Instagram. In the past few years, the Social Media platform has gone from a place for your grainy smartphone photos to a professionally curated feed. And part of getting that ‘look’ on your feed comes not only from consistent branding but from having a good ‘theme’. So here’s your ultimate guide to creating and curating your Instagram Theme.
Branding: Keeping up with your brand is key!
The main reason you’ll want an Instagram Theme is to ensure consistent branding. Just like your website has a consistent font, look, and colour scheme (and if it doesn’t, I highly recommend you do this), you’ll want people to look at your photos and recognise them as yours. Whether it’s a place, style of photography or way of editing, keeping up with your brand is a great way to start building an audience.
Decide what you want to do (and make sure you stick with it)
This is the most important aspect of creating an Instagram theme. Are you all about food, travel, cats… or succulents? If you’re not sure on what your ‘niche’ should be, I’ve previously written a guide on how to find your Instagram niche and so I won’t be going into too much detail about what you should post.
But, if you’ve not got enough time to read the article, then the advice given is basically this: find out what you like most and post about that! That’s [mostly] the essence of the post. Whatever you like (ie food, travel, European history, street photography, urbex), you’re sure to attract followers who also enjoy the same things.
When you’re first starting out, it’s fine to experiment with your feed and try new things. Scratch that, it’s always worth trying new things with photography. However, that being said, once you’ve got an audience, they’re going to expect a similar quality of photos each and every time. So for me (and my travel/ history/ dreamy places theme), that means things like no selfies with my dog (no matter how cute he is) or overly grainy images. Over time, you’ll be able to work out what your audience likes and doesn’t like.
Remember that collages DON’T work well
Part of having a theme means that all of your photos have a similar look and feel. It also means that when your feed is viewed in the ‘grid format’- where all of your photos can be seen at a glance on your profile, you have a certain ‘look’ that your audience can expect if they choose to follow you. Collages, no matter how pretty they are, don’t really work in this format as the individual photos are too small to be seen. Try to avoid collages if you can.
Only post your very best photos!
Notice how I highlighted the word ‘best’. It’s because I mean it. And I mean it very much.
Practice editing (on a daily basis if possible)
And while we’re on the subject of the photos themselves, make sure that you’re constantly improving, practicing and reading up on photography. If you’re short on time, consider practicing your editing skills on your morning commute or during your lunch break. You don’t need a whole load of time, only a bit.
To filter (or not to?)
Some people swear by filters. They maintain a clean and consistent look by constantly using the exact same filter. Personally, I don’t really like using photos, preferring to edit everything ‘by hand’. Until recently (a month or two ago) I edited everything on my phone using these free smartphone apps.
Now, I’ve started using Lightroom and I’m noticing a huge difference in what I can do. If you’re able to, download Lightroom and edit photos in RAW. They have student discounts available and there’s a free trial available for if you’re not sure whether you’ll like it or not.
Plan your feed
If you’re really serious about curating your Instagram theme, then you may want to consider planning your feed. I don’t really do this, preferring to post whatever I like the most, or what I think people will find most interesting.
However, I have plenty of friends that plan their theme out in advance, to make sure that they get the right look. Although I don’t really have time for this (and it’s only Instagram, after all) I’ll try not to post very similar images in a row. For example, I wouldn’t post two sunset pictures of the Eiffel Tower close together!
Perfect your caption & complete the story
Perfection your caption is key to creating your Instagram theme, and yet it’s something that many people miss out on. A picture may tell the story of a thousand words, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write anything. Add information in your caption that will enhance the story your images are telling, or simply write a small comment that gives people an idea into who you are or what your brand does.
Again, adding a caption is all about branding. Personally, my theme is all about travel, history, and culture. I try and include some information on the history (a quirky piece of memorable information) or things you can see nearby each time I post a picture. Use emojis, tag people and just generally let your personality dictate how your caption reads.