The truth about growing your following on Instagram in 2019, & the pros & cons of using Instagram sponsored ads

Photo: Adobe Stock.

Photo: Adobe Stock.

I am a blogger, influencer and photographer, and started my Instagram handle @thingstodot in June 2015 and have grown it to 88k+ followers in a little more than 4 years. It has been a long and passionate journey so far, that has taught me many different things about this platform. In this article I want to talk about my experience with growing my Instagram following in 2019 and why I use Instagram sponsored ads. 

Instagram in 2019

The truth is that the organic reach of Instagram in 2019 is zero, and in my experience the only way to grow your account to gigantic numbers is to do the following:

  1. Create content of the highest quality. By creating content of the highest quality, I don’t mean very good content because there are a lot of people out there who can create very good content, but the best content possible.

  2. Have your exceptional content reposted by big accounts not once or twice or even three times, but on a regular basis. For eg. if you are a photographer aiming to become big on Instagram, your photos should feature regularly on big accounts like @beautifuldestinations and @passionpassport that have 12.7 million and 1.1 million followers respectively.

  3. Collaborate, network and socialize with people who have big followings, all the time.

  4. Lead an extremely adventurous and exciting life (at least in photos!).

  5. Post everyday at the right time when your followers are most active, using correct hashtags to reach a wide audience.

  6. Use Instagram sponsored ads. Instagram sponsored adds can help if you invest money in them over a period of time. Just sponsoring one or two posts for short periods may not bring sufficient results.

Here are some of the pros and cons I found of using Instagram sponsored ads:


  1. With organic reach almost zero in 2019, adds can help to reach out to millions of Instagram users.

  2. You can create a target audience so that your adds reach the desired age group and demographics.

  3. If you have the money, it is an honest and fair method to grow your following.


  1. Even though my Instagram sponsored posts have done well, I am not very sure it is sustainable in the long run mainly because it is very difficult to keep the followers who find you through paid adds.

  2. Unless you are a company or have a lot of money to keep investing in adds all the time, it may not bring you desired results.

  3. It may have a negative impact on your brand. If you keep sponsoring posts all the time, the automated software keeps showing your adds to the same people over and over again whether they follow you or don’t follow you. Occasionally I may get a negative message or two from people who don’t want to see my sponsored posts.

Why I use Instagram sponsored posts?

My main purpose of getting on Instagram in the first place was never to become an influencer, but to get an audience for my website. I am a natural introvert who travels and works alone, and I find Instagram sponsored posts a great way to reach my audience. And I don’t sponsor all my posts. I only sponsor two or three photos over and over again. Websites like provide data and statistics for Instagram accounts and can tell whether posts have been sponsored or not, so it is important to keep your account as authentic as possible. 


If you are just starting out on Instagram, and your content is not over-the-top exceptional and you are not leading a particularly adventurous life, it will be enormously difficult to grow your account in 2019. It was much easier in the days when Instagram had just started. Now the algorithm is such that if your posts do not get enough likes within minutes of posting, they will not show up in your followers’ feeds. 

The only way to do it is to do it for fun!