Instagram is a beautiful place for pet photographers. As such a visual-forward app, it’s a great place to be able to really showcase your amazing work.
If you’re not fully utilizing Instagram (or using it at all) for your pet photography business, keep reading. But first, take this quiz to confirm that Instagram is the right choice for you.
Ready to dive in? Here’s a guide to Instagram for pet photographers.
Let’s walk through Instagram’s layout and features so that you’re super familiar with the app.
On your home screen, you will find quite a few icons. The home symbol is self explanatory; it takes you back to this home screen from anywhere in the app. Directly next to the home button is the search button. (I’ll come back to search again soon.)
That fun director icon in the middle is Reels. Definitely worth a look, but don’t click that button unless you have at least an hour to burn – it is addicting!
To the right of the Reels button, you will see the shops button. You can now shop directly on Instagram.
At the top, you will see the + symbol which allows you to add or create a post, a story, a Reel, or a Live. The heart is where you find your notifications, like likes, shares, and comments. And that last symbol is where you’ll find your messages. Be sure to pop in here regularly as Message Requests from those you don’t know don’t show up as a notification, so you may have some lurking in there.
Searching in Instagram
Let’s go back to the search feature because this is a HUGE resource on Instagram. When you first open search, you will see the discovery or explore section. This is where you can browse others’ content; Instagram suggests posts and Reels to you based on your history and how you generally engage on the app.
If you tap into the search bar, you will see a more intuitive search page. You can search for accounts, tags, and places here.
Pro-tip: Search is very useful for hashtag research! You can get hashtag ideas based on what you’ve searched for, and you can also see the number of times a hashtag has been used – super valuable!
Your Instagram Profile
In your profile, you will see all things you! Your name is bolded at the top. Your bio is beneath it. You can include ONE link in your bio.
Pro-tip: You can only include one clickable link in your bio, but you can have that link be what’s called a link tree. A link tree houses a bunch of buttons to a variety of links. To set up a free link tree, check out Linktree here.
Next up, we have Highlights. Instagram Highlights have some amazing real estate on your Instagram profile. They are a great place to showcase your portfolio, answer frequently asked questions, and provide details on your services.
Underneath your highlights, visitors can check out your content by content type. They can select to see your feed, your Reels, any IGTVs you’ve done, Guides you’ve created, and posts you’ve been tagged in. If you haven’t created a content type, like Guides, for example, its icon won’t show up.
Instagram Pet Photographer Tip #1: Nail the Visuals
This is so, so important for pet photographers. Your feed should almost look like your portfolio. Make sure all your images are in focus, the lighting is consistent, and editing is similar so that you have a very consistent-looking feed.
As a person who takes photos professionally, you will be judged, fairly and unfairly, on the quality of your photos. You want your photos to stand out, tell a story, and showcase your unique talent.
This goes for your finished products/content but also your behind-the-scenes shots, too. Make sure you’re showcasing your skills whenever you can.
Instagram Pet Photographer Tip #2: Post behind-the-scenes photos too!
Yes, you want to post some behind-the-scenes content, too. Gone are the days of perfectly curated, matchy matchy Instagram feeds. Yes, you want to make sure your feed looks consistent and sticks to your branding, but it needs to have some personality thrown in there. Make sure to show that messy bun, that behind-the-scenes look at your desk and editing process, and your own pets, too!
Getting personal with your audience is non-negotiable. If you need help motivating yourself or figuring out how exactly to get personal, don’t miss the replay of my 7 Days Get Personal Challenge. It’s filled with tips, tricks, and the motivation you need!
Let’s talk about why connecting with potential customers is so important for pet photographers. Let’s face it; Pet photographers are a luxury expense. While precious and skilled and wonderful additions to any home, pet photos are items we choose to buy with our discretionary money. This can mean that you need to ‘convince’ potential customers to buy more than another business might.
You may have potential customers admiring your work and feeling like your prices are far too out of reach or that it would be weird to have a photoshoot for a pet or any number of random misconceptions. If you are not showing up as yourself and dispelling those misunderstandings either directly or indirectly, that potential customer will never know how wrong they are. And they will never become more than a potential customer.
Behind the scenes photos drum up engagement and connection like nothing else. Show your audience what it looks like behind the camera. Show them that you are cool and easy to talk to and not at all like they might have pictured. Show them that pet photoshoots are fun and an experience worth having.
Instagram Pet Photographer Tip #3: Post the Outtakes
Don’t be afraid to step outside the box either. If your brand is more rebellious or clever or funny, make sure to drive that home in your Instagram feed. Post the images of the shoot going terribly wrong. Post hilarious outtakes of a cat sneezing or a funny facial expression or just flat out bad luck on a shoot. Perfect pictures get likes but funny, real-life, relatable photos start conversations.
Instagram Pet Photographer Tip #4: Use the Right Hashtags
Hashtags – these little guys are magic. If used properly, they have the power to instantly connect you with exactly the right people.
But hashtags are complicated because they take quite a bit of research. When you’re researching and compiling hashtags, you always want to think strategically about who you want to come across your profile and what they’ll be looking for exactly.
As a pet photographer, you are, most likely, a local business. This means, you want to make sure that a good chunk of the hashtags you use are reflective of the service areas you work in. Otherwise, you’ll be reeling in people that can’t actually book your services.
You also want to make sure to update and change your hashtags from time to time. As with all things Instagram, you want to keep things fresh and new.
Instagram Pet Photographer Tip #5: Don’t Skip Video Content
Just because you take really stunning photos doesn’t mean that that’s all you should be posting on Instagram. Video content is growing and growing, so make sure to hop on the bandwagon.
You can implement video in so many unique ways. Here are some of my favorite ways for pet photographers to incorporate video content into their Instagram strategy:
- Talk to the camera: Hop on Stories or host an IG Live with you directly talking to the camera. There’s no better why to highlight your personality and actually connect with people.
- Shoot video footage at photoshoots: Dedicate a portion of your photoshoot to shooting video footage. You can film curated, beautiful video or simply gather some behind-the-scenes snippets
- Turn your photos into video: Compile some photos, form them into a ‘flipbook’, and create and engaging, fast-moving Instagram Reel.
- Answer frequently asked questions: People probably have quite a few questions about your process and what they get when booking with you. Lay that all out clearly in an easy-to-digest Reel OR film a more in-depth IGTV to answer all of the questions.
Pet photographer! Are you inspired to bump up your Instagram strategy and use this amazing app to connect with new clients? Comment below!