Do you have the heart to spread the Gospel and minister to people via Instagram? Would you like to have a vibrant Instagram ministry that makes a difference in the lives of thousands of people every single day?
You are in the right place. Hi! I’m J, the Founder of Jesus Centric. In March of 2012, I started my Instagram Ministry (@JesusCentric) without a clue of how to make a difference via Instagram. If we fast forward to today, my main account has over 435,000 followers. My collective audience is getting close to 1,000,000.
The following are many of the insights I have learned over the last few years (using Instagram every single day) and my hope is to encourage you and instruct you with the “best practices” that I have learned from my own trial and error.
My heart in teaching and I hope you would be able to make a difference for God’s Kingdom. My hope is to empower you to go out and start your own Instagram ministry that shares the Gospel, encourages, blesses and helps a ton of people every day.
Okay, let’s get started. I will be answering many of the common questions you may have and setting down some key principles of Instagram before we start.
Any Instagram Christian page that posts content intended to encourage, bless, minister, or promote: Jesus Christ, the Gospel, the Word of God and Christian living.
Anyone can start and run an Instagram ministry. We are all called to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) and we are all “ministers” of the Gospel.
I can’t tell you how many times my followers (or their friends) have commented something like: “This is exactly what I needed to hear” or “Perfect timing! God is good!”
As the body of Christ, we are the Lord’s hands and feet. God will use our efforts and work to bless and help others.
Take it seriously. We got a message last week from a 17-year old girl who wanted to commit suicide and decided not to after spending some time on our profile. We’ve gotten people on the verge of divorce and have prayed with them. Muslims who are start a discussion and end up finding Jesus. You never know where God will take you or where you’ll go, but in everything you do - take it seriously. It is a life changing opportunity for you and others.
Don’t share the password with anyone. I recommend you don’t even link your own email to this account. Rather, create another email that’ll you’ll use JUST FOR THIS. This is YOUR account. If someone has your password, they can take full control of your account and change the email and password associated with it.
TIP: I also recommend you turn on two-step authentication. Take security very seriously. I have friends who have been hacked and lost pages with 100k plus followers. That’s years of work down the drain.
Let’s get started.
This can be tough. Many popular phrases, names, etc. are already taken. However, please take your time with this one as it will look ridiculous if your account name is something like: @DL0rd!s@wesome__-_ And/or @myaccountiscoolfollowme
You can do better than that. Instagram recently allowed the addition of periods in between username words. This update allows for tons of new username combinations. Get creative and be smart you don’t want to be changing usernames as this will confuse your audience and serves a counter purpose to what we’re trying to accomplish.
TIP: You want people to find you base on what they’re looking for. If you have an account focused on Starbucks Coffee, it wouldn’t make sense to have your handle be @AwesomeCars or @DietCoke0nly1927. You want your account to come up when they search for the content you’re offering.
One of the reasons we decided with Jesus Centric is because people often time will be going through something and search for what - JESUS. Then they’re connected with our account.
Here is a simple list of ideas for handles which as I am writing this are available:
Your icon is important because it is the one image that is attached to every single image you post. In a way, it’s like your brand. People always look at the icon to see who posted the image that they are looking at. It takes someone almost 10 times looking at an image to create an association to the image and what it means. Today we look at the Nike logo and recognize it but they do an amazing branding job. I’m saying this so you don’t want to change your logo often. It’s okay to update it but be cautious about it. If you need some inspiration - google images of what you have in mind and draw some thoughts from those images.
NEVER use someone else’s logo. You can get into trouble for copyright infringements. This will cause to lose your account and maybe even get fined.
GROW: Check out my Phonto Tutorial Video (part of my Instagram Growth Academy)
Christian pages tend to attract a Christian audience because that’s the purpose. When you have a purpose you’ll do everything around that. It’s like a mission statement or slogan. So whenever you question what/how/if you should do something, you go back to it and ask “does it help me achieve this mission or get closer to it?” Here are some ideas:
IKEA: To make everyday life better for their customers
WAL-Mart: Save Money - Live Better
Jet Blue: To bring humanity back to the skies
Nike: Just do it
EA: Challenge Everything
McDonalds: I’m loving it
Ours happens to be in the name Jesus Centric - It means Jesus at the center. You can read a bit more about it here. So think about what purpose you want to serve and make all your decisions based on that. You don’t have to come up with this now but it’s something to keep in mind and pray about.
