How I Finally Stopped Hating Instagram as a Creative Entrepreneur
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If you and Instagram where in a relationship, what would be your relationship status?
Blissfully in love?
Besties for life?
Frustrated, but working through it?
Utterly abusive. Why the fuck are you in my life?
Personally, I’ve felt all of these ways towards Instagram. But that last one? Yeah, that’s the one we really want to avoid.
You hear all the hype about Instagram and how you can use it to get clients and grow a following. You see the rags to riches stories of “how I got my first 1,000 followers in 30 days” and “how to make your first 1k in sales from Instagram this week.”
Instagram is the creative entrepreneurs first face of legitimacy. We all check out the profiles of other people to see their number of followers, glance at their feed, and somehow that’s supposed to give us a glimpse of how “good” or “worthy” they/we are.
With so much pressure riding on the appearance of our Instagram profile as “proof” of our worth, it’s no wonder we get wrapped up in the follower account, planning our feeds, and curating the perfect set of squares to show to the world that we know what we’re doing and we’re the real deal - even if we don’t believe it ourselves.
Thanks to the bots, then follow/unfollow game, and new industry mean girl “The Algorithm,” of course Instagram has you bursting in tears rather than exploding your bank account with zeros and filling your heart with purpose and validation.
At the time of closing my previous business, I had about 750 Instagram followers. I would get a handful of likes per post and maybe a comment or two from some fellow niche bloggers that I started getting to know a bit more.
But I HATED Instagram. It always made me feel like I was surrounded by garbage, needed to lose weight, learn to take better photos, and just be more than I already am. I slaved away trying to curate the “perfect” feed and wanted to smash my phone every time I got a comment from a fucking bot or had a huge account follow and unfollow me...three times in one week.
The biggest message that I got from Instagram was that I was not enough and you could only play the game by being fake - either in your posts or by literally being inhuman.
At the time of this post, I have 78 Instagram followers. And by tomorrow I will probably be at 73 again. But the biggest difference with my account now than before?
I LOVE opening Instagram. With my new account, I retained the connections I had in my old one and gained a few more in that niche (self care, self love, confidence, etc.). From the beginning, the people I surrounded myself with in that app were all about showing women that you are enough, empowering you to be your best self, and promoting authenticity and connection over the highlight reel.
So what did I do when I started growing my account? I felt free to totally share myself and my message. I interacted with others freely without trying to get their attention for them to follow me, but to contribute to the conversation and questions they posed.
I started having a BLAST with Instagram Stories and experienced an influx of good words and positive feedback from my “small” network of women than I ever did in my previous account of 10x the number of followers.
I know it’s easy to focus on the numbers. And I totally admit that I do it too, sometimes.
78 followers? But I need moooooore!
But when I take a step back and think of the relationships I’ve built and the joy I get from using this app SOCIALLY and not for marketing purposes, I feel genuinely fulfilled. I love opening Instagram to see what my peeps are up to, to read their gorgeous captions and watch their fun Stories, and I’m FINALLY not afraid to check my DMs because I know that something positive is on its way to me.
If you’re ready to start making genuine connections, you need to be open not letting the numbers define you - because they don’t. You can’t be obsessed and desperate to make them climb and believe that a massive following and huge list is the secret - or proof - of success.
Because you and your life are far more than just numbers. And I say this with true belief as even a statistician. Our fulfillment is the most precious currency we will ever own and THAT is will measure our success in life - not the number of people on our email list or Instagram followers or pageviews.
Quality over quantity is key.
But how do you start making connections? Maybe you’re trapped in space on Instagram that makes you feel like less than enough and you’re read to finally change that.
First things first, you can unfollow the accounts that make you feel like you’re unworthy. Whether the gorgeous photos make your apartment look like junk and you can’t help but compare, that fashion blogger who always has perfect everything and you feel like you better do a juice cleanse this weekend, or the vacationer who’s always posting dreamy photos with empty captions that make you feel like your life isn’t worth anything if you’re not filled with #wanderlust, unfollow them.
Don’t get me wrong, I love following people who inspire me. But there’s a difference between inspiration and comparison. Inspiration leads you to action and positive movement. Whereas comparison leads to self doubt, shame, and paralysis.
Which accounts make you feel what totally depends on you. You can have accounts with the exact same type of content that will inspire and motivate one person but make the next gal feel totally unworthy. It all depends on who you connect to.
But it’s time to get honest with yourself and say, does following this person bring more joy or hurt to my life? And if it’s the latter, tap unfollow.
Additionally, have a gut check with yourself on how you’re using the app. Are you there commenting, liking, and connecting with others? Or is it a marketing scream fest?
When you use your account as a tool for connection and not just a marketing strategy, you start to show your people that you’re a real person. You open yourself up and give them the opportunity to get to know you more, be a part of your life, and truly feel if you are the type of person they would want to hang out with, grab margaritas with, and (hopefully) hire.
If you want friends, you need to be a friend. So treating your followers like genuine friends, saying hi and updating them about your life like you would on a quick phone call, and asking them how they are and where they’re at will show that you’re not just there to cram sales down their throats, but to offer them a home and belonging.
No one watches TV for just the ads. They’re there for a story, to be entertained, and to connect with people - even if they’re fictional.
I’m a huge proponent of offering value for the sake connection. Because sure, that person may become a client. But they also might be new biz bestie, both, or know someone who would be perfect for you.
I trust in the idea that as you start to put yourself out there more, the more and more people will know your name and associate you with companionship and value. And what do these equal together? Trust.
It’s by no means a “get rich quick” type of mentality. And I fully admit that the seemingly slow growth feels frustrating at times. But I believe that by taking the time to build genuine relationships, offering yourself as a friend to the world, and showing up as your whole self are key to building a sustainable, lasting, and purposeful business.