Do I Need an Instagram Style


When posting to Instagram, it’s pretty common knowledge that beautiful images perform better. It’s those photos that are sharp, well-lit and creatively composed that see all the hearts. But does that mean you have to have a specific “look” or can you run the gamut from casual, real-time iPhone snaps to minimalist studio shots to  nostalgic landscapes? Does your Instagram feed really need to stick to a “style”?

In short…probably. But it really depends on your market. It all comes back to your audience, their needs, and what they’re looking for from you (you’ll hear me repeat this A LOT. It’s always  about the audience).

Does your audience value design? Is your audience following you for reasons that relate to style or esthtics? If so, your instagram style is very important. However, if the last thing your audience cares about is style, then you don’t need to worry about it either.

I like to use Instagram for exercise inspiration. Most of the fitness stars I follow don’t have nice looking Instagram accounts, but they have thousands of followers. Take Chassidy Smothers for example, or Andreia Brazier. Some of the photos are a bit too dark, some are blurry, and they certainly don’t have a stylized “designed” look. Heck, tons of the photos are taken in florescent-lit gyms! So why do they have thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands of followers)? Because they:

  1. Give their audience what they want: They show off their incredible bodies to inspire their followers, they post motivating quotes, they give an insider look to a fit lifestyle, and the share exercise tips.
  2. Are consistent: They post often, and they stay on topic. If you want a photo of some rock-hard abs, Andreia has you covered, several times over. You know exactly what you’re going to get when you follow her.

But for people in a visual and aesthetic field (designers, photographers, stylists), you are judged professionally on how you make things look. So why wouldn’t you want your branding (and that’s what social media is) to reflect that you know how to make things look great?

So, you’re a jewelry designer. You’re likely are really good at one thing (let’s say working with stones). I doubt you make a a few hemp bracelets one day and then do stone work the next and then some delicate sterling silver stuff the day after that. If you did that, your collection would look chaotic and it would likely be hard to find an loyal audience base.  I’m betting your line of jewelry probably looks consistent, and so should your brand.

Now, that’s not to say you can’t share photos of things besides your products! You absolutely can, and should. Your audience will love feeling like they have an insider view. The content of posts can change; it’s just about keeping the look cohesive. I’ll share some more tips on creating a visually appealing and cohesive Instagram feed in an upcoming post. Until then, check out a few of my favorite (very stylized and consistent) accounts, like Manuela Kjeilen‘s, and Kylie Johnston‘s to get some inspiration.

Chirp Chirp,

How do you make you Instagram style look consistent? What stumps you about Instagram? Let me know in the comments!


How Not to Get Sued for Stealing Images from Google

Don’t steal images from Google.

That’s it. Blog post done.

Okay, that might seem harsh. But it’s true – you absolutely cannot just take an image you found on Google and use it on a blog post. Can you imagine being fined $8,000 for a crappy photo of Nebraska? Well, it happens. But it doesn’t have to happen to you!

There are so many options for finding free photos and images and we want to share them with you. Because we like you, and rather see you spending $8K on chocolate covered almonds or gummy worms or hiring us. So without further ado, here are better sites to get pics from than Google:



PicJumbo has some of the most beautiful photos of any of the free stock photo sites – creative, interesting and artistic. I find they have a particularly large select of photos that relate to technology, laptops and cell phones which is useful if you blog about social media as I often do. However, in other categories, they are much more limited. The big benefit is that there are no limitations – you don’t have to worry about attribution, you are free to edit and remix, and commercial use is a-okay. Plus, the database is searchable! Yay!

Coffee lovers has a great selection. Not all of the photos are as beautiful as PicJumbo’s, but overall they are good quality, and there is a lot more variety to what they have available. Like PicJumbo, images are free from any copyright restriction and you don’t need to attriute them. They are also searchable, which is so important for making your day easier.



Unsplash is the holy grail! Not only is it free from any restrictions, has gorgeous photos, is searchable and has a great selection – they will also email you 10 new photos every week. Just for free. Right to your inbox. How rad is that?



