Advice Column

Instagram Isn’t For Everyone: An Open Letter To The Struggling Blogger

May 7, 2018 (Last Updated: May 31, 2018)
As bloggers, we understand that social media promotion is necessary, but not all platforms were created equal. If you've been struggling to grow or maintain your Instagram recently, you're definitely not alone. Instagram simply isn't for everyone (including myself) and here's why.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time because I know for a fact that I’m not the only person that feels this way about Instagram.

This post isn’t meant to bash or even throw shade to anyone who has successfully used Instagram to grow their brand and their blog. Their success is much deserved and I’m very proud of them. This post isn’t about being jealous either. It’s about coming to terms with reality and the fact that a lot of people just are not cut out for Instagram.

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

As a person living on this earth, you’re probably aware of Instagram. Instagram was new and exciting during its inception in 2010. Today, Instagram is a juggernaut social media platform that has created countless careers and exposure for so many people. 8 years is a long time to form and develop a brand, and anyone who has reached success from the relative early beginnings completely deserves it and more.

If you were using Instagram back in 2010, you remember the good old days. I enjoyed browsing (chronologically) through my friend’s grainy photos and loved how quickly I could show my support through double tapping. Eventually, I learned that my preferred way to use the app was by not really using the app as it was intended.

I occasionally posted a picture with a sentence caption and didn’t think twice about the amount of likes that I received. I lurked and I browsed without ever making a post for weeks. After some time, I closed my account altogether and didn’t touch Instagram for years.

I guess I’m a bad millennial. I’m not sure. I never got into taking selfies or interrupting the flow of the evening, so I could get my friends to take several photos of me for the ‘gram. My best pictures are someone’s worst and it’s difficult to wrap my mind around that.

Honestly, a lot of times I just forget to take pictures. I’ll be at a restaurant and inhale my food because I’m so hungry and only after do I remember that I should have taken a picture. I forget to take pictures at an art gallery to show my followers that I’m ~*artsy and cultured*~ because I’m genuinely and truly just trying to appreciate art. When I’m home, I live in my pajamas or a wine-stained 4XXL quarter zip and eat grocery store sushi on the couch and realize that no one wants to see that.

I can quickly write up a tweet to share what I’m doing and because of that I tend to leave my social media efforts at that.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to do more of what makes me happy and I’m happy with what I do in my free time, but in the back of my mind I realize that I’m missing out on developing content to show followers, and that stresses me out.

This is mostly where my issue with Instagram lies. I just can’t keep up with the demand.

Look up any Instagram “guide” for bloggers and they’ll mention posting 1-2x a day, every day with consistent high-quality photographs and engaging captions.

Instagram today is anything but instant

It’s almost like a full-time job at this point. Unless you have a photographer friend, or have a team that manages your social media for you, it’s difficult to create enough content without getting overwhelmed at some point.

It’s hardest for people who are depressed, have social anxiety, or don’t live somewhere luxurious. For someone who can barely make it out of bed some days to do the absolute bare minimum, finding the motivation to create Instagram content is non-existent.

A lot of the times we’re just boring human beings that don’t do anything exciting whatsoever in a day. Not everything needs to be documented. Not everything is exciting or glamorous enough to post.

A lot of times we need to remove ourselves from our daily lives to get into “Instagram mode.” The number of steps it takes to post on Instagram from start to finish can be absolutely daunting. For your average post you need to:

  1. Find the right location at the right time of day and find the right angles for your focus.
  2. Depending on what you’re photographing, you may need a full face of makeup, do your hair, wear the right outfit, or develop a flawless flat lay.
  3. Take dozens of pictures of yourself or annoy your friend to take pictures of you and pray that they can capture you in the way you imagined in your head.
  4. Browse through said photos and select the 1 or 2 that will work.
  5. Edit said pictures using 3 different apps to match your theme.
  6. Develop the right caption that is enticing, mysterious, alluring, educational, and motivating all at the same time.
  7. Research the proper hashtags for your post to get maximum exposure.
  8. Research the proper time to post to get the most eyes on your photo.
  9. Post, and then pray that the algorithm will work in your favor.
  10. Stress out about the number of likes you’re receiving.
  11. Post to your story throughout the day using the same editing effects.
  12. Do it all over again the next day.

