The Ultimate Guide to Scheduling Instagram Posts

By Benjamin Chacon

Published November 15, 2020

16 minute read

If you want to save time and improve your workflow efficiency, it's a good idea to schedule Instagram posts. Find out how in this ultimate guide!


Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

A lot of business owners are at a loss when it comes to picking the best app to schedule Instagram posts.

What features are most important? Should you use a scheduler that can automatically post for you? What about reporting and analytics?

We’ve got you covered. In our Ultimate Guide to Scheduling Instagram Posts, we explain exactly how you can save time, increase engagement, grow your following, and schedule Instagram posts for free:

Table of Contents:

  1. Why Schedule Instagram Posts

  2. How to Schedule Instagram Posts

  3. Create & Curate Your Instagram Content

  4. Find Your Best Time to Post on Instagram

  5. Plan Your Instagram Feed

  6. Quick Schedule Your Instagram Posts

  7. Optimize Your Captions and Hashtags

  8. Auto Publish Your Instagram Posts

  9. Use to Drive More Traffic and Sales

Why Schedule Instagram Posts?

Every business owner knows that time is money. And if you’re looking to make better use of that ever-so-precious commodity, it makes sense to enlist the help of a free Instagram scheduler.

Think of it this way: would you rather spend 30 minutes every day rummaging through your photos, creating a caption, adding hashtags, and more? Or spend 1-2 hours in one day to schedule your Instagram posts for the entire week?

We’re willing to bet it’s the second option.

If you’re still unconvinced, here are 3 more reasons to schedule Instagram posts for business:

#1: Schedule Instagram Posts to Save Time

With Later, you can quickly drag and drop all your photos and videos to your Media Library and immediately start scheduling your Instagram posts in just a few minutes.

Just think about all the things you can do with that saved time!

Whether it’s growing your reach with an effective Instagram hashtag strategy, hosting an Instagram contest or giveaway, or curating a gorgeous Instagram feed, using a free Instagram scheduler can help you focus more on your strategy and less on logistics.

#2: Schedule Instagram Posts to Create Better Captions

A good Instagram caption can be the difference in whether someone clicks on the link in your bio or engages with your post. But coming up with quality Instagram captions can be a challenge — especially if you’re writing them on the fly.

Rather than coming up with new, clever captions every single day, a better option is to sign up for a free Later account and write your captions in advance from your desktop!

That way, you can sit down at your computer when you’re feeling creative or in the “writing zone,” and spend a few minutes writing out your captions for the entire week.

If you want to share your Instagram content to other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you can also use Later to easily customize, schedule, and optimize your captions for each social network.

To do this, simply click the “+” sign at the top of your Later calendar to select the social profiles you’re scheduling posts for.

Next, drag and drop the photo you want to schedule and customize the caption to optimize each post for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Later makes it easy to shorten your caption for Twitter, or remove the tagged @usernames in your Instagram caption for Facebook.

Like with your Instagram captions, it’s important to spend a good amount of time researching Instagram hashtags. And luckily, this is another area where using a free Instagram scheduler can help!

For example, with Later’s Saved Captions feature, you can create multiple hashtag lists based on your frequently used hashtag categories and then insert them into your captions with just a single click.

Say you’re a travel brand that shares photos of beautiful locations around the world. Instead of trying to remember (or find) relevant hashtags for every post, you can use Saved Captions to keep them all organized, so you can quickly add them when scheduling in the future.

And if you need some help finding niche and industry-specific hashtags, you can use Later’s Hashtag Suggestions feature, which works by automatically finding relevant hashtags for your posts based on other hashtags that you use.

For example, if you’re posting a photo of a dog wearing your new line of bandanas, all you have to do is put one relevant hashtag (like #westie), put it into Hashtag Suggestions, hit “Suggest,” and the feature will immediately generate 30 other hashtags, sorted by relevance.

You can then pick and choose which of these hashtags to add you to your post. All you have to do is click “Insert Hashtags” and they’ll be added to the end of your caption.

#3: Schedule Instagram Posts to Plan a Beautiful Instagram Feed

When someone new lands on your profile, you only have a few seconds to grab their attention and convince them to follow your account.

A curated look and feel of your Instagram profile is one of the best ways to get more followers. Fortunately, this is another area where using a free Instagram scheduler can help!

Later’s Visual Instagram Planner makes it easy to plan and design your feed by dragging and dropping photos you’ll use in future posts onto your planner and rearranging them until you find the perfect look or aesthetic.

It can also give a better “big picture” perspective of your social media strategy and feed as a whole. For example, you’ll be able to see if you’re posting too many product and promotional photos and not enough lifestyle shots, or if you need to space out your darker photos with some brighter ones.

This can help you create a more consistent brand experience on your Instagram feed, which is key to getting more Instagram followers.

