The Instagram Tool That You NEED to Be Using

Listen, I’m certainly no expert when it comes to growing a massive Instagram following (I prefer focusing most of my efforts on Pinterest), but I like to think I’m pretty savvy on the technical side of running the show behind the scenes. Most days I’m juggling multiple Instagram accounts, on top of everything else, and I would be absolutely lost without the tool I’m about to share with you.

Lately I’ve been seeing a ton of people ask about the best planning and scheduling apps for Instagram, whether they intend to schedule content for themselves, their businesses, or their clients. After throwing my two cents into countless Facebook threads, sliding into a questionable number of DMs, and adding comments to posts on Instagram, I figured I’d tell you about my secret weapon in this blog post to make all of your lives (and mine) a million times easier.

I kid you not when I tell you that every time I mentioned this tool in a social media thread or DM, no one else knew it existed (at least for Instagram). Most people were suggesting other apps and I wanted to scream to all of them that they were seriously missing out — there is something much, much better that you can use other than your average planner app.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you sign up or purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

If you’ve been here before, you might remember this post where I talked about using Tailwind to take your Pinterest game to the next level. Well my friends, you can use that SAME tool to master your Instagram skills, too and save yourself so. much. freaking. time.

Besides how much I love all the features Tailwind has to offer in conjunction with Pinterest, I am equally as obsessed with the features they have for Instagram. Here’s what you need to know:

Automated Scheduling

I remember being SO frustrated by other apps and their “scheduling” features that really weren’t scheduling features at all. They required you to approve before your photo published to Instagram, and often made you paste in your pre-written caption before your image went live on your feed. Other apps claimed to have a scheduling feature when really all they did was send you a notification reminding you it was time to post. What the hell is the point of that!? If you’re going to schedule something, you’re going to want it automated, right? Well, this is where Tailwind comes into play.

With Tailwind, you can upload your content to post directly to your Instagram without having to deal with pesky reminders or extra steps — but Tailwind will also give you the most optimal times to post so that your photo goes live when your audience is actually looking at your account. You can even add additional time slots that are suggested by Tailwind to make sure you’re reaching your audience at the best time.

Smart Hashtag Finder

I don’t know if there’s a truly legitimate confirmation yet (there’s lots of speculation though; everyone has their own opinion), on whether or not it’s best to include hashtags in the caption or comments section of an Instagram post. I always opt for the comments because I think it makes things more organized and visually appealing, but regardless, Tailwind makes it nearly effortless to find the BEST hashtags to use in each of your posts.

All you have to do is upload your photo, start typing your caption, add a hashtag or two and Tailwind will automatically start suggesting the best hashtags to use for your photo. You can even see how many people are using that hashtag. I can’t tell you how many times I scheduled a photo and started adding hashtags only to realize I wasn’t choosing the best tags. Tailwind shows you a ton of possible hashtags in a few different formats that are color coded according to usage.

To really break it down for you: orange hashtags are highly competitive, meaning there are likely millions of others users adding the same hashtag, so it’s very possible that your photo will get lost in that feed if you use that particular hashtag. The green hashtags are the best way to go — light green hashtags are categorized as “good” and dark green hashtags are categorized as “best.” Grey hashtags are specific to your niche, and usually come up if you’ve been using the same hashtags over and over even before you started using Tailwind. I have yet to find another tool that suggests hashtags more effectively than Tailwind.

The Desktop Feature

Another thing I love about Tailwind is that it’s not only available as a mobile app, but it can be used on a computer as well. A lot of the scheduling apps we are so familiar with aren’t able to integrate beyond a mobile device. I personally do a lot of computer work, and only use my phone to check up on social media, so this is a huge seller for me. I can easily create my social media graphics in Canva or Illustrator and directly upload them to Tailwind in order to schedule them out.

Pin From Instagram

Since Tailwind is also a Pinterest scheduling tool, you can choose to schedule pins directly from your Instagram. This means more people could potentially see your Instagram by coming across your images on Pinterest. Keep in mind that it’s best to pin photos that have a text overlay of some kind as these perform better than images of faces, scenery or flat lays that don’t include any text. In order to pin an image from your Instagram to Pinterest you have a couple options:

When uploading and scheduling a new photo for Instagram, you can choose to cross-post to Pinterest. If you already have an account with Tailwind for your Pinterest, you can sync your Instagram account, navigate to the sidebar, select “Pin from Instagram,” and Tailwind will pull up your feed so you can choose an image from there. They really make it so easy!

