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Social Media Design Tips & Blogs

Instagram Tips for Creatives: Optimizing Your Instagram Portfolio

Updated on September 19, 2018
9 minute read

Looking for Instagram tips and tricks for creatives? If you’re a photographer, blogger, designer or creative business looking to get noticed by more clients, Instagram is a great place to showcase your portfolio and build your business online! Turning your Instagram into your online portfolio is one of the best ways to attract new clients,

Published September 19, 2018

Looking for Instagram tips and tricks for creatives?

If you’re a photographer, blogger, designer or creative business looking to get noticed by more clients, Instagram is a great place to showcase your portfolio and build your business online!

Turning your Instagram into your online portfolio is one of the best ways to attract new clients, showcase your work, and become known for your artistry.

Instagram Tips For Creatives #1: Use Your Instagram Bio As a Cover Letter For Your Instagram Portfolio

When a future client lands on your Instagram page, you only get a few seconds (or sentences) to hook your clients. It’s important to create Instagram bio copy that communicates your goals, passions, and interests in a few sentences.

Ask yourself, what is it that you want or need to communicate to clients?

Here’s an example from Shutterstock Contributor Kim Daniels (@kimbroughdaniels). Within her bio, Kim clearly describes what she does in a creative and simple format.

She also clearly displays her name and location, giving future clients the exact information they need to know.

Photographers and creatives on Instagram most commonly ask, “I want to promote more of my photography work. Should I start another account?”

Usually, you don’t have to start a brand new account, though this will heavily depend on your business goals. If you’re looking to grow your business and influence on Instagram, here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Name: Is your name clearly displayed in your bio? This is important so clients remember you & can also find you on LinkedIn).

  • Location: What is it that your future clients needs to know about where you live/your lifestyle? Example, for many photographers, location and the ability to travel is a huge factor for clients. Adding your location also help recruiters assess whether you’re the right candidate for their new gig.

  • Link in Bio: Where will future clients find your work? Make sure you’re linking to your website and that the links are updated as often as possible.

  • Bio: Describe what it is that you do in a creative and simple format. If you’re an active member of a community that relates to your industry, you can now link to that account within your Instagram bio.

For example, at Shutterstock Contributors, we receive tags from contributors linking to us in their bio, promoting that they are an active member of our contributor community.

We love receiving these notifications, and it puts active members on our radar (so we can repost their content) and contributes to community, as we’ll discuss more in this post.

Overall, your Instagram bio should communicate (in your own creative language) what it is that clients need to know to understand you and your business. Be concise, add emojis if you like, and most importantly, be creative!

Instagram Tip #2: Your Feed is Your Visual Instagram Portfolio

What kind of clients are you trying to attract? If you’re a photographer or content creator, you most likely already have your “brand” or style established.

Whether you stick to a photo editing theme, add borders to your images, or only post vertical images, curate your content to showcase your best work.

If a client lands on your Instagram page, it’s important that you engage them by visually communicating your style.

Make sure you help your visitors capture the essence of your creativity with these suggestions. If you’re wanting to attract a client, ask yourself:

  •  “What would I want to see if I were [insert dream client]?”

  • Within portfolio curation, “Am I showing client’s what my passions are and that I’d be a good person to work with (professional towards others and other brands I’ve worked with)?”

  • “How do I stand out from others within my industry? I mean they’re cool, but I do this awesome thing differently…”

  • “Are my images edited in a cohesive manor?”

  • “What inspires me most?” Make sure you’re posting content you love – your authenticity and inspiration will be contagious!

Curate your portfolio in a way that fully encompasses and portrays your work. Remember: Your creativity is so valuable. Display it for the world to see.

Next you might be wondering, “What do I post?” Here are a few content ideas you can display on your Instagram feed to engage with your audience:

  • Your work: photography, influencer promotion, art, design, products, music, film, etc.

  • A day in the life

  • Milestones

  • Announcements

  • Inspiration

  • Behind the scenes

If you’re looking for some content suggestions,  here’s a great example by Shutterstock Contributor Danny Owens (@danny.owens):

Danny curates his Instagram portfolio through a combination of his photography and day-to-day experiences (captured on both mobile device or his camera). He also posts behind-the-scenes, milestones in his professional career, or whatever may be inspiring him that day.

