Essentials: About Me

Anthony Carbone

I never would’ve thought posting pictures on Instagram would turn into a 6-figure business for me…

In fact, it’s turned out to be much bigger than I ever expected. Especially when Entrepreneur.com, TechCrunch.com, EliteDaily.com, AchieveIconic.com, TheNextWeb.com, NewsFactor.com reached out to ask how.

I’m just a regular guy that has figured out how to be financially free thanks to Instagram. By following my passions and growing my followers to 15+ million, I have been able to make six figures for more than a year… All by posting photos of the things I love on Instagram. Now everyday feels like a weekend for me.

But first, let me rewind for a minute…

Life hasn’t always been this awesome for me. Losing my amazing father at 19 was crushing. He was only 46 years old and gone too soon. I then left my mom, brother, and hometown to put myself through University. Almost failing, I came out the other end of a 5-year systems engineering degree with more than $50k of school debt, no mentor, and no direction or guidance. Little did I know this was only the beginning.

The last 3 years have been extremely tough including losing my job and going into $150k debt, again with no direction, no mentors, and no help. Working 18-20 hour days, 7 days a week, I was looking for the right opportunity to capitalize on. I gained weight, I stopped working out, I went days without talking to friends & family or even leaving my computer.

Since being featured in Elite Daily, Tech Crunch, Achieve Iconic, The Next Web & News Factor, I’ve been getting a ton of emails. The most common question I get is, “Anthony how have you done it in such a short period of time and is it duplicable?”

So I’ve decided to share something here that I have never done before. I want to share with you how I went from $150k in debt and jobless, to being a successful entrepreneur
today. I am not talking about some pie in the sky stuff. I want to share some very real actions that you can implement and apply today.

Before I get to the advice, I just want to share a quick story with you, which has had a massive impact on getting me to where I am today.

I was always a good employee. I don’t have a sob story of how I was making peanuts in Corporate America. To be honest, I made great money and I would go on vacations
during my weeks off. Even though I guess I was living ‘the dream’ I always had little side projects that I hoped would set me free.

Each year at my job I would lose a piece of my soul. But it was never enough to walk away from that secure paycheck coming in each week.

Here’s one moment that stands out more than anything. I had been working at a job for 8 years and had done everything right. I exceeded all expectations and the numbers I was meant to hit. So one day I requested a raise from my boss.

In the nicest way possible, he told me to shove it where the sun don’t shine.

I almost told him the same… But yes, the weekly paycheck kept me quiet.

The way he would talk to me sometimes would boil my blood in ways that I could not describe, not to mention all the empty promises of promotions and raises for my continued hard work.

Then one day that security all came to an end. I lost my job. My employer straight up told me they didn’t need my services anymore.

It didn’t sink in at first. I always thought about doing my own thing full time but that paycheck was always too addictive, feeding the lifestyle I had been accustomed too.

At that time, I was building a site called MadWhips.com and I was making decent money on the Internet with digital marketing.

That still didn’t stop me from applying for 150+ new jobs… But nothing was clicking. I felt the universe was trying to tell me something. When I was working, I hated that I was never in control. I knew I was capable of so much more.

Looking back, getting fired was the best thing that has ever happened to me. It forced me to take a hard look at my life to understand what was really important. My father died at a young age, and when I got fired I was 37, so there was no better time to take a chance on myself. I never would have this kind of freedom if I was still working that job.

It was time to take my hobby and passion of cars and photography and turn it into a career.

No matter what business you are looking to build, I want to give you some advice…

I see a lot people selling some pie in the sky dreams so I’ll lay it out like it really is:

  1. First off, there is no substitute for hard work. All of my entrepreneurial friends who are successful (and stay successful), work their butts off. All of this ‘laptop lifestyle’ talk with only working a couple of hours a week is unsustainable. If you were to sit and watch the successful ones for a month, you would see the reality of things. When you are starting out you have to bust your butt. Your business is a unique living, breathing monster. There is no one model that it’s growth or needs will adhere to. It needs to be constantly fed to thrive. When it needs to eat, then it needs to eat regardless of your personal schedule. Keep this reality in check and you have half the battle won.
  2. You need to understand timing. I see some foolish people telling others to leave their jobs prematurely. Most adults have responsibilities; a mortgage, and credit cards etc. Starting a new business takes some funds, patience and lots of time. If you don’t have money coming in or a good amount of savings to keep you afloat, it’s going to get very difficult for you. You usually don’t have the ability to predict how long of a drive your startup will have before it starts to generate income!
  3. Having a mentor will help you succeed like never before. This applies to whatever you’re looking to accomplish. Having the guidance of someone who really knows their stuff is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you want to get in shape, a personal trainer will help you reach your goals faster than you ever will if you were to go at it alone with no direction.

The thing is, it’s not just me who’s seen success from Instagram. I’ve had famous clientslike Timothy Sykes, Neil Patel and Sara Underwood crush it on Instagram as a result ofwhat I have taught them.

