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So you want to master the art of Instagram? There’s no hidden secret or perfect formula to ensure having a successful, cohesive, and aesthetically pleasing Instagram for yourself or your business, but there are steps you can take, programs you can use, and things you can do that will definitely take your Instagram to the next level.

Firstly, Instagram is based on one thing: photos! Instagram is a social media platform that is centered around the art of photography. As a result, if you’re looking to improve your Instagram, you have to start with the basics, and that is making sure that all of your photos are high quality and cohesive.

You might be thinking, “I don’t have some super fancy DSLR camera to take high quality photos,” but you can take stunning photos with just the phone in your pocket if you know how to use it right and how to edit the photos well.

People have many different personal preferences when it comes to apps and software they like to edit with, and that’s awesome! You can come to achieve a beautiful photo in many different ways. I personally, however, love to use VSCO and FaceTune to edit all of my photos, and on the rare occasion, I’ll utilize Photoshop if I need to get a little more granular and do some touching up.

Editing your photos

VSCO

VSCO is a free app that gives you a bunch of different filters to choose from and the option to purchase more filter packages. That’s not what makes it my favorite editing app, though. It’s my favorite because it also has top of the line manual tools like exposure, contrast, and saturation adjustments that let you manually edit photos to achieve your own personal look, which is crucial to having a successful Instagram.

FaceTune

Another app I love is FaceTune, which is $3.99 in the app store, but definitely worth the price. FaceTune gives you the tools you need to really make your iPhone photo look like it was taken on a fancy camera. My favorite FaceTune features are the options to add detail to parts of your photo and defocus parts of your photo.

  • Adding Detail – Sometimes you may take a photo on your iPhone and the thing you want to stand out gets kind of blended in with the rest of the photo. One way to help bring attention to that item is by using the ‘details feature.’ You just run your finger over the portion of the photo you wanted to bring detail to and you’ll see it slowly become more vibrant and sharp.
  • Defocusing Elements – My other favorite tool that FaceTune offers is the defocus feature. My favorite thing about photos taken with a nice DSLR camera is the ability to have a shallow depth of field (having part of the photo be out of focus), which draws attention to the main object in your photo. FaceTune helps you achieve that look by simply running your finger over the parts of the photo you want to take out of focus. Soon enough your photo will be looking like it was taken on a professional camera. The shots below show an example of a before and after using the details function on the latte portion of the photo and then using the defocus feature on the background of the photo.

instagram-lattes

So now the question might be, “How do I plan out my Instagram ahead of time to achieve this cohesive style?”

Establish Your Style

It would be hard for me to give any specific tips on editing because everyone has a different style that they are trying to achieve. However, if I had to give one tip, especially when it comes to Instagram, it would be to try and find a signature editing style for yourself and then try to stay as consistent with that style as you can. This will give your Instagram feed a cohesive feel, which (in my opinion) is the most important thing when it comes to creating a beautiful Instagram account. Below are examples of a couple of my favorite Instagram feeds that utilize a consistent and cohesive theme throughout all of their photos, even though they are both very aesthetically different.

ericjess-homeyohmy-instagram

The answer to that can be found in another one of my favorite apps, Mosaico.

Mosaico

Mosaico helps you curate and complement your growing Instagram feed with seamless organization, planning, and tagging. Just as necessary as photo filters are, Mosaico is a tool to help craft and elevate your Instagram aesthetic by allowing you to plan your feed layout ahead of time. This is definitely a crucial app to have. Before downloading it, I used to post things that I thought looked great on their own, but after posting it I would realize that it looked horrible next to the previous photo I had posted. This is what the interface of Mosaico looks like.

mosaico-instagram-app

As you can see, it has the same exact layout as Instagram, which lets you visualize how all of your photos will layout on your feed. I’m very obsessive when it comes to how I like my photos placed. I like to break up dark photos on my feed with lighter ones in the middle, I don’t like food or coffee shots directly touching each other, and I prefer shots that have similar compositions to not touch each other as well. When I’m done shooting for the day I sit in my room trying to organize my feed. It can feel like a puzzle at times, but it makes it that much sweeter when I finally get everything how I want it. This app will also let you:

  • Schedule posts along with captions, ahead of time if you have a specific time you want a post to go up and don’t want to forget.
  • Move photos around the grid without having to reupload them in a different order.
  • Turn on ghost-mode which will allow you to hide a photo if you’d like to see how your feed would look without it.

Now that you have high quality, beautifully edited photos and a plan of attack when it comes to the order in which you’re going to the post those photos, the last question is, “How do I get traffic to my feed for people to see these gorgeous photos?”

This is where the last platform I use, Instagress, comes into play. (Instagress services are no longer available, check out Kickstagram instead for similar features)

Increase Engagement

Instagress

Instagress allows you to accelerate your Instagram account by doing the hard work for you. What do I mean by this? When I first started taking my Instagram seriously and utilizing it as a way to showcase my photography, my biggest obstacle was trying to find a way for people to see the photos I was working so hard on. There are two main ways you can utilize Instagress to increase your followers and engagement:

  • Hashtags – The first thing you can do to try to get more traffic to your photographs is utilizing hashtags. Hashtags are a way for people to find your photos and increase your engagement quickly. The important thing to remember when using hashtags, however, is that you want them to be very specific to your photograph so that when someone is looking up that hashtag, your photograph is relevant. I have a list of different sets of hashtags in my phone (food, architecture, fashion, etc.) that I can easily copy and paste onto my Instagram post depending on what the photo is of so that I don’t have to go and try to find relevant hashtags every time I post. This will save you a ton of time and will help get way more eyes on your photos.
  • Liking & Commenting  -The second way to get people looking at your profile is to like and comment on a bunch of photos that contain hashtags that are relevant to your type of photography. Instagress allows you to plug in all of the hashtags you find relevant and it will do all of the liking and commenting for you. I used to manually go through hashtags and like a bunch of photos and comment here and there, but that got very tedious very fast. With Instagress you just plug in your desired hashtags, type in the generic comments you want it to post on people’s photos, and it will take care of the rest. My engagement skyrocketed after utilizing this software due to the fact that I was getting in front of people who shared the same interests as me. The thing I love most about this platform is that you aren’t just buying followers or likes, which is what a lot of people do. Then you’re just left with ghost followers that don’t add any real value to your account. By using Instagress you’re bringing real people to your account who are choosing to follow you or engage with your posts, which feels much more rewarding, and will lead to way better engagement in the future.

Conclusion

There’s no perfect or correct way to grow your Instagram, or any social media for that matter, but if you utilize some or all of the tools I’ve discussed in this post and have a genuine passion for what you are doing, then people are sure to find your work and engage with it. Instagram is an amazing tool to promote a brand, show off a company’s culture, or showcase your own photography skills, so it’s very beneficial and worth to time to make sure that it’s as gorgeous and cohesive as possible.

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