can get 10,000 followers! Unfortunately here is the deal with buying followers, your engagement goes down. These followers don’t really engage with you, and engagement is key to getting more views on your Instagram. Plus what is the point of buying followers who never engage with you, never visit your blog, and therefore doesn’t generate any sales for your blog?

3. Buying likes

I know people who have tried this and didn’t find this beneficial at all. Yes you have 500 likes but it isn’t real engagement. Brands and other bloggers can notice when you buy likes because it is instant likes within minutes you post. However those likes are not going to get you traffic you need for your post.

4. Automated comments

Have you ever had a random person comment a very generic and almost random comment on your picture and it obviously doesn’t make sense? That’s because they are using an automated method that comments generic comments according to certain hashtags. Unfortunately this method is not fool-proof and can easily make people unfollow you when they realize you are not being genuine.

5. Automated likes via hashtags

I use this method, and it is the only automated program I trust, though it is not always fool-proof. Some popular ones people use are Archie and Likestagram. What it does is it likes pictures for you using hashtags you use. With this method you have to be very specific with your hashtags because sometimes if you use a generic hashtag like #fashion or #fit you will find some very disgusting pornographic pictures there too! And that is not something you want floating in pictures you’ve liked feed. Subscribe and you will get sent my list of 30 engaging  “SPAM” free  hashtags I use to grow my Instagram .

6. Engagement Pods

Here is another way businesses/bloggers are growing their Instagram. I am in several of these and it helps keep your pictures “alive”. Basically what it is a group of bloggers who share their pictures in a message to be liked and/or commented on. Another reason why I love this is because I get to engage with some beautiful Instagram accounts who i may not have followed on my own.

7. Old Fashion Method

What is the old fashion method? Spending hours on hours a day engaging with your followers and liking and commenting organically on Instagram. This is a tried and true method that some people have time to do, and depending on how many hours you want to invest in a day, you can get a substantial amount of growth from it. But it is a lot of hard work.

8. Hire a Virtual Assistant or Intern

The bigger you grow the harder it will get to keep up with your Instagram. I hired an intern because it was beginning to consume me. I would spend hours at night catching up on my engagement pods and replying to all my comments. It was getting too much to handle. I currently have an intern who helps me maintain and grow my Instagram.

So there is the ugly truth about growing your Instagram. It is a lot of hard work that goes into it, as well as tactics and automatic tricks to beat the algorithm. So don’t take it personally when you realized some of your fellow friends/bloggers are using some of these method. It is after all just business. They may be growing at a faster rate than you are, but you have to ask yourself this is it worth it? the time? the money? the engagement or lack of? Where do you draw the line when it comes to growing your Instagram? If you bought your likes or followers would you be ok with that? Would you be ok with all the “random”, “strange”, maybe even creepy men following your account. Sometimes there are days where they follow by the hundreds the larger you grow. This is a price you pay when you become “Instagram Famous”.

Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell

Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell The Ugly to Truth on Growing Your Instagram Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell The Ugly to Truth on Growing Your Instagram Instagram Tips - The Ugly to Truth About Growing Your Instagram by Houston blogger Dawn P. Darnell


So here is the ugly truth about growing my Instagram, after making tons of mistakes along the way  I’ve realized the only way I am going to make my business grow is to focus on my content, create meaningful relationships, and not worry about what everyone else is doing. These are my best Instagram tips. I’ve increased my followers, my pageviews, and my sales by providing quality content for my followers. There is no cookie cutter way to Instagram tips, however there is a sure fire way to get your pictures noticed on Instagram that will help grow your followers. Subscribe for 30 engaging, yet non spammy hashtags that I use to increase my visibility, my likes, and followers.

SUBSCRIBE to receive 30+ Engaging Instagram Hashtags to gain followers!

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  • Reply The Ashmores Blog

    SO true. I love you and love following you sweet friend!!!!!!! You are legit and real.

    January 27, 2017 at 4:45 pm
  • Reply Ashley Zeal

    Love your sunnies!!

    January 27, 2017 at 5:31 pm
  • Reply Kim

    Such a great post Dawn! I wish Instagram would just go back to its old algorithm! UGH! The struggle is real


    January 27, 2017 at 5:43 pm
  • Reply xoxobellablog

    So true!! I love the honestly and truth.

    January 27, 2017 at 6:19 pm
  • Reply purejoyfromme

    I love seeing some of the insight to the work & time you and so many other bloggers put into your passion. Thank you for sharing this honest read! Xx

    January 28, 2017 at 7:06 am
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thanks love!?

      January 28, 2017 at 9:18 pm
  • Reply Natasha Stoneking

    i think ALL of us need to read posts like this to remember HOW to continue to grow the right way and make sure it’s a lasting growth, too…loved this post

    January 28, 2017 at 1:52 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    Wow Dawn, I loved reading this post. The rawness and truth about it, as I start my IG growth, this has been very helpful.

    January 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thanks for reading!?

      January 28, 2017 at 9:18 pm
  • Reply Roberta Higgins

    Love this post, Dawn! As a new blogger, I found this post so helpful. Thanks for your transparency! Xx


    January 28, 2017 at 5:56 pm
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thanks for reading!?

      January 28, 2017 at 9:18 pm
  • Reply January Hart

    Love this post! It’s tough out there, but I decided a long time ago to just keep going with the “slow and steady” method of growing organically. Buying likes and followers would honestly make me feel like such a fraud.

