Planning to use Instagram to get customers for your business this year? Here is everything you need to know before you dive into Instagram world if you want to succeed. I don’t know why, but not many people talk about the reality of what it takes to grow on Instagram. Instagram requires a lot of work — hard work. And it comes with its own set of challenges. If Instagram growth were easy, literally everyone would be Instagram-famous by now!
So as a business owner, what should you realistically expect when you’re serious about using Instagram to grow your business?
In my experience of growing to 180K followers on Instagram, I faced similar hurdles when trying to grow my business on TikTok. No matter what social media platform you’re trying to grow on, it’s important to have realistic expectations so you can map out a strategy that gets you real results.
If you’re a business owner who’s ready to take Instagram seriously this year and give your business a boost, I’m breaking down the top three things you absolutely need to prepare yourself for success. I also want to get real about the harsh reality of growing on Instagram that no one really talks about. But don’t worry, I’ll also leave you with actionable tips so you can avoid the mistakes I made and make your Instagram journey much easier!
An Instagram success mindset
Why is this important?
Mindset is absolutely key if you’re serious about growing AND monetizing your Instagram. You should know what to expect when you start taking action, so you don’t get discouraged by slow progress.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had business owners slide into my DMs feeling discouraged because their content wasn’t getting the views or level of engagement they expected. I say this out of love — but you’ll need to post way more content than you think before you can really see and measure results. Are you feeling discouraged because you’re not seeing results just after posting 12 reels? Well, that’s not really having a success mindset. That will only set you up for disappointment, and I don’t want that for you, friend.
And I get it. Some social media experts make it look so easy to grow on Instagram. But the reality is, here are a few “setbacks” you can and should expect on your journey:
What you need to know
- You’ll need to post A LOT of content — and by that, I mean maybe hundreds of posts — before you start to see real growth
- People won’t start engaging with your content right away. It takes time, consistency, and genuine effort to nurture your community, even if you’re only starting with 50 followers
- You’ll have to keep showing up even when it feels like you’re talking to crickets. Trust me, that can be tough (and your mind will try talking you out of it)
- You have to create content people actually care about, which means learning how to create it
- You’ll have to set aside time to learn so you can plan your content strategically and make sure each post is intentional and designed to drive sales to your business. (otherwise, Instagram can turn to unproductive time-suck)
- Camera skills? Crafting hooks? Video editing to keep people engaged? Those are all skills you’ll need to learn
- Commitment will become a regular part of your daily and weekly schedule, not just a one-time thing
- You may be answering your own questions on Instagram stories for a while before someone sends you a real question about your product or service
- If you think you can just post something and customers will come, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it doesn’t work like that
- There will be moments when you question your abilities, self-doubt creeps in, and all the effort you’re putting in will feel like a waste of time
When you know this is all part of the Instagram journey, you can prepare mentally, adjust your schedule, and keep pushing forward.
One day, all your efforts will finally click. You’ll get a comment from your dream customer with a DM inquiry, and your confidence will soar. You’ll make those goals happen. Your reels will get more views. You’ll get even faster at creating content. Writing captions will become second nature. And you’ll be so proud of yourself that you kept going.
Instagram can truly transform your business and open doors to opportunities you never thought possible. But to get there, you’ll need to work on your mindset, not take setbacks personally, and keep going when no one’s watching — even when it feels like nothing’s working!
Whew, that was a mouthful! But I had to share this with you because I know how frustrating it is when other accounts make it look so easy — trust me, it’s not. So let’s not expect it to be easy. Let’s be smart and prepare for the journey so you can see the success you deserve. Alright, let’s chat about the #2 thing you need to grow your business on Instagram:
A LOT of content
Why is this important?
I already mentioned this in the last section, but you will need to post a LOT of content. Instagram is a commitment. It becomes a part of your weekly schedule. It will even take some time out of your daily schedule — just like any other work responsibility in your business.
Commitment is also key if you want to grow on Instagram. That means you’ll have to post week after week, month after month, even for years to come.
This can be a real challenge for business owners because we often don’t plan that far ahead. We plan for the short term and think about how to sustain our efforts for the next few weeks, not really how we’ll keep it going long-term.
What you need to know
To help you stay consistent, I recommend creating a list of posts you can keep adding to over time — kind of like a content pipeline. Personally, I use my Notion planning system for this, but you can use anything: Google Sheets or even a good old-fashioned notepad if you’re a pen-and-paper kind of gal.
