• By Amanda Blackburn.

Make your Instagram Stories Look Awesome!

Good lighting.

Natural light is the easiest and cheapest way of achieving a good video capture. Natural light is so much more flattering for all skin tones and helps eliminate shadows. The best time of day to get natural light is after sunrise and golden hour (an hour before sunset). If you have to record in the middle of the day when it is bright, make sure to go somewhere shady. I like to go into the woods as the trees tone down the brightness. If you don’t have time to get outside or feel too shy to record in public use good quality white LED lighting or record in a room that has big windows facing the light so that you’re shot isn’t backlit.

Record using your phone app.

Use your mobile phone camera app to record your videos instead of the one on Instagram. Your phone app will record with higher resolutions than videos taken directly on Instagram and you will have more editing options.

Instagram Video Length.

Instagram Stories have to be no longer than 15 seconds long. If you are talking about something on your video I would suggest that you stop talking and pause at 13 seconds as it flows better and doesn’t cut on your last word. You can continue the rest of your story within the next 15 seconds, but having that couple of seconds pause makes your story flow better. Don’t rush by speaking too fast as you will sound muffled and silly. If you are putting lots of 15-second clips together make sure to post them in the correct order. The more you practice the easier it will become, you can practice on the Insta story app without actually posting it live. Practice then delete, it will help you get familiar with the 15 second time and get used to seeing yourself on camera. I’ve pushed out plenty of rubbish stories over the last 6 months, my mistakes are only teaching me how to improve next time.

Portrait style.

Record your videos in portrait as most people browse with their phones vertically, traditional landscape mode doesn’t look as good.


Use a good video editing software that you are comfortable with. I use I-Movie, I know there are better ones around but I can actually manage to edit on I-movie, it’s such an easy app to use. Find one that suits you, practice with it by recording little day to day things, you can always delete them after. Video editing software allows you to keep within the 15 seconds and also includes more options, like adding music or text.


Just like your Instagram posts, stick to a certain style. Who are your audience? What do they like to see from you? Why have they chosen to follow you? What do they like? If you’ve already established your audience you should know their likes and expectations. Your video creations should be made with these things in mind. Create your video style and be consistent with it. Use your Instagram insights to establish what times and days are your best times to post and stick to a regular pattern.


Don’t forget to use hashtags in your Instagram Stories. Just like your posts, hashtags help users to find your content (especially the ones that aren’t following you).


Add your location to your story, your content will appear if someone does a location search making you more visible. It will also appear when a user is on their general search page. There are Stories at the top of the page based on the user’s nearest location. Be careful with this though, do you want people to know where you are, where you live, where you will be at certain times and days? I only use this if I’m visiting somewhere that I won’t be going to regularly, remember to keep yourself safe.

Animation & Music.

Add animation and music to your Instagram stories. There are so many free apps that are available to jazz up your videos. Find one that you can use, stick to the same app as the more you use it the better you will become. There are so many apps available, familiarise yourself with the one you can manage.

Within the Instagram app, you can add cool stickers, filters, and so much more. The Instagram app also allows you to extract your chosen song. The app is really easy to use but it doesn’t allow you to play around with the volume on the music so you can’t fade it in and out. You can also use your own songs from your smartphone, I will show you how to do all these things in next weeks post.

Another way to extract music to your video is from your own music player. Your chosen editing app, for example, as mentioned earlier, I use I-player. With I-player you can control the volume of your song choice and fade it in and out. Your videos will look and sound so much more professional when using a good editing app. Because your story is only 15 seconds long you can use most sounds without getting into trouble.

Add Text.

Instagram allows you to pin text, @mentions, and graphics in your Story. First, you need to create the text you’d like to include in your Story. Once you’ve done this hold your thumb down on it until you see a pin option at the bottom right. From there you’ll see a line that will allow you to go through the video clip and choose where you’d like to pin the text. You can choose different fonts for your text, like neon, modern, typewriter, strong, and classic. Find the font that you like and stick to using the same one, be consistent with your style.


My favourite feature within the Instagram Story App is the Superzoom option. The cool app allows you to zoom in on a person or object in a variety of different styles - hearts, paparazzi, fire, nope, bummer, surprise, beats, tv show, dramatic and bounce. Hearts, for example, blurs slightly and adds pink hearts around the object in the centre of the screen, while also playing “slushy” music. Using these apps are a great way to show your sense of humour and add some comedy to your videos. Try them all out and see which you like best. To see the options click on the superzoom option which will allow you to filter through them. Once you’ve selected the one you want. you’ll just click record and superzoom does its magic.

Other options.

You can also switch up your video and show some personality by using the fun options that Instagram provide. Boomerang is one of the options, this is such a fun way of recording movement. Make sure that what you’re recording is moving in an interesting way to get the most out of it. The rewind option allows you to play everything in reverse and the focus portrait option blurs the background while keeping someone's face sharp for a stylized, professional photography look.

Text Frames.

I like to use the text frames to add text to my video and photos. Using text frames makes adding your text look more professional plus you also have the ability to add tags. Adding text is a different way of relaying a message within your story. I like to use this to share my recent product reviews.


The poll option is a great way to get users engaged with your content and is also an excellent way to see what your audience is interested in. Think carefully of your questions, ask questions that your audience is interested in.


Boost your engagement by mentioning your favourite IG page. If someone hashtags or mentions you in a post, consider re-sharing it in your story and mentioning them.

Go Live.

This is something I don’t do very often. I personally only go live when I’m doing something exciting, like riding a rollercoaster or showing something exciting that is happening at that moment. Going live on Instagram Stories lets you engage with your audience in real-time. It’s also a great way of allowing people to connect with you, it shows who you really are with no filters, it’s real and genuine and people like to see you in this way every now and then.


If you really like one of your Instagram Stories and you want to display it for longer than 24 hours. Add your story to your Highlights so you and your audience can enjoy them permanently. As you’re creating Highlights, consider breaking them up and organizing them into different topics. This makes it easy for the user to check out exactly what they are interested in.

I will be showing you how to do all these things in my next week's post. Until then have a play around with your Instagram stories app, download a good editing software and get planning. Like you plan your photo’s, plan your stories in the same way. Think of what hashtags to use and decide the type of content you want to produce for your Story ahead of time. People come to connect, socialize and learn new things, make your stories interesting this will help grow your Instagram account in no time.


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