Monday, March 27, 2017

Intro to Instagram

by Bethany Jett @BetJett

If you’re a writer, there’s a good chance your readers are women (even James Patterson says the majority of his thriller genre audience is female)[1], and there’s a great chance those women use Instagram.

Facebook owns Instagram, so while you’re not really diversifying your social media baskets in terms of ownership, Facebook and Instagram are two totally separate animals. What happens on Instagram does not necessarily matter on Facebook, and vice-versa, so don’t auto-push your content across platforms unless it works for both.

If you’re new to Instagram or want to kick up your “IG” game, let’s break down some tips and strategies for gorgeous “follow-me” feeds.

It’s awesome if you can keep the same username across all your social media, but if you can’t, choose something fitting for your brand. Sadly, I wasn’t building a platform when I joined Instagram and deactivated my account. My perfect username was gone, so when I came back to the platform, I added a “2” at the end.

Bad form.

A few months ago, I decided to change my username and basically start over, building my followers from scratch. Learn from my mistake—pick a username you won’t want to change later.

The “Name” slot is different than your username and shows up in bold letters before the bio begins. If your username is not your real name, you can enter your name in the “Name” slot. However, you can ninja-fy your feed by using that Name slot for your business name or job title. For example, my username is @bethanyjett, so instead of repeating my name, I put my job title: Lifestyle Blogger | CEO.

There is a strategy for creating a killer Instagram bio.
  1. Tell what you do.
  2. Tell a little about who you are.
  3. Share what your followers can expect.
  4. Offer something for free.

Some great examples are Lisa Bevere, Melyssa Griffin, and Hilary Rushford.

Privacy Settings
If you want to grow your platform, keep your account public so people can view your feeds and follow you easily. When someone follows me on Instagram, I’ll check out their account with the intent to follow them back, as long as they don’t appear spammy or completely crazy. However, if their account is private, it’s rare for me to follow them unless we’ve interacted a few times.

A private profile is like a locked door. If you want to have a feed that features your children or is just for family, create a second one and keep it private. If you want to reach your audience, open it up.

Website URL
Instagram has a “closed” system, so you can't link out within your posts. You get one shot at a URL, so make it a good one. You can put your website, which is a great choice, since we want social media pointing to your site like Hilary Rushford does.

Or you can create a landing page where someone can download a free PDF or register for a free webinar (like Melyssa Griffin). This is an awesome idea because you can collect emails and grow your list. By the way, Melyssa has great Pinterest training, which is her current opt-in.

With Instagram, your photo is everything.


In her blog post “How to Have aCohesive Instagram Theme,” Marianna Hewitt says, “Don’t just post any image. If it’s grainy, blurry, or not looking 100% use some restraint and try not to post it. For photos that aren’t up to par, I share them on Facebook or Twitter.”

This diversifies her photo content across other platforms and keeps her Instagram feed beautiful.

Color Scheme
You can play with different color schemes by blocking them together, or you can have two-three colors that make up the majority of your feed. Rachel Parcell’s feed is beautiful. Her business is Pink Peonies so her color scheme features bright whites, grays, blacks, and soft pink for the majority of her photos.

Your color scheme can be “bright colors” if you tie them in well. Will Taylor’s feed (@brightbazaar) is full of colorful eye candy. As you scroll through his feed, you’ll notice that he uses various shades of blue to connect to uber-bright photos.

Filters & Editing
There are several great photo-editing apps for your phone. A best practice is to choose a few filters that you use consistently on your photos to create cohesiveness and an overall feel to your feed.

FaceTune is great for smoothing out skin tone, brightening eyes, and whitening teeth. Their newest version FaceTune 2 has a “glow” option that creates a lighting effect to brighten the shot.

WordSwag is perfect for adding awesome text to your photos. Lucinda SecrestMcDowell does an amazing job adding cool text to her photos. I love seeing them come across my feed.

Instagram has built-in filters, but the VSCO app takes filters to a new level. If you search on Pinterest for VSCO filters, you’ll find a ton of different filtered photos and the exact formula to use inside of VSCO. Pssst, I did a search for you. Clickhere to see how a VSCO filter can create a “feel” for your feed.

Next month we’ll talk about what to post, creating a Top Nine strategy, and how to use the Stories feature. In the meantime, play around with your feed and start experimenting with your audience! Oh…and let’s be friends on Instagram!


Bethany Jett is a military wife and homeschool boy-mom who is addicted to suspense novels and all things girly. She is an award-winning author, speaker, ghostwriter, and founder of JETTsetter Ink. In her spare time, Bethany is working on her Master’s degree in Marketing: New Media and Communication.

Bethany blogs on becoming the CEO of your life at Connect with her on FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

[1] In James Patterson’s Masterclass

Additional Posts in this series:
Intro to Instagram part 2
Intro to Instagram part 3


  1. Super helpful tips, Bethany! I've been intimidated by WHAT to post that I've posted nothing. Now that my e-book is due out in May do you think I should concentrate on posting things that will lead up to its release?

    I'd love for you to do a post on IG etiquette in the future. :) And, I just took Melyssa's Pinterest webinar - excellent! Thanks for this intro to IG, Bethany.

    1. Hey Cathy!! Next month I'll share strategies for for posting for sure! And I think you should definitely be posting images and quotes relevant to your book topic, as well as who you are as a brand! If your feed is too promotional, it's not as easy to gain followers. Companies that do very well selling on IG use their products to show a lifestyle - which is perfect for authors!!

  2. Great tips! I love Instagram. Thanks!

  3. This was awesome. Thank you Bethany. I have just signed up for Instagram, so truly am a newby. I was looking at it hit a different generation of people than FB. Your information above is great. I will go back over my profile and look at some of the other sites you suggested. I'm looking forward to next month's post.

    1. Thanks Sheryl, and welcome to Instagram!!! Don't be afraid to test out different images on your feed until you find your sweet spot!!! Are we following each other?!

  4. Thanks for these plain and simple directions for adding an Instagram identity which I do need to do! Here is a side note on Lisa Bevere whose IG you gave as an example. I go WAY back with Lisa and John Bevere. Right after he went out on his own after being Benny Hinn's Youth Pastor, my husband and I invited him and Lisa to speak at the church we pastored at the time. They were both wonderful. That firstborn son she has on her IG was just a little tyke at the time. After lunch at our house, that busy little toddler managed to get away from us and he fell down my front brick steps and scared all of us to pieces. We thank God he only received minor injuries. The Bevere's angels were definitely on the job.
    Elva Cobb Martin
    Pres. ACFW-SC Chapter

    1. Elva - what a story! That had to be frightening when he fell! We had the privilege to see both Lisa and John speak at our church several months ago, and John will be here again in a couple of weeks. Thanks so much for sharing that!!!

  5. Great tips! As a former middle grade teacher, many of my Instagram followers are my former students. I usually post about my personal life (I'm a runner, artist, and writer), my books, and my art. I try to be uplifting and motivational, too. I do not post political things on Instagram. So, my Username on IG is different than my FB and Twitter. I have more adults followers on FB and Twitter and post more random things on those sites. My Pinterest tends to be more personal and about my books. What do you think about this strategy? Thanks!