instagram stories

3 (totally free!) ways to find great images that speak volumes to your Instagram community.

HOW TO LEVEL UP YOUR IG FEED WITH 3 (TOTALLY FREE!) WAYS TO FIND GREAT IMAGES THAT SPEAK VOLUMES TO YOUR INSTA-COMMUNITY.jpg

What images are the best to post on Instagram??

Constantly creating images that are eye catching to your community on Instagram is freaking exhausting at the best of times.  So how can we consistently post images that make our super fans stop the thumb scroll and pay attention for a split second??

Think about this:
Images that speak to what you believe in, what you stand for, and what you DO are always going to be the best ones to choose or create.  

If an image doesn’t connect your audience to you in some form or another - it may see some “likes” action, but ultimately, it will be forgotten about. 

For example: If your IG community consists of hundreds of women age 30-50ish who love homesteading and gardening and then you suddenly post an image of a busy city street...chances are they may not connect to that image.

But what if you chose that shot because you were travelling in the city and wanted to give a little update? Based on your audience, you might want to post something a little more community-focused like a farmer’s market or a park in the city (or maybe a backyard chicken coop in the middle of down town! Vancouver has those!🐔😂)
I’m not saying this is a rule that always needs to be followed (there are always ways to connect threads thru storytelling!), but my main point is about consistency and focus for your images! 


When you create or curate images, keep in mind what your Instagram followers love seeing from you the most. (And what they DONT want to see!). You want your images to be able to stand alone in a crowd - yet fit in with the rest of your feed. They need to make sense while helping to tell your story of what you do in order to be well received and engaging. Seems simple, right?? :| #notevenclose 

When I get stuck, I like to take a second to reflect on what works and what doesn’t.  
Any guesses as to what kind of images rise to the top of the highest engagement list??

Here is a screen shot of my top posts  - notice a trend?  Apparently, people like to see ME!

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Take a second right now and open your Instagram Insights - scroll to where it says posts and view the last year of Impressions…. What images end up on top for you?  I’ll take a wild guess and say it’s photos of you, too. Was I wrong??


The fact is, humans want to connect with humans - not palm trees or coffee mugs.  I don’t think you need to post a photo of you every single day, but a good rule of thumb is that your gorgeous face ends up in one of the 9 most recent posts at any given time. 

So, now you might be saying - “You have the ability to take professional photos for yourself ANY time YOU WANT! - but what about me, the one who isn’t a professional photographer?  I’m not going to post a selfie every day!”

YES! what about you? Does that mean your Instagram is going to look half-rate because YOU don’t believe you have good photos?? No way. 

 

Here are 3 (totally free!) ways to find great images that speak volumes to your Instagram community.
 

1)  ok, not so outside the box ... take your own photos!  Use your smart phone.. but instead of using the Instagram app camera and posting your image as soon as you’ve taken it - use the iPhone/android camera app and get creative with your composition.  AKA - move your body to create a pleasing image in your frame (see my Instagram highlights “Tutorials” for a super easy step by step tutorial on shooting your own images via your smartphone!).

Once you have your shot(s) - open up a free editing apps like @vsco , or  @acolorstory  and import your images.  Play around with the editing to something you think looks good to you.  This is a practice. Choose an edit or filter you like and stick with it for a while!  Editing your basic shots will elevate your ho-hum iPhone images at least 10x!  

I could go on for days about editing, and maybe I will soon if there are lots of you with questions - but for now, play around!   Import old photos and see how they look with a fresh edit.  Sometimes all you need is a little brightening of whites, or a slight fade of the shadows for a more muted look. 

*Bonus Tip* I've been following @preview.app for a while and they have such a cool tool for planning your feed AND adding edits to your photos so they all are cohesive.  Because I do my own edits via a professional program, I don't use the app often but I've seen amazing things by others who do use it!


2)  Use other accounts’ images with credit & permission.  This is a little tricky sometimes because of the business of Influencer marketing on Instagram.  It also depends on your intention of your post.  If you make ZERO mention of the original poster and claim the image as your own - you’ll be in trouble.  
As long as you are:

  • Asking if you can use their image! Always DM the owner before taking a screen shot and saving their image.
  • Giving the correct person credit for their image!  There are always exceptions to every rule, but for most people - a clear tag and recognition is usually welcome.  Especially when someone else connects to their image and shares it with their community. For them, It means further reach and possibly gaining new like minded followers too.  
  • Again - I can’t stress this enough - always ask first!! 

