SO, YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY WHILE TRAVELING THE WORLD? TAKE THIS SHORT QUIZ AND I'LL TELL YA EXACTLY HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN ⟶

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Content that Will Explode Your Instagram Growth

By now, you know that being active on Instagram gives you an edge in getting recognized as the go-to leader in your niche. 

This little app not only afforded me the career of my dreams, it also allowed me the opportunity to help 1,000+ aspiring influencers & bloggers grow and monetize their Instagram accounts.

But with 1 billion active monthly users, you might be wondering:

  • “How do I start seeing massive growth on Instagram?”
  • “How do I secure brand sponsorship opportunities, like getting paid to travel?”
  • “How do I use Instagram to create a new income stream?”

The answer to all three of these questions lies in three words:

Create. Captivating. Content. 

Instagram was made for creators. But if what you’re creating doesn’t provide value & inspiration in some way, then it’ll be hard to build an audience – one that is engaged and loyal to your personal brand – and even more difficult to acquire paid opportunities. 

So, it’s a non-negotiable for bloggers, small business owners, and influencers of all sizes to learn how to create valuable content. 

This guide will help you master the art and science of creating high quality content for Instagram to help you see massive growth.

You’ll learn:

Fair warning.

This guide was intentionally written to fit the new “landscape” of Instagram in 2019, meaning it’s PACKED with useful information. It’s fairly long, so take your time with it. 

OK, ready?

Let’s go!

Perfecting Your Instagram Profile To Capture New Followers

Before we dive into creating first-class content, we need to ensure your profile isn’t lost on glazed-over eyes. 

Think of your Instagram profile as an entry-point into “your world”… where the goal is to convert visiting tourists (viewers that land on your profile) into patriotic citizens (engaged followers). 

If you’re a blogger, influencer or business owner (or aspire to be any of these), optimizing your profile first is essential to enhancing your visibility. Unfortunately, the same 4 mistakes are holding fantastic content creators back from reaching the follower and engagement levels they deserve!

4 Mistakes Killing Your Profile Visibility:

MISTAKE #1: Not using target keywords effectively

For starters, a lot of people opt to use their username or full name again in their Name Field (which is different from your @username!). 

You might be thinking, What’s wrong with that? Well, your Name Field is actually searchable on Instagram, meaning the content in the Name Field is “tagged” to show up in the app’s search navigation. 

So, the problem with reiterating only your name or handle is that it’s a lost opportunity on gaining visibility. The best strategy is to use targeted keywords in addition to your name – aka words that your ideal followers would be searching for on Instagram. Doing this also ensures that people coming to your page for the first time can see in less than a second what your pages is all about just from reading that name field.

Your target keywords should reflect:

  • Who your blog or business is for,
  • The product or service you offer, OR
  • The niche / industry you’re in

For example, @professionaltraveler is doing it right. She has her name plus TRAVEL so that her ideal audience and potential brand partners instantly know what topic she posts about. She also has SF in her title so that brands can see at a glance where she is based and potentially invite her to events.

@meganyelaney also totally nails the name field by introducing herself as a “Business Coach” and therefore, quickly addressing and showing the value she brings and what her biz is about.

MISTAKE #2: Uploading a basic profile photo

Your profile picture is sometimes the first image that tells new visitors who you are and what you’re all about. But, Instagram only gives you a tiny amount of profile pic real estate. 

So, you need to use what you got and get creative on how to stand out. Make sure your IG profile photo is…

  • Aesthetically on-brand: Your profile picture should be composed and edited in the same way that you’ve styled your feed photos. For example, if the colors in your photos are desaturated, it wouldn't make sense to use a profile photo that is overly saturated because it wouldn't fit your look & brand.
  • Bright & clear: Using a dark or unclear photo isn't the way to go. Choose an image that's bright and scroll-stopping.
  • Of you: Your audience wants to see your face as it makes the touch point more personal and memorable. This will help foster brand recognition as your followers start to recognize you on their feeds!

MISTAKE #3: Having a @Handle that screams “personal profile!”

What's the difference between these two usernames: Marieeee348 and MarieTravels ?

I'm sure you can agree that when you see the username marieeee348, you aren't as convinced to click the name and check out the profile because it's a safe assumption that her profile is a personal one.

More than making an assumption whether it's a personal or influencer profile, it's also about the ease with which you can communicate your username to someone else when they ask, “What's your handle?”

So: Avoid numbers, underscores and recurring letters (3+), and be aware of the ease with which you can tell your handle to someone else.

MISTAKE #4: Not communicating the value you offer

The last massive mistake that destroys your profile reach and ability to grow is failing to show your unique value in your bio.

