The 3 P’s of the Timely Instagram Image (And How to Create One on the Fly)

My boldbrandfast Instagram account continues to grow as I strive to create timely images and post consistently. I try and post engaging graphics with purpose about two times per day, every single day.

Now, most of us have a smartphone in hand 99% of the day. Of course it’s easy to snap a quick selfie or a behind-the-scenes shot and upload it fast. It’s one of the beautiful aspects about Instagram.

But today I’m going to show you the 3 P’s of timely Instagram images that look great — and are consistent with your brand, even on the fly.

1. Plan Out Your Instagram Content

Before you post another picture, plan  out your content. You need to have a big-picture idea of what your whole account looks like, who your target market is, and what valuable content you plan to share with them every day.

Sure, you want to be flexible to share the occasional selfie or pic of your lunch, but don’t be tempted to fill your stream with duck faces. It’s best to have a theme (read: strategy) and stay focused on what you post, as it relates to your brand. Instagram is great for sharing team activities, behind-the-scenes shots, and previews of upcoming products or coming-soon promotions.

Jeff Sieh, creator and host of The Manly Pinterest Tips podcast and show, wouldn’t use high-heel shoes to talk to his audience.

A photo posted by Jeff Sieh (@jeffsieh) on

  On the other hand, Jilleysue has targeted women, embraced pink and called herself the GIRLBOSS MOTIVATOR. High heels work for her brand!

In other words, the following steps (or anything else you post on Instagram) won’t matter if you don’t first plan and finalize your Instagram marketing goals.


3ps-instagram-graphics-bold-brand-fast-rob-russo2. Prepare Starter Graphics & Text

How do I have eight custom-designed, ready-to-go image templates saved on my iPhone, ready to be used at a moment’s noticed?

It’s easy when you prepare them ahead of time and (#ProTip) create them in batches.

Here’s an example of four images I’ve created and now keep on my phone to have at my fingertips. I like to call them backgrounds or Instagram image starters.

Three of these images, when posted in a certain order, tile together to create a bold orange stripe. The only extra effort required is to note the order of upload and plan out three posts that will fit together. (This is the little extra effort that really gets noticed.)

I have several others that are perfect stand-alone posts.

All use my brand color and logo. Sometimes I add a hashtag, such as #thinkvisualnow and/or my Instagram handle @boldbrandfast.

Besides these graphic templates, I have several notes saved on my phone (I use the Notes app on my iPhone) with saved hashtags and my choice of CTA (call-to-action) text. When writing the image description, I cut and paste as needed.

3. Pounce! Create Instagram Images with Ease

Now that you are armed with a plan and prepared with your custom-designed image templates and text, all accessible at your fingertips, you’re ready to pounce as soon as inspiration strikes.

I try to post organically at least once a day to my Instagram account. While I often plan out what am going to say with the image in mind, you never know when a timely update would be perfect for your brand.

Whenever I come across a quote that resonates or think of a tip I want to share, I can create it fast (usually in WordSwag or Typorama) by adding simple text over my pre-made backgrounds.

Here’s one example of a graphic I created:

So if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?

And if you agree that Instagram is a must and have an account setup already, be sure to check out my profile and follow me for more visual content tips and secrets.

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Learn how to get noticed as an industry expert with proven visual strategies — no design skills necessary.

How to Connect with Industry Leaders in Your Niche (Hint: Start with Instagram)

Whether you look up to, honor and/or try to emulate the industry leaders in your niche, it wouldn’t hurt to connect with a few of them, right?

Facebook organic reach is down… The Twitter stream moves too fast… But Instagram?

Ah, Instagram is like no other social media network. It’s a close-knit community, the perfect place to really connect with those you know best and those most supportive of your business.

And Instagram is the best place to connect with industry leaders. Remember, I’ve stated before that I believe every entrepreneur needs to be on Instagram.

Engagement is higher on Instagram. It feels more real. And those big shots? The industry experts you look up to and want to one day join? They’re simply more attainable on Instagram.

garyvee follows Rob Russo, Bold Brand FastGary Vaynerchuk Just Followed Me on Instagram (Here’s How It Happened)

Take Gary Vaynerchuk, for example, who recently followed me on Instagram. I commented on one of his photos. He commenting back… You know, engaging with me. (Hat tip to my buddy, Ryan Bilello for giving me a shoutout on one of Gary’s Instagram photos that led to Gary following me.)

Here’s how it happened.

