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What are Instagram Reels (And Why Should You Use It?) 

Want to grow your audience, promote courses, and make serious sales from Instagram? Then you need to start creating Instagram Reels!

Instagram Reels are vertical, short-form videos that are usually (but not always) set to songs or audio voice-overs. It’s basically Instagram’s version of TikTok, with a dedicated space in the app to scroll through vertical video content. 

So why should you use Instagram Reels? Because in an effort to compete with TikTok, Instagram as a platform is prioritizing and pushing Reels in the algorithm – and even going as far as to pay some creators to post them! 

By posting Instagram Reels, you’ll likely see an increase in reach (more eyeballs on your content, which come in the form of views) compared to your regular Instagram content. 

Instagram Reels are great for both reaching your existing followers and having your content discovered by people who aren’t following you.

And the cherry on top? Instagram Reels come with the built-in potential to go viral! The Instagram Reels algorithm not only shares your Reels with people following you, but it also shares your Reels with other people Instagram thinks would be interested in your content. This is pretty amazing because we all know how hard it is to grow on Instagram right now!

The Instagram app is now designed to put Reels front and centre, so when people are watching them, they are served content from creators all across Instagram — not just ones they are following.

And when you look at the Instagram Explore page, or search a hashtag, Reels start auto-playing and take up more space on the page than photo posts, which entices Instagram users to click on your Reel over other content on that page. 

So, to sum up why you should start using Instagram Reels: your content is going to be seen by more people, and you’ll likely gain new followers too. Plus…it’s fun! 

How to Utilize Trends for Instagram Reels 

Similar to TikTok, the key to having fun and finding success on Reels is to jump on trends! And contrary to popular opinion — no, you don’t need to dance or point at things. 

A “trend” on Instagram Reels is basically a video concept, paired with a specific audio track, and sometimes a text overlay. Those three elements together make up a trend, which other users on Instagram can create and customize to make it their own. 

And unlike other parts of Instagram, it’s actually encouraged to “copy” these trends and add your own unique spin on them. 

So for example, this “Questions I Get Asked” Instagram Reels trend uses a specific audio track, hand gestures, and the concept is to answer common questions that people ask you using overlay text: 

How to apply this trend as a course creator: you could answer common questions about your niche, industry, or area of expertise, or you could answer FAQ about your course! 

Another common Instagram Reels trend is to create a “transition” and match it to the beat of the song, like this trend using the audio “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat: 

How to apply this trend as a course creator: you could highlight a problem that your course solves by showing what the experience is like “before,” and then show a happy and excited “after” once they have taken your course and are armed with the solution! 

Watch the video below to learn how to create smooth transitions for Instagram Reels: 


But sometimes, a trend can be as simple as just using a specific voice-over audio track or song and using that to create your own video! 

Jumping on Instagram Reels trends is not only an easy way to create content, but it’s also the key to going viral too! All you have to do is find a trend, and then get creative and think of a way for you to apply that trend to your niche, industry, or course. 

Tip: utilize Instagram’s “save” feature and create a saved folder called “Reels inspo.” When you find a reel you like, click the save button and save it to your folder so you have some ideas to look through when you want to record your next reel! 

You can also save individual audio tracks – just tap on the audio at the top of the Instagram Reel, and click on the “Save Audio” button.

All of your saved audios will be automatically saved to an “Audio” folder, and you can also easily access your saved tracks when creating Reels in the Instagram app. 

How the Instagram Reels Algorithm Works

Unlike the “normal” photo and video feed posts, which share your posts primarily with people following you, Instagram Reels has it’s own algorithm that is designed to push your content out to people who aren’t following you. This is similar to how the Explore page works, with Instagram showing you content it thinks you would be interested in. 

According to Instagram, these are the best practices you should follow if you want your Reel to perform well in the algorithm: 

  • Create Reels that are inspiring, entertaining, and fun 
  • Only post vertical videos in 9:16 format (any borders or watermarks from other apps, like TikTok, won’t perform as well) 
  • Use filters, text, and other camera affects in the app
  • Make sure your reel is high quality (avoid low resolution or blurry videos)
  • Don’t post text-only Reels 

How to Make Instagram Reels

If you want to create Instagram Reels, you have two options: to record the Reel inside the app, or you can film content on your phone and edit it together using an app like Inshot

There are pros and cons to both: Instagram has said that the algorithm prefers Reels that are created natively in-app, but editing your video outside of Instagram can give you more control and allow you to use branded fonts and make more advanced edits like transitions. 

Below we’ll share a step-by-step guide to creating Instagram Reels in the app, and keep reading for 7 tips to promote your course with Instagram Reels, including examples: 

How to Create Instagram Reels:

Step 1: from your profile, click on the + button in the top right corner and select the “Reel” button:

You can alse create an Instagram Reel from the home page by clicking the + button in the top right corner, and then use the slider at the bottom to scroll right until you reach the “Reels” area. 

