How to stand out on Instagram

Instagram is crowded, especially in the design space. While this means that it's easy to find your audience, it presents a larger obstacle — how do you stand out in a sea of people?

When I first created an Instagram account for my design work, I wasn't thinking about how many times I should post a week, how sharable my content was, or what my audience would think of it. It was simply a platform to share the designs that I was most proud of, and to get inspired by other individuals in the design space. As I got more and more eyes on my work, I started to feel more pressure to post what everyone else was posting. Not only was this mentally draining, but I actually started to like my own work less, because I wasn't creating from a place of passion. I think the biggest lesson learned is that while it's okay to draw inspiration from our peers, it's important to only share messages that are true to us, and designs that we really love.

As designers, our strength is in our unique perspective. Anyone can design something, but nobody can do it like you. Let your surroundings inspire you, but don't try to blend into the crowd. With all of this in mind, here are some of my tips for making your Instagram stand out.

Use your words.

Use your caption to share some knowledge, spread positivity, tell a story... something that your audience can connect to. If you share a story with your post, it can help your followers relate to you and give them more reasons to engage.

Don't use the same old stock photos! Take time to curate imagery that feels on-brand to you.

I like to use a mix of images and graphics on my Instagram feed, because it adds variety to my feed and  I'm a huge fan of Unsplash — a lot of people use it, no doubt, but if you spend enough time searching, you'll be able to curate a bank of images that feel true to your brand style. Here are some of my favourite Unsplash photos that I've saved this month!

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Plan Ahead

I know it's super difficult to create and schedule content ahead of time (in an ideal world, I'd have all my Instagram posts lined up for the next month), but I find that having a couple posts lined up really helps when it comes to making your feed look cohesive. By having 3-4 posts ready, I can upload them to UNUM and switch them around to see which post will look best where. As a designer, you want your Instagram feed to be well curated, cohesive and impactful.

Have more colours in your palette!

I spend a lot of time crafting colour palettes for my clients and explaining the importance of being consistent in using them. When it comes to my own page, however, I don't like to limit myself to a colour palette. As a brand designer, I want to showcase my ability to be flexible when it comes to design styles and colours — but this may also be because I don't have a very specific niche when it comes to branding clients. If you are focused on attracting a very specific client, think about what will appeal to them. You know what looks good, so don't feel the need to only use 2-3 colours — explore your options! Take this with a grain of salt though, because you very well could have 2-3 amazing brand colours and curate a killer feed with them.

The best tip is DO WHAT YOU WANT. At the end of the day, your greatest asset is your authentic self. If you like it, and you believe in it, share it. Don't be afraid to do something that's never been done!