How to Make Your Life Look Amazing on Instagram When You've Got No Cash

Striving to get that perfect blogger-style insta feed that's sure to make your followers envious of your not-so-exciting real life? Here's how...

Photo: @erica_davies

It’s January. It’s dark, you have no money, and you might not have had a drink since New Year’s Eve. The struggle is real. So how, HOW are you supposed to make your Insta feed look as amazing as those bloggers you follow that have had a brand pay for them to go to Miami? Or the fashion eds that have just been sent a new pair of $400 jeans? It’s easier than you think. Read on...

1. Buy a tiny cactus


Let’s start with the most obvious thing. If you didn’t know this one already, you’re really starting from scratch (aw). Everyone on Instagram loves tiny cacti. Or succulents. No-one knows why or how this phenomenon has happened, but just check the hashtags for proof (#cactus 4,382,024 posts, #succulent 2,055,709 posts, #succulents 2,492,688 posts. #cacti only has 888,403 posts, but I put that down to people not knowing the plural of the word cactus). They’ll only set you back a couple of bucks, and if you head to somewhere like Urban Outfitters, you’ll get it in a trendy copper/concrete pot to boot.

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2. Buy a small piece of marble or even better, request a large sample tile for free


Because marble is the new cactus. Use it as a backdrop to shoot a picture of your succulent/manicure/cupcake. Everyone will think you have an entire kitchen worktop made of the stuff.

3. Rearrange some stuff in an uncluttered corner


Another important point: people who like Instagram are nosey. They love to see all aspects of your life, so even if you set up your account to document your love of, ooh I don’t know, novelty paperclips, it’s good to throw in the odd shot of where you live. But since most of us don’t live in an enormous immaculately decorated mansion, one of my favorite tricks is to style up a “nook” - a little corner of your house/apartment that’s tidy - with a few of your favorite things. A small bookcase with some of your current reads, or perhaps a chair and a few trendy cushions. No one needs to know that the rest of the room looks like a total pit.

4. Invest in some interesting jeans and go on about how amazing they are


Of course, you don’t need to buy actual Vetements for this to work. Have you seen the pair Next have at the moment? A dead ringer and only $40. Great for #shoefies

5. Always take your phone to the bathroom


If you’re in the trendy center of a city, chances are you’ve found plenty of pubs and cafes that have installed Instabait like a snazzy floor, or seriously sexy chairs. In my experience though, particularly once you’re out of town, the best tiles are in the bathroom. There’s also more space and privacy in there to take your #ihavethisthingwithfloors shot without looking like that prick who’s taking a picture of their feet for Instagram. Plus, you don’t want to miss the opportunity of snapping a butler’s sink and a copper faucet, now do you?! And remember, there’s no need to order a three-course meal to get a decent shot in the bathroom. *orders a glass of tap water *

6. Color coordinate your accessories


Oldest trick in the book this; just ask the little old lady who lives down the road that always matches her hat to her handbag. I find that color and print is always a winner; black and white stripy socks with a monochrome animal print bag? Yes, please! Shoot from your perspective and you don’t even need to apply make-up or do your hair.

7. Look up


It doesn’t matter where you live, when you’re out and about there will be something cool to look at, whether that’s two swans making a heart shape with their necks or some unintentionally hilarious graffiti. But you won’t see any of it if you’ve got your head down playing with Snapchat filters.

8. Borrow a friend’s dog or cat


Pets just make everyone’s life seem complete, don’t they? A day spent with one, even if it’s not yours, is a day worth sharing on Instagram.

9. Get up early for sunrise/mist/frost


I’m always envious of people who get up early for a jog and catch the best light of the day as well as doing exercise. Of course, you don’t actually have to run anywhere, but if you’re in a park at dawn the implication of fitness is there, and that’s good enough.

10. Plan your content when the light is good

All the professional bloggers say the most important tip they can give you is to shoot in good light. Which can be tricky at this time of year, especially if you leave for work before it gets light and get home when it’s dark. Either shoot at the weekend during daylight hours and store images for the rest of the week, or if you’re into outfit posts, rope in a colleague to do your #ootd pictures for you. (New hashtag idea - #instagramcolleague)

11. Dig out some old content

Failing point 10, find some pictures of a time when you had more money and were in warmer climes. Sunsets, beaches, swimming pools. Post once a week until May.

12. Buy some daffodils


And a vintage vase from a charity shop. This time of year really is a winner. Total cost around $2.

13. Become obsessed with something (e.g. a color)


Even better, make up a name for it. I went through a stage of obsessing over a pale shade of pink which I christened ‘pickled ginger’. One of my favs on Instagram, @erica_davies, has a houseplant from Aldi called Barry who has become a celebrity in his own right. The best way to avoid looking smug when you’re posting all of this amazingness? Keep your sense of humor intact. No-one likes a proper show-off.

Get more Insta advice from our brilliant Project 13 winners

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