How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

It’s been over a month since I started this blogging series! Thanks for your patience, I know so many people have been waiting for part 2 to be published. I’ve had so many other projects on the go, including Shop Basic Babe, that it took me longer than anticipated to sit down and write this post. But, alas, here it is! Part 2.

Part 2 – How to Edit:

When I first started on Instagram I had no idea how to edit! I would spend hours scrolling through different accounts and admire all these beautiful feeds. Thinking, I wish I knew how to edit or what apps to use! At first, I got a little discouraged and thought maybe editing was just not for me. I read so many different blog posts about how to edit and they were ALL so generic.

None of them gave specific advice on what filters they use. What their editing process was. If they used more then one edit. And the list goes on and on.

When I first started editing I definitely over edited every picture. I wanted a bright clean feed. And thought that meant raising the exposure like crazy, lol! I actually had NO idea what I was doing. I dabbled in so many different editing programs, trying to figure out how Blogger XYZ achieved that look on her Instagram.

It probably took me until last Summer to really figure out how to edit my pictures to the way I like. And let me say, I’m no pro, BUT, I’ve figured out a thing or two along the way!

DISCLOSURE: I’m writing this blog post on how I edited to get a consistent looking feed. I am no way saying I know everything about each app I use because I definitely don’t. And yes, editing definitely plays a huge role in gaining followers. People like to follow a beautiful, professional and consistent looking feed.

I had some comments in the last blog post (part 1 – you can read that here if you missed it) saying that the right apps and camera equipment have nothing to do with growing your following. Lol, I wish. Growing your following takes a bunch of little parts that all work together. It’s not an instant, overnight, get-followers-quick-scheme. Growing your following takes consistency and a lot of hard work! 🙂 Especially with this new Instagram algorithm!

With that being said, let’s dive right in!

Step 1: Download the right apps

We discussed a little about this on part 1. Having the right editing apps is the first place you want to start! Here are my go-to editing apps:

  • Lightroom (for desktop and mobile)
  • VSCO
  • Google Snapseed
  • Facetune

Step 2: What does each app do?

If you’re new to editing, those apps above may just confuse you more! I know I was super confused about what did what. I’m going to break it down below in my own words:


Okay, Adobe Lightroom is on every single photographer’s computer. Do not think about uploading your picture to your blog or Instagram with editing it in Lightroom first! Now, Lightroom has a lot of features. I don’t even use half of them. So to make it really easy, Lightroom can fix all the basic editing that needs to be done to every picture taken on a DSLR or even iPhone.

For newbies, like when I first started. You can use auto tone. This adjusts multiple things such as exposure, contrast etc. to what Lightroom thinks it should be. Now, I would highly suggest learning the basics of how to adjust these yourself. If you’re like me, you can play around with the exposure, contrast, saturation, whites, blacks etc. Just to see what they do and what they change!

I’m no expert in explaining Lightroom, so I’d definitely give this blog post a read here. It’s a great tutorial for beginners! It is a long read though!

Here is an example of how I start my editing below:

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

(click picture to expand)

This example is just for your reference. All I did in the after picture is select auto tone. Which as you can see increased exposure, contrast and whites. It decreased the blacks. To be honest I never use auto tone since I have my own formula. But, the picture on the right already appears brighter and crisper. Much better for my blog or Instagram already!

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

(click picture to expand)

Now, this is how I edit probably 75% of my pictures. It’s a preset of filters and different adjustments. If you take a look at my basic edits on the far right, you can see how adjusted basically every single thing is! I do have a little secret to achieve this moody look. I’m not going to get into every detail of what filters I used to achieve the look on the right. Mainly, because I honestly can’t remember all the filters in my preset. But what I can tell you is to download the VSCO filters for Lightroom.

It’s not free. It’s about $60 I believe, but it’s only a one time fee unless you buy multiple presets. But once you are ready to take your editing to the next level, it is so worth it! I’ve mixed a bunch of different VSCO filters on Lightroom and then saved it as a preset. Saving it as a preset makes it easier to achieve the same look in every picture, no matter the lighting!

If you’re interested in purchasing the VSCO presets for Lightroom, click here.

