5 Tips for Planning and Creating a Cohesive Instagram Feed
I'm a Sucker for a Cohesive Instagram Feed
...and always have been! There's something about looking at an Instagram page that has this beautifully curated and aesthetically pleasing gallery of images that draws me in.
One of the major trends we saw on social media in 2019 was reverse editing. More in-the-moment, off the cuff, unpolished content. While I can appreciate pulling back the curtain a bit (for me, stories is my outlet for that), I also feel that trying to achieve that unpolished content is really just the same as curating, don't you think? In both instances, creators are creating - and whatever form is your cup of tea, you do you girl.
But for those of you who love a good aesthetic like I do, I want to break down a few tips with the help of some of my girls for you today.
1. Commit to Niche'd Content
Content is king, and really lies at the core of creating a cohesive Instagram feed. I often see pages where there will be, for example, 20 fashion-focused photos in a row, with a recipe post thrown in and 1 or 2 beauty posts in the mix. That, my friends, is not niche'd content.
Niche'd content goes far beyond your Instagram feed and really translates to your branding as a whole. What's your main focus? Are you sharing style and beauty tips? Family? Lifestyle? I think an issue a lot of creators run into is that they want to cover a few categories, but can't figure out how to translate that onto their feed.
The key? Balance. If your niche is lifestyle, balance your style, beauty and family-focused posts by mixing them in one at-a-time. You want someone to visit your feed and be able to determine your niche with a quick glance of your grid. If your content is scattered and doesn't come together cohesively as a whole, it's going to be difficult to get a prospective follower to invest if they're not quite sure what they're investing in.
My friend @lisamarieprang does a wonderful job at keeping her content niche'd. First thing I see when I look at her grid? Fashion; and I can gauge her style right off the bat. Lisa says, "I always use my same preset on every photo but I get bored easily, so I make sure at lease a grid of 9 keeps similar color palettes (with smooth transitions). Always love tweaking my preset colors in Lightroom to add a fun new flare when my boredom gets real! Currently loving blue hues!"
2. Commit to GOOD Content
We've alllll been at a place where we can look back at some cringeworthy content. In fact, I just shared a throwback IG post from 3 years ago to my stories to prove the exact point I'm about to make - we all start somewhere, and we all evolve. As we gain experience, we refine our editing techniques, maybe upgrade our camera lens, and we start to see a clearer picture of what a strategically branded page looks like.
Everybody starts from square one at some point in time, but if you can equip yourself with the tools to be able to create good, quality content, that first year might just be a little less cringeworthy when you look back at it 5 years down the road.
A few tips for creating good content: Learn from others (what feeds inspire you? why? how can you put your own spin on what you admire about them?); Learn the photography basics (lighting, angles, aperture, etc.) so that you can equip either yourself or whoever is taking your photos with the right tools; Invest in a good lens (I mostly shoot with a 35mm); Work on your editing skills; Look at the big picture (does this piece of content educate, inspire or entertain? If not, it's not good content).
3. Choose a Color Palette
Colors breed cohesiveness. For me, color is probably the one aspect that helps my feed come together as a whole most. When it comes to color, think of your feed and ask yourself, what colors am I wearing most? which tones am I drawn to?
When I plan my outfits, I plan with color. I wear a lot of warm neutrals and soft pastels (ie: camels, ivories, light pinks) and that has translated to a cohesive color palette for my feed.
On the other hand, you might want a bolder, more colorful approach - and that works too! Whatever your colorway is, stick to it, being mindful of creating a balance of tones. For example, I recently started incorporating blacks into my feed (something you used to never see). I make it a point to balance those darker tones out by spacing them out on opposite corners of my grid.
My girl @josie_sanders does an insane job of tackling the bolder, more colorful palette, while @maddieperry123 sticks to a gorgeous neutral feed. Both totally different colorways that work in their own way.
Maddie says, "My biggest tip for having a cohesive Instagram feed is wearing the same color scheme - whether your focus is fashion or not! When I switched to posting in more neutral clothing, I noticed a huge difference in my feed."
4. Apply a Preset
A preset is just a fancy name for a photo filter! Presets help do the bulk of your editing work for you, and can be a great option if you're not looking to edit from scratch, or if you're not too photo-savvy.
Often times, since photo locations, lighting, etc. vary from photo to photo, you'll have to put a full final tweaks on your image after a preset is applied. That being said, the white balance, tone curve, and all of that 'complicated stuff' is done for you. With a basic knowledge of brightness, contrast and color tone when it comes to editing, anyone can use a preset! (Check out the presets I use for my feed here).
For me, applying a preset is the final step in my editing process. It helps my tones come together as a whole and keeps my theme consistent. My girl @chelseaasoflate brings together her feed by applying a preset with muted highlights and a moody vibe, while @candidlychan sticks to a darker, more monotone palette filled with gorgeous neutrals.
5. Balance Your Grid
If there's one way to kill a cohesive vibe, it's an unbalanced grid. Think of your Instagram feed as a dynamic, moving story that effectively balances a mix of full-body, half-body, sitting down, detail shots and filler images. Posting 3 back-to-back full-body shots followed by a close-up and then 2 more full-body's throws off that balance in a major way.
I've always created by the rule of 3's. For each row of 3 on my Instagram grid, no two photos are the same type. I also try not to stack photos on top of each other that are too similar. And no, I'm not a visually creative genius who can just envision this all 😜. There are some great grid-planning apps out there that allow you to upload your photos and drag them around to see what looks good where and what flows. UNUM is my app-of-choice when it comes to balancing my grid. I use it everyday and 1000% could not do without it!
Laura of @lauraslittlelocket, does a killer job at creating this balance and also lives by this holy-grail app! She says, "My most helpful app is UNUM. It helps me to plan out my feed before going live! So I'll play around with the positioning of pics in there so when it uploads, it's all in order to make the feed as a whole look cohesive."
My girl @kelclight also prioritizes this balance, saying "When I was newer to blogging and didn't have a ton of opportunities to create content, I would shoot 2-3 different angles of an outfit to use throughout my feed. Not only did this give me more content, but it allowed my feed to look more cohesive by posting 2-3 of the same outfit/edit shot at different angles. TIP: Just make sure you are consistent with how you post (ie: in a row of 3, every other photo, diagonal, etc.).
Below is a little visual of the though process behind my personal feed. I also try to always be aware of capturing different angles when I'm shooting! A forward-facing full-body shot can look totally different from a side-facing full-body shot, and you can use those angles to your advantage.
When @angelenenina_photography and I shoot a look, we always make it a point to capture full-body, half-body, walking, sitting (if possible and my jeans aren't too tight 😂) and detail. It's become a routine that we just cycle through for each outfit, that leaves me a) with a variety of options and b) with options that are diverse enough to be able to use more than once in my feed if spread out. cohesive instagram feed
So, to cohesify your feed or not to? With a little purposeful planning and knowledge of the right tools, anyone can create a cohesive Instagram feed!