Let me guess…
You’ve started to suspect the only way to grow a massive Instagram following is to spend countless hours every week brainstorming post ideas, staging photos, or faking an “Instagram-worthy” life just to keep up, right?
You don’t need a $1,200 camera, a professional team of skinny-jean-wearing graphic designers, or an internationally-recognized brand to succeed on Instagram.
Here’s the secret:
One make-or-break habit separates the winners from the “wannabes.” Simply post at least one amazing photo every day.
“But… posting EVERY day? And an “amazing” photo? I mean, I’m not a photographer. That seems really tough…”
Not too long ago I would have agreed with you. But over the past few months, I’ve uncovered a must-have collection of tools and resources through trial and error that makes finding that perfect image ridiculously easy.
And I’m going to share them all with you now.
Follow These Two Strategies to Never Run out of Engagement-worthy Instagram Images Ever Again…
It’s the critical starting point to any successful Instagram account – there’s no Instagram without photos! Great images are a must for steady follower growth.
But… Creating those photos can quickly turn into a part-time job if you’re not careful.
Luckily, anyone can use these two shortcuts to reduce the strain of constant content creation:
- Share high-quality photos from other creators
- Design engaging graphic posts
Here are the best strategies I’ve found for sharing and designing more Instagram-friendly content without losing your mind. 😅
How to Effortlessly Fill Your Instagram Feed With Professional-Looking Photos (for FREE)
The most successful Instagrammers post strong content that stands out from the pack every day.
But that doesn’t mean you have to wake up each morning at the crack of dawn for an impromptu photo shoot.
Take a look at our Instagram account (@tailwindapp). We post almost daily for our 40,000+ followers, but almost half of those photos were taken by top-notch photographers who have agreed to share their photos with anyone who can find them…
…which means you can use them too. No strings attached.
Sound too good to be true? Nope! That’s where free-to-use stock photo sites like Pexels can come in – and anyone can use them.
Yes, it’s easier than ever to create your own photos — but it’s still often more efficient and cost-effective to use photos that a skilled professional has already created (at least while you’re starting out.)
Use these websites to find great-fit images that look fresh, creative, and inspiring (instead of distractingly fake like many stock photos). Try cropping or rotating images to make them your own.
Mix in a few of these photos that make sense in your niche so you can ramp up your posting schedule to once per day. Just be sure to write strong, original captions too.
Pexels provides high-quality, free stock photos that you can use without attribution in any personal or business project.
Results are not limited to photos posted to their site — their search automatically pulls in other popular photos from Pixabay and Flickr that are available for free use. They even have a section for hi-res video.
Beautiful, free photos gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers. You’ll be hard pressed to find more appealing, no-strings-attached photos for general use.
It’s tough to find a photo focusing on many specific, niche subjects. But, that’s where a paid service like Depositphotos or Shutterstock can fill in the gaps. And you’ll often find that you can make seemingly irrelevant image fit when you add a bit of text to them!
Burst is a free stock photo platform powered by Shopify. Pick from thousands of royalty-free images shot by photographers around the world and organized by category. You do not need to be a Shopify customer to use Burst.
Create Dead-Simple Designs (Even If You’re Not a Tech-Savvy Designer)
Remember: You’re not limited to posting only photos on Instagram.
Huge Instagram accounts like Shopify, Starbucks, and Netflix regularly mix in posts featuring graphic designs or screenshots to help their feed stand out to new subscribers. (And with an almost 28 million combined followers, they’re not bad role models to learn from.)
While photographs are one of the most-common Instagram post types, sometimes you need to add a dash of variety to keep your followers interested and engaged! Maybe work in a special offer, a design featuring a happy customer’s review, or a quick tip. Whatever the case, make sure that even these images look polished and professional.
Whether you’re designing a new blog image or Instagram quote, you need graphics that make your brand look polished and put-together.
It’s easier than you think to avoid that thrown together, amateur look that many stores fall into by default.
The secret? An image creation tool that’s so simple you’ll actually want to use without throwing your laptop out a window.
Fortunately, options for graphic design tools that save you time and provide helpful templates have expanded in the past few years.
Love slick-looking designs, but still want the simplicity of a template? This tool makes drag-and-drop design easy.
