Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know Instagram is where people are hanging out.
Everyone is on Instagram.
Instagram Stories are the new television, and it’s easier than ever to share your message. Instagram Stories a great way to engage with people quickly.
The more engaging you make your Instagram Stories, the more people will watch. The more people watch, the higher the chance the algorithm shows YOUR Instagram stories first in people’s story list.
Nothing beats great storytelling and being personable, but these Instagram Story tips and tricks will help you set your Instagram stories apart from everyone else.
Some of these Instagram story tricks are specific tools, methods, or and hidden options, but I also show you some of how I design my own Instagram story posts. You may pick up some new methods from watching how I make my Instagram stories that will give you some ideas or inspiration.
Be sure to watch until the very end so you don’t miss some of the best tricks.
I guarantee you’ll learn something new you didn’t know was possible—even if you’ve used Instagram Stories a hundred times.
The more engaging you make your Instagram stories, the more people will watch. The more people watch, the more the algorithm will show your Instagram stories first in people’s list. Nothing beats great storytelling and being personable, but these Instagram story tips and tricks will help you set your stories apart from everyone else.
Hey, it’s Sean McCabe with seanwes tv. Whenever I share Instagram story tips on my story, people always message me and say, “I had no idea you can do that!” I figured I should make a video sharing everything I know about Instagram stories. Be sure to watch to the very end so you don’t miss some of the best tricks. If you learn something new or you just get an idea, do me a favor leave a like on the video. If you learn more than a few things, consider subscribing.
Tip #1: Fill the background with a solid color. If you’ve ever found yourself trying to fill the background with a solid color by scribbling endlessly with the Pen tool, just tap and hold to fill the background with any color you want.
Tip #2: Fill the background with a sheer color. Select the Highlighter tool and perform the same tap and hold to fill the background with a sheer color.
Tip #3: Erase to reveal. You may have only used the Eraser to fix mistakes when drawing with the Pen tool, but you can also use it creatively in conjunction with the background fill to reveal areas of your image.
Tip #4: Get more colors. You’ve probably used the colors at the bottom, but you may not have noticed you can slide this palette over to reveal a solid red, some browns, and slide over once more to reveal: 50 shades of gray. Wait. No, nine. That’s nine shades.
Tip #5: Use the Eyedropper. You’re not limited only to the colors Instagram gives you. You can use the Eyedropper tool on the left to select a color from any part of your image.
This is a fun way to make your text feel more like it’s a part of your image. Be sure to add your filter first before you use the Eyedropper. But it doesn’t stop there. Are you ready for this next one?
Tip #6: Get even more colors. There’s a secret hidden Color Picker you can access by tapping and holding on any color.
This will reveal a broad spectrum of colors to choose from. Simply drag around until you find a color you like, and release. You can also drag straight off of this color spectrum to use the Eyedropper tool. Should you decide you’d rather grab a color from your image. Later in the video, I have a super ninja trick: I’m going to show you how to create gradient color text. That’s coming up.
Tip #7: Align text with a swipe. You may know when typing text you can tap on the Alignment button at the top left to toggle between Left, Center, and Right justification. However, a faster way to do this is to simply swipe left or swipe right across your text to toggle between Left, Center, and Right justification.
Tip #8: Set multiple different words to the same color. You can select a set of words to give them a unique color. But when you select a different set of words within the same text block and try to make them the same color, it won’t work. Nothing happens. Here’s the workaround: tap a different color first, and then tap the desired color. Now it will work.
Tip #9: Dictate your captions. A lot of people watch Instagram stories with the sound off. So when you do a talking head video, many people aren’t even hearing what you’re saying. So the way to combat this is to write a caption with what you said in your video, so people without sound can actually read what you’re saying.
The thing is, it’s just time consuming to do this. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s worth it. But you record a video, then you have to listen back, you have to type along and transcribe what you said… it just takes a long time. If only there was a faster way to do this. Of course, there’s a faster way, that’s why I’m here! Use dictation. It’s so simple and obvious, you probably didn’t even think about it. Record your video clip, listen back, create a new text caption, tap the dictation button on your keyboard, speak what you just said again, and watch the words appear. You may need to correct a word here or there, but it’s so much faster than typing the whole thing.
