Confused about Instagram Reels? Read this Instagram Reels tutorial for the best tips on how to create better, simpler Instagram Reels for your business. This post is designed for artists on Instagram, but you can adapt these strategies for any Instagram Reels!
Instagram Reels are Instagram’s response to TikTok. It’s no secret that they love to rip off other social media ideas (Stories vs. Snapchat, anyone?). The main thing to pay attention to here is what TikTok’s popularity says about what users want these days – short, catchy video content is becoming more popular than static photos or written content.
So if Instagram Reels scare you, this article will help break down some ideas for Instagram Reels, how to make the most of your Instagram Reels, and how Instagram Reels compare to TikTok, if you’re there too!
I won’t reel-y be covering HOW to shoot and edit Reels today, so check out this article for more information on that. Trial and error is the best teacher here, in my opinion. But I’ll include lots of tips for how to think about and create Reels that fit in your Instagram Strategy.
Questions on Instagram Strategy? Grab our Instagram Guide for Creatives (recently updated for 2021!).
You may wonder what’s the difference between a Reel and a Story on Instagram. Both videos, both allow for 15 seconds, so why are there 2 different things? The big answer: AUDIENCE.
An Instagram Story is often being seen only by your current followers. Yes, you can hashtag them to potentially get seen by others, but for the most part, they’re catering to people who already follow you.
Your feed posts, IGTV videos, and yes, Instagram Reels, on the other hand are an opportunity for you to be found by new people. Yes, your current following can see them, but they also show up on the Explore page or hashtags that you use (we’ll talk about those in a minute).
So when formulating Reels, think of your future audience and what they want to know, which is sometimes a little different than what your current audience wants to know. Use the ideas below to really catch their attention, and always use a call to action (follow me, comment, click like, etc.) so they know how to continue engaging with you!
As an artist, what kinds of Reels should you create? Do you have to be dancing around on screen, or pointing to little text blocks that pop up? Hell no. Here are 10 new ideas for Reels that you can create as you work (but also, the dancing and pointing is effective too, even if it’s a little cheesy! People like cheesy – embrace it).
You may not have the Audio button – that’s okay. It’s supposedly more likely to be available if you have a Creator account than a Business account, but I know Business account owners who have it too. Instagram rolls features out to different groups at different times, but don’t worry – there are plenty of fixes if you don’t have the audio button.
I get this question a lot – is it okay to use music that’s copyrighted in your Reels? If you’re using this for business, then technically no. I will always advise you to stay within the legal limits, and remind you that Instagram can shut down your account for breaking this rule frequently (or at all). You can also be fined for it. Here are some ways around this though:
I can’t, but you might be able to! At this time, some people can rearrange clips in Reels! If you have the “edit clips” button in the bottom left corner on the same screen where the “share to” button appears (it looks like this photo below), then you can use that section to rearrange your video clips in Reels!
If you don’t have that button (I don’t yet), then you cannot rearrange clips, but I really do love the Align feature, which allows you to line up your next shot with your previous one. This will definitely help create seamless transitions. I hope that they’ll give us all the option to rearrange Instagram Reels clips soon!
Here’s what that Edit Clips button looks like in your Reels:
Sure, you can slap up any old video, and it may or may not do well. But in this Instagram Reels Tutorial I’ll tell you how do you optimize Instagram Reels for the best results!
My favorite tip is to just pay attention to what’s working. If you have one Reel that popped off – list out qualities of that video (lighting, background, subject matter, reveal, sound, time of day posted, hashtags, caption, etc.). Compare all your best-performing Reels and see what works. I’m anxiously awaiting Reels Insights for more analytic features, but this is the best manual way to do that.
These are some favorite tools for videos in general, but will help with Reels!
Lighting is much more important in video than in photography. Post-production editing is a lot more challenging with a constantly moving image than a static one, and apps aren’t able to edit quite as much when it comes to video. So you’ll want to shoot in the best light possible.
The good thing is that you get a little more leeway with video quality than photo quality. Just choose a high-quality photo for the cover to not mess up your feed aesthetic. The video doesn’t have to be as perfect. But hey, we can always improve!
Good video lighting can be achieved at home near a window that’s got a diffuser (sheer curtain works great) and a reflector on the opposite side to reflect light back onto your subject.
We also listed two reasonable lights you can invest in if you need to improve your lighting. I recently upgraded to the iPhone Pro 12, and while I’m not necessarily saying that’s the key – it did help with the amount of light my videos were getting. Good equipment can help a lot, but if you’re working on a budget try to batch your videos when your lighting is best by a large window!
This Instagram Reels tutorial must feature some ways to make things easier, right? First and foremost, take a little pressure off of yourself. The information shown in the video is the important part – the quality doesn’t have to be 100% all the time
Keep a list of ideas you have for Reels so that you can batch them all. This will save you time setting up your space, and you can optimize your natural lighting too. The more you get in the groove, the more you’ll loosen up on camera!
I try to batch the same types of videos at once and save them as drafts. Personally, I prefer to film outside of in Instagram and then upload them. But you can do what works best for you. Film all of your talking videos where your face is showing at the same time. Then pick another time to film a bunch where you’re working or showing your hands.
And think of other ways to use these videos – can you upload them to TikTok, Facebook, Stories, etc. at a later date to grab a different audience? Can you take snippets from 3-4 Reels and put them together for a “Day in the life” type Reel? How can you make different Reels from the same project/work process?
One idea I love is to film in regular speed a long task that’s 10 minutes or so (for instance, wax sealing or lining a bunch of envelopes). Then you can make a time-lapse Reel of the whole 10 minutes AND a slower Reel just showing just one wax seal or a smaller part of the process – from the same video.
If you’re scrolling any of these apps and see some trends you’d like to recreate – DM them to yourself or save them to a Collection so you can return to them and find the sounds you liked easier.
Okay, so which is better – Instagram Reels or TikTok?! The main deciding factor for where you’re marketing should be what type of audience you want to attract and works best for your business.
TikTok is traditionally younger, and it’s tougher to find exactly what you’re looking for on TikTok. But you have a chance to catch the attention of a lot of new people easily, and getting MORE eyes on your video is easier. Instagram helps get more qualified eyes on your work, but doesn’t have some of the “viral” aspects of TikTok. And the algorithm is generally thought of as worse than TikTok’s.
The best thing? You can use this Instagram Reels tutorial to make a Reel or TikTok and upload it on both platforms, no problem! That will help you see which platform is a better fit too!
Here are some of my favorite differences between the two:
I hope this Instagram Reels tutorial has made Instagram Reels feel a little less intimidating. They are a reel-y fun addition to the platform, and give us small business owners a chance to really show off our personalities (which is where we SHINE over large, corporate brands!). Give it a try and tag me for some feedback!
Get the Instagram Guide for Creatives for more money-making Instagram strategy! I make about 70% of my income via Instagram – WHOA.
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Hi, I'm Laney!
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I make wedding invitations and I teach artists how to work smarter, make money, and run a business that works for you.