While it’s still a work in progress, about eight months ago I decided I needed to figure out how to up my Instagram game and then probably spent far too long *researching* what I had to do. It’s taken me quite a while experimenting with different styles to find out what I like, but deciding to stop posting any old shit was definitely a turning point. I’ve seen my followers and likes double in that time and with a bit of TLC they should both continue to grow. Let me tell you how to up your Instagram game in five easy steps so you can save yourself the pins and needles from holding your phone for hours
stalking trawling other people’s feeds and watching badly translated editing tutorials on YouTube.
[dt_gap height=”10″ /]1. Use a camera. Duh, right? I mean an actually camera though, not your phone. While some are OK they’re just not WOW enough for a really great Instagram account. The biggest difference I noticed in the quality of my images and subsequently the amount of interaction including my images being reposted by massive brands and accounts was when I started using a “proper” camera. The above image was taken by Nuala of Penny and Polaroids on a recent trip to Malta on her Olympus Pen E-PL7 and at the moment it’s the Canon Powershot G1X Mark II for me (I’ve written a post about how I actually take my images here), it gives the nice blurry background if that’s what you’re after, has great self timer options and a flip up screen so you can see better for selfies or flat lays. Here’s an example of the major contrast in quality between a shot on the Canon camera and my iPhone (would’ve been a 5s at the time).[dt_gap height=”10″ /]
[dt_gap height=”10″ /]I also just “couldn’t be bothered” with the hassle of using a separate camera and even when I had a decent one that could upload straight to Instagram, it seemed like a lot of effort, telling myself that the quality of phone cameras has improved so much that it wasn’t necessary. Now, I very very rarely post an iPhone picture. I just make sure I always have the camera with me then use the WiFi function to transfer it directly to my phone where I edit it. Which brings me nicely to the next step…
2. Edit your images. And I don’t mean just slap on a filter and crop to fit (but on that note, don’t forget your pictures don’t have to be a square anymore!). This is the part that is most time consuming, it’s also the bit bloggers try and keep a secret…but you’re not stupid #nofilter is fooling no one. Snapseed, Retouch, VSCO Cam and Afterlight are my most used apps for editing Instagram images and have really upped the game significantly. If you want a post about how I use each of them and what for with before and afters just let me know.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]
I like apps that have selective editing functions where you can highlight specific areas in detail rather than just say brighten up the whole thing. I play around with temperature, clarity, contrast and exposure among other things and the difference is really worth the time investment if you want your pictures to pop.
The one that everyone told me was important, but I stubbornly refused to do until recently…
3. Stick with a theme. Ugh, even saying it sounds boring to me! It limits what you can post, so sometimes I break the rules…that’s what they’re there for. Your theme could be specific like just dogs or doors, maybe it’s only pictures in black and white, just portraits or landscapes, or a colour theme. Mine isn’t always the same, so I’m being a bit hypocritical including this…but like I said, rules are no fun…perhaps my account could be more successful if I did, but it wouldn’t even be feasible…I can’t *always* be on a boat. I tend to stick with a certain colour scheme that includes a lot of bright blue and green, which means I take a lot of photos by the sea. That’s rare while I’m home in Dublin, though…so if it isn’t possible I’ll transition to something else bright with a lot of white in the shot like a flat lay or include some sky just to keep things consistent. Even just using the same filter each time can help keep the overall look of your account in check. If someone likes your picture then has a look at your feed and it’s all over the place, they’re probably not click ‘follow’. So, if you want more followers then it’s definitely something to think about. This is definitely the step I struggle with the most! Let me know if you have any tips of your own.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]
[dt_gap height=”10″ /]4. Only post the good stuff. I know how frustrating it can be to have a gorgeous view but your camera battery died and you need to use your phone or the photo just didn’t do the scene justice, no matter how much you edit the photo. In these cases I just write it off and don’t post the pic. You’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t work based on the amount of interaction you receive on your images and then can phase out the type that don’t perform as well.
[dt_gap height=”10″ /]5. Use specific hashtags, tag accounts that might repost your picture and respond to comments. The most commonly used hashtags are things like #love, #igdaily #fashion etc and because of their popularity mean your picture will only be visible in the feed for about a millisecond, rendering them pretty much useless. While funny ones are funny, they’re too obscure to be searchable so aren’t going to gain you any extra likes if that’s your goal….but please keep using them because we all like a LOL. Tag your brand of sunglasses, jewellery, the hotel you’re staying at etc if you want a chance to have your picture reposted for a larger audience and if someone takes the time to leave a nice comment, reply.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]