I had a question come in that I’ve gotten before, but wanted to really think on it and prepare a more thorough answer than I usually do via DM.

I’m starting a new hub?  Now what?

Specifically, my friend is looking for do’s and don’t’s so here they are!  If you have any ideas, from your own experience, lemme hear ’em!  I’d love to update this post with your suggestions too.

  1.  You’ll need a name & logo and main hashtag to get started.
    Do:  Keep it simple.  Check to be sure that no name has already been taken similar to the name you’re considering by doing a simple search in Instagram.  Double check potential main hashtags too.  While underscores are fine in the name of your hub, you may want to avoid them in your main hashtag – it gets long to type out (especially for anyone not using a copy/paste list) and I find it hard to remember which hubs have underscores and which don’t!  For your logo, you don’t have to be fancier than choosing a favorite font.
  2. Decide if you’ll do themes and on what frequency – daily, monthly or weekly.  Also decide on a theme hashtag template.  (Again, be sure not to duplicate a hashtag that another hub is using.  A common tricky one these days is that @Camera_Mama and @cm_prep use the same prefix: #cm_theme.  If you decide to do a theme, consider what day/time you’ll announce your theme and try to stick to that.  Your followers will come to expect it.  (To be included on HubHack’s weekly email list, announce your theme on Mondays (if a weekly theme.)  Be sure to feature from the theme hashtags!  I can’t tell you how many hubs don’t actually feature from their own theme tag.
  3. In your profile bio, include your main tag and also the current theme and hashtag.  Give a description of what type of images you’re looking to feature.  Be sure to update this every week when you announce your new theme.  You can list your mods, but I don’t see a big reason to do that.  Your mod will identify herself in her featured posts.
  4. Decide what your post structure will be.  Do you want mods to be able to post freestyle or follow a template?
  5. Have enough mods!  The biggest reason for hubs going to hub heaven is burnout from too few mods.  There are so many wonderful ladies out there that would LOVE to be a regular mod or a guest mod.  Be sure to reach out and ask. And be sure to have subs that can jump in as needed.
  6. Be sure to provide mod training.  Yes, really.  I have a ton of material on this blog and will put together a mod training guide too.  Your mods must be able to do the following proficiently:
    1. Spell check.  (Yup.)
    2. Screen capture original images and be able to repost without using a repost app.  (Those just look ugly, amIright?) How to Repost an Image on Instagram
    3. Format posts (using spacing when needed.)
    4. @Mention the featured photographer in the caption
    5. Tag the featured photographer on the image.
    6. Correctly crop to the original crop chosen by the photographer.
    7. Bonus:  Be able to design a well-constructed grid (if you’ll be featuring grids) and be able to use Whitagram to use correctly cropped images in a Gallery Post.
  7. Decide on any “rules” you’ll have about how often you’ll feature the same photographer (many hubs have a one-week rule.  No more than one image per photographer per week.  Believe it or not, it’s harder than it looks!)  If you do decide to have this rule, decide how you’ll monitor that rule.  Many hubs use a hashtag to denote features, like #cm_feature_photographers_username.  Not using the featured hashtag will mean that the mods will have to check tagged photos and/or use a spreadsheet method.  
  8. Have a mod DM thread where all the mods can keep in touch and ask questions as needed.
  9. To promote your hub, do the following: Follow, Like & Comment on photographers whose work you’d like to feature.  Send a DM or comment on a picture you’d like to feature.  100% of the time, you’ll get approval.  Ask people to use your hashtag in the comments of pictures.  Do a promotion where you’ll have followers tag a friend to get the word out.  You could do a small giveaway.  Even inexpensive items do great with giveaways!
  10. Get on the Follow Friday HUB train!  Reach out to other (newer) hubs and ask to coordinate a Follow Friday with them.
  11. You can use hub hashtags on your posts to get more eyeballs on your posts right away, but you’ll probably want to stop doing that once your hub gains some traction.  To be honest, the main people searching those hashtags are mods of those hubs, looking for features, and they’ll get annoyed seeing all of your hub features in their hashtag search.
  12. For themes, consider piggy-backing on a theme that another big, popular hub is doing.  People are more likely to go out of their way to get a shot to fit a big hub theme, than they are to shoot for a smaller hub.  If @CandidChildhood is doing a “silly faces” theme, why don’t you do a “silly” theme?
  13. Have your mods post about the new hub on their own pages – that’s a great way to get the word out.  You could also pair a mod-circle with a giveaway too.

I’ll keep thinking about it and add to this list as I think of anything helpful for you.  Comment below with any suggestion that I’ve missed.

To get access to daily, weekly and monthly Instagram hub themes and hashtags, sign up for HubHack!