The Beginner's Guide to Crushing It on Instagram: Part Two

Note: this is a very long and very informational guide to Instagram, so we have broken it up into two separate blog posts. Click here for part one.

the beginners guide to crushing it on instagram

In The Beginner’s Guide to Crushing It on Instagram: Part One, we covered the process of setting up and optimizing your Instagram account. In Part Two, we will be covering posting on Instagram - what to post, when to post, how often to post, and posts vs. stories.

posting on instagram for beginners

Posting on Instagram

Now that your profile is optimized, it time to start posting! If you have not created and optimized your Instagram profile, check out part one of The Beginner's Guide to Crushing It on Instagram here.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • What to Post

  • When to Post

  • How Often to Post

  • Posts vs. Stories

What to post

This is a tough topic for a blog post because what you post is completely dependent on your account. There are a few categories that almost all business accounts should post, those are:

  • Product/Service Showcase

  • Behind the Scenes

  • Educational

  • Introduction/Background

  • Quotes

what to post on instagram for beginners instacrush society

One of the biggest keys to growing a loyal following on Instagram is to provide your audience with something. We already established that there are over one hundred million Instagram accounts, so why should someone follow YOURS?

Also, be sure that you’re posting high-quality photos. This does not mean that you can’t use your phone, but be sure you’re taking photos in good lighting and that you’re editing your photos if need be (have you seen our Lightroom Presets?!). One thing we see ALL. THE. TIME. is people not having success on Instagram and complaining about the algorithm or something, but when we take a look at their profile it’s full of low-quality photos (dark, blurry, etc.).

I know I keep talking about the amount of users on Instagram, but it is so so important. According to WordStream, 95 million Instagram posts are posted each day. Users are consuming tons of content, low quality photos are going to be scrolled past so quickly.


This one probably goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. Showcase your products or services! Just make sure you’re not too pushy or salesy with your posts. Instead, show the benefits of your products/services. Play off your audience’s emotions - what will your followers gain by purchasing your product or by working with you? Maybe you could tell a story about a happy customer or share a testimonial.


Make your followers feel like they know you/your brand. The more you open up to your followers, the more they’ll feel connected with you. Show your workspace or your creation process. Give your followers a personal look into your business!


Teach your followers something! If you’re an organic dog food brand, post an infographic about the benefits of feeding your dog grain-free food. Or post a cute dog to capture the attention of your audience, then provide some information in the caption. Not only will this teach your followers something new, it’ll also position you as a leader in your niche and will potentially sell some dog food as well.


Tell your story. Introduce yourself, your business, your team members, etc. Provide your audience with some background info - why’d you start your business? How’d you get to where you are today?

I like to do an introduction every month or two. Your newer followers may not have seen your older posts, so it’s always good to do periodic re-introductions. This also gives you an opportunity to learn more about your audience - encourage them to introduce themselves in the post’s comments!


No matter your niche, quotes always do well on Instagram. Just make sure it’s not too long of a quote - that should go in your caption. Share a short post that can be read while someone is scrolling through their feed. Make it a relatable quote - this will encourage comments or even better, it’ll have your followers tagging their friends or sharing it on their own feed.

When posting quotes, it’s always best to have your name or logo somewhere on the image. That way, if it’s shared by another account, people will be exposed to your business even if the account that shared it did not give you credit in the caption.

When to post

Instagram used to show posts in chronological order. When that was the case, the timing of posts was crucial to keep your post from getting lost amongst all of the other posts on your followers’ feeds. But now the algorithm focuses on showing users the posts that they think you want to see rather than the posts in order of when they were posted (we’ll go deeper into this later).

Basically, there’s no magical time of day that’s best for posting. With a new account, you’ll want to test out different times - post a few times in the morning, a few times in the afternoon, a few times in the evening. Post at least one post each day of the week. Once you’ve done all of that, you can check out your statistics and see if there’s a time that gets more engagement than others.

Instagram analytics will show you what times your followers are most active. But when you’re starting out, the stats won’t be very beneficial. Once you have a significant following (500+) you can use your analytics to see when your followers spend the most time on Instagram. But just because your followers are active does not mean they’re for sure going to see your post, so don’t put too much concern into the timing of your posts.

How often to post

When you start your account and want to maximize your reach and exposure, the more you post, the better. But, we always encourage quality over quantity. So you’re better off posting 4 amazing posts a week than posting average posts 2x/day. This is going to be dependent on how much time you’re able to dedicate to content creation and posting. Figure out what you have time for and go from there.

Consistency is more important than frequency, so whether you’re posting a few times a day or a few times a week, just try to remain consistent!

Posts vs. Stories

Instagram has three main places to post: on your feed, in your stories, and on IGTV.

We have a full guide to IGTV which you can read here, so we’re not going to go too deep into that in this post. We’re going to focus on posts and stories - what the difference is and what to post on each.


Instagram posts are the posts that appear on your Instagram feed. They are made up of a photo and an optional caption, and they are permanently on your feed unless you delete or archive them.

Posts should be intentional. Your followers can like, comment, share, and save your posts, and you want to encourage as much of this engagement as possible.

To increase the potential reach of your post, we suggest adding a location to your post (this means your post will be seen by anyone who views posts from that specific location), especially if location is relevant to your business. It’s not necessary, and location won’t always be relevant to your post (like for text posts or graphics), but it is good to do when possible because it’s extra potential exposure, which is always good!

We also suggest tagging relevant accounts on your posts, this way your post will come up if someone’s viewing the posts that those accounts have been tagged in. It also makes it more likely that the accounts you tagged in your post will engage with your account, which let’s Instagram know that your account is similar or associated with theirs. For example, lots of female bloggers and business owners tag Girlcrush Collective in their posts, and we try to at least like every post that we are tagged in.

Captions are very important. Your caption style is up to you - some accounts post long, blog-like captions on their posts and some post short sentences. Personally, we post a combination of both. Test them out and see what feels right for you and your brand!

The algorithm really puts a lot of emphasis on engagement. The more engagement your post receives, the more likely it’ll be seen by other accounts, whether it’s by making it on the explore page or making it to the top posts on specific hashtags. When writing your caption, you want to encourage users to comment. You should aim to include a call to action in as many of your captions as possible. Some good call to actions include:

  • Asking your followers a question

  • Telling your followers to tag a friend

When it comes to comments, you should try to respond to as many as possible. Your response will also count as engagement and it will help create a deeper connection with your audience. Bonus points if you can get a whole conversation going in your comments!


Instagram stories are vertical photos or videos that are visible for 24-hours. If you have a story on your account, there will be a red/orange circle around your profile photo. They’re not necessarily as important or crucial to your account’s success as posts on your feed, but they are an extra way to connect with your audience - and they can be a lot of fun!

Stories are much more casual than posts on your feed - you do not need to spend as much time and energy planning them. Instagram stories have really become a world of their own over the past few years. There’s so much more that you can do with them now than just sharing a photo or video; it seems like they’re adding new Instagram story features every time I’m on Instagram!

Instagram story features:

  • Tag accounts, locations, and hashtags

  • Add link

  • Share polls

  • Ask questions

  • Use a countdown sticker

  • Share live videos

  • Add gifs and stickers

Tagging accounts, locations, and hashtags

Stories are less likely to reach accounts that are not already following you. However, you can tag other accounts, locations, and hashtags in your stories. If you tag another account, they will be notified in their direct messages and will have the ability to reshare it onto their own stories. If you tag a location or hashtag, it’ll be visible if someone is viewing that location or hashtag.

Adding links to your Instagram stories

The ability to add links to your Instagram stories is one of the very best features of Instagram stories, as you cannot post clickable links in your post captions and you can only post one link in your bio. But this amazing feature is not so easy to come by - you have to have a business or creator profile AND at least 10,000 followers. Once you have the swipe-up feature, you can add a link to your story and your viewers can swipe up to view the link.

Share polls

You can create a poll in your Instagram stories and your followers can select an answer. Once they’ve answered, they’ll see the percentage of users that have agreed or disagreed with them. You can ask any question and provide your followers with two answer choices. There are tons of ways to use this feature, such as to get opinions from your followers or just for fun. You’ll be able to see who responded to your poll and which answer they selected.

Ask Questions

Similar to the polls feature, you can add a question box to your stories. But instead of selecting one of two preset answers, your followers can type out their response. You’ll be able to see all responses to your question and you have the option to share responses on your story.

instagram story question stickers

Use a Countdown Sticker

Have an event coming up? Or maybe a 24-hour sale? You can let your followers know how much time is left by adding a custom countdown sticker to your story.

Share Live Videos

Live videos are a really cool feature of Instagram stories. You can choose to “go live” in your story and your followers can watch in real-time. They’ll be able to comment on your live video so you can engage instantly. Once you end your live video, it’ll remain visible for 24-hours, just like a regular Instagram story. You can even go live with another account - it’ll split the screen and you can talk with each other while your audience watches and comments!