Want to learn how to plan your Instagram content like the pros? We teamed up with Puno, founder of ilovecreatives to show how to put a personal spin on your content. Check out our free video course:

How to Schedule Instagram Posts in 7 Steps:

Now that we covered why you should schedule Instagram posts, let’s look at a few ways that you can maximize your Instagram posting potential:

#1: Create & Curate Your Instagram Content

If you’re creating your own content for Instagram, a great way to maximize your time is to have “shoot days” where you create a bunch of content for your Instagram account on a single day.

Whether you’re creating filler content for your account or doing a full-on product photoshoot, thinking ahead can help you plan and create a better flow in your Instagram feed.

Once you’ve gathered all your photos and videos, you can use Later to easily bulk upload your content to your Media Library, and then store them there until you’re ready to post.

You can also add labels to help organize your content better, whether it’s by campaign, photoshoot, color, or theme. This makes it much easier to pull the right photo or video when you need it.

If you’re curating content for Instagram or doing a mix of both, it’s important to gather all your content in one place so you can view it together before you post to Instagram.

To help you out with this, we released a collection of user-generated content (UGC) features that make sourcing, sharing, and crediting content a cinch!

Now you can find on-brand content and add it to your Later Media Library for resharing in just a few clicks – whether it’s photos and videos you’ve been tagged in on Instagram, or any image from the web.

And don’t worry: we help you give proper credit every time.

Not only will sharing UGC add an authentic voice to your content, it’ll keep you on top of your tags and mentions. That means you’ll never miss a chance to engage with your fans and followers.

#2: Find Your Best Time to Post on Instagram

If you want to beat the Instagram algorithm in 2021, you need to optimize your posting time for when the majority of your followers are online.

Think of it this way: since Instagram is now prioritizing “new” content on people’s feeds, your best shot at getting your content in front of your followers is by posting when most of them are actively scrolling the app.

That’s why it’s so important to find your own personalized best time to post on Instagram — you can hack the algorithm to increase your reach and get more likes and followers.

So how do you do this?

Well, one option is to go into your Instagram Insights (you’ll need an Instagram business account to do this), review your audience metrics to find your best times, and then remind yourself to post at those times each day. But this is far from ideal when you’re busy running a business!

If you want to skip the experiments and get right to the good data, an Instagram marketing platform like Later can do the work for you!

Later’s Best Time to Post feature automatically calculates your 7 top posting times based on your best performing posts from the recent month:

Since every Instagram account is different, we created a feature that would give you your personalized best posting times — and that’s exactly what Best Time to Post does!

If you’re on one of Later’s paid plans, your best times to post will automatically be highlighted in your weekly content calendar, making it super easy to schedule your Instagram posts for when your audience is most active!

#3: Plan Your Instagram Feed

Now that you know when your Instagram audience is most active, and you’ve collected a bunch of awesome visuals that truly represent your brand, the last step before scheduling your Instagram posts is to plan out your Instagram feed.

Planning the look of your feed is important if you want to get more engagement and increase followers — and you can easily do this with Later’s free Visual Instagram Planner!

All you have to do is drag and drop your photos onto the visual planner, re-arrange them to see how they’ll look in your feed, and click save.

This makes it easier to build a seamless and visually cohesive Instagram feed that’s bound to help you attract more followers.

But how do you order your photos to create a seamless feed?

Take a look at your Instagram feed as a whole: how do all of your photos fit together? The best feeds have a good variety of subjects that are evenly spaced out. The goal is to create balance and depth of field with your Instagram feed, just like you would in a photo.

If you post a busy photo, you’ll want to balance it out with a lighter photo or a photo with a lot of white space around it. Avoid posting the same shots close together, so switch up the top-down flat-lay photos with other content or a different angle.

#4: Quick Schedule Your Instagram Posts

After you’ve spent time finding the best time to post on Instagram, collecting content, and planning your feed, the last thing you want to do is spend a ton of time actually scheduling your posts.

Luckily, there’s an easier solution: Later’s free Quick Schedule feature. It lets you create your own Instagram queue based on your best times to post and then easily bulk schedule multiple posts at once:

To Quick Schedule Instagram posts, you’ll want to start by creating your Instagram queue on the “weekly” tab of Later’s content calendar. To create your queue, simply double-click on the timeslot that you’d like to add, and a grey box will appear. To adjust your time, just drag the timeslot to the desired time.

Once you’ve created a queue of your personal best times to post, just select multiple photos or videos from your media library and drag and drop them at the top of your calendar.

And what about Instagram Stories? Yep, you schedule those too!

Start by visually planning them with our storyboard tool. Drag and drop stories on to the storyboard tool, and then re-arrange them to fit the order and look that you want.

You can also crop and resize images to fit the Instagram Stories 9:16 ratio.

