Ah, the good ol’ Instagram feed.
When I first joined Instagram back in 2011, like everyone else, I really had no idea what I was doing. My first posts are filter-heavy and have about two likes on average from the early adopters among my friends. Then I went to New York City for a summer and used Instagram as a place to post all my artsy shots (#ShotOnAniPhone3). When I got back to my last year of college, I realized Instagram was a great place to share the best pictures of me and my friends, which is pretty much how I used it until I started a blog. (I was a Mayfair filter girl all the way.)
When I started a blog, I didn’t want to start a separate Instagram because that seemed like too much work, so I used my feed to post both blog content and personal content. Overtime, I started to post less personal, brighter pictures and really got into the curation part of Instagram—looking at how all my pictures worked together as a whole on the grid in addition to how they looked as individual photos. (Remember when everyone was doing that thing where you put a thin white border around all your pictures? Ah, 2015, how I miss you sometimes.)
Though my Instagram feed is not perfect and my vision for it changes overtime, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way on how to get that flow everyone talks about. I’m always looking to improve my ‘gram game, so I’d love to know if you have any tips/tricks that work well for you!
(PS. Here are my 5 tips to taking a better Instagram photo—I wrote this a few years ago, and everything but the last point is still relevant!)
01. PICK A PREDOMINANT COLOR THEME. IF YOUR PICTURE DOESN’T FIT, DON’T POST IT!
Some Instagrammers I follow have a very strong color aesthetic—Lauren Conrad always edits her photos with a rose gold filter, Whitney’s shots are always bright and airy, and Luisa’s feed is warm and white. (If you’re curious about more color themes—this article has a great breakdown!)
I realized the reason I found myself scrolling back to these feeds time and time again was because all the pictures worked together to create cohesion because the colors and temperature (i.e. warmer or cooler) used in each picture were within the same family. You’d never see a bright blue photo on LC’s Instagram, for instance. After looking at my feed and analyzing it with this in mind, I realized I liked airy, bright photos that were slightly over-saturated, a bit cool, and depending on the shot, maybe a bit overexposed.
Now that I’ve identified this as my color theme, I make sure that all pictures I post fit those guidelines. If they don’t, I don’t post them. This definitely takes self-restraint sometimes, but if you’re working on cohesion, you might have to make a few sacrifices! I usually use the pictures that don’t make the cut for Instagram on the blog or Twitter instead so that I still get to share them, but I don’t disrupt that flow we’re all after. I’ve also found that my guidelines still give me a lot of freedom to post the things I want and it is a creative challenge to work within my aesthetic.
PS. It helps to have friends that will tell you if a picture fits your feed—Monica will shoot it to me straight and has saved me from a few blunders! ;]
02. DEVELOP A SIGNATURE EDITING STYLE. USE IT EVERY TIME!
I’ve been editing my photos for Instagram the same way since around 2015—and only recently did I add another step. I edit my photo right in the Instagram app—I turn up the brightness, knock the warmth down to -10 or so, increase the highlights, decrease the shadows, and increase the saturation. I’ve been doing this long enough that I can adjust for the differences in light and make each photo look the same—essentially, I created my own filter.
A lot of my friends swear by VSCO, but I always found their filters too dark and moody for my aesthetic. I recently downloaded the A Color Story app and love it because their filters and so bright, colorful, and airy—which is much more “on brand” for me. So now once I’ve edited my photos my way as described above, I generally put either the Pop or Everyday filter from Essentials or the Clear or Refresh filter from Airy. Sometimes I layer the filters on, too—it just depends on the photo. Since I’ve already edited the photos a little bit before bringing them into the A Color Story app, I typically only put these filters on at 25-50%. Sidetone—I used the Candy Minimal filters to edit all my Punta Cana pictures—those are great filters for beach trips if you’re in the market!
A note that generally, I make the photos for my Instagram brighter than the ones I feature here on the blog. It’s totally okay to edit your photos in different ways for your blog and Instagram!
03. PLAN AHEAD. DOWNLOAD THE PLANOLY APP.
You know how when you want to see if a picture will look good on your feed, you upload it and delete it real quick? That was my strategy for years, until I discovered Planoly. Y’all, this app is amazing—it allows you to upload pictures and insert placeholders—like the pink square above—so you can plan your feed out ahead of time. Plus, you can pre-write captions and schedule posts right in the app. Planoly also shows you on a calendar when you posted past ‘grams and what their engagement was. I loved the app so much that I now pay for it! (The free version limits your number of photo uploads a month—I blew through that in about a day.)
My routine as of late is I gather all the photos I want to Instagram throughout the week on Sunday night. I make sure they are all edited to my liking and then I upload them all to Planoly, where I can drag and drop them around to find the best order. I then post them throughout the week. Easy!
Speaking of planning ahead, I used to really embrace the instant in Instagram, but now when I am at an event or on a trip, I don’t always post things right away. Instead, I wait until I can see what all my picture options are and have the time to sit down and edit the picture I want. Whenever I rush to get a post live, I usually end up hating it—and potentially deleting it later!
I’m always happy to chat Instagram, so leave me a comment below if you have any questions or tips of your own!