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How to Get Started With Instagram Stories (Guide for Beginners)

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This post is part of a series called How to: Instagram .
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Instagram Stories, how do they work? How do they compare to Snapchat, the clear competitor? And what is the creative storytelling potential of this new feature? Let's get started with Instagram Stories.

How to Use Instagram Stories How to Use Instagram Stories How to Use Instagram Stories
Your Instagram Story appears at the top left next to everyone you're following.

Instagram lets you to share photos and videos with your followers, but unlike regular Instagram posts, Stories disappear after 24 hours from the time they were first uploaded. This temporary nature lets you post things you wouldn't normally want to keep on your profile.

Want to see Instagram Stories in action? Take a look at this quick video for an overview:

Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat

When Instagram released this new feature the world couldn't help but notice it's similarities with another popular app, Snapchat.

Although it's closely related, there are a few major differences between Instagram and Snapchat. They are:

  • All content on Snapchat disappears after 24 hours, while on Instagram you can post your photos to both your profile and your time-sensitive Instagram Stories, if you choose.
  • Snapchat has more creative options available to personalize your posts. Choose from doodles, stickers, and their infamous face-mapping Snapchat filters. You can also discover fun geo-filters depending on your location, while Instagram only currently offers markers, text, and one filter.
  • While both Snapchat and Instagram allow you to post old photos from your devices, Instagram only allows you to use photos taken from the last 24 hours.

Getting Started with Instagram Stories

At the top of your feed you'll see all the available stories from the past 24 hours on Instagram. The first icon is your own profile photo, which you can access all your stories through. Watch stories from your favorite profiles by browsing the horizontal feed or get started with your own.

Click on the plus button to get started with Instagram Stories. Once you gain access, use the camera to shoot your photos and videos. Personalize them with fun text and graphics, or create awesome effects to wow your followers.

How to Create Photo and Video Stories

Photos From Your Camera

Taking photos is simple with Instagram Stories. Simply aim your camera at your subject and snap a shot by clicking the large circle button in the lower middle of the screen.

If your photos are looking a little dark, enable the flash option to brighten up the scene.

Recording Videos

To take a video instead of a photo, press the same button as before, this time holding it for a few seconds to take your recording. Your video will record as long as you are holding the button but will last only as long as it takes for the recording bar to make a complete circle.

How to Take Photos and Record Videos on Instagram StoriesHow to Take Photos and Record Videos on Instagram StoriesHow to Take Photos and Record Videos on Instagram Stories
To take a photo, simply hit the circle button. To record a video, hold the button until the circle loads.

High Quality Photos and Videos

You can also swipe down and choose from photos that were already on your device, again limited to the previous 24 hours. This is great for planning out your stories ahead of time for that added creative spark.

If your phone's camera quality is a little bit lacking, like mine, feel free to transfer photos from your DSLR to your device for better quality photos. However, keep in mind that this works best if the photo is already in portrait orientation. Landscape photos can still be uploaded, but will be automatically cropped for each story.

If you're stubborn like me and prefer landscape photos, simply screenshot them before uploading to Instagram Stories. The entire photo will fit the shot, but you will have black bars across the top and bottom.

Upload From Your Devices on Instagram StoriesUpload From Your Devices on Instagram StoriesUpload From Your Devices on Instagram Stories
Upload higher quality photos straight from your devices. Street Stock from Pixabay.

How to Edit Your Photos and Videos


You won't be seeing any cute face masks here. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram Stories only has one filter available for both your photos and videos, which you can access by swiping right on your screen. This colorful filter brightens up your photos and works best with higher-quality imagery.


Personalize your stories with drawings! Choose between the flat and point tip markers then pick your favorite color. You can also change the style of the ink by pressing the glowing marker option. Draw hearts, smiley faces, or whatever you desire from your imagination.

