5 Instagram Growth Tips for 2018

Regular Instagram users all know that the famous photo app doesn’t work the same way it used to. There have been several algorithm changes in the last couple of years. Do you remember back in early 2016 when you posted a picture and most of the likes came in quickly right after you posted? Yeah, this doesn’t happen anymore. Although the famous explore page is still a mystery, one thing is clear: You need to go viral to be seen. This change has hurt many small businesses and honest bloggers as they now have to compete with big pages and famous brands. If you don’t get a certain amount of likes and comments in the first hour (the exact amount is unknown) your post will disappear.

Here are 5 tips for individuals who want to grow ORGANICALLY

1.  Add hashtags to the main caption not the comments

It is no longer a good idea to copy and paste your hashtags into the comments section. This used to work well and it gave your main caption a clean look, but beware as this may result in the famous “shadowban”. What is a shadow ban?  When you post a photo using hashtags, yet your picture no longer shows up on the hashtag search. Your photo is consequently seen by fewer people. Many Instagramers have noticed a significant decrease in engagement after adding hashtags to the comments section, and if you pay attention you’ll see that many big users have reverted back to adding their hashtags to the caption.

2. Join or create a community for your niche

The algorithm change has initiated a shutdown among many bots and automated likers (the famous Instagress shutdown earlier this year) which is great for organic users, however, you must be as active as ever in 2018. A great way to is create a support community in your niche. Find and contact other users in your niche (travel, lifestyle, food etc) and create a small group support system. You can comment and like each others posts, and you can even create a “shoutout” week where you promote the members of the group in your Instagram stories, which brings me to number three.

3. Use Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are where you can finally add those pictures you couldn’t share on your page, such as those cute pictures of your cat or extra photos that didn’t make the cut. IG stories allow your followers to get to know you outside of your feed. As you grow your following you will see that people are genuinely curious to know who you are outside of your photos. People want to put a face to the snapshots you’ve taken around the world or the creative flat lays you’ve designed.

4. Geotagging

So there is this trend among influencers (especially travel influencers) where you purposely avoid geotagging a spot where you took a great picture. I get that people do not want a copycat story like that alleged Lauren Bullen controversy (read here) but geotagging is essential. If you geotag your photo you are guaranteed to see an increase in engagement. I completely understand that privacy is important, which is why you should not post live photos. I always post photos days or weeks after returning from a trip so that everyone on Instagram doesn’t know where I am at all times. If you take a photo on the weekend, post it the following week with a geotag!

5. Do not buy followers

I know that every article about Instagram growth includes this point but they never go into specific detail about why it is bad for your growth and your reputation. So, I decided to try it out for myself and see what happened. Stay tuned to my next post to follow my experiment of buying 500 fake Instagram followers from 3 major online sites and seeing the disastrous outcome. In 2017, Instagram knows when you are buying from 3rd party sites that aren’t affiliated with Instagram. If you buy followers you will see a decrease in engagement. It will dilute your statistics. For example, a user with 1,000 followers needs less engagement for a post to go viral compared to a user with 100k. If you buy followers and do not receive engagement from them when you post (you won’t because they are fake), your photo will disappear and you become less reputable.

 

 

By: @aleksandraontour

 

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Quit Your Job and Travel The World (Not!)

It is 2017 and travel blogging is insanely over-saturated. The number one lie many Instagram influencers/ bloggers/ social media coaches will try to sell you is that you can actually quit your job, miraculously travel the world and sleep in 5 star hotels for free. This could have been possible in 2014-2015 before the new Instagram algorithm kicked in or before there were 700 million active users on Instagram!

My advice to you: don’t buy it. Literally and figuratively. Do not spend hundreds of dollars on blogging courses claiming to teach you how to monetize your blog in one year. It won’t happen. If you Google travel blogging, most of the results you see are “how to” courses written by other bloggers, often for a price. It is extremely difficult to monetize your blog, get a paid Instagram sponsorship, or even get a stable base of readers on your blog. In fact, I will be shocked if anyone other than my mom reads this.

