Understanding Instagram: Tips & Tricks



Hello dear friends and Happy Monday!! Also, to all you Mother’s out there, Happy late Mother’s Day! <3

Today, I wanted to talk a bit about Instagram. As a blogger, it’s super important to utilize social media outlets and since Instagram is the most used (by far!) and most visual (best for marketing our blog content), I thought it would be fitting to do a post on this amazing media.

Don’t get me wrong…other social media sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and others have their place. Each of them have a specific purpose. Although I find that my most successful media is Instagram, this does not mean that it is the “best” or “most successful” for everyone. Instagram is more comfortable for me to use now that I finally understand it and I’m here to share my tips and tricks with you!

So how do you stand out in a sea of bloggers and business?

Let’s start with your profile:

The Bio

This is your “hello”….your introduction to new potential followers and businesses.

What do you want people to know about you?
What can they expect to see in your feed?
What is your purpose?
What can you offer these potential followers and businesses (your call to action)?
Where are you located?
How can they contact you?
Why should they follow you?

Take my bio, for example:

“Elizabeth Hugen

Just a girl that loves pretty dress, fun colors, romantic details & sparkle. Christ follower. CA
Outfit details on the blog.
Lizzieinlace@gmail.com
www.lizzieinlace.com

Of course, my bio is not perfect but it hits all the marks.
You can easily find my name, location, contact information and blog address.
From my bio, it’s obvious that I am somehow involved and interested in fashion without flat out saying “Fashion Blogger”…which there is nothing wrong with by the way! I do think that it’s important to be direct, but I wanted my bio to reflect my personality and be a bit different.
Instead of being generic, I described what one might see in my feed or outfits…pretty dresses, fun colors, romantic details and sparkle…all of which are very much me and seen frequently in my photos. As bloggers, our blog is our “business” and by offering outfit details and essentially, outfit inspiration, I prompt those new followers or brands to check out my blog…..which is kind of the point. Social media should be an extension of your blog as well as a marketing tool.

Your Profile Pic

Another element of your bio that I feel is important. I have read many articles that say having a photo of your face will offer more engagement than with a logo photo. I find this study to be very true. I know that I personally feel more connected to people that have their faces in their profile pic rather than a generic logo. My profile photo is a bit different. It does have my face, but it’s not a close up. I do agree with having a close up portrait, BUT I feel that my photo stands out more with the colors. The photo from a distance is a bright combo of pink, yellow and blue. Clearly, I am in the photo dressed in the feminine and fun (bows, skirt, a patterned top) elements that encompass who I am as a blogger. I feel that this photo alone allows me to stand out in a sea of bloggers. When I comment on someone’s photo, they notice my comment because of the bright colors in my photo and comment back. I have only once changed my photo and noticed a decline in engagement. It was changed back to the original and has not budged since.
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Photography

Unfortunately, Instagram is a extremely visual platform and great photos make a HUGE difference. The photos should look nice individually, but also go together with the other images in your feed.
With that being said, you should keep two audiences in mind each time you post a photo.

The Individual Photo

This is what your current followers will see in their feed as they scroll through. If it catches their eye, they like and comment. However, this can also work against you if post something “unappealing” or “out of the norm”. People will unfollow if they see something they don’t like so it’s important to stay consistent with your aesthetic and true to yourself. After all, that’s why they followed you in the first place!

Your Feed as a Whole

This is your first impression for new followers. Chances are they found a photo of yours somehow and were interested in seeing what else you have to offer. The initial photo attracted them in the first place, so if your feed is consistent in style and aesthetic, chances are that they will follow. This is why the first 9-12 images are important. If your feed looks nothing like the one photo or doesn’t play well off each other, than they will move on.

If you are a blogger, you are obviously going to promote blog photos. With that being said, you don’t want to put three photos of the same outfit next to each other (guilty!!). Space them out and vary the poses and framing. You don’t want three photos of you standing with your hand on your hip simultaneously. Make them different and stand out on their own: use a standing pose, a sitting pose, a detailed close up, a portrait, an action pose…etc. Also, crop from different angles and allow breathing space. Variation is key and this is where the rule of thirds comes in handy.

Also, keep in mind your lighting source. You don’t want your face to be covered by darkness, but you also don’t want to be squinting in the bright sun. I’ll share some tips on this later on, but for now experimentation will be super helpful!

Ask yourself, do your photos work by themselves? Do they work together with your other photos? If you were someone else, would you follow this person? What draws you in?

If nothing else, you should always be growing. 🙂
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Brand Story

Your blog IS your brand. As I was talking about earlier, your photos should work well together. They should tell “your story.”

Let’s go back to my bio. Pretty dresses, fun colors, romantic details and sparkle……I make sure these four elements are ALWAYS present in my newest 9-12 photos. I feel like it builds trust, consistency and is true to who I am and what I want to accomplish.

These 9-12 photos should explain who you are and why people should follow you.

Looking objectively at my 9-12 photos (minus any giveaway or follow Friday photos that will be deleted in the future), individually I see dresses, skirts, jewelry, flowers, etc.  As a whole, I see a bright and colorful feed dedicated to one’s fashion obsession.