Within 5 seconds of reading, your bio should be able to answer:

  • Who you are
  • What you do 
  • (Added bonus) The value you provide + why it matters

Now, armed with the answers to these classic mistakes, you’ll have a profile that’s primed for visibility in no time. Now, open up Instagram (assuming it isn’t already) and get ready to content plan like a pro!

Steal My Method For Developing The Ultimate Content Strategy

Having (and executing) an Instagram content strategy is what makes the difference between IG accounts that grow and become profitable vs. accounts that only bring in random clusters of likes and comments.

I'm sure you understand why that is, but are still wondering, “Ok, but what content performs best? What kind of photos should I post?” The truth is, the “best” content has a different definition for every niche and it all comes down to how your ideal follower defines “best”.

So how do you go about figuring this out?

Start by uncovering what goes into planning top quality (as defined by your ideal follower) original content:

STEP #1: Discover quality content

Begin by brainstorming a short list of influencers and other leaders that have inspiring Instagram accounts with a similar audience to your ideal one. This might take a little bit of exploring around. If you don't know where to start, search a hashtag in your niche (for example, for travel a top hashtag is #dametraveler). Then sort by “top photos” and discover some larger influencers.

On their account profile, toggle the view so that their feed shows each picture individually/fullscreen. Scroll through and take notes, screenshots or save any specific posts you think are brilliant (or have high engagement) by tapping the bookmark icon. You can even create a Collection to segment quality photos based on different subtopics within your niche.

For example, if you’re in the yoga niche you can curate collections based on a couple varying topics you post about such as “yoga for strength building” or “partner yoga ideas.”  Or if you're in the travel niche, you can curate collections on varying topics like “unique composition,” “landscape photos” and “lifestyle/travel.” This will organize your content research into “buckets”, which will come in handy during the creation process… more on that below!

Try to limit your Collections or “buckets” to 3-5 to remain as focused to your ideal follower as possible. 😃 Focused content = focused followers.

For example, when I first started my Instagram account and it was focused on travel, my buckets were: luxury hotels/resorts, scenic destinations and lifestyle/fashion.

STEP #2: Strategize future content

Once you’ve got a solid sample size of content that you think your audience will love, it’s time to dream up your future feed.

    • Review your notes, screenshots or Collections within the app and decide on how much content you’d like to plan for.
      • For example, let’s say you post Monday through Friday and want to plan for two weeks worth of content in advance. You know you then need to plan for 10 posts.
    • Make a list of the specific shots you want to take.
    • Then, plan out how you'll create the content by identifying the shots you want to take within those buckets and the locations you'll shoot them in.

It's one thing to do all of this planning in your mind, but it's MUCH better to make a plan on paper. You're more likely to stick to it! That's why I've made an epic, FREE content creation planner for you to start using.

Get it here!


STEP #3: Batch the creation process 

There are two ways you can go about the creation process: In-the-moment and batching.

Batching content creation is when you set aside a few hours (or even an entire day or two!) to take all of the photos you need. The photos you take while batching should be the ones you made a list of in Step #2. If you feel like the area you live in is uninspiring and you're not traveling anywhere “special,” I have a few suggestions:

    • Do some research on Instagram. Search your location on Instagram and sort by “top posts.” Look at the photos that catch your eye and save them to a collection on Instagram to reference later. Seeing where others have shot photos in your area will give you a ton of inspiration for where to shoot – maybe even some places that you've never thought of before!
    • Get creative & get exploring. Think about when you travel to a new location you've never been to – everything is new and exciting. But people that have lived there for years don't see that much magic or beauty anymore. Oftentimes, we get very jaded when we think about the place we live. Explore the place you live with new eyes and get creative about how you're shooting and editing. A great example of someone who makes even the most mundane places look amazing is @Tezza – she proves it's less about the location and more about the angle, composition and editing.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tezza (@tezza) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tezza (@tezza) on

  • Leave the area. No matter where you live, chances are if you were to drive a few hours away, you'd end up in a photogenic location. Take a road trip one weekend or, if you're able to take a few days off from work, plan a trip a bit farther away! Skyscanner is my favorite resource to find cheap flights – plug in your departure airport, put “Everywhere” for the destination and see what's reasonable to get to!

In-the-moment content creation is when you take into account your content strategy with your life’s schedule. If your niche is travel, this is very likely the kind of content creation that you'll be doing since traveling is full of shooting & posting on the go. When you do in-the-moment content creation, insert these photos between the “batched” content in a way that makes sense and looks consistent. I recommend using Planoly to plan out your feed visually.

Now, I'm guessing that your photography skills need a tune up? I got you, girl…

Rapid-Fire Tips to Instantly Uplevel Your Photography Game

Alright, here's a short list of things you can try in-camera and in post-production to quickly and dramatically improve your photography!

