Instagram and Personal Branding: Establishing a Strong and Authentic Personal Brand on Instagram | Sean Dalton | Skillshare

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Instagram and Personal Branding: Establishing a Strong and Authentic Personal Brand on Instagram

teacher avatar Sean Dalton, Travel Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Course Overview


    • 3.

      Theme and its Importance


    • 4.

      Finding Your Theme and Making it Personal


    • 5.

      Course Project


    • 6.



    • 7.

      Inspiration and Your Content


    • 8.

      Content Creation & Visual Consistency


    • 9.



    • 10.

      Daily Interaction and Engagement


    • 11.



    • 12.



    • 13.



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About This Class

Having taught one of the most popular Instagram courses on Skillshare to date, Top Teacher Sean Dalton returns with his second Instagram course. In this 55 minute course, Sean covers everything you need to know about how to establish a strong and authentic personal brand on Instagram that will have your followers waiting in excitement for your next post. Here are just a few of the things you can expect to learn:

  • How to find your Instagram theme
  • How to create high quality content
  • How establish a strong brand image
  • How to engage effectively to increase Instagram growth
  • How to remain authentic from the start

Whether you're a seasoned Instagrammer, a small brand looking to grow, or even someone without an Instagram account, this course will help you find your place on Instagram, and will give you a strong foundation in personal branding that will be essential for your future on the platform. 

Note that this course does not cover all of the technical aspects of Instagram including hashtags, photo editing, and third party analytics. After watching this course, it is highly recommended you watch Sean's other course on Instagram (Becoming an Instagram Influencer), as this course covers that material in greater detail. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sean Dalton

Travel Photographer

Top Teacher

Hey guys! I'm Sean.

For the last 5 years I've been traveling the world capturing as many photos as I possibly can. I'm drawn to a wide range of photography styles, and constantly striving to improve my art. Emotion and storytelling are two central pillars of my artwork, and I am always looking for new and interesting stories to tell via my camera.

I'm originally from San Francisco, California, but have spent the last few years chasing stories and light throughout Asia.

Most of what I teach relates to my background with travel and lifestyle photography, but I am constantly expanding my focus as I continue to grow as a photographer. I'm pumped that you are here, let's grow together!

