A complete step by step guide to creating and growing your Food Instagram account to thousands of followers
Learn how I grew my Instagram Food account to over 40K followers and created a multi-million dollar (valued) startup called Cravve.
This guide will help you avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes I made. Your path to success will be a lot easier, quicker, and cheaper than mine. CAROL HOANG
How do you start a Food Instagram blog with thousands of followers and make additional money?
You can do it. Tons of people already are. I am proof that being a full-time Instagram food blogger can be done. I will walk you through the steps to get there.
My Instagram food blog @cravveapp has over 40,000 followers, my posts reach over 1.1M people every month, and our posts regularly reach over 10K people.
As a food blogger on Instagram, an avid user of Yelp and Pinterest, I was not satisfied with the experience of finding the best local food, getting menu recommendations for restaurants, and growing my food community.
Also, algorithm changes with these big tech apps kept making it harder for me to reach my audience and grow my community. Fed up with these apps I decided to create a food review and food blog app called Cravve.
In just a few months of launch, the app has a 4.9 rating on the app store and has over 10K members. In addition, a recent independent 3rd party valuation estimated Cravve as a multi-million dollar app.
I am proud to say that being a food influencer and running this business is now my full-time job. I want to help you do it too.
How to start a Food Instagram Account?
Now, let us talk about helping you start a food Instagram account and becoming a Food Influencer. It is essential to have long-term and short-term goals. Becoming an overnight influencer and gaining 40,000 followers overnight may not be a realistic goal if you are just starting.
I will be honest building an app and growing a 40K Instagram following is hard; it takes a lot of time, effort and commitment.
Now, you are not going to reach millions in monthly traffic to your content overnight. However, achieving thousands in traffic and starting to generate additional side income is doable in a short amount of time.
For most food bloggers, an additional income from a passion or hobby would be a dream come true. I know it was for me!
So, yes, your food photos and text can help make dreams a reality.
Where to begin?
I began my journey from the same place that you are right now. The only difference is that I have been doing this every day for years.
Was it easy? No, I made a LOT of mistakes. Fell hard, spent hours working on things that did not work, and have had tons of terrible ideas that have since come and gone.
This guide will help you avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes I made. Your path to success will be a lot easier, quicker, and cheaper than mine.
Let us get started!
Your 3-minute guide to starting a Food Instagram Account
In this section, I will cover the essential steps to get you on the fast track to creating your Instagram food blog or updating an existing account that is underperforming.
To start your Instagram food blog, you will need to decide on the following:
Instagram Food blog type
Username handle for your Instagram food blog
Blog profile photo
Blog bio description.
These are the steps to creating an Instagram food blog. The decisions you make can be the difference between a memorable account that breaks-through and one that gets ignored and disconnected.
I highly recommend you tap into your food passions, assess your content creation technical skills, and choose a blog type you think you can add the most value to what is already out there.
Begin by doing competitive research to see how the most successful food blogs in the category add value. Then think about how you can build or add something different.
Not sure where to start when it comes to food blog type? To help you along, here are a few food blog types to consider and are commonly created:
Homemade Food Blog – sharing homemade recipes and creations
Travel Food Blog – sharing your food travel adventures
Local Food Guide Blog – sharing the hottest new local food
Food Category Blog – sharing the best coffee or pizza in a location
Healthy/Vegan Food Blog – sharing healthy food or vegan food
Food Diary Blog – sharing your everyday food adventures
Mukbang Style Food Blog – sharing live eating of amazing food creations
Some food blog types require more advanced content creation skills to be successful (ex. Mukbang Style Food Blog) – keep this in mind as you create your food blog.
The next step is to then decide on a name for the food blog. When choosing a name for your food blog you will want to focus on four factors including:
Availability – is the name available for use? Often great names are taken.
Discoverability – is the name easily searched by the target audience?
Comprehension – is the name easy for other users to understand?
Relevance – is the name relevant to the content your sharing?
