Instagram: Doing It Right



So…I fear I may have click baited. I’m not an Insta-guru (shocker) and I don’t really think there’s a ‘doing it right’, there’s just doing you and it’s all good.

But before I knew about pensions and tax and stuff, I knew a bit about social and a authentic marketing (I know, ME!) I’ve started taking Instagram a tiny bit more seriously lately and have really seen a difference in my engagement levels. I don’t take stunning pictures but I’ve upped my game a bit in other ways. So, yep. These are the only pearls of wisdom I have.

Be real

There are some really breathtakingly good photographers using Instagram; I know I’ll never be one of those and so I endeavour to be genuine. To be unapologetically me. That’s not to say I don’t make an effort to take and share pretty pictures, I use VSCO to edit and try ever harder to capture a nice shot. But I don’t lose any sleep over the gazillions of better photographs there are out there. My shots represent my life and sometimes they’re not half bad. Once I made my peace with that and relaxed, the whole thing got instantly more enjoyable.

Be engaging

This cuts both ways, I always try to invite feedback or post something people will want to comment on with but that doesn’t work without reciprocating. I seek out Instagram accounts that do what I want to be doing, those that I can’t help falling in love with and I engage: I follow, I like, I comment, I just get involved. I don’t say ‘nice shot, f4f?’ because I’m not a moron, it’s just about real authentic engagement. Do it.

Be a bit witty

I have, on occasion, spent longer thinking of a witty caption for a picture than I have taking the damn shot. Instagram’s an entirely visual medium, a stunning shot will always do well. A good enough shot with an interesting caption will also work.

Be a hashtagging demon

They work, use them. If you’re really on it you can do that thing where you save them as a list on your phone and paste them into a comment. I’m not one of those people but my phone saves the ones I’ve used previously and helpfully suggests which ones I might use. I’m all for live and let live but don’t put the hashtags in the caption. I hate that.

Be consistent

I struggle most with consistency, it’s hard to take an Instagram worthy picture of my perpetually odd socks and a bowl of Weetos and then, well if you’re at home all day what else is there? Sometimes I recycle an old photo I was particularly happy with, sometimes I’ll attempt to do something semi-arty with a twig and some green tea in a glass vessel. I’ve found that the more consistent I am with posting, the better results I get. Be like Michelle, be consistent (oh god, I’m so sorry. SO sorry).


I love Instagram. Really I do. It makes me look all outdoorsy and like an enormous ruddy-cheeked wellie-wearing dog botherer. It would appear in spite of my constant blathering on about having an ‘anti-aesthetic’ I’ve inadvertently created an actual aesthetic. It’s not polished and it’s not uniform and it’s not all Clarendoned up to the eyeballs. It’s definitely not full of stunning photography. The aesthetic seems to be that of my actual life. Who knew?

Those Instagram accounts I enjoy the most are full of personality, fun captions, pictures of random dogs. That’s what I want mine to be. I want it to be engaging and relatable and real and with as few pictures of my face as possible. Like my blog.

It’s for this reason that no matter what the Insta gods do to their algorithm in the future, you will never get a ‘turn on notifications’ plea from me.  I love a new follower or a healthy bunch of likes as much as the next narcissist but really, I just hope those people with me on Instagram are there because they genuinely relate to whatever I snap and stick up there and that ain’t changing any time soon, it’s my life innit? NB: it’s not the bit of my life where I sit in my PJs bingeing on Scandal and shoveling in Tikka Masala with a soggy poppadom or the bit where I’m washing dog poop off my wellies but it is pretty close.

So, my life and my insta share the same theme. Apparently that’s a thing. What about yours?

It is possible to have a spiffingly engaged and growing Instagram profile without being Mario Testino.  Are you one of those who takes stunning pictures? We might have to see other people (and also don’t listen to a word I’ve said, you’re already winning).  

Find copious puppy shots and far too much outdoor stuff over on Instagram @michelleoutsidelondon

Devon | The Elephant, Torquay
Wonderful Wednesday Twelve
  • Em

    See here is where we differ – i put my instagram #’s in the caption because they get lost unless you click the ‘more’ button, if you put them in a comment and don’t get any more comments, you’ll see them forever! Forever. And I hate that.
    I’m not sure what my instagram theme is, maybe ‘she eats too much junk food’? but I go through phases of posting ‘nice’ pictures and others of posting whatever I came across that moment. Your accounts makes me think I should head further than the local fields for my dog walks though! x

  • I’ve got a teenager at home who hashtags the hell out of her comments section and then, when she’s satisfied she’s received enough insta-love, will go and delete them!! But you do have a point, I don’t particularly like the way it looks in comments and I guess you can hide it down in the caption somewhere…the self-effacing Brit in me hates the whole concept of it anyway so really, wherever they go offends my face. But they do do a job.

    I think I’m a bit positively skewed by my natural surroundings, even if I’m having a crappy day the beach is always insta-worthy. Did I not mention moving to the beach in my infinite wisdom…?

  • reneejessome

    I’ve always been interested in instagram but seeing as I don’t have a cellphone I feel as though this app doesn’t apply to me! I kind of wish it did though lol Your photos look wonderful! 🙂

    Renee | Lose The Road

  • Think there’s a wrongly put sentiment out there that all instagram accounts need to have a theme. They must all be edited the same way, with the same filters, the same lighting, the same camera, same type of content, whatever. That’s all good and well if you’re a fashion/landscape/street/etc photographer or someone who’s a pro. But for the rest of us, putting that sort of pressure on your instagram is TOTALLY unwarranted. Completely agree with your sentiment – be you, be the real you, be fun, and people will gravitate towards that. The people who want to anyway, and those are the people you want… right?

  • I don’t know how I wasn’t following you on Insta already…that has changed now, yippee!

