How I changed my Instagram game in 1 year

It’s been about a year and a half since I really became intentional with my Instagram account.  Since then, I have noticed a significant difference, not only in my following, but also in my website traffic and my bookings. So I thought I’d walk you through some of the simple steps I took that had a big impact on my business.

There is no way around it, social media is where it’s at these days and having a presence on various platforms can really take your business to another level. Getting into a groove with posts gets easier with time, and once you see your following, interactions, and ROI grow, you’ll quickly see the value. So, let’s break this down a little bit.


Before I got serious about Instagram, I was posting maybe once every two weeks. It was hard, I didn’t know what to say or what picture would look good, so half the time I wouldn’t post at all. Sound familiar? I was at maybe 550-600 followers at the time, with minimal interaction. Up to that point, I didn’t have a single inquiry say they found me through Instagram.

When I launched my new brand and website in September of 2016, it was the perfect opportunity to step up my game. I knew that in order for me to maintain a consistent presence, I would need to look into a scheduling system. After some research and trials, I landed on Planoly to manage my Instagram feed. I pay roughly $9 a month and boy is it worth it. I can drag any image  into my queue and it will be ready to do batch scheduling or a single post. Then, I can go in and drag/drop images into the calendar, write a post, and schedule it! Done!

It is seriously so easy and serves as a wonderful snapshot of what your feed will look like (think: flow, gaps, symmetry).

Heather O'Brien Design | How I changed my instagram in 1 year with Planoly


Friends, imagery is SO important, I mean this is the allure of Instagram! And here is a little secret, not all of your images need to be professional! You can learn to take images with your phone and edit them. In this blog post, I share how I learned to style and photograph my own images. The key here is Consistency. When styling and editing your images, don’t play around with a million different effects and filters. Find one that speaks to your brand, whether that is light and airy, or dark and moody, and stick with it. I use the app PicTapGo and I only use ONE effect every time, the “lights on” setting. It gives all of my images that nice bright look, which matches my brand.

Heather O'Brien Design | How I changed my instagram in 1 year with Planoly


When I started scheduling my images, I also started utilizing hashtags. These are great ways to be discovered by new users. Hashtags are kind of like “categories” for your images. When you tag your post with a hashtag, your image/post gets populated with all the other posts with that same hashtag, lending you to a broader audience. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post and I generally stick with 15-20. I also include mine in my caption, as opposed to the first comment. I notice that when I use hashtags, I get more likes and interaction, as well as new followers.

Instagram Stories

I have found that Instagram stories are highly affective. With that said, I haven’t nailed them 100% yet. I find it a bit more challenging to maintain these, as they are more of a live, as-you-go post. And truth be told, there are some days that I am so busy between work and kids, that I don’t even have time to hop on social media, much less time to document it all! But I know people who do it everyday and they get a lot of their engagement and bookings from them!

Moral of the story? Get working on your Instagram! It may take some time and effort to get into a groove, but the payoff is there. I have almost tripled my following since I started. I have also had a huge increase in brides that book me via Instagram. So, start small but be intentional, and before you know it, you’ll be a regular Instagrammer! See you out there on IG!

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I'm flattered that you've stopped by to see what I have to write about! I am definitely no blogger, by any means, but I love the idea of being open and transparent with my clients and followers. I’m a designer, wife, and mama to three beautiful little girls. Follow along to get a glimpse of my work, behind the scenes details and musings from my everyday life. Enjoy!