Add GIFs and Stickers

Infuse some of your fun personality into your stories with the huge collection of GIFs and stickers. You can even create your own GIFs - learn more at

For our favorite strategies for getting your audience to engage with your Instagram stories, check out this post. We also have 4 free Instagram story templates that you can use on your own stories - download them here.

instacrush society instagram tips for beginners

We would LOVE to have you join the InstaCrush Society!

We have both free and paid memberships so you can choose the plan that is right for you! Our members receive our best tips, tricks, strategies, and resources for massive Instagram success every single month. If you’re serious about growing your Instagram, InstaCrush was made for you! Plus, all members (both free and paid) get to join the private InstaCrush Facebook Group where you can connect with us and the other members!

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The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society
The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society
The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society

The Beginner's Guide to Crushing It on Instagram: Part One

Note: this is a very long and very informational guide to Instagram, so we have broken it up into two separate blog posts. Click here for part two.

the beginner's guide to crushing it on instagram by instacrush society girlcrush collective

Instagram. It started as a simple photo sharing app and evolved into a massive cultural phenomenon. It’s a place for sharing photos with friends, for businesses to market their products or services, for customer service, for networking, for sharing recipes, for making friends, and for so much more.

When I created my Instagram account back in the summer of 2011, it was a very basic app. I took some artsy photos and edited them with cheesy filters and borders. I would get so excited if I got 11 likes because that’s when it would switch from a list of usernames to “11 likes”.

The platform has evolved exponentially since I first downloaded the app. Especially when it was sold to Facebook (for 1 billion dollars). If you’re new to Instagram in 2019, I’d imagine that it feels very overwhelming. Maybe you’ve had a personal account for a while but now you’re ready to learn how to use it for your business - there is a big learning curve there!

Here at InstaCrush, we’re Insta-obsessed. We want you to love Instagram as much as we do and we want to make it as simple for you as possible. This blog post is a compilation of everything you need to know if you’re starting an Instagram account today, especially if you’re using it for your blog or business.

instagram for beginners creating your profile

creating your instagram profile

First thing’s first, you need to create your account. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to set up your profile. One mistake we see is people starting to follow and interact with other accounts before optimizing their own. You want everyone who looks at your profile to know who you are, what you do, and what they can expect from your account.

Creating a Business Profile

instagram business profile perks

Why do you want a business profile? Business profiles provide you with tons of features that are not available with personal Instagram profiles, such as:

  • Instagram Analytics

  • Contact Buttons

  • Industry Info

  • Swipe Up Links in Stories

  • Advertise & Promote Posts

If you’re creating your Instagram account for a blog or business, you’ll want either a business account or a creator account. To do this, you’ll need a Facebook Page. For us, we created our Girlcrush Collective Facebook page prior to our Instagram so we could easily connect them. And if you have no intention of using your Facebook page, that’s totally fine. You just need to create one to connect to your Instagram.

Business Profile vs. Creator Profile

Creator profiles are new in 2019. Instagram has become a huge platform for influencers and content creators and this new profile option is meant for them. Influencers (Instagrammers with large followings who have “influence”) are almost replacing traditional Instagram ads. Brands pay influencers to promote their product or service to their followings and it’s been a very effective marketing tactic.

With a creator profile, influencers are able to better collaborate with brands by letting Instagram know if they’re partnering with a business for a specific post. This allows both the influencer and the brand to see the post’s statistics.

Creator profiles also have a more simplified messaging platform that helps filter direct messages and have better control of their messages. They also allow followers to make purchases directly from their posts, a feature that used to only be available to product-based businesses.

So which should you choose? That’s up to you. You can start with a business profile and switch over to a creator profile at any point if you feel that would be a better fit. When you start out, it does not matter too much, as long as it’s not a personal profile.

Switching from a personal profile to a business profile

If you created your account as a personal profile, no worries. You can switch to a business profile very easily. All you have to do is go to your settings and scroll down to “Switch to Business Profile. This will prompt you to connect to your Facebook page. Then just fill out your business contact details and you’re all set!

Your Username

Your username is also often referred to as your handle. It can be changed at any point in time, so don’t stress too much. But you want your username to be memorable and straight to the point. Avoid using numbers at all cost - this is fine for a personal profile, but it looks unprofessional and potentially scammy if your account is for your business.

There are over 100 million Instagram accounts as of June 2019, according to Statistica. This obviously makes it hard to get your desired Instagram username, but there are always ways around it.

For example, when we created our Instagram account for Girlcrush Collective, @girlcrushcollective was already taken. As was @girlcrushco. So instead of doing something like @girlcrushco123, we added a period - @girlcrush.collective. This keeps the username clean and memorable without looking unprofessional.

Consider adding a period (.) or an underscore (_)  in your username if your desired name is already taken. You can also reach out to the existing account by sending them a DM and asking if they’d consider letting you have the username. We don’t recommend this if it’s an active Instagram account, but if the account has only a few posts or hasn’t posted in over a year, it’s worth a try!

Your Name

Your name is different than your username. It’s visible only in your profile or when someone is viewing a list of users. It’s the bold name under your profile photo. It is searchable, so you should jam-pack it with keywords. Your username is searchable too, so it’s not necessary for you to put your business name in your name if it’s already in your username, but that’s totally up to you.

For example, if you’re an organic pet food brand, you should say that. Your name should not be cutesy as that will not benefit you. Platy around with your name, see what keywords you can fit there - you only have 30 characters. Basically, think about what your ideal audience will be searching and include that somewhere in your name or username.

Your Instagram Bio

People with personal Instagram accounts usually do not take their bio very seriously. But as a business, it’s your first shot at connecting with your potential audience. Your bio should explain what your business is, what you do, what your followers can expect from you, and a call to action. The tricky part here is that you have to do all of this in just 150 characters, so make every word count!

Your bio is not searchable, meaning that if someone searches for “grain free dog food”, your profile will not show up just because those words are in your bio. However, you can include hashtags in your bio. So you could say “Premium Dog Food #GrainFree” for potential exposure to users searching that hashtag.

If you’re not sure what you should include in your bio, use this formula:

anatomy and formula for the perfect instagram bio

This ensures that anyone viewing your profile will know what they need to know, and it will encourage them to either visit your site, download your freebie, or join your email list (depending on what you use your link for).

Note: formatting your bio is tricky. Instagram does not allow you to put line breaks in your bio when editing it from your profile. We suggest writing and formatting your bio in the notes app on your phone, then copy and paste it into your profile.

Your Profile Picture

This one is tricky. What you should use as your profile photo is going to be different for everyone. You definitely want to use either a close up photo of your face or your business’s logo. The main thing is to make your account easily recognizable.

If you have a business that is mainly service-based and personal, a photo of your face is best. It makes your account more personal and will help your audience connect with you. If you do not personally represent your company, your logo is the way to go.

One thing we see too often: logos that are too complex or too small to be seen in your little profile photo. For example, on the Girlcrush Collective Instagram, we used just the girl part of our logo. If we used the full Girlcrush Collective logo with the text and the girl, no one would be able to see it or read it. Plus, our name is already all over our profile, it doesn’t need to be in our profile picture. Consider the size of your logo when choosing a profile picture - maybe you want to just use a smaller asset from your brand.

This guide’s not over! Click here to read The Beginner’s Guide to Crushing it on Instagram: Part Two

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The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society
The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society
The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society

Simple, Affordable Photo Props All Bloggers Should Have

simple affordable photo props for bloggers and instagram

I have some exciting news for you, girlfriend. You don’t need to live in a fancy house with white marble countertops and fresh flowers all over the place to create beautiful photos for your blog and Instagram. In fact, many of the photos you see on Instagram are just well-placed items in the right lighting. It’s actually really easy (and affordable) to create the perfect styled photos, and we’re going to show you how!

How to create high-quality backgrounds for your photos

Contact paper

You just need a piece of cardboard and some contact paper for a picture-perfect flatlay background! You can choose your contact paper based on your branding and colors - Amazon has what seems like an infinite selection of colors and patterns.

I have marble contact paper. The whole roll is less than $6!


A lightbox is a fun way to make a statement or announcement in your post. It’s more captivating than saying it in a caption and more visually appealing than writing it on a piece of paper. It also makes a cute decoration for your home!

This Lightbox from Amazon is $16.99!

instacrush society styled stock photos instagram props


Magazines make great props and backgrounds for Instagram photos. One of our InstaCrush Society Styled Stock Photographers, Meghan, uses magazines in lots of her photos, it adds color and detail to the photos!

Stock up on some magazines that match your brand colors!


Faux Flowers

Maybe you’re the kinda girl who has her life together and always has beautiful, fresh flowers in their house. If you are, more power to ya. But if you’re like me, who cannot keep a plant alive if my life depended on it, fake flowers are your best friend.

This 16ft string of flowers is $13.99. You can find thousands of faux flowers on Amazon!

Cute Coffee Mugs

I don’t know what it is about a pretty coffee mug that makes a photo 10x better, but it does. Find some cute mugs that go with your brand colors and use them in your photos!

If you don’t already have some cute mugs, Etsy is a great place to look. We love supporting small businesses!

