Hi everyone!

I do a lot of night landscapes and astrophotography (https://instagram.com/dheeranet/).

One of the problems I'm finding about Instagram today is that the platform is really not well designed to build your own follower base. In particular what I'm noticing is:
- Instagram never shows my photos under the hashtags that I use (I tested this via another account that follows the hashtag -- IG seems to be hiding my photos from the hashtags)
- Instagram never shows my photos in Explore even if they get 1K+ likes
- People don't seem to actually look at hashtags, they tend to follow accounts instead
- There are all these annoying "feature accounts" that use your photos, credit you very non-prominently (e.g. "Congratulations / blank line / blank line / you have won the award / Follow @feature account / blank line / blank line / blank line / Photographer: @me") and guess what? People follow the feature account, not me. Even the better feature accounts that credit the photographer prominently in the top 2 lines, which I'm okay with, people tend to still follow the feature account, not the photographer, and it's the feature account that gets onto the Explore page with my photo, not me (ugh). It's literally like a "Congratulations-but-f-you-I'm-stealing-your-attention", they don't even pay you, and sometimes *they* want payment for prominent credits (wtf? you just used my content, you pay me for my hard work).

On top of that,
- People seem to only use Instagram these days and refuse to use Flickr or other platforms to view photography

So what's the best advice to build a following on Instagram? My current strategies are:
- Posting on Reddit, and listing my Instagram as a top-level comment with more information and story around the photo
- Posting on Facebook groups, although Facebook doesn't like posting too much
- Selling prints, and using the proceeds to fund Instagram ads

Photography is more of a hobby for me at the moment but if I can monetize it as a secondary income source without going into it full time, I would definitely like to. At the same time my objective in trying to build a follower base is so that I can have some measurable impact on humanity through photography (e.g. by combining science and art to get more people interested in STEM fields, or get more people to take interest in environmental conservation). At the moment my income from prints isn't high or meaningful compared to my day job, so I'm taking close to 100% of the proceeds from prints and putting them into ads in hope of a snowball effect of selling more prints, but are there better ways to approach this?

Would love any advice and pointers about how to play this "game" properly!