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Tips to Uplevel Your Instagram

The app we all love to hate and hate to love. Whether you’re running a business, offering a service, an influencer, or just wanting to share your life with a bigger impact, stepping up your Instagram game with a few hacks can help you maximize your influence.

***just a little reminder, Instagram is JUST AN APP. It is not the be all end all. It does not define you. People with 1 million followers are not better than people with 100. You have a unique story, message, and audience, whether you’re speaking to one person or thousands.

That said, it can be a tremendously helpful tool when trying to reach an audience, tell a story, or offer a product or service. According to Instagram has 1 billion active users, it has the most engagement of any social media app, 71% of businesses use instagram, 83% of users say they discover new products or services on instagram, and Instagram helps 80% of users decide whether or not to buy a product. Needless to say, if you’re a brand or business that isn’t using Instagram to it’s full potential, you could be greatly missing out!

Ok ok so you’re convinced. Now how do we put this into action?

 And make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of this post for a discount code to all my courses on crushing Instagram!

1. Spruce Up Your Bio

Your bio is your handshake to potential followers. If you have a weak, sweaty handshake, no one is going to want to stick around. You get 150 characters to impress strangers and let them know who you are, what you offer, and how you’re different. Squeeze every ounce of potential out of those characters and use them to make a great first impression.

Here’s my bio:


How do you make the most of your bio?

Your bio should contain these things:

  • Your name

    • if your bio only has your business name, but I can’t figure out what to call you, and I show up to our photoshoot (heck, I probably wouldn’t book you in the first place) and don’t know what to call you besides “Through My Lens Photography”, it’s going to be real awkward. Plus, sharing your name makes you more relatable, which builds trust between you and your followers or customers.

  • Your location

    • without a location, followers have trouble relating (notice a theme? people want to relate to you!). If they’re booking you for a service, there’s no way for them to know if that’s feasible or not if you could be on the other side of the globe. Even if you don’t want to be servicing just your immediate location, include it for reference (or at least a general area!). It can also be helpful to include something about where your services reach. For example “based in the PNW but available worldwide!” if you are wanting to expand out of your area.

  • Who you are / What you do

    • a brief explanation of what you’re here for and what people can expect from following you. For example, my bio says “Traveling photographer and educator, shooting love stories and empowering creatives”. Even if it’s obvious from your photos, tell us in brief what you’re all about!

  • What you offer

    • If there’s a way to further explain your services or offers, add that here! I mention “presets available @dcpresets” as a way to provide a resource to my followers and share my offer. This is a great opportunity to offer a freebie, mention your services, promote a special, etc.!

  • Something memorable / Relatable

    • beyond your business, you’re a human. Other humans relate to humans, not businesses. People long for connection and the best brands are ones that connect with their customers. It’s important to add something unique, personable and relatable about the human behind your business. Maybe that you’re a mom, a dog lover, a whisky lover, a book nerd. Just show them you’re human.

  • A way to further connect

    • Instagram has made it easy with contact buttons and link fields. Make sure to open up opportunities for followers to further connect with you. Direct them to your website, provide a way to contact you, include links to resources, invite them to your email list, etc.!



2. Plan Out Your Feed

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I know it might seem silly, but trust me when I tell you , this matters!

Instagram is a visual app. People are able to take in information and impressions much quicker through images than words. Not only does this mean each individual photos should be intentional, but almost just as important is how they are laid out. If you feel like your content is great, but can’t figure out why your following isn’t growing, this could very likely be why. Potential followers visiting your page see your photos as one whole image. A grid of 12 photos appearing as a collage, that they glance at for a couple seconds (if you’re lucky) before deciding if they want to stick around longer, and ultimately hit follow. If your photos collectively don’t flow well, it won’t be attractive to a potential follower. I know, I know, lame. But it’s true. Try it out by browsing other feeds and notice which ones you’re drawn to and why.

The goal in laying out your feed is to break everything up. For example, as a portrait photographer, who shoots in a huge variety of landscapes, I try to break up: my distance to the subject (really close, really far, etc.), types of landscapes, colors, minimal photos vs. busier photos, black and whites vs. color, subject matter etc. I don’t want too many of the same types of photos next to each other, instead I alternate and create a variety so that the grid is broken up and your eye moves around freely. This also spreads your content to make the most out of less.

Some of my favorite apps are UNUM and Later. Not only will these apps help your feed look more visually appealing, you can use them to schedule posts to save you time! When I’m really on top of it, I like to plan out my posts for the entire month so I don’t even have to think about it!

3. Engage With Captions

I used to think captions were dumb and I would literally write captions like “captions are hard”. It’s true, they totally can be! But I was wasting a valuable tool. While it can be a challenge to come up with something new to write each time you post a photo, captions can be the perfect opportunity to connect with your followers! I once heard that captions should educate or inspire. This is something I try to keep in mind when deciding what to write. I think of my dream client and imagine what would best resonate with them. Then I try to inspire them with a story or something from my heart, or educate by sharing something like tips for brides, information for other photographers, etc. This adds another level of value to your page and all the more reason for people to follow you. Captions are also a great way to showcase who you are, what your brand is about, and hone in on your dream client by speaking directly to them. Additionally, you can use captions to invite followers into a conversation with you, where you can hear directly from them, and they can create a relationship with you.

4. Show Up On Your Stories


Instagram stories are a great way to show your face and personality, and connect with your followers. You can share pieces of your every day life without interrupting the aesthetic of your feed. This is a great place to show your behind the scenes, share your story and personality, poll your audience, ask questions, interact with followers, etc. There are so many helpful tools now to make this easier than ever! With features provided by Instagram, to some of my favorite apps like Unfold, Canva and WordSwag, you can easily create content that fits your brand, and shares a little more about you. Plus, stories are viewed more than posts on your feed, so take advantage of this awesome feature and show up to create a relationship with your followers!


5. Create Aesthetic Consistency

In addition to planning out your feed in a strategic way, it’s important to create a consistent and recognizable aesthetic. This consistency can be achieved by curating the subject matter of what you’re sharing, and how you edit your photos.

  • It’s beneficial to only share content that is relevant to your brand (or for photographers, we often say “only share what you want to shoot more of”. AKA stop sharing pet photography if you only want to shoot elopements). Another way to create consistency through subject matter is to stick to a color palette. My feed is primarily made up of earth colors, and sticking with those colors (and not dropping in a photo with a bright purple wall) is a way I keep things consistent.

  • Presets are a great way to create consistency, whether you’re editing professional photos, or iPhone images for your story or feed. If your edits are all over the place, your feed will seem busy and distracting. If you’re a photographer, potential clients will have trouble trusting your brand, because they won’t know what kind of edit they’ll get if they book you. By using a preset, you’re able to have a consistent base for your edits, so that everything appears consistent and it saves you time editing. I love using mobile presets on the Lightroom app so that my phone images are consistent with my professional images, and I create brand recognition, and trust from my followers and clients.

    Grab my desktop presets for professional images HERE and my mobile presets for your every day phone photos HERE.

    Use code INSTAGRAM for 10% off all presets


Check out Rise Photo Academy for tons of courses on how to Uplevel your instagram! Including: How to Craft Engaging Captions for Instagram, Elevating Your Instagram with Dawn Jarvis, Build a Personal Relationship with your Followers with Evie Rupp, Strategically Planning a Captivating Instagram Feed, and more! Try Rise for 50% off with code RISE50


For more resources on growing your instagram via hashtags, check out Pixpa's guide on How To Use Photography Hashtags On Instagram




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