A great Instagram photo. You know it when you see it… but sometimes it’s hard to replicate that magic. What apps did they use? How did they edit it? Are they using filters?
Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned Instagrammer our checklist is designed to guide you through the process of snapping that perfect shot and ensuring you don’t miss a single step; all while helping you maximize your time spent on Instagram from photo setup through to engaging with your community.
The Essential 15 Point Instagram Checklist
- Do you have the right lighting?
- Did you use the rule of thirds?
- Do you need to get closer or try a different angle?
- Are you happy with the final shot?
- Do you want to schedule your post?
- Have you turned on push notifications?
- Are you logged into the correct accounts?
- Have you selected the best time for publishing?
- Do you need to edit your photo or add a filter?
- Do you have permission and have you given proper credit?
- Have you used the optimal keywords and hashtags?
- Have you checked your spelling?
- Are the proper accounts tagged?
- Have you selected the correct location?
- Is the URL in your bio relevant to your caption?
1. Do you have the right lighting?
Lighting is crucial for getting the best Instagram shot. Make sure the lighting is on point and don’t be afraid to change it to get the shot you want.
For indoor shots such as selfies and food photos that might mean bringing a lamp over or positioning your subject nearer the ideal lighting. For outdoors, time of day is everything. Familiarize yourself with golden hour, blue hour and twilights and how to use them to get your best shots.
2. Did you use the rule of thirds?
Basically, the rule of thirds states that the most important subjects of the photo should be placed along the gridlines and at the intersections of these lines. Your phone’s camera (or whichever photo app you use) should have the option to turn gridlines on and off. Turn them on and see how you can use the rule of thirds in your own photography.
Remember you don’t have to strictly adhere to the rule of thirds in every photo but it is a good starting point when setting up your shots. For an overview of how to apply it to your photos check out this article by Emil Pakarklis.
3. Do you need to get closer or try a different angle?
Instead of trying to crop your shot to get the detail you want, consider getting closer to your subject to preserve photo quality and get a new perspective. Alternatively, experiment with different angles. Shoot from above, from below or try placing objects in the foreground and blurring them out.
4. Are you happy with the final shot?
Kim Kardashian admits to taking up to 300 photos in order to get that one perfect selfie. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of photos until you’re happy. If you’re not happy keep snapping until you are.
As you learn what works your time spent getting that perfect shot will decrease. However, be prepared to invest some time up front if you are not already comfortable with a camera.
Editing & Scheduling
5. Do you want to schedule your post?
If you want to publish your post right away skip down to point #10 for the next steps in that process. To schedule a post follow these 4 easy steps:
- Sign up for a free Latergramme account
- Download our mobile app – iOS | Android
- Schedule your first Instagram photo either via our web or mobile app
- Receive a notification on your phone when your scheduled post time arrives and swipe to post on Instagram
6. Have you turned on push notifications?
Whether scheduling your content via Latergramme or posting it directly to Instagram, having push notifications turned on for both apps is essential for managing your posts. Latergramme will send you a notification to your mobile device when it is time to publish your scheduled content to Instagram. Once published you will want to receive notifications from Instagram anytime someone likes or comments so you are able to quickly engage with your community.
7. Are you logged into the correct accounts?
If you use Latergramme to manage multiple accounts you must be logged into the correct account on both Latergramme and Instagram. On a day that you know you have content scheduled it is a good policy to double check that all accounts are logged in and working properly at the start of your day.
8. Have you selected the best time for publishing your content?
Finding the right time to post your content can be tricky. Some content comes with a predetermined day – #TBT for example – but other posts you want to send out when it will garner the most engagement.
In February, we collaborated with The Huffington Post to share the best times to post a photo on Instagram. We looked at data from our users and what we found is that, although it varies from day to day, there were some patterns such as engagement spikes at 2am and 5pm EST. We also found that one of the times that will garner you the most engagement is 5 p.m. EST on Wednesdays.
Read the full article for more tips and insights on optimal times to post your Instagram content.
9. Do you need to edit your photo or add a filter?
Not every photo needs a filter and sometimes a filter can take away from the photo. Spend the time reviewing and choosing the right filter.
Rather than filtering, your photo might just need some quick edits. Invest in a free or paid app that can help you edit your photos like a pro… even if you’re still a novice. To help you get started, we’ve put a list of some of our favourites apps and tools at the bottom of this post.
10. Do you have permission and have you given proper credit?
Instagram’s Community Guidelines state, “As always, you own the content you post on Instagram. Remember to post authentic content, and don’t post anything you’ve copied or collected from the Internet that you don’t have the right to post.”
If you are not the original photographer or creator it’s important to ensure you have permission to post the content you are sharing. If you’re regramming a photo, ensure that the Instagrammer is open to you using their content and that you provide proper credit when sharing.
There is no agreed upon standard as to how to provide credit for regrams, but we recommend providing credit in the caption and then, should you choose, tagging the original Instagrammer in photo as an extra measure of credit.
When using Latergramme’s regram feature, we pre-populate the caption field to include credit to the original Instagrammer as well as add an optional regram banner on the photo.
If you are asking for submissions via custom hashtag (like our #Latergrammeit hashtag) the people using the hashtag do so with the understanding that their content might be regrammed.
When regramming content posted to someone’s Instagram page without a custom hashtag, it is best to reach out to them to ensure they’re okay with regramming. We’ve had the most success getting approval by commenting directly on the photos we want to regram versus using Instagram direct messages.
11. Do you have the optimal keywords and hashtags?
Choosing specific keywords and hashtags will help you connect with people on Instagram, generate engagement on your content, and find new followers for your account. Make it easy for other Instagrammers to find your content by ensuring your tags describe your photo.
Using general tags, for example #coffee, might get you a few likes but general tags are used by a lot of people meaning your post will likely get lost in a sea of similar photos. Using more specific tags, for example #frenchpress #pourover #espresso, will help your photos stand out and connect with the right people. It’s a good idea to see what hashtags people posting similar content are using; you might find some popular hashtags you hadn’t thought to use.
12. Have you checked your spelling?
Instagram now provides the option to edit captions after a photo is posted. Regardless, it is still good practice to check – and double check – spelling before posting. You can use various tools and apps on your phone to write out your caption and check for errors.
When scheduling a post via Latergramme you can use our web app to write your caption via your computer. Using the Latergramme web app allows you to easily copy and paste prewritten captions from your working docs where you’ve already checked and approved spelling.
13. Are the proper accounts tagged?
Double check that you are tagging the proper accounts to ensure maximum exposure for your photo and that the correct account gets notified when the post goes up. This is especially important if you are using tagging as a means to give credit to a photographer or subject.
14. Have you selected the correct location?
When adding the location to your photos make sure you have chosen the correct location. This might seem simple but there are often similarly named locations. It is important to check both the name and the address to ensure you have chosen the right one. When adding a custom location ensure to double check the spelling before creating it.
15. Is the URL in your bio relevant to your caption?
Since your bio is the only place where you can have a clickable link you can take advantage of this by having the caption of your post reference back to the link in your bio. If you are wanting a specific link in your bio ensure that you change it before you post your photo.
Apps + Tools the Latergramme Team Loves
Taking + Editing Photos
Layouts + Collages + Adding Text
- Canva – Web
- Layout from Instagram – iOS
- PicFrame – iOS | Android
- Diptic – iOS | Android
- aillis – iOS | Android
Scheduling + Management + Analytics
What are your favourite photography and Instagram tools and apps? Let us know in the comments or send us a tweet!
Want to schedule and manage your Instagram posts? Latergramme is here to help! Schedule your first Instagram post now.
Header image by kisforkristina via Flickr