It all started one cold morning in Columbus, Ohio, when I randomly met up with another BMW enthusiast. All I really knew about him was what I’d gathered through his Instagram account. He drove a blacked-out BMW M3 and was into cars. At that time, I had a mere 300 followers and no idea what a powerful platform Instagram could be. I’d already deleted my Instagram account twice. Third time’s the charm they say, and there I was.

The guy I met up with went by the name @ostate_m3 on Instagram. He commented on one of my posts and we began chatting. At the time, I didn’t know anyone else with a BMW M car. When I discovered he also lived in Columbus I thought, ‘Hey, why not? Let’s meet up and take some photos of our cars.

My new buddy invited some photographers to come out. It was very cold that afternoon, but a few photographers showed up and spent close to three hours snapping pictures of our cars. Keep in mind at that time I had no idea how to take pictures of ANYTHING, let alone pictures of cars people would want to look at. I was surprised to see how well they turned out. It was sometime near the end of March 2016 that my new friend and I made a bet – which one of us could get a thousand followers first.

I’ve always had a competitive streak, so being me, I started digging. No one taught me anything about social media or how Instagram actually worked. Believe me when I say it took me a while to understand what I was really doing and even longer to fine tune it to the point of being able to accurately predict the outcome of my posts. Social media is an ever-evolving platform, and if someone tells you they have it all figured out and their name isn’t Mark Zuckerberg, there’s a 99.99999% chance that that person is lying. Better put your wallet back in your pocket.

In an attempt to not over-stretch the story, I’ll say this much; my BMW buddy was left in the dust. By the time he reached a thousand followers, I was sitting at five thousand. When he finally caught up to my five thousand, I was at thirty-five thousand.

What you need to understand is I had found my niche. Your niche could be very different, so you would have to determine that first to know where you aim to be.

In the world of cars, I’ve found people respond best to modifications. The more heavily modified a car is, the easier it is to attract followers. I personally had

kept my car almost completely stock; all I had going for me was a cool paint job. You can check out my photos at @ignastym4.

Getting followers was not an easy task for me. It took months of research and trial and error to figure out what worked and what didn’t. I read every book on Instagram growth I could get my hands on. I took every course, listened to every seminar and read every online article I could find. You don’t want to know how much money I spent trying to learn everything I possibly could about making solid gains on the gram. What started off as an innocent bet between two buddies had quickly become an all-consuming obsession.

At the time of writing this book, I’m averaging around 1500 new followers a month and currently have more than 36K followers. I have made a ton of friends and business connections through Instagram and am very thankful and grateful for all of it.

Update: Since this was written I have converted the @ignastym4 account into @ignasvee and started a brand new account under the name of @ignastym4 (grew to over 20k in 4 months before I stopped posting much).