So, a friend of mine is a yoga instructor who is on a mission to gain more education, full of tons of ideas, and considering starting to utilize Instagram for her business endeavors. I suggested social media to her while we were sitting on her kitchen floor, talking about yoga. I really believe that she could leverage social media for gain...I believe that is true for a lot of people, but I really feel like it could work for her. So she sent me a message with the ever-important question :
Before I jump into my answer, I want to get back on what the original topic of this post was gonna be : How do I theme my Instagram to build my following? If you google this same question, you'll find lots of information. The best one out there, so far, is Morgan Timm's tips on building an Instagram theme. I think she has a a really great starting point, but I want to expand on it. But first, my old Instagram feed from last year :
Ok, so this is what I was doing before : posting whatever the fuck I wanted from my life. I was posting, on average, 10 photos per day. According to every blog post on the subject (which I won't link, because just trust me that I've read several dozen), the ideal amount of posting to Instagram to build following is 1-3 photos per day. So in January, I started doing that.
Now, when you read about "theming" your Instagram, they often suggest you choose a color palette. That doesn't really work for everyone. Since I shoot Ohio nature, I can't rely on sunny beaches and turquoise sky to give me a consistent color palette. Ohio can be any number of colors, and also what about when I travel, like to the desert? So instead of picking a color palette, I decided to use my 2015 Best Nine for subject matter. I decided that 3 posts per day was too few and wanted to raise it to 4 or 5. And so, I chose the top categories of my 2015 Best Nine, architecture, portraiture, and nature; and I added a few I loved because I wanted to keep them. The remaining IG was cleaner, but still not great...
It was after a little over a month with the new plan and still having an IG feed that didn't feel "themed," that I realized I needed to go all in and make a big change. So I decided on 3 posts per day, always, and these categories : nature, portraiture, architecture. The funny thing about IG is while I do tend to use my nature shots to write about running (and the hashtags therein to draw in runners), I can use any photo to write about anything. I can post a selfie and write about yoga, or I can post a house and write about yoga. What matters most is consistency in theme. Using three photos a day, always in the same order, gives me less to post (and less pressure, honestly) and gives my IG a nice theme. So here's what it looks like now :
Architecture, Portraiture, Nature...houses or buildings or roads (or graveyards or architectural details); selfies, portraits, cats, pets, bands; and any type of nature, whether it be sky or trail or a detail shot. This is how I've managed to take the things I love, ignore the idea of a specific color palette, and still post about my lifestyle. I use the nature to write about running and then the hashtags from running bring runners to my account. I use the portraiture for anything, including selfies, and I can write about whatever...political issues, yoga, whatever. I can use the hashtags therein to find people interested in that. And then architecture, which I sometimes use for random thoughts. I know the hashtags that bring in the architecture junkies and I build my following that way too.
For anyone else considering theming their IG, I say, do it! It actually makes things easier, when you've narrowed down a focus. Unless IG is just your fave camera and life scrapbook. In that case, be yourself! If you're thinking of starting your business endeavors, consider that you can choose three topics and post about them with regularity and have a consistent and welcoming stream. You can post say; your pets, your loved ones, and your business endeavors, and it'll work. Saint Augustine and Suds is a local soap maker who posts lots of soap in the summer and holiday season, because craft shows and whatnot, and lots of family stuff otherwise. It works. It doesn't detract from her business at all and I think it's more endearing. I think that mixing business with lifestyle is absolutely possible and can work...
HOWEVER, if you feel like your business needs to have a different sort of style from your lifestyle. Like, I say, "Fuck," all the time and if I were running a business where I felt that was inappropriate, I'd want an IG where I could be myself and one with a business front. Personally, I think that sort of separation is a bad idea. I think your own personality should shine through your own business, but it is something to consider. If you really, really, really feel like your business absolutely must not cross over with your lifestyle, then have two IG accounts!
Finally, some tips:
Once you've made the decisions I wrote about above, chosen your three categories to theme your IG, then you might want to up your photo game and here is how:
Choose a consistent light source : Stop taking photos in creepy, dark corners with all the grain...or do only creepy, dark photos. But pick one. If it means you have to go out some day, when it's bright and sunny, and find a spot to take a handful of photos to use on dark, gloomy days, then do that. That's a part of being a good photographer and running a business. You gotta create prettier photos, be consistent with your light source, and find the time to make these photos.
Choose a consistent format : Either stick to square or don't. Going from square to not is annoying and not consistent. Pick one, stick with it.
Be cautious of how you use filters : You don't have to use the same filters, since they will give different types of photos different results. For example, Rise will brighten up trees so you can see their barks and make a forest look warm, but it will make clouds look slightly yellow and white out their centers for a weird HD effect. So use Rise for warm, brown and green nature shots, but not for bright, sunny, blue sky shots. You wouldn't want to use Rise all the time.
You might want to check out VSCO, Over, and Adobe Photoshop Mix. VSCO is more editing options, Over is a great way to add text (and little hearts over nipples) to photos, and Adobe Photoshop Mix is a fun collage app. But you can stick with only Instagram. I use only Instagram for 99.9% of my photos...more than that, since I only use Over for covering nipples!
Don't worry about the changes Instagram may or may not make. If you are posting consistently with quality photos and good words, people are going to engage and love you and find you anyway. Chronology be damned!