An “On Point” Insta in 10 Steps.

August 9, 2015

For many of us, Instagram is by far our most checked social media platform. While I know very few people who boast the like/follow rankings of a celebrity or major fashion bloggers, it’s clear to see that there are posting patterns among users. Many people I know who have considerably high follower counts (for normal peeps) are extremely selective Instagramers, posting only once every few weeks, and usually receives 100+ likes on a photo. While its nice to get a lot of double-taps on a photo, having a great Instagram isn’t all about the likes. Instead, if you want to have a dope insta, you should be focusing on your feed. How do your images look as a whole/collage? Lets work on it together, shall we?

Step 1: Lets keep it fair and SQUARE.

My sister Katie proclaimed that she had found the secret to having a good Instagram the other day: stop using “square ready” (i.e insta-size.) She’s right. If you look at any of the big bloggers, most of them don’t use it. Now I know the struggle of having that freaking amazing rectangle picture that just doesn’t look right when squared. The solution to this problem is to make sure whenever you take pictures you’re using the square format, that way you never have to worry about downsizing. Another route would be to start a VSCO account. I am OBSESSED with VSCO because it allows you to create a collage-like visual display of your photographs without a like or follower count. You can also format your photos anyway you like and they align. If you have a legit perf rectangle photo that simply cannot be cropped: VSCO. If you like using square ready/insta-size, just make sure you add any filters before adding the border. There is nothing that looks worse than a filtered white boarder. Also– it’s best to go all or nothing, white boarders look cool when all your photos have boarders.



Ever since Instagram started allowing rectangle photos there is absolutely no reason to have a white background.

Step 2: Pick a filter and stick with it.

With so many *wonderful* apps and filters, its hard to choose just one. After all, how can you be so sure that every photo will look best in that filter? The simply answer is that you can’t be entirely sure. However, once you start using a single filter you’ll realize how much better your feed looks as a whole. I personally use “F2” on VSCO for all of my photos. I started a couple of months ago. If one of my photos looks better without a filter, I’ll take advantage of the opportunity to adjust the intensity of the filter, that way the photo looks good with the rest of my collection. Lauren Conrad uses Valencia. A lot of bloggers have a singular filter or a collection of filters they use for their photos. Damsel in Dior and Peace Love Shea both use LookSee, which is an awesome filter app. Whats your filter? Play around a little.

My former roommate Amanda Shelly uses “reyes” and her feed always looks awesome. (see below)

Step 3: Look for photogenic shit.

As lame as it sounds, explore a new area, and keep your phone in your pocket as you look for things to take pictures of. You can’t walk a mile in Boston without finding something interesting or beautiful enough to photograph. You might have some misses, but just take the damn pictures. The more you practice the better you will get. I look for cool buildings, interesting displays, landscapes, storefronts, and unique signage. Sometimes my friends look better than I do, maybe they are eating something cool, maybe they have awesome jewelry. I’ll post a picture of them. A bunch of studies have shown that the pictures that receive the most activity online are selfies, but if you’re constantly posting pictures of your face I’m going to unfollow your narcissistic ass. Theres a difference between confident and cocky and the line is definitely only posting pictures of yourself to Insta.

Step 4: DO photogenic shit.

Is it lame to “do it for the insta”? Well, maybe. But at least you’re doing shit! My cousin/bestie/former roomie Melissa was one of my first friends who pushed me into the water, told me how to pose, and took photos of me. She said it was her duty as a friend to help me get awesome pictures. It’s all about having NO SHAME. Those with no shame always have the best pics. It’s easy to do photogenic stuff. It can be as simple as ordering a cappuccino FOR HERE, and taking a photo *in good lighting* of your arm candy/clutch game, a magazine or book, sunglasses, or your bestie with said cappuccino. Best photos are taken from bird’s eye-view. Also, Aimee Song (Song of Style) recently shared an amazing tip with Who What Wear: when going out to eat at night, photos are going to be really blurry if you’re trying to get a #eatingfortheinsta picture. The trick: ask your friends to shine their phone’s flashlight onto what is being photographed, then you take the picture with no flash. Yeah, mind-blowing.

Step 5: Be selective of your selfie.

I’m not ashamed to post a good selfie, but it has to be creative. I don’t need to see a picture of you smiling with a “wow today is wonderful” caption. If you’re going out that night and look hot AF, post your selfie. Lets see it. Just be selective. There are different kind of selfies: the one that says “I’m cute and idgaf if you like my selfie or not” and there’s the “please tell me i’m pretty I did my makeup just for this pic” selfie. Typically the message the poster is sending is pretty transparent. Just keep this in mind. This also applies to solo pics of yourself. There is a difference between being the center of an artsy picture because you’re on vacation and DGAF and another posting a fake laughing on the beach by yourself at least once a week.

