How to build an audience on Instagram?

How do I build an audience for ‘This Bag Is Not For Sale’ on Instagram?

In my previous post I created a list of things to do to launch a brand. One of the most important things is having an audience that is interested in your product or service. In my case there is a large audience for bags, but I need them to know about my story (brand) and bags. I want to build my audience on Social Media. Because there are several platforms I asked Google: What is the best social media platform for building a fashion brand?

Reading through the top 5 articles I concluded that the top 4 Social Media platforms for fashion are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Where to start? Because I had already made some pictures of my creations and prepared myself by doing a photoshoot, I started sharing those on Instagram already and will focus on expanding that first. When I started sharing pictures I hoped that many would find my pictures and the followers would come by the hundreds. 🙂 Unfortunately that did not happen. So what is the trick? I opened Google again for guidance: How do I build an audience on Instagram?

Links I found:

 7 Ways to Build an Engaged Instagram Following

Which Social Media Platform is the best for your brand?

How to build a massive Following on Instagram

My shortlist from what I have been reading – How to build an audience?

Create likeable and shareable content.

Define what kind of image / target audience you want to appeal to and make sure that comes across with the pictures and text you use. Make sure you stay consistent in the look & feel of what you are sharing to make the collection of your pictures look like one message.

Use relevant Hashtags

People search for content by clicking on hashtags (#…….) so it is good to add relevant hashtags to your post to appear in searches of others. Check other accounts that are sharing similar content for the hashtags they are using. You can also find the most popular hashtags used on Instagram via Webstagram. Make sure to also create your own unique hashtag so you can search and find pictures shared with your hashtag.

Interact with your potential audience

Unless you are very lucky the options above will not give you a huge audience just by posting and tagging. The bigger the active audience is you have, the more likes you will get and the better your posts will be visible to others. To get more followers you can actively make your account visible to others by liking or commenting on pictures from other Instagrammers and you can follow others to make yourself seen. The best effect is achieved by doing all three and really be sincere in your actions. The motto is simple: The more effort you put in the more you get out of it.

Get featured by other accounts

Above options take time and effort to grow an audience. If you want to grow faster you can search for other people on Instagram that make it their business to share stuff related to the business you are in. This Bag Is Not for Sale is all about bags and fits great in any fashion shoot. For me it will be key to find fashion bloggers and see if they want to collaborate in posting pictures with my bags in it. Sometimes people ask money for this and others will do it if you send them your goods for them to test and use in a shoot. The outcome of this is never certain. I will try this soon.

What have I done so far?

The moment I am writing this I have just crossed the 1500 followers mark on Instagram. The first 1000 I have gathered by following 7000 instagrammers that showed interest in leather bags and in fashion. So my success ratio was 1 out of 7. From 1000 followers I have changed my approach. I stopped following and changed to liking pictures with tags relevant to fashion and leather bags. This has led to 100 net new followers per week. I say ‘net new’ because a lot of instagrammers play the same game and many will unfollow you after a few days or right after you followed them back. I use the app Instafollow to track gained and lost followers.

What will I do next?

Over the next few weeks I will engage with other people on Instagram to see how I can make my brand more visible by getting promoted on accounts with many followers. Come and follow me on Instagram to see how it is working. 🙂

Thanks for your time and love to hear your feedback.

Photo by Erwin Budding Photography / Model: Elselyne



What am I trying to achieve?

Project Goals

Thank you for all the feedback and helpful links I received in the first week this blog is live. What I also received many times is the BIG question. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS? Do you want to sell leather bags? Is it just a marketing experiment? What do you want?

All very good questions that not only deserve a answer, but NEED an answer and I want to share it openly. A goal helps to focus and sharing it helps others to know where they can help if they would like to do that.

