Home Instagram 5 Free Tools to Up Your Instagram Game (+ 5 That are Totally Worth The Money)

5 Free Tools to Up Your Instagram Game (+ 5 That are Totally Worth The Money)

February 13, 2017

5 free tools to up your Instagram game (+ 5 that are totally worth the money) | Happy Grey Lucky

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Instagram. This little app has opened so many doors for me, including collaborating with some of my all-time favourite brands and bringing an ever-growing readership to my blog. Whilst it is definitely possible to grow your Instagram account without putting in too much effort, the bulk of us need as much help as we can get (myself included). The following are my absolute favourite tools and apps for Instagram, from the best iPhone editors, to in-depth Instagram analytics, to easy-to-use feed planners. I’ve included 5 free tools as well as 5 that do cost a bit (but are totally worth it in my opinion), so there’s something for everyone.

Best Instagram analytics tools - Iconosquare | Happy Grey Lucky

[ 1 ] Analytics

Free: Simply Measured . If you have an account under 25,000 followers, Simply Measured has an impressive report that includes engagement, top posts, and top performing keywords, filters and tags. Plus you can also analyze any account under the 25K mark, not just your own. All they ask for in return is that you follow them on twitter (for the first report you generate) and then tweet about it for every additional report you request.

Paid: Iconosquare . I personally use Iconosquare and have been using it since the beginning of my Instagram journey (just over a year ago now). It lets you track the best times for you to post, your follower growth, your best performing posts, your recent comments, and so much more. It costs $9 / month (or $54 / year) for the basic level account (Plus) which is more than enough for most people’s needs. I have the Elite account ($29 / month or $174 / year) which lets you analyze competitors and ups the comment tracker from your last 5 photos to your last 15. For me this is worth it since I view Instagram (and my blog) as a business and I’ve found it super helpful to view similar accounts to mine and see what their best performing photos are. Tracking comments on the past 15 photos is also so much nicer since I always try and answer any questions I get on Instagram and new followers tend to scroll through more than just the first 5 photos.

Free Alternative: Instagram Business Account . I wanted to add a quick note about the advantages of having an Instagram Business Account – namely the impressive analytics that they give you for free. You get information about your impressions (how many times your photo was viewed and not just liked), when your followers are most active, and a lot of other helpful information that isn’t available anywhere else. That said, there is some controversy around the business account and where Instagram plans to go with it. Some say that Instagram Business Accounts will likely go the route of Facebook Pages (they are owned by Facebook, after all), which will eventually require businesses to pay to get their posts seen at all. I’ve recently switched back to a personal account from a business account (even though I loooooved the analytics that Instagram provided) because I tend to believe these theories. My average impressions per photo was about 1/3 of my total followers and, right after November’s algorithm update, my impressions went down to half that. Goes to show that Instagram is punishing me (so to speak) for being a big(ger) account, since I didn’t change any of my own behaviour or the types of photos I posted through these very abrupt drop in impressions. I haven’t been a personal account long enough again to tell you if there’s a definitive advantage, but most of my favourite Instagram accounts have switched back to personal so I tend to think they know something that I’m only theorizing about.

Best Instagram feed planner apps - free and paid | Happy Grey Lucky

[ 2 ] Feed Planner

Free: Unum . If you’re very particular about your feed layout (like I am) or if you just need a better way of schedule your posts in advance, a feed planner is an invaluable tool. One of the few free ones is Unum, which pulls your existing feed and lets you add photos from your camera roll to plan out and schedule future posts, including blank spaces for photos that are still TBD. The biggest flaw that I see with this app is its inability to pull from your favourites folder, which is where I store all my potential future Instagram photos.

Paid: Mosaico . This is the app I use – I find it super user friendly and helpful for planning my feed. It does what Unum does, but just better. It costs $8.49 (in Canada, probably around $6-7 in the US) but, unlike Planoly (another super popular feed planning app), it’s a one-time fee rather than monthly payments, which I think is a worthwhile investment but also not crazy expensive.

Best Instagram followers analytics tool - Social Rank | Happy Grey Lucky

[ 3 ] Follower Analytics

Free: Social Rank . One of the issues with the algorithm change that Instagram implemented last year is that Instagram now decides how far up (or down) your photo shows up in your followers’ feeds. Instagram tends to reward engagement so, the more you engage with those you follow and your own followers, the higher up Instagram will place you in their feed. Social Rank lets you sort your followers by most valuable, highest following, most engaged, etc. They also let filter by account privacy, number of followers, location, and more. Following and interacting with the biggest and most valuable accounts that follow you is a great way to increase your engagement and get new followers to your account. (Aka since you engage with these bigger accounts, they engage back with you, which in turns gets your photo more likely to appear in their followers explore feed.) Engaging with your most engaged followers is another good strategy to show that you do care about them and don’t just see them as a number.

