Creating a cohesive Instagram aesthetic is something I have always been passionate about and I love being able to help others find their IG aesthetic! If you’re struggling with the way your Instagram looks and you’re not sure where to start, you’re in the right place today.
My Instagram Aesthetic Journey Over The Years
Let me share some of my Instagram aesthetic journey with you before we get into all of the tips. I promise it’ll be helpful! When I first joined Instagram, I had no set aesthetic and as I got into blogging, I started to see the importance of branding and having a certain vibe to your page. Over the first year or so, my Instagram feed went from cool and moody to bright and airy, and back and forth a bit. Over the most recent years, I gravitated towards bright and crisp photos… white space, brightness… I was all about it.
But during all of that time, I always felt like something was missing from my aesthetic. Because I had such a bright and white feed, it was extremely difficult to maintain and to edit. While I appreciate the tips I learned in Lightroom and free mobile apps, I just didn’t want to be spending so much time (I’m talking sometimes 30 mins – 1 hour) on just one photo. Yeah, it was exhausting and stressful. Combine that with the frustrations everyone has with Instagram and I just had no joy creating for Instagram anymore. I knew I needed to change that.
I invested time making my own Lightroom presets from scratch and that’s when I made the spontaneous decision to shift my Instagram aesthetic. That was one of the best spur of the moment decisions I’ve EVER made. I subtly shifted my IG aesthetic at the start of December 2020 and I have not stressed once about what I’m creating. Talk about a breath of fresh air!
HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR INSTAGRAM AESTHETIC
1. Be Willing To Devote Time – Developing an Instagram aesthetic takes time. It takes trial and error. If you want to get serious about how your Instagram photos look, whether it’s for a creative hobby or if it’s for your blog/biz, you need to be willing to devote time to it. If it’s important to you, you’ll make it a priority!
2. Aim To Reflect Yourself In Your “Feel” – In the “influencer” world, you’ll be encouraged to do what will appeal to others and while that is an important part of influencing, you need to stay true to yourself. Part of staying true to yourself is creating content that you love and that reflects you. I have seen many people who went after an IG aesthetic because it was deemed cool at the time but it didn’t reflect their true personality or brand, so in the end, that trendy aesthetic actually hurt them. How so? Well, if you’re not being yourself, how do you expect to reach your target audience?
Here are some tips for developing your “feel”…
- Create a mood board! Not sure how to make one? Use Canva – type in “mood board” into their search bar and you’ll find tons of mood board templates you can use. Then head over to Pinterest and start saving photos that align with the aesthetic you’re going for. Then arrange them in your mood board to see if they fit. This will take trial and error but it’s also fun!
- Ask yourself important questions. What are your passions? What colors do you love? What’s your personal style? What are 3 words to describe your personality? What words move you?
- True to life? Really bright? Moody? What kind of lighting and editing situation are you attracted to most? This is a HUGE factor you need to decide on pretty much right away. If you want a cohesive feed, you can’t post a moody photo followed by a crisp white photo.
- Warm, cool, neutral? What kind of tone do you prefer?
3. Use 1-2 Presets To Edit Your Photos – Editing your photos is one of the most important parts of staying consistent with your Instagram aesthetic. I highly recommend using Lightroom Mobile Presets. You can get the Lightroom Mobile App for free on your device. You can do basic editing with exposure, shadows, contrast, etc. but you’ll also be able to use Lightroom Mobile Presets.
I really recommend sticking to 1 main preset but sometimes, you may need to use a similar one. That’s totally okay!
An IMPORTANT note about presets: It’s a common misconception that presets are one-click edits and while many advertise their presets as such, it’s simply not the case. Most presets are NOT one-click edits. So much plays into editing photos to stick with a theme. You’ll most likely have to adjust the white balance and exposure every time. Presets are just one part of the puzzle.
4. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting – Lighting is a larger piece of the aesthetic puzzle because so much depends on it. The original lighting setting that you take your photo in will make or break your aesthetic. The lighting sets the tone for your image. If you love a cozy feel, you’re not going to want to take photos outdoors on a sunny day. Sunny days provide harsh lighting environments – basically, the complete opposite of cozy. If you’re going for that cozy, inviting feel, you’re most likely going to shoot indoors with natural light or outdoors on a cloudy day. If you like bold and bright aesthetics, then low-light settings and lots of shade are not the kind of setting you’re going to want to shoot in.
5. Use A Planning App To Build Out Your Feed – Planning apps are incredible tools that help you to plan and stay organized, and they also help give you that visual you need to make sure you’re keeping with your aesthetic. Below are some free Instagram feed planning apps.
6. Consider Colors, Texture, & White Space – As you can tell from my feed, I love neutral colors and earth tones. You’re not going to catch me in a hot pink dress on my feed, haha. I’m not saying you need to dress or only wear the colors you’re aesthetic is at all! Personally, I have always gravitated towards purchasing clothing or decor that aligns with my brand. Color is important. If your feed is cool-toned, yellow and orange aren’t going to be ideal to be featured in your feed. Make sense?
Texture and white space kind of overlap for me. This is also why I really believe you need to use a planning app!… I hope my examples below can be of help for this explanation.
The first feed layout (THINGS TO AVOID!)
Here are some things that are wrong with this planned version of my feed. I have photos of Taya back to back, photos feature my hand holding something too close to each other, there are 2 photos of Taya and me together (in similar positions) back to back, close-up portraits too close together, and really, just a lot of clutter. While I’m staying consistent with editing, you can really see where consideration of white space and placement of photos comes into play. Below is how my feed actually looks.
Here I have similar photos spread out and I really play around to make sure everything doesn’t look too busy. When I shared more fashion content in the past, I would never post the same outfit back to back – I’d spread them apart. I’m all about inviting people into my life and I need my feed and aesthetic to reflect that. I try to stick to clean backgrounds but I also consider subtle depth to bring my images and aesthetic to life.
7. Batch Content When You Can – Batch shooting is a lifesaver and time-saver! When you shoot a ton of content in one day/period of time, it can help you to always have content ready to go. For example, if my home is getting great natural light, I’m going to use it to my advantage and take as many photos (and TikTok videos ha!) as I can that day.
There are many factors that go into batching depending on your life and schedule, but I highly recommend always checking the weather! That might sound a bit nerdy, haha! But weather and lighting play an important role. If it’s going to be dreary and rainy, I’m going to work on writing and emails, rather than shooting.
[bctt tweet=”9 Steps To Find Your Instagram Aesthetic” username=”SummerTelban”]
8. Consistency But Remembering Quality > Quantity – I’m a firm believer that with Instagram, consistency is key. Consistency doesn’t mean posting every single day or multiple times a day. Consistency can mean whatever you think is best for yourself. I aim to post 4-5 times a week. Figure out your goal and work toward it and remember, using the tips above will help you achieve the consistency you need.
Quality > quantity ALWAYS. If you’re stressed or unsure about a photo or you don’t have a caption, then skip that day.
PIN ME FOR LATER!
9. Stay True To Yourself – There’s a lot of pressure out there to conform to the next cool or trendy thing, but stay true to yourself. If you’re starting to doubt your feed, get back to your “why” and recenter yourself on that. Have fun! Remember that you’re creating for yourself first before anyone else.
I hope this is helpful for you! If you have any questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll be glad to help! Follow along with me on Instagram – @SummerTelban. 🙂