Instagram is a perfect place for food bloggers to promote and share their work as it’s all about gorgeous photography, visuals, discovery and inspiration. Over 500 million people go on Instagram each month. Plus, our food bloggers say that this is where they get the best engagement of all social media platforms – and recent studies agree.

Many top food bloggers now have over 100,000 followers – and if you count The Pioneer Woman, she leads the pack with 1.4 million followers.

If you’re starting a food blog, here’s some Instagram for food bloggers tips for being strategic with your account:

Instagram for Food Bloggers: What should you post?

Use your Instagram account to showcase only the very best of your work. Think of your Instagram feed as a micro-blog. Post mouth-watering food photos which ideally have a unique twist in style to them so people recognise them as your work. Be original.

Pay close attention to how your grid of recent images look. This is your visual brand. Plan this out ahead and stay extremely focused.

Stay consistent in style. For example, if you want to post an inspirational quote, do so in a regular pattern and with the same visual branding each time. Or, if you want to post vertical photos, do so always – your grid will look a whole lot better.

Don’t forget the caption. Roughly the first three lines of your caption are shown beneath the photos so make this part captivating. It shouldn’t be a literal boring description of the photo – make it interesting. Try something inspirational, surprising or funny. Use emojis to get attention and add humor.

Some food bloggers even include the entire recipe in their caption, especially if it’s simple. You can have up to 2,200 characters in the caption. It might be easier to type your captions and hashtags on a computer and then copy and paste them into Instagram.

Add a call to action at the end such as “double tap if you agree”, tag a friend, tap my profile for the link to the recipe.

Include a shortened link to the recipe at the end of the caption. Even though it’s not linked up when you tap on it, someone coming by your post later may be hunting for the recipe and can copy and paste it or re-type it in. A shortened link helps, e.g. cre8d-design.com/20 (see the WordPress plugin Pretty Link as one option).

How often should you post?

Post about five images spaced out per week. This is the median number posted by top food bloggers.

Post consistently at the same pace so your followers know what to expect. For example, a quote on Monday, a recipe on Tuesday, a recipe on Thursday, a personal or behind-the-scenes photo on Friday and a recipe on Saturday.

When should you post on Instagram?

Posting in the evenings seems to work best, but pay attention to when works best for you and adjust as needed. Think about your audience too – are they moms who are up in the night with their baby, scrolling through their Instagram feed? There might be fewer people on at that time, but also less competition.

One account or two on Instagram for food bloggers?

Consider having a separate account for your personal photos, away from your blog’s work, if you like to post a lot of photos from your life. That being said, do add the occasional personal or behind the scenes photo to your food blog’s account – people appreciate this.

How do people discover you?

Follow other food bloggers or foodie related accounts you find inspiring and leave thoughtful comments on their photos as a way for people to come across your account.

Participate in relevant challenges on Instagram for food bloggers – your work could then be showcased on much larger accounts. Or, create your own challenge with its own hashtag and get others to participate in it.

If you have a competition or promotion on your blog, you may wish to advertise on Instagram but do your research carefully first. It’s easy to burn through cash if you’re not strategic.

Avoid all scammy follower schemes. You want followers to be real people, not bots.

What about hashtags on Instagram for food bloggers?

Use 2-10 hashtags per post. You can add up to 30. Many people put their hashtags in as a first comment rather than in the caption itself as it makes the caption less cluttered. Others put a period on a line by itself to space out the hashtags from everything else.

Don’t use cute, funny or long hashtags like your friends do on Facebook #youknowwhatimean. Use hashtags which will help the right people find you.

Here’s the 10 most-used hashtags by top food bloggers in order as of July 2017 based on our own research:

#feedfeed #buzzfeast #eeeeeats #huffposttaste #f52grams #bhgfood #recipe #buzzfeedfood #instafood #foodandwine

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There’s a catch-22 with hashtags: the more photos there are for a hashtag, the less likely yours will get a lot of interest if someone is following that hashtag. But, the more popular a hashtag is, the more people will be looking at that hashtag. Experiment and see which hashtags work well for you.

Note that food bloggers are using #ad for sponsored posts.

Create your own hashtag for others to use if they create your recipe, then follow it and comment on anyone who takes part.

What’s this “link in profile” thing on Instagram for food bloggers?

Instagram doesn’t allow links to web pages in captions or comments. The only place that you can get a clickable link is your profile link. To get around this problem where you want people to click over to the blog post their photo is about, people add to their caption “link in profile”. Then, they change their profile link each time to be their latest post’s associated link on their blog.

As you can imagine, this gets a bit annoying (and is frustrating if you are looking at an older photo). Linkinprofile is a new paid service which gives you one link to use as your profile link. Then, people click on your profile link and they get to see your Instagram feed again, but this time with clickable images. Each image takes you to the associated blog post. Nice! It works by you adding the link to the post in your caption when adding the photo to Instagram, then they turn that into a link on their page. Lots of big food bloggers are using this tool right now, but I expect it’s a short term trend as other solutions become available. The cost may or may not be worthwhile for you when starting out.

If you have any other tips, be sure to comment and let us all know.