How to Create + Upload Your First Instagram Reels in 3 Easy Steps

By Benjamin Chacon

Published August 4, 2020

6 minute read

It's time to jump into the deeps with Instagram Reels! Learn how to create your first reel with this quick guide.


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Instagram Reels is finally here, so it’s the perfect time to learn how to create and upload your first reel!

The good news is that if you’re already using Instagram Stories, you should have no problem transitioning to Instagram Reels as the two formats are quite similar.

Ready to get started?

Here’s how to create + upload your first Instagram Reels in 3 easy steps:

Table of Contents:

  1. What are Instagram Reels?

  2. Step #1: Select Your Music, Speed, and Filters

  3. Step #2: Shoot Your Video

  4. Step #3: Hit Share!

What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram’s take on the ever-popular TikTok (and other new tools like Byte and Triller), Instagram Reels is a completely new format on Instagram that allows you to record and edit multiple 15-second videos set to popular songs.

Rather than creating a separate app for reels (like they did for IGTV), Instagram incorporated the new format into its main app — you can create, share, and view Instagram Reels all within Instagram!

As far as sharing goes, you can post reels to your feed (your reel will appear on your main profile grid), and, if you have a public account, you can make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new Reels space on the Explore page.

According to Instagram, “reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on a global stage.”

And as we wrote in our ultimate guide, while the reels algorithm hasn’t been locked down yet, it feels a lot like TikTok’s For You page and is likely influenced by who you follow, what content you interact with, and where you’re located.

That means that even people who don’t follow you can see and engage with your reels — that’s a major engagement hack and huge opportunity to grow your following!

At the moment, Instagram Reels is only available to users in certain countries, including France, Germany, Brazil, and, most recently, the United States! We’ll keep you updated as more countries get access to the feature.

For now, let’s look at how to create + upload your first Instagram Reels in 3 steps:

How to Create Instagram Reels Step #1: Select Your Music, Speed, and Filters

To create your first Instagram Reels, start by opening the Instagram Stories camera and selecting the Reels option.

Before you shoot your video, you can search for a song from the Instagram music library to accompany your reel. However, you can also use your own original audio by simply recording a reel with it.

Note: When you share a reel with original audio, your audio will be attributed to you, and if you have a public account, people can create reels with your audio by selecting “Use Audio” from your reel.

You can also select which part of a song you want to feature.

The next step is to set your timer and countdown.

The timer allows you to record any of your clips hands-free. Once you press record, you’ll see a 3-2-1 countdown, before recording begins for the amount of time you selected.

Like with Instagram Stories, you can select one of the many effects in Instagram’s effects gallery, and record multiple clips with different effects.

Finally, you can choose to speed up or slow down part of the video or audio you selected. This can help you stay on a beat or make slow-motion videos.

Want to jump into the details? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Reels to learn more about all the recording and editing features, along with how you can use reels to better market your brand!

How to Create Instagram Reels Step #2: Shoot Your Video

The next step is to record your Instagram Reels, which is almost exactly like how you would record a video for Instagram Stories — just press and hold the capture button. You’ll see a progress indicator at the top of the screen as you record.

Keep in mind that reels can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time), all at once, or using video uploads from your gallery.

Once you’re done recording, you can add other effects to your videos, like GIFs, stickers, and text.

You can also select at what points in your video you want your text to appear. For example, if you want the text to appear at just the beginning of your reel, set the slider so that it only covers the first few seconds of the video.

P.S! Check out the top brands that are (already!) going viral with Instagram Reels in this blog post!

How to Create Instagram Reels Step #3: Hit Share!

Once you’re happy with everything, tap the next button to share your Instagram reel.

Unlike Instagram Stories, which has fairly limited sharing options, when you share Instagram Reels, you can add a caption and hashtags, edit the video thumbnail (including adding a cover from your camera roll), tag your friends, and select where you want it to be shared.

If you have a public Instagram account, you can share your reel to a dedicated space in Explore, where it has the chance to be seen and discovered by the wider Instagram community.

On top of this, you can share your reel with your followers by posting it to your Instagram feed where it will appear under a new reels section on your profile.

When someone views your Instagram Reels video, they’ll see your username, caption, hashtags, music, and effects (if you used one).

Moreover, when you share reels featuring certain songs, hashtags, or effects, your reel may also appear on dedicated pages when someone clicks on that song, hashtag, or effect

On the other hand, if you have a private account, your reels will only be shared to your feed. People will not be able to use original audio from your reels and they won’t be shareable with users who don’t already follow you.

How to Watch Instagram Reels

To watch reels, head to the Explore page and tap on the Reels section.

From here, you’ll be able to discover a selection of reels made by anyone on Instagram, as well as like, comment, and share with your friends.

You may also notice some reels with a “Featured” label. According to Instagram, “featured reels are a selection of public reels chosen by Instagram to help you discover original content we hope will entertain and inspire you.”

If your reel is featured in Explore, you’ll receive a notification letting you know.

And that’s it!

There’s really no telling how big Instagram Reels will get, but if TikTok’s massive success is any indication, we think the future looks pretty bright.

And although Instagram Reels is only available in certain countries at the moment, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the new format now so you can create and upload your first Instagram Reels when you get access!

Ready to get started? Level-up your Instagram strategy with Later — plan, schedule and automatically post to your feed, for free!

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