How to Create Gorgeous Instagram Story Highlight Covers

You may have noticed recently that some of your favourite Instagram accounts have jazzed up their Instagram Story Highlights with custom covers. The great news? These are incredibly easy to create, straight from your cell phone.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s what they look like on your Instagram profile – the lovely colored circles that sit on your profile between your bio and your feed:

 

Today I’m going to show you how you too you can create custom covers for your own Instagram Story highlights.

TIP: Too busy to create your own? Download my pack of free highlight covers below, then scroll to the end of this post to read how to upload them to Instagram.

 

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Before you start:

Before we get started with the design (aka, the fun stuff!) check that your Instagram Stories settings are in order:

  • On your profile, click on the cog icon
  • Tap Story Settings 
  • Turn on Save to Archive

This will come into play a little later on.

STart Designing With Canva

Today we’re designing with Canva, in particular, their mobile app (this has the Story Template that we’re going to customise) and is the exact method I used to create the covers on my Instagram profile.

  • Open the mobile app and scroll through the templates at the top of the screen until you find Your Story.
  • Select the Your Story icon, then select the Blank canvas

 

Now it’s time to get designing! 

  • To edit the background colour, tap on the blank canvas and a series of swatches will appear.

 

  • Here you can select from the pre-determined swatches, or click the + button on the first row of swatches to create your own custom hue. Now you can either enter your brand’s colour code (RGB) into the text field, or slide your finger through the gradient to find your perfect tone.

 

  • Click done and the colour will be applied to the canvas.
  • You now have a coloured canvas to apply your designs to.

  • Now you can apply graphics (icons, shapes, illustrations) to your highlight cover. The first design I created was a Pinterest cover to highlight my Pinterest-related stories.
  • To add icons to your canvas, click the + button on the bottom right of your screen, then select Graphics from the menu

  • Scroll through the library of graphics, and simply tap on your selection to place it onto your canvas (I started with a circle as my base).
  • Be sure to place your graphic directly in the centre of your canvas (Canva automatically provides rulers for this).
  • I kept my circle white, however to change the colour, tap on the graphic, then select a colour from your palette.

  • In this case I used 2 graphics – a circle as my base and a Pinterest icon layered on top. Have fun with your designs to give them your own unique twist.

  • Once you’re happy with your designs click Share, then save your stories to your phone’s Camera Roll.

Time to share your designs! 

In order to set your design as a cover for your Highlights, you need to first share it to your Insta Stories. If you’ve never done this before, follow these steps:

  • From your Instagram app’s home screen swipe right to open Stories
  • Drag your finger down from the top of the screen to open your camera roll
  • Select your graphic from your camera roll
  • Share your graphic

Once your graphic has been posted:

  • Click on your profile image to view your story
  • Click Highlight

  • You can create a new highlight, or add the cover to an existing Story highlight.

 

Now that you’ve created one graphic, just repeat the process for your remaining highlights! And be sure to share your designs with me on Instagram @katewilkinsoncreative!

With love,

 

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MORE OPTIONS TO PIN:

How to create eye-catching covers for your Instagram Highlights (+ 5 free covers you can download now!)

Game-Changing Instagram Story Hacks – Part II

There’s no denying that Instagram’s new Stories feature is getting a lot of engagement (at last count, over 200 million users). As Snapchat numbers decline, bloggers, photographers, marketers and big brands are using the “behind the scenes” feature in a multitude of creative ways.

Now that you’ve mastered the basics (check out Part One of this series if you need a refresher) it’s time to add some color and flair to your new story.

Unlock the Whole Color Palette

Are you tired of the text and brush? Are they not suitable for your brand? Well dear friend, I’m about to show you how you can access the whole color palette in Instagram Stories, and decorate your Stories with whatever hue your heart desires.

Step 1:  Open Instagram Stories in your Instagram app by swiping your finger from left to right from the home screen.

