Instagram Highlights — The Only Guide You Need (+Free Highlight Covers!)

The Instagram Stories feature is a great way for your business to share the behind-the-scenes, raw moments with viewers, potential customers and Instagram followers. And Instagram is all about authenticity these days— followers won’t remain followers if dishonesty is at play (and this is especially the case for a business/brand).

It’s important to build your Instagram community and invite viewers into the day-to-day of your business. When it comes down to it, your followers simply want to feel included in your journey— and what better way to do this than by bringing viewers along for the ride with Instagram Stories?! However, as most of us know, Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours on the platform. But no need to fret! Simply jump on the Instagram Story Highlights bandwagon and your viewers can re-watch your stories over and over again!

 
 

What are Instagram highlights?

The Instagram Highlights feature enables you to display your past Instagram Stories for viewers, followers and customers to browse.

The concept of/ process for using Instagram Highlights is simple. Create a category — or Instagram Highlight — and add in Instagram Stories related to that category. When someone views your profile and clicks on the Highlight category, the Stories assigned to it will play out seamlessly until the last post has been reached.

How do Instagram highlights work?

You’ll want to make sure you have updated to the latest version of Instagram— this will enable your Instagram Stories to automatically archive in a private section of your account once they have expired from your profile. You can then select any number of those archived stories to pin to your Instagram profile.

How can my brand or business use Instagram Highlights?

Instagram Swipe Up/ See More feature

Instagram accounts with over 10,000 followers can add a Swipe Up link to their Instagram Stories. The Swipe Up link feature (which displays as “See More” on your story) allows your followers to head directly from your story post over to your product or affiliate marketing link; enabling your followers to convert into paying customers.

However, as we all know, Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours on the platform. So if you want to keep your product/affiliate marketing links available for potential customers, then consider hopping on the Instagram Story Highlight bandwagon! By using Instagram Highlights, you can display your products front-and-center on your business profile.

Instagram shoppable stickers feature

Another business feature added to Instagram Stories (and yet another reason to use Story Highlights) is the Shoppable Stickers feature. And, unlike the See More feature, Instagram accounts do not need 10,000+ followers to use the Shoppable Stickers in their stories. Add your products straight to your story and you’ll be making those sales in no time!

Share your product reviews on Instagram Stories

If your existing customers already love your products, then considering posting a few reviews on your Instagram Stories (come on— don’t be modest!). You can also add your Swipe Up/ See More link (if you have over 10,000 followers) so that story viewers can see which products your customers are raving about. Once you’ve done this, simply create a new ‘Customer Reviews’ Instagram Story Highlight and add the Stories from your Archive.

Answer questions from followers

If you find that you’re getting repetitive messages from Instagram followers/ story viewers, then consider making a Story Highlight for Frequently Asked Questions. This will make your life a whole lot easier later down the road— trust me on this one!

How to Make Custom Instagram Highlights Covers in Canva

To make custom Instagram highlights covers, you’ll need a graphic design software. While my number one choice for design software will always be Adobe Photoshop, I understand that not everyone has access to it! So I’m going to give you a little rundown on something you definitely do have access to: Canva! The best part about this design software is that it’s completely free (and simple) to use! So go ahead and make an account if you don’t have one yet, and let’s get to it!

1. Open Canva to begin your design

  • Open up the Desktop version of Canva by heading over to the Canva website.

  • Select ‘Create a design’ in the upper-left hand corner of your Canva dashboard.

 
 

2. Choose the dimensions for your Instagram Highlight Covers

You should see ‘Custom Dimensions’ or ‘Use Custom Dimensions’ on the right-hand side of your screen.

  • Select ‘Custom Dimensions’ and a new box will pop up below.

  • Now you’ll need to type in your dimensions — Enter 1080 as the first value (width), and 1920 as the second value (height). Make sure you have ‘px’ (pixels) selected as the third value.

  • Select the ‘Create New Design’ or ‘Design’ button.

 
 

3. Optional: Add your own Instagram Highlight Icons

You can either choose your Instagram highlight icons from Canva’s selection of graphics, or upload your own! If you’d like to choose from Canva’s selection, you can skip this step.

  • To upload your own, simply drag and drop the icons from your desktop folder into Canva.

4. Select the Background Color for your Instagram Stories Highlights Cover

You’ll want to make sure your Instagram Stories Highlights cover looks cohesive with your business branding/ Instagram feed color scheme.

To add the background color:

  • Choose ‘Background’ on the left-hand side.

  • Select the ‘+ Solid Color’ option and then ‘+’ to add your brand’s custom colors. Alternatively, you can also use a pattern or texture as the background image.

 
 

5. Add your Instagram Highlight Icon and/or text

If you uploaded your own Instagram Highlight Icons, then follow these steps:

  • Select one of your Highlight icons by selecting ‘Uploads’ on the left-hand toolbar. Canva will then place the icon on your background.

  • Select and drag any of your icon’s corners to resize it to your liking.

  • Center/align your Highlight icon — Canva will place guidelines to help you center the icon

If you want to add text instead of an icon (or in addition to your icon):

  • Select the Text option on your left-hand toolbar

  • Select ‘Add a heading’

  • Select your font at the top and type out the text you’d like on your Instagram Highlight

 
 

6. Add new page & repeat process for each highlight cover

  • Select ‘Add New Page’ to create your second Instagram Stories Highlights Cover — this option can be found directly below your first Instagram Highlight Cover

  • Add/Edit any necessary elements for the template — change out your Highlight icon for another, change your background color/image, etc.

