Crafting a good brand on Instagram is an artistic challenge, separate but intertwined with all of your other career pursuits.
Back in the day, artists didn’t need to have dozens of up-to-date promo shots at the ready. You only needed two per year.
Now, you’re expected to project yourself onto social media all the time. What you’re doing, where you’re going, whatever.
And you must have a brand.
Some artists are more deliberate, taking time to figure out a color palette and general aesthetic for Instagram – of course, this changes with the times, releases, and seasons.
Others care less about their social media being cohesive, and will post whatever they feel like. Videos, selfies, you name it.
Others still, don’t post on social media much at all. When they do, they’ll post artsy photographs – generally shying away from self-indulgence.
All of these are brands, whether an artist will admit to it. It’s part of how you present yourself, and it’s a huge part of how an audience connects and relates to you.
Getting good Instagram pictures means something different for everyone.
In this guide, I want to help you think through how you are presenting yourself on social media, give you general tips on choosing good Instagram pictures, and offer some advice on consistently creating new pictures and content.
But first, if it's your aim to do music professionally, you'll want to check out our free ebook while it's still available:
Free eBook: Discover how real independent musicians like you are making $4,077 - $22,573+ monthly via Youtube, let me know where to send the details:
How Should You Present Yourself On Social Media?
The best place to start when you’re thinking about your social media presence is research.
Major artists have people working on their socials for them – updating them, keeping them consistent and maintaining a brand.
There is a lot to be learned from people who run social media professionally. Here are some action steps you can take in order to refine the idea of your social media presence, and get you thinking like a professional.
1. Find 5 Role Models
Make a list of five artists.
Two of them should be artists you are inspired by, people you admire. Artists you respect.
Two of them should be artists whose music and brand is similar to yours. These are not necessarily artists whose music directly inspires yours – they are artists whose audiences would also like your music.
Finally, pick one artist from a different genre, big or small. It should be someone you find interesting, someone you think you could learn something from, but not necessarily someone you know personally or are connected to.
2. Study & Analyze Their Instagram Accounts
Go on an Instagram journey. This is not aimless scrolling, this is research.
Take notes. Consider the following areas:
- How often are these artists posting?
- When they post, what do they have to say? Are they posting about their day-to-day life? Do they only post when something important is happening? How are they using Instagram?
- What do the pictures look like? Are they professional photos or are they taken by the artist?
- Is there a specific color scheme? Do they stick with it?
- Are there videos? If so, how are the videos presented? Take note of the background in the videos, the audio quality, whether there are mic stands or gear in the shot, etc. All of this plays into how your video is perceived.
- What about stories? Does the artist use stories to promote themselves, or are the stories more or less personal anecdotes?
- The caption. How does the artist speak to their audience? Is it personal? Are the entries short or long? Is it direct and to the point? What about their grammar and punctuation?
Wow, there’s a lot to take in!
Obviously, every artist is different, because people are different. Sometimes, an artist’s choices are less about branding and more just how they think and post.
What you want to do is find a brand and a tone that suits you. Some people love posting on social media and find it easy. They know what they want to say, how to say it, and how to present it with a visual.
Other people need to do some research, think about it, come up with a plan, and stick to it.
If you do this, it will make everything easier. Your profile will look cohesive and alluring.
What Makes A Good Instagram Picture?
You can basically post whatever you want on Instagram. That said, some pictures do better than others.
Different pictures work differently with the platform’s algorithm. More importantly, users react differently to different types of content.
The easiest way to tell if a picture is good: Would you double tap it (i.e. “like” the photo)?
Is it cryptic, poorly shot or boring? If you would scroll right past it, maybe don’t post it.
Either way, here are some general guidelines and types of pictures that tend to do well on Instagram:
Pictures With Your Face In Them
Everyone likes your face, even if you don’t. Don’t be weird about it, just post your face sometimes. People like that.
Photos You've Taken Yourself
Even if you don’t have an interest in photography, people like to see that it’s not some robot behind the phone.
Take pictures of things you find interesting. You don’t need to post them right away, but they may come in handy!
Need something to spice up your pictures? Try out an app like Huji Cam. There are a lot of apps like this that can give your pictures instant vibe.
Professional Pictures & Images
It shouldn't come as a surprise that people like nice looking images compared to random phone shots.
This is why getting professional photographs taken every once in a while is a good idea.
Here’s are a few helpful tips: images with a background do better than images without, images that have visual texture do well, images with a single dominant color get more engagement, and bluish images are preferred over reddish images.
When you’re messing around with filters – remember that lighter images do better than darker images, because they present better on phone screens.
Behind-The-Scenes Pictures & Footage
People like to get glimpses into the creative process. Backstage footage and studio footage is great for Instagram stories.
How Can I Afford/Create New Content All The Time?
You have a vision – a dream, if you will – for your Instagram presence. How can you capture and create the types of images that reflect your vision?
I’m going to use my Instagram account as an example. I’m @songsfromliam on Instagram in case you're curious.
I like to use mainly professional images on Instagram, and DIY images on my stories. Occasionally, DIY images sneak into my regular feed.
The hardest part about this is sourcing good, professional, photos. You have two options here:
- Befriend a photographer.
- Pay a photographer ongoing.
The fact is, if you want consistent, up-to-date professional images, you need to get new pictures taken all the time.
I would recommend finding a photographer whose work you enjoy, and booking a couple sessions with them.
Make one of the sessions a studio, portrait session. These photos are very useful for posters, websites and more. They’ll do well on Instagram too.
Book another session and get a bunch of live photos taken. Document your shows, get some behind-the-scenes shots and build up some content.
Finally, book another session and get a bunch of candid shots. Just you, doing your thing. These will come in handy.
I have two photographers that I hire regularly.
Both of them are also good friends of mine, whose work I admire.
Because of this, it’s not hard to make time to hang out and take pictures. I still pay for them, which I’m happy to do, because they are good at what they do, but it’s cheap and I don’t mind paying.
You must make a commitment to get good pictures. You need to make time for it the way you do for your music or anything else.
Once you get into it, it’s quite fun!
As for my DIY pictures – I take them using the HUJI Cam app I mentioned earlier.
The app instantly gives the pictures a cool color treatment, neat light effects, and makes them look grainy and vintage.
Taking all of these photos with the same app keeps all of my pictures in the same vintage vibe, and gives a consistent feel to the posts.
I mostly use the app to take pictures for my Instagram stories – which are mainly pictures of whatever I’m up to. Whether that’s touring, working, or recording.
Try out a few different apps, and find one that suits you. I like the HUJI app, because it makes the world look the way I wish it looked – like a vintage photograph.
How To Get Good Instagram Pictures Conclusion; Be Yourself & Stick To The Plan!
In your Instagram research, you may find that some accounts turn you off right away.
For me, this happens when artists come off disingenuous.
Having a brand and vision is awesome – trying to look cool is not.
Have a brand a vision and just be yourself. You’re cool. Trust me.