Of all the social media platforms, Instagram stands out as a digital gallery for freelance graphic designers, illustrators, and creatives. With over one billion monthly active users in 2023, it's a popular media-sharing platform that is both a showcase and a marketplace.

But creative professionals are constantly seeking that sweet spot—the best time to post on Instagram to showcase their work to the world.

As a freelance creative, your Instagram account is more than a social media profile; it's a digital portfolio, a bridge to potential clients, and a bustling marketplace for your creativity.

But with millions of images and videos flooding this platform daily, how can you ensure your account stands out? The answer lies in not just what you post but when you post.

Timing your Instagram updates can significantly amplify your account's success. By posting when your target audience is most engaged, you can increase visibility, spark conversations, and ultimately, connect with more active users and fellow creatives.

In this article, we'll guide you through understanding why post timing is crucial. We’ll pinpoint the golden hours that can turn your posts from being scrolled over to liked. You’ll also get some tips from the pros, and we’ll introduce you to tools that can propel your online presence.

"Your Instagram followers are likely active at different post times than competitor accounts, so finding out when your followers are online will benefit engagement." – @kicksta.co

Jumpstart your ideas with Linearity Curve

Take your designs to the next level.

Why post timing on Instagram matters

Digital noise is now louder than ever. Timing your Instagram posts just right will help you cut through the noise and deliver your content to the right audience at the right time.

Instagram's algorithms prioritize engagement. This means the more likes, comments, and shares your post gathers shortly after posting, the more people it reaches. Time your post right, and the algorithm could become your silent champion.

Understanding your target audience's activity and engagement rate on Instagram is crucial. Freelance designers often share a common audience—art directors, potential clients, and fellow artists—all scrolling through their feeds at various times. Your optimal posting time aligns with their peak browsing periods, creating a sweet spot where your content can shine brightest.

It's not just about posting during high-traffic windows; it's about synchronizing your professional services with your primary audience's lifestyle and habits.

For example, graphic designers working within the travel industry can draw inspiration from peak activity times on Instagram, sharing vibrant posts when wanderlust is at its highest among their audience.

When it comes to your social media strategy, their cultural rhythms, work schedules, and even their daily commute can influence when your audience is most likely to be online and receptive.

In the next section, we'll explore the typical online patterns of designers and illustrators and how you can use this knowledge to discover your best times to post. Plus, we'll take a closer look at some of the best Instagram features to use.

The rhythm of a creative: when do designers and illustrators browse Instagram?

For freelance designers, illustrators, and creatives, Instagram is not just a platform for social interaction but a source of inspiration, a space for connection, and a tool for visibility.

Tapping into the rhythm of your creative community can give your posts the edge they need to be seen and engaged with.

Daylight design browsing

Morning hours often see a spike in activity as people check their phones to start their day. Before the workday rush, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., designers may seek a jolt of inspiration or catch up on the latest trends.

Posting during these hours can capture the attention of early risers seeking creative fuel with their morning coffee.

Lunch breaks are another prime time. Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., creatives might scroll through Instagram as they eat and take a mental break. This midday slot is an opportunity to capture their relaxed, undivided attention with your latest project or design.

Consider the typical break times in a workday when people are likely to scroll through Instagram and schedule your posts to coincide with these moments to catch more eyes.

Late-night inspiration

Then come the night owls, the deadline warriors, and the after-hours dreamers. From 8 a.m.–10 p.m., designers and illustrators might browse Instagram seeking a last burst of inspiration or while unwinding after a day's work.

It’s a time when your target audience might be more receptive to engaging with content, ready to like, comment, and share the work that resonates with them.

The best time to post on Instagram

While these general time frames offer a guideline, every audience is unique. The best posting times can vary based on factors like the specific niche of design you cater to, the demographics of your audience, and even the days of the week.

In a recent study by Influencer Marketing Hub, consolidated data from various social media management tools was used to pinpoint trends in peak engagement times. Although no social media tool can give you an actual rule about posting times, these are typically the best times to post on Instagram:

  • Tuesdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Fridays at 2 p.m.
Posting content between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. is always a safe bet, as this is the time of day when people are most likely to take a scroll during their lunch break.