    (Another good way to build up a bank of images you love on Instagram is to save them as you scroll through by clicking the little flag in the bottom right corner of the image.  I have 100’s of images saved, mostly hair colour inspo! lol.)

3)  Use a website like Unsplash to find unique images that speak to you and your community.  I love Unsplash because they literally give you the credit info as soon as you download an image (FOR FREE I MIGHT ADD!)  It’s so simple to copy and paste that info right into your phone, or scheduling program if you use one.  My best tip for using Unsplash is to look for images that you could’ve taken possibly yourself first, so that the images you post that you DO take yourself don’t look totally out of place next to the pro image.  

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Visual Styling + Organizing Your Images: 

I’d like to get into this a bit more on a different blog post, but just quickly: 

Once you have a nice bank of images going, download a scheduling app to your phone so that you can play around with the visual styling aspect.  I use Planoly, but apps like Later or Buffer are great too. Or maybe give the two in one apps a go like @acolorstory or @previewapp like I mentioned above!

If your Instagram grid/bio looks intentional and well planned (but not perfect!!), it will attract more people to pay attention to who you are and what you are all about. They will view you as someone with more knowledge in your niche and look forward to seeing more posts from you.  

We are all visual people who appreciate thought and care.  When an IG feed is laid out in a pleasing way, it will ultimately help turn those chronic scrollers into raving fans. Humanize your account as much as you can and you will see what I mean.

Last tip! 
Experiment, experiment, experiment - but stay consistent.  Try out a certain editing or image style for a while before you ditch it completely.  And take tons of photos throughout your day!! 

Any questions about this? Feel free to comment below or send me a DM on instagram.  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas around what images work best for your Instagram!

xo
Lindyn

 

PS!  If you’re having fun with these blogs but are interested in getting more training - feel free to join the growing list of lovely solopreneurs looking for Instagram guidance! It'll be a small yet super impactful online course that I go into detail about here.  Sign in and i'll keep you posted on the launch!

Images from the lovely Leah Goard's Business Brand Photography Session.  Check out more images and how she used them on her website here: leahgoard.com

5 Reasons to Post To Instagram Stories ASAP & 3 Bonus (Super Easy) Creative Instastory Design Hacks

Not to put any pressure on you, but normal Instagram post engagement (aka, people seeing your stuff) is literally tanking for everyone right now. And instead of being mad about things we can not control - algorithms! - let's focus on what IS working!!
 

Instagram Stories!
 

Stories is where I will keep my community connected to the “real me” and show what ever is on my mind that day, or where I’m going, or post questions I have specific to those who see my posts (HELLO POLL STICKER!!).  Its a great way to show valuable content that doesn’t necessarily fit on your feed (I’ll talk more about this in another post! for now, lets talk about stories!)

If you’re just getting started now or maybe you just need a refresher guide - here are a few key pieces to remember when you plan to hop on the #instastory bandwagon and get your business creating stories daily.

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Top 5 Reasons to Post To Instagram Stories Now (don't wait!)

  1. CONSISTENCY IN YOUR BRAND!  Instagram stories is a fantastic place to continue your brand story and be recognizable.  My tip here is to keep it simple, and easy to read/follow. Remember your instagram story clip is only 8-15 seconds long so avoid cluttering up the “frame” space if you can help it.  Know what you want your audience to zone in on, and make sure it’s super easy to see/read!  I catch myself trying to add in so many cute stickers and emoticons when really, simple text will totally get my point across and not have anyone confused in the process.   <— A quick additional point: if you don't know what you like - watch other accounts you love and see what they do!  No need to be a copy cat - but pull inspiration from those who are already killing it on Stories.  I have a few ninja-tricks at the end of this post to add to this point!
     