With these factors considered – you will be on your way to a great name that will be breaking through, easily understood, and be compelling to your target audience.
When creating a profile photo, it is best to connect this to your content strategy. If your opinion is going to be a focal point of your food blog, it makes sense to use a photo of yourself. If your blog is about food from a specific location, category, or diet you should use a profile photo that connects to it. Using colors that stand out helps. Using colors that stand out helps.
Lastly, create a bio that delivers on a few things:
Value Statement: Explains your blog type and how it is adding value to the follower
Credibility Statement: Demonstrate your credibility as an expert in the area/topic (ex. other food blogs, statuses you have, websites, podcast, etc.)
CTA to engage: Add a call to action (ex. create a personalized hashtag to reshare, DM for the collab, etc.)
Now, let us go through the whole process in detail.
First Step. Choose an idea for your Instagram Food blog
If you want to create an Instagram food blog, you don not need a revolutionary idea or think of something groundbreaking or something completely new.
But your food blog should be focused on a specific food idea. It should also add value to what is already available.
Remember that no idea, no matter how great, is unique.
You have different experiences. You have a unique perspective. And you have a vibrant personality that will attract others, as you do with family or friends.
When it comes to choosing your blog idea, there are essential questions you need to ask yourself.
1. Am I passionate about the food topic?
If you do not have a passion for a topic, it will show in your food blogging. You should not start a food blog if you do not love what you are blogging about.
Whatever the food topic you choose, you should have a natural curiosity to spend hours exploring and getting lost in it. If you do not have a passion for it, you will run out of ideas, get bored, and the content you share likely will not be good.
With Cravve, I knew very early that my passion was finding the best, must-try food in large cities across the US. I loved traveling and planning to try all the best food on my visits.
I also knew I had a passion for being a food critic, and I loved reviewing the food, comparing food against each other, and ranking similar dishes against one another.
If you do not know what food topic you are passionate about, spend the extra time reflecting on what you enjoy most about your food experiences. You can also explore other food blog topics to see how others are connecting with their passions.
2. How am I going to add value to the food topic?
You might feel like the topics you are most interested in are already covered and that there are no opportunities for you to be different or add value.
To be clear – there are opportunities everywhere – even the most covered and exhausted food topics. That is the beauty of food culture – it is always changing, and there is a different trend emerging or an existing trend that is evolving.
For example, with Cravve, I knew that finding the best, must-try, and hottest new foods in large US cities was not a new idea. Many Instagram Food blog Pages cover the idea like Infatuation, Yelp, Eater, Timeout, BestFoodFeed Blogs, etc.
But I also knew that a single blog or business could comprehensively keep up with the latest trends and I knew that I could do a better job curating the must-try foods in cities across the US – so I did it.
I just took a different point of view – curating my top 5 favorite food and ranking them. I also moved from city to city and delivered it all in a single account.
Through my experience, I learned that you need to find a different point-of-view or take an existing one but tell it from your unique perspective. I did it, and so can you!
Second Step. Creating a username handle for your Instagram Food blog
Now it is time for the fun part: giving your Instagram food blog a name.
It is your brand. It is what people will associate in their minds when they hear the name.
No need to overthink it. Your brand will build over time.
The best way to create a name is to start with brainstorming. In the previous step, you let the ideas overflow to nail down a niche topic. It is the perfect place to start.
Take those ideas and brainstorm names in three naming categories, including descriptive names, symbolic names, and abstract names. Spend about 5 minutes in each category. Aim for 5-10 possible names and write them down.
It is time to see if the names you have come up with are available. Start typing the name you are considering into the username of your edit profile page to see if that name is available.
Looking for inspiration?
For example, food bloggers that aim to stand out for their own unique personal content will use descriptive names that build in an association with their name.
Look at names like @allyeats or @stuffmatteats or @eatwithlinda. These work well if your name and content is the idea you intend to stand out for.