Although most times Christian accounts have a Christian audience, a lot of unbelievers will often come check out the page. We want to share the gospel with other so sometimes we intentionally create an image that says “God loves you” and in the description we encourage our followers to tag their friends. In hope that they will use the opportunity to reach out to their friends and families. We will cover comments and CTAs (call to action) in a bit.
It’s important to remember who your primary audience is when creating & posting your content. Don’t post something that is going to offend your audience, even if you aren’t offended by it. They might be and that is a great way to lose followers. You can’t please everyone, but if you are second guessing whether or not to post a particular image or video, err on the side of wisdom but don’t pass up the opportunity to teach others or brush over mistakes. Be honest. Speak truth.
Many pages have a “theme” or a particular style to them. See (@DailyBibleBro on Instagram) as an example. They use a consistent design for the majority of their posts.
Some pages post Bible verses only. Other pages post quotes from Christian authors. You don’t have to have a certain style theme at the beginning, however, you may develop one over time. Some pages simply re-post other page’s images, which is usually not a problem as long as you give credit at the top of the caption.
HINT: Using a plain black background with a classy font like Helvetica (scientifically proven to be a great font for the eyes) is a great theme. It focuses on the message and users aren’t distracted by the background. After all the message counts more than anything.
AVOID: Many people follow you because you post Christian content. If you all of a sudden start posting personal images, remember the purpose section? Well this would be out of that purpose and you can expect those images to have less engagement and you might possibly lose followers. No offense to you, however you must realize that they followed you for a reason. For example: If you follow a car page that only posts pictures of cars, then they start posting pictures of what they had for lunch, you may unfollow them, I would.
TIP: You don’t want your account to become stale. If you notice a significant drop in likes, comments there is nothing wrong with testing and playing with other ideas. Netflix is know for A/B testing everything they do. That’s why you log in sometimes and everything is kinda different. They’re testing what works best - you should too!
HINT: Go to my personal Instagram (@vianaj7) and follow the people and pages I am following. Some of those people are friends and entrepreneurs but many are the pages I consider the top Christian pages I’ve seen thus far and of course make sure you’re following @JesusCentric
If you’re like me, you will appreciate seeing what other Christian pages are posting. Many pages have different styles, fonts, graphics, backgrounds, etc.
Following other Christian pages is great for times you do not feel inspired or you are just needing some inspiration yourself. The greatest source of inspiration will always be the presence of God. You need to dedicate more time to prayer and fasting then Instagram. Focus on the depth of your ministry and the Holy Spirit will focus on the breath of it.
Hashtags are very important. Instagram currently allows 30 hashtags per post. People are searching hashtags constantly and using hashtags allows your images to be displayed via the search process. Why not make your images more viewable? It creates a greater opportunity for God to reach more people with your work.
I use an app to manage all my hashtags and see popular hashtags.
GROW: Get a full breakdown of which apps I use and how I use them (part of my Instagram Growth Academy)!
TIP: Do not post hashtags in your image caption. Post your hashtags in a comment after your caption. It works just the same. Remember: Your caption stays at the top of your post, so don’t fill it with hashtags. It clutters it up and looks bad.
It depends on the type of images you post, but below are the hashtags that I always use on my photos and have for years. I did a lot of testing to see which ones performed the best and these are the ones I decided on. Feel free to use them as well:
#Jesus #Christ #Bible #blessed #Christian #truth #Church #Scripture #BibleVerse #BibleStudy #jesusfreak #hope #gospel #Praying #lord #God #Love #JesusCentric #GoodNews #BibleVerses #Christians #YouthGroup #Relationships #prayer #faith #praise #Pray #Encouragement #JesusChrist
Feel free to make any adjustments as you see fit!
I cannot stress this enough. Be a page worth following.
People always want to know how to get more followers (which we will cover below), but the first step to growing your follower count is to be a page that others would WANT to follow. It is very easy to tell when someone doesn’t take time to create content or manage the page.
New Christian pages email me, comment on my images or direct message (DM) me on Instagram all the time asking for a “shoutout” (I will cover that below as well), then I go to their page and they have two images, a horrible logo a bio with grammatical errors, etc.
Very few people will follow (or promote) a page that appears to have just started and only have a couple of images. Potential followers will take a look at your profile and make a split second decision on whether or not your page is worth following. You have one first impression.
Here is a quick list of Don’ts:
Establish your page with at least 15 original images. Yes, I said original. Unless your page is just going to repost other people’s images (with credit), you need to make your own.
