If there's one thing I love doing in my free time, it's perfecting my Instagram "theme." To me, my Instagram isn't just a series of random photos I decided to share. Rather, it's a carefully curated collection of my most-loved snaps, shared intentionally and purposefully to create a cohesive look and feel on my feed.

If you came to this post hoping to find what filter I use, you'll probably be disappointed by this post. Instead, this post is meant to shed light on some little known Instagram hacks to help you create your own theme. I think originality is key, which is why I choose not to share my preset filters or editing process, but rather more tips and recommendations on how to turn your Instagram into something aesthetically pleasing.

1. Get Inspired

Before you start playing around with filters and photos, collect pieces of inspiration to guide you in building your feed. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to my "aesthetic" that keeps me inspired, which I highly recommend trying. It's a great way for me to unwind and take a mental break and also helps me to see everything I'm inspired by at a glance. Think of it as your "mood board." And, if you prefer old-school pin boards or collages, that works too. This is just a way for you to document anything and everything that speaks to you, as well as making it your own.

2. Find the Patterns

Once you have a good amount of pins on your board, take a look and see what you've been saving. Right now, I'm loving soft neutrals with subtle pops of color, particularly blush pink, and anything with a light, whimsical-type feel. You might enjoy darker tones, or maybe you love neons. Whatever your favorites are, stick with it. Go back through your board and delete anything that just doesn't "flow." This helps shape your theme to a more cohesive look. It doesn't necessarily need to be matchy-matchy, but colors, patterns, tones, etc., should all mesh well when placed next to each other.

3. Download Apps and Start Editing

My favorite editing apps are VSCO and Snapseed. I've also used A Color Story and Afterlight in the past, both of which I highly recommend. It depends on what kind of theme you want to emulate, but each of those apps, with the exclusion of Snapseed, offer a great selection of filters to choose from beyond the standard Instagram ones. 

Snapseed is great for editing photos prior to putting a filter over it. Since I like my pictures bright and airy feeling, I brighten up some of my darker photos by adjusting the brightness and highlights, and add a bit of contrast or ambiance, depending on the picture. I'll then upload it to VSCO and copy and paste my theme to it.

Instagram Hack: Pinterest is a great source for inspiration but also for filter presets! There are a ton of premade themes for the apps above available on Pinterest to try. Search "Instagram Theme" on Pinterest, and a ton of options show up. While I don't recommend copying the theme exactly, it's a great starting point to experiment with some of the photos you already have on file. I also recommend trying out different photos to see how the filter looks on each. I played around with a ton of themes before deciding on my current one!

4. Share Your Photos

Now that you've downloaded every app imaginable and have tried every filter on that fire selfie of yours, you've finally figured out what you like best! Go ahead and post. that. photo! 

Once you do, it's going to take a while to build your theme. Patience is key because themes take time to build. The key is to use the same filter and editing process on every photo. If a photo doesn't look good with the filter, you might want to rethink posting it. Not to say that planning out your feed is everything, because spontaneity is encouraged, but keep in mind that building a theme requires a cohesive look. Experiment with different "filler" photos to mix into your feed, too. A feed looks best with a touch of variety, but keep it consistent. Choose a few different shots to repeat within your feed (one of my favorites are my Starbucks photos!). This will help you create your personal Instagram brand that becomes more recognizable over time.

5. Follow Inspiring Accounts

To keep those creative juices flowing, follow some accounts to be inspired by - key words, inspired by, not copied. I am inspired by the colors of @glitterguide, the fun of @shopbando, the adventures of @galmeetsglam and the outfits of @showmeyourmumu and @livvylandblog. Following other bloggers, brands and shops that you're inspired by not only keeps you inspired, but makes your home feed more inviting, too! Trust me, it's good for the aesthetic.

Overall, building a theme takes time and a little bit of effort into making it your own. Also, allow it to grow over time. My interests and style are always evolving, so my theme kind of evolves with that. And, of course, have fun! Tag me in your themes - I'd love to see what y'all create!