As someone starting, who does not yet have the authority, you will want to find ways to help elevate your credibility and creatively connect your blog to a topic that piques a broader interest to explore more.
For example, leaning into your local area like @bayareafoodie @the6foodie or leaning into your food habits @putaforkinit or @bobaaddict or @brunchbelly.
When you land on an available name, be sure to save it by adding it to your account, so make sure to avoid losing it.
Tip: When creating an Instagram account, you should set it up as a content creator or business, depending on your situation. You will get access to useful tools to build your food blogger community as well get valuable insights.
Third Step. Choose a profile photo that connects to your idea, is memorable and breaks-through
The profile photo you choose is a way to shape perceptions of your food blog idea and build credibility. It can also help you stand out from the crowd.
You will want to choose a photo that reinforces the idea you plan to stand out for. If it is your own experience and content creation, you will want to focus on yourself and your unique idea.
Food blogs focused on a specific food type of food or food from a location – you will want it represented in the profile photo you choose.
With Cravve’s Instagram page, I used the app logo as my profile photo. My logo includes an ice cream cone icon. It is a food I crave a lot and is also one of the most common food cravings among foodies and it also represents what my food blog stands for, which is connecting food lovers to what they crave.
Fourth Step. Create a Instagram Food bio that ties it all together and drives action
Now that you have caught people’s attention with your awesome profile name and photo. Your bio should do the job of bringing your food blog idea to life and driving action.
First, you want to start with developing your value statement. It is a statement that describes how you are going to add value. Is your blog going to be useful? Or entertaining? It will also explain why people should follow you. The caption should be clear and concise.
Next, you will want to make sure you highlight the things that give you authority or make you a credible source for this content. It is important if you are food blogging on a topic where there are many credible competitors. For home cooks, this is especially important.
Lastly, you will want to create a call to action that drives the outcomes you want. Whether it is collaborations, a hashtag you are looking to build and to promote others, or a website that helps to reinforces your credibility or that you want to drive traffic.
A Instagram Food bio statement example
With Cravve, for example, our value statement is:
“Discover the hottest new food and places near you.”
We leverage our positioning as a women-led startup for connection with our primary audience. It demonstrates the level of commitment and investment in this space we are in.
“Proudly Women-Led | COVID Startup”
We then use a multi-pronged call to action, including introducing the Cravve app, utilizing our website to encourage users to download the Crave app, and prompt users to tag us at #cravveapp for resharing our stories.
A reshare strategy is helpful for a food blog that curates content from its community. As a result, you will keep your brand top of mind for others.
We have now completed the account creation process and are ready to drive traffic and build your food community.
How to become a Instagram Food Blog Influencer?
Fifth Step. Your Instagram Food Blog Guide: Start with your audience
If you want to drive a lot of traffic to your food blog, your Instagram page should focus on reaching the audience you want.
Well, what does that mean? Firstly, you need to know your audience. Secondly, you’ll need to know where to find or reach them. Lastly, you’ll want to understand what content they respond to and have a lot of it.
So how do you go about identifying your audience and where you can find them?
A great place to start is to look at your competitor’s Instagram page. Take notes on the audience that is liking and commenting on their posts. Look for demographics or personal attributes of the people interacting with their content. I recommend reviewing the pages of at least 2-3 competitors.
Next, review the hashtags used by the top competitor pages. Then have a review of those hashtag pages and write them down. Consequently, these will be channels of traffic for you to consider for your posts in the future.
Lastly, you will want to review the content of those hashtag pages and the people that have tagged content to those pages. However, pay close attention to the types of content shared on the page. After that, you will want to go back to these as you look for inspiration for your portfolio.
1. Creating an Instagram Food Blog content signature and system
A. Add Structured Post Description
A content posting structure is simple, it is the structure you use for the description you add to your Instagram posts.
As a result, it will build credibility and reinforce the unique value your content adds. It should include a call to action, including asking people to follow you or tag content to your page.