I'm active on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube.... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Instagram has become an incredible platform for sharing your life and sharing your own personal story. It's become a place where you can express yourself in a creative way and create something that's beautiful and inspiring that you can share with others around the world. My name is Sean [inaudible] , a photographer, Instagram influencer and top teacher here on sculpture. I've been on Instagram for a few years now and it's become a creative outlet for me that allows me to share things that I simply love to create. It's a platform that lets me reflect on my past and allow me to reflect so I can continue to grow as a photographer and as a creative and as a personal brand. Today in this course, I'm going to share with you my creative process and hopefully give you the tools that you need to create a strong personal brand on Instagram that's not only authentic, but also inspiring for others. { MUSIC } One of our most popular courses here on sculpture(phonetic) is the process of becoming an Instagram influencer and how to do that and what steps need to follow to do that. In this course we're going to talk about some of the same topics that are discussed in that course. We're going to be putting more emphasis on the personal branding sort of things, and teaching you how to create a feed that's authentic and a feed that you actually care about. I want to really dive into these topics of what personal branding actually means and authenticity. I want to break them down in a way that's easy to understand. I also want to share with you some of Instagram's best practices that you can apply to your feed, so that you can create an Instagram page that's not only a creative only for you, but eventually can be financially fulfilling for you as well. This course is basically for anybody that has something they want to share with the world. I know that sounds broad, but at the end of the day when it comes to creating something authentic and true on Instagram and creating a real personal brand. That is the most important thing, is sharing something that you really love and that you really care about. Maybe you don't know exactly what that looks like yet and that's okay. For example, maybe you love fashion. Fashion is your passion and you live and breathe it but you're just not sure how to turn that into something on Instagram, you not sure how to share that, or maybe you're somebody that already has beautiful content, but you're just not sure how to present it in a way that will be effective on Instagram's platform. No matter what category you fall into, whether you're a beginner or your professional photographer or whatever in this course you're going to learn how to better navigate Instagram. You can create a feed that you love and that you care about, but others care about as well. With that said guys, I really hope you take the time to enroll in this course. There's going to be a lot of really great and practical information. I mean if you do, then I will see you in the first lesson where we're going to be talking about Theme. Let's go. 2. Course Overview: Alrighty. Thank you guys so much for taking the time to enroll in this course, and before we get started, I want to take a second to just go over the course a little bit, go over the outline, and talk a little bit about what we're going to be covering, and in what order. I think this is just a good way for us to get the stepping stones in place so we know where we're going, and we can head in the right direction. So here is the course overview, we're going to start off with talking about theme, and the reason I put theme first is because, as you've see in that section, I say it's the most important aspect of Instagram. Hands down, the most important aspect of Instagram. So we're going to start off talking about theme, why it's important, giving a few examples, then we're going to move on and talk about finding your theme. How to find your theme, how to apply the principles of a good theme to you, yourself and your personal brand. Then we're going to move on to talk about the course project, which is kind of going to tie in all of these aspects we are going to be talking about in the course into an actionable step. And then we're going to move on to talking about authenticity, and how authenticity is affected by the other things we're talking about in this course, and why it is a very important aspect of Instagram especially when it comes to developing a strong personal brand. Next, we're going to move on to talking about inspiration. I've always said that inspiration is such a crucial part of the Instagram development process, and then beyond that as well, staying creative as a creative person or as a photographer or an artist or whatever you're doing, inspiration is very central to that, so we're going to talk about that a little bit, where you can find some inspiration for your Instagram account, and how to implement it. And then we're going to move on to talking about the actual nitty-gritty of Instagram, the content creation aspect of it. How do you create content? How are you going to be sourcing photos? Things like that, and then we're going to be talking about visual consistency, how to maintain that consistent Instagram feed. Visual consistency is such a crucial part of a strong personal brand because it's essentially your brand imagery, so you want to make sure that that's on point, we're going to talk about that in that section. Then we're going to take just a few minutes talking about bio. I just wanted to hit on this a little bit because it's something I think is very important, and then we're going to move on to daily interaction and engagement. So talking about how often should you post, how should you engage with others, and how you should just use the platform to enhance your personal brand. Then we're going to get into some frequently asked questions, and these are questions that I get almost on a daily basis. So they're going to answer, I think a lot of the questions that you might have going into this, and then we're going to sum things up with the conclusion, tie everything together, and get some things for you to take home. Some thoughts to think about as you move on. So that's pretty much it, I just wanted to go over everything upfront before we get into this. This is the only screen recording I have in the course, but I decided to add this after the fact. So I hope it lays things out for you in a good way. Without further ado, let's move on to that first section, theme. 3. Theme and its Importance: Hey guys, welcome to the course. Thank you so much for deciding to enroll and click on this first lesson. In this lesson, we're going to be talking about theme. If you've seen my other Instagram course, you know how much emphasis I put on this. I have always said that this is the most important factor when it comes to Instagram and personal branding and creating something that others actually care about, theme. As I get into this topic, I want you to really think about the things I'm talking about in accordance to you, and in accordance to your goals, your interests, your passions, and think about how these topics fit in with you personally and how you can implement them later on. What is theme? Well, a theme is basically the topic that your Instagram page is focusing on. If you go on Instagram now, a lot of the feeds you follow will probably be themed. Maybe it's a landscape page where they have beautiful landscapes around the world, or maybe it's street photography, or maybe it's fashion, or sneakers, or whatever, there's a theme for everything on Instagram. Why that theme is so important is because it gives your page a purpose. For example, when you first visit someone's Instagram page, you're going to see a few things. You're going to see their profile photo, you're going to see their bio, you might see there highlighted stories, and then going to see about nine to 12 photos depending on how