Script Letter Board

We love a good letter board - ESPECIALLY when it has a pretty script font like this one from Urban Outfitters!

Graphic Cover Notebook

Similar to magazines, graphic notebooks are great props for your Instagram photos. Bonus points if it has a cute saying on the front! Whenever I get a new notebook, is the first place I look.

Fairy Lights

Fairy lights are small and light, perfect for an Instagram prop. Most are battery-operated which makes them portable and easy to position however you’d like. Wrap it around the edges of your flatlay or throughout your photo to add a little sparkle to your pictures!

These Fairy Lights are just $7.99 and come in tons of different colors, so you can select the ones that’ll look best for your Insta-brand!

What are your favorite photo props? Let us know below!


simple and affordable photo props all bloggers and instagrammers should have
simple and affordable photo props all bloggers and instagrammers should have
simple and affordable photo props all bloggers and instagrammers should have

Fashion Bloggers Share Their Best Instagram Tips

fashion blogger instagram tips

If you’re a fashion blogger or you’re looking to start a fashion blog, you need to be on Instagram. Instagram is a visual social media platform which makes it a great place to be sharing fashion trends and photos! Businesses are investing millions of dollars into fashion influencers on Instagram due to the amount of success and power that Instagram has on shoppers today.

Now is the best time to get started with your fashion Instagram because Instagram is making it even easier to shop straight from the platform. Today, is the most popular influencer shopping platform that allows Instagrammers to link the products that they’re wearing in a post for their followers to shop! Influencers make a commission whenever someone purchases through the app. Instagram’s upcoming update will allow Instagrammers to link to products directly on their posts. The feature is still in closed beta testing, but will be available to a wider audience in the future.

Here are the best Instagram tips from top fashion bloggers!

Anna of Lifestyle by Anna Elizabeth

“My biggest piece of advice is to go for it; start today. If you have been putting off starting your own fashion Instagram account for awhile now, just know that there's never going to be a "right" time to start. No one is going to grant you permission to call yourself an "influencer" or a "blogger". As a perfectionist myself, I know the internal struggle of wanting everything to be "perfect" before launching or sharing your content with others. But, the reality is that you're never going to start if you're waiting for everything to be perfect. My advice is to launch quickly and adjust along the way. Remember that nothing is permanent; you can continue to learn every day, listen to your audience's feedback, and pivot as needed. The content on my website and Instagram account from when I first launched to now are drastically different. It would be easy for me to be embarrassed looking back and comparing the two, but I know that if I didn't start where I was then, it never would have evolved into the brand that I am so proud of today.

My second piece of advice is once you begin, make sure that you are consistent in the amount and the quality of the content that you are putting out. From the outside, it may seem as if fashion influencers (or influencers and bloggers in general) have an easy and glamorous life. Many people make the assumption that "anyone" can do this job. What you don't see, however, is the countless hours behind the scenes spent planning, buying, negotiating, pitching, styling, shooting, editing, writing, marketing, learning, posting, engaging, etc. that contribute to their success. Sure, "anyone" can create an account and throw up a picture of their outfit here and there, but that doesn't mean they are going to be successful or stick with it for the long haul. If you intend to take your Instagram account beyond just a hobby, then you should prepare yourself for the amount of time, energy, and money that it will require to be successful. I think that the best thing you can do is to take yourself and your passion seriously and treat your Instagram account like a business. It will not be an overnight success and the likelihood of you going viral or reaching 100k within the first year is unlikely. However, if you work at this day in and day out, listen to your audience, and show up consistently to provide valuable content, you can create a future for yourself in this industry.” - @lifestylebyannaelizabeth

“With any platforms - it takes time to grown an engaged community. It's important to keep in mind the tips below as well as avoid the comparison game.  For anyone looking to grow their IG profile I recommend the following:

  • Be Consistent: Figure out a schedule and content creation that works for you. I post everyday on IG. That is a lot of content and captions to create. Figure out a weekly schedule, whether its Monday OOTD Work Wear or Wednesday Wisdom, find what speaks to your audience and what you can really produce.  

  • Be true to your real voices - Your audience can tell if your voice is authentic or not. Who you are, translate from your caption to what you are sharing on your IG stories.

  • Don't be afraid to experiment - as you start to build and grow your community it's important to experiment with your content, images vs video, personal vs editorial content. Figure out what resonates with your audience. You never know what may work for you and your community.

  • DO NOT Buy Follower Or Likes - This is always a bad idea, even if your engagement is low, at least you have engagement. Buying followers or Likes is a slippery slope, especially with brands shifting more towards engagement metrics, rather than reach. Focus on the followers you have and getting them engaged, (i.e.putting out 'thumb stopping' content). The rest will follow.” - @whit_wanders

Audrey of Audrey Madstowe

“My best tip for starting and running an IG/blog or influencer space is to be consistent and transparent. Know your audience and be yourself! Show up every day on your IG and be open about your life. Don’t be afraid to try new things but also know your niche. Try out different things to see what sticks/works and at the end of the day.... be YOU as that’s all you can do. Consistency will shine through in the end!!” - @audreymadstowe

Jennifer of Love Jen Marie

“The best advice I could give to someone who is interested in starting a fashion Instagram account would be to just start, right now! As someone who is a perfectionist, I waited forever to learn how to edit photos and get that perfect “aesthetic and content”. If you want something bad enough, you can get it!

I love the quote “done is better than perfect”. Someone will always have more followers than you, more likes than you and different outfits from you! Don’t look at the competition, just start and BE YOU! ✨” - @love.jen.marie

Micaela of Hint of Strawberry

“Be you and do it unapologetically. Be confident in who you are, your passions, and ability to be successful. Don’t hold back. Know that this is a lot more work than just pretty pictures and cute outfits- people want connection, they want to be inspired. Show your followers and potential partnerships why they can trust that you’ll provide them with genuine and authentic content. Don’t ever self doubt, compare, or down play yourself either. That will set you up for failure. Learn to let rejection be a learning experience and not a personal attack and how to let negativity roll off your back and not something you hold on to. You can do this if you’re ready to put your heart and soul into it without trying to be like everyone else.” - @hintofstrawberry

Rachel of Pinteresting Plans

“Consistency is key. It’s an emotional roller coaster and one day you’ll feel like you’re killin’ it and the next day like a total flop.   In order to grow you have to push through the hard days and keep going.” - @pinterestingplans

Michelle of More than a Fashion Blog

“I would say my top tip is to engage with your followers! If someone leaves a comment on a post or sends me a direct message, I will always respond to them. People like to know they are following a real person so respond to their comments, DMs, or even go to their page and genuinely comment on one of their pictures. It shows that you value and appreciate them as a follower.” - @morethanafashionblog

Diane of Style Context

“If you’re starting a fashion Instagram, don’t be intimidated - there’s room for everyone! The best advice I learned is to be consistent. Post every day. The most successful people post 2-3x times a day. I know it’s hard, and I don’t do it myself because I work full-time, but it’s a long-term goal of mine. Another piece of advice? Engage as much as you can and collaborate!” - @stylecontext

fashion bloggers share their best tips and tricks for a successful instagram account
fashion bloggers share their best tips and tricks for a successful instagram account
fashion bloggers share their best tips and tricks for a successful instagram account

Instagram Hiding Like Counts from Followers: What You Need to Know

instagram hiding like counts from followers

Instagram has made an interesting announcement: they are testing out the concept of hiding like counts from followers. The user will be the only one who knows how many likes their posts receive. The test run is taking place in Canada before it potentially rolls out globally. There has been great debate around this major change and there are definitely pros and cons to consider.

We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.
Image courtesy of  Jane Manchun Wong

Image courtesy of Jane Manchun Wong

It’s no secret that Instagram has become a massive cultural phenomenon since its release in 2010. While there are countless reasons that Instagram has been a great addition to society, there have definitely been some negative side effects. Mental health is one of the main concerns with Instagram today, especially with the app’s younger demographic.

instagram removing like counts

A survey was conducted in the UK in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health to determine social media’s impact on mental health. Instagram ranked as the “worst for young mental health” compared to Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. The study showed that Instagram can be associated with poor sleep quality, increases in depression and anxiety, bullying, body image problems, and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). This is not to say that Instagram is all bad though, as it received positive feedback regarding self-identity, self-expression, community building, and emotional support.

Instagram has always been dedicated to keeping the platform safe and welcoming for its users and removing like counts is their newest attempt to do so. Instagram has become so popular, with one billion users signing into the platform each month, 500k of whom scroll through Instagram every day. According to Sprout Social, 64% of 18-29 year olds use Instagram and 72% of 13-17 year olds use Instagram (in the US).

instagram hidden likes

An unfortunate side effect of Instagram is that these young users (and many older users) have begun to align their self-worth with their perceived popularity on social media. And with the ability to alter your statistics (buying followers or likes), people have false perceptions of other people’s popularity that can have an negative impact on their own self-worth.

