Evaluating My First Year on Instagram

I’ve been on Instagram for almost a year now so I thought I’d share with you my most liked photos from 2015 and evaluate how that year went.

I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to join Instagram, but I’m glad I did: it’s a fun new audience and I’ve had some amazing comments!

My followers have slowly grown to just over a thousand over the year and I’ve been able to gauge to some extent what works and what doesn’t.

  • These top 10 images are all travel photos except one showing that my followers clearly like that travel pics best!
  • I had luck fairly early on when one of my pictures – the first in the list – went somewhat viral within Instagram. A feat that I haven’t replicated since. It did increase my followers, although a few dropped off a while later after seeing that I didn’t only post pictures of Russia!
  • I’ve found – for me anyway – posting early in the morning has given more likes than later in the day – are most go my followers on Instagram when they commute, or when they are eating breakfast?
  • My most liked images are vibrant and taken with either my Fuji X-T1 or my old Canon 5DII, generally the phone pics get fewer likes.
  • I’m sure hashtagging helps but I’ve not got a solid foundation of hashtags that I use, I tend to just tag what comes into my head when I post (if it’s early in the morning, that can be a bit vague!)
  • Interestingly, my food pictures fare better in comments than they do likes, food seems to get people talking!
  • Selfies suck. Well, mine seem to do anyway!
For year 2

I think I need to not post such a wide variety of topics, I should narrow down to travel images interspersed with truck camper #vanlife and the odd bit of baking here and there.

No selfies, and no abstract art or “Look how pretty this floor is!”

* I bet I still post a pretty floor!

Sunday Musings: My First Year on Instagram.


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

Ok, so this first picture is a complete freak! (As you’ll see from the number of likes in the photos below!). I still to this day don’t know why I had so many likes for this photograph: for a couple of days the likes grew and grew, it was an exciting ride!

This is one of my most favourite photographs so I’m glad it did so well. It’s a Totem Tree near Shamen Rock, on Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal. Russia.


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

This photograph of the Great Wall of China is my second most liked picture. It was posted a week or so after the Totem Tree so it may have been riding on its glory!

I had an influx of followers from the Totem Tree and this probably helped this image.

It’s a good picture which I put a lot of thought in creating – it’s actually a composite of two photographs so that I could have both the foreground of the guard-house window and the snaking wall in the distance in focus, and well exposed!


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

Picture 3 is of Ghent’s new modern City Pavillion. I posted it – rather randomly among my posts from Ireland – after a request for images from Ghent by The Guardian on Instagram.

That’s why it had a few more likes than normal, I think it got featured on a webpage about Ghent. I waited a little while for that cyclist to appear!


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

These happy stray dogs followed us on a trail in Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam and they were great company.

I don’t entirely know why this photo had an above average number of likes – I post quite a few dog pictures.

Maybe it’s dogs in an exotic lush location that’s the key!


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

This photo of a ficus engulfed ancient doorway in Angkor only just pips it by one like above the 6th! I wasn’t entirely happy with the square crop for this picture: it was originally a vertical image and the crop loses the lovely green canopy of the tree growing up from the top of the ruin. People liked it however, so what do I know! It’s the eastern gateway of Sa Som, the temple complex of Angkor, Cambodia.  


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

This picture of fabric-bound Totems on Olkhon Island, Russia was posted just before the Totem Tree and it got a lot more likes once the Totem Tree got popular.


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

I’m pleased this recent picture of the Thundertruck was so popular, I’m happy to know that people like me posting pictures of it, it’s my home after all so it’s something I’m likely to post! The rainbow frames him so perfectly!


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

Everyone loves a winter wonderland! This picture of a snowy forest in the Cairngorms, Scotland certainly made a few people happy.

It’s quite an old photo (3 years ago) and I found it while looking for pictures of our old van in the snow.

It was good to share it again with a fresh audience. 


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

The 9th and 10th pictures both had the same number of likes. This one, of a candle-lit game of cards in a ger in Mongolia seemed to ignite some wanderlust. I like the cosy atmosphere in this photograph, such happy memories too.


A photo posted by Rachel (@vagabondbaker) on

Finally, a food picture just makes it into the top 10!

Wild blackberry pancakes being drizzled with honey did the trick and got a bunch of likes. Hurrah!

I also added the recipe below the picture, an #Instarecipe!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back on my first year on Instagram.

I used Iconosquare to analyse the year, although unfortunately Iconosquare now only offers analytics for premium users (there is a free 7 day trial of it though).

My Instagram Growth from Iconosquare

Just looking at this chart makes me see that I need to start upping my game again!


