Photographer Pete Halvorsen spends one to two hours every day working on his @petehalvorsen Instagram account, adding hashtags, responding to comments and liking other people’s photos.
It’s paid off for him big time, resulting in sales of his photos, an editorial assignment from Toyota to shoot a campaign, and even an acting gig in an Acura commercial.
“It’s definitely worth putting in the time,” says Halvorsen, who specializes in photos of the surf and local scenery. He has over 200,000 followers on Instagram.
Halvorsen shared his tips with USA TODAY for growing your audience on the social media platform:
Adding hashtags to the post helps the image show up in searches. “This is a free way for people to see your work,” he says.
For example, in a recent photo of a local sunset, Halvorsen added #beach, #summer, #fineart, #ocean, #landscape, #visitcalifornia, #goldenstate, #california and #manhattanbeach. He places hashtags in the first comment so he doesn’t weigh down the post.
To remember his hashtag list, Halvorsen has a master list in the Notes app on his phone, and when he posts, he just copies and pastes from there. Additionally, he looks for more to add to his portfolio, engaging with other users and getting to know them via hashtags. Instagram has a limit of 30 hashtags per post – use them, he says.
Be an active member
Engage. Comment. Respond. These are all things that can pay off in spades, Halvorsen says. Look for people with similar interests, whether that’s photography, sewing or basketball. Engage and share with them, and this will “magnify” your following, he says.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, which uses an algorithm tuned to reaching everyone in your network if you spend money with promotional advertising. Halvorsen has done this and says it really worked to get more people to see a post.
For example, while visiting Hong Kong, he shot a quick video about landing at the airport and spent $30 for a two-day campaign to get it more widely seen.
“I ended up picking up 600 new followers in 3 days,” he says. Those are people who potentially could buy prints from him or assign him editorial jobs.
Put in the time
Halvorsen works his Instagram daily, replying to comments, liking other people’s work and finding new people to engage with because it’s good for his business.
Beyond Instagram, Halvorsen’s work can be found on his pchpro.com website.
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