Since the launch of Instagram Stories in 2016 and the reorganization of the feed from a chronological system to a fully algorithm based system, the game has completely changed for getting engagement and building a following on Instagram. 

Building a following on Instagram is not only fun, but can open up a lot of doors for gaining clients, customers, jobs, friends of similar interests, or just an amazing way to share your photography with the world. There is no platform with a larger daily active user account that is fully dedicated to sharing photos and videos in a mobile environment. 

Five Reasons You Need Beautiful Stories

  1. Better Engagement, Bigger Following. The Instagram algorithm will provide a weighted value to Instagram story views, Instagram live videos and story engagement when deciding when and how to display your image posts to your followers. (learn everything you need to know about the Instagram algorithm here)
  2. Combating Follower and Engagement Loss. If users stop engaging or skip your stories on a regular basis, eventually your total engagement will decline. 
  3. Higher Quality Stories win! Most stories are being generated using a phone and under a lot of compression, resulting in low quality video. This means that custom curated stories using your high quality cameras can set you apart from the pack and increase total engagement! 
  4. Drive traffic! Users who drive incredible amounts of traffic the utilize the tag and swipe up features.
  5. Creators now have a potential advantage over brands. Creators can now have more power than brands because of their ability to tell personal, emotional and empathetic stories first hand! Open up your world, life and thoughts to your following in a more personal set of interactions. As an entity, a brand will never have the same perspective and voice as an individual person, so take advantage of it! 

How to Upload Custom Instagram Stories

One trick in Instagram Stories is the ability to load files from the 'past 24hours' onto your reel from the Story Screen. Here's how it works:

  1. Save files to your camera roll using GNARBOX (we'll get to that below!) 
  2. Open up Instagram
  3. Select the Home button (furthest left)
  4. Swipe the screen from left the right to open the stories
  5. Swipe up on the image to reveal your 'last 24 hour' camera roll
  6. Select and share! 

How to Create Custom Instagram Stories Using GNARBOX (For Photos)

GNARBOX is the perfect tool for getting incredible shots from your camera to your Instagram story in seconds while you're in the field. Instead of settling for phone-quality photos, you can utilize the GNARBOX as a lightweight editing solution without needing your laptop.  While phones are amazing at many things, starting with a higher resolution image from your DSLR, GoPro, or Drone will give you a better final product - something your phone simply can't offer.

Here's how it works:

  • Backup your files to your GNARBOX (try shooting RAW for better post production quality!)
  • Find and favorite images that you would like to add to your story. We recommend following the timeline of your day.
  • Preview your image and select Edit in the upper right corner.
  • Once you've entered the edit screen, select Crop from the bottom bar.
  • Select the second icon from the bottom left, which indicates preset aspect ratios.
  • From the list, select Instagram Story Crop (9x16).
  • Adjust where you want to crop your image.
  • When you're satisfied with your selection, click Apply in the bottom right corner.
  • Continue to color correct your image until you're happy with the finished product.
  • Tap Export in the upper right corner to save your file to your Camera Roll or Gallery!
  • Go to Instagram App > Home > Swipe from left to right > Swipe middle to up.
  • Select your edited image, finalize in the Instagram app, and share! 

Alternatively, shoot 1-3 shots in portrait mode at each location throughout the day and export directly to your Camera Roll after editing on GNARBOX. You can also export photos to your Camera Roll using GNARBOX and edit in your favorite mobile editing application (we use Lightroom Mobile and VSCO). 

How to Create Custom Instagram Stories Using GNARBOX (For Videos)

Instagram Stories limit you to 15-second clip uploads, but you can also create multiple stories that play consecutively. There are two ways to go about preparing your clips for upload:

Option #1 - Make your Highlight Reel, Export and Trim (full video with music)

  1. Create a video like you normally would! Stitch and trim clips together and be sure to add an audio track to make a dynamic Story.
  2. Export the final product to your Camera Roll (recommended 720p or 1080p)
  3. Create individual clips that are less than 15 seconds long in your Camera Roll using the trim and save function of your phone (be sure to save a new clip - don't overwrite original!). We recommend trimming on natural cuts you've made in your Highlight Reel edit, not in the middle of a clip.  For a tutorial on how to trim clips, check out these articles for iOS or Android.
  4. Open Instagram and post your stories in order - all at once!

All exports must have a bitrate of 30MBPS or less to work! Learn how to use Bitrate Configuration here.

Option #2 - Make 15 second Trims and Export (no music)

  1. Trim your clips within the GNARBOX app to 15-seconds or less.  Then save the files to your Camera Roll.
  2. Open up Instagram and post away! 

NOTE: Instagram will automatically crop your videos.  If you wish to manually crop your stories, we recommend using our integration with LumaFusion to do so.

GNARBOX IG Story Custom endcard

Download IG Story White Endcard
Download IG Story Black Endcard

Add at the end of any Highlight Reel!

Curating Stories, Ads, End Cards, and Graphics

In our marketing department we often use Premiere, Photoshop and After Effects to create dynamic and engaging graphics and that stand out from the pack. This is integral when you are trying to get your message out to your audience. If you have any skills with these tools, consider putting them to use for your Instagram Stories! Creating a custom end card can help you stand out. 


Peter McKinnon's deep dive on Instagram Stories
Tom Odyssey's deep dive on Instagram Stories
7 key factors in the Instagram Algorithm

As always, we're here to help solve your GNARBOX related issues, so if you're unable to find the answer you're looking for on, feel free to shoot us a message using the chat window found in the bottom right corner of the page!

Will is the Co-Founder and COO of GNARBOX. Talk to him about Sony cameras, Astrophotography and Drone flight with the GNARBOX! You can see his personal work at and

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