We all start out with the same tools to create our Instagram stories--but there are those creators out there who just know how to make magic happen. Their images and video demand to be seen, and you can't stop clicking til they're gone. 

As both founder of a content marketing company (and a human who loves visually arresting content) I can't get enough of stories and I'm always trying to reverse engineer what makes someone's feed so addictive. 

For those people and brands who can unlock--or rewrite--the equation, there's massive potential. Not only does IG stories have 500 million daily active users ready to discover you, but if you have the "swipe up" hyperlink feature (either by having more than 10,000 followers or being verified), Stories can lead to direct conversions ($$$). 

Of course, reaching both goals is closely tied to the quality of content you publish. That means it's definitely worth your time to create well-designed, engaging images and video before you share them. Sound...expensive? It's not. You don't have to employ a dedicated design or social media team, thanks to a bevy of apps that make it easy (or at least, easier) to bring out your Insta A-Game. Here are six of my favorites.


Unfold makes it easy to create aesthetically gorgeous Instagram Stories without a huge investment. The app includes a wide selection of professionally-designed templates packaged by theme (think: "Journal 1" that mimics a nostalgic scrapbook, or "Digital Wave 1" that incorporates computer and web design elements), some of which are free and the rest of which come at a relatively low cost ($1.99 for a package of 15 templates). And in the wake of their massive app success, the company launched Unfold for Brands, a design agency to further help brands customize and perfect their story game. 


This app is an all-around incredible free design tool that you can use to elevate any of your company's visuals (from amping up your presentations to editing photos for your website) -- and Instagram Stories is no exception. Among the thousands of free templates is a vast selection of Instagram Story options to suit pretty much every brand aesthetic or campaign. Bonus: Canva's other templates, like those for logos, can be useful in creating thumbnail covers for your Instagram Story highlights. 


Too few brands consider digital accessibility when planning their online and social strategies--but making your content available to all customers is a truly worthy goal. Clipomatic can support accessibility by enabling you to create written captions to go along with the videos you share on Instagram Stories. The app instantly translates speech into text, so any followers who are hearing impaired (or who simply don't watch Stories with the sound on) can still easily follow along. Clipomatic isn't free, but the $5 price tag is pretty reasonable for the product. 

Hype Type 

There's a lot you can do with both the fonts native to Instagram Stories and those available in apps like Unfold and Canva to make your text stand out -- but Hype Type takes it to a whole other level. Through the app, you can create dynamic, animated captions to overlay on your photos and videos. The tool gives you a variety of font and color options, as well as the ability to add music, so the possibilities are plenty extensive. The app itself is free, but you can pay to get access to all of its features and to remove the watermark. 

Life Lapse 

Ever wonder how brands make those cool how-to, stop motion tutorials, product features or, well, really any other fancy animations? It's possible that at least some of them are using Life Lapse. The user-friendly app makes it easy to create pro-level stop motion videos from groups of individual photos (and it includes tutorials if you want to step up your game). This is another one that's free, but offers additional features if you subscribe to the Pro level (which is $35.99 per year). 

InShot Video Editor 

You don't have to be a complete video whiz to make quality, engaging videos for your Instagram Stories, especially when you have a solid app like InShot Video Editor to help you. The app gives you the ability to do basic video editing (like rotating, trimming, merging clips and adjusting speed) and add in more snazzy elements (like voice-overs, sound effects, filters and text), so you can customize as you see fit. You can get plenty of features for free; make small, one-time purchases to remove watermarks and adds or access extra stickers; or buy a subscription ($3.99 per month or $14.99 per year for an auto-renewing subscription) to have unlimited access to all features and add-ons.