Instagram Growth Hacks for Beginners – with Allison Baggerly

You’re a content creator and you know you need to take advantage of social media. After all, you’ve probably noticed many FinConners find success using platforms like Instagram to boost their following. But how do you get started? We are bringing in an Instagram expert to share Instagram growth hacks to help you grow your followers today.

Allison Baggerly of grew her Instagram account to nearly 100,000 followers in under 3 years, and she sits down with us to share her tips.

This episode doesn’t just contain the best hacks for Instagram growth. This special episode of the Money & Media podcast lets you listen in while Allison coaches Cameron Huddleston, a fellow FinConner and personal finance author, on how to get the traction she is looking for on Instagram to see Instagram growth today. 

Why Allison Started With Instagram

As a content creator who is exploring different social media platforms, it is important to choose the ones that you understand and enjoy. In fact, Allison says that’s exactly why she started with Instagram.

She loves the platform and knows that the people she hopes to connect with are on Instagram. As a result, she felt that she could grow a community there. And that’s exactly what she’s done.

By choosing a platform she enjoys, she found that building relationships over social media became very natural. As she started to hit her stride, her Instagram followers started to balloon.

Click here to learn why Chris Browning of Popcorn Finance also loves the Instagram platform so much.

Lessons Learned as an Instagram Beginner

Allison didn’t turn into an Instagram expert overnight. She says that there were several lessons she had to learn the hard way as an Instagram beginner. Here are two things you need to know as before your focus on Instagram growth.

Other Creators Are Not Competition

Initially, Allison viewed other content creators in her niche as her competition. She insists that is the wrong approach. Once she started sharing the work of other people and engaging with their accounts, she was thrilled at how productive the collaboration became. As she shared other people’s content, they started to share hers. With more eyes on her posts and her Stories, she saw her followers start to multiply.

After all, Allison emphasizes that the ultimate goal of Instagram is to reach more people in order to help more people. That means that collaboration is key.

Collaboration at FinCon about Instagram Growth

Keep it Real with Your Audience

Instagram followers want to see real life. It is tempting to create an account that is curated and filtered to perfect. But know that isn’t what most audiences want. If you want to see real Instagram growth, you need to showcase real life.

People are drawn toward content that is raw and vulnerable. They want stories of realness. Allison knows this to be true. Once she started embracing authenticity with her own account, she saw a dramatic change in engagement and followers.

Learn more about the importance of an audience with these tips from Mr. Money Mustache.

Create a Monetization Strategy

Before Allison shares her Instagram growth hacks for beginners, she thinks it’s important for content creators to consider their monetization strategy. After all, part of trying to grow your Instagram account depends on your understanding of its purpose.

As a result of her Instagram growth, she is now monetizing her Instagram account. However, she notes that she is very selective. In fact, she is so selective that she finds herself saying no to partnerships more than she says yes. A philosophy that has served her well is to charge double the suggested rate and take on half the clients others might suggest.

She does this to protect her community. She knows that building an Instagram audience is all about trust, and she wants to preserve that trust.

In addition to monetizing her account through brand partnerships, she also uses Instagram to drive people to her products and her membership offer. While not every single one of her followers clicks her links, consider the power of being able to direct 100,000 sets of eyes to something you created.

Woman looking at Instagram feed

Instagram Growth Hacks for Beginners

Now that you have thought a little bit about what not to do on Instagram and given some consideration to your monetization strategy, it’s time to grow your account. Allison says these tips are the same strategies she used to grow her Instagram account to a nearly-six-figure following.

Be Creative with Images

The first thing Allison says is to allow yourself to get creative with images. Instagram followers are not drawn to stock photos. Truthfully, they can feel artificial, almost like an ad you might be tempted to scroll past. That means you want to be more thoughtful with your photos.

Don’t worry about capturing the perfect photo. Remember, your goal is to showcase real life, not a perfect highlight reel. Allison points out that you can also use the same event, just feature it in different ways. For instance, when she put up a photo of herself speaking at FinCon, she created another post featuring that same event later. She just made sure to use a different camera angle to give her audience something new to look at.

In addition to taking your own photos, you can also use text as an image. Some Instagram accounts feature screengrabs from Twitter or Facebook. Other people find success using pages from a book or pull quotes of catchy text. You can even use text that you create yourself. Message boards are very popular on Instagram, and Allison uses hand-written sticky notes in many of her images.

Allison Baggerly from Inspired Budget Instagram Account

Take a look here at some of the Instagram photos Allison creates.

Consider Captions

Another important strategy for Instagram growth is to be thoughtful with your captions. One of the best ways to make your captions hit home is to actually give your readers time to process what you are saying. That means that you want to add emojis and line breaks in order to prevent your caption from reading like a wall of text.

