Growing an Instagram Account From 0 Followers

For those unaware, I run a food blog… Anti Foodie. I know what you’re thinking… “You don’t like much food in general, how can you have a food blog?” And that’s the exact point of the blog. I don’t like a variety of foods, but Celeste does, so when she wants to try a new restaurant or something, I try to taste at least one new thing each time, or order something I normally would not order… then I write about it.

Check it out if you’d like, but the main point of this post isn’t to talk about the food blog itself, it’s to track various methods of gaining Instagram followers on a brand new account dedicated to food.

When I originally started Anti Foodie, I was just sending everyone to my personal Twitter and Instagram pages with the idea that I would just post random pictures of food here and there and people could check them out. But then I realized that I don’t really like when my Instagram feed is full of pictures of what people are eating, so why would I want to do that to my friends… thus a separate Instagram account for Anti Foodie was born. (I did the same thing with Twitter, but food is more visual, so we’re focusing more effort on Instagram)

The Beginning

The account was born on Monday June 20th, 2016. It was a brand new account with 0 followers, no profile, nothing… starting from scratch. @AntiFoodie was not available so I opted for @FoodieAnti, which is fine for now (I can always change it).

The first thing I did was made sure to get some images up on the account. Nobody is going to follow an account that has no images, so I posted 3 pictures within the first hour. I have cut back the amount of pictures per day to 1-2 so that I ensure that I don’t run out of photos to post. As of right now I am only posting photos that I have taken, aside from one new item from Burger King which was too insane not to post. But my goal is to post 90% of my own photos.

Somehow I jacked up the caption on the first picture I uploaded so none of the hashtags or text I used worked and the photo didn’t gain much traction. And that’s fine, it was the first picture. I went back and edited the caption and the photo ended up getting 10 likes and 3 comments as of this posting.


It took a few photos for me to get into a groove in terms of captions and hashtags. The key to getting likes is to use hashtags. People are more likely to find you (especially when you have no followers) if you attach hashtags to your photos. I didn’t want to go overboard with hashtags so I started slow. I did a little research within Instagram’s search and determined which food hashtags would be good to include on all photos. Then when I post a picture specific to a city or state, I do some quick research on the popular food hashtags for that city, as well as just the normal city hashtags.

In regards to the captions, I try to keep them short and to the point. If they can be witty or funny, great… if not, no big deal. People are mostly looking at the pictures and then they want to know what it is they are looking at and where they can get it.

Make sure to tag the restaurant that the picture is from within the caption, also use a hashtag related to the restaurant if you can. Then I make sure to tag the location of the restaurant so that it comes up in that feed as well. Doing these things makes it more likely for the restaurant itself to find your photos and repost them or give you a shout out.

One of the photos I posted in the first week was from Piece Brewery and Pizzeria in Chicago and they reposted the photo to all of their followers and gave me a shout out. This is the kind of engagement I’m looking for. Anything that draws more attention to my username and account. Even if none of those people follow me, it gets the name out there.

Follow People and Interact

The next plan of attack was to start following a bunch of local restaurants and food bloggers to try and solicit some likes, comments and maybe follows from them. So far I haven’t gone too nuts with following people, under 200 in the first week, but I intend to continue to follow people in hopes of them following back. I also followed a bunch of my actual friends that know I have this blog in hopes that they would follow as well. Anything you can do to boost the follower count will help other people want to follow you as well. As I said, nobody wants to follow an account with no pictures, and nobody wants to follow an account that doesn’t have followers (unless it’s your friends/family of course).

In addition to following people, I’ve been interacting with people as well. Liking and commenting on pictures when I can will help show people that you’re a real person and is more likely to illicit likes from them as well. When it comes to Likes, I dish them out like they are going out of style, but when it comes to comments, I try to focus on smaller food bloggers or local people who I feel would be more inclined to follow me back. When it comes to the already popular food accounts, your comments are going to get lost in the flood and are probably a waste of time.

There are also sites out there that automate the process of liking and commenting on pictures based on the criteria you put into the system. I am currently dabbling in them lightly, but I find that it’s much easier for me to just pick up my phone once every hour or so and just like a bunch of pictures, rather than risking getting the account suspended by using an automator. I will say though, the automators do work. I’ve seen them boost accounts from 200 followers to over 2,000 in just a couple months, but there are risks involved, so be careful.

Promote on the Website

This is the most obvious tactic of them all… just put links on your site to your social accounts and ask people to follow. It takes no work on your part, and if your site gets traffic, people will see the links and hopefully click them.


Below is where I will try to track the progress of the account and how many followers I have on a weekly basis using the techniques above. My only concern is that I will run out of photos to post on a regular basis, but we’ll see what happens.

Week 1

Total Images Posted: 17

Total Followers: 77

Total Following: 242

Methods: Manually liking via popular page and via photos followers have liked, automated liking using an automator (sparsely), commented on smaller food bloggers photos, follow a number of like-minded food bloggers, small and large, @ mention all restaurants photographed, link on website updated to reflect new Instagram handle.

Week 2

Images Posted: 4

Total Images: 21

Followers Gained: 15

Total Followers: 92

Week 3

Images Posted: 3

Total Images: 24

Followers Gained: 13

Total Followers: 105

Week 4

Images Posted: 5

Total Images: 29

Followers Gained: 29

Total Followers: 134

Week 5

Images Posted: 2

Total Images: 31

Followers Gained: 26

Total Followers: 160


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