When I first decided to really focus on Instagram growth, I spent an afternoon with my laptop and a cup of coffee brainstorming five niche-related subtopics I could talk about over and over. Then, I started writing down post ideas for each of those sub-topics until I reached 100. It was tough at first, but once I got into a flow, I couldn’t stop.
Now, where do you find these ideas, you might ask? You can search for ideas on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Google, and Answer the Public. You can even scan through podcast topics from your niche. Of course, you don’t want to copy others, you just want to get inspired by similar ideas to create your own. And remember, you only need to draft post titles and ideas, not create the full posts. That comes later, in another planning session.
This approach allows you to commit more deeply and makes content creation way more efficient! No more mindlessly scrolling for your next post idea. You can sit down in a cozy spot, pull out your list of post ideas, and let the creativity flow. To sum it up, you’ll need a LOT of intentional content related to what you’re selling to attract potential customers. This means building an ongoing list of content ideas rather than rushing to put together last-minute posts.
That takes us to the #3 thing you need if you’re serious about growing your business on Instagram this year. And that is…
A content planning system
Why is this important?
This is something else that not many people talk about when it comes to growing on Instagram. You hear all the time that you need to post more, show up on stories, and basically do all the things. But what people don’t tell you is HOW one person is supposed to do it all.
Well, this is how: you need a content system that will support you long-term. And why is that important? So you can…
- Fit social media into your busy life so you can grow your Instagram community with the pockets of time in your day (without feeling like you have to dedicate a whole day to it)
- Have an ongoing list of posts for the future and easily fill up your social media calendar with finished posts
- Easily batch parts of your content creation process throughout the week
What you need to know
Once you have your content pipeline list, a batched content planning system can look something like this:
Tuesday: Take an hour to brain-dump bullet points for a few posts and write out the captions
Thursday: Do your hair and make-up, take some photos, and record short clips you can use for your reels
Friday: Edit your clips and complete all your pre-recorded reels (or hire someone to edit your clips to save even more hours of time)
The truth is, there’s no perfect content planning system. Some people take an entire day to draft post ideas, write captions, record videos, and edit everything because they have that kind of time and flexibility. I used to do that, but after a while, I found it pretty exhausting. These days, breaking down my content planning system into tasks batched throughout the week has made content creation a whole lot easier, and I’m sure it will for you too!
To plan and store my posts, I personally use my Notion planning system to keep track of what’s scheduled, what I’m working on, and the stage of content creation I’m in for each post. But like I mentioned before, you can use any tool that works for you.
Try to be realistic with your time management. Take a good look at your schedule and realize that to keep up with Instagram, you’ll need to set aside time every week or every other week to create content. Break it up into smaller manageable tasks that work for you. Then ask yourself: What parts of your social media process could you outsource to make your life easier? What tasks do you need to accomplish on a weekly basis to stay consistent? Where will you plan and save your posts?
The bottom line is, content creation doesn’t have to be stressful if you have a content planning system. If you plan out the tasks needed to post every week and create routines around them, growing your business on Instagram becomes much easier.
Make this the year you reach next-level growth in your business through Instagram
Growing your business on Instagram isn’t easy, but it’s more doable when you set realistic expectations and build systems and routines to support you. So if you’re serious about growing your business on Instagram this year, remember, here’s what you’ll need:
First and foremost, you’ll need to work on your mindset. Understand that you can absolutely reach your goal of growing on Instagram if you don’t expect it to be easy. Don’t let setbacks discourage you. Be prepared to keep going, even when no one is watching or you don’t see results yet. You’ll also need a LOT of content. Consistency is key. Challenge yourself to brainstorm at least 50 niche-specific ideas related to what you sell. Get those creative juices flowing!
And of course, you’ll need a content planning system that supports you. Your life is busy as is. That’s why you’ll need a system that fits into your daily schedule and makes it easier to show up on the platform. Plan it out — where will you store posts? What tasks do you need to check off each week so you can keep showing up? How do you need to adjust your schedule? What parts of the process can you outsource to make it easier?
As a final encouragement, don’t think about how hard it will be to grow your business on Instagram. Instead, think about “how can I make this work for me?” You’ve got this, friend!
If you want even more strategies for growing your business on Instagram, tune in to today’s podcast episode here 🎧.