How to write Instagram captions (my secret formula!)

Social Media

the blog

by sarah elrod

Sarah Elrod, wearing a cowboy hat, sitting on a pickup truck tailgate holding a laptop


Ready to learn how to write the most compelling Instagram captions that will actually drive results toward your goals? Well, in this post that’s exactly what you are going to learn!


I have to ask, how many times have you done this before? You sit down at your computer, trying to figure out what you want to write for an Instagram caption, and all that you seem to be doing is staring at that blank, blinking cursor. Yeah, I have definitely been there a time or two. You aren’t sure what to talk about, or what your goal for your post that day is. You’re just stuck overall.

Well you are in luck because in this post I will be sharing my very secret formula for writing the perfect Instagram caption. Don’t worry – it’s super easy to follow and I am going to be giving you examples as well!


Think of a good hook


When thinking about hooks for Instagram captions, you need to be thinking about the emotion you are trying to draw from your audience. Get them to stop and think about what you are writing. How many times have you been scrolling on Facebook and you come across some article where the title immediately stops you in your tracks?

It can be something shocking or something so weird you just can’t seem to look away. These titles are very intentional and used as a way of drawing you in to click on their post or article to read more. And yes, both positive and negative hooks are thing. So be careful and intentional about what you want your reader to feel!

The hook is essentially just what you are writing to make someone want to read more. On Instagram you have 1-3 lines where people can see your text without having to click “read more” button. In that hook, your goal is to get them to click that button to consume the full caption.


Some examples of hooks include:

“Here’s how I lost 30 pounds in 30 days”

“Warning: this post will make you cry…”

“Steal my secret caption formula” – see what I did there?


Bonus tips:

  • use emojis
  • write your hook in all caps


These might seem like small details but they can really take your hook from good to great!


Agitate a problem in your captions


Maybe this sounds harsh, but it works. Just ask any professional copywriter out there. In order to use this strategy, you will likely need to have a good understanding of your audience and the problems they do face. It will also help you not feel sleazy or like you are just using click bait if you know that it’s actually helping a REAL problem.


Examples of agitating a problem can be:

“Does the idea of writing out an Instagram caption make you want to pull your hair out?”

“Does it take you 30 minutes or longer to pick out your outfit in the morning?”


Relate to the problem

Now that you have hooked your reader into actually reading your post, you now need to relate to the problem you mentioned before. Acknowledge what the problem is and then relate to your own experiences of having that same problem.


Ways to relate to a problem:

  • your own personal experience
  • client case study or testimonial
  • showcase a before and after


Essentially, you want to relate to the problem and start to hint at how you can fix it.



“I’ve been there! I know how you feel! As someone who has done XYZ… I know the feeling of being frustrated when it comes to _____.”


You’re agitating the problem they have, but then you were able to connect with them over it. This is going to make them feel very seen. Plus people like to know that they are not alone with their issues. So if you can basically show that you have been in their shoes and made it through the other end, they are going to trust what you have to say about it.


Solve the problem in your captions


Solving the problem can also be known as the value of the post. Value can come in many different forms including: tips and tricks, hacks, strategies, stories, experiences, testimonials, etc.


Call to action


If you don’t include this last step of your caption, you are literally just leaving money on the table. You have given your audience value, you have helped them with a problem they are having, and maybe that’s all they needed. But you could also take this relationship a step further by giving them something else to do next. Write this in your caption!

In the solving a problem section, you are feeding them a ton of tips and tricks, and you want to dive even deeper with them by offering up a freebie of sorts. Which means they will be on your email list.

And did someone say cha-ching?

You can tell them to book a discovery call with you, sign up for something, dive deeper, etc. But the key is, you have to tell them what to do next. Don’t just assume they are going to find their way to the link in your bio. Make them go there!

Now that you have learned how to write a caption for Instagram, you might be feeling a little stuck on the other elements of a post. Or maybe you just want some more caption template examples to choose from. Fear not! Inside of my content resource membership The Social Herd, I offer hundreds of done for you caption templates that you can use that follow this same formula!

There are also other resources included in the membership such as stock images, social media templates, graphics, and much more! Get all the info here!




Get free social media & content creation tips here!


Other posts you might like:

My new approach to Instagram

Plan an entire month of content in one hour


I'm Sarah Elrod

The Podcast

Rural Lifestyle



I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.

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