With all of this being said, the potential removal of like counts will likely be very beneficial for Instagram’s everyday users. However, it is going to be a bit different for bloggers, business owners, and influencers, to whom likes have essentially become a means of determining monetary value. For now, we see one significant con and one significant pro in regards to hidden like counts. The reality of the change will become more apparent as the Canadian trial continues.


Con: Determining and proving engagement

With visible like counts, it’s usually easy to tell what someone’s engagement looks like. If someone has 100k followers but gets about 800 likes per post, you know that their followers are not very interested in their content. This can often be a sign that many of the followers are not even real. If someone has 8k followers but gets about 1k likes per post, you know that something about that account really draws their audience in.

With hidden like counts, determining an accounts actual engagement rate will become tricky. Businesses hiring influencers or bloggers will have a harder time determining who is worth investing in.

What to do: Comments will become the main way to determine accounts engagement (other than your own). Focus on content and captions that encourage comments and conversations.

Did you know?
The InstaCrush Society has an entire library full of fill-in-the-blank caption templates that will encourage engagement from your followers! Join here.


Pro: greater Focus on content than likes

instagram hidden likes update

With visible like counts, users tend to post content that they think their followers want to see over content that they actually want to post. We’ve all met that girl who deletes her post if she doesn’t get a certain amount of likes within a certain time frame. Your feed is not about you, it’s about what you think people want from you. If you’re not being genuine and authentic, it makes it harder to attract your ideal audience.

With like counts out of the picture, users will be less concerned with creating what they think will get lots of likes and will focus more on what they actually want to post. There will be less pressure to get tons of likes, therefore there will be less pressure to fit in with the crowd. The hope is that users will no longer feel the need to compete with other users.

What to do: Keep things authentic. Authenticity and showing your reality rather than your highlight real has become somewhat of a trend in the last year or so and this will only become more common without visible likes.


Our final thoughts on hidden likes

We are all for it.

We do not think that there is anything for us business owners and influencers to worry about, as it is highly unlikely that Instagram will jeopardize their platforms relationship with businesses and content creators. An Instagram spokesperson told Refinery29, “We understand that [like count] is important for many creators, and while this test is in exploratory stages, we're thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners. We hope that by making the number of likes private, people will be able to focus more on the photos and videos posted in Feed, and that this will ultimately drive deeper engagement.”

The important thing to note is that right now it is in a testing phase, meaning there will most likely be changes and adjustments to this feature before it is really set into motion. For now, focus on creating quality content, unfollow accounts that trigger your anxiety or comparisonitis, and work on encouraging genuine engagement from your audience!

If you’re looking to step up your Instagram game, you’ve come to the right place. Here at the InstaCrush Society, we provide our members with absolutely everything they need to run a successful Instagram account. This includes styled stock photos, post and story templates, post and story graphics, highlight covers, a hashtag library, a caption template library, lessons and tutorials, Lightroom presets, engagement pods, a Facebook community, and more. Let’s start crushing it on Instagram today! Check out our membership options here!

Happy Instagramming,

What do you think about the idea of hidden like counts on Instagram? Let us know in the comments!

instagram hidden likes
instagram hidden likes
instagram hidden likes

How to Create a Seamless Puzzle Instagram Feed

make your instagram feed stand out with a seamless puzzle feed

There are tons of different ways to create a cohesive Instagram feed. The most popular way to keep your feed cohesive is by choosing a color theme. This is the easiest way because it does not include too much planning ahead. If you stick to the same color scheme and apply the same preset or filter to your posts, you can keep your Instagram feed themed without too much work. However, if you’re looking to go above and beyond and really set yourself apart from other accounts, Instagram puzzle feeds are incredibly aesthetically pleasing!

What is an Instagram puzzle feed?

A puzzle feed is a seamless Instagram feed that essentially looks like one image, broken up into different posts. This way, when you look at the overall feed, it’s incredibly cohesive.

The two most common ways to create a seamless Instagram feed are on Canva or on Photoshop. You can either purchase a template or you can opt to create your own. Creative Market (my favorite website for any creative resource you could ever think of) has tons of seamless puzzle templates that you can purchase and customize. This route is much easier than making your own!


Using a puzzle feed template

Pre-designed puzzle feed templates are the easiest way to create a puzzle feed for your Instagram. The fonts and colors can all be altered to fit your own branding, then you simply insert your own images! Here are some great templates from Creative Market for Canva or Photoshop!

Canva Instagram Puzzle Templates

Photoshop Instagram Puzzle Templates


Creating your own Puzzle Feed

If you prefer to create your own puzzle feed template, it’s not as hard as you’d think! Here’s what you will want to do:

Decide where you are going to design your feed. If you do not have much design experience, we suggest using Canva, the free online design tool. If you’re comfortable with Adobe programs, you could use Photoshop or Illustrator.

If You Create a Puzzle Feed on Illustrator or Photoshop:

  • Create a blank grid. If you’re using Illustrator, you can create individual art boards for each tile. You will want to do at least 3 x 9 squares. However, the more squares you go, the more posts you will create and plan out! If you’re using Photoshop, you can only create one canvas, so be sure that the dimensions are divisible by 3 - this will make it easier when you slice the canvas up before posting it to Instagram.

  • Once you create your grid, create a background. Think of it as creating a collage - use basic shapes and elements layered on top of each other to create a cool background.

  • Start layering your main photos on top of the background!

  • Add smaller photos and design elements around the main photos to complete the design.

  • Add some fun text! Use your brand’s fonts to keep everything consistent!

  • If you’re using Illustrator: export the art boards.

  • If you’re using Photoshop: export the canvas as a .jpeg or .png, then download an app such as Grids or Pic Splitter to break up the image into individual posts

If You Create a Puzzle Feed on Canva:

  • Create a blank canvas. You’ll be dividing it up into individual posts, so you’ll want a large canvas in order to keep the posts quality. Be sure that the dimensions are divisible by 3 - this will make it easier when you slice the canvas up before posting it to Instagram. We recommend a width of 3000px and a height of at least 9000px.

  • Once you create your canvas, create a background. Think of it as creating a collage - use basic shapes and elements layered on top of each other to create a cool background. Canva has tons of free design elements and backgrounds!

  • Start layering your main photos on top of the background!

  • Add smaller photos and design elements around the main photos to complete the design.

  • Add some fun text! Use your brand’s fonts to keep everything consistent!

  • Export the canvas as a .jpeg or .png, then download an app such as Grids or Pic Splitter to break up the image into individual posts

Posting your puzzle feed to Instagram

The best way to be sure that your puzzle feed is going to look well on Instagram is by using a visual Instagram planner. We use Planoly - read our blog post all about Planoly here!

Adding your “puzzle pieces” to a visual planner before posting to Instagram allows you to be sure that they are properly lined up and will keep the feed seamless. This also is a good way to make sure that none of your main images are cut off. While the focus is making the whole feed look amazing, you also want to make sure that each individual post will look good when it appears on someone’s newsfeed!

Have you created a puzzle feed? Do you plan on creating one? Let us know in the comments!


how to make a seamless instagram puzzle feed
how to create a seamless instagram puzzle feed

Hacking Instagram: How to Gain Your First 10k Followers

instacrush hacking instagram

Growing your Instagram following is frustrating, confusing, difficult, and time-consuming.

Have you felt this way at some point in your Instagram journey? You are most definitely NOT alone. We work with women every single day who are struggling with their Instagram growth and there’s nothing better than seeing someone just kind of click with our advice and have that “ah-ha” moment about what they were doing on Instagram and what they could be doing differently.

In this blog post, I am going to share 16 Instagram hacks that have worked for both my accounts and client accounts. Maybe not all 20 will resonate with you, but I’m hoping that you’ll find some new suggestions and strategies for growing your own Instagram accounts!

Optimize Your Profile

Okay first thing’s first, you need to optimize your profile. You want to set a solid foundation to grow your account on. If you don’t have an optimized username, bio, profile photo, etc. then it will be much harder to attract your ideal audience.


You want to avoid making your Instagram username look like an AIM screen name. The more simple and straightforward your username is, the better. If your ideal username is already taken, try to think of some creative ways to avoid adding numbers to the end. You can always add a period (like @girlcrush.collective) or an underscore, but try to avoid using more than one within your username.


The main point of your profile photo is to make it easily recognizable. If you are running an Instagram account for a brand, use a clear brand logo. If it’s a personal account, use a photo of yourself (this also creates relatability). Use a close-up photo of yourself - full-body photos are hard to identify in the tiny little profile photo.


Your bio is a little place with a lot of importance. This is your opportunity to tell your potential followers what to expect from your account. Don’t leave people confused about your Instagram

Research your competitors

You can learn a lot from your competitors. They have been targeting the same audience as you, so it’s a great way to see what has been working and what has not. It’s also a place to find your target audience, as they are likely already liking and commenting on your competitors accounts.


One way to find your competitors is by looking at other accounts that have been using your niche hashtags. We’ll talk more about hashtags later in this post. Check out the top posts for your niche hashtags and look at the accounts that are posting them.

instagram hacks

Partner up with other similar accounts

At Girlcrush Collective, we’re all about community over competition. Find some other Instagrammers with similar audiences as your own and promote each other! You can shout each other out in your Instagram stories or re-post some of their content on your own feeds.


