This is the third in a series of blog posts where I chat to some of my favourite Instagrammers about how they have successfully grown their Instagram accounts.
This week, I am talking with Kika of @kutovakika about her super creative and beautiful Instagram account. Her photos have caught the eye of Instagram, having been featured through their hashtag project an impressive 3 times!
I’m a huge fan of her photographs and was so pleased to hear everything she has to say on all things Instagram.
Your account is beautiful and is growing super fast! When did you start taking your feed seriously and how quickly did it grow from there?
Well, I started my Instagram account back in 2013 but only posted random photos of my handmade projects, scroll all the way back and you’ll find a lot of heavily Nashville filtered photos *cringe*. I wasn’t a very active user in the beginning and got really excited when I got over 10 likes, such innocent times!
I started to put serious effort into my account in June 2017 after getting inspired by the podcast Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker from @me_and_orla.
Back then I had just under 1k followers and now 8 months later it has grown to almost 25k. I think that’s mostly thanks to a lot of hard work and the fact that I’m probably the worst serial project hoarder ever (the ideas just keep coming).
The first big thing that got me noticed on the platform was when I got featured via the weekend hashtag project in September 2017. Suddenly I got 4000 new followers in just one day and people from all over the world started to send me messages and engage with my photos.
That was a big milestone for me because I got some validation that what I was doing resonated with people.
Your account is super creative, I always love seeing what you’ll come up with next. Where do you find inspiration for your posts?
At the moment I’m really interested in doing compositions with everyday things and transforming them into something else.
I’ve written this fancy line in my Instagram bio “inspiring to find the magic in the mundane”, which basically means I try to look at the ordinary things around me that I usually take for granted and see if I can draw out a little magic from them.
Usually the ideas that come from a very genuine and intuitive place are the ones that turn out the best. I can get ridiculously excited by very simple things like a specific color, a texture or material and I try to let that curiosity and excitement guide me.
Visual storytelling has always interested me and at the moment I’ve been thinking quite a lot about what kind of emotions I want to evoke with my photos.
I also use places like Pinterest and Instagram for visual inspiration, if I find an idea that really excites me I always try to put my own spin on it and make it my own.
How do you make the time to plan, take and edit your photographs?
By not having a social life haha. No, but seriously, at the moment I actually have a pretty flexible schedule since I’m working as a freelancer and have a part time job. Those allow me to take photos not only during weekends but also on weekdays which really helps keeping the workflow quite steady and prevent it from piling up.
The other side of it is of course that since I’m quite determined to keep showing up and share photos on a consistent basis. That means I often prioritize working on creating and planning content instead of binge watching TV or staying long in bed (even though I totally
sometimes way too often wear my PJ’s until the afternoon).
When it comes to planning I’ve always been horrible at making any long term ones and tend to function on a very day-to-day basis and go quite a lot with the flow. Although recently I’ve started so many new projects that I’m working on setting up more structures and routines around my creative endeveours.
One thing that I do that has helped me a lot is that I sit down about once a week and sketch out my current photo ideas. That way I know what kind of pics I’ll do next, and even though they usually are quite rough and imperfect sketches they help me to feel more calm and avoid the dreaded creative slump.
What do you use to edit your Instagram photos? Which would you recommend to anyone just starting out?
The app I use the most is vsco, mainly because I really like the filters it offers and for how easy it’s to use. If a photo isn’t quite sharp enough or a bit too dark I tend to use the Lightroom app just because I think it’s editing tools are a bit better than vsco.
I use a Nikon camera and my iPhone for snapping my photos. The iPhone actually works very well for photos where the compositions are quite flat and you don’t need a lot of depth in the pic. You really don’t need a lot of fancy tools to get started and create gorgeous results!
You’ve been featured by Instagram an impressive 3 times. What do you think helped you to get noticed and do you have any recommendations to anyone who’d like to get featured?
I think all the 3 photos that got featured have two things in common: a strong sense of composition and an idea.
I’ve got this theory that the more effort and intention you put into copmposing the photo the more time the viewer will spend looking at it. You need to really care about every detail in the pic to get the viewer to care about them too I think. That doesn’t mean you have to stylize and stage things (although I love that stuff too obviously), it just means I think it’s important to be very thoughtful on how you frame the overall photo and how you generally block out the shot etc.
Also, I have two insanely cute manga-esque cats that bring my photos to that next level of “Instagram gold” in a way that only cats can. And obviously being cats they just walk into my carefully planned out photos totally unaware of what’s going on and still manage to bring that magic. Maybe they’re trying to teach something about not trying so hard and just be more cool!
Another tip would be to try to think out of the box and not always grab the first idea that pops into your mind when reading the prompt for the weekend hashtag theme. Try to make it personal and put your own spin on it.
Also put an extra bit of time in considering how it communicates with a viewer who is a stranger (instead of only thinking about how it will resonate with your followers who know you already since the photo will be chosen by the Instagram community team that probably doesn’t know you).
A thing I realized recently is that every photo of mine that got featured was based on an idea that I’d had in my mind for a while prior to the WHPs. Instead of having to pull out something completely new, I used already existing ideas as starting points for my entries. That has worked really well for me and could be something to try out.
How important is engagement with other accounts to you? Do you try to spend a set amount of time engaging with other people and their photographs each day?
Engagement is super important to me, connecting with others is one of the things I love most about the platform. I’ve found so many like minded souls there that have become a real source of support and joy, something I would never have predicted when starting out.
I usually post my photos in the evening and spend an hour or so answering comments and go and see what everyone else have been up to that day. It’s become a bit like a ritual that I really enjoy. Also since I live abroad and don’t see my closest friends so often it’s provided me with a sense of belongning to a community. I really like that feeling of being part of something bigger than just me myself and I.
What benefits has having a successful Instagram account brought you?
It’s definitely given me more self confidence in the sense that I’ve gotten a sort of validation that my creative ideas resonate with people (even though I still struggle with insecurities all the time ugh).
I think because my account has grown relatively quickly after I started to put in a more conscious effort it has given me a stronger determination to go after this thing that I feel so passionate about.
I think it’s easy to feel sort of ridiculous for having big dreams or ideas that seem completely unrealistic from our present position, but my experience with Instagram so far has definitely proven to me that it’s worth it.
In the beginning when I spent an entire vacation obsessively snapping pictures for an Instagram account with 700 followers, I sometimes questioned if what I was doing was just utterly stupid and a waste of time. But now when I can see how my work is getting better and my visual storytelling skills are stronger, I’m so glad that I was stubborn enough to just keep at it and showing up everyday, also in the beginning.
I’m also starting to get more brands reaching out to me about collaborations, which is something that feels really exciting and fun.
What are your aspirations for your account?
To become so famous people will recognize me in the street! 😀 Haha, just kidding.
What I do hope to do, is build my own small creative empire and carve out a little spot for myself in the the world of self employed creative entrepreneurs. How that exactly will look like and in what shape or form, time will tell.
Can you name a few of your favourite ‘must-follow’ Instagram accounts?
At the moment I’m blown away by the creative book inspired photography by @bookishbronte, she’s really on a roll and it’s a delight to see her posts every day. Another account I really enjoy at the moment is @grin_land, she just got featured by Instagram and has a very unique style and use of color, definitely one to keep an eye on.
And obviously I’m the biggest fangirl of @me_and_orla and @allthatisshe, they’ve both had a really strong impact on me in the way they’ve built up their online presence and are definitely a must-follow for anyone who doesn’t already.
Thanks so much to Kika for sharing her Instagram wisdom with us here! If you’re not already following Kika (and you really should be!), then you can find her at all the places linked below!
Blog: Heartbeats Blog