Step 2: Choose the length of your Reel: you can select fromo 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or 60 seconds. Note: when choosing your desired length, your Reel can be shorter (it will end whenever you finish filming), but it cannot be longer!  

Step 3: to record your reel, press and hold on the record button to film. You can record your video in one take, or record multiple clips and scenes by stopping recording and then starting again. 

To upload a video from your camera roll, swipe up from the create screen and choose your video. 

Step 4: To add an audio track (like a voiceover or a song) to your Instagram Reels, click on the music button on the left sidebar. From here you can search for a song, see recommended songs, or access your saved audio by clicking the “Saved” button.

Tip: Scroll down to see different audio suggestions from Instagram based on categories like “Summer Feels” or “DIY Projects.” 

Step 5: Select the part of the audio track that you want to use in your Reel by dragging and dropping until you get to the part you want. 

Step 6: Record your video with the audio track! You can utilize the “Effects” button to film with your favorite filter, the “Speed” button to film in slow-mo or sped up, or use the Timer button as a self-timer with a countdown when recording on your own.

This is especially helpful if you are filming multiple clips by yourself, because you can tell the camera to automatically stop recording at a certain part in the song! 

If you’re planning to record a transition, you can use the Align button to help you line up with the previous clip, making it easy to create seamless transitions from one scene to the next. 

Step 7: When you’re done filming, click the “Preview” button to enter the editing stage!

Step 8: On the editing screen, you can use a variety of tools to customize your Reels. 

Click on the music button to adjust the volume, this is helpful if you want to have background music but still want to use the sound from your original video. 

Click on the microphone button to record a voiceover by holding down the record button. 

Tap the sticker button to add captions, stickers, or GIFs to your Reel. 

Step 9: If you want to add text to your Instagram Reels, tap the text button. You can choose from a variety of fonts, and this feature works the same as the Instagram Stories one. 

But your text doesn’t need to stay on screen for the entire reel: you can customize when your text appears and how long it stays on the screen by clicking on the text button at the bottom.

This will open up a slider where you can choose the duration of your text block by using the slider.

This feature is especially useful for different Instagram Reels trend, which may have you pointing at different areas on the screen.

When you’re happy with your Reel and ready to post (or save it for later), hit the “Next” button.

Tip: you don’t have to film your Reel all at the same time! You can save the draft by clicking forward to the posting screen, and from here you can save your Reel as a draft to come back to later and finish filming or editing!

You can access your drafts at any time by clicking on the “Reels” button on your profile:

How to Post Instagram Reels:

Step 1: Choose a thumbnail from your Reel as a cover photo, or upload your own 9:16 image

Step 2: Write your caption and include your hashtags (see below for more tips on these!)

Step 3: Always make sure the “Also Share to Feed”  button is enabled, this will make sure your Instagram Reel is shared with your followers! 

Step 4: Click on the “Crop Profile Image” button to customize how your cover photo will appear on your Instagram profile. 

When you’re ready to post, hit the “Share” button! Or, you can save as a draft and come back to it later. 

Instagram Reels Specs: 

Instagram Reels are vertical videos with a 9:16 ratio, this is what users watching your video from the “Reels” tab will see.

But when sharing your Reels to your feed, your followers will only see the 4:5 ratio, and they’ll have to click to expand the Reel to view the full 9:16 version. 

So when filming, its important to have your text, captions, and the main focus of your content fit in the 4:5 ratio, so it doesn’t get cut off from viewers.

Reels can be any length from 3 to 60 seconds, and when recording you have the option to choose between 15, 30, and 60 seconds. 

How to Optimize Your Instagram Reels

Congrats! You’ve created your first Instagram reel – but there’s still a few more things you need to know before you post it.

Your caption is still very important when it comes to Reels, because while the short form videos are a fun way to catch your followers’ attention, the caption is where you can really expand on the concept in your video, provide more value, and SELL your followers on the reason they should purchase your course! 

You can see how course creator Elise Darma used a Reels trend to communicate doors closing to her course, but the caption is really what shines: 

She gives all the details about her offering, along with what’s included in her course and reasons why it’s such a good value to buy the course NOW! 

And when it comes to being discovered by people who aren’t following you, using hashtags is key to get more views on your Reels! 

So don’t forget to add a few appropriate hashtags for your niche or industry in to the caption, too! When people search the hashtag, your Reel has the potential to be featured on the page and can bring potential new students to your Instagram account. 

And last but not least, you can’t forget about your Reels cover photo, which is basically the thumbnail for your video. Instead of just choosing a cover from the Reel you recorded, go the extra mile by creating and uploading your own 9:16 cover image! 

