So, you want to go from Instagram user to Instagram Influencer?
Or are you looking to start using the world’s number 3 social media platform for your business?
With over 1,000,000,000 monthly active users, it’s definitely an incredible potential means of exposure!
But how do you get seen on Instagram?
Different bloggers, social media consultants, and self-made influencers will give you a variety of suggestions.
They’ll tell you that you need to use the right hashtags.
Or maybe you need to join engagement groups (check out this post on Engagement Groups – Instagram Moms’ Biggest Kept Secret to learn more about my love hate relationship with these and why I left 99% of them).
But you know what? There is something far more important than either of these suggestions to be worked on!
Impressions are just that! And they are simply not valuable unless they convert.
You want to get profile visits, saves, and clicks on your website link because that’s what counts. And I’ll give you one guess as to how we are going to achieve that… you guessed it!
Take Amazing Photos for Instagram!
By implementing the following changes to my own Instagram account, I was able to go from posting for product to posting product for profit!
Meaning, I now get gifted items from sponsors PLUS receive payment for advertising!
It’s a crazy world, right? But it’s also an incredible world. One that has allowed me to fulfill my dream come true of being a work at home mom!
So, you want to see how I did it? Of course, you do! And I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned with you too! Let’s get started 🙂
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you should you decide to purchase an item after clicking the link provided.
Please understand that I have personal experience using Amazon as well as the vast majority of the products discussed. I am recommending these items based on this experience and all opinions expressed are my own; I have not recommended any of these things due to the small commission I would make should you decide to purchase something through any of these links.
Please do not spend money on any product discussed unless you truly feel that you need it and/or that it will help you to accomplish what you have set out to do in terms of your goals.
How To Take Amazing Photos For Instagram
(1) Upgrade Your Equipment
When I first started my new Instagram account, I was a very pregnant, soon-to-be mom. And I shot A LOT of flat lays with my iPhone 6s!
However, after admiring many of the larger mom accounts, I noticed they all had one thing in common. Their image quality was out of this world!
If I ever wanted to get my account past the 1,000 Followers mark, I’d have to upgrade my equipment too.
So, I did just that!
I purchased a Sony A6500 after learning that an Instagram mom I was a major fan of was shooting with an A6300.
Her blog post on photo editing was a couple of years old by this time, so I chose the latest model.
It was a big investment at the time but I don’t regret this decision one bit now.
Since then, I’ve made over $1,000 from shooting and posting sponsored content on my account!
Don’t get me wrong, you can still get sponsors to work you if you are exclusively rocking your phone camera, but if you want to reach higher places in your Instagram career, start investing now to reap the rewards sooner.
Also, keep in mind that the higher quality your image, the easier it will be to edit later on! Grainy images are the worst!
Pro Tip: ALWAYS shoot in Raw!
(2) Shoot at the Same Time of Day Every Time You Shoot!
I might sound like a broken record here, since I mention this in a lot of my posts, but shooting at a consistent time of day is a must is you want to take better photos for Instagram.
Try to take photos between 10am until about 4pm for optimal levels of natural light.
I find that this 6 hour window is all I need to provide me with optimal natural lighting (and bonus, my little girl’s bedtime falls within this range).
Anything before can cast a weird orangey or shadow like appearance in my photos. However, with the right bounce (something as simple as a White Foamboard), this issue can sometimes be corrected.
Shooting at the same time of day during optimal hours is normally enough for these tricks to be unnecessary though.
(3) Invest in Quality Lighting
Sometimes natural light just isn’t enough! It sounds crazy, but it’s true!
Our home is a rectangle and only has lights on two opposing sides which means that I need to photograph very close to my windows if at all possible. Something that’s difficult to do if, for instance, I need to photograph my dishwasher which is more near the centre of our space.
Using two standing studio lights is enough to brighten up most areas and creates the perfect blend of artificial and natural light.
Mine are Neewer (the ones shown below) and were purchased on Amazon.
They’re super affordable and are exactly what I need to bring that extra bit of brightness to some of my shots.
If you are looking to pickup your own studio lights, starting with two large umbrella lights and one small one is more enough to start. I love using my small one for shooting product and created the image below using the one from this set.
(4) Choose The Best Editing Software
When I first started using Instagram, I used to rely on their filters and rotated between Clarendon and Gingham! Ugh, big mistake!
I should have invested in quality editing software for my photos from the beginning!
Everything I’ve learned about Instagram, I’ve learned through a combination of trial and error as well as what’s working with the top accounts in my genre: the lifestyle blogger/mom niche! And the accounts I look up to are the ones with 300k plus REAL followers.
What you need to do RIGHT NOW is check out Lightroom CC! This editing software completely changed my Instagram game.
Then, I’d upload that edited version of my original shot into VSCO where I’d apply the A6 filter.
With Lightroom, I don’t need to take two steps anymore!
I apply ALL of my selective edits within the app after hitting the preset I’ve created for my Instagram feed. Easy peasy!
Do keep in mind though, Snapseed is currently a free editing app (at the time of writing this post, thus making it a great alternative for those on a budget). And, VSCO runs at around just under $27 a year Canadian. Lightroom however, is a bit steeper!
If you are a student or teacher though, you can save a ton by registering as such when you download Adobe Creative Suite.
I currently have this rate and pay $14.99 a month Canadian for it, score. However, if you are neither of the above, wait for the next sale (because they do happen, particularly around Black Friday and Cyber Monday!) and save on your subscription.
By purchasing Adobe Creative Suite, you’ll have access to Lightroom CC on your mobile phone as well as Photoshop, Media Encoder, and Lightroom on your desktop! Can you say winning? It’s always nice to have options!
