Do you need #InstaHelp? Have you ever thought about taking an Instagram workshop but weren't really sure if it was worth the money? My personal opinion is that most Instagram workshops are kind of a waste because you are paying for something you could figure out if you took the time to google it and do a little research. That doesn't stop a lot of people from taking advantage of those out there desperately trying to utilize this powerful tool for their business or hobby. I've seen workshops range anywhere from $60-$1000 and it hurts my heart knowing people are paying these amounts and only a small percentage might actually be benefiting from it. So, I wanted to share some pretty basic tips that might save you some money.
Here are some #InstaHacks, cause any money saved can go toward doughnuts, right?
TAKE GREAT PHOTOS
This sounds like a no-brainer. Sadly, some accounts don’t take the time to make sure their pictures are as high quality as they can be. This doesn’t mean you have to invest in a DSLR since smartphones are more than capable of taking really great photos nowadays, but this is the last place you should skimp. Instagram is nothing but imagery. Don't settle for a bad photo.
- Your first nine pictures are your first impression when a new prospective follower finds your feed, so make sure those pictures give an overall idea of what a follower can expect if they decide to engage and follow you. Make that click where they peer into what you are about worth their while.
- Take your time framing a picture. That means skimming the entire perimeter of the square to see how everything lines up. Is anything crooked? Is it at an awkward angle? Turn on the grid option if you need help. Even if it takes multiple shots take your time to find the perfect angle.
- Find good lighting. This means first off to educate yourself to what good lighting is. Most professional photographers want to shoot in the morning and at dusk or "golden hour" as it's called, because everything in between is harsh (unless it's a cloudy day). Try and plan your photo ops around the times of day where you will have the best lighting. Thinking a filter is going to be your fix is not always the way to go. Use natural light when you can. If you are shooting something inside, try and get window light, not the lighting from lamps or bulbs.
- Stick to your chosen aesthetic. You want your feed to have an overall consistent look and you lose that if you are all over the place with where you take your shots and the editing style you may chose to use. Shooting inside vs outside or day vs night shots will make a difference in your overall grid.
- Select a focal point, keep it clean and don't have a lot of clutter. A messy photo that is too busy isn't very easy on the eyes, and can often get scrolled right past.
- If you are taking photos with a phone, tap the screen where you want the focus to be to make sure your pictures are as sharp as they can be.
- Don't make photo collages, keep your grid clean with one photo at a time.
- Always strive for quality posts over quantity. Don't feel like you need to post every day. Make each post count.
- Train what is more powerful than any camera, your eye! Size things up with your eyes before you shoot. If you have something you planned to shoot think ahead and give yourself time to find the perfect composition, don't just start clicking.
- Like colorful backgrounds? Stock up on a variety of colored poster board (I go to Hobby Lobby) and make your own backdrops. Want texture? Go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy sample flooring squares that are the perfect size for a fun background. You'll never search for a marble counter top again.
Speaking of consistency, have you ever posted a picture just to see how it looked on your grid and then immediately deleted it? No need to do that anymore. There is a FREE app called UNUM that allows you to place images in your grid and arrange them before posting to make sure you are maintaining the consistency you want.
MO FILTERS, MO PROBLEMS
There is a daunting amount of editing apps out there, probably downloaded onto your phone taking up precious memory space! So what do you really need? That's up to you but less is more when it comes to editing. There are two I keep handy when I need some help.
A Color Story is helpful to bring a little extra vibrance to a photo but don't overuse it and ruin the quality of the photo. Now that there is a zoom feature on Instagram you don't want people zooming in on grainy photos.
Faded is another app that can be helpful when shooting in bad lighting and a photo is too warm or too cold. There is a thermometer setting that will help adjust and get you the best overall tone.
#HASHTAGS VS HASHBROWNS
Hashtags have a purpose, so use them to their full potential for getting more people to find your feed. Sure it’s fun to make up long hashtags that are an inside joke, but in reality you should have a list of appropriate hashtags that you are constantly using.
Popular accounts may not use many because they already have large followings, but you want people to find and follow you, so create a list that makes sense. Whether you have a food blog, you are a wedding planner, or you are a brick and mortar business, find what hashtags are relevant to what your account is about as well as standard tags like #instagrammer, #igdaily, #photooftheday and the like. A list of popular hashtags is easy to google.
THE AGONIZING CAPTIONS
Have you ever sat for longer than you want to admit with a photo ready to share, but you drew a blank on the caption? Don't stress so much. Captions that are genuine to you and your account will resonate and they are your best bet for real engagement. Try and stay away from the standard "Dreaming of..." or "Obsessed with..." captions. If what you have to say is more unique, honest, and relateable people will feel more inclined to engage with your post and not just click the like button. Don't forget to ask questions. Likes are great, but comments are even better.
A good rule of thumb is always to....
That's all for part one! If I don't get angry hate comments by people that love paying for workshops part two will tackle UGC, the truth about suggested Instagam users, the power of your profile, and analytics!