TIP #1: Mind your horizons

The most obvious (and most ignored) thing that will quickly ruin a photo is a slanted horizon line. If you miss it in-camera (which I do all the time), no biggie – you can fix it with an editing app. The Adobe Lightroom mobile app gives you grid lines so that you can make sure the horizon is exactly 180 degrees.

TIP #2: Create leading lines

Leading lines is a simple composition concept that uses vertical, parallel and diagonal lines in order to add incredible visual interest and pull someone into an image. Here’s a few shots for inspiration:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Christina Galbato (@christinagalbato) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by RENEE ✈︎ Travel + Nature (@reneeroaming) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rachel Bowler (@rachelbowler_) on

TIP #3: Avoid overexposure

An overexposed shot happens when too much light gets in. When part of an image is overexposed, you lose the ability to edit that area as all data in that area is completely lost. It also gives the photo an un-natural, “blown out” look that you absolutely don't want.

To avoid overexposure if you're shooting on a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, switch from shooting in JPEG to RAW and lower your exposure a little bit. Shooting in RAW will keep more of the data from the image and allow you to brighten the photo up in post-process.

If you're shooting on an iPhone, avoid shooting photos with the sky in it during mid-day because it will inevitably get blown out. Wait until late afternoon or sunset to shoot.

TIP #4: Choose an Instagram optimized photo size

Never upload a horizontal, landscape photo to Instagram. Just don't. Now that you're ready to see Instagram success, all of your photos from here on out should be shot in vertical. This is because you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention. A vertical photo takes up more real-estate on someone's home feed, which increases the chances of someone stopping to look at your image and read the caption.

And in terms of cropping, a vertical crop of 4×5 or 8×10 is Instagram size. 

How to Write Scroll-Stopping Caption Content

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but your caption content is still SUPER (super, super, super…) important!

Caption space provides an opportunity for your audience to get a deeper sense of your voice and personality – which breeds connection and ultimately, brand loyalty. Here are my top tips for writing epic captions:

TIP #1: Define your voice and personality on IG

If you’re not careful in solidifying a voice and personality for your brand, you can end up “speaking” in too many voices. This randomized and unfocused content confuses your audience and will make creating authentic connections all the more difficult.

Choose a tone that reflects a humanized version of your Instagram account. For some, your voice and personality will be exactly who you are on the daily. For others, you may decide that you want your blog or business to be an extension of you, but funnier or more sophisticated. 

My best tip is to choose 3 personality traits that you’d like to embody and connect back to these EVERY time you write a post. For example, mine are 1) authentic, 2) educational and 3) down-to-Earth, and I try to communicate these traits in every caption I write.

TIP #2: Mix micro-blogging and “quick hits”

In the most ideal world, you want to be pretty evenly mixing micro-blogging and quick hits in your captions because it keeps the experience of following you fresh and interesting.

“Micro-blogging” is a very popular method for creating information-packed, short-form blog posts in Instagram. Micro-blogging captions are great because they're very engaging, help you in the algorithm and encourage saves & shares. I’ve included frameworks for how to write content like this below! 

A “quick hit” on the other hand adopts a “less is more” approach to writing captions. These quick hits are easy to write when you don't feel inspired enough to write something longer, and are easy for your audience to consume.

Examples of quick hit content are:

  • Cheeky or sassy on-liners
  • Quotes
  • Song lyrics or poems

TIP #3: Front-load the important information

Although Instagram allows 2,200 characters per caption, most of that text won’t be shown until a user clicks “more.” So, you get just 20 characters or so to make an impression. That’s literally SECONDS to suck a person in, so immediately open with something comparable to a headline to capture attention and drive the desire to read on.

Here's an example:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

The key to happiness and achievement beyond your wildest dreams lies in this: your ability to cultivate & maintain an abundance mindset. 💫 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Let me break it down… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Someone with an ABUNDANCE mindset knows there is more than enough for everyone, while someone with a SCARCITY mindset believes there’s only so much to go around. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ABUNDANCE buys the plane ticket because they know the fulfillment the trip will bring them and they are confident those dollars will flow right back to them. SCARCITY says “maybe one day” because they fear every dollar spent, even when well-spent. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ABUNDANCE starts a business, confident there will be more than enough customers & profit. SCARCITY talks themselves out of it, telling themselves there’s too many other companies out there and they won’t succeed. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Abundance takes chances, scarcity fears risk. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Abundance thrives, scarcity hides. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So what’ll it be? 👏🏼

A post shared by Christina Galbato (@christinagalbato) on

TIP #4: Include a call-to-action

Get the party started by inviting the reader to lean in and engage. You can do this by simply asking a question in your caption – just be sure to ALWAYS reply to your comments. Instagram’s algorithm pushes posts with lots of comments and engagement, so prioritize this when writing captions.

Here's an example:

TIP #5: Space it out

As important as the content of your caption is, the design of said content is equally valuable. There’s nothing worse than a gorgeous image being overshadowed by a chunky, unreadable caption. 