Gratisography has super quirky, fun imagery. All the photos are all from one cool cat, Ryan, and definitely bear the stamp of his whimsical style. If you’re looking for something offbeat and funky, this should be your first stop. Downfall: the selection is a bit limited (Ryan can only do so much, guys!) and search capabilities are restricted to categories, which is a bit of a pain.


New Old Stock

New Old Stock is a repository of vintage photos from the public archives. This means that they are free for personal and non-commercial use (like your personal blog). Things get a bit more tricky around for-profit use, but there is more info about that on the site.

These old timey photos are great for adding a different feel to your post, and can be used in some fun, ironic ways. This might not be your staple stock photo site, but for sure worth a spot on the list.

Also, the captions are pretty hilarious, so there’s that.

Other Free Stock Sites to Try

The above are sites that I personally use a lot and have looked into their useage rights. I can vouch for their selection and searchability. But, I want to give you options. So here are four more options that are popular, but I haven’t used them yet myself.

Death to Stock: Allows you to get free photos emailed to you monthly. Also allows you to sign up for a premium membership for a cheap $15 a month, which they use a percentage of to fund the photographers who contribute. Pretty rad.

Negative Space: All photos are released under Creative Commons License and as such have no copyright restrictions.

SplitShire: Splitshire photos are cleared for commercial use and have no copyright restrictions. The site is run by one photographer who has decided to give away all his photos for free. How cool is that?

Life of Pix: Life of Pix is curated by Leeroy Advertising Agency. All images are donated to the public domain by the agency and their network of photographers. And if you don’t need stock photos, but just want to see the most attractive group of staff ever, check out their team page. It’s like they only hire models.


But do you really need a stock photo? Or would a graphic be more useful? Do you need an icon or symbol? Can you create an image with some awesome font?
Canva is your one-stop design tool. It allows people who have no idea how to use Photoshop or Illustrator to make professional and well designed images. They have both a free version and a pay-to-play work version, and both are fabulous. They also offer stock images and pre-made templates that you can purchase for the low price of $1 to add to your design.

Pixlr Editor

Pixlr is a like Photoshop for people who can’t afford Photoshop. It is a free online image editor, and allows you to edit images, add text and resize images. Although it does not have any stock imagery, it will allow you to edit the stock imagery you’ve found on other sites and make it exactly what you need.


“Umm, hey Kassia, didn’t you just write a whole blog post about how I can’t use Google to steal images?”Yes. Yes I did. But, there is one sneaky trick I will teach you so that you can defy my first rule.

  1. Hop over to Google Images
  2. Search for the thing you need
  3. Click on the gear in the top right corner, and select Advanced Search.
  4. Scroll down to “usage rights” and select “free to use, share or modify, even commercially.
  5. Click “advanced search”

The images from this new search will be much more limited, but these are images that Google believes are free for you to use.

Note: Although I’ve done my best to be accurate in my advice, as I always do, websites change their usage policies all time. Laws also change and I’m not a lawyer. I can’t promise you’re NOT going to get sued, and I strongly advise you to do your own research before using an image you didn’t pay for. But these tips should help you get started.

6 YouTube Metrics to Measure Video Performance

If you’re only looking at your views to judge your YouTube success, you’re missing out. YouTube boasts a great analytics dashboard and there are lots of YouTube metrics to explore. Below, we discuss six factors you should be looking at to improve your YouTube success.


Views are the most obvious way to see if your videos are successful, because that’s the whole point: eyeballs on your video. You can track views in a few ways:

  1. You can simply keep track of your Lifetime views, and record it monthly with the rest of your social media key metrics.
  2. YouTube has a great interactive views graph that you can play with. Notice where the spikes are and if they correspond to the release of a video. If so, note that that video was important and try to figure out why (more on this below).
  3. If you post on a regular schedule (weekly, every second Tuesday, etc), try creating a spreadsheet and recording how many views each individual video gets after a set amount of time (3 days or 1 week after posting, for example). Keep in mind that the time period between posting and recording results has to be consistent for your results to be meaningful. This will let you see if each video is getting views more quickly than your last video, which can indicate whether people are more eager to get their hands on your content.


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This video has a nice upward trend of views, which indicates more people are watching this channel over time.


