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The Secret that Travel Photographers Are Using to Grow Their Instagram Following And Making Money

The Secret that Travel Photographers Are Using to Grow Their Instagram Following And Making Money

What you have before you is an amazing travel journey. You are traveling to the most exotic location. It’s an allure that you know will captivate the hearts of many people. You will capture the most epic and wondrous sights with your travel photography. There’s one problem though. You only have 16 Instagram followers and half of them are your friends and family.

You’re so proud of your travel photography. You want to share it with the world, but you just need to grow your page to more than 20K. You also want to travel the world and take stunning photographs of the most exquisite locations full time.

Well, it’s time to unlock the secrets of how to grow your travel photography account and get paid from it.

The Step that Newbie Travel Accounts Don’t Do: Research

99% of newbie travel photographers will start an Instagram account and post their pretty pictures without researching what other travel accounts do. This is why your page won’t grow up to 20K or why you aren’t getting more than a few hundred engagements on your posts. Research research research is a vital step in your Instagram growth journey.

How to Do Travel Photography Research on Instagram

  1. Look up 20 Instagram accounts in the travel photography niche with around 100K followers
  2.  Write down all the 20 accounts you found.
  3. Go to each account and study the posts that do well.

Here is a printable worksheet for you that you can use to write down the 20 accounts. Here are some thoughts to consider when you study an account:

  • Pay attention to see if the post is a video or if it’s an image.
  • Is the video a timelapse, hyper-lapse, or anything out of the ordinary?
  • What the subject of travel photography?
  • Are they posting in landscape format or portrait format?
  • How are they writing their captions?
  • Do they include a call to action in the caption?

After studying 20 accounts you should see common things that work and use them in content creation.

How to Make your Travel Photography Account More Professional

There are two key areas that you can tweak to give your page a more professional quality:

  1. The bio
  2.  The feed

How to Upgrade Your Bio

  • Create a bulleted list or short sentence paragraph of what you do
  • Keep the bio relevant to the travel industry and avoid listing things that have nothing to do with it
  • Use a travel industry relevant hashtag in your bio and naturally integrate that in your bio

How to Upgrade Your Feed

  • Think of your feed as a whole when you post
  • Avoid having similarly colored posts repeatedly next to each other
  • Use your research to help inform you on that type of content to post
  • Use a visual planner app like Planoly to plan your posts out

What Do I Post?

Certain types of posts perform better than others. You must find that out. That’s why the research step is important. The research helps you know what type of content gets the most likes and comments and what doesn’t. Develop a plan to post content based on high performing content you saw in your research.

Grow An Engaged Following with Your Captions

  • The main purpose your captions should do is to create a connection For example – Instead of posting that you just released a new track, talk about how you have a ritual of drinking 5 cups of coffee before you start working in the studio
  • Focus on telling a story For example – Instead of saying “Here’s a picture of the Maldive islands” talk about the travel journey of going to the Maldives, your perspective on what makes the Maldives beautiful, the problems you experienced getting to the islands.
  • Give your feed diversity For example – Don’t just share your work and be in sales pitch mode (aka telling people to visit your photo gallery), share bits of info that will make people like you and feel more connected with you.
  • Write long captions because long captions help users stay on your post longer and you’ll get benefited from the algorithm

Choosing the Right Travel Photography Hashtags

  • Use hashtags relevant to the travel photography industry
  • What are your keywords
  • What are your peers/competitors/influencers using
  • Keep in mind what Instagram suggests as a related hashtag
  • Use 11-30 hashtags
  • Post your hashtags in a comment by using a period and return, do this five times then paste your hashtags
  • Create different hashtag groups and keep them on your phone
  • Avoid using the same group of hashtags for every post
  • Copy your hashtags before you post, so you can quickly paste your hashtags into your post
  • Avoid using hashtags over 1 million views
  • If you must use a hashtag over 1 million views, then limit to a couple and paste them in your description, not your first comment

How Do I Get More Followers?

There are four strategies that will immensely help you get more awareness, genuine growth, and help you become part of the community. The first one is called the 100 cent strategy and the basic idea is to go to people within the travel photography niches and give your two cents.

The 100 Cent Strategy

  • Search travel photography related hashtag
  • Give your positive thoughts on the top 10 posts within that hashtag
  • Avoid stating generic comments like “great picture, love that photo, etc”
  • You want to give a unique and specific comment like “The way you composed your shot and set up your lighting highlighted the beauty of the islands ”

After you leave comments on 10 posts, you need to repeat this 5 times.

The 700 Hearts Strategy.

  • Your goal is to give 700 hearts to the travel photography community
  • Search a hashtag in the travel photography industry
  • Like 140 images
  • Repeat 5 times

If done correctly, you can do both these strategies at the same time to help save you some time. With both of these strategies, you’ll be giving out so much value to the travel community that people will start to become aware of your travel photography and follow you.

Live Sessions and Stories

Another strategy is to do more stories and live sessions. The thing about stories and live sessions is they are not like YouTube videos where people actively search for videos. People can stumble upon your story or live session, so it’s critical to make the first moments of your story or live session stand out.

Growing Your Following with Ads

Run Instagram ads of your top post against your niche. The thing about Instagram ads is to remember people consume them a little differently than a Google Ad or Facebook Ad. You’ll need to run ads consistently so people get familiar with your travel photography brand. As more people see your travel photography brand more, your conversions will increase.

How to Make Money with Your Instagram

When you start growing and getting a good engagement rate is when I’d recommend starting monetizing your Instagram. There are many ways you can make money. I will focus on two ways that have worked for me: Selling Products and Working with Brands.

How to Sell Products

  •  Create a great product. Your product has to be researched well to ensure it provides great value to its target audience
  • Create an Instagram story ad for your product. I would create two weeks worth of variations of your ad
  • Then post a variation of your ad every day at a time your audience is most active
  • You must keep promoting your ad every day (This is why you need slightly different versions of your ad, so your audience doesn’t feel bored with the ad)
  • Research appropriate travel photography industry hashtags and place them in your story (You can hide the hashtag so people don’t see it)

How to Work with Brands

  • Make sure you have good engagement. I find if you’re above 4% it’s good enough.
  • Your number of followers doesn’t matter as much as your engagement rate
  • Know the demographics of your audience well
  • You can use the analytics from your Instagram business account
  • You can sign up for a Fohr Card account which will give you deep insights on your audience,
  • Decide which brands you want to partner with
  • Research the PR emails of those brands
  • Reach out to those emails with your pitch
  • Working with brands is a numbers game, so the more brands you reach out to the more you’ll work with


Growing your travel photography Instagram account is easy. Creating an account that has engaged followers and make money requires hard work, passion, and dedication.

It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re not doing well because you see other people growing at a faster rate. You must only compare yourself to yourself. Keep being consistent and do better than you did the day before.

Make sure you follow this guide and remember your followers want to connect with you. Treat your followers like your friends and engage with them.

Continue to post great content that provides value consistently and you will grow your following towards 20K.