far you scroll. Now, imagine you go to somebody's page, what are you thinking about when it comes to following that person? I would say 99 percent of the time you follow that person because it's a specific theme. Unless they're friends. Friends are different, you follow your friends because you want to stay up with their lives and you're interested in their personal lives. But for the most part, accounts that you follow that aren't your friends are themed pages. Like I said, maybe that theme is landscape photos or whatever, coffee, something like that. But it can also be brands, like Nike. That's a theme page. That's a Nike theme page, of same with other large brands. Those are still themed pages because every image that they post is revolving around their theme of Nike in their company and their branding and all of that. So at the end of the day, you follow those pages because of the theme. One thing I want to say, we're going to talk about this later. But theme is so important that it can actually trump having horrible photos. If your theme is so good, you don't have to have high-quality photos. With that said, it's not always true and we're going to get into that later, but I want you to understand how important theme actually is. So theme is not only important for others when they come to your page and if they just had to follow you or not, but it's important for you as well. The reason for that is because it gives you direction, it gives you focus, and it allows you to really focus on one thing and create the best possible content that you can, the highest quality content that you can revolving around that theme. If you don't have a theme, that means you don't necessarily have a direction, there's no focus there. Having a theme gives you that direction, it gives you that focus, and it allows you to focus on one specific thing so you can really enhance your creativity within that one area. From an outsider's perspective, if you don't have a theme your page is just another personal page of Sunday branch photos, and out for the day photos and things like that. There's nothing wrong with those. But if you're going to be creating a personal brand, that is something you want to do is find something that you really love and focus on that theme because that's going to give you the direction to continue to grow on the platform. I just wanted to introduce theme here and have you started thinking about this so you know the importance. But in the next section we're going to talk about how you can find your own theme, some of the questions you can ask yourself to do that. 4. Finding Your Theme and Making it Personal: So in the introduction of this course, I said these words. I said, this course is basically for anybody that has something they care about that they want to share with the world. I wholeheartedly believe that. In this section I'm going to expand on what I mean by that and help you find a theme that will fulfill that notion. So taking the time to find your theme is one of the most important parts of the Instagram creation process. Even if you already have a page and it's just a personal page, you can switch that to a theme. You don't have to create a new account. But it's really important to reflect on your current theme or if you're thinking about starting a new page, reflect on that theme because that's going to give me direction for the future of your page. At the height of that, you want to make sure that you select a theme that you can consistently create content for. I'm talking, you can go out every day or every other day and create content for that theme and it will not be boring for you. The reason for this is because on Instagram you have to post every day or every other day you need to be posting often. I'm going to get into that later. But it's important that you select a theme that you really love and care about. So I've established a few questions that you can ask yourself to help you find or establish that theme on your Instagram page. So here are a few to guide you and most importantly is, what do you love? So do you love cats? Do you love family? Do you love photography? Do you love technology? What is that? What do you love? What is absolutely central to you? Your number one hobby, you number one interest. The next question is, what inspires you? What gets your heart beating? You know what? When you wake up in the morning, what are you excited about? What do you want to see? What do you wanna do? Inspiration is also essential for the creative processes on Instagram because it will allow you to see other people's works and other things and allow you to kind of take in that inspiration and put it into your own art form. The third question is, what is your greatest passion? This is similar to what you love, but It's different in the sense that with love, you can answer that question. I love my family. I love, I love this, I love that. But passion, your greatest passion. That could be something a little bit different, that could be traveling. If somebody asks you a question, if you could do anything today or tomorrow, what would it be? That might be your greatest passion. So think about that a little bit differently as a little bit different than the question of what do you love? The last question is and I kind of touched on this earlier, what is something that you can create content for every single day and never get bored of it? I think you're seeing a trend here. All of these questions are very similar and they all have to do with you and your passions and you as an individual. Because that is essential for building a strong personal brand on Instagram. The reason for that is because if you're focusing on something that you love, it's authentic and that authenticity will come through on Instagram's platform. So take me, for example, I'm a photographer and my theme, my Instagram theme is coffee photography. It's niche, but it's coffee photography by Sean Dalton. That's my personal brand. When somebody goes to my page, it's not coffee photography. It's Sean Dalton. It's my name. It says photographer and then they can see all of those photos. So there's a direct correlation between your theme and your personal brand. So think about that in the sense that your name is going to be connected with this theme. Because you can't build a personal brand if your name isn't there, right? So your name is going to be connected with this theme. So it has to be really central to who you are. So once you've selected your topic and it takes some time to figure it out. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow. Take the time to really find that theme. But once you have that theme, once you have that topic, it's time to start. Brainstorming as how you can take that theme and transfer it into a visual form of art that you can post on Instagram. So you're going to photograph, you're going to take pictures you, or going to source photos from somebody else? What is that going to look like? We're going to explore that more when we start talking about the actual content later on in this course. So here's a good example of a theme. Imagine you're a watercolor artist. You love to paint watercolor, that is you and that's your identity. So that can be your theme. You can be, if your name is Jerry, you can be Jerry, the watercolor artist and that is your page. That is you, Jerry, your personal brand, directly correlated with your theme as a watercolor artist. So people will follow you because you post beautiful photos of watercolor. Then over time, they're going to see the artist behind the work. They're going to meet Jerry and they're going to know who he is. Instagram is a great platform to do that. You can become really personal with your following. So when it comes to posting photos about that, about you as a watercolor artist, every photo that you're going to post needs to be related to that theme. So it has to be a picture of a watercolor painting. Or maybe it's a picture of you painting or a picture of you in an art gallery showing your work, whatever. It has to