My free checklist will help you get organized so you can finally run a smooth food photography shoot!
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The Gram is my happy place! It has been the perfect medium for me to learn about photography, share my work, and find my tribe. Instagram marketing is also a powerful tool to get visibility for your food and product photography business. And if you have a plan in place, it doesn’t have to be difficult!
Now I would like to mention that I am not a marketing expert. I did work for a marketing agency for a while and I’ve also spent a lot of time testing marketing techniques for Frenchly over the years. What I’m sharing here is what I have learned and what is working for me.
Please feel free to try out the things I talk about in this blog, but I encourage you to do a little trial and error of your own as well. It’s the best way to find out what works for you!
As a photographer and former graphic designer, I’m a very visual person. I love selecting the right images to post and planning cohesive galleries, but coming up with captions on the spot is not my forte. I used to be the person who would spend up to an hour wondering what to post on IG, until I realized how much time that system was costing me.
Now, I plan.
The most important part of my Instagram marketing strategy is the “content bucket” system to keep my posts from becoming stagnant or repetitive. Each day of the week that I post to Instagram has its own bucket. Monday is food styling/photography tips. Tuesday is editing/productivity tips. And of course Wednesdays I usually release a new blog post, so that day is the day I promote my blog on Instagram. Whenever I see something on the web or out in the real world that sparks an idea, I save it on my Trello content board under the content bucket it matches best. It really takes the guesswork out of deciding when to post what.
Recently, I’ve also been migrating that process to Planoly so that I can plan my posts and schedule them in the same place. It’s a more image-friendly planning tool, which is super important when you’re a photographer! I still use Trello’s calendar view to plan out my post ideas, though. (You can read more about that in an upcoming blog post detailing the many ways I use Trello!)
No matter what day I’m posting or which bucket I’m filling, I try to only post content that is valuable, inspirational, and engaging. That’s challenging when you’re posting six days a week. Where do you find that much quality content? I found an answer in a workshop by the amazing Kim Jimenez. I watch her YouTube channel every week and love her insights. In this video, she was pointing out how we spend hours creating awesome blog posts, then we publish them once and — poof! — we’re done with it.
Here’s the thing though: a lot of people don’t go out of the platform to read every blog post. But I can still bring the content to them! I take snippets of previous blog posts and reuse them for my captions. Then I put a fresh spin on them, add in something new I’ve learned along the way, and voilà. I also pay close attention to the posts that get the most comments and questions and then brainstorm ways to dig deeper into the topic in my stories, or in a future blog post.
I’ve developed my own pipeline for planning and scheduling my posts and it’s become second nature. You don’t need to do everything exactly the way I do it, but having a set system will help you keep track of things.
I plan my Instagram feed one week at a time, following an editorial calendar. On Monday I sit down and create all the captions for the following week. I keep them in a Trello board so that everything’s centrally located, and I keep track of it all with the calendar view. The calendar view helps me make sure each day is covered, and I can mark posts as completed when I’ve approved and scheduled them. When I have an idea I just quickly add a card (the phone app is great for this) and then I flesh out the full caption later.
Once my captions are ready to post, I move them over to Planoly. Here I can see a preview of my grid and schedule the posts. The most essential thing for me is the ability to auto-post to Instagram so that I’m not constantly forgetting to do it myself! I also like to save favorite hashtags so that I don’t have to come up with new ones every time.
The gurus of Instagram marketing will tell you that you should have super-cohesive feeds where all the images use identical styles and color palettes. As a food photographer, I think it is more important to spread your wings a little. Clients love to see variety and versatility; it shows them that you can tailor your work to different needs. So while I plan the images in my grid to complement one another, I don’t get obsessive or matchy about it.
I try to post stories every day. It’s where most of my engagement comes from. They allow me to get feedback on what my followers want to see from me. That’s the most helpful metric out there! Stories are time-consuming, but they’re fun to make and totally worth it because I feel like I’m creating a real connection. I have an editorial calendar for these too, although I am a lot more loose with it.
Hashtags are key to visibility with stories. You can use up to 11 of them, and you really should. You can also @ mention other accounts, who will be able to repost your stories. Don’t forget geotagging either, which is also very powerful.
This is a really interesting way to share long-form videos. IG is really pushing to make this big and I think it’s just going to keep growing. I’ve been playing around with it lately and can’t wait to take it even further. I am thinking time-lapses, tutorials, and maybe some behind the scenes action. The sky’s the limit! Let me know if there’s anything interesting you’d like to see from me on IGTV.
Instagram the best of both worlds when it comes to social media and marketing. You don’t have to spend hours planning each post to get meaningful engagement. I hope you’ve found a few things in this blog post to try out. Let me know how it goes! Don’t forget to check out my recent post about using Pinterest as a photographer as well.