What came first? The image or the caption?

As a photographer, it is tempting for me to tell you that the image will provide all the inspiration you need for a good caption, but then I’d be lying to you.

While there have certainly been times where I’ve captured an image and the most glorious caption has arisen from it, more often than not it’s the exact opposite. I’ll be walking the dogs or showering and a caption will float into my brain and only after I’ve written it will I consider what the image should be.

When I’m working with a client on planning a content photo session, we talk about possible caption topics first and THEN create a shot list to help meet those needs (although, we will think ahead to cool photo concepts that may result in some interesting posts in the future).

You see, there is more to a successful Instagram post than simply sharing a pretty picture; it is the combination of powerful imagery and value-packed captions that help convert your followers into raving (and paying) fans.

In this blog post I will teach you how to batch plan your content, create a list of photos to capture (either on your own or with your photographer), and the keys to writing a killer caption that converts.

How to create 16 content topics in 15 minutes or less

I learned this amazing content creation technique from my friend and fellow social media consultant Shannon of Boutique Social DC. What you’ll do is get yourself a good, ol’fashioned piece of paper (and an old fashioned cocktail, if you’re feeling so inclined) and draw out a grid with 16 squares.

At the top of the paper you will list four photo or video topics, such as:

  • Winery Photos/Videos
  • Vineyard Photos/Videos
  • Wine Bottle Photos
  • Photos of People

Then, along the left side of the paper you will list four caption topics, like:

  • Behind-The-Scenes
  • The Experience
  • About Us
  • Education

Then you will match them up in your grid! For example:

  • Winery Photo + Educational Topic: “This is how to make rosé:”
  • Bottle Photo + About Us: “The very first wine we ever made was a cabernet sauvignon in 1989, here is a photo of it after we hand labeled it!”
  • Vineyard Video/Photo + Behind-The-Scenes topic: “We just finished harvesting the 2020 vintage of our Estate Pinot Noir! We harvest at night because of xyz…”

Remember, people are on Social Media to be Entertained, Educated, or to Create a Connection. So long as you’re touching on at least one of those three things, you are golden.

Once you’ve filled out your content grid, you will be ready to think about your image or video shot list. 

Using the three examples we created above here is what a potential shot list could look like:

  • “This is how to make rose…”: Image of rosé being pressed or video taking you from grape to bin to sorting line to press to tank to barrel.
  • “The very first wine we ever made was…” Image of the first wine you ever made or a throwback photo from the first vintage or even a video of your winemaker tasting the first bottle next to the current vintage
  • “We just finished harvesting our Estate Pinot Noir…” Image or video of night harvest of pinot, image of pinot noir grapes, video of hands sorting the harvested bunches, etc

I recommend coming up with at least two photo or video concepts for each caption topic, that way you will have some reserves just in case the image doesn’t quite fit with the caption you end up writing (and bonus, you’ll have additional images for a future rehashing of your caption topics!)

Speaking of captions...

When you get around to actually writing your captions, remember that each caption you write MUST have these two things in order to perform well:

  1. An attention-grabbing first line
  2. A Call-To-Action at the end (remember, people need to be told what to do)

This podcast episode by Rachel Bell does a deep dive into three caption templates you can use to write captions that convert, but each one of these caption templates uses both an attention-grabbing headline and a call-to-action at the end. 

Watch the replay of an Instagram Live I did where I walk you through this process below!

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Do you struggle with knowing what to post on your feed and when? In this LIVE replay I show you how I create caption ideas for a month and a half of content and talk about the two things every caption MUST have. ______ How to create 16 content ideas in 15 minutes! Think of four different photo/video topics--Example: 1. Winery Photos 2. Vineyard Photos 3. Wine bottle photos 4. Photos of People Then think of four different caption topics-- Example: 1. Behind-the-Scenes 2. The Experience 3. About Us 4. Education Then match them up in a grid with photo topics at the top of your page and caption topics along the side of your page. Examples of how these could match up. 1. Winery Photo + Educational Caption: "This is how to make rosé" 2. Bottle Photo + About Us: "The very first wine we ever made was a cabernet sauvignon in 1989, here is a photo of it after we hand labeled it!" 3. Vineyard Video/Photo + Behind-the Scenes Caption: "We just finished harvesting the 2020 vintage of pinot noir that will go into our Estate Pinot Noir! We harvest at night because of xyz..." I learned about this from my friends @boutiquesocialdc & @emily_schwalbach ! _______ Things to remember when creating content: People are on Social Media to be Entertained, Educated, or to Create a Connection. ______ Every caption MUST have these two things: an ATTENTION grabbing first line and a CALL-TO-ACTION at the end. ______ If you need help kick-starting your social media strategy, I am now offering 1:1 Strategy Sessions! In this 60-minute session you will get ✹ A Complete Instagram Audit ✹ Resources and tools for implementing your custom strategy ✹ Personalized advice on how to improve your engagement ✹ Inspiration & ideas for content to help you grow ✹ Notes to refer back to any time ✹ Lifetime access to my private Facebook Community to ask me questions even after your session! Visit https://www.craftandcluster.com/social-media to learn more! #winephotographer #winesocialmedia #socialmediastrategy #vineyardphotography #winephotographer #wineryphotography #winesocial #contentcreationstrategy #howtowritecaptions

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Heather Daenitz is the founder and photographer of Craft & Cluster, a wine & beer photography and social media marketing company based in Santa Barbara County, California.

When she isn't photographing and teaching you how to batch plan your social media content Heather can be found hanging out with her husband, two dogs, and three chickens in their backyard garden, and drinking beer made in said garden.