BTW: Selfies with other people = way cooler.

Step 6: Post as you go and give no f*cks.

I know this might sound like i’m going against what I said before, but trust me I am not. We all initially loved Instagram because it was a way to share photos in a more creative and instant way than through a FB album. Now that we have #tbt and #latergrams we’ve lost touch of that a little. It used to just be the filters Instagram had to offer, and now it’s all about altering your body to fit an Instagram model mold. Post what you like, even if other people might not get it. If it’s beautiful and worth photographing to you, then that is all that matters. If it comes naturally your feed will probably end up looking amazing in the end.

Step 7: The bio.

I struggled with my Instagram bio for a long time. For one, I have a mildly irrational fear of looking like a basic bitch. Especially since the term fashion blogger is so freely used now. I always liked when people had cool quotes, but there was never one that stuck out to me. For a long time I used to list what I did, blogging, styling, student blah blah blah– but most of the people who follow me already know that shit. Instead I started to describe what my account consists of, which is an imperfect collection of clothes I wear, people I love, and the places in which I find inspiration. I linked my blog and my VSCO (which everyone should totally get on board with), and I list my location. Although most people know where I’m living based on geo-tags and about 50% of my flowers actually know me, people who might stumble across my account for the first time may be more likely to follow me if they see I’m posting from Boston. TBH location is cool only if to the average person your location is actually cool (if you think its cool then who cares what other people think?)

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Step 8: Background is EVERYTHING.

Unfortunately we are not all Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam who can literally travel all around the world taking pictures for Instagram in cute outfits. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have cool backdrops. A mirror selfie can look cool if the room the mirror shows is a cool room, and you’re wearing a cool outfit. If your room is a mess, it doesn’t matter that you have a dope quality phone and a top 10 outfit– your picture sucks. Take advantage of the backdrops you have, even if they are other people’s apartment’s and houses. Your shoes look cooler on funky tiled floors. Your Free People dress looks better on the beach or in a natural setting. Your heels look better on the city streets at night than they do in your Mom’s backyard. If you see a cool colored wall, I just hope you’re wearing an outfit that it compliments! Stop and take pictures– look at Julie Sariñana in front of these pineapples! Also, simple doesn’t have to be boring– her jean jacket is amazing.

Step 9: Show off your besties.

As a blogger, a lot of my followers don’t actually know me personally. In order to show a glimpse into my actual life, I like to show off my friends. If you’ve seen my Insta, you probably know who my closest friends are– at least the one’s who I see often/live in proximity…. in other words, mostly Amanda, Nicole and my sisters Taylor & Katie. The people you surround yourself with are representations of yourself. Position your peeps and be the director of the shoot. Sometimes the best shots are the ones you take, not the ones people take of you. And if you took a cool photo of someone else? Post it. Instagram is a PHOTOGRAPHY app, not a modeling agency. is always with BFF @Carolinevreeland is always with BFF @Carolinevreeland

Step 10: Follow accounts you admire.

Challenge yourself to branch out and expand your creativity. I love Sincerely Jules and Damsel in Dior. Their accounts definitely help inspire what I post. They taught me to post what I like and not just what other people will like, but also how to do a great flat lay, outfit photo, and that flowers always look good in pictures. Some of the best accounts don’t even necessarily have a ton of followers. Occasionally I’ll (I suppose creepily) look through who certain bloggers and fashion icons follow. Some of them have the greatest accounts and under 5k followers, simply because they aren’t super publicized. I’ve been particularly impressed by the Paige Denim corporate team, so random right? You’ll start to notice how attentive these people are to detail, you’ll see the kind of beauty they see, and you’ll never forget to get a manicure again.

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Helpful links:

Tips from Lauren Conrad

Famous Instagram tips from Business Insider 

8 Genius Instagram Tips from Aimee Song on Who What Wear

More about Mackenzie

Retired scene queen living in Astoria, New York with my boyfriend Ben. Accidentally started blogging in 2011, haven't stopped since. Lover of Nutella, hater of white jeans after labor day. Graduate of Suffolk University with a degree in Sociology. During the day I work for Petrossian Caviar, the world's largest caviar supplier and buyer. I have a wonderful life, and I'm excited to share it with you. Also, I have seen every episode of Law & Order: SVU.