How to Make a Reel on Instagram: Ready, Set, Record

Profile photo of Heidi Lang, author

Heidi Lang

Instagram 101 | Feb 02, 2023

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It seems like everywhere you look, Instagram reels are popping up left and right. From your close friends to your favorite local businesses, this feature has quickly become a part of the everyday posting. In fact, there’s now an entire explore page dedicated to reels inside the app. It’s never been easier to find inspiration through social media. People are sharing it all, including their daily adventures and emerging businesses. Have you jumped on the trend and recorded one yourself yet? If not, you may be wondering just how to make a reel on Instagram. That’s where we come in.

Instagram is constantly adding new features and marketing tools, giving you a chance to try something new. Instagram reels are a great way to highlight yourself or your brand and grab the attention of viewers. In fact, reels often get more reach than other posting formats on the platform. But with new ways of sharing content can often come confusion. Not to worry, we’re here to help you sort it out. Eager to learn more? Read on as we break down the basics of using Instagram reels. We’ll also highlight some of the amazing editing tools that are offered.

Close up of a smartphone highlighting the Instagram app icon.

Get To Know Instagram’s Latest Feature

Wondering just what exactly Instagram reels are? They are short, 15-90 second multi-clip videos that let you add-on audio and other effects. Reels can be created in a quick series of separate clips or in one continuous video stream. With a prime focus on content creation, they let users post engaging and fun videos to share with a broad audience.

Person in white jacket using smartphone that is open to Instagram.

After learning how to make a reel on Instagram, you can post and share with your friends and followers. Your Instagram profile features a separate tab just to hold your reels, making it easy for followers to locate them. If your Instagram account is public, your reel can even be made to a wider audience by being featured on the Explore page. This means that it’s possible for you to reach new viewers outside of your direct followers. Prefer to keep your Instagram account private? No problem. Once you share a reel to your private account, only your approved followers will be able to view it. Any reel you post will be available on Instagram until you physically delete it. This sets it apart from Instagram Stories, which expire after 24 hours. Similar to a classic post, reels let your creation have a permanent space in the virtual world.

Couple laying on bed in mobile home watching Instagram on a smartphone.

The Basics Behind How to Make a Reel on Instagram

Creating, posting and sharing Instagram reels is easy, fast and fun. Anyone can learn how to post a reel, from seasoned social media experts to Instagram newbies. Ready to get going? Let’s quickly take you through the basic process of how to make a reel on Instagram. Simply follow the below steps and you’ll be posting creative content in no time.

  1. First, open your Instagram app and head on over to your profile page. Click the plus sign button on the top right hand side of the screen. Select reel from the bottom row of options. Alternatively, you can also access the reels editor by swiping left to open the Instagram camera from your home screen. From here, simply select the reel option located at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Next, press and hold down the record button to capture your video in real-time. Already have something saved to your phone that you want to use instead? No worries. You can also easily upload existing footage from your camera roll. We will walk you through those steps further down below.

Once you have your first snippet recorded, you’ll have the option to continue on or add more content. To include multiple clips in one reel, simply tap the record button to begin capturing again.

Woman standing in kitchen and using smartphone to learn how to make a reel on Instagram.

See? We told you that learning how to make a reel on Instagram was easy. After you’ve finished recording or uploading, you’ll have the ability to use Instagram’s editing tools. From adding music to speed control, your content is customizable. Don’t worry, we’ll dive deeper into all these later on below. Select next to preview your completed reel. Satisfied with the way it turned out? Great. Simply hit next again to add a caption and location, tag other users and choose where your reel is shared.

Women holding a smartphone and learning how to make a reel on Instagram.

How to Make Reels on Instagram With Photos

You may be wondering how to make reels on Instagram with photos that are already on your phone. Don’t worry, that is entirely possible. Essentially, you are building a slideshow with pictures saved in your camera roll. Let’s walk you through the steps to get your favorite photos mixed together into one clip. You’ll recognize a few steps already!

  1. First, open your Instagram app and head on over to your profile page. Click the plus sign button on the top right hand side of the screen. Select reel from the bottom row of options. Alternatively, you can also access the reels editor by swiping left to open the Instagram camera from your home screen. From here, simply select the reel option located at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Click on the camera roll icon on the bottom left hand side of the screen. You can also swipe up from the live camera view for quick access.
  3. Tap on the photo you wish to add to your reel.
  4. Next, you can adjust the length of time you want this photo to appear in your reel. Drag the slider to choose your preferred time under the default and maximum length of 5 seconds.
  5. Click add. This will take you back to the live camera view of your reel creator.
  6. Want to add more pictures to the same reel? You got it. Simply swipe up again and repeat steps 3 through 5.

Got all your photos lined up and timed up to your liking? Congratulations, it’s time to move on to the editing stage of learning how to make a reel on Instagram. Here is where you’ll want to get creative with tools and effects. We’ll explore those in more detail below so be sure to keep reading.

Person holding smartphone to record video of view.

