This is one of those posts I had running through my head since August when Robynn (Woollythinker) mentioned in the comments section about writing a post on Instagram and how I choose my images. I found it really difficult to explain how my brain works so instead I thought I could walk you through my thought process on Instagram and how it has changed over the last year since starting the Notebook. At the end of this post is my checklist for Instagram posts, please keep in mind my account isn’t huge. Everything is organic and I’m enjoying growing my close, engaged following.
Why Do You Use Instagram?
This is the easiest place to start. Have you asked yourself why you use any of your social media platforms? Are you using Instagram to share personal images and keep in touch with friends or are you a business trying to grow a close following or are you trying to grow an influencer account? I’m not really any of the above. I’m a blogger but I wanted to grow a friendly online community who may be interested in what I blog about. If you know what your Instagram is for, deciding how, what and when you post becomes easier.
I wanted and still want an easy account to manage, sharing stories of life here at the cottage that follow along loosely with my grow-craft-love ethos. The crafter inside of me wants a place where I can showcase my finished objects and have other knitters help when I run into trouble at 4 am because as you know, someone is always online. Another important thing for me is to enjoy playing dress up with the girls but also have useable images for my blog or our photo wall at the end. Most of all, I want Instagram to be fun! To be a creative outlet where I can play with a camera and learn. I want it to move with the topics that I find interesting but along a theme that was still me and my personality at the heart of it.
Why Instagram Is A Great Platform For Bloggers.
This paragraph will be short. If you have a blog, images are important. They draw the reader in on a more personal level and for readers who skim posts, the images can stall them and cause them to be drawn into the text. They help to tell your story on a deeper level. I will hold my hands up and say that the reason I found three of my favorite blogs was via Instagram and their amazing images on their grid.
Personally, I wanted to move away from the few stock images that I had for blog posts. I wanted to develop my own unique style mostly because I want my blog posts to be recognisable when I share them across social media platforms. This is something that I am constantly working at as I develop what I like and how I want to tell a story.
If you approach Instagram as something that you can learn from. You start to look at grids more than individual images. I find myself picking apart the story that the account is portraying. If I like the account, why do I like the account? Is it their use or lack of colour, is it their captions or are they using Instagram differently in a way I admire? The last reason is why I follow The Tall Photographer aka Charles Budd. His use of cinemagraphs and unique style images always invokes something creative in me.
My account is far from where I want it to be at the moment. Partly because I am still trying to develop my eye and trying to decide how much of my personal self, ends up in a public account. Since realising how time poor I am, I wanted to pull back on media platforms but still be present and be part of a fun, engaged community. I understand that posting less often goes against good social practice but for me, it has helped me find that balance that I craved. I try to post more high quality more engaging content that means something to both myself and the viewer. Unless you follow me on Twitter where I choose to vent and be more relaxed and chat about coffee, cake and the toddlers secret plans for world domination……
My Instagram Process:
I think this is more of the type of answer that Robynn was looking for.
Plan: I try to take a series of images in one day that compliments my editorial calendar for my blog and then fill in the spaces with things I love. This is really fluid though.
Set up the Images: When the weather is right, I set the theme/tone or create a backdrop if I need too. In my early days I just took images, now I think about what I want to say before I take the image. I usually have a caption in mind or I’m taking part in a challenge and I can see the image I want to take for my grid.
Grid Planner: I tried both Planoly and UNUM and I prefer UNUM but I’m still not happy because I prefer to type up captions at my desktop. There are a few hashtags I love to take part in on Instagram like Faceless Fridays, so I get creative and plan some images for those if I’m bored.
Hashtags: Yes I have a very long and detailed hashtag list. I use them to try and reach new people and view other images and accounts that might be of interest to me. It’s my roadmap of Instagram.
Captions: I try to write engaging captions and use Instagram as a micro-blog when I need to. I don’t want to increase my posting schedule on my personal blog so having IG allows me to have somewhere else to write when I need to.
Timing: Then I just share my images at a time when my followers are online. I did use Iconosphere for a while but I’m not an influencer and couldn’t justify the paid app per month when other apps give me detailed stats and allow me to plan my grid for free. I think if I ever monetise the blog properly and blogging is a way to have an income this would justify paying for the app.
Reply to Comments: Yip tough on time but I try to be active on Instagram when I post. To reply to comments and comment on other photos and stay in touch with the growing community there.
To end the post, it’s helpful to remember that with any social platform, you get out what you put in. If someone has a huge following, ask yourself why. Do they have a following somewhere else and are bringing it over to that platform? Try not to get too obsessed about your grid being messy and if you are doing things ‘right’. No one determines what is right except you. Be inspired but don’t copy and just be yourself and to swipe a phrase from MeandOrla, be authentic. That is really the key to creating unique content because no one else can be you!
These are just my thoughts, what are yours on using Instagram?
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