  • Repeat the process until you are satisfied with all of your Instagram Highlight Covers.

7. Download your Instagram Highlight covers

  • Once you are finished, you can download them to your Desktop by selecting ‘Download’ — this can be found at the top right-hand toolbar.

8. Turn your Instagram Stories Archive On

In order to add your Instagram Stories Highlights to your profile, you will need to make sure your Instagram Stories Archive is turned on.

To turn on your Stories Archive:

  • Open your Instagram Settings

  • Select ‘Privacy and Security’

  • Choose ‘Story Controls’

  • Make sure ‘Save to Archive’ is turned on

 
 

How to add Instagram Highlight Covers to your profile

To setup your new Instagram highlights, you’ll just need to follow a few simple instructions. It used to be the case that you had to post your Highlight Cover on your Instagram Story in order to use it, but now the rules have changed— hooray!

To add your Instagram Highlight Cover to a new Instagram Story Highlight:

  1. Tap your profile button in the bottom-right hand corner of the screen to get to your account.

  2. Tap the + (Highlight) button to begin creating a new Instagram Story Highlight.

  3. Scroll through and select any of the Instagram Stories that you’d like highlighted for this specific Highlight Cover — these will be located in your Archives (Instagram even offers some Suggested Highlights based on your recent story posts!).

  4. Once you are done selecting your highlights, click Next.

  5. Select Edit Cover. On the left-hand side of your highlights, you will see an option to upload your own photo from your camera roll.

  6. You can then arrange the highlight to your liking (by zooming in and out).

  7. Select Done once you are satisfied with the highlight icon.

  8. Type in the Title of your Highlight Cover in the field provided.

  9. Once you are finished, select Add in the top right-hand corner.

Your new Instagram Highlight Cover will now display on your profile— whoop whoop! Repeat this process for any additional highlight icons you would like added to your Instagram profile.

How to Make Custom Instagram Highlights Covers in Photoshop

For those of you who do have access to Adobe Photoshop, you are in luck! I have created a Photoshop file that you can download for free to create your own custom Instagram Highlight covers! Enter your email below and you will receive access to the PSD file, as well as 25 travel highlight icons (PNG format with a transparent background) in both black and white.

Before you begin, it’s important to note that your highlight icons will NOT be placed in the Photoshop file for you. However, you will be able to add these into your Photoshop document in just a few simple steps. Make sure you have saved the icons you want to use in a folder on your Desktop, then open up Photoshop to start creating your Instagram Highlight Cover!

To place the highlight icon in your Photoshop document:

  1. You will see folders for each template on the right-hand side of your screen. Click the Eye Icon for each folder/subfolder that you would like to make adjustments to.

  2. I have placed a sample icon in the document so that you can see the current sizing - uncheck the Eye Icon once you are ready to place a new highlight icon in your document.

  3. Head up to File and select Place Embedded to place an icon in your highlight template.

 
 
  1. A new window will pop up instructing you to choose an element from your Desktop— navigate to the folder that you previously saved your highlight icons to.

  2. Choose the icon that you would like to place in the document and select Place.

 
 
  1. Drag the icon into place until you are satisfied with the sizing— you can do this by holding the Shift key + dragging down the corners of the icon (holding Shift will retain the proportions of your image/element).

 
 
  1. Click the enter/return key once you are satisfied.

 
 
  1. Your placed icon will then be converted into a Smart Object. You can choose to leave it as a Smart Object if you wish (Smart Objects are larger in file size). However, for the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to rasterize the icon.

  2. With your icon selected, head up to the Layer section of your toolbar and choose Rasterize > Smart Object.

 
 
  1. Double-click the icon (make sure you click the actual icon and not the file name).

 
 
  1. A new ‘Layer Style’ window will pop up. Choose Color Overlay and then select the colored icon on the right-hand side.

 
 
  1. A new window will open up with a color picker— you can then select your brand color either with the eyedropper tool or by typing in the HEX code (field with ‘#’ placed before it).

  2. You will see a preview of the icon display before finalizing.

  3. Click OK once you are finished.

 
 

And that’s it! You can now export your Instagram Highlight Template:

  1. Head up to File > Export.

  2. You can then export the template by either selecting Quick Export as PNG or by choosing Save for Web (Legacy)…

 
 

Instagram Highlights Download

Over the following weeks, I will be updating this post with some free Instagram Highlight Cover goodies from my digital shop! For the time being, however, feel free to save any of the templates below for your own Instagram Story Highlight Covers! Simply open up the Highlight Cover in a new window, Ctrl-click > Save Image As, and create a new Instagram Highlight category on your profile to display relevant content. Enjoy!

I would LOVE to see the Instagram Story Highlight Covers that you create— feel free to comment below and tell me about your IG Highlight experience! And, as always, leave a comment below if you have any questions or concerns for me regarding Instagram Stories/ Highlights— I would love to hear from you!


*Disclosure; Some of the content above may contain affiliate links (at no cost to you). However, I would never recommend tools, apps or resources if I didn't use them and find them helpful myself.

Hi there! I’m Fallon. A Florida native who, after receiving my masters degree in the U.K., decided to nix the 9-5 path in search of something more. Now, I run my graphic and web design business straight from my laptop, all while traveling the world. I’ve now traveled to over 25 countries and have knocked some pretty big adventures off my bucket list… and I’m just getting started. Follow along my journey as I present tips, guides and resources on solo female travel, photography, videography, entrepreneurship & the crazy lifestyle of a digital nomad.