What does your brand story say about you?
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Color Palette

Having a specific color palette has been a challenge for me because I love so many different colors! There are some feeds that stick with 3-4 colors ONLY and they are beautiful and I follow many of those accounts. But let’s be real…..I have more than 4 colors in my closet. Therefore, I decided on a “main” color to focus on to bring all of my photos together. PINK: my favorite color and one of my blog colors. Which brings me another point…since social media is an extension of your blog, I think it’s important to implement the same color scheme throughout for added consistency. Anyway, I have noticed a HUGE spike in followers since I added more pink to my feed. And by pink, I don’t mean just one shade, but instead a multitude of different shades. If an outfit doesn’t have pink in it, I will just post a “filler” photo with pink in it. I have also added more white to my feed and it has made a huge difference. I felt that my feed was too “busy” before, but adding flat lays and more white has made a huge difference.

Over all, I think choosing a color palette and sticking to it is extremely important. Having a specific color allows your feed to be consistent and work well together even if the items photographer are different. For example, I pretty much ONLY post outfit photos and details…however, we have our honeymoon coming up and I want to implement some of those photos. If I see some bright beautiful colors that mimic my outfits or a pretty pop of pink, I know that even though its unrelated to fashion, it will still look great in my feed because the color is on point.
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Editing

Much like your color palette, the right editing tools can make your feed look streamlined, consistent and aesthetically pleasing. This one took a while for me to get as well.

When I first started my account, I uploaded photos straight from the blog. Now, I don’t edit my photos much at all for the blog and the software I use doesn’t have many editing tools. This calls for inconsistency with lighting…sometimes it’s shaded, sometimes it’s sunny, etc. So when I put those on my Instagram, it didn’t convey the happy feed that I wanted. I started editing with Instagram’s filters (Valencia mostly) and found my photos looking very….dark and orangey. I could not figure out how to get that bright, fun and clean vibe I was going for. I’ve tried many, many different editing tools and have FINALLY found the ones that work for me. While I do like Snapseed and Pic Tap Go, I am more drawn to VSCO and A Color Story.

Like a color palette, it’s important to use similar editing techniques for all of your photos so they blend well with one another. Most people will say to have only one or two different filters. While I do agree with this, I use four. I like to have choices so I edit EACH one of my Instagram photos four times. From there I see which one looks best with my current feed. I normally stick to the same one or two, but every now and then I find that I like the third or the fourth better. Once it’s uploaded to Instagram, I will do some fine tuning and finally post it. It’s quite a process and it’s not the right way for everyone, but after experimenting over and over, I have finally found something that works for me. The main thing is just to be consistent in whatever filter (if you use one) you choose.
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Layout

Layout is just as important (if not more) as your color palette and editing techniques. How do you want your photos to work together?

Layout was another thing I struggled with. Posting ONLY outfits made for a very busy looking feed. I yearned for a cleaner look that still incorporated my blog outfits. I decided to stop posting three consecutive photos of the same outfit and only post one. If I post more photos of that outfit, I space them out dramatically. Once I cut down on outfit posts, I decided to incorporate more detail posts and add in more flat lays and this has worked wonderfully for me! I have developed a sort of “formula” to my posting and layout that has kept me consistent with my color scheme and has helped me to stay true to my aesthetic.

I have seen many different layouts and most have worked well. I think it takes time to develop what you see as aesthetically pleasing, what you ultimately want your feed to look like and how you want to be perceived by brands and followers.

Ask yourself, does my feed as a whole convey what I want it to? Is it true to me? Do the colors work well with one another? Do the images work well with one another? Is there enough “breathing space” between photos or is it overcrowded and hard to read?
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Other

How often should you post?

This is completely up to you. I find that posting once or twice a day is ideal and NEVER back to back. As a rule of thumb, I always wait at least two hours in between posts. If you post multiple photos one right after another, you may lose some followers.

What time should you post?

Again up to you. Experiment and see when most people seem to be engaged. There are apps out there that will tell you when the best time to post is, but I haven’t used one. I will normally post in the late  morning or early afternoon and then again in the late evening/bed time.

Should I have borders or different sized photos?

There was a time when I wanted the whole photo to be seen but it wasn’t a square. Different sized squares and rectangles ran through my feed and it looked yucky. As for borders, that’s also a personal choice. I think that as long as all of your photos are the same size and look the same, then it will look great.

Should my account be public or private?

This one is personal preference. I think that if you are a blogger or business that wants to grow, public is the way to go. I know that I personally will not follow a private account. This is because you don’t know what kind of content that person has and the bio may not match up to the content. I made that mistake once when I started and ended up seeing a lot of inappropriate images that are forever burned into my brain. Never again. Also, I feel that if your account is private, brands are less likely to reach out to you.

Should I have separate Instagram accounts for personal and professional?

Again, personal preference. I only have ONE Instagram account and that’s for the blog and only the blog. I don’t have a personal account and feel that I don’t really need one. When I sold Lularoe, I made a separate Instagram account for that. If you have multiple businesses, I feel that you should have multiple accounts. If you are a fashion blogger that rides motocross, owns a grocery store and hunts lizards on the weekend, it could come off as inconsistent and off putting to potential brands and followers if you incorporate ALL of that into your feed. Of course, you should share personal photos, but I feel that there is a line between where it can be seen as a personal account and a professional account and if you are looking to expand your business, I would probably stick with separate accounts.

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What makes me an expert on Instagram? Well, I’m not exactly. However, I have more than DOUBLED my following count in the last TWO MONTHS and surpassed my goal that I had set from day one. I have noticed a HUGE increase in organic follows and brand collaborations since I implemented a color scheme, a more breathable layout and started editing a little bit different. I took a look at my Instagram, imagined what I wanted to be and how I could get there.

I hope these tips have been super helpful to you!

Next time, I will talk about different ways to grow your following! 😀

If I’ve missed anything or your have some other tips to add, feel free to add some in the comments.



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