My Results from the 30-Day Instagram Challenge

Gotta love demoing a challenge as your own Guiney pig! Alas, that’s exactly what I did. I created this free 30 day Instagram challenge to bolster my own Instagram accounts. The added accountability of the group kept me going. To top that, I ran three different Instagram accounts during the 30 days, exploring different techniques on each platform, innovating where I could and trying to maximize my efforts.


Want to get in on the action? I’m releasing a brand new version of the FREE Instagram challenge in September. You’ll gain more followers, create more engagement and have a tailored strategy moving forward. {Leave a note in the comments if you want to join in on the fun}


While I still have a long journey ahead on Instagram, 30 days later I’m thrilled to have momentum in each account, increased followers, more engagement AND a better strategy to move forward.


Each account represented different starting points, follower numbers, and length of time live. Additionally, they all cater to drastically different audiences. No matter where you are in your Instagram journey, this challenge is for you.


Here’s the breakdown of my month of Instagram for each account:




Can’t beat kicking off a challenge with a new account. While @EtsyMarketer debuted earlier in the year, it remained abandoned and alone. The regular posting breathed life into this account, as well as resulting in direct messages to me, click-through to my new website and a substantial boost in followers.

Here’s the growth by numbers:

  • Follower Count: 304 increased to 750
  • Most Liked: 43 likes increased to 89 likes
  • Today posts average above 50 likes.
  • Most Commented: 3 comments to 10 comments
  • Posts: Started at 241 posts, now at 289 posts total


Audience: You! If you’re not following me already, I’d love for you to come and join the fun. In case you’re not quite sure who “you” are, this account aims to empower dedicated Etsy sellers to better market and promote their stores.


Need the numbers? Find tools to track measure and grow your Instagram!


The Savvy Strategy

I explored two different content pieces. First, I posted the images of the challenge to Instagram. Why not maximize the content I create? Secondly, I utilized a reposting strategy. I found delightful Etsy seller photos that exemplified the types of strategies that do well on Instagram. The mechanics of reposting prove a synch with the Repost App.


While I tried to post twice a day, one repost and one challenge photo, consistency faltered throughout the month. I did post at least once a day, but too often I didn’t hit the two-post mark.


Next to ramp up engagement. Here I followed hashtags directly related to the Etsy seller space, such as #EtsySeller #EtsyUSA #Handmade #EtsyUK and more. With over 3 million posts in some of those categories, I could spend ages commenting and liking on the photos. Instead, I tried to invest 15-20 minutes every few days connecting with my tribe.


Also, I deployed a follow for follow strategy. Eager for rapid growth with a new account, I searched out my specific target audience, fellow Etsy sellers, through the aforementioned hashtags and similar accounts. At the start of the month, the follow back rate remained dismal. Later in the challenge, I adjusted to target users who were recently active. You can see the huge jump in the graph.


Since I spent the whole 30 days in a weird time zone, most of my follows slid by unnoticed in the dead of night. Adjusting to live audiences drastically increased follow back rate.


  • If you implement follow for follow, only do it with a live audience;
  • Engaging with your tribe, especially when tagging them, creates momentum.


Curious how other Etsy sellers use Instagram to sell their products? Check out this feature on Little Sapling Toys to see how she grew her account to over 30,000 followers




When I first debuted @PositiveImpactPodcast midway through 2015, despite regular posting and a mini obsession on my part, I had dismal success captivating my audience’s hearts, and more importantly, their follows. Each time I wavered near the 1,000-follower mark I would loose followers plummeting me back into the 900’s.


By the time the challenge kicked off, posting proved inconsistent at best. Let’s say the honeymoon period wore off when results faltered.


The challenge was the kick in the pants I needed.


Luckily for me, approaching Instagram with good practices sent me soundly beyond the 1,000-follower barrier in the first week. Rather than slipping back to the dismal (ok, I’m being a little dramatic) 900’s, I’ve slowly been growing.


Here’s the growth by numbers:


*I took this snapshot just a few days late to capture my numbers below 1,000. 

  • Follower Count: 950 increased to 1,216
  • Most Liked: 72 likes increased to 113 likes
  • Today posts average in the high 60’s for likes.
  • Most Commented: 20 comments ( the same photo still has the most comments)
  • Posts: Started at 328 posts, now at 342 posts total


Audience: Social entrepreneurs focused on leveraging the power of business to change the world. Midway through the month I decided to niche down further and tailor it around responsible travel.