Step 2: Capture a photo or video (tip: read Part 1 of this series to learn how to upload images and videos from your camera roll)

Step 3: Select the paintbrush function or text (Aa) from the top of your screen

Step 4: At the bottom of your screen you will see all of the default color swatches. Hold your finger down on one of these for 2 seconds (it doesn’t matter which one you choose) and the full color wheel will appear

Step 5: Keep holding down your finger on the screen, swiping it to the left or right until you find your perfect hue.

Turn Your Live Photo Into a Boomerang

If you have an iPhone, you’ll probably be familiar with the ‘live photo’ function. To view a live photo in your camera roll, simply hold down your finger on the photo and you’ll be able to see 1.5 seconds of motion and audio your phone lens has captured before and after the image was taken. This function is available on iPhone versions 6 and above.

The great news is, you can now turn this live photo into a Boomerang in your Instagram Stories.

To to do this:

Step 1:  Open your Instagram app on your device and from the Home feed, swipe your finger from left to right to open Instagram Stories.

Step 2: Tap your finger onto the middle of the screen and (in one motion) drag it down the screen. This will reveal the photographs or graphics that have been added to your camera roll in the past 24 hours.

Step 3: Select your live photo from the camera roll

Step 4: Hold your finger down on the photo for 2 seconds. The screen will now display the words Boomerang and the function has now kicked in.

Step 5: Add your text, stickers and filters, then click the white arrow (bottom right of your screen) to publish.

Tip:  If you have edited the photo in a third-party app prior to uploading it to Instagram, the live feature will have been removed from the snap.

Increase (or decrease) Your Text Size

Play around with the sizes of your texts to add interest and contrast to your Stories:

Step 1:  Once you have taken captured a story, create a text overlay (Aa in the top right of our screen)

Step 2: Type your text

Step 3: To the left of your color swatches you will see a white circle with the text aA. Click this button, and slide your finger up and down the scale to increase or decrease your text size.

Tip: Add interest and playfulness to your text by pairing multiple text sizes together.

Add Light Leaks to Your Stories

If you’re a huge fan of A Beautiful Mess’ photo editing app, A Colour Story, chances are you’re as obsessed with their light leak effect as I am (#guiltyascharged). Though this function isn’t technically available in the Stories editing tools, there is a hack that I’m going to share with you:

Step 1:  Capture your image and click the stickers button in the header

Step 2: Scroll through the list of emojis until you come across the sparkles emoji (3 sparkling stars)

Step 3: Add this emoji to your photo, then using your fingers, increase the size of the emoji until it is almost transparent

Step 4: Position the emoji in one of the corners of your photo to replicate a light leak.

Create A Solid Color Block

If you want to share text (and emojis) instead of a photo or video, there’s an easy way to create a solid color black without manually coloring in the entire screen with the paintbrush tool and your finger.

Step 1:  Open your Instagram app on your device and from the Home feed, swipe your finger from left to right to open Instagram Stories.

Step 2: Capture a photo or upload one from your camera roll.

Step 3: Select the paintbrush tool, then choose your desired color from the palette

Step 4: Hold your finger down on the centre of the screen for 3 seconds, until the screen turns into a solid color.

Step 5: Add emojis, stickers and text, then publish!

How to Turn One Blog Post Into 10 Pieces of Shareable Content

Today when scrolling through Instagram, a quote appeared in my feed: “Work Smart, Not Hard”. That’s the dream, right? Working less and achieving more in your creative business. But how?

Last week I wrote about Evergreen Content in this post and it got me thinking a lot about really making your existing content working for you. I’m going to take a stab in the dark and guess that your situation goes something like this: you write multiple blog posts per week, each one taking you hours upon hours to write, edit, proof read, source photos for, create graphics, pin to Pinterest, post in your Facebook groups, and then….. it’s onto the next one.

