My Instagram Puzzle – The good story, the bad ass how-to and the definitely not ugly
Not too long ago – round about last summer – I hit a real slump with Instagram. All those algorithm changes and rumours about shadowbans plus a huge dip in my posts’ engagement had me at a low point. Or actually a high point; a high point of frustration!
But I didn’t want to give into the temptation of just giving up, I wanted to find a way to have fun with Instagram again and to create a feed that adds value to my audience by brightening up their day one little tile at the time.
And I knew I wanted it to be a cohesive look that tells visitors something about me and my designs. I wanted my feed to really evoke the emotions JuniperOats is all about: Designs that bring a smile to your day and remind you that paradise is not just a place but a state of your mind. Designs that make you feel alive, mindful and in touch with your inner romantic.
So I set out on a mission to find other accounts I found inspiring and upon oozing over @twigyposts‘ feed and how uniquely she arranged her gorgeous photographs, I knew what I wanted: A feed in which each post is meaningful on its own but also part of a bigger picture. Part of my entire brand’s story; represented through my feed.
Now, ever since I did, I have been getting many many requests from followers and fans, about how I create my feed. And when the amazing peeps at the Preview App asked me if I am open to share my secret I said: You know what I should write a blog post about it.
So without further ado, here are the steps I take and the tools I use to create my feed:
I create a blank grid of 3×13 squares using Adobe Illustrator. You could also use Photoshop but I like that, by using Illustrator’s art-boards, I can easily export each individual tile later, once I am done designing the feed.
A. Open your illustrator and hit File > New and set it to pixels and a width of 1200 by 1200 in height, RGB and medium DPI of 150.
B. Once created you will now duplicate the artboard over and over again using Illustrators snap-to-intersect function
- TIP 1: once you selected the artboard tool via SHIFT+O you can drag those artboards around anywhere you want as long as they have a blue dotted outline around them
- TIP 2: if you hold down ALT whilst dragging an artboard you will actually create and then move a copy of that artboard
- TIP 3: the latest Illustrator version from Adobe CC has alignment helpers in the form of little pink lines that will tell ensure the artboards are lined up perfectly
- TIP 4: Holding down SHIFT while selecting any artboards will enable to select multiple artboards
I chose my color palette and start layering from the background up. Meaning just like a good old collage back in our school days, I add basic shapes first and then work my way to the foreground with more and more photos.
Note: I use some photos as backgrounds (usually more neutral tones like whites and greys) while other photos will become my “hero” images, the ones that will make up the main focus of a post.
Now that the basic outline is taking shape I start layering in those “hero” images and picture by picture create the overall content flow. For that I already keep my favorite fonts that I chose for my designs as well as my logo next to the artboards – ready to use.
I LOVE LOVE typography so I like to incorporate it into my feed not only to make verbal statements but also as a way to further style my page – to create that “vibe” I am all about.
Note: When it comes to my content I follow the 80/20 rule, which means 80% of my content is lifestyle & storytelling while 20% focusses on my actual products and designs.
This is the most labour intensive step and can sometimes take me a couple days, as I go back and forth until it all just feels right. I also pay a lot of attention to how each individual tile will turn out. You will end up with some “filler” posts and that’s ok, it allows the overall feed to breathe but more or less I try that each little square has something visually pleasing or a small story to tell.
Once I am happy with how everything looks (including image resolutions) I export the artboards as individual JPGs using the File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy)… function.
Note: I like to use the shortcut for my mac, which is OPTION+SHIFT+COMMAND+S
△ BLOG UPDATE△
After getting many many questions regarding how one could do this using Photoshop I decided to launch a gorgeous little collection of Photoshop templates which are already prepped to be sliced perfectly with the press of ONE button. Sounds perfect? Head over to the shop and take a peak.
Once I saved all the posts as JPGs I then airdrop them to my iPhone, (Ha, can you tell yet I am a total apple geek?! Even all my drawings for the shop are created in my iPad Pro.) I then upload them into my beloved Preview App from where I can schedule them and make sure they always come out exactly in the order I had intended.
It also allows me to see it all in context of Instagram’s life size: the phone. And if you then find some or your elements (type, patterns, images, etc.) end up way too small, you can always go back and edit your source file. But if everything looks good, you are now ready to rock the Instagram world – one gorgeous puzzle piece at a time!
THE SO NOT UGLY BUT AWESOME IMAGE RESOURCES
The so not ugly but awesome image resources
01 – Moyo Studio // Simply my number one go-to photo resource. Molly & Mark are just such a creative powerhouse and not ONE of their images looks like stock. In my eyes, they reinvented the industry and will add a unique voice to your Instagram.
02 – My Social Curator // Jasmine Star’s subscription shop offers captions + images curated for your feed, monthly.
03 – Kate Max Stock // Kate Max offers a pay-per-photo shop as well as monthly free photos if you sign up for her mailing list.
04 – Twigyposts // Omg, Jana’s Styled Stock Photos are not only affordable Stock Photos but they are warm, inviting & unique and I am simply her biggest fan! She has a membership option as well as a pay-per-photo one-stop shop.
05 – Stocksy // At Stocksy, you get stock photography + cinematography, made with love. Stocksy is home to a highly curated collection of royalty-free stock photography and video footage that is beautiful, distinctive, and highly usable.
06 – Death To Stock // Every month Death to Stock taps our team of photographers around the world to produce “photopacks” — these packs are carefully crafted stories accompanied with 12+ photos from the perspective of the artist. Get two packs a month with their membership.
07 – Unsplash // Unsplash offers FREE photos for you to download that have been gifted by a generous community of photographers.
08 – Kaboom Pics // Another FREE stock photography resource that provides beautiful photos for your feed.
“WANT TO SKIP THE HASSLE OF THE FIRST STEP?”
Download my FREE grid template and jump right into the fun design part.
PS: My name is Judith and this is my little slice of the internet. I hope you’ll enjoy hanging out with me from time to time while I ramble on about design, art and of course, lots of romantic minimalism.