I bet you're thinking; it's easy, just choose a photo, whack a filter on and share it. Ha. Unfortunately it's no longer that simple (and if that works for you then you're a natural). If I'm wanting to build my followers and keep them attracted to my feed, there's much more to consider. And this is where I'm going to help you, by giving a mini guide on the stages to creating a beautiful Instagram feed.
Now, I know I'm no expert by faaaar and I'm not insta famous or have a large following, and I'm not aiming for either of those (obviously it's a nice feeling to think people are enjoying your feed and want to see more). I do all this faffing around just to share beautiful photos, my travelling photography and also (often) use it as a way to drive traffic to my blog.
I started regularly using and uploading on this account at the end of March this year, so only a few months which has boosted my follower stats by 300+ (but as I said, I'm not too bothered about that aspect). I do have another personal account but I have almost completely neglected that one. I put all my focus and energy into this one and try to post daily (although I'm currently going through a dry patch, uploading a few times a week).
There are 3 main factors to consider when thinking of posting a photo, which will ultimately affect the popularity of the post:
1. Photo quality
2. Caption and hashtags
3. Time of posting
To build your followers and attract people towards your photos over others you need to maintain good quality photos. People generally tend to show more attention towards better quality photos, regardless of what they were taken on. Even if this means editing the hell out of them, you can change a bad looking photo into a work of art. I always use my Nikon to take my photos on, but, having said that, I know so many people who rely on their phones and create beautiful photos of just as great quality. Sadly, it's either my phones age (iPhone 6) or just my lack of creativity with it, but I cannot get any good photos out of my phone, it just never works out the way I want it, how do people do it?!
For editing I use Snapseed which has everything I really need for my Instagram photos. Amongst Snapseed, VSCO, Facetune, Afterlight and Photo Editor by Aviary are all great alternatives to the Instagram filters and allow you to go PRO with your photo skills.
Caption and Hashtags
Even though I am terrible with captions at the moment (I will get better hopefully), here are a few options on how to write a catch caption:
- Tell your followers what you've been up to that day, end it with a question to get a conversation going
- Mention a story behind the photo, get people's attention more
- What products are you using in the photo?
- Make a pun (I love a good pun), whether it's cheesy or not
- Say it how it is (where the photo was taken, what the photo is of, how you took the photo)
- Add in a quote relating to the photo (who doesn't love a good quote?)
Obviously don't think too much into this as it's just a caption but there are some captions which get more noticed than others, for example just telling us what you've been up to lately, or a funny story.
Hashtags are also vital if you want your photo to go beyond just your followers. Ever since upping my hashtag quantity, I've been getting so many more people out there finding my Instagram just from one simple hashtag. Now it is more difficult these days after the silly hashtag banning (I've been banned from many already) but there's lots out there to use and you can just change it around (for example, I used #traveltheworld and then changed it to #worldtravel). A little tip to save you rewriting hashtags all the time: make a note of different hashtags in certain categories such as Lifestyle, Travel, Beauty etc.
Time of Posting
This can be a real game changer to how many people see your photo, who see's your photo, and how popular it becomes. Posting at midnight isn't exactly going to do too well but then you can consider different time zones too. Morning and early evening times seem to suit people best because most people will check Instagrams before the day starts and they head to work, and early evening is perfect as people are starting to finish work, get back home and relax a little. If you are unsure what times to post, there are a few apps out there which post your photos automatically on a time they think is the most popular on that day which is very handy and it means you don't have to worry about forgetting to post the photo.
So what is my routine to posting a photo on Instagram?
1. Firstly I choose what photo I want. At the moment my Instagram is mainly travel related and I will start to posting some Lifestyle photos in there in a few weeks time. I get these photos from all my travels in the past year, from America to my South East Asia travels. I do mix it up so there won't be two photos from the same place posted one after the other.
2. I edit the photo in Snapseed using the same filter I always do (find my Instagram editing step-by-step guide here).
3. Opening up Instagram, I upload the photo onto the app and add the ludwig filter, and occasionally adjust some of the settings beyond that depending on the lighting, contrast, saturation and sharpness.
4. I save the photo into my drafts just incase I lose it or the app decides to suddenly shut down on me, as it likes to do that once in a while. One thing which helps me out if I ever want to upload but don't have a recent one to post, I keep at least 20 images in my drafts all edited and ready to post there and then (it seriously helps having them there).
5. Once I'm happy with what photo I want to post, I go to edit the caption, think of a caption (which could take a good while), add appropriate hashtags to the caption and once I'm happy I share it.
Sometimes I do have to delete the post and post it again if a hashtag ban happens, annoying right? So make sure this doesn't happen to you if you've used the same hashtag a few times before.
Tips that help me out a lot:
- The app Preview. If you're all about the look of your Instagram, you shouldn't think twice about getting this app. It allows you to upload all the pictures you're wanting to post to Instagram in the future and re-arrange them in a way which looks best. It is a copy of your Instagram profile, just not public. It's free and extremely useful, what are you waiting for?
- Editing images and saving into my Instagram drafts is extremely useful. If I find myself not having posted in a few days or a week, I will always have a photo saved in there to post at that moment in time.
- Saving grouped hashtags in your notes for certain categories for future posts. This is a time saver and also just saves effort from writing them all down again, just copy and paste them.
- Occasionally tagging related pages for more views or possible re-posts.
- I always share my posts to my Twitter.
Things I want to improve on:
- Creating a variety of posts instead of just travel related.
- Making more effort with my captions. I love reading captions which tell viewers about their day and include the audience into the conversation by asking questions etc.
- Interacting with my followers more. Something I always struggle to find time to do, I think being in a different time zone really affects that (I promise I'll get better when I get back to the UK!)
- Bringing my blog into my posts more and allowing people to find my blog from a different platform other than just Twitter.