8 great steps to building an audience on instagram


building an audience

Table of Contents

Building An audience

Hello, my name is Katy, I am the communications manager here at PAPER Arts, I stepped into this role in November 2020 and since then I have been designing and implementing our marketing strategy, for this months blog I wanted to take you behind the curtain, and show you exactly how I have gone about growing our audience on instagram in the last 9 months and increasing our engagement by over 8000%!

Taking Stock

The first thing I did when starting to think about building an audience on instagram was take stock of our social channels, I noted down the amount of followers we had on Instagram and had a look at our analytics to see how our account was performing. I looked at previous posts to gauge what was doing well with our audience and what wasn’t getting so much engagement. From here I was able to make a list of the types of content that were worth continuing with and the ones we could scrap.

Something You Can Do Right Now!

Start keeping a document where you write down some of your key instagram analytics like follower number, and accounts reached, the received wisdom “what you measure grows” defiantly applies here, so keep an eye on your progress.

Niche Down

You can’t be all things to all people (as much as you would like to be) so when planning our Instagram strategy for building an audience, I had to think about who we would like are audience to be. For us that was pretty easy, our customer base is creatives aged 18- 30 who live in Bristol, so people who fit into that category are who we want to serve.
From here I had to put myself into their shoes, what problems does a Bristolian creative aged 18-30 deal with, what content can we create that can start to solve those problems for them?

Something You Can Do Right Now!

Think about your ideal customer, what kind of person would benefit from buying your product or service, write a list of all the things that person would search on google, this list gives you tons of topics to use to create content.

Provide Content With Value

I try to make sure that every piece of content we share provides some kind of value when building an audience. Each month, I schedule 4 types of content.
I aim to share 4 inspirational quotes which will get our audience thinking about how they can integrate our monthly theme into their lives.


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I share 4 problem solving quotes which come form our blog post (like the one you’re reading now) which give practical advice and answer FAQs


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I share promotions of any IRL events we are putting on which our audience might like to attend


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I create some relatable memes around our monthly topic which aim to be funny and sharable.


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A post shared by PAPER Arts (@paperartscic)

Something You Can Do Right Now!

Have a look in your instagram saved folder, think about why you saved each post, what was the value it provided to you, can you use this research to work out the kinds of instagram content you could create to provide value to your audience?

Sticking To A Schedule

With any form of social media, consistency is key, when building an audience, you have to keep reminding your them that you exist in order to form relationships , thats why I follow a timetable for sharing our instagram content.
When coming up with your timetable, its important to think about your capacity, set realistic goals, for us, its realistic to put out 12- 15 instagram posts per month, so thats what we do.
I look at our instagram insights to see what days and times our audience is most active in the app and thats when we post.

Something You Can Do Right Now!

Go into your instagram analytics and make a note of the days and times your audience is most active, think about how many posts you will be comfortable creating a month and use your research to create a schedule you can follow.

Think about how you want your instagram feed to look

I wanted our social channels to have a consistent aesthetic, so I created a Pinterest board with design ideas for how I wanted our Instagram content to look, then I made a canva document using all our brand colours and fonts, creating lots of different templates I could use as the basis for making posts, this saves us a bunch of time when creating our content for the month as the design part is already sorted.

Need to design your own brand identity? Check out our resource here

deciding on your brand identity for instagram

Something You Can Do Right Now!

Have a look at some of your favourite Instagram feeds, what is it you like about them? Can you create a mood board which will help you get clear on the colours and fonts you want to use and the style of imagery? this will be your guide to creating your Instagram images, refer back to it when ever you need.

Batch Create Your Content

To use your time as efficiently as possible when building an audience, batch creating your content is a great tool.
Batch creating content means setting aside a few hours per month to create all the instagram posts and captions you will use for the month coming up, and then putting all that content into a social media scheduler, we use Later, which has a great free package, this means I don’t have to spend extra time posting directly through the app, it just happens like clockwork.

Something you can do right now!

Put a recurring task in your calendar to create content, and then stick to it, committing to just an hour per month will save you a head ache when it comes time to post.

Engagement not followers

Generally people think that when building an audience the higher the follower count, the more successful the business, this isn’t always true. There any plenty of accounts out there with tens of thousands of followers that aren’t making a dime, conversely there are people out there making a great living with a few hundred followers. The difference is engagement, the percentage of your audience who are finding value in the instagram content you are putting out. Since we started our new instagram strategy, we have grown by a few hundred followers, but our engagement has grown much more significantly, and for our targets this is a much better measure of success.

The 1000 true fans method

There is a useful principle which says you only need 1000 true fans to have a successful business, if you work on developing relationships with 1000 highly engaged people who will bring £100 per year into your business because they want to buy anything you put out, you have a turnover of £100000 a year, which ain’t bad!
Thats the general principle I work to when building an audience, I aim to meet the needs and engage with our existing audience rather than chasing new followers, the hope is that those guys will come on their own once your existing followers are engaged enough that they start to tell their friends about you and share your content with them

My thoughts

The unfortunate fact is, there is no one magic bullet that will take you to 1million engaged followers overnight. But there are lots of little tips and strategies that have worked for us when building an audience and i’m sure would work for you too.
For me the biggest takeaway is that it’s important to know who you want to engage with and how you want to do it, those are big questions, but once you know the answers you just have to keep showing up, be consistent and give the people what they want! with patience the rest should fall into place. Good luck!

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The future of paper arts

A Statement from the Board of Directors


Like many organisations, PAPER Arts has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, on appointment of a highly skilled CEO, we made the bold decision to review our business model and begin a process of research and development in order to shape a new service and to better support creatives in Bristol with professional development, networking and the opportunity to learn new skills.

Throughout the pandemic we have proudly supported creatives in Bristol, with a focus on young people from St Pauls, our Creative Employment programme hosted over 20 sessions and we welcomed 17 young people to feed into our research and development proposal. 

However, the last 18 months have been a huge challenge, while we’ve been able to successfully deliver a plethora of projects since our inception seven years ago, we have been unable to secure the funding necessary to realise our ambitious plans for the future and to provide our organisation with much needed financial stability.

As a result, it is with a heavy heart that the current PAPER Arts team, made up of Grace, Kate, Katy, Lau and Amie will no longer be able to continue in their roles. Our small team has delivered a substantial amount of value to the community we serve and the Board of Directors are endlessly grateful for the skills and professionalism they bring with them each and every day. We are proud to know and work alongside such talented individuals and believe that the arts sector is a better place with them in it. 

The ideas generated by this team are inspiring and hopeful and the Board of Directors wholeheartedly believe in the importance of supporting the creative community in Bristol.

As September ends and the seasons change PAPER Arts will be going into hibernation in order to survive this adversity. Our voluntary Board of Directors will spend the coming months considering the future of PAPER Arts, the role we can play in the arts sector in Bristol and how we can sustainably move forwards. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but as soon as we are able to share more with you we will. 

In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns or if you would like to speak to someone about the future of PAPER Arts please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] – Kirsten Cree, one of the Board of Directors will be monitoring this inbox. 

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