Need Instagram profile picture ideas?
That tiny pic needs to do so much:
- Grab attention.
- Connect with and intrigue IGers.
- Make you look great!
Learn the best Instagram PFP ideas, plus best size, how to upload, and more.
Why Optimize Your Insta DP?
That tiny profile pic is anything but insignificant.
Is bitty size in the mobile photo stream demands a simple design that grabs attention.
It should communicate who you are, and what your profile is about, at a glance!
But, it’s not always too small for details! Now IGers have tools to zoom in on your Insta DP.
Did you know that people draw conclusions about a person from their photo in as little as 30 to 40 milliseconds?
That’s less time than it takes to say “milliseconds!”
The small size and zooming, along with the split second you have make a good impression, means you must optimize your profile photo.
These tips are applicable to ALL social media profile pictures. I strongly recommend keeping your avatar the same on all your brand accounts.
Consistency makes you recognized and trusted.
10 Ideas to Perfect Your Instagram Profile Picture
Below are IG profile picture best practices, from start to finish. After this, we’ll go into some specific ideas that work for your personal account, too!
1. Show your face as your Profile Picture
Put a personal face on your account – unless you’re a known brand, or your business is widely recognized by your logo, use your face as your Profile Photo.
People don’t “connect” with a logo – they connect with a face. People actually tend to ignore logos, but are hard-wired to pay attention to faces. It’s only human!
These accounts should show their face:
- Coach or consultant.
- Solopreneur or freelancer.
- One-on-one service providers.
- Influencers (or influencer wannabes).
- Personal accounts.
Build the know-like-trust factor on social media by using a headshot, not a logo.
Resist the temptation to show something “cute” as a business avatar, especially if it doesn’t relate to your brand. Your face is your best calling card.
These businesses might use their logo:
- You’re marketing a recognizable brand.
- You represent a multi-employee company.
- You wish to appear more established as a company over an individual.
If a logo is a must, be sure it fits in a circle!
If you have a strongly horizontal logo, you may need to place it on a square background first. If possible, rework or stack it so it’s not too tiny to read.
Even a square logo can cause problems when cropped to a circle. See below for how you may need to extend the background before uploading your squarish logo.
You don’t need to upload a circular image! Just remember the corners will be cut off, and size accordingly.
2. Choose a flattering background
A neutral or muted background works best. Keep it simple – you don’t want a bunch of clutter in the background competing for attention.
If your background has a color, make sure it’s one that flatters you. I can’t tell you how much I fought with the greenish cast on my face from the avocado-color room I was photo’d in.
3. Find a soft light source
Your best bet is near a window, or in open shade outside (that means bright shade). Then, face the light!
Backlights are tough to master. Spotlights and strong flash will create harsh shadows.
You can try adding “fill” light with a flash exposure, but it’s best not to use it as the main source of light.
4. Go “pro”
For best results, hire a pro to take some great headshots. If that’s not in the budget, get a friend with a good camera, a good eye, and a steady hand.
If you want people to take you seriously as a businessperson – DO NOT put up a sloppy “selfie.” Make sure your photo is crisp and clear, and you look professional.
If you must take your own portrait, use a timer. Beware: your phone’s self-facing camera tends to distort your face.
5. Clothes make the brand
While we won’t be showing much of your outfit (unless you’re a model), do wear something near your face that fits your brand aesthetic.
- Adventurers, dress for adventure.
- Beachpreneurs / laptop lifestylers can dress for the beach.
- Public speakers and corporate consultants should dress like they’re ready to take the stage or speak to the CEO.
Bonus points if you wear your brand color! Plus, it’s definitely a “plus” to carry your brand colors and aesthetic through your Instagram dp and gallery.
6. Smile and show some personality!
While you DO want to look businesslike, you DON’T want to look staid and unapproachable.
Remember that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. The first step to being likeable is to smile. Make eye contact, and show your personality in your pose!
Positive vibes attract. Neutral expressions are boring.
Photo credit: PhotoByBarbara.com
7. Experiment with angles
Beware a low angle. No one really wants to look up your nose, and you don’t need a double chin either.
Try from a little above, and tilt your head at various angles too. Take a bunch of photos and then choose your best look.
8. Crop to POP
A profile picture mistake I often see is showing too much of the body, which makes the face quite small. In the photo stream, your Instagram profile photo is tiny. Crop to head and a bit of shoulders.
It’s not about your hair and clothing, it’s about your face – that’s what will draw people in, and help them recognize you as they see you time and again!
How about including a small prop that expresses what you do?
Here are some profile picture ideas for business:
- Camera for a photographer
- Makeup brushes for makeup artist / vlogger
- Pretty pen for a writer
- Mic for a public speaker
- Tool for a building contractor
- Pet for a vet
On my personal Instagram account, where I post a lot of flower photos, I wear a flower crown. On my personal Facebook, I became known as the Hat Lady for often wearing intriguing little hats.