Editing Photos and Videos with Instagram StoriesEditing Photos and Videos with Instagram StoriesEditing Photos and Videos with Instagram Stories
Use markers, text, and filters to personalize your posts! Dog and Food Stocks from Pixabay.

Text and Emojis

To add text, start by pressing the Aa button located at the upper right corner. Express your feelings and include your favorite emojis for more personality. Position the text into place by dragging it around your screen and resize it easily by squeezing the text with your fingers.

Looping Video

For more flair, consider editing your videos before posting them to your stories. Get an app like Boomerang to create an awesome looping video. Or stylize your work with fun video-editing apps.

How to Save and Upload Instagram Stories to Your Profile

Your Instagram Stories follow the privacy settings attached to your profile, so as long as your profile is public anyone will be able to watch your stories.

How to Cancel, Save, and Delete

Upload your Instagram Stories by simply hitting the Up Arrow once your photo or video is taken. You can also save to your device by hitting the right Down Arrow.

Changed your mind? Hit the Cancel button before posting your content or delete your stories by accessing the Settings and hitting Delete.

Want to see who viewed your stories? Access the stats of your photos and videos by hitting that Eye on the individual story.

How to Post Stories to Your Profile

But what if you want to share your stories permanently on your profile? Post to your profile in two different ways. Either select the eyeball icon and hit the middle Up Arrow button, or select the settings on your individual story and hit Share as Post.

How to Cancel Save and Delete Instagram StoriesHow to Cancel Save and Delete Instagram StoriesHow to Cancel Save and Delete Instagram Stories
View your stats, save your posts to your devices, or share them on your main profile.

Inspiring Story-Making Instagrammers to Check Out

Looking for some inspiration? Explore these profiles for their fun Instagram Stories.

Instagram Story Templates From Placeit

Making Instagram Stories videos can be made easier by using templates. Placeit is an online tool that not only lets you choose templates but also make your own personalized story without downloading any programs. Here are a few Instagram Stories templates you can find on Placeit today.

1. Lovely Instagram Video Maker for a Giveaway

If you're running a giveaway on your website or blog, promote it in your Story too! Use this template to add in your own images and giveaway entry details. It's a great way to connect your Instagram followers to your other content. 

2. Cool Instagram Video Maker for Fashion Promos

This short promo video template makes for a great Instagram Stories promo. You can change the font, music, photos, and music with this template. It's a good option if your brand wants to tease a new collection or limited drop.

3. Instagram Video Creator with Fun and Colorful Motion Graphics

Motion graphics are an easy way to add a dynamic touch to your videos. With this template, you can control the colors of the motion graphic shapes and font of the title text. For a final touch, play around with the music track and find one that fits your Story video.

4. Instagram Video Maker for Beauty Influencers

Try this template if you have makeup or skincare products you want to promote. The unique fluid graphics are fun, and the gradient background can be easily edited. Just add your images or videos and you're done. 

5. Instagram Video Maker for Fashion Promos

Promote your fashion brand with this template. Choose from the Placeit stock photos or upload your own. You can even upload videos. Edit everything from text to the background color in this Instagram Stories video template.

More Resources From Envato

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Get the most out of Instagram with these tutorials:

Enrollment Open at the School of Instagram

We'll cover the basics of Instagram Stories in this post, but if you want to go deeper, try the excellent free lessons from the School of Instagram. You'll learn how to ace Instagram Stories, the best apps to use to create them, and much, much more.

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Download Free Video, Music, and Templates From Mixkit

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Make a Motion Graphics Video Online With Placeit

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Envato Elements: Unlimited Downloads

Envato Elements offers millions of stock items: photosmusicvideo clipsfonts, video project templates for After EffectsPremiere ProFinal Cut Pro and Motion, and creative courses from Envato Tuts+, all with a single subscription: Download as many items as you want for one low monthly price.

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Make a Splash With Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is just one more great way to keep your followers engaged. So how do you like this new feature so far, and will it cause you to make the big switch over from Snapchat? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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