Free Step-by-Step Guide: How I grew my Instagram from 0 to 100k+ followers

Since launching the @MakeupforMelaninGirls page, it has grown very quickly into a community of over 200k+ beauty lovers on both Instagram & Facebook.

This free guide helps with the most common question I get through direct messages or emails:

"How can I get featured?"

Since it's not possible to feature every deserving makeup artist or influencer  of color, I have created this free guide listing all the details of how I grew the page to 100k+ followers in less than a year (no bots & fake follower buying!) so that you can grow your own follower base:

Let's get started!

1.Videos >Photos 

You're probably thinking, "I already take great photos of my work, now I have to do videos too?". I hate to be the one to break it to you but videos are essential to growing your social media following. Why? By 2019, 80% of all internet traffic is projected to be from videos.

This is why every major social media network including Instagram is making visual content a huge part of its strategy. Instagram Stories, Instagram Live & the Discover video feature are fun but are also there for a reason: more people watch videos more than anything else online.

Not sure where to start or what type of videos to use? Let's take a look at some successful beauty influencers that are using videos to grow their following:



A post shared by Farah D (@farahdhukai) on

If you browse through Farah's Instagram page you will notice two things:

  1. Most of her content is you guessed it..videos!
  2. Her videos have a theme: DIY skin & body care

She's not only using videos consistently but her content is engaging because she's always experimenting with organic and natural products for skin, hair & body care. This brings us to to the next point, your content should have a theme.

2. What is your page about?

Yes, of course, it's about makeup but what can people expect to see on your page? Are you great with looks that involve glitter? Do you do makeup on other people? Do you mainly use organic products? Are you great at making wigs?

I'm sure you get the point. Figuring out a key theme for your page will not only help you gain a following but will work in your favor for brand collaborations. As before, here are some beauty vloggers that have used a theme to gain a following:


Worried that there are too many beauty influencers for you to be noticed? Maybe Ellarie's success can inspire you! She's a great example of a beauty vlogger that has grown mainly on Instagram (she hit 1 million on Instagram before other established Youtube beauty gurus ). Although her page now has mixed content, for a while she primarily focused on lip videos which grew her following. Even if you don't have her killer cupid's bow, I'm sure there is a unique feature about yourself or specific makeup skill you have that you can show off in this way too!



Khloe is a great example of a vlogger that has also grown her following primarily on Instagram. Although she has experimented with different types of videos, the key theme of her page is dramatic transformations. Her videos can be grouped into before and after (dramatic transformation showing how she styles her wigs), some gimmicky videos (egg to blend, condom to blend) and her most popular "narrated" videos which she used to tackle more serious issues like colorism & discrimination.


▶️PRESS PLAY FOR THIS PROTECTIVE SLAY▶️ ❌❌TAG SOMEONE WHO WOULD WANT THIS ❌❌ y'all think lace wigs are going too far ? Lol ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨ I'm so happy to be collaborating with one of my favorite beauty supply stores @feelbeautysupply on this beautiful twisted lace wig for all my natural babies who HATE SITTING IN A CHAIR FOR HOURS ! ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨I use to love getting into my hair braided and twisted but I hated the pain at night , sleeping with the stiff neck , and sittting for hours getting it done . I'm so happy they created this lace wig. I was a little iffy at first but if you try with this method it will look very natural ! ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨ Hair is from @feelbeautysupply "it tress synthetic Senegal lace front wig " . ❌❌I left only some hair around the edges to braid into the front twists for a more natural look . ❌❌ Aloe Vera mask is from @soyoucosmetic And sold at @feelbeautysupply @sheamoisture coconut oil leave in treatment to soften and strengthen my hair . "Kenton emu oil "from @feelbeautysupply @hudabeauty @makeupforblackwomen @fakeupfix @fakeuproom @glamvids

A post shared by ❤️KHLOVERS ❤️ (@khloedosh) on

Now that we have videos and themes down which are flexible let's get down to the technical details: Mastering Instagram Hashtags

3. Hashtags

Hashtags are not optional when it comes to Instagram growth. You have to use them for your content to be seen, think of hashtags similarly to the way you search for items on Google. People scroll through hashtags they are interested in and can find your content within that hashtag.

There is an art to hashtagging for exposure though, you don't want to just blast 30 random hashtags (30 is the Instagram limit) that have no relevance to your audience or page. So how do you find the best hashtags?

Using the @MakeupforMelaninGirls page as an example, let's create 30 hashtags together so you can see exactly how this works. An important tool for crafting your list of 30 hashtags is the free Instagram web viewer called Websta. Although you can see view how popular a hashtag is on Instagram, Websta also shows you your engagement rates, hashtags commonly used on other popular accounts and a break down of hashtags that are related to each other.

Since @MakeupforMelaninGirls is about makeup, it makes sense to have #makeup as one of the hashtags right? Using the Websta search function, we can see that  #makeup has 127,068,384 posts associated with it on Instagram. The downside of a hashtag like this is that the chances of a post making it to the "top posts" section of the hashtag is very, very slim.

Like I mentioned in tip 2 (What is your page about?) your page should have a theme and the type of hashtags that will increase your followers are hashtags that closely align with your page theme or niche. For @MakeupforMelaninGirls, #makeup is too broad of a hashtag to make any real impact on the page so let's look at the hashtag #melanin instead:

With 4 million posts, #melanin is less broad than #makeup, however getting to the top of 4 million posts will still be an uphill battle. Putting a search term in Websta allows you to see related hashtags and with the #melanin we can see that there are other hashtags related to #melanin  like #melaninskin, #melaningoals with smaller post counts.

