January 27, 2016

To really succeed on Instagram, you need to be creating high quality and valuable content for your audience. It needs to stand out in the feed, it needs to capture your audience's attention, and it needs to serve a purpose. That's a lot of pressure on one post!

So, if you're going to put this much effort into it, how much time should you expect to spend to create an Instagram post?

Well.... of course, it depends. But I want to break it down for you here in detail.

Planning Your Photo

Every post should start with a plan. I'm not saying you need to create a whole story board or mass production plan, but you should at least have a plan.

You should know what you're trying to create with the image - what is the purpose of this photo? What message are you going to be sharing on Instagram? Is this going to be stock photo type image? Is it meant to convey an emotion? Do you want light and airy or dark and mysterious? Is it promoting a product or item? Do you want people or faces? What is your dominant color? What is the atmosphere you want to create? Are you going to put a text overlay over the image? Do you want a close up or distance shot?

You also need to think about where the photo is going to be taken. Is it in your home or office? Do you have to go outside? Do you have to actually walk or drive or travel somewhere? Does the time of day (daylight, etc.) matter?

These are all things to consider, and more!

Depending on how you shoot your photos, you may just want to think about this and keep it tucked away in your mind. Or you may want to write it down or put it in a list on your mobile device. However you keep track, make a plan for your photos.

How much time should this take? This could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes per photo.

It will depend on how many photos you plan to shoot - only one photo idea, you could probably plan out in a couple minutes. But if you plan to use this opportunity to shoot multiple photos, you may want to take longer to plan out a whole shot list.

Staging the Photo

Whether it's a product shot, or a photo behind the scenes in your business, or something else, you want to make sure your setting and staging is right.

To create an Instagram post that really stands out, you want a great environment and atmosphere represented in the image. That means no distracting objects in the background, that means labels or covers or distinguishing marks turned towards (or away) from the camera, that means the spacing and alignment of objects is ideal to the photo size and orientation.

I always recommend you stage your photo then take a photo. Stop and look at it on your camera or phone. How does it look? Do you need to move something, rearrange a couple things, change your angles? Look at everything in the photo - from the background to the foreground. Look at how clothing is hanging on a person, is there a reflection in a frame or tv or something shiny, is there a shadow you don't want... the list is endless. Be hyper critical.

Rearrange as needed and then take another photo to verify everything is aligning ideally.

How much time should this take? This could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes per photo.

Taking the Photo

Ok, now for the fun part! It's time to take your photo. You've planned, you've staged, your trigger finger is ready.

Do you snap just one photo and call it a day? Heck no!

You should be taking dozens of photos. Whether it's an object or a person, take photo after photo.

You want to avoid blurry images, movement captured by something moving, someone's half closed eyes. If you only take one photo and it's not good, you've wasted your whole opportunity.

So take photo after photo. Take multiple photos from each angle and perspective. Shoot head on, from the side, centered, off-center, looking up, looking down... you get the idea.

How much time should this take? This could take about 5 minutes per photo.

Choosing the Best Photo

So, now that you have a whole bunch of photos, you have to go through and pick which one is best.

I recommend going through one by one and immediately deleting any photo that is "bad" - blurry, out of focus, unwanted movement or placement, etc. Then, go through all the remaining photos and compare them. You'll start to notice which one(s) are best. As you do, delete or disregard the others. Narrow it down until you've picked the best one for this purpose. (Note: you may not want to delete any that aren't "ideal" for this purpose as they may still serve a purpose for you later.)

How much time should this take? This could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes depending on how many photos you have to scroll through.

Editing Your Photo

You've spent all this time just to take the best photo, but now you need to up the game that much more - it's time for editing.

Whether you edit on your computer with a tool like Photoshop or other editing tools, or if you edit on your mobile device, or if you edit within Instagram or other 3rd party tools for filters, EVERY photo should be enhanced for maximum impact.

You want to think about editing for aspects like contrast, brightness, saturation, exposure, shadows, and other factors that will ensure the image is best rendition of your content.

Beyond that, you want to think about your branding as a business - what style represents your brand? Do you go for vintage styles, or deep saturation and bright colors? Do you favor black and white? Do you like drastic contrast and muted tones? Edit your photo to match your brand style so that you create a cohesive gallery in your Instagram feed.

As you upload to Instagram, you also have the option to add one of the various filters. These can help you add to the branding style of your images while embracing the Instagram style.

How much time should this take? This could take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes per photo.

Writing Your Caption

You thought you were done? Nope! Not yet.

Now you still have to write your caption. And, no, you can't skip this step.

Your caption should take your message that much further, detail a story, share a tip, provide a call-to-action, or provide other value. When you planned your photo to start with, you should have decided the purpose of this post. Part of that process is writing your caption and saying the right thing(s).

Take the time to type up your caption effectively. You can add formatting and spacing to increase the visual effect and impact of your caption.

You also need to include your hashtags as a part of your upload process. You'll need to know which hashtags you want to use and add them accordingly.

How much time should this take? This could take 5 to 10 minutes per post depending on how quickly you type and how much you have to write.

And, now you're finally ready to hit that wonderful upload button!


So, how much time did this whole process take you? Let's add it up.

The average amount of time it will take you to create an Instagram post is 30 minutes to an hour and 25 minutes!

And, yes, that's about how much time I spend and I know many others who are committed to maximizing their use of Instagram for business spend about the same amount of time. So, that is completely realistic.

Of course, this is "per post". If you organize a photo shoot type set up and take multiple photos at one time to use later, you can technically reduce this amount of time or spread it over various periods of time. But, in general, this is an accurate average amount of time.


What do you think? How much time do you spend creating your Instagram posts? Let me know in the comments below.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
    1. Thanks Kim! I know you’re not an IG user, but the process would still apply to other platforms.

  1. Hi Jenn

    Just posting a comment here because I had a question about another one of your blog posts: http://www.jennstrends.com/tools-to-measure-instagram-analytics/

    My question is do you know of any analytics platform for instagram that can track “page views” or “impressions”?

    Like if someone were to click on my IG name. I want to track how many times my main page gets requested instead of my individual post or pictures?

    Thanks again


    1. Hi Sinclair, I’m not aware of any software or app that would track that information specifically.

  2. You mentioned third party editing software – I’ve heard that Instagram frowns upon using photos uploaded/edited from a PC via a third party program (like Latergramme, & I think there are a few others). This would be very convenient for businesses, but not if accounts could be suspended by Instagram, as has been rumoured. Thoughts? Thanks!

    1. Hi Susan! There is absolutely no issue with editing an image with a 3rd party app or software. However, when it comes to uploading content to Instagram, yes, you have to be careful. There are only a few tools I recommend: Hootsuite, ViralTag and Latergramme. These tools adhere to the Instagram API and terms of use so your account won’t be at risk. I do NOT recommend any tools designed to help you get more followers or likes.

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