It’s important to note, that this picture is what I would call an easy edit. It doesn’t need much touching up since the photographer did his job well and made sure the aperture, flash, etc. were on point! We also shoot in RAW to really make sure we can edit the way we want to! Not every picture is easy to edit. But for the most part, if the photographer has all his functions on his camera right, you shouldn’t be spending more then 15 mins editing a picture. This would take me about 1 minute tops to edit this photo here!

** After Lightroom is where many people choose to use Photoshop. I rarely use photoshop so I didn’t add it to this blog post. If I need to clone stamp out any blemishes or imperfections, I’d just use the clone stamp available on Lightroom. I did a quick edit of this picture so I didn’t use clone stamp at all. But normally, I would have clone stamped out the electrical plug behind me.


Hands down, VSCO is my favourite app to use! It’s basically every bloggers bff and has so many filters to choose from! I know some girls who skip Lightroom all together and just use VSCO. I personally don’t recommend that. But VSCO is that great of an app!

If you’ve never heard of VSCO it’s an app for your phone that is known for all its amazing filters. You can also edit exposure, saturation, sharpen etc. just like Lightroom. But, I mainly use it for its vast array of filters!

I would recommend testing all the filters to see what fits your brand! You can adjust how much filter to put over your photo too, which is great! Here is my example continued from above:


Step 1: Import your image to VSCO into your studio. You can also use your studio to plan your Instagram feed too!

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

Step 2: Edit your image in VSCO and definitely browse the filters! I have the VSCO membership so I have all the available filters ( you have to pay extra for more filters unless you join the VSCO membership – see app for more details).

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

Step 3: Choose your filter and adjust it accordingly. I chose A6 which is de-saturated, moody and has a cool tone. Which I love!

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

For this picture, in particular, I would finish my editing right up here. But, for the sake of this blog post, I’ll show you how to finish editing in Facetune and Snapseed too!


So Facetune is basically an app for selfies. You can use it to make your selfie flawless or use it to fix any minor blemishes. In my image above I do have a few tiny blemishes on my face. And to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t put it through Facetune. Only because no one would really be able to see it on Instagram! Clearly, I am not a perfectionist. But if you are, here is how you’d correct it:


Step 1: This step is optional. But you can start by smoothing your entire face for a flawless finish!

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

Step 2: This is the finished result of the smoothing. You could go crazy and smooth it more but you don’t want to over edit! But as you can see that big blemish is still there! No worries we can patch it away!

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

Step 3: Select the patch tool. You will have two circles appear on your screen. It’s just like the clone stamp in Photoshop. Use it to cover the blemish by using a clear spot of skin.

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

Step 4: Voila! Perfect skin and no more blemishes! I would also usually smooth my legs/arms too to match my face. Since now my legs and arms look really sharp and my face looks smooth! Just a little tip for when you’re editing! But it’s not that big of a deal if it’s just on Instagram since no one will be able to notice.

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months


I honestly only use Snapseed for one tool! So please excuse my ignorance on this app as it features many really cool tools! Definitely play around with it to see what tools you can use for your pictures. I rarely use Snapseed and only use it for the saturation brush. Like most Instagrammers, I try to only have certain colours on my feed and will use the saturation tool to de-saturate any colours that just don’t belong!

In this particular picture, I wouldn’t de-saturate any colours. But let’s just say I didn’t love all the colours of the clothes on the rack behind me. This is what I’d do:

Step 1: Select Tools. Then select Brush and select saturation.

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

Step 2: Change the saturation brush to -5. You can make it lower for more de-saturation or higher to saturate your image more!

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

Step 3: Voila! As you can see the rack is completely de-saturated.

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months

Dress: Basic Babe

Like I said, these are the editing steps I used to help grow my following! Once I really stuck to my brand and consistent feed, I found I organically grew followers and had people DM me on Instagram to tell me how much they loved my feed and asked how I edited my pictures.

If you have any specific questions about editing, comment them below!

If you missed Part 1 of the series:

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months – Part 1

How I Gained 20,000 REAL Instagram Followers in 6 Months – Part 3

You also might like:

10 Blogging Mistakes I Made My First Year + How To Avoid Them!

And don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list below to be the first to know when Part 3 is published!

xo Lauren