Why 15? Because if you have less than that, then it’s obvious to potential followers that you just started your page. You need to establish your page and show the type of images you will be posting. This allows them to scroll a bit and connect with your page. If you need help try to create a few and grab some from our page.
Download Phonto right now. It’s free and it’s my “go to” image creating app on my phone.
GROW: We cover a lot of different apps you can use in our class including getting the most out of Photon (part of my Instagram Growth Academy)!
Your goal should be to DELIGHT people’s lives with the images you create. If you create your own images, they are yours and you can grow your page by tagging them.
If you go to my (@JesusCentric) Instagram page, you’ll see that I usually tag “@JesusCentric” on my images so that when they are reposted, people know how to find my account. This will help grow your page. Also, many people do not give credit like they should, so this helps there as well.
TIP: Always give credit. If you quote someone in a paper and do not put quotation marks around it, followed by the author’s name… what is that called? Plagiarism. Same goes for Instagram.
According to Instagram’s own Community Guidelines:
Don’t share photos or videos that aren’t yours.
This includes other people’s posts, and/or things that you have copied or collected from the Internet. Accounts that solely consist of only this type of content may be disabled at any time.
This is a guideline. Obviously people are reposting other people’s image constantly on Instagram. Many pages will never have a problem with you posting their images if you are giving them credit. It actually helps promote their page and I consider it a blessing. However, if you are using someone else’s images (their copyright ownership), they could file a dispute with Instagram and have their images removed and your account could be deleted.
If you post something that you didn’t create, make sure to give the original author credit at the top (yes, I said TOP) of the caption. If you include credit at the bottom of the caption or mixed into the middle, you lower the percentage of people actually seeing it and you’re essentially taking credit for yourself.
You can also “Tag People” in the image so that their name pops up when someone taps the image. This is nice, but it is hidden unless you tap the image.
Is it okay to grab an image from Google and then put your text over it? The answer is simple, no. Most of the images you find on Google are copyrighted images (especially the good ones). Will you get reported if you use a copyrighted photo? Possibly. In my opinion, it’s just not worth it.
There are tons of public domain images available on the internet. “Public domain/royalty free” means you are free to use the image in any way you would like, without giving credit. Here is a list of websites that include public images you can use freely (you’re welcome☺️)!
I’m going to be really honest right now. I strongly dislike posts that say “Like if Jesus Love You!” or “Comment amen if you are a child of God”. That’s called fishing for likes. As an Instagram user will automatically unfollow any of those accounts. If your content is good - you’ll get likes.
It is however a whole different story when you ask your follower to do something. Whether to like, comment, go to a link, download something or go to another account. Typically in my experience people only do one thing. You can ask them to follow an account and click the link in your bio - they’re really only going to do one. So what you want to do is make sure you think about what you call to action (CTA) will be and go from there. I typically will iterate the same CTA.
If I want users to send me prayer requests, I will add that to the pic I post, the comment, and the GEO location area. Although typically you may not find the exact one you’re looking for you just have to try a bit. Here is an example. You can see the image says we should pray for each other. The geo says “ Prayer Requests” and the comment has a verse and ends with - send us any prayer requests you may have via DM (We got almost 1000 and had to delete the post so we could actually keep up and respond).
This section is part of a few of our growth tactics. We use a great app that easily facilitates this in our Instagram Growth Academy. We teach you how to use it and maximize your efforts. We're going to cover a few here but the good stuff is in the course!
Another easy way to gain followers is to engage with people. Go to other account pages and go through the comments - answer questions, like comments and pictures. Just be friendly and talk to folks - when they see your notification that you engaged BAM they now are the choice to follow you account. Before they have no idea who you were!
Take this seriously. You will get DMs - take the time to respond to them. Help them. They will be glad to do so and you will start gaining reputation. If a friend later says something they will recommend your page for help and support.
Right off the bat let me say this is a bad idea. You’re going to spend money on followers that will not engage your content. Also, these followers are typically marked by Instagram and get deleted, so within days you’ll probably lose all the followers you bought.
Also be aware, if Instagram finds out you are doing this you could lose your account as it will get blocked/deleted by them. So ask yourself if it’s worth the money and risk.
I would also steer clear of using apps that promise to get you more followers. These apps may get you a few more likes, but they are usually from random people liking photos to earn “tokens” so that they get likes. This is not your target audience and may be from fake accounts.
TIP: If you still want to find out all about buying followers. Check out our Instagram Growth Academy.