  2. BE SEEN:  Even if you haven’t made a post in awhile, you can still create an Instagram story to help keep you top of mind to your audience.  FYI - you can see current stories by clicking the little coloured circles around the profile photos at the top of the “live feed" screen. The more someone watches your stories and engages with you via DM- the closer your account will move towards that #1 spot on their row of new stories.  Create great content that your people love and you’ll move yourself to #1 to be viewed.  
     
  3. HASHTAG HACK:  Instagram stories with at least one appropriate hashtag hidden in your photo or text  will get you more eyeballs on your stories. So choose those hashtags wisely!!!  You can simply use the text option to type one in, or the hashtag sticker.  Either way, don’t use a made up  hashtag that no one would be hanging out on - use this time to add a hashtag that is super specific to what you’re talking about, or who you want to see your story.  For example: When I used the #instagramtips hashtag in one of my Insta-story clips, it got 334 views vs the next clip when I didn’t use it - that got 288 views.  Worth it!!  
     
  4. LOCATION STICKERS:  If you don’t want to use hashtags all the time- and you’re a local business or want to promote local people - USE THE LOCATION TAG sticker!!!!!!   Seriously.. use it even if you’re not a local business because depending on where you are - odds are, you’ll get noticed/found through the curated location story… (click your explore tab to see what I mean - the city you can currently be found in should show up there for you to view)
     
  5. INSIGHTS ARE MONEY!  This isn’t a MUST know as you get started - but once you’ve tried out a few different story clips  - don’t forget about them!  You can analyze what did well and what didn’t using your Instagram Insights tool (for businesses only!).  Scroll to the bottom of your Insights where it says Stories.  You’ll be able to see how many people saw your stories, who tapped forward, or backward, or exited your story completely.  All of this info is MONEY in your inbox (aka - leads!) when you’re looking to create more value for your community.  Giving them what they love and using your expertise to serve your audience is the ultimate goal of social media!
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3 Bonus (& Super Easy) Creative Insta-story Design Hacks

 Here are a few NINJA TIPS to get you started!

  1. Some Instagram stickers have different colour options if you press them once. For me, I don’t always want my location to be the main focus of my story clip so I press it once, and then pinch it super small so it almost disappears from view.  Its still on the story so I end up on the curated story feed of that location - but it doesn’t clutter up my clip! (you can do this for any sticker or text)
     
  2. Use your brand colours!!!  Or choose colours you love and stay consistent.  I struggle with this because I love too many colours but I’m getting there!  One tip not many people know is that if you want to have a blank backdrop you can do so by taking a photo of whatever (it will get covered so it doesn’t really matter) and then choose the marker tool - choose a colour you like either from the dropper, the colour wheel or the ones pre-chosen for you (swipe left to see them all!)  Next, tap and hold the screen and voila! Your screen changes to that colour.  
     
  3. The most number of views will most likely always be on your first Instagram story frame.  I always use this one to set the tone and “title” my series.  People don’t want to guess what you’ll be talking about so make it easy for them to want to follow along.  (And remember to label any “sound on” shots with the sound on sticker so those who might be listening on silent, know to turn up the volume!)
     
  4. Bonus tip!  Press and hold the screen anytime you want to "pause" the story clip and read or take it in a little slower than the usual 8 seconds gives you.  If you want to write lots on YOUR post - make a little circle in the middle top or bottom of your page and specify "hold here to read".  Giving clear instructions are always welcomed by your audience!


Instagram loves it when we spend more time on their app - which means using all of the features they have available.  Using stories will help your posts, and posts will help your stories.  Use them together to keep everyone in tune with you and your business!  

I could talk about Instagram stories for DAAAAAYs, and maybe I will again soon - but for now, if you still haven’t really tested the waters with instagram stories - NOW is the time to do so.  You haven’t missed the boat, and the only thing that will happen for you is increased engagement to your account/profile!!! 

Any questions about this? Feel free to comment below or send me a DM on instagram.  I am happy to connect!

 

xo
Lindyn

 

PS!  If you're interested in joining the growing list of lovely solopreneurs looking for Instagram help - I am creating something just for you!  It'll be a small yet super impactful online course that I go into detail about here.  Sign in and i'll keep you posted on the launch!

