Amanda is the founder of CRAVING THIRTY, a resource for healthy and empowered food and lifestyle choices. She focuses on plant-based recipe development and lifestyle transition programs. Amanda is also founder of The Self Love Project.

When I first started my Instagram account for CRAVING THIRTY I had no idea what I was doing. I signed up through Facebook and found myself connected with a few of my friends. I wanted to share my food creations with the world, but my posts weren’t even reaching a hundred people.

“How did you get so many followers?” I asked a friend who had close to three hundred.

She looked at me blankly; clearly confused by my question since, like me, all of her followers were her personal friends. I was determined to figure out how. Slowly but surely, I carved out a little space for myself on the Internet.

Back then I had no idea that Instagram would provide me with such a supportive community, that I’d meet so many inspiring people who would become dear friends and that I’d grow so much personally and professionally. It has been an amazing experience.

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5 Tips to Instagram

1. Choose a theme

All my favorite accounts have a consistent theme. My goal was to share my food creations but I also used to include the pretty flowers from my morning walks, daily beach landscapes and the random dew-stained car window. Over time, I realized the clearer and more consistent I was in my posts, the more followers I gained.

2. Create your own style

This takes time. I’ve managed to develop a style, but I will say that I’m never satisfied. I’m always pushing myself to improve. This takes effort and thoughtfulness. I don’t think anyone working on their craft ever feels like they’re finished refining it, but the process is rewarding.

3. Choose a favorite photo-editing app

Sick of the Instagram filters? Me too. I’m happy they’ve added editing options but you can’t save your edits unless you post. If you want different filters and editing styles, these are two app’s I recommend:

VSCOcam | Moody and beautiful filters make this a favorite. The only downside is you have to take pictures with the app itself before editing and saving to your phone’s gallery.

Snapseed | My current obsession. With plenty of different filters, it allows you to edit freely and to focus on certain sections of a picture.

4. Be vulnerable and authentic

Share personal stories and thoughts – something I’m always working on. Part of me feels like, “who wants to know more about me?” But when I do share more, I realize it’s the best way to connect with others.

5. Make friends

Instagram is a great place to connect with like-minded people. Reach out and talk to someone. Many Instagram friendships of mine have started simply because I’ve complimented someone’s work or asked a question. The community has been amazing.

I hope these tips help. Reach out next time you’re on Instagram and say hi! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

xo, Amanda | @cravingthirty