Keep in mind that on Instagram, the main feed, Instagram Reels, Instagram Stories, and the Explore page have different algorithms. But one of the most important signals for all of these algorithms is consistent engagement.

Whether targeting potential clients in the retail industry, tech industry, tourism industry, or entertainment industry, understanding the ranking factors is essential. These factors - like engagement rate, relevance, and timeliness of posts - influence Instagram's algorithm.

While much of the focus is on pinpointing the best times to share your creative content, being aware of the worst time to post on Instagram is equally important. 

Research and insights gleaned from industry leaders like Sprout Social suggest that the time slots when people are generally preoccupied with work, sleep, or transit—often early mornings or late at night during weekdays—tend to see lower levels of post engagement.

Pro tip: Your profile picture forms an essential part of your overall branding, as you want your audience and potential clients to recognize you. Don't change your profile picture or Instagram handle too often. It may confuse your audience or they might scroll past your Instagram posts without recognizing you.

Note: Instagram phased out video posts in 2022, so all individual videos are now Reels. There is an exception when you add videos in Instagram carousels, which can contain up to 10 videos and photos. Carousels appear in Instagram feeds.

Trial and error

The surest method to pinpoint your ideal posting time period is through trial and error. Experiment with different times and days to gauge when your posts receive the most interaction. Monitor the performance closely and look for patterns to inform your posting schedule.

Test by posting your most engaging content at times when you can take advantage of people's natural tendencies to check their phones, such as their lunch hours or evening wind-downs.

You can also download Instagram post templates for inspiration.

Ask your audience

Engagement doesn't have to be a one-way street. Interact with your audience. Conduct polls or directly ask them when they would like to see your content. This not only gives you valuable information but also fosters a community around your work.

Now, let's dive into specific Instagram features that can help you track these engagement patterns and look at scheduling factors for maximum impact.

Helpful Instagram features

Navigating Instagram's various types of content can be challenging. But luckily, the platform offers a suite of features designed to assist content creators in understanding and engaging their audience effectively.

Let's explore the tools that can help you find the perfect time to post popular types of content.

Instagram Insights

Insights is a powerful analytics tool available to anyone with a Business or Creator Instagram account. It's a treasure trove of data about your followers' habits and the performance of your content.

  • Activity Insights: This allows you to see the overall interactions with your profile, including visits and clicks, giving you an idea of when your audience is most active.
  • Content Insights: With this feature, you can track the performance of individual post types, stories, and Instagram Reels. You’ll see the number of likes, comments, and saves, as well as the reach and engagement metrics.
  • Audience Insights: Perhaps most critical for determining the best time to post, this section shows you the days and hours when your followers are most active on Instagram.
By analyzing your metrics, you can define the terms of engagement for your profile, understanding precisely what drives your followers to interact with your content.

Social media marketers agree: analyzing this data can give you a clear picture of when your posts will likely get the most visibility and engagement. It's not just about the quantity of interactions but also the quality. Insights can help you see when people are online and  interacting with your content.

In addition to having access to insights, you can also use a third-party analytics tool to keep track of your audience's behavior.

Scheduled posts

Staying consistent with your posting can be challenging, especially when the best times don't align with your schedule. Instagram's scheduled posts feature, which you can access via third-party applications like Creator Studio, Buffer, or Later, can be an invaluable asset.

You can plan and schedule your content to go live at the times you've identified as most effective—whether you're at your desk or on your mobile device.

  • Draft and plan: You can draft your posts in advance, complete with captions, hashtags, and location tags.
  • Schedule: Set the date and time you want each post to go live, aligned with the optimal times you've identified through Insights.
  • Automate: Your content will automatically post at the scheduled times, ensuring you never miss the peak window of engagement.

By combining the analytical power of Instagram Insights with the convenience of scheduled posts, you can take a proactive and strategic approach to your content. This ensures that your posts have the highest chance of performing well, regardless of your availability to post in real-time.

Ready to create brand assets that pack a punch?

