I have a love-hate relationship with my Instagram grid. I love it because 75% of my business comes from Instagram. But I hate it because it’s hard to keep up with.
Part of my headache comes because I don’t plan ahead. I wake up each day and think, “Hmm, what can I post on Instagram today”. Then spend 15 minutes walking around my house gathering notebooks, pens, throw pillows and donuts (“I need to buy this donut for my Instagram grid”) to try to arrange the perfect picture in the perfect lighting. It doesn’t work out so I throw a little piece of greenery that has nothing to do with my business in there to make the picture look better.
Meanwhile, my husband comes home every day to find everything we own in a corner under a window (because that’s the perfect lighting) and only my half of my nails painted because my left hand is sometimes in the pictures.
As much as I want to start a “No Instagram Grid!” movement, I know that it’s important for my business. When I shifted how I think about my Instagram grid it became less of a headache and more of an opportunity to attract new clients. However, it’s unrealistic for me to create a grid that will attract the right clients if I’m scrambling to find something every morning.
Lesson learned: When I take the time and plan ahead, knock out everything in one day, then Instagram is a powerful tool. When I don’t do this and I go with my method above, then it’s just a headache that seems like a never ending game of catch-up and wastes valuable time.
Here are 5 steps you and take to plan out your social media calendar and plan ahead!
Brainstorm 3–4 categories your posts can fit into.
For my Instagram grid, the categories I came up with are:
Behind the scenes — Because Instagram is FUN and it can show a lot about your personality. Bonus points, it’s an opportunity to show how much work goes into running your business.
Portfolio Work — This is work from recent clients or past projects that I just want to show off
Educational — Because I’m passionate about teaching other entrepreneurs and business owners how to run a business and the how-to’s behind branding.
Personal Life — Because everyone can have off days and sometimes you need someone not having an off-day to give you a little bit of light.
Educational for others in the same industry
Feel free to steal the ones above, but you also may want to throw in one or two that is specific to your industry!
2. Brainstorm content ideas for each category.
They don’t have to be good ideas last first, just take 1 minute for each category to write down ANYTHING that comes to mind. This helps get your brain flowing with pure gold.
Don’t stop until the 1 minutes is up. If you find your brand poops out then just start writing random words until something else comes to mind. Don’t stop moving that pen!
Here are a few examples from the beginning of my lists.
Behind the scenes: Weekly agenda planning, How did you come up with your business name, Designing my brand, Meetings with clients, Workspace, Things that inspire my workspace, All of the coffee I drink, Pictures of me creating/drawing logos, Pictures of me taking stock pictures, Resources that I use, Show my process, Favorite tools/resources, What inspired my brand
Personal/Life: Something that I recently splurged on, Friday Introductions, What’s my favorite part of the country, Share a fun fact, What inspires me, What do I usually do on Saturdays, How hot my husband is, Me working with Elliot on my lap (#mompreneur), Snapshot into the weekend, Social Life, Daily routine (possible Instagram story), Shopping for office decorations, Hair/Makeup routine or products that I use, Where I live
Education: Brand tips, Color Theory, How color relates to your brand, Choosing Typography for your brand, Tools I use for design, Tools I use for running a business, Steps to XYZ, The correct way to XYZ, How to set up your Squarespace Site, How to Design your Squarespace Site, How to use Your Brand in different marketing materials, Recent Blog Posts
Recent Work/Portfolio: Promote a certain package you sell, Show completed work in digital format, Show completed work in real-life formats (business cards, letterhead, etc.), Highlight a client and their business, Workshops I’m speaking at, Promote courses I’m teaching, Mood boards, Blog Posts, Icons, Personal projects
3. Decide on your pattern for your Instagram grid.
There are two ways to go about this.
You can create a pattern for your grid or you can post based on days of the week. I use a combination of both.
Create a Pattern for your grid: Having a pattern means you have a constant flow of the different categories you came up with. If you want something consistent and structured, then you probably want to go with this one.
Your grid’s pattern may be:
Behind the Scenes — Recent Work — Behind the Scenes — Personal Life — Quotes/Inspiration
Post based on days of the week: When I plan out my content a month in advance, I post based on days of the week. I know that everyone is ready to get to work and feeling motivated Monday–Wednesday so I plan out more businessy type posts then. The end of the week and weekend is a little more lighthearted and shows off my personal life a little more. If I choose to post on the weekends, it may just be something fun or a nice quote that will change peoples lives, I’m sure.
I use this approach, but when I’m planning out the month in advance I still to consider what my posts will look like next to each other. I try to have a good balance of flat lays, zoomed in shots, zoomed out shots, detailed shots, shots with me in it, posts with just text (for quotes). There are a few tools I use to plan out and do this ahead of time, and you can read those here.
Here is my content for my Instagram grid for the next month:
4. Create a batch day strictly for taking Instagram pictures.
Once I have my Instagram grid content for the month, I batch all of this together rather than wondering around my house for 15 minutes every morning. This used to take me most of the day (while also juggling taking care of my babe), but the better I got at it I’ve got it down to a few hours. You may even want to just capture the first half at first to make it less overwhelming.
Of course photos opportunities come up throughout the month that I want to share, but because I already have a library ready for the month I don’t feel pressure to take something that is sub-par just because I feel like I have to post something that day.
5. Use an app or tool to create your Instagram grid and schedule posts.
There are a few different apps that will help you do this, but my favorite are UnUm and Planoly. You can read more about them in this post.
These app allows can help you do things like upload all of your Instagram pictures ahead of time, write a caption, and schedule the post.
Because you already have the caption written, all you have to do is click “Open in Instagram”, paste your caption (it copies it for you automatically), and post! Or, hit the date and time you want it to post for. Again, there are pros and cons to each method and you can read each here!
What I love most about these two apps are the tyou can see what your grid will look like ahead of time. In my industry, aesthetics is important and if you can grab someone’s eye within a few seconds there is more of a chance they will stay and browse. I love you technology. I really do.
How about you? What do you do to plan out your Instagram grid? Do you do these ahead of time or just go with the flow?