be a photo that is relevant to your theme. Not just you at a coffee shop looking good. Those are great, but it has to be related to your theme as a watercolor artist. So let's take me, for example. Like I said, I'm a photographer, I'm a coffee photographer. I love to photograph coffee and cafes and things like that. A lot of my followers, I have about 50 thousand followers at the time of this course. They follow me because they love my coffee photos. I can tell you that even when I post a very beautiful photo like a landscape or something like that, it's very good and I know that it would do well on other pages. It won't do well on mine and the reason for that is because my followers just don't care about that. It's not related to my theme. There's a discrepancy there. I actually lose followers from time to time when I post things that aren't directly related to my theme. With that said, your theme can change over time. That takes time to do, but it's good to start out with a theme that you can focus on the beginning. My theme is very niche, cafe photos. That's pretty niche, right? It's a pretty small theme. Yours doesn't have to be that small. There is a lot larger themes out there, like food photography, that's such a broad theme. You can do anything. Or maybe it's just photographer. Maybe you're just identifying as a photographer. That's a theme. It'll be much more difficult to get a following because there's so many photographers out there. The nicher your content is, the more followers you're going to get. It's going to be easier for you to grow on the platform. It will also give you more focus, like I said earlier, gives you more focus and more direction on the platform. With that said, these last few points have really focused on growth. As creators, we want to grow. But I really want to focus on this course, like I said in the introduction, I want to focus on personal branding and authenticity. Because if you can get those things right, the following will come. They will sense that authenticity. They will sense that you love your craft and they will follow you. So let's move on and let's start talking about authenticity, I mean, how important it is for creating that strong personal brand and creating something that you actually care about. 5. Course Project: Okay guys for the course project, I want you to list, a theme, that you're thinking about pursuing. So just list what that theme is, and then go ahead and write a little bit about it and tell me why you chose that theme. So if your theme is beach houses, tell me why you chose beach houses, and explain to me what was the process behind, you coming together with the theme and what direction are you kind of heading him with that. How are you going to create that content, how are you going to build this Instagram page, and what direction do you hope to go in the future. If you want, it's not mandatory, feel free to share, some photos, that you have, or some photos that you plan on posting, on your screen page or maybe you've already posted them. If you already have an Instagram page, feel free to post that and explain to me your theme. But essentially the purpose of this exercise is just to get you guys thinking about your theme a little bit more. And even if you have an Instagram page already, I want you to critically think about your theme and where it's at, and how it's playing a role in your, effectiveness on Instagram. Whether it be, building that personal brand or just having a large following. I really hope you guys take the time to do this project. It's great, for us as a community, other students can see, those projects, they can comment on them. I can comment on them, we can all have this kind of discussion, so please take the time to do that. And with that said, let's move on to the next section. 6. Authenticity: Okay guys, so now I want to take a little bit to talk about authenticity. I keep saying this word in this course but, what is authenticity? The way I define authenticity, is just being real and being true to yourself, and posting content that you're not posting just for other people, but posting content that you actually care about, that means something to you. For example, on my Instagram page, I post coffee photos, cafe photos. But, for a little while, I wasn't interested in it anymore. I wanted to try something different. So I switched, I started posting portraits and I was really into portraiture and that was my passion and it was what I did. Yes, my engagement suffered a little bit on Instagram, my followers went down, I was losing likes. But for me, that didn't matter as much because I wanted to explore something different, and that was authentic for me. If I kept posting those coffee photos, it didn't feel authentic, it didn't feel real, like why would I post those photos if I didn't feel like I actually loved doing it? After shooting portraits for a while, I rediscovered my passion for cafe and food and coffee photography. So I've come back to that. But now I do both, and that is who I am as a photographer and as a personal brand, Sean Dalton. I want you to think about that. Authenticity is this term, it's vague, but at the end of the day, if you are really loving the content that you put out and it's real and it's true and you're not just putting something on social media just to get followers, or just to get attention, that is authenticity. One of the comments I often get on my Instagram page is, " Sean, I love how personal you are" and I'm very personal on my Instagram page. I talk to my followers, I ask them questions, I engage with them, I post polls, I post my day on Instagram. Because that's me, it's me as a person. Yes, I'm a photographer, but I'm also a person, Sean Dalton, and I share my life on Instagram. When I do this, when I share my personal experiences with my followers, it reminds people that, I'm not just a photographer, I'm not just a person that takes beautiful photos of coffee or food or whatever. I'm a person as well, and I have other interests, just like you, that we can talk about, other than just photography. It builds this sense of personal trust that goes beyond just a beautiful feed and it turns into an emotional relationship with you and with the photos. There's something more behind them. You can learn a little bit more about the person and you can create a better connection. This better, deeper connection will give you a dedicated following, a strong following that loves your content, that waits for you to post, and that is really engaged with you as a person, as a content creator, and ultimately leading you to have a very strong and successful personal brand. With that said, you need to strike a balance. I said in the beginning, your theme is the most important, and "Sean, now you're saying that we can post anything? Share our entire lives, our days, anything not related to our theme?" Yes, but there's a difference there. Your physical Instagram feed should only be consisted of beautiful photos that fit your theme. There should not be any deviation there. For example, I only ever post coffee photos, that is my theme. I cannot deviate from that, and that's okay. But in my Instagram story, in my bio, those are incredibly personal and they share who I am, beyond my visual art of cafe photography. They speak to who I am as a person, and that is where you're going to build that direct connection with your followers. Instagram stories are incredibly powerful today and they are amazing for building your personal brand, and if you are not using them, you need to. But, we're going to get into that later, we are going to have a full section on Instagram stories and how you can utilize them to better build your brand. Another thing about authenticity, and I talk about this a lot in my other course is, once you start to grow on Instagram, brands are going to approach you. In my last course, I said I started making money on Instagram and I have about 5,000 followers, and that's true. I started getting a lot of brands approaching me to photograph their things, and that's