Guest Writer 300

Instagram Reels: A how-to guide

By Guest Writer | 06 April 2021 | Expert Advice, Feature

Instagram Reels Gram 1200
London based nail artist, Sadie Jordan, works as a creative nail expert and content creator for The Gel Bottle Inc. Her previous work included a job at WAH Nails, at which she produced content for the brand’s YouTube channel.
Here, she reveals how to make the most of Instagram Reels for your nail content – and what NOT to do with the feature ..
Instagram has enabled me to discover so many talented nail artists while also creating an amazing support system that really encourages me to publish my best work. Seeing everyone’s reaction and the excitement generated by my work is the most uplifting feeling and I love seeing other artists get inspired by the content that I share – especially when they put their own personal twist on it!”

How to make an Instagram Reel

1.Before you start filming, you should think about what you want to create and capture. Content usually works out better when you have a rough plan and have thought about the process and end result beforehand. I like to work from a reference image so I know what I’m working towards.

2. Make sure you are working in a well lit area so you can see everything you’re doing on camera. I like to use soft box lighting so there’s no harsh shadows. Natural sunlight looks amazing for nail videos too but don’t use gel polish in direct sunlight as it can start to cure.

3. Use a nice backdrop such as a tidy nail desk or an A3 sheet of white or coloured card and use a tabletop tripod with a phone attachment and place it opposite you when filming so you can see what you’re doing. You can rotate the video clips in your camera roll afterwards.

4. I recommend filming clips in your phone camera instead of directly into Reels because it’s hands free and you can crop and trim the clips before uploading. Remember – Reels are only a maximum of 30 seconds long so you need to be selective in what steps you include in your video.

5. Choose a catchy song from the Instagram audio library that is trending or fits well with your visuals. Try and cut down your clips so they cut on the beat of the music. This will make the video 100x more watchable and can even make people watch it more than once – giving you more views.

6. Post the Reel to your feed as well as the Reels tab so it can be shared in Explore. This will allow it to reach way more people around the world and hopefully get you more followers.

Why you should learn how to use Reels

  • Your work will reach new people that aren’t following you (yet!) and help you grow your social media presence. Reels has helped me to double my Instagram following in a short space of time.
  • Reels give you the opportunity to showcase your talent in a new and fun way and you can also inject some more personality into your feed with your music/audio choices. Using humour and creating meme style videos is another playful way to get your brand noticed.
  • Reels can allow your audience to watch your treatment/nail art process which is a lot more engaging than a flat image and can really get your clients excited to book an appointment with you, buy a set of press-on nails or even just follow you for more amazing content.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Be original and creative 
  • Film in portrait mode so the video is full screen
  • Keep your setup and products clean
  • Use trending or catchy music that fits well with your video
  • Include satisfying close ups, brush strokes and product shots
  • Play with fun TikTok-style transitions and different camera angles
  • Engage with your audience (ask questions in the caption or on stories so they can give design suggestions and vote for which colours you use next etc)
  • Show off your skills!
  • Copy other people’s work exactly (especially without crediting them!)
  • Have a messy set up and dirty tools/brushes
  • Have dirty hands and nails
  • Film in a dark area
  • Shoot square or landscape
Check out my ‘REEL TALK’ chat with Scratch columnist, Chan Vermont of Clawgasmic, as I answer some FAQs about Reels.
Want to follow Sadie on Instagram? Click here.