Want to learn more about growing your Instagram account? Sign up for our free online Instagram conference, Later Lectures, for more free videos and education from leading experts:

Instagram Tip #3: Keep Your Profile Active and Updated

One thing you’ll hear over and over when it comes to Instagram is to “post regularly” – but what does that even mean for creatives?

How often you post will directly tie back to your business goals. Within the creative community at Shutterstock Contributors, contributors typically post 3-5 times per week on average.

It can be tough to create new content everyday (and avoid burnout!), so that’s when curation of old and new content comes in handy. You don’t need an excuse to post images from your archives anymore. There aren’t any rules as to what you should post either!

The best rule of thumb is to post only “your best” content and curate your feed to make your Instagram portfolio look cohesive and 100% you.

One of the easiest ways to plan out your posts is with Later’s Visual Planner – it lets you see a preview of your planned posts in your Instagram feed, and swap them around to an order that you like with just a few clicks!

Scheduling out your posts ahead of time doesn’t just help you maintain a consistent aesthetic, but it also helps you to post regularly.

Digging into your Instagram Insights is another great way to help you make sure you’re posting at the right time. By finding out when your audience is most active, you can increase your exposure and make sure your content is reaching more eyes.

If you want to skip the math and instantly know when your best times to post on Instagram are, you can use an Instagram marketing platform like Later. Later’s Best Time to Post feature helps you identify your most optimized days and times to post for maximum engagement:

When it comes to choosing what content to post to Instagram, more is not better, better is better.

Instagram Tip #4. You’re Not Just a Portfolio, You’re Uniquely You.

While it’s important to create an Instagram strategy for your business, make sure it’s communicated through your unique perspective.

There is nothing more inspiring than seeing someone post an image that allows viewers to feel a part of the moments they’re posting or to enjoy the work they’re proud of. If a client starts following you, they’re going to be interested in learning about you and your work.

Always use images and captions that display your inspiring creative and career-oriented journey. Being authentic in how you promote your work will help you attract the “right” types of clients you’re looking for!

Instagram Tip #5: Use Your Instagram Portfolio to Connect With Communities in Your Industry

Now that you’ve set up your Instagram portfolio and it looks extremely professional, use it to interact with clients and other individuals within your industry. A few great ways to grow your account and get exposure is by:

  • Using active branded hashtags in your captions. Ex. #MyCustomView #ShutterstockContributors

  • Interact with brands by tagging them in your images and commenting on their posts.

  • Did you connect with a potential client on LinkedIn? Make sure to interact with them on Instagram too!

Through managing an account that promotes creative contributors at Shutterstock, we’re constantly looking for exceptional content to repost from our contributors. What grabs our attention is when contributors:

  • Tag us in their photos.

  • Use our branded hashtags (I follow our hashtags and the content comes up on my feed).

  • Interact with the Shutterstock Contributors account. This gives us visibility into who is eager to connect with us. Typically “whoever shouts the loudest gets noticed”. Don’t be afraid to say hello and make sure you’re being seen!

By using these Instagram tips to connect with your community, you can make sure your posts are being seen by the right eyes and increase your chance for higher exposure!

Instagram Tip #6: Use Instagram Stories, IGTV & Instagram Highlights To Stay Connected

Instagram Stories and Highlights are a great way for you to showcase your community involvement without ruining your curated Instagram aesthetic. Here are a few great ways you can use these features to show off your involvement:

  • Show “behind the scenes” to engage your audience in your work.

  • Share what excites you. Promote that photoshoot you just rocked in a story!

  • Use Instagram Highlights to promote any features future clients need to see. Highlights live on your page forever, so curate them under relevant categories.

  • In the video space? Get creative with IGTV. You can re-cut /resize vertical clips to reach a different audience than you’re used to.

When a potential client lands on your page, we now know they’re going to be impressed by your Instagram portfolio. However to keep them engaged, you can use Instagram Stories, IGTV, and Highlights to remind them of the incredible work you’re doing day-to-day.

By using these Instagram tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to creating a professional Instagram portfolio to help you attract new clients and show off what you have to offer!

Looking for new ways to share your creativity? Join Shutterstock’s global network of contributors and earn money doing what you love! Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, a photographer or musician, you’ll find a home for your content.

Want to learn more about how you can use Instagram to grow your business? Sign up for Later Lectures, a free online Instagram conference!

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