fine. If you have a page with followers, you should be doing sponsored posts and working with different companies to start making some money, that's great. With that said, once again, you need to strike a balance. If you're just posting sponsored photos, that's not authentic. You should only post, sponsored posts of brands that you care about, that you actually want to work with. For example, for me, a lot of coffee brands will approach me and say, "Hey Shawn, can you shoot our coffee?" If I like the coffee, I'll post the photo. If I don't like the coffee, I'm not going to tell my followers, "This is an amazing coffee", because that's not true, that's not real. I also don't work with brands that I just don't want to work with. You also need to make sure that you're not posting too many sponsored posts. If you're sponsored posts, sponsored post, sponsored posts, there's no more authenticity there. I see that a lot with girls that are doing makeup and stuff, it just like every single thing they post, is a sponsorship. It's like, "Is that even you? Is that even real? Do you even use that product?" I don't know. That's something to think about. You sacrifice a lot of authenticity when you start to go that route, so it's important to strike that balance. With that said, I want to move on to inspiration and where to find your inspiration, where to get inspiration, and why it's important for you as a creative on Instagram. 7. Inspiration and Your Content: Now I want to take a little bit to talk about inspiration and I can tell you that inspiration is absolutely central to you as a creator on Instagram. Inspiration gives you a basis of style. It helps you grow as a creative, it brings you new ideas and it helps you stay relevant as things are continuing to change and it can really help you establish a really strong personal brand that's authentic because you're continuing to grow, you're staying inspired, and you're continuing to try new things. There's a few things to think about when it comes to inspiration. First off, what kind of images do you want to create and what kind of images do you want to share? What kind of styles do you really like? What are you really drawn to? I mean that in a visual sense, but I'll show an emotional sense as well. When you see a photo or some piece of art, what is it about it that you're really drawn to? One of the best places for me to find inspiration is actually on Instagram. Instagram is a fantastic place to find inspiration simply because it's easy to sort specific topics and it's easy to find beautiful images from many different industries, many different themes, anything you can think of. For me, I'm a photographer. I like photography influence and style and fashion, so design, things like that. All of those things help inspire me as a photographer. It's not just photography, but it's all the other things that go into it as well. I use Instagram to find those things and I can do that by sorting hashtags. If I want to become a better food stylist, I can search food styling hashtags, go from there and find the posts that I like and really break them down and determine what are the factors about that photo that I really like and why do I like it? You can also find pages that have a very similar theme to yours and this can help inspire you in the sense of not only the individual photos on that person's page and how they style and how they photograph that topic, their theme. But also the whole story, the whole theme of their page, their main focus. Is it a little bit more niche than yours, how are they tackling, how are they approaching that theme? I do that a lot. There's a lot of other coffee photographers out there and I love looking at their pages because I can see them starting to change their theme a little bit and I can see how they're doing without if it's good for their engagement, if it's bad for their engagement. It's important to go and find other people. I don't want to call them competitors because they're just other creators and there's a lot of room for success on Instagram. Go to their pages, explore their photos, explore what they're doing, how they're creating content and that is going to be very important for you as you move on to creating content for your pages because it's going to give you a set of basis of style. It's going to help you know which direction to go in when you start creating content for your page. When you're looking at their photos, when you're looking at their images on their page, I want you to think about a few things. What are the visual aspects of the photo that you like? Is it the lighting? Is it the way they've arranged things in the frame, the stylings, the composition? What about that photo? Do you like the colors, et cetera? That is really important because you need to start thinking about these things if you want to create high-quality content. If you're going to be photographing content for your page. This is very, very important. You need to know the stylistic aspects of the photos that you really like. Write these down, write down the things that you like and reflect on them. Because when you go to start creating, you can have that right there in front of you and it'll be easy for you to implement. One thing I want to mention when it comes to inspiration is, inspiration is not necessarily copying. A lot of my younger photography students all say it's okay to copy other styles, because from that, you will learn a lot and then you will continue to grow and find your own style. But inspiration is not copying, it's pulling in different ideas from different creators and implementing it into your own content, so you can continue to stay creative and it just gives you more ideas and allows you to continue to grow as a creator, as an artist, in my case, as a photographer. I just wanted to touch on that a little bit about inspiration. It's absolutely crucial for your success on the platform to always stay inspired, to always stay on top of it, to always continue to improve your craft. Inspiration is essential, but with that said, let's move on to the next section. 8. Content Creation & Visual Consistency: Now, that you have a rough idea of how to find styles that you like, and where to get inspiration and things like that, I want to start talking about you, and your content creation process. Why this is so important for your personal brand is because this is your brand imagery, this is who you are, this is your style, this is what makes you unique. When somebody comes to my Instagram page, it's coffee photos, café photos, but it's a very specific style of coffee photos, it's dark, it's moody, there's a lot of deep blue undertones. If somebody sees my photo, and they know me as a photographer, they know me as a brand, even if my name is not associated with that photo, they'll think, "Hey, that must be Sean's photo, it looks like Sean's photo." That's incredibly powerful because that is that brand identity. For example, you think of these large brands like Nike, or something like that. We're so aware of brands that were surrounded by, we can see a logo and instantly know that brand. The same goes on Instagram with the specific content in the style of the content. That is why this section is so important when it comes to the visual consistency of your photos, the visual quality for photos, because it really helps dictate that personal brands. I want you to really think about the things I'm going to talk about in this section in accordance to you, and your style, and your theme. When it comes to visual consistency on Instagram, I break that down into two categories, quality consistency, and also style consistency. Let's start at the top with quality consistency, and what I mean by that is you should only be posting the best photos that you have. Earlier on in this course, I said that theme is the most important, and even if you have a really good theme, you can post bad photos, and you'd be good, and that is true. But you need to understand that you must have a very specific theme to accomplish this. Chances