This is likely to be a long post so you may want to grab a cuppa before I share some current thoughts.
Most people have an opinion of Instagram. Most love it, some hate it and others are somewhere in between. Some people use it personally to share real photos in real time of their life with their nearest and dearest, others use it professionally to promote a product or service and then there is the ‘influencer’ world. I don’t personally think I fit into any of those three categories and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an influencer. I do have ‘influence’, I know this from the clicks on my blog and apps I use where people purchase products I have featured however I’m only now delving into the realm of affiliate marketing and it’s a bit of a minefield to be honest. Anyway this is a post about instagram but depending on the response I might share some similar thoughts on blogging and the current challenges faced.
Before I get into the detail, I just want to emphasise how much I love Instagram. As a visual person I gain so much inspiration from the platform whether it’s places to visit or new restaurants or cafes to try out to out to outfits and ideas that come about as a result of the wide variety of people sharing their take on how to wear the latest trends or a classic style with a bit of a twist. I also feel I can connect with people on a different level than I would in real life. I’m not a particularly social person, I’m quite an introvert and I enjoy my own company. I don’t always get my point across well in conversation and I can easily go unnoticed in a large group as I’m not a big character. I’m not giving myself a hard time, I’m just being honest as I fully accept who I am and as I approach 28 (ouch), I’m certainly not about to change my nature now.
Anyway I’m now going to get to the point of the post and share a few things which have been on my mind or bugging me lately.
There’s nothing I find more inspiring than coming across someone new on instagram and their profile page is totally cohesive with every image in sync, the colour palette flows and you immediately get the impression this person has their sh*t together.
I appreciate the amount of work that goes into creating a cohesive theme as it’s not easy. Every image needs to be vetted as to whether it matches the strict protocol and that’s before any signature filters are applied.
I have started using Lightroom to edit my pictures lately and it’s honestly a game changer. Photoshop is a bit more clunky. It can do everything (and more) than Lightroom but I find Lightroom far more user friendly and the editing process is a lot quicker. I have a few filters I use depending on the type of photo (holiday, OOTD or flatlay) and I tweak each photo to ensure the balance is right as there are so many factors that can impact regardless of having a signature filter. Having a specific ‘look’ to your photos is only one part of having an Instagram theme.
The second relates to the order of photos you post. Some people only post pictures of themselves or their specific product or service, others might have a process of posting a busy picture with a lot of detail or a lot going on followed by something which has more empty space and less going on.
My theme is to post an outfit or close up of a particular part of an outfit followed by a picture that is not of me i.e nature, food, tea, a cafe or a flatlay. I refer to them as filler photos and I’ve included some snippets of my feed below as an example. I really like how it looks when done well but it frustrates the life out of me when putting my content together as it takes so much preparation and organisation before the picture is published. If it doesn’t fit my feed it simply won’t get posted and it’s an ongoing challenge to have enough content and time to plan far enough in advance to ensure the perfect cohesive feed. I’ll get on to another challenge this creates as I go on.
They say don’t worry about the numbers, they don’t matter. Work hard, post consistently and you’ll grow. I’ve been posting 3 times a day for as long as I can remember now and my account has grown very very very slowly to approx 760 followers. When you take off my friends and family and people I actually know, it’s not a significant number at all and as much as I’d rather have 760 people who like and engage with my content as opposed to 10,000 followers who couldn’t care less, it does impact on opportunities and ways of developing.
There’s a particular affiliate marketing program which is selective in terms of membership and I’ve been rejected 3 times now. You have to wait 6 months between each application so for more than 18 months I’ve been unable to join said program. The only reason I would like to join is to make it easy to share links of what I’m wearing to enable people to purchase across my two main platforms i.e my blog and instagram. It would be really helpful if they provided feedback as to why you have been rejected as it would help inform whether there was any point in re-applying. They say acceptance is not based on numbers however if I had 10k followers it’s high unlikely they would have rejected me in the first place.
It’s really difficult to not get disheartened by rejection, it happens in all walks of life and in various circumstances whether it’s work or in relationships and some are obviously harder to overcome than others.
For now I’m continuing what I’m doing, ensuring I stick to what makes me happy and inspired and that’s all I can do.
It’s really easy to get carried away and assume you need the most expensive cameras and equipment to create the flawless images you see on instagram and in some cases that is absolutely the case but there’s also a lot of people killing it with iPhone photos. I have been using the Olypmus Pen EPL-7 with a 45mm lens for the last few years and I really can’t fault it. I have developed my photography knowledge and skills so much in the time I’ve had this camera and it’s came along on the journey with me. It’s easy to set up a photo especially when relying on people who have no photography experience to take your picture. I have also included a few iPhone photos on my feed lately, mainly due to finally upgrading to the iPhone 8 plus (I know I’m so late & there’s loads of better models now available) but also because they are really handy for taking those filler photos I referred to earlier. I don’t have my camera with me every single day but if I’m out and see something inspiring or simply want to capture a moment or a cake for example before I demolish it, then iPhone is best.
4. Real time vs curated
All of the above makes it seem like every single image needs to be filtered and inspected to the ninth degree before it’s posted and as much as that can sometimes be the case, I know that a lot of the people who are successful on Instagram are posting in the moment or real time. This is what people connect with. They don’t want a holiday photo two weeks after you’ve returned. They want an insight into what you’re doing right there and then. Unfortunately this is an area where I struggle partly due to having a curated theme but also because my blog and brand is a hobby and I have a normal job and two year old twin nieces who I spend a lot of time with. Every minute of my week is taken up with things which are a higher priority than Instagram and for this reason all of my content is scheduled at least a week in advance. I do regularly have an inner battle with myself as to how I could be more in the moment when it comes to Instagram but I haven’t yet found a workable or practical solution. My friend suggested I use stories more to get my personality across and it is something I’m working on but if anyone has any other advice or recommendations please do share as I’d love to explore every possible avenue before ruling it out completely.
Well there you have it, a comprehensive round up of my current thoughts and things I love and loathe about Instagram.
Do you agree with any of them? Do you have any other struggles or frustrations which I maybe haven’t touched on?