“Right when I started working with Anthony, I saw my income from Instagram dramatically increase”

Sara Underwood

Everyday people with no prior experience or education aged 13 to 40 years old continue to crush it on Instagram following their passions, postings photos of things they love and making money from doing so!

People happily pay personal trainers top dollar for their specialized knowledge and guidance. The same principle should apply for your business.

If you want to start a real company, my best advice is to follow someone successful who has done it before.

I helped Tim Sykes build his Instagram account, which has helped him generate over $500,000 in additional income. He even went out and purchased a Ferrari 458 spider with the money I helped him make on Instagram. He has been using FB, Twitter, and YouTube and nothing had got him results like this. This is a guy who has been on Larry King, Steve Harvey, CNBC, Fox, CNN, Forbes, the list goes on and on.

“Before meeting Anthony I wasn’t making any money on Instagram and frankly it wasn’t worth my time. However, after Anthony showed me all his techniques and tricks I was able to make a ton of extra money – I even bought a new Ferrari. I owe him BIGTIME!”

TIM SYKES

He pays me handsomely (and recently flew me to Turks And Caicos on his private jet fora weekend in the sun) for my advice and mentorship because he knew how valuableInstagram was going to become even before seeing the results.

He asked if I was teaching this kind of thing to other people. Being more of a ‘doer’ and a
‘behind the scenes’ kind of guy, I wasn’t teaching it.

Tim said to me, “Anthony, you are doing people a disservice by not teaching what you know. Your results are documented, while fake dudes are out there teaching people based on theories and selling fake followers. You could help thousands of people achieve their dreams by following their passions, but you are being selfish.” In that moment I realized he was right. It was bigger than me. If I could teach a penny stock trader to grow his Instagram account and make money from it, I could teach anyone how to use Instagram and turn their passion into a business. It doesn’t matter if you’re into fitness, dogs, cars, fashion, music, sports, computers, stocks, sunglasses, toys, video games etc. You name it – my methods are applicable to any niche, and will work for anyone around the world in any language

“Anthony’s strategies helped me generate $332,640 in 3 months from Instagram.”

Neil Patel

After 38 years of living I finally had the chance to truly experience financial freedom. I want to give other people that opportunity.

If you are serious about starting an Internet business, I can show you everything I know, step by step.

I have a detailed course on how I have found success with Instagram and also offer a FREE 20 page Instagram guide to share with you if you are interested in learning immediately!

You can download it on my site here: www.wolfmillionaire.com

I know it can help you out as it has already helped out thousands of people around the world who’ve followed my free strategies and seen immediate results!

Essentials: The Instagram Opportunity

I want to help you understand how to maximize Instagram, find new & interestingaccounts, make new friends, gain more followers and actually make money fromthis platform as I have personally achieved in less than 2 years starting withnothing to now having more than 16 million followers and making six figures peryear.

This tutorial is just an introduction to the some of the best practices I use onInstagram. I recently launched my 24 Hour/84 Episode InstaWealth GrowthSystem revealing all my secrets and strategies via online step-by-step videos towalk you through everything I know. I even provide monthly updates to addressstudent successes and how to take advantage of Instagram as it continues tomature and grow.

The best part is my top students who have used these strategies during the lastyear have the fastest growing accounts on Instagram and they too are nowearning six and lately seven figures from Instagram!

The media has even gone so far to call one of my students “The Wolf OfInstagram”, inspiring the name “Wolf Millionaire” for these courses since littledoes the media know, he’s just been following my teachings to get where he istoday, one of the fastest growing accounts and top money-makers on Instagram.

Let me be very clear, my success and my students success is not luck, it’sstrategy. I have spent the last two years analyzing and constantly testing everydetail of how Instagram works, both on Apple & Android devices, and that hardwork has propelled us to thoroughly maximize & master Instagram.

Due to my success and my students’ success, I’ve been overwhelmed by people,small businesses and even large companies wanting to learn these techniquesthat I am now proud to share you. These guides will provide you with all the basicsteps you will need to create your own Instagram account, grow your followers,make new and interesting friends and even make money in the process.

I’ve spent the past few months putting these details and comprehensive guidestogether, while testing and re-testing these strategies with my accounts and mystudents’ accounts, so you will finally be able to harness the incredible power ofthis booming social network. Nobody has ever revealed the strategies I’m aboutto show you so I am VERY excited for you to learn them and then see theresults.

You can grow your followers rapidly and immediately start making moneyusingInstagram whether you have 500, 5,000 or 50,000 followers.

In September 2015, Instagram presented its latest user count confirming it hadpassed 400 million users, surpassing Twitter (320 million) and SnapChat andPinterest (both with 100 million) with over 80 million photos posted per day.Instagram has only been in existence for 5 years and it took Facebook almost 7years to accomplish the same growth. In terms of social networks, Instagram isstill extremely new, yet currently has the fastest growth rate and above averageengagement of any social network.

NOW is the time to create and grow an Instagram account to take advantage of its growth and money making abilities.