Living day by day on Instagram is the WORST and it’s not necessarily because you don’t have content (even though a majority of the time it is), it’s because it’s so time consuming and uses up a ton of brain power. All for a single post.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to do more of what makes me happy and I’m happy with what I do in my free time, but in the back of my mind I realize that I’m missing out on developing content to show followers, and that stresses me out.

This doesn’t even include the amount of money that you’ll need to spend to keep up with this habit. Smart phone tripods, expensive professional cameras, fresh outfits that you haven’t posted before, clutter for flat lay pictures, bus tickets and gas money to get you to certain destinations, hotel stays and event tickets, etc.

There are so many examples of people who go broke or straight up steal for Instagram. They create fake lives and can’t keep up with the expectations. This is exactly what I don’t want to present.

So many of us work full time jobs or go to school that we cherish the little free time that we get at the end of the week. The sad thing is, I just can’t find enough of a reason to sacrifice my free time to create content for Instagram because the yield that I receive just isn’t worth the effort.

Whereas I’ll earn dozens or even hundreds of blog views through Twitter and Pinterest, I’ll barely get a click when I post on Instagram. I’ll receive spam comments complimenting my outfit in my latest post when it’s a picture of my cat. It’s all so absurd and phony that I can’t even find satisfaction with the likes that I receive.

I see so many bloggers do everything right when it comes to Instagram, and they still aren’t seeing the results that they expect. They’ll post absolutely breathtaking and beautiful pictures similar to those that have millions of followers and they’re sitting at around 1-2k followers after months of posting meticulously curated posts on a daily basis.

You’ve probably seen the daily Twitter threads about the frustrations bloggers experience with Instagram. I knew it was bad when I saw that multiple bloggers with huge followings were losing massive amounts of followers because they didn’t post for a day or simply posted in the first place.

A few years ago, posting beautiful pictures was the ticket to making it big, but if you’re a new blogger that started in 2018, Instagram is a very, very steep climb to the top.

Bloggers will post on Twitter and say that they feel that they can be themselves on that platform more so than they can on Instagram and I 100% agree because of one thing: the algorithm.

Algorithm
Noun

  1. A process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

By this very definition, you can expect to be punished for veering away from what Instagram wants you to do.

Post at the wrong time of day? The algorithm will work against you.

Accidentally posted a banned hashtag because you didn’t spend 30 minutes looking them all up to see if they work? The algorithm will work against you.

Didn’t think of a witty enough caption or use emojis? The algorithm will work against you.

It’s so ridiculous that you need to “beat” an algorithm. Knowing that I could post the same picture without even thinking a few years ago and reach more people than I could today using the same strategy is frustrating and completely discouraging.

Even when the algorithm works in your favor it’s difficult to be happy because you have no idea when it will work in your favor again.

When it came to Lazy Girl, I debated for a looooong time whether or not I should open an Instagram for my blog. I worried about how I would let my personality shine through a picture-based app. I worried that I would need to drastically change how I operate in order to gain popularity.

Instagram ultimately makes sense for fashion and beauty bloggers, but I write about lifestyle and advice. I make a blog post about once a week and feel weird trying to push my posts on a platform where people are there to see pretty pictures of people doing things they can only imagine.

It’s so ridiculous that you need to “beat” an algorithm. Knowing that I could post the same picture without even thinking a few years ago and reach more people than I could today using the same strategy is frustrating and completely discouraging.

I simply don’t fit on Instagram. Instagram isn’t for me, and that’s okay.

I love to use Twitter because it’s text based and I can say whatever I want to say on there. Ironically, I also feel that Twitter is more “instant” than Instagram (I see updates quicker from the people that I care about), plus the UI is easier to use.