Before I make a summary of the specific things I listed to achieve, I will answer the questions above more broadly. Currently I have a set of bags that I want to build a brand around. What a lot of new brands do is create everything around the brand before they launch it. They build a website, social media design, places to sell, a story around it, etc.. This project started with a set of bags and nothing else. Now I will start gathering information and resources to build all the marketing material, a presence online and I will share the progress here, on Twitter and on Facebook. For just a picture story I have an Instagram account. During the project I will be sourcing help from and via Google to build and design a website, Optimize search results, get help on attracting people to follow my new brand on Facebook and Instagram, etc. My budget is 500 Euros. Not because that is what I am willing to spend, but because I want to see where I can get with such an amount. This to hopefully prove you do not need huge marketing investments to build a brand.  On February 1st 2017 I want to be able to say I built a brand and it is ready to rock. During the project I will continue to add new leather bags to the lineup to make sure there is something to sell on February 1st 2017.

To help myself and you know where help is needed I have created a wish list.  What I hope to get out of this project before February 1st 2017:

  • A weekly blog post about building TBINFS and improve my writing skills doing it.
  • Knowledge of the digital marketing tools
  • Experience in using digital marketing tools
  • Create a global buzz around This Bag Is Not For Sale as a brand
  • Get a picture of a famous person wearing one of the bags (for the fun of it)
  • 20.000 followers on Instagram
  • 5.000 followers on Facebook
  • 1 on stage performance planned, to share my experiences with an audience
  • 2 offline publications about TBINFS in printed media
  • Create the opportunity to sell my bags to an enthusiastic and loving fan base.


Questions that I have ready to go search for:

  • What does it take to launch a new brand?
  • How do I best use Social media in building a brand?
  • How to decide on a brand style to match with the product and potential buyers?
  • …and more questions will come along the way.


Thank you very much for reading this and I would love to hear your suggestions, feedback and questions you might have.

Photography – Erwin Budding Photography

The Photoshoot

The Photoshoot

The real no-brainer in building a brand for leather bags was that I needed good photo material to showcase the bags. Erwin Budding is a good friend and offered to help organize a photoshoot in Amsterdam. Erwin posted a request on several Facebook groups where models, make-up artists and photographers exchange work to build their portfolio. You can find these groups by searching for TFP (Time For Portfolio). We received about 40 reactions from models that wanted to cooperate with the shoot and we selected 4. Unfortunately 2 dropped for personal reasons and on the pictures you can see how the other two made sure we totally forgot about that.

To make sure weather conditions, light and the looks of nature would serve the results, I wanted to do this close to summer as possible. You might say that October 16th is not that close to summer, but looking back it was the best possible day for a shoot. We have the pictures to prove it.  The trees, the light and the temperature was great!

On October 16th 2016 Erwin Budding (Erwin Budding Photography) and I packed all gear and bags on a handcart in Amsterdam and we walked to the café where we agreed to meet the models Manouk (check her profile on Instagram)) and Elselyne (from Mix Models & check her profile on Instagram) around 10.00 in the morning. After a good cup of coffee we started the shoot across the street. This is where the picture above this post is taken.

Between 10.00 and 14.00 we walked through Amsterdam spotting nice places to shoot, shoot great pictures, have fun and move on. This was my first time working with models in a photoshoot and a my expectations were a bit colored by the divas on TV shows. Huge compliments go to Elselyne and Manouk for their relaxed and professional attitude. They are a dream to work with. With great patience and perfection they repeated the same walk or pose, when the busy life in Amsterdam disrupted the desired image. Please visit their profiles and give them a thumbs up for their work.

Better than words does this short video give an impression of a great day:

Erwin and I closed the day at Café Winkel 43 with the best Apple pie in Amsterdam in a warm October sun. Next blog posts will be decorated with more pictures from the shoot. The pictures will also be used on Social Media and on the final website that needs to be created in the next months.

Are you looking for a truly awesome photographer please contact Erwin Budding. The way he picked the right spots, arranged the perfect light and talked everybody through the shoot was just superb.