If you liked the photos you can follow me on Instagram here: Vagabond Baker!

Pin this post for later:

Evaluating My First Year On Instagram

Try these posts:

Shetland – My Photos Have Been Included in a Beautiful Book! Come and flick through it with me.

12 Ways Shetland Will Amaze You! Puffin gifs galore and a whole heap of Shetland wanderlust!

A Day In The Life Of A House Sitter in a giggly photo comic strip complete with dog thought bubbles! Enjoy!

Why I Don’t Bake As Often As I Used To. A confession.

Heavenly Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal Just the most beautiful place, get off the train for a few days and head up to this island on Lake Baikal.

By Rachel A Davis

Follow on Bloglovin

16 Responses

  1. I really like your photographs Susanne especially the totem ones and your caravan!
    I’m not on Instagram myself unfortunately ‘cos even though I love photographs, I just don’t havethe time for it lol. I’ve just chosen a few platforms which I concentrate on and leave the rest to fate. ‘Still seems to work lol!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Hi Victoria! I know what you mean about concentrating on just a few platforms, it’s so hard spreading yourself over lots of them– like a juggling act. I really love using Instagram but I really need to use it more thoroughly!

  2. Your pictures are so gorgeous! Posting first thing definitely seems to work for me too

  3. Such an interesting analysis Rachel, I’d never have known that mornings are a popular time for people to be on Instagram – but then again, I’m often scrolling through it in the mornings! Also huge congratulations on that Russia photo – that’s an insane number of likes and it really is an utterly breathtaking photo! ☺

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks Shikha! Yeah, I never really thought to think when I was on it too! I tried a few different posting times and morning worked well for me. That’s when I use it too! The Russian pic really blew me away, it was kind of exciting to see it happen!

  4. Saana says:

    This is a great idea for a post, I’m still a bit lost with Instagram! 🙂 During the past few months I have been trying to post once a day, but I normally do it quite late in the evening. Maybe I should try morning as well! I only have 220+ followers. Sometimes it grows quickly, and the next day the number is back down – seems like many people are just following so that I would follow them and once I do, they stop following me. So annoying! 🙂 Well, this is definitely something to improve in 2016 as I try hard to become a better photographer as well. PS. Welcome to Finland and see you soon, I can’t wait to meet you!!! 🙂

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thanks Saana! My followers took quite a while to grow, I’ve never got into the ‘I’ll follow you, you follow me’ thing, I only follow people if their photos are what I want to see. That’s probably slowed my follower growth but hey!
      Those sort of followers are not the sort of followers you want anyway!
      We can talk all about this soon 🙂
      Nähdään ensi viikolla! Innoisaan!

  5. mimi says:

    I want your life! Well, maybe if I was 40 years younger…. Such beautiful photos…

  6. I agree that its hard to predict what other people will like, so usually I just post my favourite photos and hope for the best! Good tip about posting in the morning though, I’m going to try that 🙂

    • Rachel Davis says:

      It’s interesting to see what times work best, I suppose it depends on who your followers are. Let me know if it works for you! It’s pretty easy for me to post early at the mo, as I’m a couple of hours ahead here in Finland. I just need to get photos to post now!

  7. I love Instagram too but have to admit I am a bit baffled by it sometimes – the pics that do really well are so hard to predict (except Santorini, everyone loves a whitewashed church dome apparently!). Glad I am not the only one with a random approach to hashtagging and I find mornings the best time to post too. Plan for 2016 is to be a bit more consistent with posting (I tend to forget for weeks at a time!).

    • Rachel Davis says:

      That gorgeous blue and white contrast is so irresistible isn’t it! I had the best laid plans to post more too but I can’t say I’ve got off to the best start so far!

  8. Susanne says:

    Hi Rachel,

    Interesting to see what has worked for you on Instagram as I am always amazed that some people that post average images have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers and some people that post amazing images have a fraction of that and I’m not sure I really understand Instagram sometimes . I know that landscape photos of Scotland get me the most likes but I really just stick to posting images that I enjoy and don’t really bother about which ones are most popular, I know that is not the best strategy for growing my account!
    There is obviously some magic Instagram formula I’ve not figured out yet but then again I’m just happy anyone follows me lol 🙂

    Susanne x

    p.s I really don’t like selfies!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Hey Susanne! I definitely think the key is to only post the same sort of thing, not to deviate too much from that. I post way too much different stuff and that’s what I love too. Maybe we don’t need a formula, if you enjoy what you’re doing then to hell with it! 🙂