You’ll have to play with props to see if it works for you.
Any professional photographer will tell you that every photo looks better with a bit of retouching.
If theirs need it, how much more do ours?
The good news is, you don’t need to be a Photoshop wiz! You can do quick and easy edits with the PicMonkey mobile app.
I wrote about it: learn more about magical PicMonkey portrait retouching.
Check out this cool infographic I made in PicMonkey! Pin it as a reminder of these Profile Picture tips.
And then read on!
11. Use your signature filter
Bonus tip! If there’s a filter or technique you use on your images, your pfp is the perfect candidate to add this signature style.
How to Make a Cool Profile Picture
Is being trendy or creative on-brand for you?
Then you may want to take an extra step to make your profile picture really stand out.
A photo placed on a solid color background is a fresh look that’s popular on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube thumbnails.
But can you create the look without spending hours in Photoshop?
Many easy design apps offer a background removal tool now. Check out this video tutorial from Canva.
As Diana mentioned, you need Canva Pro for this. It’s a great tool with many premium features I think you’ll love.
Disclosure: If you decide to upgrade to a paid account, I may earn a referral fee.
More Instagram Profile Picture Ideas
Read on for ideas geared towards personal accounts!
Instagram Profile Picture Ideas for guys
Be sure to follow my photo tips in the first section! Remember, your DP should be fairly close up and well lit.
1 | Use contrast. Wear a light shirt if you have dark skin, and vice versa.
2 | Include red in your picture. This could be in your shirt, hat, or background. Red clothing does flatter most guys, unless you have a very ruddy complexion (see tip 1).
3 | Pose with something you care about, like your pet or hobby.
4 | Choose a photo of yourself in an exotic travel destination.
And I think the ideas work for girls as well!
Instagram Profile Picture Ideas: Cartoon
Want a faceless profile picture? Try a cartoon!
While I don’t recommend it for business (unless you’re a cartoonist!), it certainly works well on a personal account.
There are many apps you can use to cartoon-ize yourself! Or you can have a cartoon drawn for you.
You may regret using a favorite cartoon character as that’s considered copyright infringement. Yes, that means it’s illegal, and while the chance is slight, you could be sued.
Instead, try one of the many ways to make a cartoon. Here are just a few:
- Apple Memoji.
- Bimoji app.
What’s the Best Instagram Profile Picture Size?
The Insta DP size is a mere 152 pixels in diameter on desktop (or 304 on retina display).
On a phone, it’s a scanty 110.
I recommend you start with a larger image! A 500 pixel square will work on any social network.
You can upload any size image, and scale and crop as you wish.
You do not get an option to add filters, but if you first post the photo to your Instagram stream, you can use a filter at that time.
Then Choose from Library >> Instagram album when changing your profile pic. Instagram will even show you the circular cropping.
How Do I Add an Instagram Profile Picture?
How do I add an Instagram profile picture, or change my current picture, from my mobile device?
You can take a new photo or add a photo from your phone’s photo library, Facebook, or Twitter.
If you choose to import from Facebook or Twitter, Instagram will use the same photo you’re already using as your profile picture on that social network.
To add or change your profile picture:
- Go to your profile.
- Tap Edit Profile > Change Profile Photo (iOS) / Change Photo (Android).
- Select where you’d like to import your picture from.
- Move or size the image within the circle cropping.
- When you’re satisfied, tap Done (iOS) or Next (Android).
You can take a new photo or add a photo from your phone’s photo library or Facebook. If you choose to import from Facebook, Instagram will use the same picture you’re already using for your Facebook profile. source
How do I add or change a profile picture on Instagram on the web?
You can also add a profile picture or change your current one when viewing Instagram on the web. To add, delete, or change your profile picture:
- Tap or click .
- Tap or click your profile photo or the blank circle next to your username.
- Choose to upload a new photo or remove your current one. source
Bonus Tip: Update your Bio
Your bio will get more exposure with the branded vanity URL on the web, and the searchability of a web page. Make sure your bio is current, and includes your keywords!
Don’t forget to include the URL to your email list opt-in.
Tailwind Smart.bio is an awesome service that lets you create a branded landing page that sends a never-ending stream of traffic from your Instagram bio to your most important content.
Keep it to a handful of links so you don’t overwhelm people with choices. Place your latest or most important at the top.
You can easily “turn off” links you’ve set up and save them for later.
Smart.bio will help you avoid problems like Instagram blocking bio links.
You’ve got my 10 top tips for a perfect profile picture.
I’ve shared my favorite fast photo fixer, PicMonkey.
And a fun way to create a cool profile picture with Canva Pro.
Plus a few Instagram profile picture ideas for personal accounts.
A great Instagram profile picture is one part of an amazing IG presence. Want more?
Learn how to grow your Instagram followers 11 ways!