After my post about Instagram engagement last week, I got a lot of questions about how to write an engaging caption. So here we go – your cheat sheet to writing “good caption.” Before we get into my tips and tricks, we have to get one rule out of the way…
Rule #1: You MUST use a quality photo.
I’m talking about a photo that is crisp, clear, and nice to look at. Instagram is a visual app, centered around pretty pictures. It doesn’t have to be the best photo in the world, but just make sure the photo you’re using is a nice quality image. If you’re stuck on this part, check out my blog post on 5 Things No One Told You About Photography.
Characteristics of a Good Caption
A “good” caption will have at least one, if not more of these qualities. The most important thing to remember is that your audience needs to walk away from your caption with SOMETHING. They could walk away with a piece of inspiration, or a helpful tip, or they may learn something about you or your craft. Consider trying out some of these tips and tricks as you write your next caption:
- Be vulnerable. You don’t have to share your deepest darkest secrets. But sit down and think about something that’s weighing on you, or something you wish you would’ve known. What advice would you give yourself? In this example, I was feeling a little down and when I started to write it out, I ended up giving myself a pep talk that could help others too:
- Tell a story. Give some context to things that are happening outside of a photo. In the post below, I shared the story behind my Signature Cowl pattern and what the pattern meant to me. Instead of just saying, “Look at my new design!” this type of caption gives my audience insight to the meaning of this design and allows them to connect with the story behind it.
- Space it out. You might notice in each of my examples that I create mini-paragraphs in my caption. I use an extra period in between each paragraph. What you’ll need to do is finish your sentence, hit enter, add an extra period, and hit enter again, before moving onto your next paragraph. This little trick makes your caption look less overwhelming and easier for readers to digest.
- Keep it simple. In this next example, I had a short caption that let this photo speak for itself. The photo and the caption are both simple, yet beautiful and all I had to do was let it speak for itself.
- Grab their attention. Make sure the first sentence of your post grabs the attention of your audience. You could write the first few words in all caps, use emojis, ask a question, or lead them into a story. In the post below, I asked a rhetorical question to grab their attention.
- Ask a question. Like I mentioned in my last post, you need to be genuine. You can ask rhetorical questions for attention, but sometimes we want people to answer our question. This is like bonus points in the realm of Instagram, because each response is an extra comment which boosts your engagement! Now here’s the thing – Don’t ask a question that no one cares about… Ask something that makes them stop their scroll to think about. I usually place a question like this in the last section or paragraph of my post.
Quick Tips, Reminders, and a Little Tough Love
- Use emojis! They are fun and make your caption more expressive! The pop of color also helps grab the reader’s attention.
- Don’t overdo it. Be intentional and don’t do the same thing over and over and over. It will get stale fast.
- Don’t sell to people. Instagram is a space to make connections and create relationships, not sell to people constantly. 1 out of every 10 of your posts should be a sales pitch and not any more than that.
- Provide information. Instead of constantly selling, just do a quick note at the bottom of your caption (if and when it’s relevant) to say something like, “You can find this pattern at the link in my bio.” You don’t need to make the entire post about them buying the pattern, but just put the information in there in case anyone is looking for it.
- If your caption feels forced, or cheesy, or salesy – it probably is.
- Don’t worry about if your caption is too long. Seriously – Instagram will cut you off if you reach the maximum number of characters.
- If you’re a little nervous about what people will think, post it anyway. Usually that fear means that you’re about to post something that you care about, and I bet others will care about it too.
So what do you think… Is it a “good” caption?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you’re trying to decide if it’s worth hitting the post button. Ask yourself:
- Would I have stopped to read this or kept scrolling?
- Did I learn something?
- Would I care?
- Would I feel inclined to leave a comment on this?
At the end of the day, it’s your account, your brand, and your post. YOU get to decide if it’s a good caption. If you like the photo and like what you wrote – go for it!