L2 Inc. 2015 Instagram Intelligence Report evaluated the world’s top brandsacross several niches. According to the report, the frequency of the posts bythese brands on Instagram has increased 23% over the last year, with theaverage frequency of nine posts per week. During the same time period, brandposts on Facebook has decreased, from an average of eleven posts per weekdown to eight posts per week. More and more major brands are also seeing thepotential that Instagram offers over Facebook or Twitter.

In countless tests with my students, my own accounts and dozens of brands thatI work with, engagement levels, product sales and commissions on Instagramtripled those that were posted on Facebook and quintupled engagement andsales of products posted on Twitter.

Three million U.S. teens abandoned Facebook between 2011 and 2014. Thesame teenage demographic now asserts that Instagram is “the most important” social network.

As an early adopter of Instagram, I continue to work with students, smallbusinesses and large brands across multiple industries, not just my automobileniche, helping them to create high quality engaging content with effectivecaptions and clear calls to action that helps them gain more followers and socialmedia attention while also making them more money in product sales throughtargeted advertising and promotions.

Instagram’s users scroll through their feed of images and videos from accountsthat inspire or entertain them, and therefore, having well-curated and strategizedahead-of-timecontent that is attention-grabbing is extremely important to yourgrowth and income success. Utilizing my techniques, you can make a full-timeliving on Instagram whether you have your own products or want to promoteother products that you believe in. I will walk you through step-by-step exactlywhat you should post to get the most attention and make the most money in onlyminutes per day.

Early adopter brands, and individuals on Instagram are benefiting fromInstagram’s organic – and currently free – unrestricted delivery of their content totheir followers, which is key to their popularity and monetization growth. In orderfor these individuals, small businesses and brands to have the same reach andengagement on Facebook and Twitter, they must pay to “boost” their Facebookposts and advertise using Twitter ads, both of which can start out small, butbecome very expensive very quickly before you see real traction or sales. Eventhen those advertising dollars do not guarantee that your content will be popularor make much or even any money so it’s often a money-losing proposition and amajor turn off. But people and small businesses still do it, and experiment withdifferent strategies because they want to “try” social media marketing and not“miss out” on this hot trend.

These people and companies are definitely on the right track exploring socialmedia marketing; they’re just on the wrong social media platforms. Just becauseFacebook and Twitter are the biggest social media networks in the world doesn’tmean they’re going to help you, your company or your brand thrive. And to growfast, make money and become popular in these crowded spaces where there’svery little overall user growth and far too much advertising and promotionalready, too much money is required. And remember, even after people spendthat money on Facebook and Twitter promotion, there are low odds of success.

Trust me, I’ve tried growing my account, my students’ accounts and the accountsof brands I work with on every major social media network; Instagram is far andaway the place to be without a doubt in my mind. Getting attention and utilizingInstagram for your benefit is the opposite of Facebook & Twitter, very simple,very cheap, often times free, and when your pictures and videos spread, andyour account grows, thanks to Instagram incredible user growth, it can catch onlike wildfire, no expensive advertising budget required.

Since Facebook owns Instagram, it’s logical to believe there will eventually be asimilar advertising platform where only those people & companies that spendgreat sums of money will be able to gain many followers, and make muchmoney, very quickly, but that has not happened yet…and their early attempts atintroducing the Instagram advertising platform have been minimal. That’s aGOOD thing for you and me and! There’s so much opportunity right now, for thenext few years and this is why you MUST SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY RIGHTNOW to grow your following and make money while the opportunity isgreatest…and cheapest!

Essentials 1: Choose Your Device

Android or iOS?

Instagram by design only legally allows its users to upload photos via a mobiledevice (phone or tablet) that run the Android or iOS Instagram app. I use bothdevices to manage my accounts, favoring Android for it’s increased productivitythat I will outline in detail.

I have used Instagram on my Nexus 4/5 (Android) and iPhone5/6 (iOS) since Istarted growing my accounts 2013 in order to study Instagram’s evolution onboth platforms.

There are only 2 aspects that iOS devices excel at over Android devices when itcomes to Instagram; image processing and image capturing capability. BothAvatar (profile photo) and photos uploaded to Instagram from an iOS devicehave better anti-aliasing, which means a slightly sharper resized image for yourprofile picture. I notice this the most when uploading profile photos, so if youwant your profile photo/logo to look the best upload it with an iOS device. It goeswithout saying that the iOS cameras are superior to any Android camera(especially in low light), so if you plan on taking live photos to post, then iPhone6/6+ is going to yield the best photos!

The biggest shortfall with iOS that negatively affects my Instagram workflow andproductivity is the inability to directly access a cloud based storage drive fromInstagram (when selecting a photo or video to post). When you have multiple adpartners sharing DropBox/Google Drive folders with their content, this becomes amajor headache for iOS users because you have to open DropBox/Google Driveseparately and export the photo/video to your Camera Roll first before you canuse it in Instagram. DropBox/Google Drive also allows for easy access to photosyou’ve edited or curated on your laptop/desktop and want to quickly post onInstagram.