You will want to create a content signature that makes sense for your food blog. For example, it could be recipe details for the homemade food you create, or in the case of Cravve, it is the city of focus, dish details, and restaurant.
As a result, it will deliver the value your blog promises, like useful information about the food or entertaining food content that your blog promises.
B. Add Post Hashtags
Once you have your structured content for your posts, you will also want to have a system for your hashtags. It is critical to reaching your audience with your content.
Instagram algorithms make it difficult for new accounts to breakthrough with high traffic hashtags. However, these hashtags are very important.
In addition to tagging the most popular hashtags for your blog idea, you should include a few hashtags with fewer posts as you may be more likely to be displayed on the top rated page. This page is a valuable source of views and likes.
A few quick tips – you do not want to add too many hashtags – this will get your post flagged as spam. Also, you want to have enough hashtags where you get enough traffic.
I suggest using anywhere from 15-25 hashtags on your post and make sure they are relevant to your post or audience. Also, rotate hashtags regularly where a majority of your hashtags change after every 3 to 6 posts.
Hashtags can be posted separately from your post description and added to the comments of your post.
Now that you have your content structure figured out and have a system for your hashtags – you are ready to build your content portfolio.
2. Build your content portfolio
Building a content portfolio is one of my favorite parts of food blogging. It is where you let your food artistry run free with your idea.
A. Great Photos or Videos of food (this is critical to bringing followers)
No matter the type of content creator – great photos or videos of food are critical to bringing in followers. It is a must-have.
Top and far away shots work okay, BUT close-ups work better. However, not too close – your audience still needs to see what food it is.
The posts need to be clear and the food needs to be visible. Especially with a cheese photo; dripping syrup, or oozing chocolate. Make it about the food, not the photograph.
Consider doing a self-test: does it look yummy to you? Does it make your mouth water? If yes, then it will work.
If it is only a good photo in general, it will not draw as much attention. You have to think like your followers. Would you like to see that image/food on your feed/home page? Would that photo make you want to click on a link for the recipe?
Some personal shots, selfies, or behind the scenes photos work okay if you have a lot of your friends following, but if your followers are there for your food, they may not care about those photos. Instagram food followers are different from personal followers. They want food!
B. Content Portfolio Development: Have a Game Plan
When developing your content you will want it to deliver on the promise of your food blog. Aa a result, you’ll also want a game plan that allows you to test and learn from your content.
How do you come up with tests to develop your content strategy? I highly recommend you leverage the learnings from your competitive scans. These would have given you a point-of-view of what your audience wants to see and what’s valuable today.
You’ll then want to create some hypotheses for your content and experiments to see which content draws the most demand and engagement. For example, you may hypothesize that if you blog about the best desserts in your area, you can get traffic and likes from your local audience.
You also want to be working with an inventory that gives you about a week of content. There are Instagram scheduling tools to help set up your postings weeks in advance.
As a result, I’d recommend experimenting with your content for the first few weeks to see which draws the most engagement. Once you have the results, you can lean into the successes you have and build on them.
Some food bloggers can do creation and post on the same day but that’s usually once you’ve well established your content portfolio strategy.
C. Carefully manage the frequency and time of your post
Instagram loves great food content, but it doesn’t want you to overwhelm others or hashtags with your content. You can get blocked if you overshare.
Consequently, this is what makes getting started and growing your food following fast very difficult. To overcome this, a lot of great content is critical as well as growing your following for credibility.
Now knowing what’s needed to break through, how much content can you share when you’re just getting started without getting blocked?
I’d recommend a maximum of 3 posts per day and have these posts scheduled at different times throughout the day with a post in the morning, afternoon, and evening so you can test peak hours. As a result, you’ll want to keep track of the performance of posts through Instagram insights.
These tests will help you understand when your audience is most engaged. From this, you will learn that many of your followers are in different time zones than your own.
Generally speaking, the first two hours of an Instagram post are the busiest. After that, you’ll notice a decline in interaction as the day goes on.
