As promised yesterday, I’m back on the Instagram How To Wagon to discuss all of my feed secrets. I posted a pic to my feed a few days ago asking if anyone had any burning questions that they would like for me to answer and, while I did offer to pay my friends to comment so I wasn’t hanging out there like a total loser, I was super grateful that a ton of you had really great questions! 
So, here are today’s topics: 
Apps, Editing and Style, Backgrounds, Hashtags and Selfies
(otherwise known as the answers to all of life’s most important questions)
Editing: The only editing app that I use is Afterlight. 
I think it’s user friendly, intuitive and simple. I couldn’t ask for more.
Grids: I use Diptic to make any type of grid or side by side shot. I prefer it to other grid or framing apps because it doesn’t auto insert the app logo onto your photos. One sure fire way to cheapen the look of your feed is to have something that screams “I used a free app to edit this!” imprinted on your photos. Skip the apps that imprint their logo and you’ll be ahead of the game. I also happen to personally think that the thinner the boarder between photos, the sleeker it looks and, more often than not, I eliminate the boarder all together.
Stop Motion Videos/Photo Videos and Editing: I use PartyParty to create flip movies/stop motion videos and to edit video for my feed. I like that you can save the stop motion videos as a .GIF file and upload it to Blogger or send it in an email. PartyParty also has the capability to makes grids and super cute photo booth style strips – and best of all, it’s really, really easy to use. You can use an unlimited number of photos to create a video and filter then entire video at once for a cohesive look. 
Text: If I’m adding text to a photo for any reason, I always use Rhonna Designs.
 It’s the best for clean, simple fonts. 
Followers: Hey, Insta newbies, did you know there are such thing as follower apps? That’s right, I can see who follows and unfollows me! I use Followers+ and most ‘grammers that I know are tracking their followers mostly to make sure that major spam accounts or accounts of a questionable nature aren’t following them. I do occasionally block an account if it’s X rated or clearly not the type of follower that I think should be seeing into my day to day life.
Watermarking: I use Phonto to watermark photos of my son. You can read more about that in this post, including how to use the app step by step. 
Editing and Style
Without a doubt, the number one question I get about Instagram is: “how do you keep your feed so bright and crisp?”
Let me state here and now that I do not use filters. 
I’ve honestly never found one that worked for me so I just aim to take photos in the style that I love (bright, white, clear) and go from there. As far as I know, there isn’t a filter that makes a dark, grainy photo into a bright, crisp one.
I typically shoot with a DSLR (as opposed to my phone) and shoot in natural light only. You simply cannot get a bright, white photo in artificial lighting or in the evening. 
My typical editing process looks like this:
I take a photo with my actual camera and upload it to my phone via my wireless SD card.
I pop it into Afterlight and square crop (or at least look at what it will look like cropped square if I intend to keep it wide with the new Instagram size options).
 I typically need to straighten the photo and then I brighten. And probably brighten again. Afterlight lets you really kick up the brightness and I may even go back for a third time. You have to keep an eye on the quality if you’re going to brighten extensively because you can essentially blur the photo if you aren’t careful. 
And, that’s it. Seriously, that’s all that I do. It’s less about the editing and more about the actual shot lighting and composition.
With that said, here is my biggest secret to my light, bright feed:
I am very, very mindful of where I shoot my photos. 
You can brighten the hell out of a shot but if you used a dark red brick wall as a background, it’s still going to have a dark feel to it.
I shoot in front of white brick walls (my house is painted brick, but many people use their garage door if it’s white or light in color), on a white board, on my white granite counter tops, on my marble bathroom counter, on my white bedspread, on a white dresser. I tend to have a very white/bright style of decorating so that helps as well. If I snag a photo that happens to be dark or doesn’t brighten well then I simply won’t post it.
If I flip through my feed and feel like it’s gotten a bit dark, I’ll either delete photos that seem out of place to me or use a white board as a background for a shot or two to brighten things up. 
Sometimes, I do both.
I’m only sorta into hashtags but I should do more. I typically hash tag the posts that I would love more people to see, like my Renovation Reveals, so obviously, I think they work! Many people drop them into the first comment of their post, hoping they will get buried in other comments from followers.
are hard and rarely look good. 
Sorry, I had to say it. I know that my entire neighborhood must think I’m a total nut case because I can be spotted on my front stoop (it’s white painted brick and gets great natural light) trying to take a reasonable selfie of my mom OOTD. My best advice is to always wipe off the face of your phone before you take the shot. Your make up can smudge onto your screen and cloud the selfie camera. Set your camera to square because you are gonna want to get this done as efficiently as possible, hold your camera as high up as you can and angle it down a bit. Snap and hope for a good shot. Trust me, everyone takes a million selfies to get a good one. I’m a big fan of cutting my face out because it’s already hard enough to get a reasonable shot of my outfit without having to worry about my multiple chins showing themselves off.

Overall, my best advice is to create a style and aesthetic that you love. Once I stopped trying to emulate other feeds and started taking photos that I honestly loved, my feed really came together. Find a signature aesthetic that rocks your boat and go for it!

Did I miss any of your burning questions? Let me know in the comments and I’ll answer!