(5) Experiment With Different Styles of Photography
When I posted my first top down photography shot, my followers loved it! But when I revealed how I got it, the comments were mixed.
I secured my mirrorless camera with a cardboard cut out for the lens to pop through to the roof using painters tape and a ton of thumbtacks! A trick I learned from one of the biggest social media moms on Instagram right now!
I thought it was ingenious when I saw how she did it and couldn’t wait to give it a go myself. Here’s the image below 🙂
So, when I purchased my camera, you’re darn right, I bought drop and fall insurance, haha!
If you want to make it as an influencer or blogger, I think you have to be both genuine and take risks.
Put yourself out there and try new things!
No one wants to look at the same redundant selfies a million times! How many times have we seen that “leading” around the world photo or something like it? You know the one, where a woman is pulling her boyfriend’s hand and all you see in the photo is the back of her head, hand, and body?
While one of these shots could add some mild spice to your feed, posting the same photo over and over again can get boring.
Think of your Instagram like a portfolio for potential clients!
Would you showcase the same style of photo over and over again during an interview or on your resume? A number of grainy selfies? Or something that has been done repetitively by other influencers in your niche? Probably not!
When you attend a job interview, there’s often a particular skill set that your potential employer is looking for but more important than that, and especially in this industry, you need to show range and versatility.
Believe me when I say that I have Instagrammer’s regret on a number of my earlier static posts!
While it’s often difficult for me to make time to work between being a busy mom of an active toddler, making meals for my family, and maintaining my home (which I’ve actually FINALLY got under control now – check out my post on One Simple Rule for Maintaining a Showroom Home), lining products up and placing them against the wall is a MUST NOT when working with brands!
I’ve done it and I REGRET it! There is virtually no creative thought put into this!
I know our lives get busy, especially as parents, but when you agree to sign on for a campaign, really think about the brand your working with and what you can do to make their product shine. Because if they shine, you shine, and you might even get featured on their Instagram page or website!
(6) Think About Your Feed While You’re Creating Content
Some of you might be wondering what I mean by this!
Remember how we discussed Rotating The Type of Photo You Post in How to Maintain a White & Bright Instagram Feed? This is something that’s also super important to consider while you are shooting your content!
Instead of shooting flat lay after flat lay, try including people in your shot or even better, yourself!
I cannot tell you what a gamechanger this was in my own Instagram journey.
Side Note: before starting Nikki Blogs and my personal Instagram account for it, I started on Instagram as a Vegan Foodie! However, that all changed (for obvious reasons, haha) once I started craving meat again during my pregnancy (I’d been vegan for more than four years before that time due to health reasons when I experienced a cancer scare).
Over the course of running this account, the number of times followers asked to know more about me was outstanding. But I’ll be honest, at first, I found it strange!
Why would people want to know more about who I am? Why aren’t they just interested in my recipes?
Because Instagram is a social platform and people are naturally social!
But back to thinking about your feed!
If possible, shoot your content in a couple of different styles: include yourself in some, props in others, etc.
And if you want to do a flat lay, go ahead and do a flat lay, haha!
I find that I like to organize my Instagram feed by rotating busy and simple photos as well as rotating those with clean white space with those that lack it.
If you have two photos of you sitting on the left side of your child, for instance, break it up with that flat lay or an inspirational quote, if you like to include those in your feed.
Pro Tip: download the Preview App to plan your feed in advance! This is definitely in my top two for most used Apps when it comes to maintaining my Instagram feed!
(7) Use White or Minimal Backgrounds
Invest in clean white sheets, foamboard, or poster board. These are all perfection Instagram Photography Props to help you get started in creating a more cohesive feed.
By setting your items (or yourself) in front of such backdrops, you can also usually create better bounce in your lighting.
Plus, rather than having clutter and/or unevenly coloured backgrounds for your shots, consistently shooting in front of the same or similarly coloured white backdrops is the easiest path to cohesion in your feed. If the colour does differ slightly though, tone it using the Brightness and Saturation settings in your photo editing software. Or, if you’ve already downloaded Lightroom, enable your go-to preset and presto, almost instant cohesion!
Note: some presets will still require you to tone saturation up or down; depending on their orange levels (or there lack of), skin tone is almost always the issue!
Check out my post on How to Maintain a White & Bright Instagram Feed for more tips on curating a beautifully curated Instagram page.
Featuring clean white space and minimal backgrounds has the ability to bring your Instagram image to “am I looking at a professional advertisement” level.
Pro Tip: when shooting, be sure to photograph using different zoom settings.
There is nothing worse than taking the perfect shot only to realize, oh no, you are too zoomed in and won’t be able to crop the image as a square!
But, Nikki to the rescue! I found an app to save the day!
If you haven’t tried it yet, get Recrop NOW! It’s the very best $2.79 Canadian I have EVER spent!
Recrop saved my behind just recently when, after shooting content for a sponsored post that was due that night, I discovered that the perfect photo (featuring my little girl) was too zoomed in and would not fit in a square format!
I was desperate looking for answers and stumbled upon this incredible little find.
Recrop essentially copies the excess space on the edge of your photo frame and builds your ideal photo shape.
So, next time you have a photo emergency and are looking to repair the perfect shot, look to the left, right, top, and bottom to see if you’ve captured any minimal or clean space and use the Recrop app to help you build your winning image!
What are you favourite methods for shooting content for Instagram? What are your favourite tools for editing and planning ahead?
Have you tried Instagram TV yet? Check out my post on Why You Need Instagram TV for Your Blog to get started with IGTV now!