Visit our Academy for free marketing design courses.

Pro tip: A good rule of thumb when posting content on Instagram is to create a feed post no more than once daily and add at least three Reels per week.

Tips to gain more engagement on Instagram

Crafting content that resonates and captures the attention of your audience is just one part of the Instagram success equation. The other involves engaging with your audience in a way that turns casual viewers into loyal followers and potential clients.

Here are five essential tips to help you increase engagement on your Instagram account:

1. Consistency is key

Regular posting can help keep you on top of mind with your audience. When your followers expect to see your posts at certain times, you become part of their Instagram routine.

  • Develop a posting schedule: Align your content calendar with your audience's most active times. Consistency helps with recognition and ensures a steady stream of content for your audience to engage with.
  • Use Instagram Stories and Reels: These features are shown prominently and can drive more views to your profile, increasing the likelihood of engagement with your posts.
  • Standing out: To stand out on Instagram, prioritizing original content that showcases your unique style and ideas is key to building a dedicated following.
Pro tip: When planning content, combine your Instagram post schedule with other social media platforms. According to Sprout Social's research, almost all Instagram users use other platforms too. In fact, only 0.1% of users on Instagram are unique to the platform. 

With Instagram's built-in scheduling features, creatives can plan out their content calendar well in advance, ensuring a consistent flow of posts even during their busiest creative bursts.

2. Storytelling

Every post is an opportunity to tell a story. As a graphic designer or illustrator, your images are powerful, but they can become magnetic when combined with compelling captions.

  • Narrative captions: Share the inspiration behind your designs, the challenges you overcame, or the details that make your work unique.
  • Behind-the-scenes: Audiences love to see the process. Share sketches, work-in-progress shots, or timelapse video content to give a glimpse into your creative journey.
  • Always add value: Focusing on creating valuable posts that offer insights, inspiration, or tutorials can dramatically increase your visibility and follower loyalty over a span of time.
  • Entertaining: Even as a designer, incorporating entertaining content that shows your personality or studio life can enrich your profile's appeal, making it relatable and memorable.
  • Content types: Offering a wide range of content types, from behind-the-scenes stories to polished portfolio pieces, can cater to the varied interests of your followers.
Pro tip: When using images you don’t own, crediting the image source is not just ethical but also enhances trust and transparency with your audience.

3. Embrace hashtags and tags

A branded hashtag increases the discoverability of your posts to a wider audience. Tags and mentions can alert influencers and brands to your presence, possibly leading to re-shares to larger audiences.

  • Relevant hashtags: Use a mix of popular and niche-specific hashtags to extend your reach.
  • Tagging etiquette: Tag collaborators, brands, or influencers when relevant, but avoid spammy behavior. Keep it genuine and professional.

4.  Visual consistency

Maintaining a cohesive aesthetic on your Instagram feed can make your profile more attractive and encourage people to follow.

  • Theme your feed: Use consistent colors, styles, or themes to create a visually appealing grid that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Quality over quantity: Ensure each post is high-quality and reflects your best work. Quality content is more likely to be shared and saved.
  • White spaces: Utilize white space in your designs effectively. It's not just aesthetically pleasing but also helps create a more focused and impactful message on your Instagram feed.

Follow our Instagram Size Guide

Make sure all your insta assets are always optimized for posts, reels, stories, and more

Read on as we highlight some of the most successful designers and illustrators on Instagram and break down the elements that contribute to their strong engagement success.

Pro tip: An Instagram creator account offers additional tools tailored to artists and influencers, who can leverage these to gain deeper insights and manage their online presence more effectively.

5. Instagram Business

Transitioning to an Instagram business account can be a game-changer for freelancers and creative professionals. This type of profile unlocks access to in-depth analytics features and insights, giving you a clearer understanding of your audience demographics and behavior.

By diligently monitoring your Instagram analytics, you can gain invaluable insights into audience behavior, uncovering times when your followers are most likely to engage with your content and tailoring your posting schedule to match their online habits.

