How One Instagram Influencer Built Her Brand and Attracted 40K Followers

In today‘s digital age, social media has become a powerful tool for individuals to build their personal brand and reach a vast audience. Instagram, in particular, has emerged as a hub for influencer marketing, with over 1 billion monthly active users and 90% of accounts following a business on the platform.[^1]

For many aspiring influencers, the journey from anonymity to a thriving online presence can seem daunting. But the story of Jenna Davis, a fashion and lifestyle influencer who grew her Instagram account from 0 to 40,000 followers in just 10 months, proves that with the right strategies and mindset, anyone can achieve influencer success.

In this article, we‘ll take a deep dive into how Jenna built her brand, grew her following, and landed lucrative brand deals – and how you can apply her tactics to your own Instagram journey.

The Power of Niche and Authenticity

When Jenna first started her Instagram account, she knew she needed to differentiate herself in the crowded fashion influencer space. Rather than trying to appeal to everyone, she focused on carving out a specific niche – affordable, relatable style for everyday women.

"I saw a gap in the market for fashion content that felt accessible and authentic," Jenna explains. "So many of the popular fashion bloggers at the time had these perfectly curated, aspirational feeds. I wanted to show that you don‘t need a designer wardrobe or a glamorous lifestyle to have great style."

By honing in on this niche and consistently creating content that spoke to her target audience, Jenna was able to attract a highly engaged community of followers who resonated with her brand. This is a key principle of building a strong personal brand – the more specific and authentic you are, the easier it is to attract your ideal audience and cultivate loyalty.[^2]

Jenna also made a point to infuse her personality into her content, showing her face in every post and letting her sense of humor and relatability shine through in her captions. This humanized her brand and helped her followers feel like they knew her as a friend, not just an influencer.

Cracking the Instagram Algorithm Code

But creating great content is only half the battle on Instagram – you also need to understand how to work with the platform‘s algorithm to get your posts seen.

Jenna quickly realized that consistency and engagement were essential for growth. She began posting twice a day, at peak times for her audience, and made a point to reply to every comment and DM. She also used relevant hashtags on each post to increase her discoverability.

"Hashtags were a game-changer for me in the early days," Jenna recalls. "I would do research to find the most popular hashtags in my niche that had an engaged community behind them, but weren‘t so oversaturated that my posts would get lost. Using a mix of broad and niche-specific hashtags helped me attract new followers who were interested in my content."

Another key component of Jenna‘s growth strategy? Collaborating with other influencers in her niche. She regularly participated in "engagement pods" – groups of influencers who agree to like and comment on each other‘s posts – and hosted giveaways with influencers who had a similar aesthetic and target audience.

"Giveaways were huge for my growth," Jenna says. "By partnering with a few other influencers and all posting about the same giveaway on our feeds, we were able to tap into each other‘s audiences and gain quality followers. I would gain anywhere from 500 to 1,000 new followers from a single giveaway."

Jenna also leveraged Instagram Stories and Reels to drive engagement and reach new audiences. She shared behind-the-scenes glimpses of her life, asked her followers questions to spark conversation, and created short, snappy video content that showcased her personality.

"Instagram Reels have been a huge priority for me lately," she notes. "The algorithm heavily favors Reels, so I make sure to post at least a few per week. They‘re a fun way to show a more laid-back, playful side of my brand and tend to get great engagement."

The Art of Authentic Influence

As Jenna‘s following grew, so did her opportunities to partner with brands. But rather than jumping at every offer, she was strategic about only working with companies that aligned with her brand values and audience interests.

"Authenticity is everything when it comes to sponsored content," Jenna stresses. "Your followers can sniff out a disingenuous endorsement from a mile away. I‘m always honest about when a post is sponsored, and I only work with brands I genuinely love and would recommend to a friend."

This authentic approach to brand partnerships has helped Jenna build trust with her audience and establish herself as a respected authority in her niche. Her followers know they can count on her for reliable fashion and lifestyle recommendations, which keeps them coming back to her content.

To maintain a healthy balance of sponsored and organic content, Jenna aims for a 70/30 ratio. "I never want my feed to feel like one big ad," she explains. "By interspersing sponsored posts with plenty of non-sponsored content, I‘m able to keep things feeling authentic and continue providing value to my followers beyond just promoting products."

Staying Inspired and Avoiding Burnout

Of course, being a full-time influencer isn‘t all glamorous photoshoots and free products. It requires a tremendous amount of hard work, creativity, and resilience.

To stay inspired and avoid creative burnout, Jenna is intentional about seeking out new sources of inspiration – whether that‘s trying a new photography style, browsing fashion magazines, or simply people-watching to spot emerging trends. She also leans on her network of fellow influencers for support and idea-sharing.

"Community is everything in this industry," Jenna shares. "Having a group of people who understand the unique challenges and triumphs of being an influencer is so valuable. We bounce ideas off each other, celebrate each other‘s wins, and lift each other up on tough days."

Jenna also prioritizes self-care and setting boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance. She sets aside dedicated time for content creation and engagement, but also makes a point to unplug and recharge regularly.

"It‘s easy to get sucked into the 24/7 nature of social media and feel like you always need to be ‘on‘," she says. "But I‘ve learned that taking breaks and living life outside of Instagram ultimately makes me a better creator. When I come back to my account after a day or two away, I have fresh ideas and renewed energy to pour into my content."

The Future of Influence

As for what‘s next in Jenna‘s influencer journey? She has her sights set on continuing to grow her brand and impact.

"I would love to hit 100k followers by the end of the year, but I‘m not attached to specific numbers," she notes. "My main focus is on providing value to my audience, nurturing my community, and staying true to my authentic voice. I trust that the growth and opportunities will follow."

Jenna‘s advice for aspiring influencers is to focus on creating quality content, engaging with your community, and being patient with the process.

"Building a successful brand on Instagram doesn‘t happen overnight," she stresses. "It takes time, consistency, and a willingness to keep showing up even when the growth feels slow. But if you stay true to yourself, keep putting out content you‘re proud of, and prioritize your audience, you will find your people."

With the influencer marketing industry projected to be worth $15 billion by 2022[^3], there‘s never been a better time to build a personal brand on Instagram. By following in Jenna‘s footsteps and applying her proven strategies, you too can turn your passion into a thriving online presence.

Key Takeaways

  • Find your niche and lean into what makes you unique
  • Prioritize authenticity and let your personality shine through your content
  • Post consistently and engage regularly with your audience
  • Use relevant hashtags and collaborate with other influencers to reach new followers
  • Only work with brands that align with your values and audience interests
  • Maintain a balance of sponsored and organic content
  • Seek out inspiration and lean on community to avoid burnout
  • Stay focused on providing value and trust that growth will follow


[^1]: Instagram by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts
[^2]: The Definitive Guide to Building Your Personal Brand
[^3]: The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report