Essentials 2: Mobile Apps

SwiftKey Keyboard App

The next major productivity tool essential is the SwiftKey app (iOS & Android).SwiftKey is a predictive keyboard app that does 90% of my captions for me.Install it and link it to your Gmail account, teach it some predictive text(@usernames, captions, #hashtags) and then access your predictive keyboardlist from any future mobile device. This has proven to be one of the most valuableapps I depend on as I scaled up my Instagram Empire from 2 accounts to 25accounts all by myself.

Watermark Apps

If you create your own unique high quality content, then I highly advise youwatermark your photos. It helps you establish and reinforce your brand/logo andcurbs blatant photo theft, which Instagram is plagued with.

I have been using Add Watermark Pro (paid version) for my Androidwatermarking needs since I started playing with Instagram and have no reason touse anything else. It is simple to use, allows for easy size/transparency adjusting,batch watermarking and the quality of the watermarked photos is equal to theoriginal photo. It also has NEVER crashed on me!

As for iOS, I use iWatermark (paid version) that gives the same results andfeatures as Add Watermark Pro.

Watermarks should be small but visible. I am much more likely to share a photoon my network that has a small clean logo than I would a larger one that takesaway from the image.

Cloud Based Storage

DropBox & Google Drive are the two widely used cloud based storage utilitiesused by Instagram power users. If using an Android device you have an addedadvantage of being able to directly access photos/videos stored in your cloudstorage when selecting a photo while in the Instagram app. I highly recommendyou take advantage of this functionality where/when it makes sense for you.

Communication Tools

Instagram communication depends on page to page. Some people list their emailaddresses on their BIO (remember NOT to list the email address you used tocreate your Instagram account) while others don’t but will respond usingInstagram Direct Messaging platform (DM).

Kik Messenger has become the default Instant Messaging (IM) app tocommunicate with other Instagram account owners. It allows you to remainprivate (doesn’t show your phone number) and requires you to select a uniqueusername to represent yourself. Most Instagram accounts have their Kikusername is the same as their Instagram account. You can also create groupchats. Be careful when communicating by KIK, not everyone who has a pageowns his or her username on KIK. The safest way to know if you are actuallycommunicating with the page owner is through Instagram DM (Direct Message),or the exact email or KIK username listed on their BIO.

Essentials 3: Instagram Setup

Email Address

Before you start to create your first (of many) Instagram accounts you need tosetup 2 NEW email addresses. There is no substitution for this. This is a hardrequirement. Create 2 simple NEW Gmail email address. It’s ideal to have asimilar email address to the Instagram name you are going to create (forbranding continuity) but not essential. Just make sure they are clean, short aspossible and professional. Avoid using “_” or “.” in your email address as it cantranslate into errors when people try to reach you, and ultimately lost revenues.

Why 2? Because 1 you are going to use to register your Instagram account andnot tell anyone about that email address. Then you are going to list the other oneon your Instagram account for people to reach you at for advertising orpartnership inquiries. You never want anyone to know what email you used toregister your Instagram account as it increases your vulnerability to hackers.Trust me I have seen and experienced everything. Do this and you will be hackproof!

Make sure the passwords to your new email addresses are strong and differentthan each other any of your previous passwords for anything online. Never givethese password to anyone it’s your lifeline and 1st level of security. If you adhereto this rule I can ensure you never loose your Instagram account to a hacker! Yesyou heard that correctly, I say this with 100% certainty.

You might think it will be a pain to manage several email addresses, but Gmailhas evolved and makes managing multiple Gmail addresses without having toalways remember the password. Furthermore, if you use Hotmail or Yahoo orany other service as your main email and only ever want to check that account,then just forward your new Instagram Gmail accounts to your main emailaddress. This way, anytime someone emails your Instagram email (which youwill list in your Instagram account Bio) these emails will always be forwarded toyou. And because you have that account locked down with your strongest uniquepassword, no one will ever be able to hack it. You can sleep stress free knowingthat your future moneymaker will always be safe as you grow your account dayafter day.

New Instagram Account & Username

Now you can create your first Instagram account using your new highly secureemail address! Your username should be as short as possible, yet as descriptiveas possible to accurately describe what your page is all about. Keep in mind thatyour username has 50% to do with people searching for accounts to follow. Makesure you choose a DIFFERENT PASSWORD than your new email address. Thisis your 2nd level of security. Do not share this password with anyone. EVER.

Try to avoid using “.” in your username. It’s a complete pain in the A$$ for peopleusing predictive text programs like Swiftkey. If you must use a separator to getthe desired username, use underscore “_” and never more than 2. Do not everuse 2 of these underscores “__” in a row, it’s extremely confusing and makesyour account look amateur.

