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6 Tips for Small Businesses on Instagram | Thyme is Honey

Please note: this article was written in 2015. Below you will find a helpful guide of simple tips to improve your strategy on Instagram, however, in the past two years I have also written (free) eBook and put together an online class:

1. Check out my Free Instagram Audit to assess what you’re doing right and wrong and where you could improve.
2. Grab my free eBook: Mastering iPhone Photography and learn all the skills you need to take professional photos with your iPhone.
3. Enroll in my online course, Mastering Instagram, and learn more about the strategy behind building a brand on social media.

I get emails almost daily from small business who recognize their need for a presence on Instagram, but don’t have a budget to hire someone (such as myself) to manage the account for them. To these folks I confidently say, do not despair. There are certainly people who have a natural knack for the social media game, but anyone can learn to manage a platform appropriately, especially by following a few simple guidelines. Feel free to contact me with any questions or inquiries.

6 Tips to Improve the Look of your Instagram Account:

1. Take photos in natural light, with no flash. This cannot be stressed enough. No one appreciates seeing your grainy, flashed picture in their feed, especially if you’re a business or brand. Take photos during the day and position your subject near a window or in a well-lit room. Below is how I often have my “mini studio” set up (spoiler: it’s just two pieces of foam board on a small table, more about that in #2).


2. Invest in a few supplies. Sounds simple enough, right? Don’t underestimate what a few simple, cheap items can do for stepping up your ‘gram game. I prefer to have 2 pieces of white foam board (available in a 10-pack via Amazon Prime) and 2 pieces of matte black tag board (available at your local Target) on hand at all times. I also have a few pieces of foam board that I’ve applied black ($11.31, Amazon) and white ($10.99, Amazon) marble contact paper to. I know you thought all bloggers had houses full of marble counter-tops, but we don’t! I also suggest having Mounting Putty on hand—-you’d be surprised how often it saves the day (i.e. keeping a bottle of lotion positioned just right and not rolling away, or to stick a piece of tagboard to the wall for a photo). Armed with these tools you’ll notice immense improvement in your Instagrams.

3. Play with texture and proportion. Toss a towel in the background. Layer some flowers behind your subject. It also pays to invest in things like a remnant piece of marble, old cutting boards or pieces of fabric. Look at the examples below. In example one I am taking the photo straight on with no texture in the background. In photo two I have added texture with a simple tea towel, am shooting more from above, and have altered the proportion so that the bowl is in the left of the frame.


4. Have 1-2 weekly features that keep the ball rolling. Doing instagram for a business can be mentally and creatively exhausting, trust me. So sometimes it’s nice to have a weekly feature that you can plan ahead for that helps you post regularly. Weekly features prevent you from suddenly going MIA for 3 weeks. Some ideas: a “Flower of the Week” for a gardener or florist, or a “Scent of the Week” for a company producing soaps. The ideas are endless, you just need to find one that works for your brand.

5. Feature photos from your fans, vendors or other partners. Another great way to bulk up your feed with beautiful images is to regram images that you/your brand/your product are tagged in. I suggest doing this sparingly (1-3 times per week, max) so as not to annoy your followers with recycled content. The number one rule here is not to use a regramming app. Or, use a regram app but don’t include any watermarks or overlays (seriously, everyone hates that). You will find that your fans are typically ecstatic to have their content shared (especially if you have a large audience) but I insist that you give them proper credit in your photo caption (so important) and I also suggest commenting on their original photo 1-2 days in advance to ask for permission. Brands who do this well and serve as good examples for how to properly regram a photo are Target and One Love Organics:


6. Show your fans something new. A lot of brands tend to show their products on instagram, and that’s great, but your fans will also enjoy seeing behind the scenes. Show them how the product was made. Snap a photo of the messy development meeting. Show images from your everyday life. Your fans want to get acquainted with you and your brand and this is a fun way to connect with them on a more personal level.

A few notes on etiquette: First, don’t take images from the internet and post them on Instagram as your own. Ever. If you’re sharing a photo or image that you did not personally take/design it should be credited properly in the caption. Second, remember that Instagram is a photography app, and the majority of your feed should be actual photos. It’s hard to entirely avoid sharing graphic designs or layouts (especially for brands) but just keep in mind that the majority of your feed should be photographs and share graphic content sparingly.

This has been a brief guide to improving your feed, and it’s a good place to start! But, once again, this article was written two years ago, and although these basic concepts still hold true, I now have some updated and improved information available.

1. Check out my Free Instagram Audit to assess what you’re doing right and wrong and where you could improve.
2. Grab my free eBook: Mastering iPhone Photography and learn all the skills you need to take professional photos with your iPhone.
3. Enroll in my online course, Mastering Instagram, and learn more about the strategy behind building a brand on social media.

Looking for more of my posts about social media? Here are some popular ones:
How to add Pinterest Optimized Blog Post Images
How to Use Instagram Stories for Business
Learn the Etiquette of Regrams on Instagram
The Best (affordable) Photography Backdrops 
Learning to Master iPhone Photography (eBook)
Managing Instagram: Learn the Basics
6 Tips for Small Businesses on Instagram
How to Automate your Instagram Posts to a Specific Facebook Album 
Understanding Instagram Changes (May 2016)
Understanding Instagram Changes (March 2016)

You can find me on Instagram right here and I’d love to have you follow along!

Follow @Thyme_is_Honey on Instagram

Instagram for Small Business

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  1. Instagram Tips for Blogging and Business | The Blog Market

    July 10th, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    […] If you’re looking to grow your small biz through Instagram, bookmark these 6 tips for small businesses on Instagram from Dani of Thyme is […]

  2. Jessica S. Hidalgo

    January 22nd, 2016 at 9:51 pm


    I just wanted to praise you and say that this was a very short and useful post. I really enjoyed reading it and will definitely have to use these tips for myself! I appreciate you taking your time to share this information. 🙂

    Jessica S. Hidalgo

  3. Lula Blue Baby Jewelry

    July 8th, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    And to think,I thought I was at a loss this whole time because I do not have marble counter tops. SMH

  4. Creativepreneur Tips & Tricks | Violet Roots™

    July 13th, 2016 at 10:35 am

    […] 6 Tips For Small Businesses on Instagram […]

  5. Charlie Ranger

    July 31st, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    This was all super great information. I am rebranding my webshop (and blog).. So do I start from scratch or can I keep using my old instagram account with my old “not-on-brand” photos?

    @aholicbycsd | @littleaholicbycsd

    Thank You,

  6. que

    August 17th, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    This was super helpful to me. Thank you.

  7. Instagram for Small Business - Thyme Is Honey |...

    October 16th, 2016 at 5:40 am

    […] 6 tips to help your small business drastically improve it's Instagram presence.  […]

  8. GLee

    February 3rd, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Loved this reminder snapshot of some great insider tips & tricks for our photos! It was fun to read too! Of course foam core!! Dah! Thank you Dani! GLee

  9. Nichole Ramoy

    March 14th, 2017 at 5:31 am

    I would love advise on promoting my preschool on instagram. Thank you for reaching out to small business owners who don’t have the budget to hire a social media consultant!