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!

Xx,
Katie

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.

YOUR USERNAME

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.

YOUR PROFILE PHOTO

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

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.

HOW TO FIND YOUR COMPETITORS

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.

HOW TO FIND ACCOUNTS TO CROSS-PROMOTE WITH

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

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

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,
Katie

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.

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

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!

Xx,
Katie

instagram stories