Also Note: Per Instagram’s Terms of Use

12. You must not use domain names or web URLs in your username without prior written consent from Instagram”

Bio

On to writing your Bio! Your Bio is your chance to sell yourself and your accountto attract new followers. Every new potential follower that comes across youraccount is going to spend only a couple seconds evaluating your page. They willeither scan your Bio to checkout a couple of your posts (to see if you post qualitycontent), or they will just post spam ads and decide if you deserve to be followed.Keep your BIO short, descriptive with proper spelling and grammar and go easyon all those emoji’s, they make your account look amateur. If you want to havebullet points and maybe line spaces to make your content look clean use anotepad app on your page to format your Bio how you want it to look, then copyand paste it to the BIO field of your Instagram profile. Limit your Bio to 4-5 linesso that your BIO doesn’t take over your profile page and push all your homepage photos so low that users have to scroll down to see your first row of photo thumbnails.

Avatar / Profile Photo

Next to having an impactful Bio, your Avatar/Profile Photo visually reveals moreabout you and your brand to your potential followers. Keep your Avatar simplewith little to no text. If you must use letters to abbreviate your page name, use aclean simple font. Regardless of what device you are going to be using tomanage your account(s), please upload your Avatar using an iPhone/iOS devicewith picture resolution of 1080 x 1080 pixels as it will ensure your profile pictureis razor sharp, high definition without aliasing. Also, consider how your Avatar will look in your follower’s news feed. Again, the simpler the design, the more effective it will be to maintain your brand when a users sees it on your post in their Instagram feed.

URL Link

The final piece of setting up your Instagram account is adding a URL to your Bio.This is the only click/linkable URL that Instagram allows on each of our profilepages, so lets use it to our advantage. Unless you are proficient with your ownwebsite analytics, I highly suggest using a URL shortening service such ashttp://bit.ly, which allows you to shorten a URL to a custom Bit.ly link and will alsotrack the number of clicks it receives to provide you with valuable feedback. Ifyou are going to use a big long Affiliate URL, or even a YouTube URL to aspecific account or video, then please use a URL shortening link. There isnothing more amateur than seeing some long URL in someone’s Instagramprofile. Keep it short, keep it clean and keep it professional if you want to be taken seriously.

Public Vs. Private Account

If you want to run an account with the goal to establish your brand/account andmake money, then keep your account PUBLIC. There is nothing that turns offpotential followers than arriving at your page and having to follow a PRIVATEaccount to see what you post. If you are running a personal page then youmight want to consider making your account PRIVATE in order to shelter yourpersonal information from stalkers, weirdo’s and the Internet in general. Younever know who is going to use your photos for what reason.

Telephone Number

Next to your brand new email address you created (the one you created solelyfor your new instagram account), your 2nd level of protection is to add and linkyour smartphone telephone number to your Instagram account. Adding yourtelephone number into your Instagram account profile adds another level ofsecurity in the event you lose your password or get hacked. Instagram allows youto do very quick SMS text message password reset directly from the Android appBUT NOT from an iOS app. If you have an iOS device, make sure you have agood friend on speed dial who can initiate an SMS reset for your telephonenumber on their Android device. Hopefully iOS will add this functionality.

Facebook Connect

You’re 3rd and final level of defense is to connect your Facebook account to your
Instagram account. This will add another level of security by allowing you to login
and do a password reset (in the event you forget your password or get hacked)
with your secure Facebook Connect credentials.

Essentials 4: Posting Content To Instagram

You are now ready to post photos and video to Instagram!

Photo & Video Sizes

Given that Instagram originally forced us into using a square based photo (due tothe mobile nature of their app), it’s best to use that entire square crop real estateto wow your followers with an edge-to-edge “full bleed” photo or video. This isalso known as a 1:1 aspect ratio. This means no white/black barsabove/below/side of your photos to mimic the square crop format from whateveraspect ratio you are using on your DSLR camera such as 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 etc. Theminimum resolution that Instagram uses in their photo uploads was 640x640pixels.. This means that any photo you upload to Instagram should be no smallerthan 640×640. Now, you should ideally use 1080×1080 pixels for all your photosto ensure they are in line with Instagram’s latest size/resolution updates. This willallow you to deliver the highest quality photo experience to higher resolutionmobile screen resolutions. Remember content is king!

Captions

Captions are extremely important. A caption can make or break even the most spectacular photo or video. A poorly written caption can make you look like an amateur, while a clever/witty/proper one can transform a mediocre post into a viral one. This will help boost the average engagement of likes & comments, which ultimately results in new followers.

Captions can be long or short. It really all depends on your audience and the purpose of your account and posts. If you are simply providing your audience with photo or video content you might want to consider using less than 130 characters in your caption including no more than 2-3 descriptive #hashtags to ensure your caption are shown before the “more”. If you want to use more #hashtags put them at the very end of your caption.

The number of lines in your captions shouldn’t exceed 5-6 in order to ensure the effectiveness of your message or advertisement. Anything more and the user won’t read it.

Update: In October 2015 Instagram has updated how much of the caption is displayed before it shows “more”. Make use of these 3 lines and 130 Characters before the “more” to get your Call To Action visible. This will ensure that it’s seen whether or not the user clicks on “more” or leaves a comment and scrolls up to read the expanded full caption.

Some examples of Call to actions are: “Follow @username”, “Visit awww.website.com”, “Click The Link in Our Bio”. You can stuff all 3 of theseactions into the first 3 lines of your caption if you want to brand yourself or youradvertisers! Keep it clean and short and use 1-2 Emoji’s at most.