The only caveat, at least on iOS I’ve found, when adding a caption and dictating the text: the video that you recorded stops looping in the background and it freezes. You may panic like I did and think, “Oh, no… the video is not going to work,” but don’t worry. I tested it out for you: if you post it, if you post it anyway, even though the video in the background stops looping, it will still work. It will still play. Just for some reason, dictation makes the video stop looping in the background.
Tip #10: Zoom your video. Tap and hold the capture button to record video. While holding the capture button, drag up to zoom the video in, and drag down to zoom the video back out for dramatic or humorous effect, or simply to get a closer look at your subject.
Tip #11: Add camera photos on top of your image. Swipe up to reveal the tray and search for the camera sticker. Tap on the camera sticker to add camera photos on top of your image. You’ll see a feathered circle of yourself at first because it defaults to the front facing camera. To use the rear facing camera, double tap the photo to switch cameras. Tap the capture button to take a photo. Use two fingers to resize or rotate your photo and place it anywhere on your image. Tap the photo once to toggle between feathered or solid borders.
Tip #12: Use layering to create depth. When you add multiple elements to your composition, intentionally overlap different layers to create depth. I’ll purposefully place an emoji over a text element to create a layered effect. There’s no Photoshop-style layer management, so just know the most recent element you touch will be the one on top.
Tip #13: Record continuous stories. Do you ever find you have something to say that will take longer than 15 seconds? Me too! Well, don’t worry. You can just record multiple stories, right? Not so fast. Literally, it’s not so fast. What does that process look like? Well, if you’re like me, you record a 15 second clip, then you have to make it look good. Throw on a filter, type a caption, add some emojis, a sticker… next thing you know, it’s been a few minutes since you recorded that. Now, you need to switch back to camera mode. It’s just time consuming. As much as possible, you want to minimize the switching of modes. You want to stay in the recording mode to get your message out, and then you want to switch to the editing mode and edit everything together. How do you do that? Two ways: First, you could just record a long form video using your phone’s camera and upload that later. But an even easier way to do it is simply continue holding the capture button beyond the 15 seconds. This way, you can record back-to-back stories, at least until you hit the 10 continuous story limit, at which point your recording will stop. But here’s the cool part: once you’ve finished recording your continuous story, you’re left with a bunch of connected clips. And the great part is. You can spend as much time as you want editing all of them individually. They’re not going to post until you submit them at the end. So you can take your time applying a filter, adding text, adding emojis, to each story clip individually before they all post at once.
Tip #14: Add a space after mentions and hashtags. There are dedicated options in the sticker tray for mentions and hashtags, but I would recommend against using them as they’re not very customizable. Instead, use the Text tool and type your mention or hashtag there. At first, it will appear as though you cannot customize the color since Instagram shows auto suggestions in the place of the Color Picker. The workaround is to add a space after the mention or hashtag.
Now you get the color options, and you can customize the tag. Afterward, simply remove the extra space.
Tip #15: Create invisible tags. Want to tag a friend or simply use a hashtag on your story so it will rank without cluttering up your picture? It’s as easy as pinching to size the element down until it’s too small to see. Your friend will still get a notification and your story will rank on the hashtag but without the visual distraction.
Tip #16: Use emojis to create visual interest. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an emoji is worth… well, it’s got to be worth at least something. Text is good, but also enhance your message by adding emojis. It’s a lot more fun to look at than just plain text. So be creative, and it’s often as simple as just looking at some of the key words in your message and finding related emojis. I’ve had people tell me they want to use some of my stories as wallpapers. They were literally just my quote graphics with some emojis.
Tip #17: Flip Emojis with a tap. Normally, I like to use the Text tool instead of stickers because you get more customizability, but there’s one exception: When adding emojis to your composition, instead of using the Text tool, you can swipe up to reveal the sticker tray and scroll down all the way until you see the emojis. Select the emoji want to add. Now, why would you add an emoji this way instead of using the text tool? Here’s why: With the emoji stickers, you can simply tap to mirror them. Just tap and it flips, which you can use to create some compositions that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
Tip #18: Pin stickers to videos. You can pin text, emojis, or stickers to any part of a video. The items will move with whatever part of the video you pin them to. To pin an item, simply tap and hold until you see this screen with a slider. That’s the progress bar for your video. Scrub along the slider to find the point in the video where you want to pin your item. Drag the item to the desired spot and tap “Pin”.