How to Make Reels on Instagram With Videos

Before we dive into editing, let’s quickly talk about videos. This format is quickly becoming the go-to way to share content on Instagram. Why? Video gives a more relational and personal feel to your content, often letting your viewers get a behind-the-scenes glimpse. You’ll want to make sure that your video is enticing, in order to keep your viewers attention throughout the entirety. When learning how to make reels on Instagram with videos, you have a couple of options.

Group of people looking down at their smartphones to learn how to make a reel on Instagram.

First, you can use videos that already live on your phone. To do this, simply follow the same steps listed above for how to make reels on Instagram with photos. However, instead of a photo, you’ll go ahead and select your desired video from your camera roll. And, of course, you can add multiple pre-saved videos into one reel just like with photos. Next, you can continue on to adjust the length and experiment with editing tools. If you are more of an in-the-moment type of person, you can film live video directly though the reels creator.

Woman taking a selfie with a smartphone while holding a pastry.

Add Social Media Magic With Editing Tools

One of the most amazing parts of using Instagram reels to share your content? The plethora of unique editing tools that are available. From a vast audio library to speed control, you can do it all within a reel. Of course, you also have access to Instagram’s classic editing features, such as filters, stickers, doodles and text. Be sure to add in plenty of hashtags to give your reel added viewer visibility. Once you’ve got your photos or videos set, you’ll have the option to edit the content before the final review. Look to the right hand side of the screen to a row of icons. Not sure which one to try first? Let’s break down a few of the most popular. Keep scrolling to learn how to make a reel on Instagram with all these extras.

Smartphone laying on table between headphones that are plugged into it.

How to Make Reels on Instagram With Music

Adding music to your Instagram reel is perhaps the most popular way to bring your clip to life.  You can easily do this by tapping the audio icon to pull up the Instagram music library. Quickly search for and select the song or artist of your choice. From here, you can cut and choose which part of the song you want to use. After you’re satisfied with the selection, select done to return to the main editing view. You’ll be able to preview your reel with the overlaid music before posting. Change your mind and want to edit the snippet you’ve selected? Simply hit the back arrow on the top left hand side of the screen to make any changes. Guess what? You’ve successfully figured out how to make reels on instagram with music.

Person taking a photo of a skateboarder on a smartphone to learn how to make a reel on Instagram.

How to Make a Slow Motion Reel on Instagram

Speed control is another great way to customize your Instagram reels. Whether you want to hurry things up or slow it down, be sure to give this tool a try. Looking to learn how to make a slow motion reel on Instagram? It’s simple. From your reel editing screen, focus on the icon symbolized with a 1x. Once you click it, you will have six speed options to choose from, ranging from .3x all the way up to 4x. Keep in mind, your selected speed control will affect both the video and audio of your reel.

Group of people taking a selfie on a city rooftop.

How to Make a Highlight Reel on Instagram

Surely you’re already familiar with the story highlights feature on Instagram. This is a great way to save your favorite content and make it easy to quickly look back on. If you’ve already got footage in your story highlights, you may be wondering how to make a highlight reel on Instagram. The good news? It’s easy, now that this option was rolled out in early 2022. A perfect way to get the most mileage out of your Instagram content. Let’s take a peek at the simple steps needed to get this done.

  1. Go to your Instagram profile and click on your story highlight that you want to turn into a reel. 
  2. Tap the three dots icon and select convert to reel.
  3. Edit your reel by reordering the content or add new clips. 
  4. Once everything is good to do, select done.
  5. Add your favorite editing effects, such as GIFs, draw tool or text.

Finalize your reel with a caption, cover photo and hit publish.

Person holding smart phone open to Instagram app on a table with coffee cup, notebook and pen.

Using Reels to Grow Your Brand

If you’re a business or influencer, Instagram reels can work wonders for growing your brand. In fact, reels are a great way to turn your Instagram account into a profitable, money-making business model. It’s all about learning how to make trending reels on Instagram. There’s a few tips and tricks you’ll want to use to ensure your content is getting the recognition it deserves. After all, the more people you reach, the higher your engagement rate will grow.

Woman taking picture of flowers on a coffee table and learning how to make a reel on Instagram.

First, keep an eye on the latest reel trends. This can be anything, from a popular song making the virtual rounds to the it dance of the week. Use these as inspiration and put your own unique twist on them to stand out in the crowd. Consistent posting is another trick you’ll want to keep in mind. This ensures your name or brand will always be front of mind for your audience. Of course, we can’t offer Instagram growth tips without talking about #hashtags. Hashtags continue to be a great way to increase your likes and followers, from classic posts to reels alike. Just remember to keep your audience happy by only using hashtags that are directly related to your Instagram reel content. Ready to put these tips into action? Grab your phone and hit record.

At Path Social, we’ve built up an in-house platform of Instagram influencers and a proprietary AI targeting algorithm over the past decade. That’s how we reach organic users that will remain interested and engaged. And that’s why no one can replicate our results, which means you’ll build an Instagram community that lasts! Start growing and gaining Instagram followers today.