So you're new to Instagram and want to create a loyal, invested following? Or you've been a fan of IG for years (like me!) and simply want to up your gram-game?

In the end, Instagram should be fun, or you won't keep up with it and ultimately will miss out on growing your audience.

Try these simple guidelines for taking beautiful photos that will grow your audience and create opportunities for meaningful dialogue.

1. Capture relevant, compelling subject matter

If you're a lifestyle blog, try to illustrate your lifestyle aesthetic with photos that uniquely showcase what makes you you. Good examples of these are A Beautiful Mess, Oh Joy and Lynne Knowlton.

It's important to be intentional and thoughtful with your posts (and captions!) - your followers will thank you! If you aren't sure if a post is potentially relevant, ask yourself "Does this welcome my followers to engage with me? Does it help build my brand and personal aesthetic?"

If the answer is "No", or "Meh", maybe hold off on that post.

2. Create a consistent, appealing palette.

Figure out what visual palette speaks to you (whether it be muted whites and neutrals, bright pops of color, or an eclectic combination), and commit to it.

This is not to say that every photo should look the same, but that your grid should clearly communicate your aesthetic to new viewers. I'm much more likely to hit that "follow" button if it looks like someone has their act together and a clean, well-executed vision.

3. Make your photos look their absolute best.

This is perhaps the most important factor (this is a visual medium, after all) and I can't stress it enough! If you're serious about using Instagram to boost your online credibility and business or blog, invest in a good camera or a phone with great photo capabilities.

There are a flippityjillion photo editing apps available, so take some time to find one you like and learn how to use it. I'm not a huge fan of filters, but the tools on VSCO are easy to use and make a huge difference in the quality of your finished photo. Instagram has added a comprehensive panel of tools, so if you're not into additional steps, no worries! Here are a few things to keep in mind when editing:


Frame your photos in a way that highlights your subject. Using negative space in an interesting way is something I always like to do, when possible.


No one, and I mean no one, wants to look at a grid of poorly-lit, sad-feeling photos. Something that makes Instagram a unique and compelling platform is the power of visuals to elicit an emotional response in your audience. Use proper lighting to convey a positive feeling, rather than creepy-basement-feeling.


Depending on your aesthetic of choice, you may wish to bump up the saturation (tastefully) or add a teeny bit of fade. Again, less is more here. I adjusted the tint and brightness here as well as bumping the contrast a tiny bit.

In the end, Instagram should be fun, or you won't keep up with it and ultimately will miss out on growing your audience. Do what's best for you and your brand! I also highly recommend following other accounts that are in your brand wheelhouse. There's no better way to learn!

Good luck!