But, let’s stop for a second. You’re writing informative, useful, relevant content, so why not squeeze every last opportunity to promote your blog and biz out of every single post you create?

SEE ALSO: Your Essential 5 Step Pinterest Makeover

After you publish your blog post, you’re probably already in the routine of promoting it across Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These are all still very relevant platforms to promote your content on, but what if I told you that it’s possible to take one blog post and turn it into 10 unique pieces of content your audience will love?

And you may be asking why this is such an important exercise? Well:

  • By maximising the potential of each blog post, you can spend less time writing and coming up with new post ideas, and more time leveraging your existing work (aka “work smart, not hard“, duh).
  • By creating multiple pieces of content on the one topic you’re positioning yourself as a straight-up expert in your field.
  • Once you get in the habit of doing this, it’ll come naturally to you. Trust me: it’ll completely shift the way you think about blog post creation. When planning your content you’ll think more laterally (beyond just the post) about how each component will make it’s own stand-alone piece of content.

Here’s the trick though: you need a long, informative post to work with– at least 1500 words is a great starting point.

To prove how easy it is to create 10 (or more) pieces of content from just one blog post I’m going to put my money where my mouth is a do exactly that using my post “How I made One of My Pinterest Posts Go Viral“.

For my 10 pieces of content I’ve decided on this split:

  • 2 Instagram tips
  • 2 Pinterest posts
  • 3 Twitter tips
  • 1 Webinar, Periscope or Instagram Story
  • 1 Podcast or Soundcloud
  • 1 Email newsletter

When creating your own 10 pieces of content feel free to shuffle these quantities around. Want to focus on Pinterest? Then create more pins. Love going live on Facebook? You go girl! Go forth and put yourself out there!

Now, let’s look at each of these pieces of content in a little more detail:

Instagram Tips

To create my Instagram tips, all I’m going to do is extract 2 nuggets-o-wisdom from my blog post which are actionable and useful to my audience. Here’s the two I have chosen:

Instagram Posts: 2 Pinterest Tips For Your Creative Biz

Each of these posts will be accompanied by a long, informative caption (also extracted straight from the blog post) explaining in detail how to implement these steps, plus a call-to-action to discover more great tips on my blog. Easy, right?

Pinterest Posts

In the early days of starting my lifestyle blog Tell Me Tuesday I was trying to be active on Pinterest as a means of growing my traffic. Problem was, I only had a small number of blog posts, meaning I was pinning the same handful of images over and over again.

Not wanting my lack of content to get in the way of driving traffic to my site, I devised a plan: for each blog article I created 3 different Pinterest graphics, each with different colors and images, plus a re-worked version of the title.

Here’s an example: Let’s say I’m a fashion blogger and my post is called “How to dress for Winter 2016/17”. In addition to pinning a graphic with this title to Pinterest, I would create 2 more graphics with alternative titles that are relevant to my post. These may be:

  • “Your Essential Guide to Dressing this Winter”, and
  • “Update Your Winter Wardrobe With These Key Pieces”

I would then upload these graphics to Pinterest, then re-pin these every couple of weeks to all of my relevant boards.

Pretty cool, right?

Now, let’s apply this principal to my own blog posts. As you know, the original post is titled “How I made One of My Pinterest Posts Go Viral” (check out the graphic below).

How to create multiple Pinterest posts from one blog post

And here’s the 2 additional posts I have created for the same article, featuring:

  • re-worked titles
  • different colors
  • different captions

… and all linking to the same blog post.

How to create multiple Pinterest posts from one blog post

Twitter Tips

Now, let’s move onto the 2 twitter tips. Just like my Instagram posts, all of these tips were taken straight from the blog post. That quote “Work Smart, Not Hard” is looking a whole lot more achievable, am I right?

