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Simple Themes to Lessen Instagram Drama

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Updated 8.8.2017

Instagram is one of the most prominent forms of social media. Everyone uses Instagram in some way. But I'm going to voice an unpopular opinion: Instagram isn't really that great. The visual-based platform can get overwhelming and annoying, especially if it's secondary to another project. Plenty of users are successful at getting reach and engagement. They hustle. For me, Instagram requires a level of obsession that I don't have. Also I'm a writer and hate taking pictures of myself sooo... If you're like me and you aren't willing to put the energy into making Instagram your main focus (or even one of them) but know you should at least try, this post is for you.

Thanks to this post on Career Girl Daily, I was moved to think on how I could make Instagram simpler since I kind of hate it so much. CGD had some great tips on how to clean up your profile to gain more followers and promote your brand by choosing a single theme for your photos. Having a theme will help guide the photos you take, giving your profile a potentially cohesive look, and a theme will attract the right audience. Choosing a theme that fits right off can be difficult. These suggestions should help you streamline Instagram without taking up all of your time because they are simple and involve things you're probably already looking out for.

Note: If you don't care what your Instagram looks like/don't have a reason to make it look pretty/don't care what anyone thinks - First of all, I applaud you. Second, keep it up.

Choose a topic (or two) from your daily life

My personal account has been through so many changes (and subsequent purges). Thankfully I've finally settled on a theme of the topics that influence this blog: being a mom, being in a band, and being Mormon. These are easy for me because they are what I am already doing which works out because I'm not forcing myself to create experiences that aren't real. Having only a couple things to post about limits unwanted photos when you look back and makes life a whole lot easier.

Consider what you spend your time doing, what interests you, or what you value. It could be anything: food, politics, education, fashion, reading, movies, family, animals, nature... Then think of different ways to show that in your photos. Food is an easy example. You could take photos of food you make, restaurants you try, special occasions you're celebrating, people you're sharing meals with, cookbooks you're interested in, and on and on. Don't limit yourself but just remember to keep it simple.

Memorialize what inspires you

In a project I worked on for a local painting company took pictures of the area the company worked in and captioned the photos with paint colors. Because the company only worked in a specific area, clients had a source of inspiration from their own backyard. The same goes for photographing your own inspiration. Post photos of things in the world that catch your eye. Nature, people, and quotes from books are a great place to start. You could also take it to the next level by adding a relevant quote. Double inspiration!!

Capture your "Currently..."

I really enjoy "Currently..." blog posts. In fact, this blog almost became only a series of posts about what I was currently doing or feeling. These posts are fascinating because they actually require more thought than we assume. There is purpose in watching a certain movie or wearing certain shoes or finding ourselves in a certain place. Can you imagine putting that into a photo? I don't know if I should swoon or drool from satisfaction... Be careful not to think this is just any random snapshot. Otherwise your photos will become messy and incoherent pretty fast. To counter this make sure your posts are singular and possess real meaning.

Share your work or hobby

My brother is a photographer and videographer. His Instagram consists of his photos captioned with what equipment and settings he used to get that exact composition. Bloggers do this as well, sharing the photos from their posts or behind the scenes of what they're working on. Artists, writers, and even teachers do the same. If there is something about what you do that can be photographed, get out there and do it! Whether it's a morning coffee with coworkers before a big pitch or a cute dog you met while on your evening jog, use your Instagram for you. 

I hope these ideas get the juices flowing and help you dream up a way to represent yourself well. Instagram is about sharing a story, YOUR story, your photos. Good luck and don't try too hard!

Must-dos For A Memorable Road Trip

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
The road trip does not intimidate me. I have have spent tons of time in the car so I consider myself an individual who understands travel and how to make it a productive experience. However, there is one trip that now stands out as a sort of failure to me.

A couple months ago, Spencer and I had the ridiculously cool experience of packing up everything into our '98 Camry and hitting the open road from Utah to Virginia. A young married couple and their trusty pup touring the good old USA - sounds classic, right? We should have stopped to see and do ALL the things, and I should have enough visual proof of the trip to fill at least 3 Facebook photo albums. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. We saw little, did nothing, and the only proof of crossing the Mississippi River is maybe my car's mileage. 

Yeah... That trip is now a black mark on my road trip resume. And I think I've gained a travel complex. We missed out on a lot. If certain things were different it would have been memorable for good reasons instead of lame ones. Now you get to learn from my mistakes and make your road trips a blast from start to finish.

Stock up on snacks before you leave

Road trip snacks might be the main reason I love the idea of a road trip so much. There's something about bonding over munching and chatting while watching the scenery pass by. But trying to figure out food on the road can be difficult, if not scary, when you have to please more than one person and you are navigating a foreign place. To make things easier I plan a grocery store run before we get on the road for some familiar drinks and food. At best, you can keep the party going a little longer if you can't agree on a place to stop right away. At the very least, you have something to do if you get bored.

Take all the pictures!

cross country road trip with pets
Not taking pictures is the number one thing I regret the most from our cross-country trip. The only pictures I have are of a barbecue restaurant we ate at in Kansas, which I can't find, and this one of Muggle sleeping on our big pile of stuff in the backseat. Boooo!

Memorable pictures don't even have to come from stopping more than you need to. Even simple snapshots of state signs as you pass through, fun vanity license plates, jamming out to the playlists you create, and the gorgeous landscape would be enough. Phone cameras these days are freaking amazing. You could end up with some serious pics on your Instagram. It was such a waste for me to not try but now you'll know better!

When in doubt, look it up

In our day you can't help but rely on the internet for a lot. I buy almost everything from Amazon. I've learned that taking some time to read reviews or doing a little extra research can be a game changer when you are purchasing or planning blind. 

On our trip I tried to get us to stop at a prairie dog zoo in Kansas. Spencer made me check the reviews and I'm glad I did because it sounded a little run down and not quite the magical moment I was hoping for. We saved ourselves some time and maybe some heartache. In another instance, we had planned to stay a night at a hotel in Indiana. According to a pet-friendly travel website this hotel allows pets with no fees. We rolled up unprepared to pay extra. They let it slide, thankfully, but now I dig a little deeper, or even pick up the phone, to find out exactly what we're in for. And don't forget to scroll down to read the reviews. You can learn so much!

Allow yourself time to stop and do more

I wish we had stopped more, even if only at rest stops to stretch our legs (and take pictures!). Spencer was not into hanging out at many touristy things, like presidential libraries (we passed 3!) or searching out "Triple D joints" to grub at. Also we were so set on getting to Virginia as soon as possible that we didn't sleep well when we did stop for the night. There was no rush to get anywhere, and yet we spent our breaks at quick gas fill ups and in restaurant parking lots. The weather was beautiful the entire trip but we barely got to experience it.

Don't be afraid to add a little extra time to your plans if you can - unnecessary deadlines lead to unnecessary stress, hence the lack of sleep. If you use your time wisely, and more enjoyably, there won't be any reason to worry. If you see something worth checking out consider an unplanned stop. It could be the coolest thing you've ever seen!

Thanks to Spencer's schedule we made it safely to Virginia in extremely good time. The car didn't die on the way, despite it's being incapable of making it out of the driveway three days before we left, so that was nice. Muggle made it in one piece too. I still have a bit of a love-hate relationship with travel right now but I am more than wary for my next trip. Good luck and may your excursions be worth remembering!

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