PPS - check out @katherinepenfoldmusic on Instagram to see more of our sunset beach photoshoot! That woman is heartbreakingly talented - you'll see what I mean when you check her out :)

How To Create Instagram Captions That Attract Your Ideal Clients & Customers

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When I think of creating a "personal brand" for myself, I do cringe a little… ok, maybe a lot. Which I find funny because I absolutely love helping OTHER people find their brand identities and embrace their message… but for me? Nah, I’m good!

To be honest, I’ve prided myself on how much people don’t actually know about me.  Remaining “mysterious” was the ultimate goal.

“Keep them wanting more”  

“Don’t be an over-sharer” 

“Ooohh..don't share that, it's too much!”  

“Be careful how much you share about yourself, you don’t to give it all away for free”… (lol, take that how you want..!)

I used to tell myself these things allll the time and all of these stand out as huge stories I’ve been told over the years as well.  

The fear of being seen - and not accepted is huge for so many people, and I’m definitely an avid member in that club too.  

Actually, to take it one step further, I was voted in my high school graduation yearbook: “most likely to lead a secret life”.  I thought it was funny at the time - like I was a secret agent or something.. But in reality, it meant a life of keeping to myself and only showing those closest to me my true self. 

To be fair, there definitely is a worry for security reasons of how much one should share in detail about their life on the internet..but I think sharing stories vs sharing private information is confusing for most.

I like to do the "legacy test" before I post.  I ask myself "is this an image I feel comfortable with being on the internet for years to come?" and "Will I be ok if other people share my image, or use it as a reference about me or my business?" 

So here’s the real question.  How much is too much?  How far do you “have” to dive in to your story to make your client/customer/online community resonate with you?  From my experience, it’s not as much as you’d think but it’s also more than you typically feel like sharing.

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Telling a good story and allowing others to actually get to know you begins with knowing who you’re talking to first.  We’ve all had those people in our lives who can make any average experience relatable to us (regardless if we've experienced it) by the way they speak about it.  We also might know the people who drag things out and tell us WAY too much information that had nothing to do with the story in the first place (or so it seems!).  They often end up losing us in the process of getting to the point.

Yesterday, after dinner and kids were out of the way, I asked my husband how his day at work was.  He said it was pretty good, except there was a big issue with his computer and he found a way to fix it himself. He started to go into detail about this issue, and how he found the directions online, and how it worked out and why it was even an issue to begin with and then he stopped.  

Husband: “are you listening?! I hate it when you check out when I’m talking to you”..  

I’ll admit, I have a nasty habit lately of thinking he was done with the story long before he actually is…(I also typically have 1000 other things going on in my brain! hands up all my multi-tasking mompreneurs out there!)
Me:  “You’re right, I’m sorry.. but I seriously have no idea what you’re talking about and its hard to listen to!” 

Then it hit me. 

This is what people feel like when they can’t connect to your brand or business. They want to care, because their immediate perception is that your business offers what they want, but as soon as you begin to explain allllll the ins and outs to what you do or offer - the customer checks out. It’s too much, and unless they can see how it effects them in some way, or how they can relate - they’re not going to stick around. Same goes for your business Instagram account.. unless your followers can see right away how you're different than the average _______ (insert job title here) why would they take the risk of following someone they might not connect to? 


The moral of this story is that what my husband was saying was super valuable to him, and his coworkers because the problem involved them, not me.  But to me - it was all a bunch of jargon and I couldn’t follow along. Sorry hubs!
What we need to be aware of when we’re sharing our stories is HOW our community will relate to what ever it is we’re saying and how to connect the dots between us and them through our words.  Think about this before you create anything:

 Remember what you, and your community have in common.

  USUALLY - it’ll be the common problem that you help them solve. Think of what you thought was a problem, until you solved it - and now are helping others solve that same problem.  Speak the language you would as if you were explaining the solution over coffee with 2 of your close friends.  Use examples they would understand, but aren’t too “you had to be there” type of jokes.  It can also just be your humanness that they are attracted to.  Maybe you have a hard time with a very normal tedious task - they would totally be able to relate and will appreciate your willingness to "tell it like it is".