  1. Ryan Bilello @mentioned me and gave my kudos on one of Gary’s Instagram photos.
  2. I said a humble thanks in the comments to Ryan, with an @mention to both Ryan and Gary.
  3. Gary followed me!
  4. I commented on another @garyvee photo a couple of days later.
  5. Gary commented back and said I was awesome. (He even took the time to immediately followup when he noticed autocorrect had a way with his original comment.)

Here’s a closer look at why @garyvee may have followed me.

First of all, someone else (a friend, client) — in this case one of my big supporters, Ryan — had lovely things to say about me. I didn’t go in and spam Gary’s comments with all that I could offer and try to share my expertise.

I didn’t have to say one thing, actually, because Ryan did it for me (completely unsolicited). Talking about yourself is overrated. It’s best when others rave about you instead.

Second, I immediately got the notification that Ryan mentioned me so I promptly commented, too. I thanked Ryan for the kind words and continued the conversation. Again, not selling myself or pitching anything.

Gary followed me! Full transparency: I don’t know if he took a quick look at my profile or if Ryan’s comment alone worked, but the stars aligned.

Next, I commented and liked some of Gary’s other photos. Again, the goal was to engage, add value, continue the conversation.

ProTip: I included an emoji (or two or three) in every comment. Something bright or bold that stands out. This is a tip I picked up from Anthony of Crush Social (follow @crushsocial on Instagram now and tell him I sent you). I know my comments with emojis stood out in all the chatter that refreshed fast.

Use (at least) 1 EMOJI in every comment to STAND OUT.Click To Tweet

All this to say, connecting with industry influencers is, in my opinion, best done on Instagram. I think you have to work a lot harder to create a sincere connection on any other social channel.

Remember, the outcome won’t always happen immediately. I was pleasantly surprised when Gary quickly followed me. But sometimes it’s a process.

Identify your top 5-10 influencers and begin to engage with them often. But not too often. You’ll have to find the balance between never remembered and stalker. (Don’t be a stalker.) Just keep it consistent over time.

The key, like always, is to add value and build that know, like and trust factor.

Your Turn: What tips do you have on how to connect with industry leaders?

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Learn how to get noticed as an industry expert with proven visual strategies — no design skills necessary.

Beyond the Duck Face and FoodPorn: 5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Must Be on Instagram

Much like Pinterest has grown beyond recipes and crafts, Instagram is more than ridiculous selfies and pictures of lunch. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

If you are an online entrepreneur — or really any small business owner these days — then, yes, you need to be on social media. But I’ll argue you must be on Instagram.

I’ll even go as far to say Instagram is the most important social media network.

Can’t Be on Every Social Media Network? (Better Be on Instagram)

I would encourage every entrepreneur to have a presence across all of social media. But the grass is greener where you water it. Without a strategy or small team, you might not be able to truly be everywhere.

So when you’re just getting started, I’d suggest you start with Instagram.

Because at the end of the day, social media is about relationships… It’s about people. Social media is not about selling. Sure you can sell on social, but you will be more successful if you give and engage first. Then folks will want to do business with you (because they already know, like and trust you).

And Instagram is the perfect place to increase connections and build that trust. 

Instagram is the best place to increase connections and build trust.Click To Tweet

5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Must Be on Instagram

  1. It’s Visual, Baby!

    Instagram started around the visual. True, all social media networks are focusing on images now as it is proven visual content gets more eyeballs and higher engagement. But while some social networks didn’t start that way (Twitter was once 140 characters of text only, for example), Instagram began with the image in mind — and that’s how the majority of human beings communicate.

  2. Easy Content Creation

    It’s easy to create content and post it fast on Instagram. This is somewhat true across the board as apps improve and great tools like Canva are more readily available. Instagram is built for mobile and there are a ton of mobile apps that make content creation a breeze. And since our smartphone doubles as a camera, it’s easy to capture new photos on the fly.

  3. Always In Hand, On Mind

    Speaking of mobile, Instagram is always in hand. Even when we step away from the computer, our smartphone is still within reach. Every network has a mobile app, of couse. But Instagram is the biggest network/app I know of that is best viewed and used on our phones. You have to use a phone to post new content so it’s naturally on our minds while the phone is in hand.

  4. Higher Engagement

    The doubletaps and comments don’t lie. If you’re involved in the Instagram community, it doesn’t take long to feel the love. While our posts and updates often get lost in the sea of overwhelm on Twitter and Facebook, engagement is instant and almost always higher on Instagram. (Don’t believe me just try it!)

  5. Personal Connection

    (This is a big one… Possibly my fav!) These days, it’s not all big business. Lots of people might trust big companies that are established, but we all want to do business with other people. We want to connect with individuals and know the face(s) behind the brands. Instagram, with it’s behind-the-scenes peeks and personalized vibe, helps us get that connection we crave.