This is the BEST way to get more followers! Your goal should be to ADD VALUE to your audience every time you post something on Instagram. Whether it’s something that blesses, encourages, challenges, or inspires them.
Post for Post: You select an original image from a friend’s page to post to your page. You post it to your page and give them credit at the very top, like so (see image below)
TIP: Do not go to someone’s page (who you do not know) and comment on their photos asking for a shoutout. This is like walking up to a stranger and asking them to tell everyone they know that “J” is a great guy and they should follow me. It’s actually kind of rude. You don’t even know them.
If you want someone to help you, don’t say “Hi, I’m J, will you give me a shoutout?” Do something for them first, add value to them first. Repost their images and give them credit (promoting their account) before you ever ask for their help. Remember this is your first impression.
Do you want to be one of the thousands of people asking for a shoutout or do you want to be the guy or girl that is completely and totally helpful? Which scenario do you think has a better chance of getting help in return?
At a minimum, contact them via email, KIK messenger, Insta DM etc. and see if you can do something to help them. Later in the conversation, after you have added value to them, you can see if they would be interested in doing a series of Post-for-Posts. This approach will give you a much better outcome.
NOTE: I would contact pages that typically have around the same amount of followers that you do or about 25% more. Why? Because in order for this to work, the cross promotional needs to be reciprocal. Both accounts need to benefit somewhat proportionally.
For example: If you have 100 followers, I wouldn’t waste your time asking pages with 100,000 followers to do a post-for-post. They might, but it’s a lot less likely. There may be some exceptions if you create amazing original images or videos that are awesome.
All that to say, connect with other accounts. Network and support one another. Give first, ask for help second. Add value always.
How do you build a faithful following on ANY social network? Consistency. Post original images that add value, consistently. Post daily.
At least one time per day, but probably no more than 3 or 4 would be my recommendation. Instagram offer stats to business pages. Use that to take advantage of the best windows of opportunities to post. If you don’t want to be a business account or don’t have access to those follower settings then I recommend the 7pm-10pm ET range as the perfect time to post. Why? The majority of people in the USA (this is different for other countries) are now off of work or school and are able to get on Instagram.
I have tested this time and time again. I have posted the same image at different times throughout the day and it always gets more likes and comments from 7pm-10pm ET.
GROW: Check out my Instagram Posting Schedule (PPT & PDF) on when to post (part of my Instagram Growth Academy). If you post more than once, spread them out throughout the day. We typically post about every 5 hours. Think about when you are on Instagram yourself. Many people are on before work, during their lunch break and after work.
Previously Instagram would display your feed in order things were posted. But it has updated the display algorithm to create the best possible experience for its users. Facebook has been doing the exact same thing. This ensures a great experience for the user and they aren’t cluttered with bad posts in their feed.
Although this is good news for the user it means it will be harder to see a high number of likes because now, you’re competing against other images. Let me illustrate.
You post an amazing pic and Instagram shows it to 10 people. Well if most of those people like your pic then Instagram knows it’s good content and will then push it to more people and continuously increase your exposure. If you post a pic and it does the opposite and the engagement is low then it won’t be pushed in front of as many users. Just because you have an account with 100,000 doesn’t mean they’ll all see your post.
This section is part of a few of our growth tactics. We use a great app that easily facilitates this in our Instagram Growth Academy. We teach you how to get the most likes for each post!
I assume you’re familiar with Snapchat (if you wanna add me @vianaj7). Well Instagram has a lot of cool features and stories sure are one of them! If you’re not using stories you’re not using Instagram properly. Remember how I mentioned Instagram only shows your feed based on the virality of it? Well with stories it’s based on when it was posted. So if you post a pic and want to get a little more exposure to it, a simple idea is to do a story post that lets users know you have a new pic! This doesn’t mean they’ll all go like your pic but it can help.
CAUTION: No one likes a nagging person who is always asking other to like their pics - use this carefully. I would recommend if you did it recently then just post anything to your story - it’ll “remind” people of your profile and most definitely help your engagement stats.
GROW: Check out the apps I use to get the most out of stories and maximize my likes (Part of my Instagram Growth Academy)!
The live video feature of Instagram is great - but it is not for everyone. We have rarely used it. Why? This is my personal opinion, but I am not a huge fan of folks who record out of their bedrooms. When we get to the point where we have a studio set up I am sure we will be creating a lot more content and videos. I do however recommend it if you’re participating in an event, or if you have a worship account and have a friend doing a live song etc. Be creative with it. It is a great way for people to know who you are which means it is a two-edged sword.
