This post is just to give back to the community which helped me get started. I just hit 20k on a pet niche based account with an average of 2k-6k likes per picture and the highest being 13k likes with 420+ comments. I have made roughly 150$ from the account till date. I admit I might not know everything there is about Instagram but these are a few things I have learned while I was doing stuff manually. So, the first thing is that nothing beats manual. Honestly, there is a difference; people do notice if you are doing the effort and interacting with them. Of course, you can have a bot just for the unfollowing – I just haven’t done that from the beginning and I hear it’s a bad idea to put an established manual account on a bot! Who to Follow tips I generally like to follow people who liked a picture in my niche. For example, say my niche is “desserts”, I’ll type #desserts in my search bar, look through the top pics and see if there are any I like. I follow people who like the same picture, as chances are they have similar taste as me and will like my pictures. Get good pictures It’s okay to use the top trending pictures once in a while but when your entire follow strategy (well, mine anyway) is following people who like certain pics, it becomes redundant to post the same picture to your account as well. Chances are they might have seen them already. Here is a tip to find great pictures: Search your niche hashtag, find the picture you like and then click on the actual poster of the photo. Generally, credit is given to them. Then browse through their accounts and you might find hidden gems in there. The pictures I have gotten from this method get the most engagement! So, for example, catsofinstagram posts a cat picture which is trending for #cats. Go check the picture credit section, find the original cat account and there are sure to be other good pictures. If you want pictures in bulk, here is a thread which advises you on that: http://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/me...f-images-to-post-on-ig-in-a-few-hours.845079/ I’ve always preferred the earlier method though since the interaction is pretty high, the person whose picture you have posted is likely to comment back (in the pet niche anyway; can’t comment about others) and maybe even shout/like you out! Likes also matter especially if they come from 10k+ accounts. Get free shoutouts Okay, so this is one trick that helped me get a few followers. Nothing major but hey, every bit helps right? When you post a pic, make sure to tag the original poster both in the comment and an actual tag. Many accounts don’t do this as they do not want their followers to think they are unoriginal but this actually can help. If the original poster replies to you, DM something along the lines of “You are welcome. We would love it if your account would feature our account too” Out of 5 trials, 3 of them have actually posted it and got me roughly 200 followers (one was a 3k personal account). When to start following aggressively Honestly, I waited till my account had a couple of posts (around 15-20) and whatever followers that brought in by using niche-related hashtags. You get a much better follow back ratio that way. Rank on Instagram So, this is one thing I figured out by myself – don’t know if it’s been shared before. Suppose you want to appear when people search for food. Make sure you include the term “food” somewhere in your username/caption and you will rank for it if you have a good engagement. Caption plays a pretty important role from what I’ve noticed since the top accounts sometimes use very similar or identical captions and well, they are at the top. I made this change to my account at around 7k followers when I realized it and what do you know, it ranks 2 for a broad term on Instagram search. Making money via Shoutouts: One site I use which has gotten me quite a few shoutouts is: I have made around 110$ with the platform. Click Here (REF) Here (NON-REF) It also has an affiliate program where if any of the people you referred buy shoutouts then you get a 30% commission from their commission. If you liked this post, I would appreciate if you would sign up through my ref link! Thanks. Here is my journey thread if any of you want to follow along: http://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/another-instagram-journey-pet-niche-lets-reach-100k-followers.816240/ Thanks!