If you choose to use other people’s photos, you should provide photo creditslinking to their Instagram username in the caption and tag them in the photo.Remember that even if you post other peoples photos and tag and credit them,this does not ensure you will never be reported for copyright.

There is no exception for posting other people’s photos without giving thephotographer credit – NOT the page you stole it from. This will land your accountin serious trouble and ultimately opens the risk of having your account disabledby Instagram. I learned this the hard way while I was black box testing theInstagram system early on growing one of my first accounts.

Hashtags

#Hashtags are dead to me. They always have been. I grew every single one ofmy first major Instagram accounts from 0 to 16 Million Followers without relyingon, or even using #hashtags.

Surprising, right? Well, the keys to becoming a top, and more importantly,money-making Instagrammer might surprise some given the mainstream“knowledge base” about Instagram, but that’s why I, along with my fastgrowing/money-makingstudents and brands that I work with, have been able togrow leaps and bounds faster than other people who rely on commonassumptions instead of time-tested facts.

In June 2015, Instagram updated their search functionality by displaying the Top9 #Hashtags (based on # of likes and age of photo) for any searchable#Hashtag. I have been testing this out and I haven’t seen any noticeable changein the number of daily followers or likes on my photos. As of April 2016, Icontinue to evaluate the impact of this change and see many students growingtheir accounts effectively using my proper hashtag guidelines!

With the massive amount of photos being updated daily, and the number of spam#Hashtags being used, I have found the use of common high level #Hashtags tobe useless when it comes to growing your account or scoring meaningful likes.Using hashtags to target specific niche keywords, descriptive keywords that fityour content or competitor keywords can be effective, but remember that using acompetitors #Hashtag is free branding for them.

Use less than 2-3 #hashtags in your top of captions and if you must plagueInstagram with more put them at the bottom of your caption so they are hiddenbelow the “more”. Remember, your posts and choice of #Hashtags will reflectyou, and more importantly, your brand.

If you’re posting a photo of a red apple, don’t just use #apple as your #hashtag;use a more descriptive one such as #RedApple. By using two word descriptive#Hashtags, your chances of attracting new users with specific #Hashtagsearches will be more targeted and effective!

Tagging

A great way of getting your photos noticed is to tag other accounts in the photoyou are posting (unfortunately you can’t tag a video the same way). Don’t wasteyour time tagging irrelevant accounts that your photo has nothing to do with orthey might ban you. Also make sure you check the accounts you are tagging sothat you are not wasting your time tagging them. Some accounts turn off theability for others photos tagged of them to show up in their “photos of you”

Posting

When should you post and how frequently should you post? No matter what timezone you are in, it’s essential to post during peak time to maximize exposure andgrowth. Using the New York (ET) time zone here in North America as myexample, I have found that the hottest times to post are first thing in the morning,between 8am-11am; in the afternoon, between 2pm-4pm; and in the evening,between 7pm-9pm. I find my photos perform the best and yield betterengagements during these time slots.

Frequency

When you start your account from nothing, I suggest you post 1-2 photos a day:one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. When you reach 5,000followers, you can do 3-4 posts a day, followed by 4-5 posts per day when you hit10,000 followers.

I have always posted as soon as my last post hits 50% of its average number oflikes. Once your account is over 1000 followers you should have a stable senseof what your avg. number of likes per photo is. You can quickly calculate this byadding up the total number of likes of your last 10 posts and then dividing by 10to get the “avg. # of likes per photo.

As an example, if your “avg. # of likes per photo is 100 likes, then after you posta photo and it hits 50 likes, your followers and Instagram are ready for your nextpost. Just remember that as your post frequency increases the chances ofloosing followers’ increases. So take it slow, focus on posting quality content,with relevant short captions and hashtags and interact with your followers andcommenters. When you want to increase your daily number of posts, add in 1photo per day for a couple weeks and see how that affects your total # of likesand comments and most importantly gain/loss of followers.

When an account reaches 100k-250k, I will post 6-8 photos per day; and when the account reaches 500k, I will post 10-12 photos per day. My largest account, which has over a million followers, will be posted to hourly – usually 14-18 posts a day.

While I have the ability to grow my accounts using my larger accounts that have millions of followers, it’s no different of a strategy than if you were paying a larger account to promote you or just growing your account organically.

Scheduling Apps

Hootsuite and Latergram are my two favorite apps that allow you to setup photos+ captions ahead of time and then get a notification on your phone to post at atime you have setup. These apps won’t post for you but will push your specifiedphoto + caption into Instagram where you can edit the photo and paste thecaption into the post before hitting post/share! These apps are extremely helpfuland allow you to setup an entire day or weeks worth of posts (via laptop ormobile) ahead of time. All you have to do is click on the notification (for whateverspecified time you have setup the scheduling for), enter the caption (via pastefunction from your clipboard) and hit the post/share button!