Easil features modern, edgy templates for Social Media Templates, GIFs, infographics and more. [Web]
A friendly drag-and-drop editor with tons of presets and templates to make your designs quick and easy. It’s free to start, but you’ll have to pay for premium images and most custom templates or to upload your own fonts. [Web, iOS, and Android]
A quick-and-dirty tool for creating very simple text overlays on photos. It doesn’t boast advanced features, but it’s great for the simplest compositions. [Web]
Create beautiful graphics and videos in minutes. Spark sports tons of templates that require little-to-no prior design knowledge. However, it’s not highly flexible if you’re looking for a custom design. [Web, iOS, and Android]
A great alternative to Canva, Snappa provides tons of free images, icons, and presets baked-in — and it’s easy to use. [Web]
The granddaddy of photo editing tools. Photoshop is truly a beast of an application and it can produce great results — but only if you have the time-intensive training to master the tool and the extra budget. [Windows and OSX]
Want to outsource design entirely? Pay a flat monthly rate for unlimited designs and revisions from a professional graphic designer.
This service could become a lifesaver if you have heavy design needs but aren’t ready to hire a full-time designer.
A huge collection of free and paid icons to use in your next design project. Just hit the “free” filter button when searching results. [Web]
Does Your Instagram Audience Love Quote Images Too? Create More in a Couple of Taps.
Instagram powerhouses like Foundr Magazine have grown awe-inspiring audiences of well over 1 million followers by mastering the art of the Instagram quote image. With the right tools, you can follow their example.
iOS users can grab this app for easy quote image creation. Input your text, then adjust the styling, filters, overlays, and cropping in just a few taps. [iOS Only]
Choose from thousands of templates to add great looking captions to photos. Over makes it a snap to adjust the filters and masking to fine-tune your image’s final look. [iOS Only]
Add eye-catching text to any photo in seconds with this paid app for iOS or Android. It also includes dozens of quotes built-in in case you’re running low on ideas. [iOS and Android]
Your Secret Weapon to Double Instagram Post Frequency in Half the Time: User-Generated Content
This one technique could completely transform the way you approach posting on Instagram.
It’s called user-generated content and it’s a simple, but profoundly powerful time-saving method to post consistently AND rapidly grow your followers at the same time.
Here’s how user-generated content typically works in practice:
- You’ll search Instagram to find an amazing photo that another account has posted. Ideally, this person should have an audience with similar tastes and preferences to your own. Bingo.
- Next, you’ll need to ask for permission to share their photo. This could be as simple as a polite comment or a kind direct message through the Instagram app. Be honest about why you love their photo and clearly explain that you’d like to repost the photo on your feed while giving their account full credit.
- If your newly discovered photography crush gives you the go-ahead, it’s scheduling time! Grab a high-resolution copy of the photo and post it with proper attribution to the original creator. Typically it’s a good idea to mention their account in the caption.
- Then your post goes live! It’s easy to coordinate once you understand the process and usually a win-win for both the original photographer and your audience. Easy peasy!
Want to make sharing user-generated content an absolute breeze?
See all of the shareable images on a webpage with one click, then schedule as many of them to Instagram as you’d like. This extension is a lifesaver if you spend large chunks of time curating photos in your web browser.
Why You’re Better at Instagram Than You Think
Take a deep breath. It’s easy to feel intimidated when you see all the Instagram-perfect images shared by the stars or petrified that no one will like your photos. Not gonna happen.
Don’t forget: Posting professional, quality photos consistently is more than half the battle.
And now you have a well-stocked toolbox with the best resources to discover, create, and share images that get YOU noticed on Instagram.
So don’t hesitate to use the nearly-limitless pool of images you have at your fingertips to maintain a steady cadence, attracting the audience you’ve been dreaming about.
One follower at a time, post by post, it’s 100% possible (and more attainable than you might have imagined) to grow a thriving Instagram audience.
Focusing on consistency rather than perfection feels more achievable, fun, and exciting than constantly pushing for perfection. When you start to feel overwhelmed, come back to this list and pick a new idea from the list to try.
You owe it to yourself to try a free trial of Tailwind for Instagram if you haven’t already too. It’ll save you tons of time scheduling, choosing relevant hashtags, and optimizing your schedule for faster follower growth.
Give it a go and see what happens!
Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Instagram!
- Schedule photos and videos directly to your Instagram feed with Auto Post.
- Optimize every post for more engagement with SmartSchedule and Hashtag Finder.
- Automatically hide your post’s hashtags in the first comment to keep your caption clean & clutter-free.
- Make your posts more discoverable with user tagging & location tagging.
- Analyze what's working across every post and profile with smart analytics.
Matt helps make world-class marketing easier for everyone as Tailwind’s inbound marketer. He’s admittedly crazy about craft coffee and top-notch podcasts, too. Feedback welcome @matopher on Twitter!