Tips for Showcasing Your Portfolio on Instagram for Digital Design Students

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The internet is a powerful place and anything posted online can be seen by anyone. That’s why it is important for artists to establish themselves on social media. According to Career Builder, “70 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates.” On the other side of the coin, “57 percent have found content on social media that caused them not to hire candidates.”

How you present yourself online is important to not only impress future employers but to also gain work. You want to make sure what you post is high-quality and represents you and your work to the utmost degree.

Here are the best tips for digital design students when showcasing your portfolio on a visual-social media site such as Instagram. Check them out below:


Consistency is key when it comes to putting work on a visual platform. You don’t want your profile to be a jumble of different shapes and colors. That is off-setting to the eye and doesn’t portray a professional account. You are selling your brand on social media and want your profile to reflect that in a pretty-present-with-a-bow type image.

When it comes to consistency, you don’t have to be fancy. Just keep these things in mind:

Choose up to three core colors: These colors will be what you use for your Instagram Stories, Instagram Story covers, profile photo and accents to a few photos in your Instagram library. The colors should represent you and your brand and what you are about. A lot of the time, they come naturally and will automatically show up, but recognizing makes you aware of them and to be sure to include them.

Editing: When it comes to editing photos or posting a Story, make sure you do it the same way each time. You don’t want your feed to be mix matched with different filters. That is too confusing to the eye and won’t adhere well to audiences.


Hashtags are an easy way to share your stuff around and get noticed by potential clients. Whatever niche you are in, just search the internet for prospective hashtags to use. If you have a favorite user on Instagram, check out their hashtags and what they use.

It’s best to go with the hashtags with under ten thousand posts because then you’ll have a higher chance of getting noticed and ranking higher in Instagram’s search engine.

Don’t use the same hashtags for each Instagram post. The app will notice it if you just copy and paste the same ones into your post and will demote it, instead of pushing it higher on the list. Make sure you keep the number of hashtags you use to 10-30 to stay in that sweet spot that the platform prefers.


Instagram Stories are another fun way to interact with followers and gain more at the same time. It’s a way to let people see your creative process and get to know you on a personal level. Some ideas on what to feature on Instagram stories could include:

  • Before and after of a project
  • A look at your creative process
  • A video of you creating
  • Finished pieces
  • Quotes from past clients
  • The inspiration for other artists

The ideas are endless. Make sure your stories are appropriate to the workplace and represent you and your brand in the best light. Also, be sure to stick with your three central colors when using any filters or borders on the story.

Story Highlights

The story highlights are the round bubbles that appear under your profile. When you post on a story, you have the option to save it into one of the “bubbles” called highlights. Followers can check out your highlights and depending on what categories you have chosen, check them out.

When creating highlights, it’s important to stick with the color scheme you have and color the bubbles in a way that is cohesive with your profile. Some people stick with solid colors, others do prints and some have graphic images that represent the category. Do whatever looks best and feels most like you. Make sure to label the highlights accordingly so your followers know what is what.

Some ideas for highlights could be:

  • Before and after
  • Client testimonials
  • Portfolio
  • Creative process
  • Tips


Whether you are taking a photo or uploading something you made from your desktop, it is important to remember the quality. You don’t want the photo to be pixelated or blurry. Take the extra time to double check the image. Even when posting on your Story, you want the screen to be clean, clear and concise.


Coming up with clever captions for your Instagram posts can feel like the hardest thing in the world. You don’t want to be cheesy, but you want to be eye-catching. You want your followers to read the caption and view the photo in a whole, new way.

Ask yourself these questions when captioning a photo:

  • What is your photo trying to say?
  • What do you want people to know?
  • What do you want people to take out of this photo?

Be relatable to your audience and own your authentic self. Give your followers some insight into what you do, write some tips and tricks for others who want to do what you do, tell a story of something that happened while creating or ask questions to your audience.

People will be more inclined to interact with your posts and you if they can get a sense of who you are in the captions. Let them see the person behind the screen.


Your profile page is like a miniature media kit. When people go to it, they should be able to tell your name, what you do, who you are, a way to contact and a website to go to. When you put your name in, make sure it is your full name followed by your title. That way, if someone specifically searches for that job, in search of someone, your name will still pop up in the results.

Another important this is to change your profile into a business profile. Doing so will allow you to see the statistics of each social media post and Story.

Add your website into the link column, along with your email or phone number in the contact area. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for a client to contact you. They shouldn’t have to search vigorously for a way to connect with you. If they don’t have an easily accessible way, they won’t.


When it comes to posting, everyone has their own opinions on how many times to post a week and at what time. The best advice towards it is to do whatever is most convenient for you. You can look at your statistics in your posts and see the time that your audience is most responsive and post then or post whenever you have time. There isn’t a secret to posting, it’s just important to do it consistently. Don’t post one week, then wait a month to post again. At the very least, try to do it once a week.


Instagram constantly changes its algorithm so it’s important to stay up to date with what they are doing and how they program posts to pop up onto people’s page. That way, you are able to outsmart it and have your content seen by prospective clients.

According to Instagram, “What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timelines of posts, how often you use Instagram and how many people you follow.”

Instagram wants you to use their app to its fullest extent. This means not just popping on to post a photo or Story real fast, but to like other user’s photos, comment, follow profiles, interact with other users, etc. Even taking thirty minutes out of your day to quickly comment on other artist's photos and like some will make all the difference.

At the same time, it helps to make your profile known to Instagram so the system will push your page as suggestions to others with the same interests or who are looking for someone with your skills and specialty.

Instagram can look like a complicated place where you wouldn’t want to attempt to brand yourself and find clients. However, because of the rise in social media, this is why it is one of the best places for anyone working in digital design to advertise themselves and gain a following. It’s a place to market, present themselves and meet new faces.

If you are interested in pursuing a degree in Digital Design and want to learn more about Grand Canyon University’s arts program within the College of Fine Arts and Production, check out our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.