Engage Your Audience & Peers

I highly suggest you start engaging with your followers as soon as possible. As you start engaging with your followers others will see this and want to join in on the conversation.

Several ways that you can do this is by asking them questions in your captions to see what content they want to see, or what they like about the photo/content you are posting.

You should also be reading and monitoring your comments during the first 5-20minutes of each post. This is when many people will attempt to troll your account,or other users. I have a zero tolerance for users who spam, swear or bully. Iimmediately ban first time offenders and delete their comment trail in order tokeep my posts and account clean and professional. A page that isn’t monitoredor managed is a turn off for ANY ADVERTISER!

Essentials 5: Analytics

There are several different Instagram analytics tools available for you to get moreinformation about your account and your followers. The three free ones forpersonal/business that I use and recommend you check out are:Iconosquare.com, SocialBlade.com and SocialRank.com. All three use theInstagram Connect login module, which means that when you login to these siteswith your Instagram account, you are logging in as safe as you would be to yourInstagram account on the Instagram app.

Iconosquare.com shows you a full suite of statistics about your Instagramaccount such as top followers, posting frequency, engagement, account growth,popular posts etc. I use it to see my Geo graphic breakdown of my followers sothat I can better determine what to sell them and when/what to post based onglobal time zones of my followers. I also use it to browse accounts at a high levelto quickly determine how many average likes their posts get relative to theiraccount size. By bringing up an account of interest, I can immediately see howmany likes/comments their last 20 photos got and quickly calculate their averageengagement per post. I can also see how many of their posts hit theDiscover/Explore page, which is shown by a golden star next to likes/comment count.

This average engagement of likes per photo is extremely helpful in determiningwhich accounts are going to give you the best results (views, engagements,comments) for your dollar. For example if you had an account with 100,000followers and their average photo gets 1000 likes, this would mean their accountsees an average of 1% engagement likes per post. However if you came acrossanother account that only had 50,000 followers and their average photo also gets1000 likes, their account sees an average of 2% engagement likes per post. Theaccount with 50,000 followers probably charges you less per post (to advertise)than the 100,000-follower account, and yet you would be getting a better dealwith the 50,000-follower account. Keep this strategy in mind when evaluatingwhom to advertise with, as it will help you stretch your budget when growing!

It also allows you to view your posts and filter them by number of likes andcomments, which is an easy way for you to see what type of posts/content is bestperforming on your account.

SocialBlade.com shows you growth/follower statistics about any account on agranular daily/monthly level. It also gives you the ability to see how many peoplethey follow/unfollow and how many posts they post/delete. Growth is anothervery important metric that I use when evaluating an account against otheraccounts. One thing to keep in mind is that when an account grows (especiallyin the 100,000-500,000 follower size), their average likes/comments per postshould grow as well. It’s easier to see this with smaller accounts than accountsover a million followers. Accounts over a 500k-1M followers tend to have slowerincreases/gains to their average number of likes per posts as they grow due totheir size and how Instagram distributes photos amongst your followers. As ofOctober 2015, I am seeing just about every major page having less likes perphoto that I did the last 2 years. Instagram is starting to throttle engagement justlike Facebook did. Prepare yourself to have to “pay to boost” your content to getthat original organic engagement we saw for the last couple years!SocialRank.com is another great tool that helps you better understand who yourtop followers are from an influential perspective. It allows you to sort and viewyour followers as; most valuable, most engaged, best-followed etc. It allows youto search your followers BIO for keywords, search location of photos andhashtags. By targeting and engaging with my biggest followers, I’m able to drivemore awareness, likes and comments from them, which ultimately results inmore growth for my account.

Essentials 6: Growth

Growing your account organically by posting quality content takes time. Gone arethe days when you could create an account in a new niche and grow quicklybecause you were the first one. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, but it’sdefinitely harder now that there are so many niche accounts. Growing youraccount organically is easier once you have established your account. I find thatonce an account hits 50,000 followers, organic growth gets easier and easier.So lets kick start the growth and throw some fuel on the fire in order to get youraccount up and running quickly.

The quickest way to get your account up to 10k, 50k and 100k+ is to pay largeraccounts for shout outs. Keep in mind you get what you pay for, so make sureyou are paying accounts that would have a demographic you are interested in foryour page. There is no use paying a highly dominant female oriented page forfollowers/shout outs if you want to market and sell male oriented products.

A major factor that will contribute to the number of followers you receive andretain from a shout out will depend on how professional your profile looks. Youcan maximize this potential by choosing a great avatar/profile picture, a simpleprofessional bio, and high-resolution photos. Pricing varies from account toaccount as well as from niche to niche, so shop around and see what pricingsome of your favorite larger accounts charge to help promote whatever accountor niche you are going to enter!

Do not give your account login/password to anyone claiming to be able to get youthousands of followers for cheap. People offering these services will attempt tosteal or pollute your account with fake followers, which will lead to your accountbeing disabled by Instagram. Just like anything in life, there is no FAST WAY toachieve anything worthwhile. If someone’s offer to grow your account sounds toogood to be true, it’s probably a scam!

