A lot goes into creating an incredible Instagram profile. You have to develop the right formula; especially when it comes to your photos, how you edit them, your hashtags, and yes, even your captions. But the main thing that you need to remember is that your feed should be your own. The trick to editing your photos is to make sure that you use the same filter for each one. This will create a cohesive and visually consistent Instagram feed. And if you do it right, you'll create a feed that has the perfect feel that people will flock to again and again. Let's take a look at what it takes when it comes to building your Instagram feed.
How to Properly Build Your Instagram Feed
Let me start off by saying that I don't believe in the "perfect" feed. It's elusive and doesn't exist. Striving for the perfect feed is futile. When it comes down to it, Instagram is about expression. The trick is to refine your creative efforts, not to sell people on the idea of perfection. Besides if everyone stuck to the same perfect feed format, Instagram would become pretty boring.
Thankfully, there are a lot of ways that you can create a striking Instagram feed. And there's a lot more that goes into it than finding the ultimate preset on VSCO or Snapseed. Here's what you should take into consideration whenever you set out to build your Instagram feed...
ADJUST YOUR MINDSET
Let's take a quick look at some of the circumstantial barriers... such as "I can't seem to find that perfect lighting", "I'm just not creative", "I have no one take photos", or "I have nothing interesting to photograph". Although these can be extremely frustrating, they are not reasons to give up. If you pay close enough attention, you'll start to notice that a lot of successful Instagram accounts don't have everything just right. If you're truly interested in curating your feed, these things shouldn't stop you.
Brands, bloggers, and influencers alike should focus on what makes their feed unique. Focusing on this will help you figure out what you can share. Honestly, you can find ways to overcome those perceived limitations. Here are a few things that might help:
- Use natural light - it's always better
- A self-timer is your friend - stack some books and you're done
- Share your favorite places - this is a great way to show personality
- Edit to your heart's content - it can turn a so-so photo into an incredible one
Here's a little-known secret when it comes to Instagram: you either need to create a stockpile of photos or constantly take photos. The choice is yours, but whatever you choose make sure the photos are quality. Of course, you won't know if you'll end up using all of those stockpiled photos but at least you'll have them when you need them.
The goal is to stay creative and if you start to notice that you have a lot of repeat photos or "go-to" shots, it's a good idea to start over. You need to avoid repetitive shots one after the other within your feed or it will start to get a little boring. It's best to break up similar photos or shots within your feed as a way to keep it more interesting. If you enjoy throwing in some black and white photos, make sure that you don't post them back to back. A feed with staggered black and white photos always looks better.
As far as inspiration, it's a good idea to create a lookbook of sorts. Go ahead and bookmark photos that catch your eye and pull inspiration from the world around you. Pinterest is also a great place to become inspired by creative minds. If you're drawing a blank on what to post next do some searching and see what you can come up with.
EDITING & COLOR SCHEMES
If you're like most of the people who use Instagram, you're taking photos with your smartphone. And this is TOTALLY fine. For brands, it's up to you if you want to focus more on using a DSLR camera. But you don't really have to exclusively use a DSLR when it comes to Instagram. Smartphone cameras have come a long way and work great when it comes to creating a killer Instagram feed.
All you really need to do is learn your phone's camera's features and maximize them.
As far as color schemes go, it's best to start out with what YOU like. Figure out the ones you like best and play with edits. A great app to use for editing is either VSCO or Snapseed. A lot of people swear by Lightroom, but what you choose is up to you. VSCO is pretty efficient and far from complex, unlike Lightroom.
Keep in mind that you'll typically always have to adjust the contrast, shadows, and exposure based on the photo and what it calls for. You can blur the background, raise the contrast, add in some sharpness and even adjust the tint of the photo. This works great if you had a photo taken indoors using unnatural light. All you have to do is adjust the warmth and add in some cool tones and you're good. If you decide to use a filter (color scheme) it should remain the same for all of your photos, at least for a little while.
Sticking with a consistent filter is one of the best ways to set the mood for your feed. Here's a great example of a feed that uses filters to set a mood:
If you're interested in filters VSCO has a great variety to choose from. In the photo below I used the filter A5/Analog and adjusted it to the desired strength. Below are some common photo edits that you can use once you've applied your chosen filter.
- Exposure +2
- Contrast +1
- Shadows +1
- Highlights +3
- Temperature +1
- Saturation -1.5
- Skin Tone +2.5
Just remember that each photo will call for something different, as far as adjustments are concerned. In the end, just play around and find what works best for the photo. Especially if you decide to use a filter. P.S. Whenever you edit your photos make sure that the screen's brightness is set to it's highest level.
It's also a good idea to try and straighten the photo as much as you can. Over time, a bunch of tilted lines in a feed can create a rather dizzying effect. But hey, if that's what you're looking for, go right ahead!
VISUALIZING THE WHOLE FEED
As I stated above, Unum is a great app to use whenever you are curating your feed. It will help you visualize how the photo will look in the context of your feed. It also lets you see if the photo is too warm or too cool when compared to the rest of your feed and will help determine if the photo needs to be brightened or straightened - among other things.
A lot of people view curated feeds as being fake. But honestly, if it's done correctly, a feed can become a perfect representation of your brand or personality. It can showcase products, interests, styles, and most importantly, an uncrowded visual of life. Have you looked into curating your feed for a more powerful impact? Have you used VSCO before? If so, what's your favorite filter on there? Let us know in the comments below, so we can discuss!