are your theme is already being done by hundreds of other people on Instagram. There's a lot of other coffee photographers on Instagram, there's a lot of other fashion pages, or cars, or kittens, or whatever on Instagram. The things that set those pages apart is quality content, good videos, good images, high-quality, photos, or videos that elicit emotion. I say, you should always strive your hardest to post the best, best content that you have, the best photos. One of the things that I'll never forget is another Instagrammer told me this, a very popular Instagrammer they said, "Sean, you should only post photos that are 10 out of 10, the best photos that you take. Don't post the mediocre ones, only post the best. If that means posting less, that's fine.'' I really took that to heart, and that's what I teach all of my students, and all of my clients, is only post the best photos that you have, don't ever settle for something that's not amazing for you. I often have students contact me from my previous course on Instagram and they say, "Hey Sean, can you take a look at my feed? I've selected a theme, and I've got the style consistency.'' I take a look at their page, and yes, the theme is great, the bio is great, everything is great, but the image quality is lacking. I think this is the hardest part when it comes to Instagram, is making sure that you have quality content. Instagram is a visual platform, it revolves around images, and videos, and digital media, so you need to make sure that you're posting good stuff because there's a lot of really good artists on Instagram. If you want to set yourself apart, you're going to have to go in that direction where you're posting high-quality content. You have a few options for doing that, if you're like me, if you're a photographer, well, it should be easy for you. You can create beautiful content surrounding your niche pretty easily. I think a lot of successful people on Instagram, besides celebrities and things like that, they're very good photographers, they know how to create beautiful content. If you have money, if you're a brand, you can hire a photographer, but with that said, if you hire a photographer, that's not your direct image. You can put your mindset, and your ideas through that photographer, but at the end of the day, going to capture your image perfectly. That brings me back to this idea of authenticity. If you're the one creating the photos, then it's going to be a lot more authentic than if somebody else is doing so. If you're nervous about that, if you feel like you're not a good photographer, just know that there's so many Instagrammers that only shoot with their smart phones, or iPhones, or Samsung, or whatever they're using, that's all they use. I can tell you that, smartphones in 2018 are absolutely incredible, and they're only going to get better. iPhones are great, and if you're interested in learning a little bit about how to take better photos on your smartphone, you can check out my smartphone photography course. I have another one here on Skillshare, you can check that out, that's a great resource for learning how to take better photos in your smartphone. But that's the quality aspect of things, high-quality images, so remember, you need to be posting the best images as possible. But the second aspect of visual consistency on your feed is the style consistency and maintaining a very consistent style of imagery. What do I mean by that? Sean, what do you mean by that? That basically means, that your photos need to have a similar look, they should all look similar to each other. Why that's important is because Instagram has a grid layout, and all of the photos are lined up next to each other, and as you scroll down they're all lined up. If you have that style consistency, then that is going to show somebody that you're putting time, and effort into your page, and if they like that style, they're going to be much more inclined to follow you. Like I said, that style is your brand identity, they will associate you with that specific style. I've broken down this topic of style into three different things, similar lighting, similar styling, and similar editing. Let's break those down one by one. First off, styling. Styling is basically the things that are in your frame, the content in your frame, and how those things are arranged. You'll see a lot of flatly food photographers, the styling in their frame is the food, and everything on the table, and how it's arranged to look good for the camera, so that is styling. That is directly related to your theme, so the content, the styling, and everything in your image should be relevant to your theme. For example, me, coffee. I have coffee. That's the content, that's relevant, that's consistent with my Instagram page's theme, and how those things are arranged is important for a good image as well. If you have everything clumps up in the middle, it might not look good for a photo you spread it out and make it look aesthetic, it'll look a lot better in an image. When it comes to styling, you can ask yourself a few questions, one of the things that are in your frame, and are those things relevant to your Instagram theme and, how are you arranging those things in your frame to look good for the camera? This is pretty simple. Like if you're all watercolor artists, you have watercolor images in your frame, pretty simple. For the most part, styling is pretty simple, doesn't have to be perfect. The second aspect of visual consistency is lighting. I think this is where a lot of people have a hard time, because lighting is very difficult thing to grasp, and it's hard to understand. But I can tell you that it is the most important factor when it comes to having images that look similar to each other. A lot of people are always asking about editing, and what filter is that? A lot of the time it's the light that those images were shot in. You can see on my Instagram page, I always shoot with like a dark area, and a light area, the food is always bright, and the coffee's bright, and everything else around is dark, and that is not editing. A little bit of it is editing, but it is the shooting environments that I shoot in. I always shoot in a dark room next to a window, and that will give me that dark, and moody look. If you want to have visual consistency on your page, it's important to shoot in similar lighting scenarios as often as you can, because that will create visual consistency on your page. Oftentimes you'll see an Instagram page, and everything is really bright, and airy, and you can automatically see that in the feed, whereas, if you go to my page and, boom, you automatically see that it's dark. Think about the lighting that you're shooting in and troubleshoot and similar lighting scenarios as you're creating content for your page. The third thing is similar color, and this all comes down to editing, and this all comes down to basically one filter. One of the best tips I have for you when creating content for your Instagram is, if you're going to be editing on your phone, or even on Lightroom on your computer, use one filter. Choose one filter and use that, because that will create a very specific style for you, and it will allow you to stay visually consistent. If somebody likes that style, they're going to be like, "Well, I love the way this person edits. I love the vintage look in their photos, or the high contrast or whatever.'' They will love that, and they will associate that with your personal brand once again. Remember to use the same filter, choose any of them, I recommend A6 on VSCO, or any of the VSCO photos are amazing, so try some of those. Snapseed is also great. If you like to edit on Lightroom, if you're a little bit more advanced, you can check out my Lightroom Presets. If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud membership, you can actually upload the Presets on your desktop, and they will automatically sync with Lightroom mobile. Actually, I edit most of my Instagram photos on my phone using Lightroom, using my specific Lightroom