Other bloggers will not read your blog because they are too busy promoting their own. It’s easy to get sucked into the idea of living a life à la @Doyoutravel (if you don’t know who they are, you’re living under your Instagram rock). It simply isn’t possible. These people started way before you and I did, which gave them a massive head start when there was much more demand but not a lot of supply.

This isn’t about discouraging you from writing about your travels, but it’s about being realistic. I’ve got a few messages asking me how I am able to travel for free. I don’t. I work two jobs (as a teacher and translator) and a lot of my extra money goes into my Instagram and setting up weekend day trips around Italy.  I have invested way more than I have made to date (probably a grand total of about $400).

Start travelling because it is something you love to do. If it is something you feel passionate about you may see a return after establishing your image in about 5-6 years. Until then, remember that the spontaneously curated Instagram picnics and rose petal filled bathtub moments are not real life. Make memories and forget about the money and somewhere along the line it will fall into place.

….If it doesn’t, you’ll have some great stories to tell.

Cinque Terre: The Guide

If you’re planning a trip to Italy, then the Cinque Terre are probably on your list. You’ve seen pictures of these 5 towns on almost every travel website and in every magazine. These 5 towns are located on the coastline of the Liguria region and are famous for their cluttered and colourful look that make them perfect photo ops.

When to go?

Like most touristy hotspots, they are always packed with crowds. There are five towns (Vernazza, Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, and Monterosso).  However, after having visited them more than once, I can confirm that Riomaggiore and Manarola seem to be the most crowded. Most people travel during the summer. I get it, the weather is nice, you have time off, and you don’t have to walk around in bulky clothing, but trust me, GO DURING OFF SEASON. Manarola on a summer afternoon is full of people basically pushing themselves onto the railing trying to get a picture. You can avoid being photobombed by the couple next to you that is making out, or the small children that may drop ice cream on your foot.

How to get there?

You can get to the Cinque Terre by boat, train, or car. If you like leaving your car far away from the town and hiking several km downhill and uphill, then this may be the option for you. Otherwise, you can take a train from a nearby city (La Spezia) or (Genova) and avoid trying to find a parking spot. Another option is to take a boat from the port in Genova, however this option is less frequent and slightly more expensive than the regional train. If you decide to take the regional train in Italy, be prepared. The trains are frequently late, overcrowded (in summer), and the staff really love going on strike.

Castle views make ma happy. What's your favourite thing about exploring a city?

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You can’t miss!

If you don’t have enough time to visit all five, I personally recommend Vernazza and Riomaggiore. Vernazza is unique as it provides great views from the castle on top of the village as well as the hiking route surrounding the village. The main square is surrounded by people sunbathing and having a drink next to the fishing boats. Riomaggiore has the most unique backdrop of the five villages. The buildings that surround the village have picturesque, vibrant colours perfect for photographers looking for a good shot.

Where to Eat

I tend to avoid eating right next to a massive tourist zone. The food is usually overpriced, average qualiy, and most of the people having dinner seem to be foreign. An option that worked better for me was the fried seafood to go which is one of my favourite things to eat in Liguria. Many seaside towns have this option and for about 5-8 euros you can have lunch on the go.

Madrid: Save or Splurge

Hasta pronto!

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The Spanish capital is one of the best European cities to visit as it offers both
low-budget backpackers and luxury travellers to fully experience the city. I recently spent 24 hours in Madrid, a city I go to at least twice a year because of what it has to offer: museums, football, food, shopping and great weather (most of the time).

This post will provide you with a Madrid mini-guide for those who are looking to get a bang for their buck :

On a budget:

Where to sleep:  The Hat, Madrid

If you don’t mind sharing your space with other people, Madrid is a hostel paradise! Not only are many hostels a more affordable version of hotels, but they also offer private rooms for those who don’t want to deal with snoring for most of the night. The Hat Madrid is modern, clean, perfectly located, and social!