Make sure that you add captivating text in your cover photo: not only will this entice your followers to click on the Reel when they’re browsing your profile, but it will also encourage other people to click when they find your Reel on the Explore, Hashtag, or Audio pages! 

How to Use Instagram Reels to Promote Your Course

Instagram Reels Tip #1: Start with a “Hook” 

The first few seconds of your Reel are super important: the goal should be to hook in your audience and get them to stop scrolling and keep watching your Reel! 

3 ways to create a hook and catch someone’s attention:

  1. Text: adding captivating text or a title on to your Reel 
  2. Motion: running up to the camera, waving your hands, or moving the camera 
  3. Language: if you’re talking to the camera, starting your Reel with something like “Hey, you!” and then posing a question related to your course, like “Are you looking to grow your business?” 

Instagram Reels Tip #2: Use Trending Audio 

There’s a reason that you see so many Reels set to the same song (remember when every post seemed to be using Peaches by Justin Bieber?) and that is because the Instagram Reels algorithm will prioritize content that is trending at the moment. 

So if you use a song that is popular and trending in your Reel, the Instagram algorithm will push it out to more people, especially those who have already engaged with Reels that use that song! 

Course creator, Natasha Samuels, utilized a trending audio to promote her masterclass and get her followers excited to enrol: 

Using trending audio can also give you more exposure because all the videos for an audio are categorized together on the audio page. So when people click to view a popular audio track, they can also scroll through all the other videos who use that audio — including yours!

Instagram Reels Tip #3: Share Educational Tips 

Providing value to your followers by sharing free educational tips is one of the best ways to position yourself as an expert! By using your Instagram account to teach your followers about your industry, you’re establishing your authority and helping your audience at the same time.

And when people are learning from you on Instagram, they’ll trust your advice and 

You can share tips by just talking to the camera like you would in stories, like I did here:

Or you can jump on an Instagram Reels trend to share tips: 

Whichever way you choose, using Instagram Reels to educate your followers is an easy and fun way to share your expertise! And adding a CTA in your caption (or as text at the end of your Reel) is a great way to drive traffic to your landing page. 

Instagram Reels Tip #4: Share Behind-the-Scenes of Your Course

When you’re promoting your course on Instagram, it’s important to have multiple types of content that let your followers know about your course and why they should buy it!

Sharing some behind-the-scenes content is an effective way to keep sharing about your course, without coming across too sales-y.

Mix up your content by creating a fun Reel showing you working on your course, like Natasha Samuels did here to promote her masterclass: 

Don’t forget to add a CTA in your caption about where your followers can find your course! 

Instagram Reels Tip #5: Drive Sign-Ups to a Webinar

Since Instagram Reels get more reach than other feed posts, it’s important to use them to sell your course, too! 

Course creator, Erin Winters, created a time lapse of her adding the names of all her students to a wall, which drives interest in her webinar by showing how trusted and popular she is.  

She then used the caption as a reminder to sign up for her webinar before it was full, and the combination of the video and caption create a sense of urgency and inspire her followers to take action now so they don’t miss out!

Instagram Reels Tip #6: Remind Students when Enrolment Ends

Doors closing soon? Let your followers know!

Since Instagram Reels are a fun way to consume content, you can get creative and let your audience know that time is running out!

Course creator, Kary Perry, hooked her audience in by sharing how much revenue she has already generated in her course, and then paired it with an excellent caption detailing how she got there using the methods she teaches in her own course: 

This reel was posted on the last day that enrolment was open, and helps communicate to her potential students that they can see similar wins in their own business by enrolling in her course. 

Instagram Reels Tip #7: Share Student Wins

User-generated content is another great way to promote your course to your followers, without having to create your own content! You can share testimonials from students that they have posted, or ask them to submit a short video. 

This reel from ilovecreatives pairs a cute video of a student completing their course, along with their testimonial in the caption: 

And if you haven’t noticed a theme yet…they also have a CTA that enrolment is closing soon! 

Instagram Reels Tip #8: Have Fun & Make Your Followers Laugh

Last but certainly not least…don’t forget to have FUN with Instagram Reels! 

Course creator, Christina Galbato, uses Instagram Reels to create hilarious content that her followers and target market can relate to:

People love to share things that make them laugh, and creating funny Reels can help you increase Instagram engagement, get more followers from people sharing your post, and yes, even go viral! 


By now, you should have a good understanding of the power of Instagram Reels to help you reach new audiences, promote your course, and make some sales!

Instagram Reels are constantly evolving and changing, which makes it both fun and a bit challenging to keep up with all the trends. 

But remember: you don’t have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to Reels! In fact, the nature of Reels trends is that they give you a blueprint of video concepts to create: all you have to do is adapt the trend to your own niche and put your own creative spin on it!