The Positive Strategy

I kicked off the challenge with a daily post, pulling photos from past episodes. Coincidentally, I realized that posting every other day resulted in higher likes on each photo.


To account for the fewer posts, I upped my hashtag game, exploring tags related to social entrepreneurship.


At the start of the challenge, I explored implementing a follow for follow. Occasionally I would explore related accounts and hashtags, adding new followers, but this quickly lost steam. Instead, I started pulling in a strategic repost once or twice a week. This actually created far better results, even with one reposted account taking a photo of my respost and posting it herself!


That post actually brought in 5-7 new followers. (You’ll discover later that this was almost double the loving I got compared to when a BIG account reposted me.)


  • Be aware of how often you posts impacts your engagement rates;
  • Strategic hashtags are the most effective strategy.




Meet my passion project. Passion might not truly captivate the relationship. Obsession might more accurately describe my affection for @ThailandForTwo.


Technically it’s the newest account, but when I started the challenge it already had the close to as many followers as @PositiveImpactPodcast.


Why? Because I have an obsession.


This account is the photo book of my husband’s and I as we journey across Asia. I believe at one point I had images of grandeur for our travelers, converting to travel bloggers and spending our days in wanderlust around the world.


After you carry a 40lb backpack around for a few months, those images of grandeur drift away pretty quick. Needless to say, while we’re enjoying the trip, in the fall we’ll be happy to retire our bags and enjoy having amenities such as closets with clothes again (well that last part might just be me).


Still, despite the dream changing, the Instagram obsession has remained.


The good news is that I got to try a lot of different strategies around hashtags, image quality, timing posts and writing descriptions. IT paid off too!

How to increase Instagram Followers.

  • Follower Count: 1,191 increased to 1,323
  • Most Liked: 72 likes increased to 113 likes
  • Today posts average in the high 60’s for likes.
  • Most Commented: 26 comments ( the same photo still has the most likes)
  • Posts: Started at 241 posts, now at 289 posts total


Audience: This is a bit loose as both our families use our feed as a way to follow our journey (not to mention making sure we’re still alive). My father, in particular, makes frequent requests of what he would like to see on the feed. All that being said, really the account is geared toward those filled with Asian wanderlust.


The Traveler Strategy

The first thing I realized studying my stats was that I was posting too much. The ideal times were isolated in the morning and evening, which made sense since my demographic remains mostly in the US.


I had to slow down on the photo posting. To put this in context, the month prior I had posted 75 times! While they were spaced out enough to not invade people’s feeds, the overall engagement rate per post suffered from that many posts. Now I try, emphasize try, to limit myself to two posts a day.


The other major change, I had to up my game with photo quality. To compete in the travel space, you go against real photographers. I realized I was getting a bit lazy when I looked at my feed as a whole.


The research resulted in new hashtags, exploring ones with smaller numbers. One time I thought I was being clever using #Japan. Three minutes later I checked to see how I did against the other posts and my post was NOWHERE TO BE FOUND!


Needless to say I vet hashtags better.


Through that process, I created three different sets of tags that I pull from when posting. Several included ones that larger accounts use to curate their content. At the start of the challenge, I spent ages working to tag other large accounts in my posts. Midway through I got tired of that and stopped.


To be honest, I forgot about tagging large accounts until writing this post. I guess it didn’t help that much.


I also invested 15-20 minutes going through and commenting on similar accounts and related hashtags.


How was I able to manage my time? Check out these 5 tips.


Shortly after the challenged ended, I received a repost by two separate accounts each with over 15,000 followers. The funny thing was that neither was from the account that I was targeting through my hashtags.


One of my photos got over 1,000 likes on their account!!! THAT’S EPIC!


The results for me? Two more followers to my account. While I’ve heard different results from others who enjoy a glorious debut as a repost, I’ve decided to stop trying to get reposted. If it happens, it happens. And I’m cool with that.


  • You can’t beat good quality photos;
  • Getting love from a big account doesn’t mean instant success;
  • Knowing how often to post is essential to increasing engagement.



Collective Results

Start your 30 day FREE Instagram challenge now! While it was a lot of work, especially given that I was working to grow three accounts, it was totally worth it.


Not to mention that the collective boost in followers was a whopping 864!!!!


I also see better engagement across all three platforms. For a 30-day jumpstart to Instagram, this is exactly what I needed.

If you feel you can benefit from all the tips and tricks used to grow my accounts? Leave me a note in the comments to sign up for the full challenge launching this September.

Additionally leave me a comment to let me know what your favorite Instagram strategy, how you’ve grown your account or any questions you have about your strategy.