What to Visit: Museums and Walking Tours

The two most famous museums in Madrid are the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia. You don’t need to put a dent in your wallet in order to check out the massive collections on display for art lovers or travellers (like me) who aren’t very art savvy but would like to add a culturally-sound aspect to their weekend. You can visit both museums for FREE! 
The Prado Museum: Monday- Saturday 17:00-19:00
Reina Sofia: Monday – Saturday 19:00-21:00, Sunday 13:30-19:00

Free Tours Madrid: Would you like to see the city while being guided by highly informed, friendly, and bilingual locals? Book a tour here. You decide the price of the tour! At the end of the visit, participants can tip their guides based on what they are able to afford (The average is 10-15 euros per person). These tours are offered not only in Madrid, but in several major cities see here.

A drink with a view:   Food & Drink Terraza,
The Principal Hotel, Madrid

The Principal Hotel is a luxury 5 star hotel. Although I would like to include this hotel in my next post that focuses more on a “Where to Sleep If You Are Looking to Splurge in Madrid” they also fit the bill if you are looking to have a couple of drinks with gorgeous views. The hotel has a terrace on the top floor that overlooks Madrid. The bar offers both drinks and snacks (beer: 5 euros). The prices are reasonable, the staff is very friendly, and it provides a unique view of the city that you won’t get to see anywhere else. Book a table on the official site here!

Disfrutando de las mejores vistas de Madrid! Enjoying the best views of Madrid from the terrace at The Principal Madrid. They also have a restaurant in case the tapas don't fill you up. A lovely staff, especially Laura at the bar! I showed up late (really late) in a bar with only a few tables on the top floor of the hotel. Not only did she save my table in the crowd but she was unbelievably friendly. It was great to receive kind service and a nice smile after a delayed flight, lost luggage, and Google maps not being able to find the hotel. It has been difficult trying to make travel blogging a full time job, especially because at the start, all travels are self-funded. Check them out if you are in Madrid, right in the center off of Gran Via! @theprincipalmadrid #bookinghero

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48 Hours in Valencia

Valencia is one of my favourite cities. Not only can you find the beach in the center of the city (less than a 30 min tram ride!) the weather is awesome, the people are friendly, and it is the home of paella!

So what can you do in Valencia in 48 hours? 

  1. Discover the City with Locals!

    Valencia Free Tour is a group of absolutely lovely people who offer free tours around the city that are about two hours long. Free?! Yes, free! Well, technically. One of their expert guides will tell you everything you need to know (I mean EVERYTHING) in their morning or afternoon tours. They are all licensed guides and you can choose a tour in English or Spanish. When the tour is finished, there is an open tip that you can offer based on what you can afford and how much you think the tour is worth. The tour is fantastic so you should just throw your money at them. We were led by a young lady called Victoria (Spanish tour) and we paid her 15 euros each, and booked the afternoon tour with her as well. From what I could see the average tip was between 10-20 euros per person. They also give you time att the end of the tour to ask about restaurants, bars, and museums that you may be interested in. Check them out here.

     2. Eat a delicious and shockingly cheap dinner!

    I promise you I am not receiving bribes to express my excessive enthusiasm about Restaurante Blanquerias. It is almost always full for dinner, so book in advance. Unless, of course you prefer to eat at normal human time around 8-9pm and not Spanish time at 10:00pm. In that case, you will find a free table like we did! I am usually skeptical about food that comes in small portions with a creative set-up. I am not too into spending tons of money and leaving the restaurant hungry enough to order a pizza afterwards. Restaurante Blanquerias was not like this at all. Not only are the staff extremely polite, the food is fantastic and filling! All for 20 euros per person. There is a fixed menu, so you can’t choose what you want to eat, but believe me, it doesn’t matter.

    3. Lounge in a bathtub in the middle of the room.

    YES, that’s right. At San Lorenzo Boutique Hotel you can have a shower in the bathroom, or a bath in the bedroom. It doesn’t need to be practical to be amazing after a long day of walking. You can open up a bottle of wine and have a bubble bath in front of the terrace that is right above one of the main streets in the historical city centre. Everything you need to see in Valencia is about 10 min away on foot, and the metro is close by if you want to check out the City of Arts and Sciences. As far as location goes, you can’t find anything better, especially for this price range! The rooms are very clean and you can get a nice breakfast at the cafe next door.