Enter, your new best friend: the Return key. 

Hit the return key twice to create a space/line break. This makes your content easily digestible and readable, like in this caption of mine:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

As you see me posting on Stories about my business class flight to Bali and the room at the Ritz-Carlton that I booked, I want to remind you that I did NOT start here. I started 3.5 years ago… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣6️⃣: After almost a year at my first full-time job after college, I became acutely aware of the fact that I wasn’t built for a typical 9-to-5 environment. Craving more passion and purpose in my life, I started a travel blog & Instagram for fun that I worked on every waking minute. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣7️⃣: I mastered the art of Instagram growth and learned how to monetize. I took my blog and Instagram full-time, just simply wanting to make ends meet and travel at whim. Made $60k this year. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣: I continued to grow my audience, became uber proficient at pitching & negotiating brand deals, and put all of my knowledge about achieving Instagram success into a course & community called The Influencer Bootcamp. Made a bit more than $180k this year. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣9️⃣: I’ve shifted my focus and settled fully into what I was made to do. I love sharing my travels, but helping other driven women find time, location and financial freedom using the power of social media lights me the f*ck up. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I have a team of 5 intelligent, badass women and have more courses, more content and a podcast in the works. My business is far from perfect, but it’s scaling like crazy and on track to make more than $500k this year. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I tell you all of this in the hopes that it will teach you that: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Nothing will ever be perfect and you might not have it all figured out, but for the love of God, START. Nothing else will open you up to the beautiful thing that is endless possibility. Figure it out as you go along. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Evolution is not only okay, it’s NECESSARY. Give yourself permission to follow where your passions and your gut are leading you, even if that place is radically different from where you are. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Lead with passion and be absolutely f*cking relentless. The money will follow. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What’s the next step in YOUR story?

A post shared by Christina Galbato (@christinagalbato) on

Now let’s rewind for a second and cover what actually goes into a micro-blogging caption. Here are 4 tested, tried and true frameworks for writing popular and engaging caption content.

The “Behind The Scenes”:
This is an exceptionally effective way to bring a unique perspective and something extra human to your marketing. There’s something almost exclusive about posting behind-the-scenes content that makes your audience feel special.

Examples of BTS include:

  • “Instagram” vs “Reality” messaging
  • A walk-through of your schedule or morning/evening routine
  • Taking the audience on a tour (this is a great one for Instagram Stories)
  • A “sneak peek” at something you’re working on
  • BTS story of how you got the photo

The “Personal Story”:
So much of the human experience is story – so why not bring storytelling to your captions?

Great personal stories provide context to truly understanding the image. Make your reader feel like they’re sitting down for a cup of coffee (or vino) with you, enjoying the conversation, listening intently to what you have to say. Tell a story with a lesson, one that you think your audience will be able to connect to or will find helpful.

Don't be afraid to be vulnerable or reveal something about yourself, too. This is yet another way to open up the channel for connection with your audience and helps establish authenticity and trust.

The “Step-By-Step” or “Listicle”:

It looks like Instagram is becoming more of a search engine everyday for learning something new!

You can capitalize on this by writing captions that take are instructional and take on a more educational tone.

This is a great option for coaches, business owners or bloggers who want to set a level of authority or credibility for themselves. You get the chance to teach your audience about something you’re passionate about and/or have experience in.

This framework is especially powerful if you’re in the health, fitness or wellness niches. Here are examples for each:

  • Health / Lifestyle – Give a full recipe for a healthy, quick meal.
  • Wellness – Write out the steps for dry brushing.
  • Fitness – Detail 5 myths about weight loss.
  • Travel – Writing a list of the top things to do in a certain destination.

The “Review”: 
The last top-performing caption framework is super straightforward – share your opinion on something in your niche!

As your level of influence builds, your audience will want to know what you THINK in order to help them make decisions. In fact, 93% of online reviews impact purchasing decisions.

There’s no one way to structure this line-by-line. The most important thing is just to be as HONEST as possible. Your word is everything online; never abuse or take for granted the trust you’ve built with your audience.

Ok, let's wrap this up.

The impact that quality content can have on your brand, business or blog can open up a near infinite amount of opportunities. Take great care in producing content, and you’ll be on your way to amassing some pretty cool successes, just like my uber-successful students Ashlee Rose Hartley and Alexi Gleaves did: 

If you missed it earlier, don't forget to download this free Content Creation Planner. It will help you take these guide learnings put them into practice!


Oh, and one last thing…

If you want to learn even more about becoming a social media influencer and about working remotely, I'd like to invite you to join my totally FREE online training:

Can't wait to see you there 🙂


Any questions about what I taught in this guide? Just leave me a comment and I'll get back to ya ASAP!

xo,

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