With Cravve, we found our posts in the late afternoon PST performed best. We would get a surge of activity right when posted and then another one in the morning EST.
Each food blog is different, so you want to test different times, and see which performs best for your blog.
Sixth Step. Find and build your Instagram Food community: a multi-channel strategy
Growing your followers quickly, when you have no or few followers, can be one of the biggest challenges for new food bloggers to overcome. As a result, it can also be the biggest source of anxiety.
To add to the anxiety, similar to posting content, Instagram will limit you on the numbers of people you can engage with like following, liking, commenting, and direct messaging – which are tools to growing your food blogging.
While a lot of great content is a terrific way to jump-start a strong following. You are going to need to use a multi-pronged approach to grow.
So how do you overcome these hurdles and become a food influencer fast?
There are three strategies:
Building your Food community on Instagram
Building your Instagram Food community from other social or online platforms
Paid advertising to build your Instagram Foodie community
Note: For those that are looking for free followers or want to buy followers from third-party apps. We highly recommend staying away from these options. It can be a quick way to get your account blocked or deactivated. Also, if you pay for followers they don’t engage with your content, and people will know right away when you are only getting a few likes on your post.
Here is a recipe that worked for us:
1. Building your Food community on Instagram
Finding your food community on Instagram is the easiest and lowest-cost way to grow your food following. Now, let’s help you find your audience, reach them and engage them.
A. Reach out to your family and friends that are foodies
A great way to get started with at least a few followers is to reach out to your friends and family that are foodies and that you are already connected with on social media like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter, have them follow you.
You can do this by sharing your Instagram food blog, or if you already have a following on your other social media account – you can add it to your bio with your IG handle.
This initial jump start can be so valuable to improving the conversion of the next audience you reach out to, which you don’t know and you have yet to build credibility.
B. Follow and like your active target audience
It can be a bit of art vs. science, but you’ll want to monitor where you’re getting the best conversion. As a result of our experience, this approach can be a great way to accelerate your food page growth.
Instagram monitors this activity, and if you exceed the limits they set – they will temporarily block you – sometimes for an hour or 24 hours and in some extreme cases for a week.
Given the limitations, you should use your reach out strategically and focus on the high potential follower. So how do you find them?
Here are four tips for sourcing your target audience:
i. Explore Your Competitors Followers
Start by going to competitor Instagram pages and view who’s following them. Given your focus on food bloggers, I’d recommend filtering the followers by keywords like food, eat, or blog.
ii. Explore relevant hashtag posts
As an alternative to reviewing your competitor’s traffic, you can look at relevant hashtag pages for users posting content tagged to those pages. You will also want to look out for food bloggers and not just personal pages.
iii. Suggested follower section of your favorite followers profile
Lastly, have a look at your most engaged follower’s profile and use the suggested account dropdown. It will recommend other similar followers like the person. As a result, you’ll want to make sure that this audience fits your target.
IMPORTANT: Before you begin following others
Tips for Follow for Follow
You’ll want to follow active food bloggers with a similar amount of follower’s as you or less. Also, look to see if they recently posted content to make sure the accounts are active.
If they pass those tests, then you’ll want to give them a follow and be sure to like at least 5-7 of their posts. Consequently, it is a way to signal to the user that you are a useful connection and help grow their post likes. It usually leads to a follow back.
Be sure to keep track of your follows. You’ll want to monitor who’s followed you back and who hasn’t. You can do this using an excel spreadsheet. There are also apps out there that can help to identify users that have not followed.
C. Other Tactics beyond follow for follow
i. DM to collaborate
Look for food bloggers who express interest in their bio to collaborate, or one that is cross-promoting others’ content, they may be a great person to direct message. You can help each other to cross-share content and to support each other’s growth.
When seeking out these collaborations – best to look for foodies with similar followers – it’s unlikely you’ll get another foodie with a lot more followers interested in cross promoting.
ii. Tag other content curators with your content
Another great way to gain followers is to have content curators share your content. For example, with Cravve, we are a content curator, we share our communities’ food content when they tag us at #cravveapp. There are other curators like us who do similar cross-sharing.
