Instagram is no longer just a social platform. It’s actually possible to make a career out of Instagramming alone.
But before you quit your day job, you have to rack up a decent following to be able to make money off your posts.
We chatted with two Instagram food stars, Mike Chau of @foodbabyny and @mikejchau and Jeremy Jacobowitz of @brunchboys to see how they gained their large audiences. Between his two accounts, Chau has a combined following of 133,000, while Jacobowitz has 181,000 followers.
Make sure your photos stand out and are unique to your account.
Although Chau’s personal Instagram is more of a traditional food account, his foodbabyny account is unique in that it features his two young kids posing with food.
“People like to see something different. And I think it’s funny because it [the foodbabyny account] hits both markets. For people that are seriously into food… But then you also get people that think the babies are cute and don’t care about food at all and just want to see the babies,” Chau explains.
Jacobowitz says it’s important to develop your own style and stick to it. For example, his account focuses specifically on brunch food, and even if they can’t see his name, viewers can tell it’s him when they see one of his photos. Jacobowitz recommends doing things like picking a colour palette or sticking to a certain form of caption.
“I think I’m lucky where I have a gimmick but it doesn’t hold me back. It’s brunch, but brunch can be anything. But right away they associate me with one thing, which is like ‘oh, that brunch account.’ But I can post anything. If I was the pizza account I could only post pizza,” Jacobowitz explains.
Try new things that other people haven’t discovered yet.
Chau says that he tries to feature new food or new restaurants as much as possible. Some of that is because he personally enjoys trying new things, but he also realises that his followers have come to depend on him to constantly be on top of the latest in the food world.
“It’s [his @mikejchau account] also probably growing because I always do really post stuff right away. So people will notice, like if there’s a new opening people expect me to be there,” Chau says.
Don’t start an account with the sole purpose of gaining a large following.
Both Jacobowitz and Chau emphasise the fact that they didn’t start their accounts in hopes of getting tons of followers. Instead, they had a passion for food, and just started documenting what they were eating for fun.
“If you ask anyone that has a high amount of followers — at least in New York City — why’d you start it? They’d say I love food and wanted to take pictures. This world didn’t exist. We didn’t know what we were doing,” Jacobowitz insists.
Take great photos.
Chau and Jacobowitz have plenty of tips for capturing high-quality photos, something they both say is key to gaining a large following. According to Chau, Instagram pictures must be “pleasing to the eye.” Jacobowitz says it took him a while to understand what makes an enticing photo.
“I think really where it started to take off is when I really developed my photography where I was able to have a look. That took a year and a half to figure out. I’m not a photographer. That took me just taking pictures and just figuring it out…” Jacobowitz admits.
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