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Dear Jenna: How the Heck Do I Caption Images?

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insta-1-29 Dear Jenna: How the Heck Do I Caption Images?
Dear Jenna,
Love how much you care. I struggle with what the heck to write on Instagram. Im super transparent and love being real. So that’s not the issue. But I see some people who’ve been on Instagram forever using cutesy quotes, song lyrics or one liners. And I’ve had some people tell me Instagram is for pics (not many words). But then I also hear Instagram is about “being real”, “developing community” so that means writing a lot! I know the easy answer is “do what’s natural to you.”
 
But I guess my question is: Is there an Instagram etiquette? Meaning, how much should you write, what should you write. How often should you post. etc.  Are there Instagram rules? Because it seems like everyone makes it up as they go! 
 
Sincerely, Not Sure What to Say 
 

Hi there, Not Sure What to Say!

Welcome to a sweet, confused club called: writers block. We all get it from time to time and if we’re really being honest, some people are just better with words than others (I refer to that crowd as: word wizards!) For me, my captions are like micro blog posts, I love to write so it comes easily (in fact, I usually have to shorten them because I could write for days.) If writing doesn’t come easy to you, then it’s time to really figure out what’s going to work best for you in the writing process. The funny thing is, I’m about to give you an answer you might not be fully expecting: there isn’t a recipe or a formula to make the words work for you, BUT there are some tips and tricks that might give you confidence in knowing you’re doing your photos justice and not a disservice.

1.) Don’t let the caption be a blank space: When you only post a pretty photo, you are giving people one opportunity to like it (simply that they like the photo itself) BUT when you pair that photo with a meaningful caption, you are giving people two invitations to engage with your content. Either because they liked the photo OR they connected with the caption (or better yet, both!) The caption should serve the post in a meaningful way.

2.) Read your caption out loud: (no, seriously, do it) If you are worried it sounds like everything else you’ve read or you’re using contrived words you wouldn’t naturally say, read the caption out loud to a friend or family member and if it sounds like you, great! If not, revamp it. You want your online voice to match your real life voice, that’s when the power happens and I promise you it gets easier as it goes on. I personally go back through my caption and remove 80% of the adjectives as a challenge to tell a story without all the whimsy words we commonly see.

3.) Are you telling a story: They say a photo is worth 1,000 words…. well, help that photo out and give it a few solid words to back the story up behind the image. There is always an opportunity it say something meaningful, so ask yourself: why does this post matter? How is it serving anyone other than me? Am I doing the story justice? Your captions shouldn’t just be adjectives strung together but more lines of a captivating story that leaves your followers eager for more. There is power in telling stories!

Captions can be tricky, especially when we get caught up in looking at what everyone else is doing! We ask ourselves a million questions: should they be short? Long? Should I bare my soul? Or just post a little whimsy? Here’s the thing: you do you. No, really, people can tell when it’s fluff, people can also tell when you’re sharing things that just don’t sound like you. They don’t have to be paragraphs, it could be three meaningful sentences strung together in a captivating way. The biggest trick is to not overthink it. Ask yourself: what do I want to serve my audience today? Then do it to the best of your abilities. Publish it, log out, move on… done is better than perfect!

You’ve got this! Don’t overthink it!

If you need more Instagram tips, download my free Instagram Growth Guide here! 

by Jenna Kutcher 

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  1. Pamela

    November 14th, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Jenna! I’d love to see your instagram growth guide. When I try clicking on the link, it says it cannot be found. Do you happen to still have it available? Thanks so much!!

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