Instagram Check-In: Quick Tips!

It's 2016, you guys, and that means we've gathered even more knowledge about what's working on Instagram — and what's become outdated (and this can change on a monthly basis). I'll do this every so often as our world of social media shifts, because I want you all to get the good word as soon as we catch on to trends.

Now more than ever, with y'all freaking out about the impending algorithm changes, it's important to make sure your content looks awesome, is keeping up to changing audience preferences, and being labeled in the right way so that you can be found.


Meh: Quote Cards and Text-Over-Images

I don't love photos with quotes or text on them. If it were up to me, every Instagram account would just be filled with nice pics, no text anywhere, and then we'd all go on to our beautiful lives text-free and high contrast. But when used right, they can be an asset to your account — and if not, your account can look a hot mess.

Here's an account that text-over-image works for:

And here's why:

  • Consistent branding and FONT. FONT. FONT. Pick a fantastic font or a couple of complimentary fonts and a color scheme and *stick* to it.
  • Enough posts in between pics with text (though, if it were up to me, I'd even throw a few more in there). I'd say to try to keep it at least 6 posts in between another text-over-image post.


Meh: Framing and Multiple Pic Grids

Unless you do it very infrequently and for a good reason, it can make your feed look messy. Remember, Instagram is for images to be viewed on a small screen. The more happening or the more there is to look at in your post, the more cluttered it appears — that's why photos with lots of blank space perform so well on a platform like IG.


Heck No: Posting Several Photos in a Row

Why am I still saying this? Why doesn't everyone know this already? There is nothing that makes me want to unfollow you more than three different angles of the lasagna you made earlier, or the several snapshots of you and hubs posing in front of a palm tree in fun, playful ways. Stop it.


Yass: Be a Square

Keep your images square. I'm all about how your feed looks when you look at it as a whole when someone's looking at your page — it's how you get new followers or clients, and you have to start thinking of your Instagram feed as an image-based representation of who you are or what you're selling. Posting non-square images won't allow you to control how that square is cropped on your account page (where you can see all the photos you've posted) when Instagram does it on its own.


Yass: Hashtags Still Rule

I've said this before, but if you don't use hashtags on your photos, you might as well not post anything. And you have to use the RIGHT ones, too (tip: now when you're searching within a hashtag, Instagram will usually show you related hashtags at the top of the screen).

You'll still want to post hashtags as a separate comment on your photo after your post — which you should add immediately after uploading your picture — and use the maximum allowed.

The dot-trick (which I'm sure you've been seeing) simply allows you to post all of these crazy hashtags as a comment without it looking so messy, and instead, just appears as a few dots. 


On your phone (I do this on my iPhone), create a "Note" in the "Notes" app, where you can have clusters of themed hashtags already to copy and paste right into your photo when you need it.

Add 10 dots at the top of each cluster, as so (which I've included with some popular lifestyle tags):

#thatsdarling #darlingweekend #dslooking #flashesofdelight #livethelittlethings #liveauthentic #live folk #livebeautifully #gatheringslikethese #slowliving #lifeandthyme #nothingisordinary #visualsoflife #thesimplethings #chooselovely #mytinyatlas #exploremore


And the #1 rule:

Don't treat your Instagram feed the same way you would Facebook or Twitter. Instagram is less of a "social media network" and communication device in that way, and something that should be thought of more as a gallery and discovery tool.

I post completely different photos on my clients' Instagram accounts as I do on their Facebook pages, because it's important that the Instagram pics complement each other in the feed, separate from whatever you're trying to promote elsewhere. And if it doesn't fit the aesthetic, I don't post it — here's what we try to stick to with our client, Icebox Cafe in Miami: their brand is light and bright, so we keep their IG that way.

I'll have a follow-up post soon with suggestions for Instagram photo types that perform best! Stay tuned.

Social Media Tool Delight: Canva

And like a beautiful blessing from the internet gods, we meet Canva — a free, simple design tool perfect for social media image creation (and anything else you might need). They have pre-sized layouts perfect for Facebook, blog, Tweet, web ad, a selection of background images (with additional stock to choose from for $1 a piece) and set text designs that make plugging in your copy easy as pie.

I used Canva to make this image to promote the last blog post on writing a perfect Tweet, with a supplied template and even social media image art, like that adorable little Tweet-y bird:

And whipped up these promotional Instagram/Facebook creative content for a client:

And the possibilities are endless:

While the site offers great stock photography, I recommend using your own as much as possible, which gives the templates a more original feel (you can drag a JPG or PNG on to the page to auto-download, then use). Move around the type, change dimensions, make it yours — and don't be afraid to spend time trying out several different templates to see what works best for the theme of your social media, blog post, or campaign.

And, just this month they announced Canva for Work (info here), which offers enhanced features perfect for small businesses like brand kits and templates, team collaboration access, folder sharing and more, though you *will* pay $10-$13 a month for it.

Now, go on, get creative. You're welcome. 👍

5 Photo Apps You'll Love (For the Non-Pro)

I downloaded and tried out 50 billion photography apps — so you don't have to!


My daily go-to for every single photo I post. It's a sleek, well-designed, and simple app that I mostly use for its beautiful filters, and also simple edits like contrast/brightness tweaks. Get it for iOS or Android.

AfterFocus ($.99)

This does exactly what its title implies: allows you to adjust and change the focus and perspective of your photo after it's taken. This means, playing around with what object you want as your central focus in the pic and creating a blur effect for the background. Super easy to use by just drawing with your finger, but you'll need to play around with it a little to get used to how dramatic the blurs should be. Get it for iOS or Android.

  (image via AndroidCentral)

(image via AndroidCentral)

TouchRetouch ($1.99)

Got a person or object in a photo you'd rather make disappear? There's an app for that, and it's this one. Use the highlight and lasso button to select what you'd like to erase, hit the "play" button, and it wipes it out for good. Note: cannot erase actual people or problems from your life, sry. Get it for iOS or Android.

  (image via

(image via

Facetune ($.99/$3.99)

For the vanity that boils inside us all, an app that auto-beautifies the faces in your photos (e.g., your selfies) to either smooth skin, slim-up, adjust skin tone, and more. Just make sure to not overdo it — the "sentient android" look is so 2001. Get it for iOS or Android.

  (image via Mashable)

(image via Mashable)

Color Splash (free/$.99)

Less for editing, more for fun and dramatic effect — this one allows you to choose elements in your photo to make black and white or color. You know those adorable posters and greeting cards from the 90s with the kids in old-timey clothes, and the only things in color are the flowers? Kinda like that. Get it for iOS or Android.

     Oh hey, it's my boyfriend! I overlapped the color boundary on this with the background — but you get the idea.


Oh hey, it's my boyfriend! I overlapped the color boundary on this with the background — but you get the idea.