I still go on Instagram almost daily, but it’s to view my favorite fan account and art content. I rarely scroll through my home feed anymore.

Not all hope for Instagram is lost. There are a number of things that can happen to improve the app. Some things that I would like to see before I make a serious return to Instagram:

  1. The ability to schedule posts. I know that they’re rolling this out this year, but for some reason I feel that there will be some sort of caveat (mostly algorithm related).
  2. The ability to post from a desktop. I will never understand why this isn’t a feature. I hate how I have to exclusively operate through the phone app. So many people edit pictures on their computers and need to jump through hoops to send it to their phone. I type up my captions and hashtags on my computer and end up having to email it to myself so I can copy and paste it from my phone to the app.
  3. CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. This will never happen because, understandably, Instagram/Facebook will focus on their paid customers’ needs and this is apparently what they want.
  4. Control the spam. This has been an issue since Instagram’s inception, and it makes the app so annoying to use. We all have received those generic spam comments from accounts that are desperate to grow.
  5. Introduce a penalty for following/unfollowing. Holy wow, I can’t stand this. You know those people. They have tens of thousands of followers, only follow a fraction of that number, and then decide to follow you. You can guess what will happen within the next 24 hours no matter if you follow or don’t follow back.
  6. Allow links in captions and stories for everyone. This is straight up discrimination against smaller accounts and I can’t understand the reasoning behind this as bigger accounts aren’t paying to use the app to get these features. This should be available for everyone.

Writing this out has helped me come to terms with who I am as a blogger and what I enjoy doing. For me personally, Instagram was slowly depleting my passion for blogging because Instagram marketing. I’m going to start posting when I feel like I have something to post, and focus less on creating something to post.

If you feel the same way, I hope that you’ll join me. It’s not worth the stress, and who knows, maybe something will change later. Instagram isn’t a bad platform. It’s just not for everybody. Catch me on Twitter and Pinterest if you would like to see more from me!

lazygirl.us

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Laura
    May 9, 2018 at 2:04 AM

    Such a great and real post! I agree with everything you said. I posted a while back on Twitter that I just didn’t get how some bloggers found Instagram useful for getting viewers. I barely get any clicks to the website from IG. Twitter and Pinterest are so much easier. Not to mention I also hate taking selfies and photos at every single instant of the day and sometimes my days are just plain boring (home-work-gym-home) and totally not photo worthy.
    “I’ll receive spam comments complimenting my outfit in my latest post when it’s a picture of my cat. ” I laughed so hard at this. Something similar happened to me recently. The photo was of some flowers. The comment was something like “you’re cute, nice outfit”. Gee, thanks.
    Laura recently posted The Skinny Fat Problem And What To Do About ItMy Profile

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      May 24, 2018 at 1:42 PM

      Sorry for the mega late reply, but I totally agree with you! I just don’t get it and I’ve tried and failed too many times. I get more spam comments than real interactions and the app is such a headache to navigate. Thank you for reading!

  • Reply
    Ruth
    May 8, 2018 at 7:31 AM

    This is a great post! I’ve been starting to feel like this with Instagram. I have a personal profile and a profile for my blog, but I don’t get much joy out of using either of them. I mean, I love seeing other people’s pictures, but as far as uploading my own, it seems like such hard work. In all honesty, my life isn’t very glamorous. I have depression and anxiety which, although I’m getting treatment for, mean I spend a lot of my time inside. There’s only so much in here that I can photograph!

    I definitely prefer Twitter and I’m just about getting my head around Pinterest so I’ve been focusing more on them, but we’ll see where I end up with Instagram!

    Ruth | https://www.ruthinrevolt.com

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      May 8, 2018 at 2:22 PM

      Thanks, Ruth! I’m so glad you could relate. Having depression and trying to run an Instagram account is the worst because you already feel bad enough just looking at other people’s perfect pictures. Then you add a blog and suddenly you have to manufacture content to “prove” that you ever do anything interesting. It’s just not enjoyable to me.

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