I've been spending quite a bit of time over the last few months setting up my own little freelance venture, Strange Marketing - check out my amazing website here! When it came to starting an Instagram account for the business, I wanted to do something I've never been able to achieve on my personal account, images that flow into each other.
I first spotted this concept on Spectrum Cosmetics Instagram page. Whilst each of their individual images is a standalone picture, elements of the background serge into the next post. I think it looks great and one of the key things that stuck in my mind about it was that it's clear they have invested resources in developing their social presence - which makes sense for an incredibly success brand that's built it's entire customer base with Instagram.
I tried a LOT of different apps to make this happen and below I've given you some info about each app - spoiler, only one app really did the job and it's one you have to pay for - but I did find a free and pretty simple way to do it also which I've detailed further down.
I'm pretty pleased with how SM's Instagram page looks although I'm aware that my graphic design skills need improving on if I really want to make a splash, so any and all advice about composition and colours will be gratefully received. I'm excited to share more about starting Strange Marketing in the future!
So, firstly, you need an image. The majority of apps that I found that can create this effect had the option of uploading a picture to them or taking one which you can then edit in the app with a limited variety of tools before splitting the image into parts. I used Canva to create my collages - you can upload your own images, resize and recolour them, place them in grids, add a huge number of elements to your design and it's free. I create these collages in a very large size (3000 x 3000) utilising Canva's 9x9 image grid and dropping different pictures into each space. I'm currently using a pretty flower picture that I took myself as the background. Here's the next large image for SM's Instagram feed:
Once you have the larger image created you'll need to save it and download it in PNG form (so you don't lose any quality) If you want to use one the many image splitting apps available, you'll also need to export your collage to a mobile device, I use Dropbox for this and I also save every image including the main and split image onto my laptop.
I tried a few apps but without a doubt, Planoly is the better option. Unfortunately, you can only upload 30 pictures to it per month in the free version, but I feel it's probably worth investing in the next level up for £7.99 which allows a lot more uploads as well as access to all their other features, including adding batches of pre-defined hashtags which can really save time when you are uploading 9 images at once! It also saves the images and the split versions for you, so when you are ready to post you can just open up the app and add the images directly into Instagram along with the hashtags and location information. It's a real time saver. I messed up the first month of my free trial by deleting images once I had uploaded them because I wanted to change something - this still ate into my 30 free uploads and meant I couldn't add another 9 images to the upload section. You can't save the split images to your phone in any easy way either.
Some other apps that I tried:
Giant Square - Easy to upload images to split but it adds it's own watermark which I definitely didn't want. I know this sounds a bit mean, because I do believe that apps should be able to earn money for future development etc, but for starting my business venture I needed something that wasn't going to affect the overall image.
9Cut - Worked well but there was some reduction of quality which I was trying to avoid.
Grids - When I went into the app to remind myself of what it was I didn't like about it, it tricked me into signing up for a £4.49 weekly subscription! I seem to recall when I used it last week that the ads between every step were the main issue but I now seem to have a super version which works a lot better - at a ridiculous price! That's getting cancelled straight away.
In the end, I found the best way to get what I wanted - all nine images in the same quality, with no watermarks, ready on my phone to upload to Instagram at any time. I used a site called Img Online an online tool which you can access by clicking here. The site creates 9 separate images which you can download individually. There are a few options to select from and you don't just have to do 9x9 grids. I chose the optimize for Instagram option despite not knowing exactly what this does!
I then saved them to Dropbox on my laptop and was able to export from the Dropbox app on my phone straight into Instagram. I save my hashtags in a batch on the Notepad application and then just copy and paste them into my caption when I'm ready to post!
Here's how the first 3 pics look on my feed, hopefully you'll give us a follow over at @strangesocialmarketing to see the rest ;-)
I hope this has helped, whether you use an app or the online tool I would love to see your creations, tag me @katyclouds or my new business account, @strangesocialmarketing.