Do you struggle with posting consistently on your shop’s or boutique’s Instagram? It’s ok if you do — I used to as well! Until I started using my social media content calendar to plan out my social media. Yes, all of my social media. Now, I’m able to plan out my Instagram one month in advance. Crazy, right!?
Knowing what to post on Instagram takes some additional planning on your part, but so extremely helpful in the end. Hey, we got busy lives after all! Here is a step by step look at how I plan out my Instagram one month in advance.
1. Know the month ahead
For my blog, I need to know what kind of posts I will be posting and for my social media services, I’ll need to know if I’m having any special offers. I include those in my social media content planner.
As a product based business, I would consider any new arrivals, special sales or promotions, upcoming tradeshows and giveaways. Add those to your social media content calendar (and probably to your general calendar too).
Based on that, I figure out what kind of content I will be posting. A giveaway may need a graphic. A sale may need a lifestyle image or a flatlay image or even both. I consider what images I need to take with my camera and which ones can be made either on my computer or on my phone.
2. Make the graphics and take the pictures
I find that I don’t necessarily need to make every graphic post in advance, but I usually have a template to work off of which makes creating graphic images easier. I prefer making mine in Photoshop because that allows me to easily add a screenshot of the freebie I’m offering and use the fonts that I use with my brand. However, if you don’t have Photoshop, you can try an app for your phone like A Beautiful Mess.
Whether you use a computer or your phone to make a graphic, I highly suggest coming up with a template for you to use any time you need to create a graphic. Using a template helps with brand identity and overall helps your Instagram feed appear more cohesive.
While my graphics can be made in a pinch simply following a premade template, pictures take a little more work. Based on my content planner for the month, I come up with an idea of shots I want to take such as flatlays or angled shots, the props I want in my photos and how it will relate to my content.
I then plan out one day a month to take all those pictures for both my blog and my Instagram — you read that right, only one day. Rather than running around every week trying to master a picture for my blog post or rushing to post on Instagram, having a bulk of photos made at one time helps big time. BIG TIME.
I take a majority of these pictures my Canon Rebel T3i, but while I’m using my fancy camera I also snap a few pictures using my iPhone.
Once all my pictures are taken with my DSLR, I upload them to my computer using Lightoom, which helps me rename and upload the selected images all in one place. After the upload, I edit the pictures in Photoshop.
(P.S. : Want some help naming your pictures to boost your site’s SEO? Check out Fuse’s blogpost about how to get your images found in Google.)
Your brand and your Instagram theme should go hand in hand. For instance, if you have a lot of white space on your blog, you should have a lot of white space in your Instagram pictures. Your brand and Instagram theme can help determine how you should edit your photos. Because I need to use the brightest whites, I alter the exposure and curves in Photoshop. Have bright colors, try playing with the saturation.
There is no right or wrong way to edit your pictures for your brand, but you need to make sure it looks cohesive.
If I need to edit my pictures on my phone, I use the Lightoom app and VSCO. Those are my favorite two editing apps that I swear by.
4. Have access to all your important files and docs
Once I edit my pictures, I save them together into one folder. I then upload them to my Dropbox account, so I have access to them at all times, just in case.
Another thing that has come in handy is my list of hashtags in yet another Google Docs spreadsheet. I have a running list of hashtags in alphabetical order at my fingertips at all times. This allows me to easily schedule my post without wondering what hashtags to use. I’ve done my target market research prior and have this list of hashtags for me to use whenever I need it.
Since Instagram doesn’t have a built-in way to track how many times a link has been clicked, I love using bit.ly. I downloaded the bit.ly app onto my phone so I have access to all my shortened links no matter what.
Again, it’s about having easy access. When it comes to scheduling out my posts, I can do it from wherever because I’ve uploaded all my pictures to my Dropbox, created a list of hashtags and kept my bit.ly links handy.
5. Schedule it out
Later (formerly know as Latergramme) has been my saving grace. (Disclaimer: I am a brand rep, but receive no compensation if you click the link.) Later provides each user 30 free posts per month or you can opt for the paid version.
I prefer scheduling out my Instagram posts using the desktop version of Latergramme. I can bulk upload the pictures if I prefer. I then click the picture I want to schedule to be posted and write out the caption.
Tip: If you are on a Mac and still want to include emojis, click control, command and the space bar to bring up the emoji options.
When I’m writing out the caption, I copy and paste the bit.ly link that refers to my post into the caption and the list of hashtags I will be using for that picture. I schedule the post at the best optimization time for my account; sometimes I like to test posting times as well.
I have the Later app downloaded on my phone to receive push notifications of my scheduled posts. Before I post I copy the link and the hashtags and delete them from the first comment, so the post just includes the picture with the relevant caption. Then, I add the hashtags in the second comment. Finally, I update the link in my bio and update my bio to reflect what my viewers will get my clicking the link.
And then, I’m done! Doing that prep work allows me to post my Instagram pictures in about a minute. I’ve never timed myself, but it’s super quick when I follow this method. So, what are you waiting for? Are you ready to plan out a month’s worth of Instagram posts. Trust me, it’s a life saver if you do.