Tip #19: Record and download to edit later. Sometimes you’re in a pinch and you don’t have time to edit and post your story because you have a lot going on in real life. Take your photo or video, and just tap the Download icon in the upper left to save it to your camera roll. Then when you have time later, you can select what you’ve saved and add all of your fancy filters, text, and stickers.
Tip #20: Zoom or rotate pre-recorded videos. When you do upload a photo or video from your camera roll, you can use two fingers to zoom or rotate the entire thing. Feel free to add any extra elements around it for more visual interest.
Tip #21: Create a lens flare effect with text. This is a super ninja trick. Start by typing a single letter, such as a letter ‘O’ or ‘I’, and choose a color. Next, you’re going to use two fingers to carefully zoom in until it’s super super large. By positioning the letter to where it’s just slightly coming into the frame, you can get this blurry, out-of-focus lens flare effect, or at least the impression that something is in the foreground.
Tip #22: Use text as design elements. Learn to think of text as more than just characters that make up words. They’re also shapes and glyphs you can use to make some interesting designs. Experiment with the letter ‘O’ for instance, and various symbols. You can also try different fonts by tapping on the Font option at the top center. The tilde ‘~’ character could make a cool squiggly design. A slash ‘/’ could make a nice hard edge you could use to split up a photo or create an area to a distraction-free text. There’s a lot you can do here. Just make sure to play around with size, font, and colors.
Tip #23: Highlight standout words or phrases. When adding a text caption to my Instagram story, this is just my style, but I like to highlight important parts of my caption by changing the color of the text. This immediately draws the viewer’s eye to the most standout parts of my message. It helps the key phrases stick in the mind of the viewer and it also increases the visual interest.
Tip #24: Create alternately colored text quickly. Let’s say you wanted to create text with alternating colors. The slow way is to select one letter at a time, adjust your selection, then change the color of another letter, and so on. The fast way is to select the full text you want to change, keep your finger on the text selector, and drag the selection as you use your other hand to select different colors.
Tip #25: Create gradient color text. Okay, I saved my favorite for last. This tip builds on the one we just did. To get a gradient color effect, we’re going to use the same method we just used in the previous tip to select the text we want to color. Except this time, we’ll tap and hold on any one of the colors with our other hand to bring up the full color spectrum. While you slide with the first hand on your text selection, also slide with the other hand along the color spectrum. The speed at which you move the hand on the Color Picker will determine the intensity of the gradient. Sliding left and right will change hues while sliding up and down will change brightness within a given hue.
Instagram is a visual platform, right? So let’s take something that would be the greatest challenge for a person to use Instagram. Who would that be? I feel like it would be someone like me: Someone who is not only a writer… that’s just words, right? Words aren’t interesting… how do you turn that into pictures and videos? Not only a writer, but someone who is an introverted writer. Yet, I’m still able to use Instagram, and Instagram stories specifically, to engage with people. When you follow me on Instagram @seanwes you’ll see a lot of motivating messages from me. These are things that I’ve written myself. I’m a writer, and so I find ways to get my message out there, whether it’s a quote graphic, or an Instagram story where I simply turn the camera around on myself and say something as simple as, “Indecision is the enemy. Make a choice and go. Value speed.” It doesn’t matter what form your message takes. You could type it in a template, you could write it out with your own handwriting, or you could hand letter something, or you could simply record yourself speaking it on video.
One of the things I do in my Instagram stories is share clips from my podcast, the seanwes podcast. “What are you good at?. What do you enjoy doing? Where do you contribute the greatest value?” It’s all about creativity and business. And what I do is I turn on the camera and record myself as I record the podcast. That way, I have video clips that I can share on Instagram. Because normally podcasts just produce an audio file, and you can’t do much with an audio file on Instagram.
So wherever possible, try to record yourself on video. Now, if you’re like me, and you’re an introvert, you don’t really like putting yourself out there, you don’t like recording yourself on video, I’ve got something that’s going to help you in just a second. But before I share those two videos, I just want to say follow me on Instagram @seanwes only if you want a positive message in your life every single day, and you want to learn from how I do my Instagram stories. Also, consider subscribing to the YouTube channel if you learned anything new. I’ve got a lot of videos about helping you be more creative, as well as grow your audience.
With that said, subscribe to the channel if you want more creative inspiration, and I’ve got two videos for you here: One on making videos as an introvert, and then also… this is a funny one… you’ve got to check this out: Overthinking.