Here are my three tweets:

Tweet #1: 

Adding keywords to your pins will help you appear in relevant searches. Read how here: http://bit.ly/viral-pinterest

How to create multiple twitter posts from one blog post

Tweet #2:

There’s plenty of opportunity to add keywords relevant to your niche in your next #Pinterest pin: http://bit.ly/viral-pinterest

How to create multiple twitter posts from one blog post

Tweet #3: 

Keeping your blog post ‘evergreen’ is just one way of driving traffic with #Pinterest. Read more here: http://bit.ly/viral-pinterest

How to create multiple twitter posts from one blog post

Tip: The best size for twitter graphics is 1024 x 512 pixels.

Soundcloud

Now it’s time to look at Soundcloud. For those who aren’t familiar with this platform, think of it like Youtube, but for audio recordings instead of video.

Now, I know you might be nervous about recording your own voice, but I promise you it isn’t so scary. And yes, we all cringe a little when we hear a recording of our own voices.

There are a few options when creating a Soundcloud recording based on your blog post– you could record an abridged version with just a handful of key points, or (like me) just record a reading of your whole post.

If you don’t have a professional recording setup, don’t worry. For this post I just used my iPhone earphones and Quick Time Player to make the recording.

Webinar/Periscope/ Instagram Story

The success of your brand greatly relies on your audience’s ability to connect with you. The real you. Your true authentic self. Petrified? I hear ya’! But practise really does make perfect, and recording your content live (yes, flaws and all) is a great way of repurposing your blog content across a different medium.

In my case, I chose to do an Instagram Stories series, using the live feature to share the easy, actionable tips for my followers to implement straight away.

Whatever your video platform of choice, do some trial runs, make sure you feel comfortable talking on the fly about your topic, and remember, no one is perfect. You can do it!

Email Newsletter

For the tenth and final piece of content, I created an email newsletter that I sent to my subscribers. The anatomy of the campaign went a little something like this:

  • Personalised introduction
  • A little bit about me, and my reasoning for the newsletter (this gives the content a friendly tone, and the reader a greater connection to me and my biz)
  • A short excerpt from the post, along with a link to read the full post on the blog.

Now how easy was that? All of the hard work was done for me, meaning that writing the intro blurb and scheduling the email took all of 15 minutes (for real).

Here’s a preview of what the newsletter looked like:

So, fellow creative entrepreneur, I can’t wait to see how you’ve used this method to “work smart, not hard” when it comes to generating content for your biz.

Have any questions? Want to share how you implemented these tips? Share your story with our community in the comments below! 

The Best Instagram Hashtags for Creatives

Are you a designer, illustrator, DIYer, recipe maker or perhaps even a cocktail-mixing queen? Are you struggling to grow on Instagram and expand your reach? If so, #hashtags are just one of the great ways to increase your Instagram account’s exposure and get those ‘likes’ you want (and deserve!).

Today I’m sharing the best hashtags for your creative business, no matter what niche you’re in:

Best Hashtags for DIY Bloggers, Designers & Creatives

#creativityfound: Trouve Magazine’s hashtag is all about celebrating creativity in all forms.

#ABMcrafty: Share your latest handiwork with this hashtag created by A Beautiful Mess.

#troopStudioDIY: Have you attempted one of Kelly’s fun DIYs at home? If so, be sure to share your creation with the Studio DIY team using this hashtag.

Also try:

#makersgonnamake #calledtobecreative #designisinthedetails #dowhatyoulove #studiodiymoreismore #livecreatively #SoBestFriendsforFrosting #creativeentrepreneur #iamcreative #buzzfeeddiy #designlove

Hashtags For the #GirlBoss

Are you a lady boss killing’ it on the daily? Here are the hashtags for you:

#solopreneur: the latest buzzword in business also has a hashtag, obvs.

#girlboss: Sophia Amoruso is the Girl Boss OG, and now this hashtag represents females hustlin’ on the regular.

#womensupportingwomen: Because we rise by lifting others, right?