    January 29, 2017 at 4:26 am
  • Reply Lacey

    Instagram just isn’t what it used to be unfortunately! But, if we all take a little pressure off ourselves and focus on our content, I think that’s the way to go 🙂 btw, I absolutely LOVE this outfit!!

    January 29, 2017 at 2:59 pm
  • Reply Hillary @ Style in a Small Town

    The struggle is definitely real! Thank you for being so honest! I love that hat, by the way!


    January 29, 2017 at 11:19 pm
  • Reply Laura @ Walking in Memphis in High Heels

    Such a great post. Italy not a fan of the first two or ant unauthentic methods!

    January 30, 2017 at 6:33 pm
  • Reply Nataly

    The struggle is real when in comes to growing your following organically. Slow and steady wins the race, as I always say. I love your outfit too!

    January 30, 2017 at 6:38 pm
  • Reply Kelssey Layton

    I love that got so REAL with this post! There are so many things that bloggers are doing that most people don’t realize. Growing a real Instagram account with good followers is so much harder than anyone realizes! Thank you for taking the time to type this all out. Love it!

    January 30, 2017 at 6:42 pm
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thank you so much for your positive feedback!

      January 30, 2017 at 7:08 pm
  • Reply sarah lindner

    Looking gorg girl! Love the truth in this post! Glad people are talking about it now!

    Sarah Lindner

    January 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm
  • Reply Linh Nguyen

    Great read mama. Instagram is such a love and hate thing with me. It’s definitely changed since I joined, but I have to say I have met some great ladies through it. Love that you keep it real and stay true to what works for you 🙂

    January 30, 2017 at 7:14 pm
  • Reply Shelby Back

    Thanks for sharing the real life instagram growth struggles!


    January 30, 2017 at 7:18 pm
  • Reply Angela Amores

    I loved reading all about nitty gritty details of Instagram!! It was such a good read. I loved how real you were!!

    January 30, 2017 at 8:14 pm
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thanks Angela!?

      January 31, 2017 at 12:24 am
  • Reply Samantha Kuzyk-Raising Twincesses

    I totally miss the old Instagram! The constant changes are really making it hard to grow but I’d rather grow organically than by buying likes and followers! Your tips to grow organically are great!

    January 30, 2017 at 8:28 pm
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thank you!?

      January 31, 2017 at 12:23 am
  • Reply Maggie

    I love that oversized sweater!


    January 30, 2017 at 11:16 pm
  • Reply OTTEstyle

    This new insta K I L L S me. and that sweater is too good to be true.

    January 30, 2017 at 11:34 pm
  • Reply Jenna

    Love this pretty sweater!! But I don’t love Instagram anymore.

    January 31, 2017 at 12:22 am
  • Reply Ellie Chan

    Great read! I think it’s so obvious when bloggers buy their followers and likes. If they post a photo and 5 seconds later it has 1000 likes on it or they have 50K followers but their average photo engagement is 400 likes! The f/uf method just seems so disingenuous too. I realize the argument for “it’s business” but social media is supposed to be about engaging and being social! Loved this post! Thanks for sharing.


    January 31, 2017 at 3:57 am
  • Reply sunshineandmunchkins

    This is a great post because it’s so real. I get super annoyed with the f/uf method because it’s not something I do personally. Also, automated comments. Ugh. I posted about my miscarriage last week and I got a comment that said “briliant”. Um, no.

    January 31, 2017 at 4:05 am
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      I completely agree with you!?

      January 31, 2017 at 5:28 pm
  • Reply Lauren

    Love this! Such a great read for people who might be considering disingenuous ways to grow their Instagram.

    Thanks for keeping it real <3


    Lauren |

    January 31, 2017 at 3:01 pm
  • Reply Chelsea McKinney

    I love how real you were in this post Dawn! I have enjoyed following you for the past year now! (I only remember because that’s about how long I’ve been blogging and you were one of the first bloggers I started following). Also, love your outfit in the pics! Gorgeous, as always!

    January 31, 2017 at 4:36 pm
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thanks Chelsea! Keep doing what you are doing girl! Love your blog too!?

      January 31, 2017 at 5:29 pm
  • Reply gretahollar

    I think a lot of bloggers are guilty about trying a few of these methods. You give a lot of good advice!

    Greta |

    January 31, 2017 at 5:27 pm
  • Reply Claudia

    Great post friend!! Love it and will be using your tips!

    January 31, 2017 at 5:38 pm
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thanks Claudia!?

      January 31, 2017 at 10:54 pm
  • Reply Nina - the HSS feed

    Great post and I’m excited to be subscribed to your E-mails now!

    xx Nina

    January 31, 2017 at 8:08 pm
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thanks Nina!?

      January 31, 2017 at 10:54 pm
  • Reply dashingdarlinblog

    You look beautiful!! Adore this entire outfit! Enjoyed this post. so many great tips!!


    February 1, 2017 at 2:40 am
  • Reply Justine Y @ Little Dove

    Thank you for talking about this because I think there are still lots of people that don’t realize all this stuff is happening! I understand that people are trying to grow their business (i.e. accounts) but some of the ways they do it are so tacky and annoying.

    February 1, 2017 at 5:00 am
  • Reply Vladana

    Thank you for being honest! Loved it!

    February 11, 2017 at 6:32 am
    • Reply dawnpdarnell

      Thank you for reading!?

      February 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm

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