How to Stay Creative and Curate Your Instagram to Gain Followers

How to Stay Creative and Curate Your Instagram to Gain Followers

Anyone that has researched the best practices for gaining followers on Instagram knows that your feed and profile should follow a similar style. I absolutely hated this recommendation and came up with an alternative so I don’t feel so constricted creatively while still maintaining a curated profile.

Gaining followers on Instagram can be somewhat of a mystery but there are lots of resources out there that give you some best practices to follow. One of the most important rules to follow is to curate your profile and posts. You can do your own research into these topics but if you wanted to save some time just listen to Peter MckinnonJerome Courtial, or Chris Hau. I detested this rule, so much so that I stopped posting to Instagram for quite some time. I was fed up trying to turn my work into something I didn’t want it to be just to cater to the cliche “looks” we commonly see throughout Instagram.

After months of deliberation I found my solution; a way to post what I wanted to while still maintaining a curated profile. I present to you, “The Grid.” 

Alright I know this isn’t some huge innovation in the world of social media but it was a liberating thought and encouraged me to start posting again. It solved my issues of wanting to post photos from the tropical island of Bora Bora and the endless moods of Iceland. The majority of people that shoot travel photos on Instagram all follow these three rules in their editing style:

  1. Raised blacks
  2. Blown out whites
  3. Very de-saturated with hints of color

You can find endless profiles using this style throughout Instagram, including mine from time to time. This is what I call “The Instagram Look,” there is absolutely nothing wrong with it and I’m certainly not dismissing its aesthetic. Editing this way provides a lot of freedom for creating content as it does not require perfect weather, sunrise, or sunset. You can take photos and edit them to this look no matter the weather or time of day; actually moody and rainy weather tends to work better in this style. This removes a lot of restrictions when it comes to creating a steady stream of content. 

Personally I don’t want to edit in this style all the time. I love vibrant color tones in some of my photos just like I enjoy a good black and white edit. Curating my profile using The Grid really opened up some creative freedom for the content I wanted to produce while still appearing organized. I equate it to a themed gallery showing. I’ve accepted that if I conformed to the standards that I might be able to gain followers faster but then I’m just living my life for a follower count and I’d like to avoid that. I have come to the realization that my portfolio and social media work should be separate, something I will touch on in a future article.

What do you think? Do you feel constricted by the ideals of Instagram, and if so have you come up with any good solutions for yourself to post how you want but still have an eye catching profile?

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Kimbe Murray's picture

I made an account just to comment. I've been doing a lot of thinking/strategizing/planning/researching on how to approach, or attack this Instagram world for a few weeks but in intervals for a year. I've made changes after changes, tests after tests to instagram aesthetics: There just isn't a science in all this and things remain a mystery especially for people with a small following.

Whats frustrating is that all of these "6 ways to improve your instagram" blogs all say the same thing and use the same example - but i think they're only useful, really, to people who already have a decent following, because they are advising from, their perspective, not us small photographers/designers. Anyway these blogs are there to write what people want to see, which seems to be the same thing; rarely offering true authentic advice.

And like yourself I just cant stick to a "theme" or "look" as i find many looks very good and my interest in pallets change all the time - i'd feel so creatively constrained if i stuck to one theme. Over the last 2 days ive read some of your articles and they've been of much help so thanks... I have lots more to say but dont wanna bombard your comments. I'm gonna try offer advice to people like me, like you do, even if i dont have a large following (which to most people is a sign of credibility, understandably). Maybe one day you'll see it. Cheers Alex

Alex Armitage's picture

First of all thank you for taking the time to make an account just to comment on my article. I can tell you right now that there are no rules to follow, just good ideas. There are outliers everywhere and at the end of the day something might work for someone else that doesn't work for you just like you said.

Personally I've tried to adapt to the 'rules' that make sense to me but still do what I want to do. I appreciate you taking the time to read what I've written and even say it's different enough from all the "quick tips" articles. I personally don't have a large following in comparison to many. I'm still working on it though and everyone counts. However it's comments like yours that mean far more to me than my follower count so thank you.

Kyle Michael's picture

I know this is an older article but I wanted to say how much this resonates with me. Your article surfaced while I was brooding over how I can't post full frame (2x3) portrait orientation photos to Instagram and how irritated I am by the way my feed looks after I make "white-bar" edits to accommodate my stubbornness. I have a hard time as well with the suggestion of limiting my creativity in order to grow a following and get likes. I know it's valid, it's how people tend to use Instagram, I just need to work on being ok with the possible limitations of posting how I want and not having a theme to my feed. Thanks for the article