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In all the apps I’ve used to manage multiple Instagram accounts over the last couple of years, Tailwind takes the cake over and over again. If you’re ready to work smarter — not harder — and make your life so much easier, you can sign up for your free trial with Tailwind here that is good for your first 30 scheduled Instagram posts, or first 100 scheduled pins. I promise you won’t regret it!

xxElizabeth

easy ways to take, edit + plan photos for your blog or business

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One of the questions I get asked a lot over on Instagram is what I use to take and edit my photos. In this post today I’m sharing all the details with you, from the type of camera I use to the apps I edit my photos with.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

Canon DSLR Camera Bundle

When I had my first blog, I took most of my photos using a small digital camera or my iPhone. Needless to say, the quality of my photos was pretty horrendous, but at the time I had to work with what I already had. However, when I started my YouTube channel back in 2013, I knew it was time to invest in a DSLR camera to improve the quality of my videos. I did quite a bit of research and ended up choosing the Canon EOS Rebel T3i, which they happened to have a bundle deal for when I picked it up at Best Buy. There is an awesome bundle deal I found on Amazon recently of a more recent model almost identical to mine, the Canon EOS Rebel T6, that has amazing reviews and comes with just about everything you need to get started. It’s available for Prime and comes at such a steal of a price for all that’s included. If you’re looking to invest in a DSLR camera, this is a great starter package! I have zero complaints about my experience with Canon’s DSLRs. It does take some time to get the hang of all the different settings, but between the guide that comes with the camera and some helpful pins on Pinterest, you’ll be able to navigate all of its different settings and features fairly quickly.

A breakdown of some of the items included in this bundle (for full list click the image above):

  • Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera

  • Canon 18-55mm II Lens — a standard zoom lens

  • 2 SanDisk 32GB SDHC Memory Cards

  • Commander 0.43x Auxiliary Wideangle Lens — mounts to the front of your fixed or zoom lens, allows you to capture a wider field of view

  • Commander 2.2x Auxiliary Telephoto Lens — perfect for long-distance photo situations

  • Canon Camera Case

  • Flash Light

  • 3 Filters

  • Battery Pack + Charger

  • Extra Battery Pack

  • AC/DC Car + Home Charger

  • High Speed USB Reader (LOVE this!)

  • Commander Wired Shutter Release Remote

  • 50” Camera Tripod (SO helpful if you’re taking your own photos of yourself!)

Soft Box Studio Lighting

When I was working full time, most of my photos and videos had to be done after work, which meant I had very little natural lighting to work with unless I was able to shoot on the weekends. To further improve the quality of my content, I decided to purchase soft box lighting to set up whenever I was taking photos or filming YouTube videos. I have LOVED this lighting equipment; I’ve had it for four or five years and have yet to replace any light bulbs. The initial set up is a bit tricky but I was able to put everything together on my own in just about an hour or so. I typically keep it set up in a separate room for convenience since I now take photos almost every day. It does take a bit of time to figure out how you want to set up your lights for each shot, but once you do it a few times you’ll get the hang of it. The exact lighting I use is below:

Ring Light

One item that I don’t have yet that’s on my wish list is a ring light. I would love to have one for doing Instagram lives, client video calls, and for a different style of lighting for photos and videos. This style of lighting is perfect for self portraits. This particular brand has a few different options, but this one is their best seller and one that comes highly recommended by other bloggers and business owners, plus the price point is super reasonable compared to some other models I’ve researched. Like some of the other products I’ve mentioned, it’s also available on Prime so you can get it shipped to you quickly. While I’m not quite ready to invest just yet, this is the exact light on my wish list:

Miscellaneous Items

If you already have a DSLR and therefore don’t need the bundle I included above, there are a few items that are crucial to have:

Photo Editing, Planning + Scheduling

Once you have the equipment you need to take your photos there is obviously some work that goes into editing and planning what you’re going to post. For me, I use a few different tools once my images are uploaded to my computer. I have my photos synced in cloud, so whatever I upload to my computer will also go straight to my phone. Back when I had free access to all Adobe programs through my previous job, I always edited in Adobe Lightroom right on my computer. Now I use a few different apps on my phone, which is super easy and cost-effective.

Editing

I always use two apps to edit my photos: VSCO and FaceTune. I always use VSCO first and use the same filter on all my photos for my blog account. For the time being, the adjustments I make on VSCO are super simple:

Once my edited photos are saved from VSCO back to my camera roll, I then go into my FaceTune app and open the recently edited photos. From here, I make a couple minor adjustments using the B+W, glow, and cropping tools. I like my backgrounds to be crisp, white, and bright, and these tools make that possible. If I’m breaking out, I may smooth out some blemishes on my face, but other than that I keep it simple. This quick screen recording shows you exactly how I edit a photo:

Planning + Scheduling

To be honest, I really don’t schedule many photos ahead of time. I’d love to get to the point where I’m able to schedule out a month’s worth of posts, but right now I pretty much upload everything manually. I do, however, like to plan my posts before I publish them on Instagram so I can make sure I keep my theme consistent. In order to do that I use an app called UNUM. If you’ve ever used Planoly before, UNUM is very similar, but in my opinion, it’s better. I love how easy it is to manipulate photos, make minor edits, and add in captions. You can schedule photos from UNUM but I pretty much just use this to check my photos before I post them! Take a look at this super quick tour I give you of my personal UNUM feed for howshedoesit.co:

Regardless of where you are in your blog or business, remember it’s all a process. Patience is your best friend, which is so hard to remember sometimes. Hopefully these tips and tools help steer you in the right direction when it comes to incorporating photos on you blog, website, or social media pages. If you have other helpful tips always feel free to leave them below. If you have further questions, feel free to email me at elizabeth@howshedoesit.co

xx

Elizabeth