There is a lot of ways to monetize your account. Some people actually frown upon this and if you do that’s your opinion and I respect it. But for some, their account is a form of income since so much time goes into it. There is nothing wrong with that.
With over 300 million users Instagram is a great place for marketing. But with that said I will also say this - the longer you delay this the better. I would say don’t start thinking about this until you have at least 100,000 followers. You can obviously do it with less but your time and focus should be on growing the account and creating content at this point.
Selling posts $$$
What does this mean? Simply someone paying you a fee to post an image they want. When someone reaches out to us for an add or shout out we go through this process. I have done ads with hundreds of accounts. Yes HUNDREDS and I’ve learned a lot of do’s and don'ts.
Remember, this portion of the Instagram account is a business. You have the potential to create some real income here. Kylie Jenner makes millions a year and so do other celebrities just from this.
Best Practices for Advertising
Don’t accept everyone that reaches out to you. We probably get 5-10 request a week and only accept about 1-2. Why? The more ads you post the more annoyed you audience will be. At the same time if you post an ad today and your users buy a shirt for example. Tomorrow you do another ad for hats - well most of your buyers will probably not have money to buy something else.
You have to be understanding of the marketing concept as a whole not just sell ads. Remember, you’re planning to be around for a while so you want to create good relationships with advertisers. If they get no sales - they won’t come back.
Work as an Affiliate
Selling other companies’ products and services or capturing leads for them is another fast and easy way to start making money on Instagram. Peerfly is a popular affiliate network that allows you to sign up and get started for free.
Once approved, you’ll be able to browse their current promotional offers listed as “Social” under the “Traffic Methods” tab. You can then sort through the offers by pay, earnings per click (EPC), or click-through rate (CR) to choose something you’d like to promote.
All you need to do to start promoting an offer is copy the unique URL and paste it in your Instagram bio’s website section. When other users’ click on it to check it out, you could earn a commission if they decide to enter their personal information (like their email address) or buy something. An example account of someone who’s selling other company’s products is @bookwcrms — T-shirts, in this case.
What’s great about a network like Peerfly is that you can easily earn a few bucks just for capturing leads, which is much easier than making sales.
You may have to request approval from Peerfly first before you can start promoting, however, but getting approved is usually no problem. Make sure you stick to the offers listed under the social traffic methods only, since Instagram is a social platform.
Become a Sponsor to Advertisers
This last Instagram money-making tactic is really only easy if you’ve got the followers and engagement to show for it. So if you’re someone who has ideally tens of thousands of followers or more, and you can rack up lots of likes and comments within minutes of posting, then you may be in good position to try getting at least a few good sponsorship deals from companies that would be willing to pay you to promote their brand to your audience.
You could reach out to companies’ marketing departments directly, or you could try applying to The Mobile Media Lab instead — a creative agency specifically focused on bringing influential Instagram users and advertisers together.
If chosen, you could easily start earning hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single post that features a product from big brands like Coach, Expedia, Timex, Puma, and others. @weworethat is a massively popular Instagram account that pulls in over six figures in sponsorships from apparel and accessory companies that want their products featured on her account.
Making money here is the easy part — building a huge, loyal following is obviously not so easy. The good news is you may be able to score a few smaller sponsorships even if you have below 100,000 followers. The Mobile Media Lab has a sign-up form to apply to work with them, but given that they’re only interested in working with the most influential Instagram users, there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved.
Instagram has really opened up some new doors for business owners and entrepreneurs all over the world. Whether you’re just a student looking to make a few extra bucks on the side, or the CEO of an international company looking to build its brand and reach a new audience, Instagram can help you do it.
I hope and pray this information helps you create an amazing Instagram ministry that helps thousands of people every day!
If you love this info and want MORE, please consider joining my Instagram Academy course which has hours of detailed training, videos, articles, and all sorts of resources. I can confidently say that this is the best Instagram course available online today. Hundreds of students have already taken the course and have had tremendous results! It is filled with videos and audio sessions that will hold your hand through every step of the process.
Space is limited in the class and the next round of students will close soon!
This information took me over 5 years to learn, while using Instagram every day. I hope it helps you to make a difference even faster, avoiding potential pitfalls.
If this article has been a blessing to you, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and of course Instagram (screenshot it). Also, sign up for my email list so that you get more free encouragement about our faith, social media and online business.
God bless you and may you make a huge impact for the Kingdom of God with your Instagram Ministry. - J Viana