Our Facebook group for Girlcrush Collective is a great place to find other accounts to engage with! We have Follow Friday threads every week where you can connect with other users. Additionally, you could post in the group requesting to collaborate with other, similar accounts and we’re sure you’ll find some ladies who would love to promote with you!

Join the Facebook group here. ✩

Post often

When you are trying to grow your account quickly, you need to be posting frequently. The more you are posting, the more exposure you will have and the further your reach will go. While you’re focusing on Instagram growth, we recommend posting AT LEAST once a day. As many as 3 posts per day will be even more beneficial for your reach.

Plan ahead

Posting multiple times a day, every day, can be stressful. A way to reduce this stress and save time is by planning your content ahead of time. There are tons of great Instagram schedulers to use to plan your posts. We use (and highly recommend) Planoly, which allows you to visually plan your feed! You can see exactly how your feed will look once you post them, and it even auto-posts for you, making it even easier to post multiple times each day without having to be glued to your phone.

Learn more about Planoly in our App Spotlight blog post!

planoly instagram hacks

Engagement pods

Engagement pods are a great way to boost your engagement, which will

Hashtag strategy (small and large combo)

Engage with others

Engaging with other accounts is a very important part of growing your own account. By commenting on other users’ posts, you’re putting your account out there to be seen by other users who engage with that photo. You’re also connecting in a more personal way with accounts which will make them more likely to follow you and engage with your content as well.

We recommend at least 30 minutes of engagement per day, whether you do that all at once or in smaller increments is up to you! Our favorite strategy for engaging with other accounts is Gary Vee’s $1.80 strategy. Learn more about his strategy here.

Run an instagram giveaway

Running a giveaway on Instagram can be a very great way to grow your following. Notice that I used the word “can” . . . if you don’t run a giveaway properly, you could gain lots of followers that are not your ideal audience and they will unfollow you as soon as you announce the winner. Or they will continue following you but will never engage with your content.

A good way to ensure that you will gain targeted followers is by giving away something specific that you know your audience will like. When I started Girlcrush Collective, I made the mistake of participating in a giveaway with an iPhone as the prize. While I did gain a good amount of followers, they were almost all non-english speaking men. This did not benefit my account at all, and over a year later I am still trying to weed out some of those followers as it is altering my statistics and engagement rate.

However, when I do giveaways for our Girlcrush Presets, we know that we are gaining followers that are specifically interested in Instagram, photo editing, etc. Make your prize very niche specific and you’ll have a great

Create re-postable content

If you post amazing content, it is going to be reposted. Having your content reposted is an amazing way to get your content in front of your target audience! Now, on Instagram stories, it is super easy for people to share your Instagram posts straight to their stories. When they do this, their followers can click through their story and will be taken directly to your post!

One type of content that is very commonly reposted is quote posts! Making cute graphics and posting them to your feed is a great way to get some potential reposts. Bonus points if you have your branding and logo somewhere on the post!

Note: make sure that if someone reposts your content, that they credit you. This is proper Instagram etiquette, you don’t want to let other users get away with taking your content without letting their followers know where it came from!


Geotagging your posts is always a good idea, it’s essentially the same as adding a hashtag in that people can view posts in specific locations. Geotagging your posts is when you add a location to your Instagram posts. This is especially beneficial if you are looking for local followers, but even if you are not targeting a specific location, it will expand your reach.

According to Social Report, posts with geotags receive 79% more engagement than posts without geotags! Don’t miss out on that boost of engagement - always add a location to your posts. You can even geotag your Instagram stories to get extra eyes on your account!

instacrush hacking instagram

Tag other accounts in your posts

Tag relevant accounts in your Instagram posts! This will add your posts to the tagged section on their profiles, which will get you some exposure to their audience that looks through those posts.

This is also a good way to get those accounts to like your posts! For @girlcrush.collective, we always like every post that we are tagged in. Having large, popular Instagram accounts liking your posts tells Instagram that it’s a great post and it will help get your post on the explore page!

Know your audience

Take some time to determine your ideal audience. It helps to think of one specific person that you are targeting, and gear your content towards that user. You will never please everyone, so it’s better to get hyper-focused on one niche rather than trying to connect with every use. Niching down also helps you when it comes to being specific with hashtags.

Respond to comments asap

The faster you get engagement on your posts, the better! Instagram will recognize it as a popular post and it will be shown to more users. As our favorite Instagram guru, Jenna Kutcher says, “don’t post and ghost!” Meaning, don’t just post and throw your phone across the room. Stick around for 30 minutes or so after you post so you can immediately respond to any comments! Creating a conversation within your caption and comments is a great way to boost your engagement.

instagram hacks

Pay attention to your analytics

Posting to Instagram without paying attention to your statistics and analytics is like trying to bake a cake in the dark. Don’t just guess if you’re doing things correctly, keep up with your statistics so you know exactly what is working for you!

Know what time your followers are most active, which posts perform the best, which hashtags are working and which are not bringing any engagement, etc. This will all help you to post content that you know your target audience is going to be interested in!

Instagram business accounts allow you to see your analytics, but if you’re looking for something more robust, we love Iconosquare. Check out our App Spotlight blog post about the app!

Boost your posts

Okay, I know that promoting posts can feel scary, but it’s so easy and so beneficial! Even just boosting your posts for $5 can expand your reach by thousands! This also ensures that your post will be seen by the right people.

Note: you must have an Instagram business account to promote posts!

Cross promote in other platforms

You have an audience that loves you, even if it’s not a large audience. Cross-promote your accounts amongst all of your social media platforms! If someone loves you on Pinterest, they’ll probably love you on Instagram. If people love receiving weekly email newsletters from you, they’ll love seeing daily Instagram posts from you.

Make sure to drop your Instagram link everywhere. And when you start, be sure to tell your friends and family - they’ll likely be your biggest supporters at the start, and any support is beneficial!

hacking instagram growth
hacking instagram grow following
instacrush hacking instagram

App Spotlight: Iconosquare

app spotlight iconosquare

Posting on Instagram without any strategy in mind is risky business! If you want to see Instagram growth or success, you need to be paying attention to your account’s insights and performance. Instagram Business Accounts have analytics features right in the app, but if you are looking for something more robust, Iconosquare is the best app for tracking your analytics.

Here are the things you can track with Iconosquare:

  • Follower growth

  • Engagement score (percentage of followers that engage with you)

  • Hashtag performance (which hashtags are bringing you the most engagement)

  • Impact of filters on likes and comments (did you even know that was a thing?!)

  • How reachable your followers are

  • Locations of your followers

  • Best performing posts (most likes, most comments, most engaging)

  • Best performing post times

But Iconosquare has much more to offer than your own analytics. You can add three competitors and track their analytics too. You can view charts that show your analytics in comparison to theirs. If you are targeting the same audience, studying the competitors habits and altering yours can be very beneficial to your Instagram strategy.

You can also track hashtags the same way you can track competitors. Choose three hashtags and you can see how often they are used, the locations of the users who use them, and the growth history of the hashtag. It is a good way to decide which hashtags to use in your posts.

app spotlight iconosquare

The comment tracker allows you to keep track on the unread comments on your posts. As your Instagram grows, it can become difficult to keep up with the comments on your Instagrams. But engaging with your followers is very important, so it is helpful to check the comment tracker every few days and see if there are any comments you missed.

Iconosquare has a feeds feature, automatically adding a feed with your media and a feed with the posts that you have liked. You can create more feeds, adding hashtags and users so you can view only the posts you want.

There is a scheduling feature that you can use if you do not use another Instagram planner, such as Planoly.

The advanced media search is one of the coolest features in my humble opinion. You can search hashtags and filter them by: media type, number of likes, number of comments, number of followers, number of followings, number of user media, words/phrases in caption, mentions, and date. PRETTY PRETTY COOL. And you can track brands and influencers!

Overall, if you are interested in strategically growing your Instagram account, you need to be using Iconosquare to track your insights!

app spotlight iconosquare
app spotlight iconosquare

How to Put Line Breaks in Your Instagram Captions

instagram caption line breaks

Long form captions are all the rage right now. Gone are the days of posting one Lana Del Rey lyric or a few emojis as your Instagram caption, we’re now using captions as a microblogging platform. We fully endorse the long form caption, by the way! However, there’s nothing more daunting than seeing a cool Instagram photo and then seeing a massive caption that’s not even broken up into separate paragraphs.

For some bizarre reason, you cannot put real line breaks in your Instagram caption when you type out your caption right on Instagram. I have yet to determine why this might be (if there’s even a reason at all). You may have resorted to posting a . or - or even emojis in place of a line break.

But don’t worry! There are some ways you can around this issue and put some beautiful, spacious line breaks in your caption.


How We Add Line Breaks

There are different ways to break up the paragraphs in your caption, but this is our strategy of choice. It is what we use for our own accounts, as well as for our clients accounts.