With a Business profile for your creative services, you can track which forms of content resonate most, identify peak activity times, and adjust your content strategy for maximum engagement. You can also use a social media scheduling tool to support your creative output.

Pro tip: Many social media scheduling tools offer a 14-day free trial, allowing you to test their services and see how they can streamline your posting process.

For teams, utilizing tools with approval features ensures that all content aligns with your brand before going live.

Embracing the business tools Instagram offers puts you in the driver's seat, allowing you to create compelling content at the ideal times, and use Instagram Analytics to continually drive engagement.

Examples of designers who thrive on Instagram

Discovering the best time to post on Instagram isn't just theory—it's a practice embraced by many successful designers and illustrators.

By examining the Instagram presence of these creatives, you can gain insights into effective strategies and feel inspired to apply similar tactics to your profile.

Here are some exemplary creatives who harness the power of Instagram to showcase their work and engage with their audiences effectively.

1. Aaron Draplin (@draplin)

Aaron Draplin is a graphic designer known for his straightforward approach and vibrant, retro-inspired designs. His Instagram account mirrors this philosophy with a mix of project showcases, process shots, and personal anecdotes.

  • Posting time: Aaron often posts in the mid-morning when people are taking a break or in the mood for a creative surge.
  • Engagement: His posts, featuring bold graphics and punchy captions, regularly spark discussions and sharing amongst designers and fans. 

2. Steve Simpson (@stevesimpson)

Illustrator Steve Simpson's Instagram is a kaleidoscope of his distinctive, highly detailed illustrative style. 

  • Posting time: He typically publishes his posts in the evening, when people are more likely to spend time engaging with content.
  • Engagement: His captions often tell the story behind the artwork, which not only adds depth to the visuals but also invites conversation and interaction from his community.

3. Lauren Hom (@homsweethom)

Lauren Hom is known for her playful lettering and has built a substantial following by sharing her work and her witty take on life as a creative. She smartly schedules her posts to catch followers when they're likely taking a pause in their day or seeking inspiration after work hours.

  • Posting time: Late afternoon to early evening posts capture her audience at an optimal time.
  • Engagement: Lauren's use of Instagram Stories for behind-the-scenes content and interactive elements like polls keeps her followers regularly coming back for more.

4. David Schwen (@dschwen)

David is the creative director behind Dschwen LLC and he curates an Instagram feed that has eye-catching, educational content. His balanced blend of client work, creative explorations, and design insights forms an engaging narrative.

  • Engagement: They post at various times, indicating a strategic approach dependent on their diverse content types and audience engagement patterns.
  • Interaction: Their prompt responses to comments and inclusion of user-generated content have fostered a strong sense of community.

By examining these profiles, we can identify shared strategies that bolster engagement:

  • Presentation of high-quality, compelling visuals, including video content.
  • A consistent and distinct brand identity is reflected in their feeds.
  • Captions that tell a story, infuse personality, and invite followers to engage.
  • Regular interaction with their community through comments and Instagram Stories.
  • Effective use of hashtags and tags to extend their content's reach.

Key takeaways

As most social media managers will agree, navigating the ebbs and flows of Instagram's ever-changing algorithm can seem daunting for any creative professional. But leveraging the power of timing your posts can significantly elevate your presence and engagement on the platform.

Whether you're a freelance graphic designer, a burgeoning illustrator, or an established creative entrepreneur, understanding and utilizing the best times to post is a subtle art that complements the boldness of your visual work.

The insights gleaned from successful designers on Instagram underscore a crucial narrative.

Create visually engaging Instagram posts

Every pixel tells a story, and every post is a potential connection. graphic designers and freelancers are uniquely positioned to captivate an audience with visual content. And timing is an important piece of the puzzle.

Beyond knowing when to post, the quality and creativity of what you post are just as crucial.

This is where Linearity Curve comes in. It offers designers a suite of intuitive tools to enhance their creative process and produce stunning visuals that stand out in a crowded Instagram feed.

Jumpstart your ideas with Linearity Curve

Take your designs to the next level.

Best time to post on Instagram | Linearity
Best time to post on Instagram | Linearity