Instagram Guide for Beginners

A few readers who are less familiar with Instagram have asked for a guide to help them get started. In this article, I’ll cover Instagram basics from starting a profile to creating your first post!

Step 1: Creating an Instagram Account

Photo by Katka Pavlickova on Unsplash

To create an Instagram account, you’ll either want to download the app on your smartphone or you’ll want to visit the desktop version of Instagram at www.instagram.com. Create a username that represents you or your brand. There are a lot of active users on Instagram so creating a username that’s not already spoken for might take some time. Try to be unique and intentional. You can always change your Instagram username later, but it’s best to choose something now and stick with it so followers always know where to find you. 

If you have a Facebook account, you can alternatively log in with Facebook.

Step 2: Link your other social accounts 

If you have Facebook, Twitter and more, you’ll want to immediately link your other social accounts so that your posts can, if you so choose, be easily dispersed across platforms reaching all of your audiences. Follow the following steps to link your Instagram to your other social accounts: 

  1. Along the bottom of your screen when in the app, you’ll see the following buttons:

Click on the circle on the far right. This is your profile, the place you’ll be able to see all of your posts. (This is a photo of me, but on your profile it will show your profile picture once set.)

2. Once you are on your profile page, you’ll see three lines in the top right corner. If you click here you’ll be taken to a menu that looks like this: 

Click on settings at the very top with the gear symbol next to it.

3. Once you are in settings, navigate down to “Linked Accounts.” You’ll then be sent to a page where you can log into various social media accounts through the Instagram App. Now you’ll have the option to share to multiple platforms every time you post. So how do you post? Keep reading!

Step 3: Set Up Your Profile

Now that you have created an account and linked your other social media sites to Instagram, you’ll want to set up your profile. You can do this by following the below steps: 

  1. When on your profile page, choose the bar at the top of your profile in the center that says “Edit Profile.” From here you’ll be taken to a separate page where you can change your profile photo, add your name, change your username, add your website and more. 
  2. Change your profile photo by clicking on “Change Profile Photo.” After clicking on this, you’ll be presented with a few options. You’ll be able to remove your current photo, import a photo from Facebook (if your facebook profile is linked), take a photo, or choose a photo from your smartphone’s library. Choose a photo that will represent you and your brand well. Make sure it is professional and true to you! 
  3. Add a website if you would like by typing in your website URL. 
  4. Add a brief bio. This feature allows you to tell your followers a little about yourself.  Instagram only allows 150 characters so make it short, sweet and meaningful. For example, if you are a writer who helps entrepreneurs bring their business to life through writing, your bio could look something like this: “Writing coach here to help you and your business thrive. I’m a friend, a wife and a mother! Check out my website at the link above!” Instagram is personal and should be treated as such. Allow your followers to see the real you and all of your many parts! 

Step 4: Create your first post

Your first post can be any kind of content, but you might consider making it an introduction to you and your account. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a picture of you, it could be a simple graphic created via Canva. Check out my blog for more help on creating a Canva graphic. After you’ve created your graphic or decided on your photo, follow these steps to get it posted:

  1. Click the plus (+) icon on the bottom of your page. This will bring up your camera roll/library. If your photo is not in your library, make sure you save to your library before going any further. You can, alternatively, take a photo or video directly in the app from the plus (+) icon by clicking “photo” or “video.” 
  2. Once you’ve chosen your photo, you have the option to have the photo fill the frame, or be the size of the original photo taken with your smartphone or camera. The icon looks like two arrows pointing away from one another. See the photos below! 
Post with photo filling frame
Post with original photo, without using the full frame tool.

3. From here, you can choose to add more photos in the form of a grid which you can see in the second icon in the right, bottom corner of the photo.

Or you can add additional photos that your followers will be able to swipe to see.

If you don’t want to add more photos, just click next in the upper right corner! That first icon is for a boomerang, a kind of moving photo. Don’t worry about this feature yet, let’s get the basics down first.

4. Once you click next, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can edit the quality of the photo. Here you can click the “magic marker” at the top of the screen to immediately edit, or alternatively you can choose a filter you like along the bottom of your screen. You can also click “Edit” at the bottom of the screen to make fixes to the brightness, contrast, structure and more. Once you are satisfied, click “next.”

5. Now it’s time to write your caption, tag people or a business partner, and add a location. Make your caption relevant to your post and share something with your followers. If you ensure that you are adding value to your follower’s Instagram feeds, they’ll likely continue following you and return to you for that same value over and over again. When tagging others, you can type in their Instagram name and their profile will automatically pop up. When adding a location, you’ll want to make sure that the location directly relates to your business. If you are located in San Francisco, for example, consistently tag yourself in San Francisco, California. You’ll be able to build a client base that directly, geographically surrounds you and work your way out from there.

6. Once you have your photo and caption just how you want it, press share. This photo will be shared directly to your profile and anyone who follows you now, or in the future, will be able to see it!

Instagram, for most of us, has been a lot of trial and error. I highly suggest you take the time to play around within the app. The more familiar you become with the app and how it works, the better you will be able to navigate it and grow your business. What I covered above is just a small part of all of the features on Instagram, but it should get you up and running. You can read my blog on Instagram stories here. I also like this blog by Benjamin Chacon on the importance of using hashtags when you post to Instagram. I hope this is helpful! What other ways can I help you become more comfortable with Instagram? Let me know in the comments! 

Cheers!

Caitlin

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