Formatting Captions With Planoly

Planoly is our favorite Instagram scheduler. If you haven’t read our full post on Planoly, check it out here. Along with the ability to visually plan out your Instagram feed and schedule and auto-post to your feed or stories, you can write out and save your captions.

When we plan our Instagram content or our client’s content, we aim to always have posts scheduled out for at least the next two weeks. Our Instagram posting process on Planoly is:

  1. Upload images

  2. Arrange the posts in a visually-appealing manner

  3. Write out the caption for each post (styled with line breaks)

  4. Schedule post and turn on auto-post

One of the coolest parts of this process is that when the caption is transferred from Planoly to Instagram, it will have the line breaks!

format instagram captions with line breaks

HOWEVER, you need to be sure that you do not have an extra space at the end of a line before you press enter. This corrupts the caption transfer and the caption will look messed up on Instagram. By this, I mean that once you complete a paragraph, be sure to press enter immediately after your punctuation or last character. Do not press space before you press enter.

And that’s it! Pretty cool, huh?

Pro tip: Even if you don’t use Planoly to schedule posts ahead of time, you can use this strategy. Instead of posting directly to Instagram and typing out the caption there, upload your post to Planoly. Type your caption there, then share to Instagram!


other ways to add line breaks

  • Other visual Instagram schedulers: Preview, Plann, Sked

  • Use this free tool to type out your caption as you want it to look. Click convert then copy/paste to Instagram!

  • If you are on a mobile device, you can add invisible line breaks. Thanks to this article from Sked Social, we discovered that if you type out your caption in your phone’s notes, you can create invisible line breaks. In place of your line break, paste [ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀]. This will appear as a line break on Instagram!

I hope this post was able to solve some of your Instagram caption formatting problems!

Happy Instagramming,

how to put line breaks in instagram caption
how to put line breaks in instagram caption

Lightroom Presets Installation FAQ (for Desktop and Mobile)

lightroom preset installation instructions

So you purchased Girlcrush Presets, yay!

After purchasing the preset(s), you will receive a PDF. The PDF contains a link to the Dropbox folder that contains both a .dng file (for installing in Lightroom Mobile) and a .xmp file (for installing in Lightroom CC).

Video Installation Tutorial:


How do I download the preset file on my phone?

  1. Receive your download email

  2. Open the PDF

  3. Click on the Dropbox link

  4. Each preset includes one .dng file (for mobile) and one .xmp file (for computer)

  5. Select the .dng file

  6. It will say “this file can’t be previewed” - this is okay!

  7. Click the (...) icon in the top right corner

  8. Click export > open in > save to files OR save image

lightroom preset installation instructions

How to I open the preset file in the Lightroom Mobile App?

  1. Open Lightroom Mobile

  2. Click on the (...) settings button and tap add photos then from files or from camera roll (wherever you saved your preset initially)

  3. Choose the location on your phone where you downloaded your preset files

  4. Double click on the presets .dng file that you would like to work with

  5. .dng file will install in Lightroom Mobile (it will now appear as an image)

  6. Tap the .dng image to open it

  7. Click on the (...) settings button and choose “create preset”

  8. Type in the name for the preset, then tap the check in the top right corner

  9. Choose a picture you would like to edit in Lightroom Mobile

  10. On the bottom toolbar, select Presets and apply your new preset!

lightroom presets mobile installation
lightroom preset installation instructions

Frequently Asked Questions

Help! I cannot unzip the folder!

If you’re trying to unzip a folder on your mobile device, you will need to download an unzip app. We recommend WinZip.

Do I have to do it on my laptop first or is there a way for me to just on my iPhone?

You can do it either way!

I am struggling to download the files on my phone! What else can I do?

No worries, this is not your only option! Open the PDF on your desktop and go to the Dropbox folder. Download the .dng file to your desktop. If you have a Mac/iPhone, you can simply airdrop the file to your phone. Otherwise, you can email the .dng file to your phone and open it from there.

The file is saving as a blank image! This doesn’t seem right!

I know it’s weird, but you’re doing it right! When you go to open the blank image in Lightroom, you’ll see it in your camera roll as a black image that says “dng.” Once it’s imported into Lightroom Mobile, you’ll see the image! Then follow the instructions above!

This is because your phone only reads .jpg and .png images. .dng is for Lightroom, it will not show up until it is in your Lightroom library.

Valentine's Day Hashtags

valentines day hashtags instagram

It’s time to start prepping your social media content for Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day).

But before you do, we have one important tip.

#ValentinesDay is a banned hashtag!

Using this hashtag in one of your posts on Instagram can result in your account receiving the infamous shadow ban.


What is the shadow ban?

The shadow ban is Instagram’s attempt to rid the app of accounts that are not complying with Instagram’s terms and conditions. It makes your account essentially invisible to accounts that are not already following you and inhibits your ability to reach new accounts.

For more information on the shadow ban, such as how you become banned, why you were banned, and how to fix it, join our Instagram membership site, InstaCrush Society! We even have a complete list of banned hashtags to avoid using.


safe Valentine’s day hashtags

valentines day hashtags

Be creative in your use of Valentine’s Day hashtags. Even if #valentinesday was not a banned hashtag, we would not recommend it. This is because it is a very popular, commonly-used hashtag which creates a lot of competition. Your post would be lost amongst the millions of other posts with that hashtag. We recommend using hashtags that have less than 500k uses!

For more hashtag tips, check out The Boss Babe’s Guide to Hashtags!

valentine's day instagram hashtags

App Spotlight: Planoly

Instagram App Spotlight Planoly

As a social media manager, I have tried out tons of different social media schedulers. But when it comes to Instagram, I just cannot stray from Planoly - it’s my absolute favorite. Planoly is a simple, user-friendly app that allows you to do absolutely everything you need to do for your Instagram account. Plus, you can manage multiple Instagram accounts from one Planoly account, which is essential as a social media manager.

Planoly is an official Instagram partner, which means that although it is a third-party app, it is 100% safe to use and has been approved by Instagram. Whenever you use a new app for Instagram, be sure that it is an official Instagram partner. You can see a full list of partners here.


Here’s why I use Planoly

The features that are available on Planoly will blow your mind:

  1. Visually plan and rearrange your Instagram feed

  2. Drag and drop feature

  3. Draft and edit captions right in the app

  4. Schedule posts in advance

  5. Autopost!

  6. Insert placeholder posts

  7. Create a shoppable feed

  8. Collaborate with team members or clients

  9. Manage multiple accounts

  10. View your analytics

  11. Reply to comments in the app

  12. Use user generated content to regram

  13. Save hashtag groups and apply them with one tap

  14. Plan and autopost Instagram Stories


Why should you use a visual planner?

My number one tip for Instagram is always that you need to have A+ content and a visually appealing feed. Planoly makes this easier than ever. If you are using the desktop version of Planoly, you will see your visual planner on the left-hand side and a calendar on the right-hand side. If you are using the mobile app, your phone will look almost exactly like you’re looking at an Instagram feed! The visual planner lets you see exactly how your feed will look once you post to Instagram.

While planning your captions and everything out in advance is great, the ability to actually see how your feed will look is revolutionary. Humans are visual creatures, and the average Instagram user will decide whether or not they are going to follow someone within a matter of seconds after looking at their feed. You only have a limited amount of time, so it’s essential that your feed looks flawless - especially the 9-12 most recent posts, as these are the posts that will be seen without even scrolling down.

A great post gets a like, but a great feed gets a follow.

Planoly plans

Planoly is relatively inexpensive compared to other social media planners. $7 for an account?? Yes please! And if you’re a social media manager, the other plans are more robust and totally worth the price.


ShopLink is Planoly’s add-on feature that allows you to make your Instagram feed shoppable. Users can tap on your Instagram photo and will immediately be redirected to your product page. You can add the ShopLink plan to your account for an additional $40/mo.

What’s so great about ShopLink? Well, Instagram is rather difficult to drive sales from because you cannot post links in your captions, and you can only put links in your stories if you have 10k+ followers. ShopLink makes it super easy to convert followers into customers! Your followers will be able to shop your Instagram content from your Instagram profile link, through a ShopLink page, or with a ShopLink gallery on your website.

Your ShopLink gallery can be added to your website, blog, or other digital channels, so it’s more than just an Instagram feature. It’s both mobile and web-friendly.

Planoly as a brand

One thing that really sets Planoly apart from other social media schedulers is the brand itself. Planoly’s branding is beautiful, their blog is very informational, their team is very accessible, and they’re constantly giving free content to their users, such as strategy worksheets, content calendars, influencer goal setting worksheets, Instagram checklists, and more.

Planoly thinks from a designer/brand’s perspective, so they’re always providing the best resources, inspiration, and tutorials to their users!

katie mander instagram

Get started with Planoly

If you sign up through this link, I may receive a small Planoly credit if you sign up for a paid plan, at no extra cost for you. I want to make sure that you know that I truly use Planoly for my brand and business and I would never recommend something to my readers that I do not actively use and love.

