I don’t know about you, but Instagram is my happy place in the world of social media.
For photographers, what could be better? It’s a pretty place to display your work and join the community of support with fellow photographers.
In the past month, my inbox has been filled with continuous emails about how to get ahead on Instagram: how to gain followers, beat the algorithms, determine optimal time to post, frequency of postings, Instagram pods and how to have the prettiest brand feed!
Shew, I don’t know about you, but it gets a little overwhelming at times and after stressing out for a few minutes (okay, for a few weeks) I decided it was enough. I had to remember why I love Instagram and that I don’t have to have the perfect feed. I just have to be myself and share my stories, create genuine connections with my followers and do my best to present a professional look.
Today I am sharing with you some easy tips to create genuine connections with your followers and an overall outstanding Instagram presence. These tips are not meant to add stress, just pick and choose what works for you. Embrace the power of little-by-little. Here we go!
What’s your account type?
For some, the launch of business accounts on Instagram was the best thing since sliced bread and for others… not so much. So what are the benefits of converting your personal account to a business account?
Your business Instagram account will sync with your Facebook business page and paid promotions can be managed for both platforms in one location. The thing that pushed me to switch is the contact bar that is available once you switch. You can add email, telephone and physical address as options to your followers. You also have analytics available to take a more in-depth look at your impressions, reach, profile views and website clicks associated with your account.
I have heard very mixed emotions on which account type is better. I suggest that you play around with the options and try them out for a few weeks to see what feels best for you.
Your profile matters
The beautiful Instagram profile (insert rays of gorgeous sunlight and doves). This is where it gets fun. Your profile is your chance to show your personality and your brand in 150 glorious characters. So what should your 150 characters include?
A good formula to try is who you are, what you do and why, where you are located, and a call to action. For example, mine might say “Southern mama, photographer and graphic designer in Virginia. My heart is in capturing life’s messy and beautiful stories. What is yours?” Then my website link is just below so that a visitor can click to see more of my work. I change this link as needed to highlight one of my images in my feed. Feel free to play with the wording of your profile. We are always evolving as artists and our profile statement shouldn’t be any different.
The last piece of your profile is the profile photo. You want this to be awesome and you don’t have to have a photo of yourself if that makes you cringe, though it’s recommended if you’re a one woman show in business. Three ideas: of course a beautiful image of you the fabulous photographer, your business logo or brand mark, or an image from your body of work. I personally have a piece of my work typically for my profile photo and I change it periodically with the seasons.
Your feed is your story, your online portfolio, and the welcome to potential clients to take interest and click through to your gorgeous website. You truly only have a few seconds before someone decides if you are interesting enough or a good match for their style before they move on. It’s so stressful, isn’t it?!
Be yourself in your images and your captions. Create a cohesive look with your images and find what speaks to your style, whether it is light and airy or dark and moody or anywhere in between. My only advice is to be consistent with your editing and style to give an overall cohesive look that conveys your voice to the viewer.
For me, I post DSLR images 98% of the time. I do this because I can control my editing with a consistent style, but this doesn’t have to be what is best for you. There are many amazing apps that can help you to achieve a cohesive editing style for your photos on the go. If you are going to incorporate text or flat lay images with text, try to stick to one or two fonts. These are great images to prepare in bulk and plan out ahead of time.
Just as you should be yourself and let your style shine in your images, let your personality shine in your captions. This is your chance to tell your story and bring the reader into the moment of the image.
You’ll need to decide for yourself how much personal information you want to share, but this is your opportunity to share real life struggles, happiness, tips, advice and experiences.
Remember that we always try to impress people with our strengths, but we only connect with them through our weaknesses. Connect with the people who are currently following you because they will bring their friends and your following will grow organically. Then once you have an awesome caption, hashtag it!
This little baby boy walked up to me tonight with his blankie and went straight to sleep in my arms. So I sat there, sweaty from running and held him while he slept because one day I won't get those moments anymore. All three of my babies have slept in my arms and it is one of my most cherished memories of all. And cue the ugly cry. I swear Instagram is its own form of therapy and reminders of being thankful for the moments in life. . . #michelleleacreative #clickpro #clickinmoms #clickmagazine #honestlyparents #momlife #momsofboys #thehappynow #thebloomforum #thatsdarling #our_everyday_moments #momtogs #momazine #abeautifulmess #theeverydaygirl #lifewellcaptured #beyondthewanderlust #creativelife #nothingisordinary #cameramama #virginiaphotographer #creativelife #momswithcameras #whatmattersmost #focused #parenthoodmoments
You are allowed 30 hashtags per image. Hashtags are used to categorize your image, gain exposure for a possible feature, or join in on a fun project.
You never know who will see your image and pick it up for something amazing. I have had images featured in the Oklahoma City newspaper multiple times as well as by U-haul and many other organizations, so use them to your advantage. Tag #clickmagazine of course, your geographical locations like #virginiaphotographer or the location of your shoot. It’s also a fun idea to make your own hashtag for your business or personal project.
As for keeping track of the tags you use, I like to keep different lists of hashtags ready for the different types of images that I post. I use the Plann app and it allows me to keep my lists organized. You can also do the same thing in the notes feature on your phone.
There are times when I haven’t thought about my post ahead of time and when I am just at a loss for inspiration. I use the following ideas to try to spark some creativity.
- Show behind the scenes shots. This could be your workspace, your packaging materials, or even a flatlay of your camera equipment.
- Glimpses into your daily life. This could be you giving your toddler the 50th Skittle and praying that he uses the potty, a quiet moment with your breakfast or the pickup line at school.
- A weekly series like #followfriday or #fridayintroductions. Since I am also a designer, I try to do an inspiration moodboard or highlight a branding client each week.
- Break down your process. You could describe what a session with you looks like, what the steps are, or the image delivery method for clients.
Be social! Go out and encourage other Instagrammers. Encourage those who are in your community and others in different businesses. I love finding cook book authors so I can stalk their gorgeous food photography!
Reply to comments on your images and build those relationships. With the new IG algorithm, comments bring you the most exposure. Quality content is more important that quantity. If you can post 1 to 2 times a day, you are a rockstar! Just keep posting.
I personally struggle back and forth with getting my content scheduled ahead of time. I’m a busy mom of 3, a freelance designer and let’s face it, I’m lucky to get a shower on some days. What has worked for me is having a hybrid where I use my Plann app to schedule out some posts that I can then supplement with images that happen during the week.
One of my favorite new inventions is the Instagram Pod! If you haven’t jumped in head first into a pod, you must! They are amazing and so supportive.
A pod is a way to keep the engagement going on your posts. On average, only 10% of followers actually see your posts. The pods are a great way to increase engagement and visibility. Each individual of the pod participates by organically commenting and liking the images of everyone in the pod.
There are rules and limitations of course, but the overall outcome is very positive and you build a mini community within your Instagram. I love the wonderful support and encouragement that I receive daily from my pod members.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! I hope that you found some little bit of hope and encouragement that you can take with you. Remember, little by little.