Instagram has gone beyond what anyone could have imagined. It’s no longer just about showing pictures to your friends; it’s became both a representation of you, and your craft. Whether you are a photographer, foodie, filmmaker, fitness guru, scantily clad woman in a bikini, or any of the other seemingly infinite possibilities, Instagram is the place to quickly and efficiently let the world know what you are capable of. So, in order to get the most out of the app, let’s look at some best practices for curating a unique, attention-getting, and ultimately memorable Instagram feed.

Photo by Gian Cescon

Theme, Vibe, or Aesthetic—Whatever It Is, Stick With It.

Opinions vary on how strict you should be when it comes to a theme, but one thing that is unanimous among experts is that there must be consistency in what you post: your message has to be clear. If you are an artist, a business, or a brand, then specificity is something you are going to have to abide by. If you are a zany pie maker and that’s why you get followers, then you are going to have to stick with zany pies. If you aren’t an artist, your range might be a little less narrow, but still, there has to be a throughline. Perhaps this is an aesthetic with bright, cheery photos or maybe it’s using the same filter for all your images. Whatever it is, stick to your vibe—if your posts are are humorist, then your followers are only going put up with so many photos of latte art before they hit that unfollow.

Photo by Erik Lucatero

The Grid Is Your Showroom

When someone comes to your page and begins scrolling through your images, that is The Grid; it’s the overall look and feel of your profile. Where the consistency in theme could be thought of as a way to retain your followers, the grid is where you are going attract new ones. Ideally you want a cohesive flow through the scroll and—depending what you are trying to achieve—the order in which you post your photos could play a factor as well. For example, if you are a landscape photographer, too many pictures of the same mountain in a row isn’t going to excite anyone. It’s about consistency, not monotony. Think of The Grid as the quick and easy way someone can see what you are all about, and make your choices accordingly.  

Photo by ian dooley

Planniness Is Next To Godliness

Once upon a time, Instagram was about taking a photo, posting it, and checking your likes. Well, times are a changin’. Nowadays, it’s important to set aside a few hours a week to make a plan. Grid, theme, content, when to post, and how often; all of this, and more, needs to be factored in. There are even some Instagrammers who take into account the time of day they are posting in order to hit those peak scrolling hours. That’s part of the game now. So take your time to make a plan and decide what is going to fit the personality you’re working to establish.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Seriously, Stick With It

Whether it’s theme, vibe, style, aesthetic, your Grid, or how often you post, consistency is key. You might have taken the best photo ever and are about to win the award for the best photographer to have ever existed, but if it doesn’t fit in, I’m sorry, but you are going to have to resort to just showing people at bars instead.

Be Social On The Social

Your audience isn’t going to suddenly appear—you have to work for it. Follow accounts, comment on photos, even slide into DMs—for god’s sake, this is social media, so be a little social. And yes, we have all experienced with those random accounts that will follow you and like a few of your photos just so you look at their profile. Most of the time you don’t follow them, but sometimes, because you like what they are offering, you do. It’s part of the process. As a great Greek philosopher once said: if you have a killer feed and nobody ever sees it, does it really exist?

Photo by Tadeusz Lakota

The Road Is Long And Treacherous

Instagramming has become a skillset and crafting that killer Instagram feed isn’t going to happen overnight. And even if it does, in a few months—after you’ve actually been at it for a while—you’ll probably look back and think, “Wow, I had no idea what I was actually doing.” Because that’s how life works. So be patient, put in the time, study successful instagrammers, get feedback, and repeat. Yes, I realize this sounds to many like overkill, but if you’re one of those, perhaps the platform is not for you anyways. Either way, keep your head up, kid. Hard work pays off.