If you already have an Instagram account, getting started with Planoly is very easy! Just head here and create your account!


Have you tried Planoly? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Instagramming!


Instagram App Spotlight: Planoly

Instagram's Hashtag Insights Feature

instagram's hashtag insights feature

A brand new feature for business Instagram accounts was released in early 2019 that allows users to see exactly what hashtags are bringing them the most impressions!

This major update is incredibly beneficial. You can only use 30 hashtags per photo, so it's great to know which hashtags are working for you, and which to toss.

To view your impressions from hashtags, go to a recent post, then below your photo, tap "View Insights" then scroll to the bottom! You must have a business account for this to work. If you have not set your account as a business profile yet, read this blog post to learn how.

instagram hashtag insights

Note: Instagram rolls out their features, meaning some accounts will be able to access this feature before others. I personally do not have this feature yet, but some of my clients do. If you cannot see your hashtag insights yet, just be patient - it'll be there soon!

Make a note somewhere (I use the notes app on my phone) to keep track of the hashtags that are working best for you. Write down the top 5 hashtags for each post (unfortunately, Instagram’s Hashtag Insights only shows you the top 5 hashtags that you used). Just because a hashtag does not show up as one of the top 5 does not mean that it is not bringing you lots of impressions, so don’t discount the other 25 hashtags right away!

By keeping track of the top 5 hashtags for each post, over time you'll be able to see which hashtags are never quite bringing in impressions, and which always do!

If you're an analytical person, you can keep a running excel spreadsheet to track your hashtags more specifically with the exact count. I would wait at least 48 hours before logging hashtags.

If you don’t have the Hashtag Insights feature yet, there are other tools you can use to test the effectiveness of your hashtags. We love Smarthash - Smarthash is an awesome app that actually analyses the hashtags that you’re using on your posts and tells you which ones are driving engagement and which ones are duds. By paying attention to Smarthash, you can adjust your strategy until you’re using 30 hashtags that are all bringing in the likes and comments!

To learn the hashtag strategies that helped us to go from 0 - 36,000 followers in less than a year, be sure to check out our ebook, The Boss Babe’s Guide to Hashtags! It includes our favorite strategies, tips, and tricks, as well as thousands of well-researched hashtags in the following niches: girlboss, blogger, creative, food, dessert, coffee, fashion, beauty, hair, travel, mom, photography, lifestyle, wedding, pets, fitness, books/writers, and home/decor.

instagram hashtag insights

New Year, New Feed!

new year new instagram feed

The new year is a fresh start - a time to reflect on the past year and to reevaluate your life and goals for the year ahead. As you set your goals and intentions, such as your diet, your fitness, your routines, etc., have you thought about your Instagram?

A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action becomes reality.

Do you dream of having a following who loves all of your posts and becomes a loyal tribe? It can absolutely happen for you this year! Write down your dreams for the year, such as how many followers you’d like to gain in 2019. This dream has now become a goal. Then you can divide it by 12 and determine how many followers you need to gain each month in order to reach this number of followers. It’s now a plan. Now all you have to do is back this plan up by action and ta-da! It’s now a reality!

One major action you can take to have a successful Instagram account is to redesign your Instagram feed. A beautiful, cohesive Instagram feed can make all of the difference when someone is deciding whether or not they are going to click that follow button.

Here’s how to turn your feed into an envious, must-follow feed!

Create a mood board

Mood boards are not only so much fun to make, but also hugely beneficial for your brand. Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration. Just create a board (it can be public or secret) and fill it with all of the inspiration for your Instagram!

Here’s the Girlcrush mood board:

Now, look at the Girlcrush Instagram feed:

girlcrush collective instagram

You can see that the mood for Girlcrush is consistent! When I don’t know what to post, I can simply go to my Pinterest for inspiration.

Keep your editing consistent

Once you’ve nailed down your brand’s mood/theme, it’s time to find an editing style that fits your aesthetic! There are many apps and tools that make photo editing easy, even for someone who has no photography experience.

If you want to take the free route, VSCO is a great choice! It is an app that allows you to choice filters, make your own, save them, etc. Once you nail down the editing style you like, you can save it and use it to apply to all of your photos!

This blog post from Girlcrush Collective, Kick-Ass Instagram Feeds for Inspiration contains lots of different settings to apply to your photos on VSCO to create the editing style that you want for your feed!

If you’re feeling a little more ambitious and are ready to invest in some high-quality photo presets, you’re in luck! We recently launched the Girlcrush Presets, they’re ready-made filters for your photos on Lightroom. There is a desktop version and a mobile version for Lightroom, and our presets work for both!

The Girlcrush Presets are only $6 each! And if you buy the bundle of all 5, you get them for the price of 4.

Plan your feed in advance

Okay, you’ve nailed down your content and your style - way to go! Now for the final step to ensure that your feed is beautiful and consistent - planning!

VISUAL PLANNING is a life-saver. There are platforms that allow you to plan and schedule your feed in advance by uploading your posts and moving them around to see where they’d fit best. This helps keep you from posting too many similar posts at once or having some awkward group of photos.

There are several visual Instagram schedulers, but my top three favorites are Planoly, Later, and Plann. For Girlcrush’s Instagram, I use Planoly, so that is what I am going to walk you through.

Planoly is awesome because it has both a mobile version and a desktop version.

So looking at the image above, you can see that the Instagram feed is shown on the left-hand side, with the calendar on the right. The bottom half of the posts have already been posted (you can tell based on the little stats icons on the posts) and the top half are posts that have no been shared yet. I can move those posts around to see how they’ll look once I post them.

Note: always be aware of your top 9 posts. This means the 9 most recent posts on your feed. These are the posts that are going to be seen immediately by anyone who visits your Instagram profile. If your feed isn’t looking fabulous at the moment, just work to make sure that your next 9 posts are awesome!

planoly app

The Planoly app works the same way. It actually looks just like Instagram so it makes planning your feed really fun and easy! On the right side, you can see where you go to write your captions for your upcoming posts. You can save them, schedule them, set them to be posted automatically, and so much more. You can save your hashtags to Planoly so all you have to do is tap a category to add some hashtags - no more typing them all out or saving them to random notes in your phone!

So to recap - here’s what you need to do to have a perfect Instagram feed in 2019:

  1. Create a mood board (I use Pinterest)

  2. Choose an editing style (like our Girlcrush Presets)

  3. Use a visual planner (I use Planoly)

I hope this has been helpful! We’d love to hear what your plans are with your Instagram feed this year!


new year new instagram feed

How to Get the Swipe Up Feature on Instagram Stories

Have you seen those Instagram stories that let you swipe up to go directly to a link? Pretty cool, huh? Much easier than having to send your followers to your “link in bio” every time that you want to direct them somewhere.

One of the things that people complain about the most with Instagram is the fact that you cannot put links in your captions. The only place that you are able to add a link to is your bio, making it difficult if you frequently want to direct your followers to different places.

Even then, going to your profile and clicking the link in your bio is two extra steps that a person has to take, so getting them to do so is tricky in itself. Needless to say, the swipe up feature is very valuable.

How to get the swipe up feature

To get the swipe up feature, you must fulfill two criteria:

  1. Have a business Instagram account

  2. Have at least 10,000 followers

Instagram is not messing around with this special feature. They know the value and don’t give it to every single account.

instagram swipe up feature

Adding a link to your story

Once you have 10,000 followers, you can start adding links to your stories!

Here’s how to add a link:

  1. Go to create a story like you normally would

  2. Shoot or upload your photo/graphic

  3. Tap the link icon on the top right

  4. Press + URL under Add Link

  5. Type in your desired URL

  6. Tap done in the right hand corner

  7. Upload your story

If you don’t have 10,000 followers yet…

Don’t worry! There are still ways to add multiple links to your bio and many strategies and tricks to help you can reach 10,000 followers.

To start growing your account quickly, become a member of InstaCrush! We’ll provide you with lessons and strategies, thousands of hashtags, graphics, templates, captions, quotes, stock photos, and more!

instagram swipe up feature

Travel Bloggers Share Their Best Instagram Tips

travel bloggers tips and tricks instagram

It’s no secret that there are a lot of travel Instagram accounts out there. However, this should not discourage you from starting your own! It’s very possible to stand out in a saturated field. We got the chance to chat with 15 successful travel bloggers about their secret sauce when it comes to Instagram success!

Tatum of Bonvoyage Bitches

“LET YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE THROUGH. If you say fuck a lot then say fuck. If you hate a place you’ve visited that everyone loves, go against the norm! These people click the “follow” button because you are YOU. And if you stand out amongst the rest and go against the grain, they will remember that. They will remember you and your brand!

Your captions need to captivate your audience while giving them some behind the scenes. Anyone can take decent photos and post dumb Pinterest caption under it, but not everyone can continually entertain and engage their audience! Do you boo boo 🙌🏻🙌🏻💅🏻💅🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻” - @bonvoyage_bitches

Taylor of Salty Luxe

“What’s your top Instagram tip? 