Presets. But I only use one filter, and that is my crystal modern filter, it's that dark, moody blue look that I really love. Choose one filter, stick with that, that's going to be great for you in maintaining a visually consistent feed with similar colors, similar tones, things like that. 9. Bio: All right guys. So now I want to talk a little bit about your bio. I think a lot of people overlook this and they don't spend the time to put valuable things in their bio. Your Instagram bio is very important when it comes to your personal brand. It basically says who you are, what you're about, your interests, and ultimately what your Instagram theme is. It's also great for showing your personality, and I urge you to share your personality. Share who you are as a person, where are you from? What are your interests? etc. It doesn't necessarily have to be completely related to your theme, there should be something in there about your theme, but it doesn't have to be completely related to your theme. In your bio you can also put a call to action and this is awesome. Like if you're an artist and you have a website, like a portfolio, you can direct them there, for me, I put my courses on there, or I'll put my presets so I can sell my presets there. I do a few different things i kind of change it around. But that's great for taking people off the platform so they can learn more about you and who you are and you can continue to grow your personal brand off of Instagram, starting from there and taking them to another website. So when it comes to bios, you can pretty much put anything in there, and I think the best way for us to find good bios is just to look them up on Instagram. So let's do that. So starting here, we have mine, I have my name here, Sean Dalton, it says photographer because I have a business page. So if you link your Instagram to a Facebook page, then you can have a business page and that allows you to have better analytics and that gives you that little title on your name as well. So for me it's a photographer. I say always traveling because I am always traveling, that's me, that's one of my passions. Then I have this dark and moody vibes, it used to say dark and moody coffee vibes, but I am trying to change my theme a little bit so I can post a lot of photos all related to this dark and moody vibe and not just dark and moody cafe photos. But that's my theme I have USA flag, the Thai flag and the Japanese flag because I've lived in those countries I'm American, but I live in Thailand and I have lived in Japan and I'm very interested in those cultures. I have here top teacher at Skillshare, because that is something I identify with. I'm proud of that, I love being a teacher on Skillshare, so I want to share that with people, and it kind of says a little bit about who I am and then I have a call to action here at the bottom. Get my Moody Cafe Film Style presets below, then you can click that link there and then you can see I have these nine photos here and then these highlights and stuff like that. So this is mine, but let's move on and look at another one. This is a bio data like it's simple, it's easy, he has his location there, and then he says, conveying emotion through portraiture one-click at a time. That tells you exactly what he's doing. He's a portrait photographer and you can see all of his photos are these beautiful portraits I really love his work, he's is very, very talented and they're going off that visual consistency thing you can see here, there's beautiful visual consistency in terms of lighting, styling, and the editing is just amazing, so great fee great bio. Let's look at one more. So here's another one that uses a lot of cool emojis. This is Brie, she is Hungryhipsters on Instagram, beautiful, beautiful feed. I'm in the bio she has here, LA based in New York City team, so that just says where she's at. Says a little bit about her, positive vibes, fashion, travel, food, and I like how she uses the emojis here as well. Miami, Big Bear Lake, Tahoe, so where she's going to be going, where she's going to be traveling to, she got her email there and then a call to action. That's great, it says about her and the emojis really kind of enhance that mood of her page, happy, bright lifestyle and her photos are just beautiful. You can see the visual consistency here as well. But that's pretty much it, when it comes to bios like, put something about yourself, don't just leave like one word in there, make it about yourself, say who you are, what your interests are, what your theme is about, and go from there. I don't want to overlook this because it's very important for somebody when they first come to your page. Because you can't really deviate too much when it comes to posting photos that are really, really personal, those are going to be more focused on your theme, the bio is where you can really show who you are as a person. 10. Daily Interaction and Engagement: All right guys. One of the questions I often receive is, how often should I be active on Instagram? Well, Instagram is the type of platform where you need to be as active as possible. You need to make sure that you're posting every single day. When it comes to posts, I always say post at least once per day if you can. You don't need to post more than that. You can, you can post maybe two or three photos a day, but remember, you have to create quality content. It can be difficult to get a lot of really good content. For me, I post once a day and that's enough for me because if I go out shooting, maybe I'll just choose one photo from that shoot that I'll post on Instagram because that's the only photo that I think is just ten out of ten. But yes, once a day and always make sure that those photos are relevant to your theme. When it comes to stories, you can post as much as you want and you can be as personal as you want. Whereas when you're posting the photos in your grid it needs to be consistent with your theme, you can deviate from that theme when it comes to your stories because if you deviate from it, you have more flexibility with showing your true personality, and showing that true personality is essential for creating that strong personal brand. Show anything, show the food that you're eating, show your day, if you see something interesting, capture that in a little video and post it, and it will allow people to build a personal connection with you and build trust, and they will become true followers of you. That is essential for that personal brand. But at the same time, you should be incorporating things of your theme into your story as well. For example, I'm a photographer, I will show me doing behind the scenes shoots so people can see how I'm interacting with my craft and then they can see the final photo. That personalizes your theme even more and that's great because it allows people to bridge the gap between you, and then your photos and your content, and it comes together as one, and that is your personal brand. Feel free to post anything and if you can post about your theme, that's great. Like the watercolor artists example, do a little video of you painting some watercolor. I think that's amazing and that is a great way to build a strong connection with your followers. Then the last thing I want to talk about is engaging with other profiles. In my other course I talk about this heavily and how important it is to engage with other profiles. You can go on Instagram and find themes that are similar to yours or pages that you like or whatever, anything, it doesn't matter. But you should be going on Instagram and commenting and interacting with other people outside of your page. You can go browse various hashtags of things that you're interested in, you can find photos that you like and just leave a simple comment. Like the photo, leave a comment and be authentic about it say, "Hey, I really like the colors here, I love how you did this." If you interact with certain hashtags or certain communities enough, you can really develop your name for yourself there. People will start to see your comments and they'll be like, "This guy is commenting on my photos and I've seen him commenting on other people's photos, and the comments are really positive." So they'll give you follow and they'll explore you a little bit. Then that is how you can expand and continue to grow your account. That daily interaction is important, not just posting on your page, but also going out, finding other pages and commenting and interacting with them. Like I said if you've seen my other course, I talk about this so much because this is central to growth. 