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Don’t Do This! 7 Mistakes You Are Making on Instagram

by Stephanie Faris
craft & maker, featured

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Instagram makes marketing easy. All you need is an app, some decent photos, and a few hashtags to start connecting with customers from around the world. For many makers, Instagram is an integral part of growing their business.

But just because Instagram is easy to use, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get abused.

Check out April Bowles-Olin’s list of 7 mistakes creatives make on Instagram and cross-reference your account to make sure you aren’t unwittingly losing customers.

1. Badly Lit Photos
Even if you aren’t a photographer, Olin stresses the importance of clear, eye-catching photos. On Instagram, everything is based on images. It’s important that those images be interesting to look at.

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2. Blurry Photos
Blurry photos take away from the professionalism of a business page. Olin recommends taking multiple pictures and finding the sharpest one to post on Instagram.

3. Too Many Kid Pictures
As adorable as your children are, that information should be saved for Facebook, where people who know you personally are following you. A potential customer won’t be personally invested in you and won’t be interested in seeing multiple pictures of your children.

4. Too Many Sales Pitches
Although it’s important to focus on your business, it’s equally important not to over market your services. Instead, upload pictures of your products or snap photos of your process. Introduce customers to your brand without constantly asking them to buy.

5. Posting Pictures of a Random Dinner
It’s tempting to post photos of your kids or the food you’re eating, but it doesn’t promote your brand. Olin recommends that artists save those photos for their personal Facebook pages and stay on brand on Instagram.

“That’s what it’s there for,” Olin says. “To share with your friends and your family and the people who really care about seeing your pets. They care about what you ate for dinner. They care about your kids.”

6. Repetitious Pictures: Think “Magazine Spread”
Although it’s important to have a theme running through all of your Instagram posts, the same photo over and over becomes boring. Olin recommends trying different angles if you’re showcasing similar products. Think of your Instagram feed as a magazine spread, having some close-ups and some distance shots, for instance, to add variety.

“Mix it up, keep it interesting,” Olin says. “Think about how a magazine doesn’t have the same shot where something is centered. They might have something where the person is centered and then they might have one where they’re off to the side and then they might have one from really far away and then another up close of the person’s face. That’s because it works really well together.”

7. No Links, No Calls to Action
Instagram provides limited space to convince customers to learn more about your business. It’s important to have your website links in your bio, as well as incorporating calls to action into your captions. Olin also recommends using hashtags to bring people to your page from other sections of the site.

“Only use a hashtag if it makes sense,” Olin says. “If somebody clicks on your photo thinking it relates to that thing and it doesn’t, they’re not going to follow you. They’re just going to get annoyed.

One of the best ways to get ideas is to look at other creative professionals’ Instagram accounts.

Here are a few Instagram accounts that are getting it right:

Hilary Rushford—This personal stylist has set up an Instagram account that tells a story, with each photo complementing the others perfectly.

You’re going to have an amazing week, darling. Pick up some flowers for yourself to declare it! 💋 Little things, can change the energy where you work or rest. #LittleJoys #PeonySeason #AnInspiredLife

A photo posted by Snapchat 💋 HilaryRushford (@hilaryrushford) on

Flora Waycott—This illustrator has more than 80,000 followers. Olin points out the way she intersperses photos of her art with images of her art being used.

Thank you @extracurricularmagazine for the lovely interview and for sending a copy to my parents in England! I love this photo by @pivot_photo of my work ♡ I will be back to my paints soon as I finish phase 1 of a few large projects I have been working on ✏️✏️✏️

A photo posted by Flora Waycott (@florawaycott) on

Peaches to Pearls—The soft, clean look of this nutritionist’s page also tells a story.

Ready for spring in pretty blues & big totes from @solesociety || Currently loving how everything {including both my dogs} fit in this rose gold lining tote || And it’s only $24 || Shop this look here👉🏽 @liketoknow.it www.liketk.it/28Uv5 #liketkit || Happy Wednesday my friends! #mysolesociety

A photo posted by Luisa || Peaches To Pearls (@peachestopearls) on

Simple Green Smoothies—In addition to food photos, this business provides useful smoothie recipes.

Shopping List #1 are being sent to inboxes around the 🌎🌍🌏. Shop + prep for your 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge! Here are some tips… • Cut fruit into smaller pieces and freeze ahead of time on lined baking sheets or use packaged frozen fruit. This will help keep the fruit and leafy greens from freezing together in a large clump and the smoothies will blend more easily. • Before blending, thaw for a few minutes on the counter or in warm water. The fruit and greens will come out of the jar/bag easier too. • Store greens and fruit separately, if desired. Pack washed and dried greens tightly into freezer bags or jars. Due to the nature of the freezing process, you will need to measure out slightly less frozen greens than fresh. • Smoothie packs will keep for several months in the freezer, but are the very best quality when used within 2-4 weeks. • If hoar frost forms on the fruit and greens, it is still perfectly safe to consume. It can be rinsed off with lukewarm water. • Store smoothie packs away from foods with strong odors. Glass jars offer the best protection against odors. • Smoothies can be blended and then frozen until ready to use. Just defrost them in the fridge the night before you are ready to use. Some separation might occur, but the smoothies will still be fine to consume. • It’s not to late to join, sign up here, it’s free!! simplegreensmoothies.com/30

A photo posted by Simple Green Smoothies ✌️💗🍃 (@simplegreensmoothies) on

Bonnie Joy Marie—This social media strategist tells a story using clean, colorful images.

Hi there! My name is Bonnie, and sometimes when my husband has to work weekends I put in a few extra hours in the #bisforbonniestudio so I can create all sorts of helpful resources for boss ladies like you, friend! Don’t worry, my Saturday work night looked nothing like this. 😜Instead, I’ve been curled up in my computer chair furiously designing a totally FREE, six step guide to a more authentic social media presence you can start using today to take your strategy to new heights! And the beauty of this download is it’s not just for one social platform – it’s a series of steps that applies to all social media platforms! 🎉 In our age of millennial consumers, we’re craving authentic connections with the brands we do business with like never before. And as I’ve built my little biz on this core value, I want to share all my secrets to creating authentic, relatable content in this totally free download. So what are you waiting for, lovely? Go snag your copy today via the temporary link in my profile! Now excuse me while I’ll go pour myself a glass of rosé and curl up on the couch with some Netflix! P.S. If you know a boss lady bestie who might want some free advice on creating a more authentic online presence, be sure to tag her in the comments below! 👯

A photo posted by Bonnie Bakhtiari (@bonniejoymarie) on

For more tips on getting your Instagram marketing right, check out April’s class, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip, 25 Roses, and the upcoming Piper Morgan series.