This is a question I get asked all the time. My answer is ‘be you – undeniably & unconditionally YOU! There ain’t no-one like you & that is your magic!’ Also, seriously ask yourself what value YOU can bring to your tribe: are you there to inspire, educate, raise awareness about a cause you care about? Find what it is that makes you tick & showing up for that every day will not be a problem (because showing up EVERY day is what it takes!” - @saltyluxe

Alexis of The Babe Abroad

“My #1 tip for running a successful Instagram account has to be consistency and authenticity. Being consistent is so important, to give your audience the new content that they expect when they follow you. Authenticity is also key because if your audience feels like you’re “just another blogger with an Instagram account” they will end up leaving. You need to create authentic content and be consistent with it to make your audience want to stay and engage with you!” - @thebabeabroad

Layla of Las Angeles Travel Girl

“I’d say my number piece  of advice to run a successful Instagram account is: engage with your audience!   We would be no one without our supporters/readers so stay connected... be kind, be human. Ask questions in your captions, your insta stories so you can grow a community while growing your brand!  Answer your DMs & respond to comments. We are all on this earth and being kind to each other should be a priority... apply that to your social media platforms as well!” - @latravelgirl

Michelle Chu of Michu Travel

“Don’t travel for Instagram, but travel for yourself - this way you’ll end up creating contents that you enjoy while having fun!” - @michutravel

Taylor of Taverna Travels

“This might seem obvious, but my number tip to having a success travel Instagram account is to TRAVEL! You need to spend time actually traveling and exploring in order to create incredible travel content. You’d be surprised by how many aspiring travel bloggers don’t actually travel.

Once you have that covered, then you can start focusing on the social media side of things. Engaging daily with accounts in your niche, creating interactive and engaging captions, and making sure to constantly be posting new content in the form of posts and stories!” - @tavernatravels

Melissa of Wanderful Traveler

“Say yes to new adventures and experiences (you probably are already doing this, fellow travel bug!), develop your shooting style and edit your photos so your feed is cohesive. When I embarked on a 2.5 month trip around South America a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to document the journey and kickstart my account. I didn’t quite know what to do but followed and engaged with other travel Instagrammers that really inspired me. After a lot of bad pictures, you begin to find out what works and what doesn’t for your feed - my creative direction began to shape and is still evolving now.

Another big tip is to spend hours (literally) everyday engaging with other people in the travel niche. This is an important step to building an engaged community as well as getting people to notice you as social media is meant to be, well, social! ;) I would recommend doing it in short spurs of 15 minutes throughout the day rather than one big sitting to keep it light and fun.” - @wanderfultraveler

Edana of Wanderstylust

“First, I would suggest choosing a secondary niche. For example, you can choose travel and lifestyle (which are my niches), travel and food, travel and outdoors/adventure etc. This will hone your target audience.

Next, create a consistent feed by using a similar editing style on all your photos and planning your grid out ahead of time using an app like Plann or UNUM. If there’s a specific series of photos that are a bit different than the rest of your feed, group them together into a block of nine so it looks intentional, not messy. If you’re not traveling, you can still create content by taking photos around your hometown and using them to fill in the travel gaps.

Finally, collaborate! One of the best parts of Instagram is the community. Reach out to other accounts in your niche and around your size, get together, take photos, swap tips, and who knows? You may even find some new friends!” - @wanderstylust

Alex of Out of the Office Traveling

“Engagement is key! Like and comment on tons of accounts so that you’re visible. Plan out your feed in advance so it looks pretty and flows well together. Use a high quality editing software like Lightroom to get beautiful images!” - @outoftheofficetraveling

Jyo of Jyo Shankar

“My no 1 mantra is always “hustle and heart will set you apart ! “ Hustle hard and never give up on your goals and always be kind throughout your journey ❤️” - @jyo_shankar

Tara of Tara Michelle Brose

“If you’ve considered starting a travel Instagram account because you are passionate about travel and sharing your experiences, I would say to go for it! Don’t feel like you need to have it all figured out before you start— just start somewhere.

My biggest piece of advice (for any kind of Instagram account really) is to stay true to yourself and don’t get so caught up in how your post will perform. Sometimes my favorite pictures perform the worst and that’s okay! As long as you’re passionate about what you are posting, that is most important.” - @taramichellebrose

Nadia of Travel the Life

“There are many travel accounts nowadays, they are good for inspiration but if you want to have success you have to be unique. Find that niche not so exploited where you can feel comfortable and where you can contribute and be creative. And of course, keep enjoying the experiences that you are going share. This is a work you have to do with passion.” - @travelthelife

Jess of The Trendy Voyager

“There are so many opportunities to work with travel brands out there that no one tells you about. Look at 5 travel brands you love and slide into their DM’s. Make that pitch about them and the value you’re going to provide them. Send them an email, call them and tell them why you would love to create content for them and how you feel about their brand and if they say yes execute on that.

Deliver from a place of service and genuine love from the brand/company. I’ve been able to do this in my own work, I’ve secured partnerships with companies like Hotel Hive, Getaway House and Majestic Mirage Punta Cana. You’d be surprised at how many companies need content and exposure on social media. Most companies are willing to work with you on that.

Keep in mind, some companies will say no for different reasons so don’t take it personally. Be persistent and there’s so many travel brands out there you can reach out. Think about the travel ribbon, there are different parts of a travelers experience. Get specific on your niche and hone in on your message and the value you want to provide others. That’s how you create great content- when you think about what your audience needs, think about the brands you could be an asset to and what you can provide. Don’t just work with brands to get free stays or experiences in exchange. Choose brands you truly love.“ - @thetrendyvoyager

Ophélie of LA Bengale

“Share what you love the most, what inspires you and stay yourself.” - @labengale


What other tips and tricks do you have? Let us know in the comments!


travel bloggers instagram tips and tricks

How to Use Instagram Stories to Engage Your Audience (+ 4 free templates!)

I don't know how closely you view your analytics, but you may have noticed that not all of your followers even see your new Instagram posts when they scroll through their feeds.

Because only a fraction of your followers see your posts, an even smaller fraction will engage with them.

Why is this?

Well, the Instagram algorithm shows your new posts to your followers who engage with you the most. For example, if someone is consistently liking and commenting on your posts, Instagram will be sure that your new posts are at the top of their feed.

This is great for keeping your loyal followers up to date with your content, but it also means that followers who haven’t engaged as much with your content in the past may not see your posts at all.

You want to re-engage those followers so that your new posts show at the top of their feeds as well.


Here are two ways to use Instagram stories to get more engagement on your Instagram posts:

 Share your post to your story

Have you seen the new story feature that allows you to share your posts straight to your story? Users can tap on the picture of your post in your story and go directly to the post

  • Go to the post you want to share

  • Tap the airplane icon underneath the image

  • Select ‘add post to your story’


instagram stories

Announce new posts via your story

Another way to let your followers know that you have a new post is by screenshotting your feed and covering the new post with an emoji, sticker, or GIF. This lets your followers know that you have a new post, but doesn't show them what it is, so they have to go check it out!

  • Take a screenshot of your feed

  • Create a new story with the screenshot

  • Select the sticker icon at the top right corner

  • Choose a sticker to cover the new post

  • Select 'add post to your story'

instagram stories

Now you know two ways to drive users from your story to your post!

Once they engage, they'll be more likely to see your new posts on their feeds because Instagram will recognize that they've engaged with your content!

Another way to encourage engagement on your stories is by using the sticker feature.

Note: Instagram rolls out new features, so don't be surprised if you don't have all of these features yet. It can take months for accounts to get new features, so you'll just have to be patient!

These are the three stickers that drive engagement on your stories, thus driving engagement on your posts!

To use stickers on your stories, create a story or upload a photo, then click on the smiley icon in the top right corner.

instagram stories

The three circled stickers, poll, slider, and questions, allow your followers to easily engage with your stories!

Below are examples of the three different options.

instagram stories

Slider: allows you to ask a question and get a visual response of how much your followers love it/agree.

Poll: allows you to ask a yes or no question, or a question that has two possible answers.

Question: allows your followers to answer your question. You can then share their responses!


Using Instagram Story Templates to engage your followers

instagram story template

What’s an Instagram Story Template? It differs a bit from the features mentioned above because this is not actually a built-in part of Instagram.

It is a graphic that is meant to be uploaded to your story that includes spaces for you to fill in (or circle) your answers.

With Instagram being a predominantly visual platform, using story templates allows you to showcase you personality and more information about you, your blog, or your business.

You can highlight these templates on your profile so that your new followers can see them, even if they were uploaded weeks ago.

It’s also a great way to get your brand out there, because each time someone uses your template, your name will remain on the bottom (see images below). This only happens when you create the stories yourself and are able to credit yourself on the bottom.

In the InstaCrush Membership, we have created several templates that are completely editable and that allow you to put your own name on the bottom of the story!

instagram story template

We’ve also created some free Instagram Story Templates for you to download and post to your story! Tag us, we’d love to check out your answers!


instagram stories