Allison knows that a lot of Instagram beginners set out paying attention to formatting. However, Instagram can make a mess of it. If you are someone who types your caption directly into Instagram, you have probably noticed that when you post, you lose a lot of your formatting, especially spacing. To combat that you can use a separate app, like the notes feature on your phone or the Later app, to help preserve your formatting.

Plan Out Content in Advance

If you want to grow your Instagram following, you need to plan your content in advance. Use a method that works best for you. Perhaps it’s a paper planner or maybe you want to use a digital tool. No matter how you plan your content, make sure you keep to a consistent schedule.

Allison says one way to do this effectively is to batch plan your content. Block out 2-3 hours of time, and brainstorm your content for the week or even the month. By following a consistent schedule, you can make the planning process even easier.

Allison outlines how this might look for an Instagram beginner.

  • On Mondays, you might drive content to your blog.
  • Then, on Tuesdays, you reach out to your followers with questions to get to know them better.
  • You can use the other days of the week to consistently do other things, such as showcase images of you speaking or linking to past articles.

Having a predetermined schedule makes it much easier to slot in new content. Plus, your Instagram followers will appreciate the consistency.

Creating a schedule in a notebook

Click here for more advice on how to create standout content on Instagram.

Invite Interaction

It is important to remember that social media isn’t just about sharing content, it’s about interaction. Instagram growth is, in fact, driven largely based on audience interaction. Allison says one easy way to do this is to actually tell people you want an answer. At the end of your caption, you can tell people to “drop an emoji in the comments that shows how you feel about X” or “tell me your own story about Y.”

Once you start to get comments, there’s another step. Make sure you reply to your comments. This is key to ensuring that people continue to interact with your content. The more people who comment, the better the Instagram algorithm works in your favor.

Another one of Allison’s Instagram growth hacks is to invite people into your direct messages. In your Stories or in your individual posts, you can ask people to reach out. When they do, she suggests replying to them using voice messages. It’s more personalized and allows them to get to know the real you a bit more. This is another way to build authenticity and establish rapport with your audience.

Make Instagram Marketing a Priority

This Instagram growth hack is simple, and it’s also essential. Instagram is fun, but it’s also part of your job as a content creator. Allison says that in order to see real Instagram growth, you have to commit to using the app. You will get out what you put into the platform, she emphasizes.

To help you block out the time, she says that you should actually schedule it into your day like any other non-negotiable appointment. By prioritizing Instagram marketing, you are building a better relationship with your audience.

Collect Instagram Inspiration

Do you think Instagram is overwhelming? It could be because you aren’t using Instagram effectively. If you find yourself getting lost scrolling through post after post, ask yourself if you are scrolling or researching. There is a difference, Allison says.

It is important to be mindful of who you follow. Rather than trying to follow every single account that focuses on finance, focus on people who are in your specific niche. If you are a personal finance author, follow other authors. Then, take the time to study their accounts.

What do you like about what the other person is doing? How can you make some of those aspects reflect you, your brand, and your Instagram account?

Allison also suggests taking notes while you research. Take screenshots and jot down ideas. Make sure to store them in a folder on your phone. That way, you can be purposeful with your research instead of getting lost in the scrolling.

scrolling instagram feed

Find the Best Free Tools for Support

Allison uses several tools to help her ace her Instagram game. As an Instagram beginner, taking advantage of all of the free tools online is one of the most important Instagram growth hacks.


Allision uses Canva to create many of her Instagram designed. This tool offers both a free and paid version, though you are likely to find the free version more than enough to get you started with Instagram. Use their templates or start from scratch.

Lightroom App

She uses the Adobe Lightroom app to make things brighter and crisper. Don’t be intimidated by the technology. Give yourself a bit of time to explore one or two features, rather than trying to master them all at once.

Later App

She also uses the Later app to format and schedule her posts. The free version of the app allows you to schedule up to 30 posts per month, and she says that is more than sufficient for her.

Final Thoughts on Instagram Growth Hacks for Beginners

You’re creating awesome content, and now you need to get more eyes on it. Using social media platforms as marketing tools is an important part of building your brand. You might not become an overnight Instagram sensation, but using these Instagram growth hacks will have you leveling up your account in no time.

Are you looking to grow your Instagram following? What strategies are you using?

Please let us know in the comments below. 


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Andy Hill

Andy Hill is the award-winning podcaster and blogger behind Marriage, Kids and Money which is dedicated to helping young families build wealth and thrive. Andy's personal finance experience has been featured in major media outlets like CNBC, Business Insider, MarketWatch and NBC News. Trusted as a personal finance influencer by national financial brands, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the US. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys wrestling with his two kids, singing karaoke with his wife and watching Marvel movies.