At 7,475 your chances of hitting the top posts section of #melaninskin are much better than #makeup. So for those of you who are quick to hashtag your favorite brands like #hudabeauty, #anastasiabeverlyhills in your photos, except you already have a following in the thousands those hashtags are not really adding any incremental value to your posts.

Let's do another one so you get the hang of it. Since @MakeupforMelaninGirls is specifically curated for women of color, another hashtag I can consider using is #darkskin. Using a Websta search, #darkskin pulls up other hashtags related to dark skin as well as top pages or users associated with this hashtag.

I can take a look at what type of content these comparable accounts are posting and see their most common hashtags as well. If you run a business although this is a manual way of doing things, it's also a great way to find influencers in your niche.

The typical advice for creating your list of 30 hashtags is to create 15 popular hashtags and then 15 niche ones. If you are just starting out you are likely better off with all 30 niche specialized hashtags as you have a better chance of your content getting seen.

After putting together your list of hashtags, save them on any notes app so you can easily copy & paste them underneath your post later. From a style perspective, it's better to post your hashtags as comments rather than within the caption.

Let's look at two sets of hashtags I've used for @MakeupforMelaningirls  before and determine which set is better based on what we now know:

#wakeupandmakeup #slave2beauty #myblackisbeautiful #makeupartistworldwide  #hudabeauty #1minutemakeup #makeupslaves#makeupvideoss #makeupvideos #makeuptutorialsx0x #makeupclips#makeupformelaningirls #ibeautydaily #universodamaquiagem #makeupmemes #makeupvideosonly #linerandbrows #berryboxx #blackgirlmakeupvideos #makeupvideox #darskinbaddiesdaily #hermakeupdiary #sephora #videosfashions #makeupslays


#melanin #brownskinpoppin #swatches #melaninpoppin #blackgirlmagic #makeupformelaningirls #cocoaswatches #darkskinmakeup #darkskinbeauty #blackowned #melaninmakeup #melaninrich #darkskin #darkskinned #makeupvideo #makeupinspo #makeup #browngirls #beautyblogger #makeuptutorial #blackwomenmakeup #browngirlmakeup #browngirlbeauty #hudabeauty #wakeupandmakeup


If you've been following, you will quickly notice that the shittier set of hashtags is the first one because those terms are very broad and mostly have about 1 million or more hits on Instagram. My content will hardly be discovered with those set of hashtags. With the second group, there are a lot of terms closely related to the theme of the page plus they have a smaller number of existing posts so my content can make it to the "Top Posts" page.

Couldn't read all that wall of text? Here are the are key hashtagging highlights:

  • Don't use broad terms, use hashtags specific to your page
  • Use free online viewers like Websta to research hashtags and see what other people in your niche are posting
  • To save time by creating 30 hashtags, save your sets of hashtags on a notes app so you can easily copy & paste.

4. Link to Facebook

To most millennials & Gen Z folks, Facebook is just for reading news articles & dead as a social media tool. However, linking your Facebook with your Instagram will provide you with analytics & engagement data for your page.

Plus with Facebook, you can reach an audience that might not be on Instagram already and you also reduce the impact of hackers. (for security the best way to protect your Instagram from being hacked is to activate the two-factor authentication option).

As with Instagram, videos tend to perform very well on Facebook especially if your video is timely for the season e.g makeup emulating a character from a movie that just came out, Summer makeup, festival makeup etc.

5. Giveaways & Contests

Everyone loves free shit! Hosting a giveaway or contest can definitely help you grow your page. If you're not getting PR that you can use for this, think of it as an investment. If the products aren't sold out, try to select makeup products that are popular or trending as interest will be higher as well.

To make sure your giveaway isn't a flash in the pan, look to collaborate with an existing page in your niche with a larger following than you have  (use Websta to identify what these pages are) and offer to collaborate with them on the giveaway. Lots of content pages will be interested in a giveaway as this is a way to give back to their IG community and it won't cost them anything if you offer to provide the products in the giveaway.

An example of a beauty vlogger that is successful with this strategy and uses it often is @taylormacgayhee.

Although her giveaways are on Twitter, the idea applies to Instagram as well. She is also very consistent with her giveaways and her followers have come to expect them as well and they know it's not a flash in the pan trick.

If you are really strapped for cash, don't get any PR products you can use for the giveaway but want to host a giveaway anyway, try reaching out to upcoming beauty brands and offer to collaborate with them on creating a video on your page. Small brands are sometimes wary of sending free products en masse because they can't always be sure if the influencer will actually post a video. If you reach out showing videos of your past work and your plans for a giveaway that can also bring them more traffic, this can help you get products for your giveaway.

6. Post Consistently

You can't get the following you want by posting just when you feel like. Plan out your posts and schedule posts ahead of time so that you can have content every day.  Accounts with the highest number of fans tend to post a bit more than once a day–up to 2 or 3 photos per day on average.

Top brands post 4.9 times per week on Instagram

This data might allow us to say that “more successful” accounts tend to post with a higher frequency. When @MakeupforMelaninGirls first started and I noticed the page was gaining traction, I posted about  8 -10 times a day.

Sharing pictures of your face or the same look 8 times won't really do the trick though, 8-10 times only works if you are sharing curated content of others or different types of content. If you don't have enough content to post a photo once a day, you can add relevant memes to your other content.



Shanice Jones

This was absolutely helpful! Thank you so much for this information. I learned so much and realized some new tips to try out on my own page! I can’t wait to try them out.


Thank you for the tips, they will definitely be implemented.


This was a great read. Thanks for the tips and for sharing the link MakeupForMelaninGirls


Thank you so much for posting this, it was incredibly helpful.. I’ve been reluctant to post videos but this convinced me of their importance


Thank you for the information. Very useful.

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