The first half of this year has been full of change, from moving in with Dan to changing my working hours, it’s been pretty go, go, go. Which has been great in so many ways, but it took its toll on my creativity, especially Instagram (I know, first world problems right? But I feel like you guys will sympathise with me here).
The flat is lovely, but actually quite tricky to use as a backdrop. I struggled for a while to figure out where to take pictures and even then – what pictures to take totally eluded me. I was still trying my best to post daily, for a variety of reasons but mainly because I thought I ‘should’.
I ended up panic posting a lot, and showing up half-heartedly.
I love the community aspect of Instagram so a lot of the time I just wanted to pop in regularly and chat, feeling a little despondent about the actual content I was posting.
It wasn’t until I attended Dom from All That is She’s talk at Blogtacular that I started feeling passionate about Instagram again. I also went back and looked over my early notes from Sara Tasker’s Bloom & Grow course which I did last year, and this was also incredibly helpful (courses like this are fab to return back to).
There are a few key things I did, and while I wouldn’t say I’m totally back in the game when it comes to taking pictures, I’m definitely getting my groove back and am happy with how my content is looking. Here’s what’s helped me:
Narrowed down what aesthetics I like in my own feed
This is something both Sara and Dom have encouraged. Look through your feed and notice which pictures you like, and what the common thread is. As I mentioned in my Blogtacular blog, Dom got us to use the Mosaico app to put together our favourite images in a grid to make this easier to really see.
I reminded myself that I like neutral, warm tones, a lot of negative space, simplicity, interesting light, florals and portraits.
I think it’s really important to enjoy what you’re posting and to love what your feed looks like, so I appreciate this approach. It feels like it avoids any unnecessary comparison.
Took note of what does well on my feed
I also had a peek at Instagram analytics to see what ‘performs’ well (I have a business account because I find the analytics so helpful and haven’t noticed a difference in engagement).
I noticed here that in my case, shots taken ‘from above’, simple but creative flat lays and creative self-portraits do well. In terms of what metrics I look at, personally I think engagement, comments and saves are most important. It’s interesting to look at likes and reach, but engagement is the one for me.
I then smushed all these findings into different content categories for me to try and stick to. These are:
Self-portraits, creative portraits, branding photoshoot portraits… I genuinely like being visible in this way and as I mentioned in my self-acceptance game changers blog recently, I’ve found self-portraits to be hugely helpful in learning to love and accept my physical self.
In my hands
I’ve always quite liked my hands and am strangely drawn to images of other people’s hands too. Plus, it’s a pretty easy category to include, right?
Simple flatlays / from above shots
I’m not a big flat lay person, but the odd simple, creative flat lay is fun and does well for me (and yes, coffee and books are another theme I’ve spotted!).
A lot of my love for florals comes from the fun I had with them on Sara’s course. Once you see their creative potential, it’s hard to step away…
I also have a bit of a checklist going on in my head – does is have enough negative space? Is the tone right for my feed? Are there less than three key components? (All about that simplicity).
Stopped panic posting
This was probably the most important part for me. When I look back at the images I was unhappy with, almost all of them were ‘panic posts’ (when you feel like you *need* to post something but don’t have anything good enough, so post something that’s average).
Not every post has to be mind-blowing (thank god) but I was posting content I wasn’t happy with because I thought I had to show up daily. As soon as I took that pressure off myself and realised the sky doesn’t fall when you take a few days off, everything changed.
I became more conscious and considered about what I posted, I had things to say in my captions and I felt happier with what I was producing.
Continued to show up on stories
What helped me stop the panic posting was staying active on stories. I’ve always loved stories and think they’re a great way to stay in touch with (and in front) of your followers. I’m pretty much there daily, so even when I don’t post on my grid, I’m still able to engage with the community.
In a nutshell – I became more structured about what I post, and less structured about when I post.
Finding the time to take pictures has been my latest challenge, but I read this great post by Rabya at She Flourished about taking pictures when you’re busy af and will be taking her advice ASAP. The most important thing for me was to find joy in it again, and I feel like I’ve done that.
When creating for Instagram (or anywhere!) becomes hard work, inspiration dries up. Try to keep the pressure off, have fun and experiment. Figure out what you like and try outlining a few categories to help you find your style.
How are you finding creating for Instagram at the moment? Loving it or finding it a challenge?
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