Hi everyone! I have a fun post for all you bloggers today. If you write a blog, especially with the hopes of turning it into a business, you know how important a good social media presence can be. Social media acts as an extension to your blog, and serves as a place to share and interact with your followers.
Since your social media profiles are a continuation of your blog, you should make sure you are putting as much effort into branding yourself and creating quality content for those channels as you are for your blog. Your social media profiles may be the first thing a potential new follower sees, and you want that profile to give off the best first impression of your blog and what you have to offer.
Instagram has become one of the most popular and influential social profile for bloggers, and has quickly become my personal favorite. With over 300 million monthly active users (source), Instagram is a vitally important social network to have an active presence on for content creators. And with its simple chronological feed, Instagram is one of the best ways to connect and interact with your followers.
However, if you are using the platform to promote your blog or business, you cannot just throw up a couple pictures of your cat and call it a day. To really harness the potential of Instagram, you have to post consistent, quality content. Today’s post walks you through what I have found to be the 5 most important qualities of a great Instagram picture, and how to successfully implement those qualities in your pictures.
The number one most important thing to consider when taking your Instagram (or any) picture is your light source. This is what I focus most of my time on when setting up for an Instagram picture. Your light source will determine how clear and crisp your image is, how vibrant your colors are, and how attractive your picture comes across. Well lit photos stand out, and immediately give your brand and profile a professional look.
The number one recommended light source for taking photos is always going to be natural light. You will want to find a place that gets nice light, but be sure to stay out of direct sunlight, which can cast harsh shadows or reflect off a shinier object in your picture, causing a glare. To get the best light, test out different areas in your home, at different times of day. I like to set up in front of my sliding glass door in my living room, and I usually get the best lighting around 4pm.
If you absolutely cannot get natural light, I’ve found that white light bulbs are a good alternative if needed. Try to avoid at all costs using yellow light bulbs, just trust me on that one. I always make sure any yellow lights are turned off before taking my pictures. White light bulbs, however, make a great substitute for natural light for the late night Instagram snap.
After making sure your subject it well list, it is important that your image is well composed. The refers to how objects are placed in your frame, and what is included in your picture. This will largely depend on the subject of your picture, and is heavily based on your brands style. However, there are a few general rules of thumb I like to go by.
First, make sure your picture isn’t too cluttered. Having too much ‘junk’ in your shot is unattractive, and detracts from your main subject. Have a clear focus, and make it easy for your follower to see your subject. Don’t be afraid to move things out of your frame if they are cluttering up your image.
However, that being said you don’t want your picture to be too plain. Make sure to add in some interest to complement your subject. For example, if you’re taking a picture of your planner, don’t just take a straight on picture of your planner by itself. That’s not very interesting. Try adding some washi tape, or pens, or a vase of flowers around to style and highlight your planner.
Also make sure you are considering your background when taking your picture. A good background will fall back, so the attention can be focused on your subject. For this reason, I almost exclusively use a white background with my pictures. To get my white background, I either use my white desktop, or a simple piece of foam-core poster board.
After taking your picture, don’t be afraid to do a little editing. I was super reluctant to start editing my pictures in the beginning, as I was afraid that would make me fake, and like I was lying to my followers. However, over time I’ve learned that it is completely ok to edit your photos, and just plain necessary sometimes. Just be careful not to over-edit your pictures, since that can look just as bad as not editing them at all.
Since most of my Instagrams are taken directly on my iPhone 6, I also do all my editing for my Instgrams right on my phone. My favorite app for this is Pic Tap Go. I don’t do anything crazy when editing my pictures, so this filter-based photo editing app is simple enough to do exactly what I need it to. My top filters I almost always use are Lights On, Crispity and Auto Color. My goal when editing pictures is to get them as close to true to life as possible, with a little extra ‘oomph’ to it.
Stickers, washi and pens… oh my!! I'm over on the @pretty_well_organized blog again today, talking about planning on the go and what you need in your portable planning kit! You can follow the link in Wendy's profile or go to http://bit.ly/1zDsS0b #planners #planneraddicts #plannernerd #washitape #plannerstickers
Style is another super important component of your Instagram pictures, perhaps more so than lighting. Styling your photos creates a consistent branded image across your blog and social platforms, making your content uniquely and recognizably ‘you’. If you don’t get anything else out of this post, I want you to remember this. You know your brand and your style better than anyone else. Only you truly know how to style your pictures to reflect your brand.
If anything I’ve said here doesn’t work for you or your brand, ignore it. Only you know what works for your brand, and what your followers will like. And if that means dark, cluttered, un-edited pictures, go for it. I’m simply sharing my experience and what has worked for me personally in this post, so if you don’t agree with any of these tips, don’t just do them because I (or anyone else) said you should.
That being said, it can be hard to nail down your brand’s exact style. I have only really just started to discover mine after almost three years of blogging. After a lot of trial and error, I can now confidently say my brand is reflected in light and bright pictures, with lots of white space and pops of color, with feminine (but not too cutesy) details. Now just because I know what my ideal branded image looks like, does not mean I am perfect at achieving that image with every Instagram. But it is a lot easier to style my picture and judge if it is a good reflection of my brand when I have a clear guideline for my ideal brand style.
Start paying attention to what you like in your pictures, what you like in others’ pictures, and what types of images you gravitate towards. Look for repeating elements in your favorite Instagram pictures, and the pictures you feel most represent your brand. Overtime your brand’s style will slowly form itself. Don’t try to rush yourself, and don’t try to simply copy someone else’s style or go with what is trending, because that won’t be your authentic self, and your brand will suffer.
Finally, what good is a gorgeous Instagram picture if no one sees it? All the effort you took to take the perfect picture won’t do you any good if it doesn’t get in front of the eyes of potential new followers. Hashtags are the perfect way to make sure your ideal audience sees your picture. Tagging your picture with on topic tags will add it to that tag’s feed, where it will be seen by viewers interested in that topic, who will potentially become new followers.
However, I cannot stress this enough, make sure you use releveant hashtags! This is definitely a pet peeve of mine, but nothing is worse than scrolling through a hashtag feed and seeing a picture that truly has absolutely nothing to do with that hashtag’s topic. I’m talking motorcycle pictures under #puppies. I don’t care how popular a hashtag is, if your picture is not related to that topic, just don’t do it. Hashtag spamming will do you no favors in gaining followers, and will only irritate the people who do come across your picture through that hashtag.
When done correctly, hashtags can be an amazing marketing tool, and will even work to build relationships and community around a shared interest topic. The best hashtags are niche specific, so be sure to do research into your niche and find the best hashtags for connecting you with your ideal audience.
So to sum things up, when taking your next Instagram picture, make sure you remember to consider your lighting, composition, editing, style and hashtags. Consistently paying attention to these five key attributes will result in a beautiful and powerful branded Instagram profile. I hope these tips help you to create your best Instagram profile, feel free to tag me on Instagram if you use any of them so I can see!
What are your favorite tips for taking the best Instagram picture? Share them in the comments below so we can all use then to improve our pictures!