Always think about who is listening, but more importantly - think about who you WANT to be listening.  Telling your story, or stories that support your brand is 100% the best use of your time - and I feel like as long as you have a purpose and huge value to the story - it’ll hit home with someone.  Adding details is necessary, but adding unnecessary details are not.  That filter strengthens with lots of practice, so get to it!

Above all else, remember this

You attract what you put out to the world.  Don't post or advertise things that you don't 100% feel passionate about and want more of.
 

This is a lot!  Of course, switching up your "brand voice" or your instagram captions isn't going to happen over night - but making the mindset shift and pushing yourself to share just a little more and a little more will ultimately help you hugely when it comes to connecting with your ideal clients and customers on Instagram.


Examples!
Surface Level Captions VS Storytelling Captions

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EX #1: I posted This photo on my birthday a few weeks ago.

Typical surface level caption:
“It’s a chilly february day over here on the west coast but I’m feeling good! I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday this week also! Hope you guys are having a great day!!” :|….

Story telling caption:

Growing up with a birthday in February, I always felt so envious of my friends who could celebrate in the summer.  Pool parties, beach parties, BBQ’s.. all the things you CANT do for a February birthday.  It may be -2 and calling for snow this week, but I am determined my birthday will be a celebration I look forward to, just as much as those summer days.  The weather wont hold me down!!!

Insight: SO, a big visual difference is the length of the post.  And I have had lots of my followers and clients ask me if sharing stories means they have to make long posts.. definitely not!  Impact in captions can be made with very little words sometimes.  It’s an attitude, and it's personality.  The first caption gave very little insight to me, or my life.  It feels surface, and lazy.  Sharing just a little morsel of information about how I FELT growing up with a February birthday was enough to connect me to my community.  Maybe they feel the same?! Or maybe they can sympathize because their summer birthdays rock?!  Either way.  It’s not a novel, but it is a bit longer and more insightful than the first caption. 

 
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EX #2: Selfie I took with my iPhone.

Typical surface level caption:

“I love my new hair done by my friend @______! She always makes me look good.

Story Telling Caption:
“Wooo!! New hair! Getting my hair done always sparks my motivation to get a new head shot photo.  I do try and use my pro camera, but sometimes pulling out my iPhone is as far as I go.  For this shot I sat down beside the window in my bedroom and against a blank wall. Natural light is ALWAYS the way to go!!  One thing I always remind myself to do is to look at the “camera”!! It’s the little black dot at the top of your phone, NOT your screen.  Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Insight: I took it further than the first caption, but I think it shows my personality just as much as the photo does. I wanted to give my community value and still allow them to “hear” me speak.  Using words like WOO!! or Hell YA! or YAAAAAS.  all of those I use in real life, so its natural for me to use them online as well.  Then of course, adding the little selfie tutorial will add value to

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TSLC: Working from home means I get to drink wine, eat chocolate and hopefully not make too many spelling errors!  Happy Saturday night!

Storytelling: You guys do your business planning with wine and chocolate too, right??  Saturday nights sure have changed over the years :P

Insight:  These two are similar, but my storytelling caption was written as if I was talking over a glass of wine with a friend VS. saying exactly what was going on in the photo - in my caption.  My followers have eyes, they can see what the photo looks like so no need to be super literal.  I also think it adds personality to an otherwise generic photo.  Generic isn't the issue - because I want my followers to be able to relate, but adding in my voice makes it that much better. (In my opinion!)

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TSLC: I love getting outside with my kids when it's this nice out!  We had an awesome walk in the empty land next to us. Hope you guys had a great weekend!

Storytelling: Teamwork!... until someone's doing it wrong...

Insight: This image was so great on it's own that I didn't want to overcrowd it with tons of words.  As a parent, watching your kids do something together as a team is so rare sometimes :P  I wanted to speak to that and create a bit of humour/insight with my caption.  It's a lot shorter than the typical surface level caption and it gives more personality.


Do you have a post you want some help with?  Find me on Instagram @lindynwilliams and send me a DM.  I'm happy to help caption with you - and guide you to find your voice online!

If you felt this super duper long form blog was worth your time - let me know!  I am currently creating an online e-course specifically for this topic and I would love to know how you feel when you create Instagram posts.  Feel free to DM me, email me or find me here on facebook and let me know how I can help!

xo

Lindyn