Hey there-hope y’all have had a good Monday. Today’s post is a bit deeper, which I haven’t done in awhile. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately regarding Instagram. God has really been working on my heart to change my perspective about Instagram and its importance in my life and my business. So, I want to share my real thoughts on Instagram with y’all. I hope that the Lord will use my words to encourage at least one other person! Here we go!
(Photo by Reveling Spaces)
My New Year’s Goal
At the beginning of 2019, I had a big goal for Instagram. I wanted to get to 10,000 followers so that I could have the cool swipe-up feature on my Instagram stories and able to direct traffic more easily to my blog and rewardStyle shopping links. And if I’m really being honest, I thought reaching the 10K followers mark would mean that I had really made it as a blogger. I started 2019 with just a little over 2,200 Instagram followers. So this goal was a stretch, but I was feeling ambitious.
My Current Reality
Fast forward to today, November 11, and I have around 2,420 Instagram followers. That’s a net gain of around 200 followers for just over 10 months. I’m absolutely nowhere near the goal I set back in January. And when you consider that my Instagram following grew by 1700 during the 10.5 months I was blogging in 2018, that’s a huge decrease in growth for 2019. Furthermore, engagement on my Instagram content is significantly lower than it was at the beginning of the year, due to changes in the algorithm.
Change in Heart
So, if someone had told me back in January what my Instagram account would look like in November, I probably would have been extremely discouraged. And there were definitely times this year when I did let non-existent follower growth and decreased engagement get me down. However, God has really been working on my heart in this area in recent weeks. I am now at peace with where my Instagram account is, and am no longer letting likes, comments, and followers dictate my mood or define the success of my blog. This isn’t my doing, it’s totally the work of letting the Holy Spirit transform my thoughts and life in a way that only He can.
So, I don’t want any bloggers reading this who do some of these things I’m about to discuss think that I’m taking a stab at them. That’s not the case. I’m simply sharing how my priorities and actions with Instagram have changed recently due to personal convictions through the work of God in my life.
Due to Instagram algorithm changes, it has become increasingly hard for bloggers to grow their following organically on Instagram. This leaves a few options: buy followers, participate in lots of big group giveaways, join engagement pods with other bloggers, or spend hours each day interacting with accounts on Instagram. However, I have chosen none of the above, and here’s why:
Lack of Authenticity
First of all, I’ve never ever bought any followers on Instagram. I’ve never had any desire to, as this doesn’t do anything to benefit authentic engagement with your content. Secondly, I did do a few group giveaways late last year and early this year. However, I stopped doing those because I don’t have the budget to constantly contribute $25 towards whatever the prize is, and there just wasn’t much of a long-term benefit to my business. However, I will still periodically do small giveaways that are just me and potentially a couple other bloggers.
Furthermore, I used to participate in a few Instagram engagement pods with other bloggers, but left all of those in early 2019. For those of you non-bloggers, a pod is where bloggers message one another when they have a new Instagram post up, and commit to liking and commenting on each others’ photos. Although I did meet some awesome women through some of the pods I was in, I ultimately found that they were taking up too much time. Also, some of the comments on both sides felt forced and not authentic. And some of the bloggers who I used to be in pods with have since unfollowed me, which further points to a lack of authenticity. However, I do want to say that that I do still enjoy mutual authentic engagement with some of the bloggers I used to be in pods with.
Lack of Time and Money
There are ways to grow your Instagram following organically, but due to the difficulty of Instagram’s algorithm, it requires a good bit of time and money. I simply don’t have time to spend hours every day engaging with similar Instagram accounts in hopes that they will follow me or engage with my content. In addition to working full-time, I am involved in two weekly Bible studies, a mentoring program that meets 1-2 times per month, plus other miscellaneous social events. As much as I love the connections with people that I’ve made on Instagram, they are not a substitute for in-person Christian community. Therefore, I’m not going to spend the entirety of every evening engaging with people on Instagram. Some bloggers hire virtual assistants to outsource social media to, but that is simply not in my budget.
Also, I used to stress out and feel like I had to post something on Instagram every day in order for my account to grow. But even though I still aim to be consistent about posting regularly on Instagram, I’m not putting pressure on myself to post every day. It’s been so freeing not to feel like I have to get something up if I don’t have time to post something meaningful on a given day.
Plus, I have blog posts to write too, and I am committed to publishing new content on my blog at least twice a week as much as I am able. More about that in a bit! Overall, I’m learning each day to surrender my business growth to God and do what I can with the time and financial resources I do have.
A Different Focus
Part of the reason I’m obsessing less over Instagram growth is I’m choosing to focus on my blog. For one thing, Instagram could disappear tomorrow, but I own my blog. Also, it’s simply easier to grow a blog, because you can work hard on optimizing your content for search engines, as opposed to being at the mercy of the Instagram algorithm.
I’m so over the Instagram algorithm that I’ve quit complaining about it. Instead, I’m celebrating the growth my blog has experienced over the past year. While my Instagram growth has been essentially nonexistent this year, my monthly blog page views are at least double what they were a year ago. And the increase in my blog traffic from search engines is even more substantial! Due to the increase in my blog traffic, I am getting significantly more sales through rewardStyle than I was last year or even at the beginning of this year. (PS. If you’re reading this and you’ve ever bought something through any of my affiliate links, THANK YOU! That means more to me than I can even express!) Although I do periodically make affiliate sales through the LIKEtoKNOW.it app, most of them come through my blog links.
The Most Important Thing
As much as I love celebrating the way my blog traffic has grown in the past year, that’s not the real point of this post. It’s only part of the reason I’ve stopped stressing about Instagram, and I wanted to share to encourage other content creators to reassess how much time their spending on Instagram versus creating blog content. The most important reason that I’ve been able to be content with where I am with Instagram, is because God is showing me more and more that my true worth and identity comes from Him. Here are just a few verses that remind me of that reality:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
-Jeremiah 1:5a (ESV)
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
-1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
-1 John 4:4 (NLT)
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
-1 John 3:1a (ESV)
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you,but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Friends, I hope these verses encourage you. Your worth is found in God, and the fact that He loves you enough to send His perfect Son into this fallen world to take the punishment for all our sins upon Himself. It’s not found in your Instagram followers or likes. If you don’t already have a relationship with Jesus, I pray that you will ask Him into your heart and accept His amazing gift of salvation that He freely gives to all who profess faith in Him.
I am so thankful for the way I have been choosing to consciously cling to my identity in Christ has helped me so much in blogging lately. Although there are many good things about Instagram and the way it connects people, it has also become quite the superficial popularity contest. There have been times when I have felt like I don’t sit at the “cool girls’ table” on Instagram. But over the past few weeks, those thoughts are quickly fleeting when I remind myself that I sit at God’s table, and that is infinitely better than anything this world can offer me.
I hope that you found this post encouraging. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to chat some more about all this. And if you know someone who would benefit from reading this post, please share it with them!