Next, add any links or captions to your scheduled stories, which will be copied to your phone when it’s time to post.

TIP: Create trackable links for your Instagram Stories to monitor traffic and sales from Instagram. Later makes it easy to keep track of those long URLs, so you never have to scramble to find the right link again.

To schedule Instagram Stories, simply select the time and date from the drop-down menu beside the Save Story button.

Finally, when it’s time to post, you’ll get a notification on your phone!

Later makes it easy to post your stories in seconds: your photos, videos, captions, and links are sent to your phone when it’s time to post. Available now on all paid plans:

#5: Optimize Your Captions & Hashtags

Beyond planning the look of your feed, one of the most time-consuming (and challenging!) parts of posting to Instagram is writing your captions.

This is another reason for using a free Instagram scheduler. When you schedule a post with Later, you can take the time to write compelling captions and CTAs from your desktop, rather than when you’re busy or on-the-go.

In fact, many Later users will pick a day to sit down at their computers and spend a few minutes writing out their captions for the entire week.

TIP: On the days when you’re struggling to write a caption, having content pillars to reference can be a huge help. Establishing content pillars will help you stay organized, be consistent, and create content your audience will love.

And when it comes to finding highly relevant and niche hashtags for your posts, there’s no better tool than Later’s Hashtag Suggestions.

All you have to do is find one relevant hashtag (like #archdesign), put it into Hashtag Suggestions, hit “Suggest,” and the feature will immediately generate 30 other hashtags, sorted by relevance.

You can then pick and choose which of these hashtags to add to your post. All you have to do is click “Insert Hashtags” and they’ll be added to the end of your caption.

Once you find some really high-converting hashtags, you can use Later’s Saved Captions to keep them organized and add them when scheduling in the future.

#6: Auto Publish Your Instagram Posts

Back in the day, you could only schedule videos to Instagram via push notifications, as it wasn’t offered in the official Instagram Graph API.

But thanks to several changes to their API, you can now schedule Instagram posts directly to Instagram, no push notifications required! Just upload your photo or video, select a date and time, and your post will automatically publish to Instagram.

Need help setting up your Later account for auto publishing to Instagram? Check out our step-by-step help guide here or watch the video below:

There are limitations to the Instagram API to note, and notifications may still be needed depending on the type of post you want to schedule. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Auto publishing to Instagram is only available to Instagram business profiles. In order to switch, you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to a Facebook page. You can learn how to set up an Instagram business profile here.

  2. Instagram creator profiles aren’t connected to the Instagram API, which means they can’t use features such as Auto Publish.

  3. You can only schedule single photos and videos directly to Instagram. To schedule carousel posts or Instagram Stories, you will need to use notifications.

  4. Auto publishing to Instagram is available on all Later plans, and can be done from your desktop or the mobile app. Note: free plans cannot schedule videos.

Start scheduling your posts and videos directly to Instagram, no push notification required!

#7: Use to Drive More Sales and Traffic

With your Instagram posts prepped and scheduled, the final step is to use to optimize your posts for traffic and sales.

Since Instagram only gives you one clickable link in the app (the link in your bio), getting users to click-through to your website or online store can be a difficult task.

And while Instagram offers a few tools to help with this, we recommend using Later’s feature.

With you can add links to any of the Instagram posts that you’ve published through Later, which is perfect for directing your Instagram audience to the right content or products on your site.

When someone clicks on the link in your bio, they’ll be taken to a web and mobile-optimized landing page that resembles your Instagram feed (example: Clicking on a photo will take them to a specific URL like a product page or blog post.

Using “Link in bio” CTAs in your Instagram captions will encourage your audience to browse your products, learn more about your brand, and shop your feed.

The best part? We released a free version of, so everyone can drive website traffic and reach their sales goals through Instagram. Plus, it can be set up on the web or Later’s iOS and Android apps!

Set up by Later right now for free – no trials or credit card needed!

Here’s a quick recap:

How to Schedule Instagram Posts

  1. Find your best time to post on Instagram with Later’s Best Time to Post feature

  2. Create and curate your Instagram content

  3. Plan the “look” of your Instagram feed with Later’s Visual Planner

  4. Quick Schedule your Instagram posts to save time

  5. Optimize your captions and hashtags to get more engagement

  6. Auto publish your Instagram posts

  7. Use to drive more traffic and sales

Scheduling your Instagram posts is one of the best ways to save time while achieving your larger goals and objectives — which is a double win for businesses that use Instagram to make sales or generate leads.

When picking the right Instagram scheduler for you, it’s important to think about what features meet your needs, whether it’s curating user-generated content, planning your Instagram aesthetic, or finding your best times to post.

Ready to plan your feed, schedule your Instagram posts, save time, and more? Get started for free now!

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!


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