Instagram is something of a Rubik鈥檚 cube. Even if you鈥檝e been using the app for years and have all the basic functions down, it can be difficult to decipher. Why, for example, didn鈥檛 that super hilarious cat post you just shared do so hot? You had #hashtags to boot! And a simple picture of a cookie that your friend JUST posted now has 35 likes.

You鈥檝e scrolled through other accounts with more 鈥渟uccessful鈥 feeds, right? Trying to unlock the secrets of their universe. Asking questions like, 鈥淗ow are they getting SO many followers from an inanimate object while my own (insanely cute) cats get the shaft?鈥 All the while wondering if their captions are more clever or if their photos are more intriguing.

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Believe it or not, it鈥檚 NOT because everyone happened to be hungry at the time the cookie post hit (although who doesn鈥檛 like a good cookie)? And it鈥檚 not because they鈥檙e more clever or have more intriguing subject matter, either, because intrigue is subjective.

Without taking Brit + Co鈥檚 Get Started on Instagram online class ($29), I would probably still be pondering this great mystery, but now that I have, I can confidently say that I have a pretty good idea why my friends are getting the Insta鈥 love I鈥檓 lacking. In short? They鈥檙e working at it. Where I鈥檓 simply grabbing moments in time and slapping them up as they happen (sans the occasional filter to mask tired eyes), others are carefully crafting not only their photos but an entire BRAND in the process of posting.

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Led by Irene Kim Shepard (the Associate Manager of Visual Content and in-house photographer at Chronicle Books, who, by the way, happens to have 56.4K followers of her own), the 33-minute class opens your eyes to the ways masters of the 鈥榞ram are making their pages pretty, getting them seen and even how to go about taking your new world offline and into (gasp!) real-life in five easy steps.

1. Do a self-assessment. As Irene will tell you, having a good Instagram is kind of like telling a good story: You have to set the right tone. That means ceasing to think about your page as a series of individual posts, but rather as one connected page. At most, you鈥檝e got about two swipes to make an impression when someone visits your account, and you want to make sure it鈥檚 a good one.

2. Work at your photos. Believe it or not, those amazing shots you see on the accounts you admire mostly don鈥檛 happen by happy accident: In fact, it鈥檚 not even Mayfair (which just so happens to be my favorite filter). Irene walks you through some of the basic skill sets you鈥檒l need to up your photo game, beginning with the photo鈥檚 inception itself.

3. Perfect your shots. Okay, so you鈥檝e taken what you think is a pretty decent pic 鈥 up it goes, right? Not so fast. To be a true Instagram whiz, you鈥檒l need to become proficient at the skill of editing, making things look as great as they possibly can BEFORE you send them out into the world. Luckily, Irene has several tricks and tips that make learning this skill set a whole lot easier.

4. Get your post seen by the right people. What good is posting a photo to a social media site if no one鈥檚 going to see it? There鈥檚 a right way and a wrong way to get desired eyes on your post, and this class aims to make sure you鈥檙e always on the positive side of the coin. After all, the more views you鈥檙e getting, the more opportunities for likes and, of course, follows.

5. Interact with your followers. Though this one might seem intuitive, trust me when I say, there鈥檚 an art to it, and Irene has perfected it. You can accomplish a lot more than you think with a simple like or comment as long as you鈥檙e doing it effectively. Work smarter, not harder.

Get even more details on how to instantly up your Insta鈥 game by taking Irene鈥檚 Get Started on Instagram class today! And don鈥檛 forget to share your photos with us! Tag @BritandCo and we鈥檒l regram our favorites!