Still fresh off that new year creative buzz, we’ve been thinking all things Instagram Stories over here at Shutterstock.

In 2020, creating creative Instagram Stories should be a key part to your creative business. Whether you are a photographer, illustrator, videographer, or even a small business owner, creating amazing Instagram Stories can help spread the word on your creative skills and showcase your work to a much larger audience. Instagram Stories aren’t going anywhere (sorry, TikTok), since there are over 500 million daily active users and growing. 

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In this article, we’re sharing eleven creative tips you can use to design Instagram Stories in 2020 for your creative business. Use these tips to grow your audience online, and get your work in front of the right people this year. 


Tip #1: Mix authenticity with business

Consumers are smart, and your audience is smart. They can see right through you when you do nothing but push products and new work on them.

The best approach is to form an authentic connection with your audience on Instagram Stories, and mix your personality with your small business. Instagram Stories is a great tool to help form that connection. We suggest mixing personal camera content with professional content to form meaningful connections with your audience.

Instagram Stories Pro Tip for Creatives

When you’re creating stories from an incredible trip or shoot, show some funny video content from a behind-the-scenes perspective alongside the stunning work you create. It’s a great way to show what actually goes into creating the work, instead of just the beautiful result.


Tip #2: Create your own Instagram Stories AR Filter

Last year, Instagram allowed the public to access Spark AR Studio, allowing anyone to create and submit an AR filter to appear on Instagram. While this is a complicated tool, if you are a designer or illustrator this might be the perfect tool for you to use to create your own AR filters. Later wrote a fantastic article on how you can create your own Instagram Stories filters. Find Shutterstock’s 2020 Creative Trends filters on our Instagram.

11 Creative Tips for Using Instagram Stories in 2020 — Custom Instagram Stories AR Effects Filters
@Shutterstock #CreativeTrends filters

Tip #3: Boomerangs get an upgrade

We love a good boomerang here at Shutterstock, and their recent updates have us feeling excited to use them again! Instagram Stories users can now take a boomerang, then choose from three different creative effects to make them uniquely yours. The new boomerang effects include:

  • Slowmo: Slows the clip to half-speed, making a 2 second clip instead of 1 second
  • Duo: Rewinds your video, adding a glitchy transition
  • Echo: Adds a motion blur to the video frames

We like to use boomerangs sparingly in conjunction with other types of Instagram Stories, but they are a great way to add a touch of creativity to your stories.


Tip #4: Use an app to design Instagram Stories

There are a plethora of apps available for both iPhone and Android to help you create beautiful Instagram Stories layouts. Find a style that speaks to your creativity, and matches your branding as a photographer, videographer, illustrator, or small business. Ideally, you want someone to be able to spot your Instagram Stories and recognize it instantly as you.

You can also design Instagram Stories in the Shutterstock Editor. A full-width Instagram Story is 1080px by 1920px, so edit your images to fit.


Tip #5: Use Instagram Layout Mode

Instagram recently launched the ability to make collages on Instagram Stories. All you have to do is open Instagram Stories’ Layout mode, located next to other modes such as Boomerang, and you’ll be prompted to either capture a number of images, or access your albums to upload directly from your phone. There are several different layout options, depending on the style and number of images you’d like to use. 

11 Creative Tips for Using Instagram Stories in 2020 — Instagram Stories Layout Mode
Instagram Stories Collage on @ShutterstockContributors

Instagram Stories Pro Tip for Photographers

If you’ve had a shoot you can’t wait to share, this is a great way to showcase multiple images without needing to create multiple stories.


Tip #6: Create a storyboard

An Instagram Stories storyboard helps you plan out the right content to post, and organize your content the way you want it to be displayed. This helps ensure that your story flows together with ease, and keeps your audience engaged. This is a great tip if you put text overlay on your stories, as it helps make sure your stories stay cohesive.

Instagram Stories Pro Tip for Small Businesses

Use this tip to plan out product promotions that you want to put on Instagram. If you’re introducing a new product, plan a storyboard out the same way you would plan any other type of advertising. At Shutterstock, we like to plan out Instagram Stories to introduce a new campaign, follow up with the details of the release. We also recommend the Swipe Up feature to engage your audience to leave the app and go to your business.

11 Creative Tips for Using Instagram Stories in 2020 — Plan Product Promotions for Your Instagram Stories
You Got This! via Vova Mon

Tip #7: Plan your Stories in Advance

Make Instagram Stories part of your regular content planning. Set a time to sit down and plan some stories in advance to make it easier for you to remember to post more often. Combine your planning with a storyboard that allows you to plan when and what time you’d like people to see your content. Two of our favorites for scheduling Instagram Stories? Later and Sked Social.


Tip #8: Poll Stickers are great for Engagement

Poll stickers are one of the simplest ways you can involve your audience on Instagram Stories. Not only does it empower them to provide insight into your work, it also helps you understand better what preferences your audience truly has. 

11 Creative Tips for Using Instagram Stories in 2020— Use Poll Stickers for Engagement
Using Polls on @ShutterstockContributors

Instagram Stories Pro Tip for Creatives

Use poll stickers to help decide what image you should publish. A lot of the times when we’re curating what to post on Shutterstock or on our Instagram Feed, the answer lies in the audience that already follows and loves your work. Engage with them using polls to see what they like best!


Tip #9: Use Questions Stickers to Help Plan

If you’re traveling somewhere new or experiencing a new activity to capture, using questions is a great way to engage with your audience. You can use this tool to gather feedback on your work, or to gather tips on where to travel or what to see at a new destination.

Another great way to use it is to provide tips back to your audience. If you are a photographer, use this to ask your audience if they have questions on photography. Similarly, this is great for videographers to share tips and education with their audience of creatives. 


Tip #10: Use GIFs to Add Visual Style 

GIFs are amazing to add graphic-design inspired style to your Instagram Stories. We suggest using them to point things out within your stories, or the “New Work” GIFs to showcase new images or videos you’ve taken. Bonus? @ShutterstockContributors actually made their own GIFs! Simply search “Shutterstock Contributors” to find ours. Share them with us using the hashtag #ShutterstockContributors so we can spot your work on Instagram. 


Tip #11: Use Instagram Stories to Attract People to Your Feed

If you’re anything like me, you usually go straight to Instagram Stories instead of the feed to catch up on what you’ve missed. Because of this, it can be a great tool to show your new work to more people.

Just posted a photograph to your Instagram Feed? Simply click the little arrow to “Add post to your story.” This creates a clickable Instagram Story where you can use one of those “New Work” gifs to drive more people to your Instagram portfolio. This is a great trick to use if you are worried that not everyone saw your Instagram feed photograph when you initially posted it.


We hope these tips help inspire you create some amazing Instagram Stories in 2020. We can’t wait to see what you create next at Shutterstock. Share your work with us on Instagram using the hashtag #ShutterstockContributors. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up on our Instagram feed next.

Top image by Katya Havok.

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