So if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?

And if you agree that Instagram is a must and have an account setup already, be sure to check out my profile and follow me for more visual content tips and secrets.

1 Color Rules All: The Best Color for Your Visual Content

When selecting the perfect color to represent your business and brand, you need to choose the best color before you create your next (or first) piece of visual content.

It’s best to limit your choices. If you’ve narrowed it down to two or three colors, that’s a good start. But I challenge you to narrow it down more.

If you can select just one color, you’ll be doing your brand — and yourself — a favor.

Just one color? Yes.

Twitter founder Biz Stone has said, “creativity comes from constraint.”

If this is a new concept to you, I know it’s hard to imagine. Just one color… Seems so boring when there’s a whole rainbow to work with, right?

But a complex color scheme can be overwhelming and — if not used correctly — will look chaotic, or amateur at best.

Choose ONE color for your business to stand out.

Complex color schemes can be overwhelming and — if not used correctly — look chaotic + amateur.Click To Tweet

Color Scheme Case Studies

Business Brand ColorsHave a look at some big brands for inspiration. Here are several examples of big business branding that packs a punch with just one color.

  • Target aims at red.
  • Home Depot is built on orange.
  • National Geographic explores yellow.
  • Starbucks perks up with green.
  • Facebook likes blue.
  • Yahoo searches purple.

This doesn’t mean you have to choose and only use one color, but the best brands that master this simplified concept excel.

Have you seen the infamous Tiffany & Co. blue box? Its’ iconic, very recognizable and never any color but their Tiffany Blue. I have not purchased anything from the company personally, but that blue is forever branded in my mind as something special. Something unique, very luxurious, and easy to spot a mile away.

I challenge you to set constraints. See what you can do with just one color. I think you’ll be surprised!

Social Media Networks Stand Out Among Millions of Colors Online

I’ve mentioned Facebook above already, but take a look at any of the top social media networks.

They’ve each chosen one color to represent their brand. Along with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn went with blue. Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube chose red. Snapchat and Meerkat hit the scene with a youthful yellow.

Why Choose One Color to Create Visual Content?

There are several reasons you should embrace constraint. We will explore all the benefits of representing your brand with one color in the future, but for now know this: You get more bang for your buck.

In other words, you save time but people will notice and are more likely to remember you.

avocadoshirtco-intagram-imagesWith less choices to be made, decisions can be made easier and quicker. Design time is slashed. The next time you open up your favorite design app or program, you can focus on creating the best content instead of first choosing what color to use.

Take a look at some graphics I made for my startup, Avocado Shirt Co., that were posted to our Instagram account. These images got noticed by Instagram expert Sue B. Zimmerman and she has since featured our Instagram account on her CreativeLive courses.

One of things Sue mentioned was our use of color to convey a consistent look and feel. Since avocados are green, choosing the best color for Avocado Shirt Co. was easy. Not only is it fun to think about guacamole while creating these quirky graphics, it’s that much easier when the color is chosen already.

Have you chosen one color to represent you, your brand or your business?

Unleash Your Visual Marketing Power

Back when everyone was shouting “content is king,” they forgot one important word.


Indeed, visual content is king.

While the right words can empower us, uplift us. Even sway us… Nothing gets our attention like well-designed visual content.

Take a quick look at the somewhat brief history of social media. The Facebook algorithm will change before you finish reading this blog post, but note the trend. The social media giant has moved from giving more precedence to words then to images and now to video.

Instagram and Pinterest — two social media networks with an emphasis on visual content — both grew (and continue to do so) at incredible rates. While descriptive text on these platforms should not be overlooked, I suspect the sharing of images, which are displayed with priority, had/has something to do with the success.

Oh, and Twitter, while still constraining us to a limited character count, first welcomed images to the stream then got into the video game with Vine and now Meerkat, touted as a possible game-changer for elections.

It’s all because images (and video) speak louder and faster than words.

Power of Visual Marketing

All Hail Visual Content!

So “visual marketing” and “visual content” and the like are not new terms. But the aim of this blog is to put a fresh spin on all things visual.

The goal is to share the best secrets and professional tips to small business owners and online entrepreneurs, helping in three areas:

  • Developing a visual marketing strategy.
  • Creating engaging visual content.
  • Building a bold brand.

Do this and you will rise above the clutter — above your competition — and stand out as an expert in your industry. Then doing what you do best will be a whole lot easier.

Hang on… And get ready to unleash the power of visual marketing.

What questions do you have about visual content, visual marketing strategy, or design?