    Really love everything about this post. I’m all for gorgeous, glowing, luxurious Instagram feeds but honey – we all know you didn’t wake up like that AND that tan has definitely been improved with some clarity adjustments AND you’ve got valencia to thank for that seemingly photoshop-perfect skin. I like a good honest instagram everyone once in a while to keep things real ha ha.

    xx La Coco Noire

  • Is it really bad IG etiquette to add the #’s to your caption?!? How did i not know this?!? So then, do you add them to a comment after? I always thought that the people who did that had just forgotten to add them in the first place. Say whaaaat?!

    I enjoyed your pearls, and i love your IG feed – i live vicariously through all of your puppy spam and beach life {ie the things i would love to have!}. What do people get from mine?! Porridge, my feet and the sky. Hell well at least they’re attainable and achievable life goals if not a little bit crap! Sometimes there’s even flowers too…….

  • Appreciate the Day

    If only I had a phone that was from this century instead of the £5 (yes you can buy a phone for a fiver!) one I have since I put the other one through a full cycle of the washing machine. And if this occured I would be more than happy to gorge myself on the beautiful devon outdoors, your pooches and your witty comments.

    As it is you are making want to live near the sea more and more everyday although that does conflict with having to leave me dog behind. Maybe I’ll have to come and bother yours instead!
    Kate xx

  • Definitely agree with all of these – I love a real IG rather than the themed bland ones! I really struggle with consistency too when I’ve been working a whole heap like at the moment!

    Jasmin Charlotte

  • Cat

    My goodness, I didn’t realise it was bad form to put hashtags in your captions…not that I use many…although I have seen more and more people start to put them into a comment now. I know what you mean though, I feel like a bit of an eejit whenever I use them but I’ll definitely try to use them more.

    Love your Instagram feed – I feel a healthy dose of sea air and dog walkiness just looking at your images 🙂

    C x

  • I definitely need to amp up my Instagram game! I hardly ever post but love scrolling through my feed, I should post more I suppose! Thanks for the great tips!
    x Kenzie

  • Kezzie

    Cool post Michelle! I WIIIIIISH I had a device that I could actually do IG on. My crappy school tablet won’t download a host, my archaic phone had an error when I downloaded it and refused to work, my laptop is ancient, sigh… so I just comment on people’s posts and sigh and imagine what my own posts might be like!!! xx

    Kezzie AG

  • “I don’t say ‘nice shot, f4f?’ because I’m not a moron” – HAHAHA!! Best ever. I love your Instagram feed!

  • Oh wow, your pictures are so beautiful! And I really want to step up my instagram game, so this is great! Can I ask how you edit your photos? x

    – Anne | Annesmiles

  • I’ve grown to love instragram, and I’ve been commenting more and more these days, it’s a lot of fun. I think you would like the #taleswithfriends hashtag, it’s a really nice community of people and always great for interactions. Although, I don’t like how I can’t browse hashtags properly on the app anymore, it just gives me suggestions instead of the actual posts. So at the moment I’m in a bit of a love hate relationship with it.

    Hashtags, for the win. They really do work. I’m not even ashamed to say I use them. Why wouldn’t you, if there are there to be used?

    I just have one question, are you laying on your decking up there?

  • Thanks lovely one, I think it might be my favourite of the social networks. I do like me some visual stimulation! Hope all’s going super well with you
    M x

  • Right? I thought this would be a mega unpopular opinion but folks seem to be loving it. They’re my favourite ones to follow so I can’t imagine doing anything else with my own feed. Also, effort.

  • Welcome, welcome. Spaniels and the beach, that’s all you’ll find with me. And the occasional picture of my face in which I’ve zapped out the colour to minimise the eye bags. Apart from that though….it’s all real.
    M x

  • SO I don’t think it’s bad ettiquette at all, just my own personal preference! And Em, down there, is far better at Instagram than I and she has the opposite opinion! I think the general feeling is just do you, someone somewhere will love your porridge and tootsies.Your photos never fail to make me smile.
    M x

  • We must make some in person dog bothering a reality. Non-negotiable.
    M x

  • Thanks Jas – I’m going to take that as validation that I’m right because you know ACTUAL STUFF.
    M x

  • Good lord don’t take my word for anything – I think that’s a personal preference thing rather than an unwritten rule of some sort! Definitely use them though, they do the job.
    M x

  • You are most welcome, there are people who know far more than I though! Far more.
    It’s fast becoming my favourite little social space, less negativity than others and so much pretty to see.
    M x

  • That’s quite some imagination!! It’s definitely one of my favourite little spots for some vicarious living and a good old nose into the lives of others.
    M x

  • Thank you ma’am! I speak only the truth…!

  • Thanks Anne and good luck!! Have fun with it, creating prettiness is always a nice way to pass the time!!
    I use the free VSCO app mostly now but the options in Instagram are not too shabby at all. I also just discovered an app called Latergramme which lets you schedule instagram posts in – really great if you’re busy.
    M x

  • Nah, that’d make me a massive tool*.
    I think I stumbled across the #taleswithfriends hashtag the other day, very nice. I also saw (I think Freya) set up #alifeofintention which I LOVE the sound of and maybe it has the potential to be lovely?

    *yeah, I was. It was a sunny lunchtime and I was chilling and then a dog sat on me and I was trying to get him in the picture and then my face looked ok so I just took one of myself. OK?

  • OK, I’ll let you off, that sounds legit.

  • I agree – I tried to keep a theme running on mine but it wasn’t going to happen. I love snapping as of when I see it, even if the colour doesn’t ‘fit’. I tend to just opt for a bright and colourful Instagram now, which is actually working well for me. Useful to know the new #hashtags below too – thanks!

    Lauren x |