Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 12/20/15 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.
I love Instagram.
Don’t you love to see interesting, engaging and impressive pictures?
So far, fitness buffs, fashion gurus and travelers have all discovered that Instagram is an amazing way to connect with their audiences.
But it seems most small businesses are lacking.
Don’t worry if you don’t think your business or venture is “Instagram-worthy.” It’s time to get out of your head and start making some magic happen.
Whether you have a physical product, retail store or you offer a service, you can use Instagram to grow your business.
You’ve just gotta know how to get the shot.
You don’t have to take a photography class to start sharing amazing images that will boost your brand awareness, conversions and drive traffic to your site. It’s really not rocket science.
Use these tips and you’ll be on your way to creating a wildly popular account.
Professional photographers can spend days planning out their perfect shot.
They explore different angles, scout locations and think about lighting. This idea can feel really overwhelming for most entrepreneurs.
After all, you’re running a business; you don’t have that kind of time.
Good news: You don’t need to spend an entire day taking pictures.
But you do need to get a general idea of what you want for your photos.
Think about what type of image will captivate your target audience. Consider how it will relate to your product or service – but keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be directly related.
Once you have an idea and location, do what the pros do – take a series of pictures.
Even if your first one is everything you ever hoped for, take at least 10 more. After that, you’ll have a wide selection of photos to select from.
Smartphone cameras perform best in well-lit environments.
Some apps, such as Cortex Cam, improve your ability to capture dark spaces, but don’t rely on it.
Outdoor lighting is the best way to take professional quality photos without investing in professional lighting equipment.
Shooting outdoors is still tricky, but knowing two terms will greatly simplify the matter: Golden Hour and Blue Hour (AKA: sunrise and sunset).
These are the best times to take pictures. If you want awesome lighting indoors, consider investing in a lighting kit.
Avoid the convenience of taking pictures through the Instagram camera. Instagram literally boxes you in – it’s part of their hallmark.
The 1:1 ratio is still standard when taking a photo within the app. Instead, use your native camera. And always turn it sideways.
Taking a wide photo will allow you to experiment more with each shot. Instagram allows you to “pinch” – or zoom out – your photo on the app. It creates a border around it so you don’t have to do any cropping.
Depending on your phone, you may even take higher resolution images.
When it comes to editing, go beyond Instagram’s filters. There’s a plethora of image editing apps that will take your pictures to the next level without having to learn Photoshop.
Here are my picks for editing your pics (I’m not affiliated with any of these apps):
Explore each of these apps in addition to Instagram’s infamous filters. With a little effort and playing around, you’ll end up high quality, captivating images.
Even the most beautiful image ever photographed is all for nothing if nobody sees it.
Hashtags and your description enable others to discover what you’ve posted. Using general industry hashtags is great, but ultra-specific hashtags will target specific audiences.
You’ll have to be involved in your community to see what specific hashtags people respond to, but it’s worth the effort.
Your description is what makes the picture part of your overall online presence.
The image will capture attention, and the description will draw the user closer to your brand.
Talk about what’s going on behind the scenes of the image, or how it relates to your overall business.
Geo tags aren’t hashtags, but they serve the same purpose. You can use them to tag your location and reach a specific audience.
For example, if someone follows a certain location that you have geo tagged, your post will come up on their feed.
Follow these tips for making the most of your Instagram photos and, over time, your Instagram will become a source of captivated users ready to become clients and customers.