  1. You can keep track of your overall subscribers in a very similar way as your Lifetime views. Just track their growth over time, much like you would with Twitter or Facebook followers.
  2. Another way to look at this measurement is to track how many subscribers you gained and lost in a specific time period. If you are gaining more than you’re losing, you’re on the right tack. But, if you lose an unusual amount at once, or gain an unusual amount at once, check what you’ve been posting, and check for possible explanations.


This metric is found under Audience Retention and tells you when people stopped watching your video and clicked away.

Ideally,what you’re looking for is a nice straight line as close to the 100% mark as possible. This would indicate that 100% of your audience watched your video all the way through. Of course, you’re more likely to see a gradual decline, but you want to avoid any sharp drop offs, or dipping below 50%. You can also look at the “relative audience retention” to see how your retention compares to other people’s videos on YouTube of similar length.


This video has good retention. People only start dropping off in the final seconds during the credits. Also, it retains over 65% of the audience until that point.

If the majority of your viewers are abandoning your video at a certain point, look at what happens at that moment in your video. The usual culprit is that it’s just too long. People have short attention spans. So, how long is too long? Well, if you are still providing valuable, engaging content, your video can be as long as you want. But the retention rates on your video will tell you if you’re doing that. Compare several videos and see where the average drop-off is, and that will give you a ballpark for how long to aim for with your subsequent videos.

Another factor that can cause a drop-off is your content. Did you have a technical issue while recording and your sound levels get too quiet at the drop-off point? Did you start going on a tangent and get off topic? Did you switch topics all together? Check several of your videos and look for factors that might have triggered someone to click away.


This one is pretty simple: check out which videos had a lot of favorites and which didn’t. Compare and try to figure out why.

You can also look at your likes to dislikes ratio. For example:

  • Video A has 100 likes and 50 dislikes. That’s a 2:1 ratio.
  • Video B has 400 likes and 100 dislikes. That’s a 4:1 ratio.

Although Video B has more dislikes, it’s actually a better rated video because a 4:1 ratio beats a 2:1 ratio.


As with every social platform, engagement is the most important thing to pay attention to. For example, what’s the point of having thousands of Twitter followers if no one ever retweets you? Same thing with YouTube: just having views is one thing, but comments show if you’re really connecting with your viewers.

The comments-to-views ratio is a great way to track your engagement. If your video has 1000 views and 5 comments, you have a 20:1 ratio. Over time, you will want to try to lower that ratio. So, maybe you aim for a 10:1 ratio, or 10 comment on a video with 1000 views. You can do this for individual videos, or for your channel as a whole.


This is a very cool thing to check out: You can see which videos are being shared via social media. This is important because sharing is one of the best forms of engagement you can get from your audience; a like is passive and only takes a second, a comment shows more interest as your commenter has to take time out of their day to write something, but a share means they find your content interesting enough to endorse you by sharing with their friends. That’s a big deal.

YouTube also allows you to see which platforms your videos are being shared on, which can help you make decisions about which platforms might be best for you to spend your time cross-promoting your videos on.

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Shares also indicate which of your videos is the most “viral” and, of course, the holy grail for every YouTuber is to hit upon the “How to trick people into thinking you’re good looking” viral level.


AKA: Things to compare

Throughout  this article, we’ve suggested you “compare your videos.” Here are some things to compare when you’re looking for what might have made a difference to your views, comments, likes, and all the other factors outlined above:

  • Video length
  • Title (Was it clear or mysterious? Did it make sense or was it wacky? Did it reference a timely issue)
  • Preview thumbnail (Did the girl-in-bikini thumbnail do better than the picture of your cat?)
  • Content (Do your tutorials get more views than your shopping haul videos? Do your posts on controversial issue do better than your funny, light posts?)
  • Production value (This means things like lighting, sound quality, etc)
  • Time of Day and Day of Week you posted
  • Amount of promotion (did you put money behind promoting that video? Was it the first one you ever cross-promoted on Pinterest?)

In conclusion, there are many other metrics to track in YouTube than just views and subscribers. Dig into YouTube’s analytics offerings, and check out audience retention and shares. Also, try doing a bit of math and looking at ratios of comments to views.

Happy YouTubing!