11. Timeline: One of the things I often hear is Sean I've been doing these things right, and I'm just not growing. That's why I added this section just to talk about timeline. Instagram takes time. It's gonna take time to develop a following. It's going to take time to really develop that personal brand that you want to have, but as you continue, if you stay on top of these practices where you're posting everyday, you're engaging on your story and you're interacting with other accounts, you will grow and those followers will start to trust you more and more and more, and now we'll allow you to develop that personal brand on Instagram that you have always wanted. Stick with it, don't let down. It's a daily thing you have, it's kind of a grind, but it's fun. Like I said, if you love your theme, if you love what you're focusing on, Instagram is just a creative outlet for you. It doesn't become a burden. I'm excited to share my photos and see how I'm progressing. It's a great way to have all your photos in one place. You can scroll down, see how far you've come, see how your style has changed over time, and then you can continue to grow as a creative as well. 12. FAQ: All right guys, so in this section, I want to answer some of the questions that I get all the time about Instagram and about growing and about building your own personal brand on Instagram. This come from my other course, and this comes from people that are asking me questions similarly on a daily basis. So the first one is, do you need to start a new account when you want to change your theme? The answer to that question is absolutely not. If you scroll down far enough on my page, it just turns into this personal feed with random terrible photos of everything. Back when I was early in college. It's just a bunch of random stuff. But it's changed over time and you can see that change where it goes to travel photos, and then I find the niche that worked and that was the coffee photos. That was what worked for me and that's what really helped my account grow. So you can have your account change over time. You don't have to start a new account. Going off of that, do you need to delete your old photos if you're going to change your theme? I say no, don't delete your old photos, just leave them there. People aren't going to scroll that far on your feed when they first go there. So just start posting the new ones, leave the older ones there. Those are things that you've done in your past life. It's awesome to be able to look back at those photos and reflect on them and see how far you've come. The next question is, how often should you post? Like I said before, I say once a day, maximum three times per day. If you just have a tone of content three times per day. With that said, if you're starting out in the beginning, you can post maybe three photos per day for the first week or something like that and just build up a good basis of photos and then just post once a day after that. That's something I would recommend, but I only post once a day. Now don't even really post on Saturdays because my engagement goes down during that time. Going off of that, the next question is, when is the best time to post? That just varies for everybody. So for me, I do the best at noon, around lunchtime or at dinnertime, so like 7:00 PM. But my audience is much different from say, your audience. So you will figure out what works for you over time, and if you do convert your account to a business account, you can actually see the analytics of when your posts are doing their best. So that's a really good recommendation I have for you is to convert to a business account. So you can have those analytics and you can identify when your posts are doing good and when your posts are not doing so good. Next question is, how many hashtags should you use? I say use 30, that's the max. I say use them all and find hashtags that that are targeted hashtag. So my other course talking about targeted hashtags, and essentially that means hashtags that are focused around something very specific. So if you use a hashtag like hashtag, food, there's millions and millions of photos on hashtag food, your photo's not going to get seen. But if you use a more specific hashtag, like Sunday evening dinner, I don't know that was really random, but anything more specific, people might be searching for that and they will find your photo much easier. So use more specific targeted hashtags surrounding your content and surrounding your theme, and that's the best recommendation I have for you there. Next question is, how do you know if your photos are good? This is a really, really tough one because oftentimes we think our photos are good, but they're just not doing well on Instagram. So I would say, reach out to people around you and say, hey, be honest with me, do you think these photos are good or not? Or maybe you just show them your Instagram page and be like, hey, what do you think about this? Just hear their initial reactions. If they say, I love the photo quality, well then you know your photos are okay. But if they don't really mention that, that's something that they probably should mention because your photos, you know, they have to be good to do well on Instagram. So another way is just to send me a message, say, hey Shawn, can you tell me how's my photo quality, and I'll be honest with you, I'll tell you, I think you can improve here, I think it's okay, I think there's some things that are lacking, et cetera. So send them to me, ask some friends, that's the best way to know if your photos are actually good or not. I'm always open to answering more questions. If you guys have any questions, please feel free to post those questions in the discussion of this course. I read all of those discussion posts and other people can see them as well so we can all kind of talk about them. I'm going to answer your question as a collective. So that's the best way to get a hold of me, and I would love to answer your questions there. 13. Conclusion: I guess, so we have talked about a lot of different things in this course,but I want to thank you for sticking around this entire time. I've been teaching on Scotia her for a while. Now, this course is really exciting for me, because we've got to talk about, some of the things that we talked about in my last course, but I wanted to expand on them a little bit more here. And, I think it'll be really valuable for you guys, and I hope that it was, a few things that I want to hammer in before we go. Always remain as authentic as possible. You know, always stay true to your content, always push things that you should care about, and also be as personal as you can in your stories, when you're messaging people, just be yourself. That is going to allow you to create, a following that cares about you, and they don't just love your photos, and your work in your art, or whatever you're pushing. But they also love you as a person, and then those things come together, and then that is rather strong. personal brand comes in, you know, when the, art connects with the artists, and they come together, that is a personal brand, a strong personal brand. So, that's all I got for you guys. Thank you so much for sticking around. Once again, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them. In the discussion of this course. I can't, wait to check those out. And, I can't wait to see your student projects, as well. So, with that said guys, I will see you in the next one. Thank you so much for watching. I'll catch you later.