Paid: Social Rank .  Whilst Social Rank is free, there is an option to upgrade to a premium account for some additional features. Whilst I don’t personally have a premium membership, I can absolutely see the benefits of being able to create lists of followers, save your searches, export to CSV, and more. The price for these additional features is a hefty $49 / month, which is why I haven’t bitten the bullet yet.

Best iPhone photo editing apps for Instagram - free and paid | Happy Grey Lucky

[ 4 ] iPhone Photo Editing

It’s no secret that I believe how you edit your photos makes a big difference in the potential success you can have on Instagram. I love a clean and bright feed myself, but whatever you choose, as long as you’ve got a consistent vibe going for you, I think anything can work. Some of my favourite feeds if you need some inspiration are @hannahargyle,  @mija_mija, @marylauren, @masha_theone, and @juliahengel.

Free: Snapseed . Snapseed is the iPhone editor I use and is such an incredibly powerful app that is completely free. There is absolutely no reason to not download this app, it’s seriously that good. I wrote a whole post about how I use Snapseed – go here to read.

Paid: Afterlight . This is another good iPhone editor I’ve used in the past. Back when Snapseed cost $4.99, I downloaded Afterlight since it was cheaper ($0.99). It’s more intuitive so easier to learn as a beginner but, these days, I don’t ever touch it anymore. That said, if you find Snapseed a little daunting, definitely check out this editor.

Best VSCO filters for a clean Instagram feed - free and paid | Happy Grey Lucky

[ 5 ] Photo Filters

Free: VSCOVSCO is still my all-time favourite app for filters. Whilst I don’t like the editor itself (I find it doesn’t have quite enough features for me to get the look I’m going for), the filters are top notch. Not all of the filters (presets) are free to use, but there are enough to get you started, and my absolutely favourite filter that I use 90% of the time happens to be one of the free ones (A6).

Paid: VSCO . I know I know, the same answer again. But not all of VSCO’s presets are free and there are plenty of paid ones that are fantastic. The S1-S3 collection is another one of my favourite collections, as are the A-presets that aren’t free (So A1-A3 and A7-A9).


What are your favourite tools for Instagram? Leave me a comment below!

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Jessica February 13, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Thanks for doing these posts, Sina! I’ve always had an interest in photography (but have never gotten my ish together enough to really play with it), and I really find it interesting to see how beautiful feeds are doing it. Of course, I’m still figuring out how people capture wiggly toddlers at normal angles without them moving! 😉

Sina February 16, 2017 at 11:28 pm

Hi Jessica, I’m glad you’re liking the posts! And lol oh the capturing wiggly toddlers. For me it’s either bribing (which doesn’t really work for Nicky), distraction (which works on occasion) or just a high shutter speed so I can grab that split second when they’re still haha

Julia February 13, 2017 at 11:54 pm

I love how you share so much of your process. It’s a refreshing change! xo Julia

Sina February 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm

thanks so much Julia! 🙂

Crystal February 15, 2017 at 11:56 am

Thank you so much for this! ….How did you learn all this? And i have to also say thank you for sharing the tips and tools .

Sina February 16, 2017 at 11:30 pm

You’re welcome! I’ve done a lot of research online, lots of trial and error, chatting with other bloggers, etc. My sister is and has been a fashion blogger for a while now so she’s always been really helpful. 🙂

Ceci February 19, 2017 at 8:51 pm

You are my blogger inspiration! Most bloggers don’t share their “secret” sauce…blog posts like this make you so much more authentic 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!

Sina March 14, 2017 at 12:06 am

Aww thanks so much Ceci. That’s sweet of you to say! I’m glad you’re enjoying these posts 🙂

Christina Rindal March 19, 2017 at 8:06 pm

I agere with the comments above. What a lovely thing to share this. So many who keep their “secresta” and I honestly don’t see why😳😁

Sina March 27, 2017 at 7:11 pm

Thanks, Christina! Maybe if a few start to share their tips, others will be less likely to keep them secret. 🙂 It’s not like your own success will be hindered by someone else trying to be successful as well 🙂

Zest nutrition March 29, 2017 at 1:40 am

Thanks. This post is very informative. I love instragram too but definitely need to work on my editing. Will give some of these tips a try.

Sina March 31, 2017 at 12:03 am

I’m glad the post was helpful 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions once you’ve had a chance to play around with Snapseed a bit

Adeline April 3, 2017 at 11:04 am

Loved this post! Thank you! And your whole “blogging” series, it’s nice to see a blogger share their tips, I always find it so tough to find info online that is truly useful. Thanks again!

Sina April 7, 2017 at 8:55 am

Thanks much for your sweet words! I’m glad you’re finding these posts helpful 🙂

Rachael and Amy February 8, 2018 at 5:08 pm

Hi Sina! Your blog looks so gorgeous 🙂 We’re just getting started with our own blog and instagram based on travel and are amazed by how quickly you managed to grow your followers! All of these are so interesting to read but we still want to know what exactly we can do to break past the initial boundaries …. Any other tips you could give us would be lovely! Thanks!


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