Another common way to grow your account is through participating in a shout outfor shout out (S4S). This is where two accounts of similar size will promote eachother’s page in an attempt to help one another grow. I have done thissuccessfully in the past when I was growing my very first couple of Instagramaccounts and it worked out very well not to mention it was FREE!

There are several apps and web services out there that claim to automaticallygrow your account by following and un-following a set number of followers (thatyou instruct it to from other major accounts) per day as well as automaticallycommenting on your behalf. I have never used these apps and highlyrecommend that you DO NOT either. I even predicted last year that Instagramwould soon disable these apps, and in November 2015, Instagram announcedthat it would no longer support these auto-like/comment/follow apps as of June2016. Looks like I have a crystal ball and can predict Instagram’s future moves!

Basics 7: Monetization

There are several ways you can monetize your Instagram account, but the mostimportant part is to understand when to start monetizing so that you don’tinterrupt or affect your account growth.

The first option and the least invasive option to monetize your account is to sellthe caption space below your photo. This option allows you to continue postinghigh quality content that fits with the theme and type of photos you have beenposting, while selling the caption space to feature and shout out another page todirect your followers to checkout and ultimately follow the @username youfeatured. Instagram just completed an update in which 3 lines of your captionare displayed. If you want to read more, you’ll have to click on “more” under thecaption. Users must now click the comment icon to see the full caption, so makethose 3 lines as short and effective as possible to deliver your Call To Action anddeliver results (followers, sales, clicks etc) to whoever you are selling captionfeatures/shout outs to or they will not renew their spend $ with your account.

The second option is to sell the URL link in your Bio. You can sell thisdaily/weekly/monthly, or you can sell this on a per post basis where it works inhand with caption-featured posts (like the first option above). Through the captionon your post, you would direct the user to click on the link in your Bio to visit apaying sponsor’s page. These URL posts are usually negotiated to last anywherefrom 6-8hours or on a daily basis with or without caption features.

Just to give you an idea of how powerful your URL link can be as you grow, my30 accounts that have 16 Million followers can generate 10,000+ URL clicks onaverage in a month WITHOUT telling my audience to click the link in my BIO.When all accounts are listing the same URL and you are brute force postingevery hour, you can drive a lot of traffic and monetize by selling products on yourmobile e-commerce store, other people’s products or by affiliate offers.

The third option is to post other people’s photos/videos or Ads along with acaption of their choice. These posts are usually negotiated to last for 6-8 hours(or longer) depending on whether the content fits with the account they’re beingposted on. This is up to the page owner and sometimes varies from account toaccount. Just about all of the advertising campaigns I run are on a monthly basisof 15 posts. The client gets advertised once every other day, making it seem lesslike a repetitive ad, yet building the clients brand one seed at a time amongstyour followers. Today’s social media advertising requires lots of patience. Youmust look at advertising on Instagram as a long-term strategy. You can’tadvertise for 1 month (with 15-30 posts a day per major account) and assumenegative sales mean your product(s) won’t sell. You have to drill the samemessage over and over to your followers with the same messaging, branding [email protected] to really build trust before gaining a new customer. Remember theamount of people that like your posts will be less than 1-2%. It usually takes 2-3months for “new” products to really hit their stride and demonstrate Instagram’sincredible return on your budget (ROI). Some products sell out immediately dueto their high relevance/demand to the target audience of the Instagram accountdelivering the Ad, and others that rely on male/female and age demographics, asmass market targeting should pace their budgets for at least 2-3 months beforefully evaluating Instagram as a marketing channel.

The fourth option is to like another account’s photo/video that was recentlyposted. For maximum results, this step is usually done in the first 1-2 hours of thepost that is being liked. When you post a photo on Instagram, you can like up to8 photos (not from your account). These 8 likes turn into 8 thumbnail notificationsin your follower’s activity and help drive the photo you liked to the InstagramExplore/Discovery page where new people will like and follow. By following thistactic, you can drive other people to the picture you like – influencer marketing atits finest. ☺

If you are personally representing yourself on Instagram and have grown a largefollowing you might want to look into the various Influencer MarketingCommunities that allow you to list your Instagram profile in various verticalswhere major brands look for Influencers to work with to promote their brands!You don’t need to have millions of followers to become an Influencer Marketer onInstagram, just a nice following with great engagement. I have seen people with10k followers make over $100 per post to promote new shoes, clothing andalcohol! Checkout www.hashtagpaid.com, www.instabrand.com,www.speakr.com and www.snapfluence.com to name a few of the topcommunities to list your Instagram account.

In order to get a jump-start on how to find advertisers, look at other larger pagesthat are similar to yours (or that have advertisers that you see a good fit with yourpage and followers) and see who they are promoting or advertising. Then emailthose advertisers (look at the Advertisers Instagram account or website forContact Info) and introduce yourself and your page and see if they are interestedin advertising on your account. You will need to email the Instagram account(s)where you first saw their advertising and see how much they charge so you canfigure out a strategic and enticing price to try and get that advertiser to advertisewith you.