Also try:

#bossbabe #communityovercompetition #femaleentrepreneur #createeveryday #creativelifehappylife #dowhatyoulove #creativeentrepreneur

Hashtags For Any creative Niche

#flashesofdelight: Originally created by Glitter Guide, this is the perfect hashtag for any of your creative Instagrams. Share beauty, love, inspiration and creation with this multitasking tag.

#thatsdarling: From the good folk at Darling Magazine, this versatile hashtag is perfect for any of your beautiful snaps.

#wandeleurspark: In the words of Team Wanderer, this hashtag “is all about sharing what makes you aspire + inspire”. Use it to tag whatever makes you smile, inspires you or brings you joy.

Also try:

#darlingmovement #darlingweekend #thehappynow #pursuepretty  #livethelittlethings #prettylittlething

Hashtags for Color

#StudioDIYwallcrawl: Have you snapped a photo in front of #thatpinkwall or another color-filled piece of street art? Share your snap, plus the wall’s location using this tag.

#candyminimal: Two words: pastel dreams.

Also try:

#dscolor #livecolorfully  #myunicornlife #popyacolor

Best Hashtags for Cocktails (and other tipples)

Whether you create cocktail recipes on your blog, or just love snapping a picture of a glass of rosé on a Friday, here are some of the best hashtags to use:

#drinkonfleek: Just like your eyebrows and your outfit, your drink can also be ‘on fleek’.

#ABMhappyhour: Those clever girls behind A Beautiful Mess have some great hashtags (see below for more), and #ABMhappyhour is no exception.

Also try:

#feedfeedcocktails #craftycocktails #roseallday

Hashtags for Bakers & Sweet Treats

Is your instafeed a homage to cupcakes, doughnuts, macarons and ice-creams? Here’s your Instagram cheatsheet:

#ahappyfooddance: a great hashtag for all food-related ‘grams

#donutworrybeawwsam: Sam from the blog Awwsam is the ultimate donut lover. Use this tag when snapping your #donutporn.

#awwsamsweettooth: Awwsam continues her obsession with sweets with another fun hashtag.

#ABMlifeissweet: Another from the A Beautiful Mess girls, this time for all of your sweet creations.

Also try:

#buzzfeedtasty #buzzfeedfood #buzzfeedeats #bakeitoff #feedfeed #feedfeedchocolate

SEE ALSO: Game Changing Instagram Stories Hacks

Want even more hashtags for your creative niche? Download my Hashtag Cheatsheet below (it’s free!).

Are there any hashtags you use for your creative biz that have helped grow your following? If so, pop them in the comments below to share them with our community.

Game-Changing Instagram Story Hacks

The latest Instagram app update was one of the most exciting and controversial yet. The release of my new obsession Instagram Stories (apologies to Snapchat), the ability to zoom in on an image, plus the drafts feature make this a pretty damn fun release.

For those of you who are still feeling a little baffled by how to manoeuvre the Instagram Stories feature, I’ve created a series of tutorials for you to really take advantage of its super-fun features.

Ok, let’s do this!

Instagram Story Hacks

Hide Instagram Stories

For someone who has never really gotten into Snapchat, I absolutely love the Instagram Stories feature. One downside however is that your favourite Instagrammer’s stories can get lost amongst the masses, especially if you follow hundreds of accounts like I do.

Truth be told, there are some Instagrammers whose stories I’m just not interested in, and the good news is, you can hide irrelevant stories from your feed in 3 (very simple!) steps:

How to Mute Instagram Stories

Step 1: Open your Instagram app on your mobile device and click the Home icon to load your Instagram feed.

Step 2: At the top of your feed you will see all of the Instagram Stories, each profile photo with a colorful ring around it.

Step 3: To hide an account from your Stories feed, firmly hold down your finger on their picture, then select “Mute [username]’s story” from the pop-up menu.

