If I Started My Instagram From Scratch


the blog

by sarah elrod

Tune In On: Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Are you starting an Instagram from scratch and need help with what to post, and how to get your growth off to a good start? I got you!

Instagram is forever evolving and changing and it can feel hard to keep up sometimes with all the features but today I want to tell you about the ones that are the MOST important to be using. You do not have to be doing everything all the time to grow an account, it’s not as complicated as you might think but it does take dedication, patience and consistency! 

So if you are wanting to start a new Instagram from scratch OR start over on your current one and give a fresh new beginning then keep on reading!

Get clear on a niche

What is the direction you want to take your account?

  • This is only relevant if you are creating the IG account with the goal to eventually earn income from it
  • Think about why someone may want to follow your account (think about your own following habits)
  • You are going to want to stick to a particular topic in the beginning because it will allow you to grow so much faster. As time goes on you can start to expand and get more broad but start super specific! 

Think About Your Personal Brand

  • If your account has nothing to do with you personally, then you can skip this step
  • Consider the 3×3 method:
    • Have 3 pillars and 3 values
    • My main 3 pillars are photography, western lifestyle and business education
    • These are 3 pillars that I am constantly rotating around
    • Values = transparency, generosity and high energy.
    • These are the things that you can promise to your audience that you will always uphold when they encounter your brand
  • By sticking to a personal brand you are creating consistency with your audience which will build a like know and trust relationship with them

Optimize Your Instagram Bio 

  • Your instagram bio is so freaking crucial no matter where your business is but especially in the beginning
  • Your bio is the first thing people are going to see when they come onto your profile so you want to make sure you are extremely clear on who you are and what you do
  • Get my FREE Instagram Bio guide here!
  • Key things to include in your bio:
    • Make sure your name has a key word that is SEO friendly and searchable
    • Your “I help” or “I serve” statement – this is what directly tells people what they can expect from you
  • Add an external link:

You do not own your Instagram account so it’s always a good idea to get people to join you in other places too just in case one day Instagram falls off the face of the planet

  • Links to any free resources you have
  • Other social media platforms
  • Links to pages on your website such as “about me” or “contact” pages to make things extremely clear and informative 
  • This is a great way to serve your audience more info than you are able to in an IG caption

Have A Poppin’ Profile Photo

  • There are millions of people on Instagram so you are going to want to have a profile pic that stands out
  • It should be of your face smiling and looking at the camera
  • Avoid full body photos because it will be way too small to actually see what you look like
  • Save the creative moody pics for your feed. When you use an image where you are looking at the camera you are creating a more intimate connection with anyone who comes across your account
  • Don’t use a logo

Plan Your Posts When Starting An Instagram From Scratch

  • When you are first starting out and have no followers it will be a lot harder to gain traction if you are only posting one new image per day. 
  • 12 images creates a full looking grid and will increase the chances of someone wanting to follow you
  • Use planning apps such as planoly, UNUM, later, etc

Compile 5 Different Hashtag Groups Related To Your Niche

  • This is helpful for convenience, so that you are not having to type all of those out every single time, but also for algorithm purposes
  • When you take the time to do hashtag research ahead of time you are making sure that your posts are going to be reaching the right people 
  • You want to be rotating hashtags and not just posting the same set over and over and over again
  • Whether or not shadow banning is actually a real thing is unclear but regardless, when you post the same tags over and over you are at risk for missing so many other audiences

Follow People Within Your Niche

  • When you associate yourself with other people within your niche, you are training Instagram to know what kind of content you want to see more of
  • This will help increase your chances of finding your ideal audience
  • When you find that circle you want to be in, Instagram will be more likely to push your content out as recommendations to your ideal audiences
    • Let’s say you follow one of your competitors and your ideal client follows them too, you will be likely to show up as a recommended profile if you have already been engaging with that competitors profile
  • None of this is totally guaranteed because it really just boils down to your audience and all the information that Instagram is tracking from them and you but it will increase your chances for sure

Follow Niche Related Hashtags

  • If you already did the previous step, then you have already done hashtag research which means you should be aware of which hashtags are within your niche
  • This makes community engagement a lot easier, and instead of having to go out and search for people within your niche, you can just follow a hashtags and find all kinds of people to follow and engage with that are similar to you
  • When you like, comment and message these people it will be likely that they will follow you back

Leverage Instagram Stories & Reels

  • There was a new update that came out not long ago where the creators of Instagram made a statement saying “Instagram is no longer a photo sharing platform”
  • Video is where it’s at and it’s time to get with the times even if you hate being on video
  • Your followers need to see your face, they need to know what you have to offer
  • IG stories is such an amazing way to build connection with your followers and show your personality
  • Stories are in chronological order so your chances or being recognizable are greater
  • You are more likely to get a DM from stories vs. someone going onto your profile to message you
  • Reels have amazing viral capabilities
  • Make sure to use all the resources on stories that are available to you as well, such as hashtags and location tagging


  • I know right? Sounds a little contradicting but I believe that Instagram is not where you should be spending all your time all day every day
  • Make sure all of your other platforms are pointing to the accounts you want to grow. And visa versa – if Instagram is where your big following is you can use that account to point people to your other content or platforms

What To Actually Post When Starting An Instagram From Scratch

Categories of social media:

  • Behind the scenes content
  • Your office or an inside look at how your business \ life works
  • Your “Why”
  • Personal insights
  • Encouragement
  • About You
  • Benefits & Results
  • Showcase your product or service




I'm Sarah Elrod

The Podcast

Rural Lifestyle



I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.

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