Instagram Aesthetic Advice from 3 Girls I Follow


Raise your hand if you've ever purposefully worn a trendy outfit for an #ootd. Raise your hand if you've ever made your hangry significant other wait to eat so that you could photograph their food. (Side note: Why do restaurants always have the worst lighting?) Raise your hand if the last time you posted an unfiltered photo was in 2009. Raise your hand if you've ever referred to your Instagram theme casually in conversation. If we were doing this exercise Mean Girls auditorium style, I'm sure you would see that you aren't the only one who thinks about over analyzes their "Instagram aesthetic." In fact, I bet it would reveal quite the opposite.

Developing a cohesive grid is a creative challenge that can be so rewarding. Not only do you get to see your followers grow and your likes double, you are continuously creating something beautiful. Your aesthetic tells a story that reveals who you are, what you love and how you are inspired.

So when I stumble on a picture perfect profile, I'm naturally curious. I can't help but think to myself, I wonder what photo editing app she uses? or Hmm, I wonder where she finds inspiration?

In my own experience, I have found that I'm only able to answer these questions if I ask. So, I decided to reach out to the girls behind five of my favorite Instagram accounts for aesthetic advice. If you're curious about how to develop an aesthic that is uniquely yours, these Q+A's are for you!


Q: How do you describe your Instagram aesthetic?

J: I would describe my aesthetic as warm & kinfolk-esque.


Q: Walk us through your planning process. How do you edit photos and write captions?

J: If I have to shoot for a blog post, I plan on where I want to take that creatively. I dislike plain, standard outfit pictures. I need a story to tell with my outfits, so I plan my locations around my outfits. I usually ask my friend or sister to take my photos for me with the help of my direction. After a shoot, I edit all my photos in Lightroom using my own preset to keep the consistency. When I shoot, it helps to wear/shoot something/somewhere that has the same color scheme.

Captions for me, aren't a big deal. I worry more about the images I produce and the caption is just an afterthought. Sometimes, I like to be funny, other times, it's just a statement. For my hashtags, I keep a couple in my note that follow a different niche: coffee posts, outfit posts, portraits, etc. 


Q: What three apps can you not live without when it comes to perfecting your grid?

J: UNUM (you can write captions, drag and drop, rearrange, and even hide images that you've already posted so you can see how your feed looks without it), VSCO, and Snapseed.


Q: Where do you find inspiration?

J: Kinfolk, Anthropologie style blog posts, Urban Outfitters IG, and my favorite bloggers: Jaci MarieAlyssa Lenore, and Tezza.


Q: As a visual platform, what is your favorite thing about Instagram?

J: Meeting new people! I have met so many creatives through Instagram locally and worldly. Also, finding new accounts that are so inspirational.


Q: How do you describe your Instagram aesthetic?

A: I would describe my Instagram aesthetic as feminine, playful, and airy. My color palette tends to lean toward shades of pinks and white.


Q: What's your editing process like?

A: Once a week, I schedule a time to sit down for an hour or two and go through the app Planoly on my phone. I add in the photos from our recent blog posts and play around with the view of my feed, adding and removing items until I feel that it's perfect (although it still changes).

Three things that I am looking for when planning out my feed is: color-coding my photos so that they are cohesive and a good reflection of my blog; the layout of the photos isn't over-complicated or cluttered, and that I am giving a good variety of lifestyle content (style, motivation, food, design, relationship, etc.)

The majority of our Instagram photos are shot and edited by Jade Nikkole Photography. She works with us on most of our new content for the blog.

On the topic of writing captions -- it has definitely been a learning experience for me; something that I hope I am getting better at over time.

I always want to add value to my readers lives in every post, on and off my Instagram feed. Whether that is through inspiration, humor, emotional support, or knowledge new to them.
— Lifestyle by Anna Elizabeth

I also love telling the stories behind the photo; that is typically the way that I write blog posts as well. I am a true writer at heart so once I start typing it usually just flows from there.

Q: What three apps can you not live without?

A: The only app that I use to perfect my Instagram grid is Planoly. I have tried several others in the past, but always came back to this one. In my opinion, it is the easiest to use and gets the job done without major fees. As complicated as the blogging/influencer industry can be at times, I enjoy the simplicity of this app.


Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: Lately I have found that most of my inspiration comes from podcasts. If you have read my blog, you know that I am obsessed with them (I just shared an updated list of my favorites, here.). I usually listen to at least 2-3 per day while I am working. The wonderful thing that I've found about podcasts is that I get to listen and learn from experts in wildly different industries than me.


Q: As a visual platform, what is your favorite thing about Instagram?

A: My favorite thing about Instagram is how well it connects people and brands. I wouldn't have met so many incredible people, including women that have become some of my closest friends, if it weren't for Instagram.

I also think that the addition of Instagram Stories has brought an incredible amount of transparency to social media that we didn't quite have before. I love watching stories from bloggers with millions of followers, or brands with tremendous success and reminding myself that the people running these empires are human just like the rest of us. I definitely think that it helps connect people on a deeper level when you can talk to them in real-time via live video or share spontaneous updates and unfiltered photos.


Q: How do you describe your Instagram aesthetic?

M: Hmm... (Not gonna lie, I just opened up Instagram to check out my profile and 100% got distracted -- haha!) But, I am a lifestyle account with a focus on yoga and adventures. My photos tend to be outdoors and are light/warm in color.

My Instagram changes and evolves as I do.


Q: What's your editing process like?

M: Sometimes I am really good at planning a couple days ahead, but in all honesty, I'm normally figuring everything out right before I'm posting. I have a couple of apps (because I'm indecisive) that I use to plan/store potential photos on.

As for editing, I use Lightroom. I've been using Lightroom for about a year now, and I use it to edit photos I take on my Sony A6000 and my iPhone 7 Plus. I've purchased a couple of different presets as well which has helped me understand and learn how to edit more with the program.

Captions can be so hard! I am never sure of my words and always run my captions by my friends. It's an insecurity to admit, but I trust my friends to be bluntly honest with me. I draw inspiration for my captions from different quotes that I find and from music. There are also times when I am a little more vulnerable and share words of my own. Those times are pretty challenging for me because I'm always nervous to share my own words. I used to hate when people had to read my paper in school -- ugh, that was the worst!

But to sum it up, captions are freaking hard and 90% of the time I have no idea what to say until right before.


Q: What three apps can you not live without?

M: UNUM, Iconosquare and Prime/Instagram Business.

I mostly use UNUM for grid planning, and I do pay for the Elite plan. I have loved this one from the beginning -- it's the only app so far that lets me choose how many squares ahead I want to plan rather than determining the "planning" squares by how many photos I add to the app.

I recently got into Iconosquare, and I love how I can make "albums" that allow me to see my analytics on posts with certain hashtags. There are a lot of great features with Iconosquare but in my personal opinion, it's not exactly the best or the easiest for planning out your gird. For all other insight though, it's worth it! You receive daily, weekly and monthly updates depending on which subscription you chose.

I'm torn between the last two because they are the newest apps to my planning. I recently switched over toInstagram Business, and no, I haven't noticed a difference in my engagement, but I have noticed all the new information that will help me grow! Trust me, I was super hesitant to move over to a business account on Instagram but, I must say that the info makes it worth it.

So Prime is great for letting you know exactly what time -- down to the minute -- that you should post. It shows you the "prime" times that your followers are active.

I was so reluctant to switch over to Instagram Business, but I already had a Facebook business account and could benefit from the insights that an Instagram business account could offer. Also, combining Instagram Business post times with Prime post times gives you some options to play around with on which will be best. Am I good at posting on prime times? NO -- I suck at it. Majority of the time I am posting after my "prime" posting time.


Q: Where do you find inspiration?

M: From other users! Accounts I especially love are @earth_yogini, @alliemichellel, @kestyoga and some poets. But, if I'm not drawing my inspiration from other users, I am drawing it from poems and quotes I find on Pinterest, or from what I read in books.


Q: As a visual platform, what is your favorite thing about Instagram?

M: I really love Instagram for how you're able to connect with new people that you probably would've never met, all through your work. We are all choosing to share a little piece of ourselves on this platform and I love connecting with those who have the courage to be vulnerable with what they choose to share.

Did you find this advice helpful? I would love to hear your feedback in a comment below!