Destination Digital

Everything You Need to Know About How to Make an Instagram Reel

Instagram Reels were first rolled out in mid-2020 in response to the extremely popular TikTok, which catapulted into popularity as a result of everyone being stuck at home during the COVID-19 lockdowns earlier that year. Since the launch of Reels, they have gradually taken over Instagram feeds and now run as a successful competitor to TikTok.

Reels have now evolved from just doing silly dances and lip-syncs and are now used for a variety of purposes; from cooking tutorials to holiday photo dumps. The world of Reels (and TikToks) has expanded massively and with everyone jumping onto the short-form video bandwagon, we thought it was about time we bit the bullet and began our venture into the world of Instagram Reels. However, making an Instagram Reel was not as easy as we expected. Where are all the trending sounds? How do we run our video in time to the music? Where do you edit clips? And how do you get text to show up on different frames in your video?

We realised we probably weren’t the only ones asking these questions and struggling to get to grips with just how this still relatively new, but extremely popular, Instagram feature works. So, we delved a bit deeper into the world of making Reels so we could pass our new-found knowledge onto you… we found that we’ve ended up even enjoying it a little on the way.

Update: Read our new blog, published May 2023, for more information on music for Reels and TikTok.


How to Make an Instagram Reel From Scratch

Making an Instagram Reel from scratch is probably one of the more difficult ways to make a Reel if you don’t know what you’re doing, so a lot of playing around and pressing random buttons is required in order to figure out what you actually need to do to get a nice shiny Reel at the end.

We’ve broken down how to make an Instagram Reel from scratch in a few easy steps:

  • Open up Instagram and head over to your profile

How to make an Instagram Reel Step 1


  • Once you’re on your profile, click the ‘+’ icon in the top-right corner of your screen and then select the ‘Reel’ option.

How to Make an Instagram Reel Step 2


  • Selecting this option will bring up the Reel editor, where you can choose to either natively record your video content or upload content you created earlier. To upload content, tap the small ‘+’ button in the bottom-left of your screen. This will bring up your camera roll, where you can select the various bits of video or imagery that you want to use in your Reel.

How to Make an Instagram Reel Step 3


  • To record natively, all you need to do is press the big white circle in the bottom-centre and hey presto – the camera’s rolling! This part can be quite tricky to get to grips with, as you can either film a clip that is up to 90-seconds long, for example, or film snippets that get compiled into one whole Reel.

How to Make an Instagram Reel Step 4


We’ve tried to show this in the below, where you can see the ‘recording circle’ is outlined half-way – this outline is all of the recorded snippets that have been mashed together in one Reel. If you click ‘Preview’, you can then see the breakdown of the reel and how long each snippet is. This is where you can also re-order your video snippets, add clips from your camera roll or cut down clips.

  • As shown on our screen-grab, once you’ve recorded your clip you can cut the length of it, change the speed, organize the layout and even set yourself a timer so you don’t go over the time limit of 90 seconds.

How to Make an Instagram Reel Step 5

  • Once you’ve made your Reel and you’re happy with it, tap ‘Next’ and you’ll be guided to a screen where you can write a caption for your Reel, as well as tag people, add a location or rename the audio you’ve used. You can also change the Reel cover (this is the still image that appears on your grid) to something that will look good when it’s in grid format or on people’s explore feeds.

How to Make Instagram Reels From Templates

We were quite happy to see Instagram rolled out a ‘Template’ feature for Instagram Reels, which makes life a lot easier if you can’t quite get to grips with making one from scratch. This way, all you need to do is plop your content in and you’re good to go!

  • At the bottom of the Reels editor, you can see an option called ‘Templates’. If you swipe right, you’ll be shown an array of Instagram Reel templates that you can use. These templates contain trending sounds and allow you to drop your content into timed slots so it moves in time to the audio.

How to Make an Instagram Reel Step 7


  • Another way for you to access templates is when you’re scrolling through the Reels feed. Some Reels display a ‘Use Template’ option, which is also another great way for you to make use of trending sounds as these templates will already have them attached.

How to Save an Instagram Reel Template

Extra bonus tip: When you create a new Reel natively in Instagram with your own frame transitions to the music or sound it also gets saved as a template against your Instagram profile, namechecking you as the original source. This has the potential for great kudos if you make something that’s so on point it goes viral, as your original take on the sound will show up in pole position, regardless of whether someone else gets the template trending with more speed than your original did.  The same goes for any original sounds you use too, so name them wisely and see what happens!


How to Add Music or Audio to Your Instagram Reel

Last but not least, and probably the most important step, is adding audio to your Instagram Reel. Attaching audio to your Reel makes it more discoverable as it adds your Reel to a separate feed that’s specific to that sound, much like how hashtags work. Here’s the different ways you can add music or audio to your Reel:

  • When editing your Reel, you can add audio from the options on the left-hand side of your screen. This will bring up a wealth of audio for you to choose from, as well as audio you’ve saved whilst you were mindlessly scrolling through the never-ending feed of Reels. You can also import audio from videos saved in your camera roll.

How to Add Audio to Instagram Reels


  • Unfortunately for business accounts, our options for audio are limited due to copyright reasons, which you can find out more about on our blog Let’s Get Reel: Can Instagram Reels Work For Business Accounts? The good news is that saving a template or audio from another Reel seems to be a good workaround for this. We’re not quite sure why this long-way around is permitted, but for now it means businesses are able to hop onto trending sounds and reach a wider audience than if they were to just stick to ‘business’ audio.

How to Save Audio Instagram Reels


  • To access saved audio, go to your profile and tap the menu button in the top-right of your screen, then tap ‘saved’ and you’ll be able to see all of your saved audio snippets in the ‘audio’ section.

How to Save Audio Instagram Reels Step 2


And that’s everything you need to know about making Instagram Reels! Once you find your way around the feature and have a few goes, it’s not as scary as it first seems and you’ll feel like one of the pros in no time. Even if you don’t feel like you should go there, it is definitely worth trying out Reels for your business as Meta are doing their utmost to push people to create and watch Reels over TikToks, which means you get amazing levels of organic reach and engagements.


Read more

We hope that you found this article useful. Take a look at the other social media help articles we’ve put together:

We’re sure there will be additions to this list, so maybe bookmark this page if you found it helpful.


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