Hi loves! Today I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post written by the lovely Melissa Hebbe. Melissa is a social media coach and expert, and also happens to be one of my closest friends!
Because she knows a TON about Instagram (and I’m basically an Instagram noob), I asked her to come on here today and share her best Instagram tips for bloggers. I know you guys are gonna love this post and learn a lot from her. Over to you Melissa!
Your Profile Basics
If you haven’t already started an Instagram for your blog or business (no worries — no time like the present!), make sure it’s the same handle as the rest of your social media. It’s easier for your audience to find you and follow you if you keep everything the same. If it’s not possible to keep them all the same, try to keep each handle as similar as possible.
If you already have an Instagram account, it’s most likely a personal one, right? That’s ok! I recommend doing one of the following:
1. Go through your account and get rid of pictures that aren’t relevant to your blog.
2. Make a separate account for your blog.
If you want people to start taking you and your blog seriously, you have to look the part. So, if you have pictures from your high school days that aren’t relevant to your blog, go ahead and make sure you have those memories saved to your camera roll and then delete them from your Instagram. More relevant pictures for your blog will get people to take you seriously.
Now, you need a profile picture. Steer away from the logo and use a picture of you! On social media, people want to connect with the person behind the brand. If you would prefer not to use your own picture, you can opt for a fun lifestyle or product shot you’ve taken. Slightly better than the logo, but I still believe you should be in your profile picture.
Not sure what to do for your profile picture? Make sure your new pic:
1. Shows off your personality
2. Reflects your blog’s brand (we’ll talk about your Instagram theme in a second which can help with this as well).
Regardless of what you choose, your profile picture should be consistent with your other social media accounts.
Next up, your bio. This is where I see people flop the most. With only 150 characters and one clickable link, you have to make the most of it! The ironic part of your bio is that it should be more about your blog’s audience than about you.
For instance, are you a blogger teaching women how to show their personality through their makeup style? Are you a DIY skincare enthusiast sharing budget-friendly recipes your audience can make using their weekly groceries? That’s what you should be sharing in your bio. And a few emojis wouldn’t hurt either. I love using emojis in my bio.
You should also indicate in your bio what will happen if people click the active link — are they going to a YouTube video or your blog?
To wrap up, here are a few things to hit upon with your bio:
1. Who you help
2. What you do to help them
3. What they’ll get or where they will go by clicking the link
About that link. Are you using it properly? Your link should be directing people to exactly what you want them to see.
What did you post about recently? Was it your new blog post, but your link still goes to your standard homepage? Hold the phone, we need to do something about that to always make sure you are using a relevant link.
Yes, that may mean changing it more often than not, but if it’s leading your Instagram audience back to your website or e-mail list then it’s worth it! I highly recommend bit.ly to shorten the links and to also keep track of how many clicks you are getting.
Your Instagram Should Reflect Your Blog
Look at your current blog theme right now. Look at the imagery you use. What are the similarities? Do you use tons of white space or pops of colors? Whatever you use on your blog should reflect on your Instagram feed.
For example, I have a lot of white space on my website, and brown, gray, blue, and white are my brand colors. I transfer that to my Instagram pictures. Many of my pictures are taken with a lot of white space and my graphics use gray and blue tones to reflect my site.
Let’s Take Your Pictures!
I use either my iPhone or my DSLR (I use a Canon Rebel T3i!) If you choose to use a DSLR, play around with your camera and know the settings. Since all cameras slightly differ, I recommend knowing how to use the white balance, exposure and shutter speed settings – you can check your camera’s manual for this.
When you’re photographing your subject, these two points are key: Lighting and Composition.
Lighting can make all the difference. If your pictures are purposely on the dark side, then you may not have to worry about this. But if you use bright colors or a lot of white, you want it to pop. Good lighting (sunshine or a lot of lamps if indoors) can help with that.
No matter what I’m photographing, I always take the picture and then crop after. For so long, I would take pictures on my phone in the square setting, but I found this so limiting. Cropping later allows me to create an interesting composition if I choose to.
What makes an interesting composition? Try putting your subject off center or slightly cropping your image. The results are astounding!
First You Take, Then You Edit, And Then You Post
When I use my DLSR, I use Photoshop to edit my pictures. Fun fact: I have my Bachelors in Graphic Design, so having Photoshop was a must and still is for me. I’ve tried some of the free options I hear around the internet, but Photoshop is what works for me! Yes, it’s paid. But it’s a good investment for my blog and business.
For apps on my phone, I swear by Lightroom (which is also an Adobe product, but comes in an app version) and VSCO. Both are free, too.
For scheduling out my Instagram posts, I use Later, formerly known as Latergramme. I love using Later to schedule out my posts (and yes, I am a brand rep, but do not receive compensation for using them). I prefer scheduling my Instagram posts using the desktop version, but I also have the app because that’s how to receive the push notifications so you know when to post.
Hashtag it up! (Psst this is my follower secret)
You can use up to 30 hashtags for each Instagram post and if you’re not using all 30 — especially when you first start out — you are missing out, my friend.
I prefer putting all my hashtags in a comment after the photo caption, solely because it looks a lot cleaner. And if you share your Instagram photo to your Facebook page or Twitter account, all those hashtags won’t go with it, making that post look cluttered.
How do you decide which hashtags to use? Well, look at your blog audience again. What kind of advice do you provide them with — DIY face mask recipes, business tips, 30-minute meal recipes?
What kind of hashtags does your audience use? Make a list of them. They are probably going to be widely used hashtags, but that’s ok because we need them to find relevant hashtags.
Let’s say your audience loves drugstore makeup deals. You can try using #beautygram. Because that hashtag is decently large, Instagram will also suggest other relevant hashtags for you to use. Add those to your list and whenever you have some free time or feel like certain hashtags aren’t working, do a little more research into your audience. The more you know your audience, the more hashtags you’ll be able to uncover.
So, you’ve posted a picture… Now what?
You can’t just sit around after you post and wait for the likes, follows and comments to appear. You’ve got to do a little networking.
Those hashtags I mentioned earlier — scroll through them and interact with the posts and accounts you like. Leave engaging comments when you can, like pictures that you love and follow accounts you are inspired by.
I like to spend a few minutes throughout the day, maybe while I’m taking a coffee break or waiting in a long line at the store, to scroll through Instagram and interact with others.
Keep it up!
Keep up with the consistent posting and engaging. In order to have a successful Instagram account to go along with your blog, take as much consideration when posting a picture and crafting a caption as you would when writing a new blog post. From my experience, a little extra effort goes a long way!
About the Author
Melissa dominates social media for small businesses, specifically in the fashion and beauty industry as that is where she spent most of her time before opening up her own business. While finishing her degree in graphic design, she discovered her true passion was applying design techniques to social media. She loves coming up with the perfect Instagram caption, and now consults with small businesses to help them gain traction on their social media accounts.
Melissa has an AMAZING free Instagram course to help you become an Insta-Pro in 3 days or less! Learn more about the course and register here.