2. Building your Instagram food community from other social or online platforms
While using Instagram is likely the best source of traffic and growing your Instagram following for most people. Other social media pages can be valuable. Here are a few ways you can leverage other social media to grow your food blog.
A. Promote your food blog on your personal social media bio’s
Do you already have a following on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok?
Why not promote your food blog there? It’s free and if you’re proud of your food blog – let it shine bright. It can be as simple as featuring the page on your bio or cross-sharing content. It can be a great way to raise awareness with people that are likely to engage, and it’s easy.
B. Join or create a foodie group on Facebook
Another great way to grow your foodie blog outside of Instagram is Facebook Groups. There are a lot of different foodie groups to join.
For example, with Cravve, we have a Facebook group that helps us with feedback on our app. It is also a great place to connect with other foodies.
If you have the time, creating your own Facebook food blog group can be a way to create more collaborations with other food bloggers and give a reason to reach out to similar foodies and start a conversation.
C. Create other food blog accounts and cross-promote content
Another great option to grow your food community is creating a second food blog account. It is another place where you can test and learn but also reinforce your main food blog page.
This multiple Instagram page strategy is useful if you have different types of content or locations you may want
You’ll want to be careful with how much you use and engage with this account as Instagram will monitor both and block your activity on the main account for misusing the second account.
D. Join the Cravve App foodie community
We created Cravve to help foodies build a local food community and to support their food blogs.
We’ve got a particular passion for Instagram food bloggers and have a collaboration with Instagram where you can transfer individual posts or your entire food blog to Cravve.
Also, with Cravve you can feature your Instagram page right on your profile. So other foodies can easily find and explore your content.
With over 10K members, we’re already helping foodies build their community. Give it a try and see how it can help you grow your following.
3. Paid advertising to build your Instagram Food community
Last but not least, paid advertising on Instagram or Facebook. Many new food bloggers have limited budgets and avoid this option in favor of free community-building options.
For those that have a budget, paid ads can be a way to grow an engaged following and have your content reach a lot of foodies in a short amount of time.
With our food app business, it’s been a way to reach our target audience for the app efficiently while also steadily growing our following.
Once you’ve set up your account, here are the steps to creating an ad. It only takes a few minutes to set up a campaign, and you can use the content you’ve already created for your post.
Step 1: Select the type of ad campaign
For Cravve, we set up app install campaigns, but you can set up traffic campaigns if you’re planning to get more traffic to your Instagram profile page. You’ll also want to turn the campaign budget optimization on and start with a daily budget of $20-$40.
Step 2: Create an Ad Set
We set up a campaign name, selected a manual campaign for details, and then turned the campaign budget optimization on using the lowest cost bid strategy with a daily budget of $40.
Step 3: Create an Instagram Look a Like Audience
To do this, you’ll need to select the option to create a new custom audience. Next, you can choose to use your Instagram account for the audience. Then choose an audience that looks like those engaged with your Instagram page in the last 120 days. Once you’ve completed the selections, you can then create your audience. You’ll also want to select the option to reach your audience beyond your look alike. See screenshots.
Step 4: Create your food blog ad
When creating your ad, you’ll want it to be linked to your Instagram account and add the media or select a post from your Instagram page to promote.
In this example, we created a custom image to demonstrate the features of the Cravve app. We also added the primary text “What do you Cravve?” to elevate the focus on the food content and then added the headline “NEW foodie app. FREE to download and use.” to drive action.
Once you’re happy with it, you can then publish your ad. It will then go through the review process and once your approved watch the ads reach members.
Step 5: Track the ads performance and impact on your following
We spent thousands of dollars testing ads and hours optimizing the creatives to get to this point. Below are some of the ads we tested and the ones that performed best. We hope the example helps you leapfrog the mistakes and deliver ads that help you grow your following!