“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Okay, okay, Maya Angelou, try telling that to someone who’s just worked a 10-hour shift, sorted the kids out during the witching hour, made tea, put them to bed and now has to come up with a ground-breaking, like-inducing Instagram image, Yeah, try telling them that. I joke, this is actually one of my favourite quotes, but thinking this way when you’re banging against a creativity block is tough. How do you stay inspired? How do you keep ideas flowing? How do you create unique images that meet the high expectations of the Instagram audience every time? The truth is…you can’t. This is impossible to do, and even the most successful Instagram creators and artists have blips, questionable images, or images that just don’t stir up any emotion. And you know what, that’s ok. It’s ok to get things wrong. It’s ok to create an image that ‘bombs’. And it’s ok to trial new ideas, new directions; if they succeed then celebrate, if not, then it’s not the end of the world, you can learn from it and start over. The sooner you accept that, turn down the pressure gauge, then the sooner your ideas will come streaming out (but if they don’t, that’s ok…did I say ‘that’s ok’ enough? Not sure if I did).
A creative block is a shitty block that anyone who is serious about Instagram will experience at least once (and that’s in one week). It happens to the best of us, so this newsletter is going to talk you through a few ways of how to heave yourself out of one when it does rear its ugly and frustrating head.
Have a day off. Yep, it’s as simple as that. If you’ve been trying tirelessly to think of your next image and your morning/evening/whole day is flitting away before your eyes, stop. If you haven’t come up with an idea within an hour, it’s unlikely that you will at all. Instead, you’ll become frustrated, emotional (yes, we’ve all cried about it), and the further you fall down this slippery slope the less chance you have of coming back up it. Use the rest of your time to be calm, grab your drink of choice, and immerse yourself in inspiring content. Whether that be through Pinterest, Instagram, photography websites, books, magazines, films, staring at a box of chocolates, whatever inspires you, do it. Then come back tomorrow feeling refreshed and relaxed.
I once spent hours one Friday afternoon trying to think of an #objectsforoutfits image to post that night, but nothing was working. Nothing. In the end, I gave up, gave myself the night off and treated myself to some hearty food instead. The next morning I saw that Instagram had announced their Weekend Hashtag Project – #WHPinthekitchen. The topic gave me focus, it sparked an idea, and because of that, this image was created. It was featured by Instagram that week. Goes to show that sometimes a night off pays off.
Ask yourself, “what does my feed need?”. Thinking of our next image can be overwhelming, and quite often it’s because we have too much choice, too much going on. So, a great way to block out all of the unnecessary noise is to be clear and concise about what you can or should post. What will your feed allow you to post? For instance, if you shared an image of a cup of coffee yesterday, then today your audience will need something new (unless, of course, your feed is all about the coffee and if so, crack on – coffee away). Each morning I look at my feed to figure out what it needs next to keep the balance. I look at my key accents, does one need introducing? Does it need some green? White? Do one of my staples need introducing? By understanding what your feed needs you’re eliminating any options that don’t work, honing in on what you can, and ultimately giving yourself a clearer direction in what you can create. Once you have a focus, preventing you from mentally creating ten image ideas at once, then that winning shot will happen.
Rework your own work. Look back at your own feed. Are there any images that you enjoyed creating, that you’d like to do again, only with a new spin? If so, do it. I’m a huge advocate for themes – a series or style of image that flows throughout your feed – they give your feed a sense of familiarity and help keep it tied together. Hello, #allthatisthree 😉. What are your themes? We all have them, even if we haven’t realised it yet. Is it your pet? Your kids? That corner of your house that photographs so well? Whatever your themes are, I believe there should be at least one image reflecting that within the first 9 images on your feed. That way any new follower knows instantly what they can expect to see from you. So, figure out your theme/s, and if they’re starting to disappear from your first nine, find a way to bring them back.
If you follow my account, images of me, in bed, in front of my book headboard will be a familiar sight. But, each time, I mix it up. Sometimes I’m alone, Amelia has joined me for a cuppa, Boy Dom, and most recently Elvis. Same set-up, re-worked.
What is now? What’s going on, right now? With you, with the world? Whether it’s festive photos in December or pumpkins and autumn leaves in October, we’re naturally drawn to images that we can relate to at that time. Not only will this help to channel your idea into something more specific (you have autumn leaves, so what can you do with them?), you’ll also see a higher engagement as it’s what people are searching for and what they’re already talking about. Use the seasons, world topics, events, anything that is now, in the present, and that is accessible to you because of that.
Some weeks we can struggle to think of an idea for our #allthatisthree series, but quite often, asking the question ‘what is now?’ can help us to come up with something, something people can relate to. This ‘happy pumpkin #allthatisthree’ was the end result of one of those weeks 😉.
See things differently. There are many trends on Instagram – florals, coffee shots, dreamy scenery, cute babies and fashion bloggers doin’ their thang down a side street – and I’m not against following trends, but ask yourself, what can you do to put your own spin on it? How can you make your florals stand out from the rest? Don’t just see it as a flower; see it for all the possibilities it can be. What is it about *your* cup of coffee that’s so unique? Does it pour while you’re still (cinemagraph)? Could your cup of coffee take another identity, become something else? Take the ordinary and make it something magical (like turning a tortilla wrap into the moon 😉).
Do something you’ve never done before. I attended an event a few months ago where one of the women said “don’t fear failure’, and I wholeheartedly agree. If you don’t try, you’ll never know, and we all hate what-ifs, right? Have you seen an image idea that you’re desperate to try? Why wait any longer – go for it! Instagram is constantly evolving, so it needs new creations, new innovative ideas, and more boundaries need to be broken. Don’t be scared to try something new, to make your own trend.
Both my #allthatisthree images and #objectsforoutfits were risks that paid off. When I created these images I had no idea the impact that they would have, so much so, I almost didn’t post the image above. Imagine if I had given into the fear!
Repost. A controversial tip, I’m sure. Some repost, some don’t. However, if you shared an image a few months ago, maybe even as long as a year ago, then assuming you’ve gained followers in that time, a portion of your audience have missed it – seems a shame for them to have to go without, don’t you think? If it’s a great image, then don’t deprive your new followers of seeing its beauty, and if/when you do repost, the followers who saw it when it was originally posted will be just as happy to see it on their screens again.