Tips:

  • You can always undo this action (and I show you how to below)
  • For this example I use AnaNewYork’s account, which I LOVE and promptly un-muted 😉

Un-Hide Instagram Stories

Regret muting your fave Insta-babe? Never fear, unlike that tattoo you got in college, this baby’s reversible:

How to Un-Mute Instagram Stories

Step 1: Open your Instagram app on your mobile device and click the Home icon to load your Instagram feed.

Step 2: Scroll your finger right to left through the Instagram stories until you are at the very end of the feed. Here you will see all the accounts you have muted.

Step 3: As you did before, firmly hold down your finger on their picture, this time selecting “Unmute [username]’s story” from the pop-up menu.

Upload Images and Graphics to Instagram Stories

Just like Snapchat, the fun of Instagram stories comes from real, live, unfiltered moments being shared instantly with your followers.

There are however some times when you can’t (or don’t want to) post straight away. This feature was a godsend when I was travelling overseas and didn’t always have access to the internet. When we were out-and-about I could snap away on my camera roll to my hearts content, and once I was back in our apartment with wifi I could share my day with my followers.

There is a clause though: to keep the content you’re sharing fresh and current, you can only upload images taken within 24 hours (or uploaded to your camera roll within 24 hours).

To upload an image from your camera roll to Instagram Stories:

How to Upload an Image to Instagram Stories

Step 1: Open your Instagram app and from the Home feed, swipe your finger from left to right to reveal the Instagram Stories feature

Step 2: Hold down your finger in the middle of the screen and drag it down the screen. This will reveal the upload feature, with all photographs you have taken (or uploaded to) your camera roll in the last 24 hours.

Step 3: Select your image of choice, edit as you like, then click the white “tick” button to share. This image will then be visible to your followers for the next 24 hours. There’s no limit to the the number of images you share, so GO CRAZY GIRL!!

Hint: If you want to share graphics you have designed in Photoshop or Canva, you need to either email, Airdrop or Dropbox these to your mobile device and save them to your camera roll.

Tag (and link to) Other Instagram Accounts in Your Story

Are you promoting a brand, venue or fellow ‘grammar? You can now tag other Instagram accounts in your story. Here’s how:

How to Tag Fellow Instagram Accounts in Instagram Stories

Step 1: Open the Instagram Story function

Step 2: Snap or upload a photo

Step 3: Click the text edit ‘Aa’ in the top right of your screen

Step 4: To tag a fellow account type @ followed by their handle (no spaces), for example @katewilkinsoncreative

Important: as you start typing your fellow Instagrammer’s handle, suggested accounts will appear below your text. Be sure to select the account from the list, otherwise the tag will not be complete.

Now when your fans are watching your story they can click on the Instagram account tagged and navigate directly to their account.

Control Who Sees Your Story

Through your Instagram app’s setting you can:

  • Block certain users from viewing your Instagram Stories, and
  • Control who can message reply to your Stories

How to Block Users from Viewing Your Instagram Stories | Kate Wilkinson Creative

To do this:

Step 1: Open the Instagram app on your mobile device

Step 2: Click on your profile

Step 3: In the top right corner of the screen click on the cog icon to access your settings

Step 4: Click on ‘Story Settings’ and edit permissions as you need

Saving Posts as Drafts

Ok, so this one isn’t related to Instagram Stories, but this latest release from the folks at Instagram is one of my favourite from the app: the ability to save your images as a draft (hallelujah!).

If you’ve edited your image in Instagram but you’re not ready to post it straight away, you can save this image as a draft, and next time you upload an image to Instagram it’ll be ready and waiting.

How to Saving Draft Images on Instagram

Step 1: Once you have edited your photo click the back arrow < twice

Step 2: You will then be promoted to either discard or save the photo. Click “Save Draft” to save your snap for next time.

The image won’t be saved to your camera roll, however next time you go to post an image on Instagram, it’ll be there saved as a draft.

Do you use the Instagram Stories feature? Or are you a diehard member of #TeamSnapchat? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!