A beginner’s guide to using Instagram and editing photos

Many of our followers have contacted us and asked if we can write a guide to using Instagram when you are not a 20-something social influencer. We are not experts, by any stretch of the imagination, but we do enjoy Instagram for many positive reasons.

Social media gets a lot of criticism but honestly there are so many constructive reasons for using Instagram. Together with Pinterest it is a social media platform where there is little or none of that abuse that people are subjected to on other platforms.

One of the great benefits of Instagram is that you can have an account and follow others but you can keep it private accepting friend requests only from those you know. You also do not need to post any pictures unless you want to. So you can view all the beautiful pictures that people post but not have to do anything yourself.

So let’s start at the beginning and apologies if anyone thinks I have over-simplified my guide to using Instagram but it is easier if I assume that you know nothing.


  • FEED: Your Instagram account where all your photos live
  • POST: a single photo that you upload and set free for all the Insta world to see (or just your own followers, if setting your account to private is your thing).
  • HANDLE: your Instagram username, preceded by the @ symbol. We are @annabelandgracecw
  • FOLLOW: when you choose to ‘monitor’ someone else’s activity so that their photo posts will display in your home stream.
  • HOME STREAM: the stream of photos composed of posts by the accounts you follow.
  • LIKES: the things you will collect when followers “double tap” (or tap the ♡ under the photo) your photos and vice versa.
  • CAPTION: the text you write to accompany a photo post.
  • HASHTAG: a single word or phrase without spaces that, due to the addition of the # symbol, makes said word or phrase discoverable to the Instagram community.
  • #LATERGRAM: when you post a photo later than when you took it.
  • #TBT: an example of a popular #. Means Throwback Thursday ie you can post a pic of you as a child or a puppy pic etc.
  • #OOTD: outfit of the day. A photo of your outfit on any given day – maybe practise taking a mirror selfie.


  1. You can sign up for Instagram with an email address or a personal Facebook account. Instagram is different from other social networks in that it is primarily a mobile platform.
  2. Once your account is set up, you will have a page that can be viewed on desktop, but the majority of your activity will take place within the mobile app. Click HERE, on your mobile phone, to download the app from your phone’s app store.
  3. Once you sign up, you’ll be asked to choose a username. Your username will display publicly and will be what people see when they find you on Instagram. The username you choose can be a made up name
  4. When signing up, Instagram will also ask for your full name. Here, you can put your full name which will also make it easier for people to find you through Instagram’s search function.
  5. Instagram lets you fill out a 150 character bio about yourself. Here you can add your location too if you want.
  6. You can also add your website, which users will be able to click to visit right from their mobile device. Of course if this IG account is for personal use you won’t have a website.
  7. Now add a picture of yourself – the perfect Instagram profile photo will be 400×400 pixels. See pic below.
  8. Now you are ready so it is time to post your first photo. You can either take a photo with your phone (see pic below pt. 8) or post one that is in your picture library. Or make a short video of up to 1 minute.
  9. First click on the + icon at the bottom of your home page.
Beginners guide to using Instagram
Your home screen showing the profile photo
Beginners guide to using Instagram
When you want to take a picture to post on Instagram. I have reversed the camera to take a selfie.


If you’re uploading a photo, you will have the option to crop it first. After that, you’ll have options for different enhancements.

Once you have chosen your pic you can make it bigger by using 2 fingers on the pic and doing the ‘splits’ with your fingers. Then press “Next” in top right.

Beginners guide to using Instagram
The ‘Enhance wand”

For a quick enhance click on the magic wand at top middle of your screen. it will take you to a new screen with a slider. Once you have found the optimum light press “Done”.

Now you can choose from a number of filters that scroll across the bottom of the app. Once you have chosen the filter tap on it. You can alter the strength of the filter by sliding the white dot across the screen. You can also add a border by tapping on the icon to right of filter slider. However, weirdly, you cannot put a border on the original photo ie you have to choose one of the filters to access the border option. Then click on “Done”.

You can now click “edit” to access a number of other photo editing features.

Once you’re happy with your photo, hit “Next” in the top right of the screen.

Now you’ll be able to add a caption and hashtags.

You can also tag people and name the location. When you click, “Add location” you will see a list of previously used locations in your general area.

After your photo is posted, you will see the location name in blue. When you click on your location name, you’ll be able to see every photo that has been tagged there.

Instagram’s search function makes it easy to find people and brands to follow. You can search by username, or choose relevant hashtags. Ours, for example, is: annabelandgracecw


Beginners guide to using Instagram
To post multiple pics in one post
  • If you see blue dots under someone else’s picture that means they have posted more than one picture so just swipe from right to left to see the rest.
  • You too can add multiple photos by clicking “SELET MULTIPLE” on bottom right of photo on opening screen. You can share up to 10 photos and videos in one post.
  • You can also add two or three pics in a collage by clicking on icon next to the select multiple icon.
  • If after posting you want to change anything then tap on the 3 dots at the top right of your photo and you can edit/delete/archive/turn off commenting/share to/copy link.
  • You may wonder how I managed to write on my pics. When you open a pic on your phone in Photos, click on “Edit”, the 3 black dots, Markup, and choose the thickness of your pen, the colour and then use your finger to draw. If you click on the + icon you get the option to click on text and add some words. Anyway have a play around. By pressing the backwards arrow at the top you can delete anything you have done.
  • There are other options relating to the Instagram app but most relate to business accounts e.g. “Promote” or “View Insights”.
  • Stories are less permanent, more “in the moment” pieces of content that you can post for your followers to see. They come in the form both photos and videos, which automatically disappear after 24 hours. They can be viewed at the top of the feed (in the form of circular bubbles). Stories simply offer a more casual way to connect, share and interact with your followers.
  • There is also IGTV but I think I will leave that to another post as this could be overload!

So now you are ready to enjoy Instagram – I hope that this Beginner’s guide to using Instagram has helped. Instagram is by and large a happy place where people share beautiful pictures.

We’d love it if you could follow us! annabelandgracecw