Should you create for yourself or others?
Who are we really creating for?
Bronte’s Instagram account has been a difficult one to manage as of late; her growth has certainly slowed down and her engagement is sometimes up and sometimes down. It’s hard at these times not to blame yourself, the algorithm or all those Instagrammers that copied what you were doing and made it no longer unique. But we always take these times as moments to reevaluate what we love about Instagram, what the next step is and why we are even here in the first place.
What are we even here for?
The thing with both of us is that we get bored easily; the thought of constantly recreating her most popular posts over and over again bores us silly. And we have seen people take her most popular posts and recreate them over and over again with much success, but this just isn't our thing. We are also both learners so when we look at her account, we ask what is there to learn next. When we started it was just taking a good flatlay, then it was Photoshop and now Bronte has decided it is proper photography and editing. We never blame anyone; we just look at how we up our game. We are also both creators; I tend to ere on the innovative side of creation, her more on the artistic side. So we look at what we can create that is unique and hard to copy, what can we create which requires an extra step that most people won’t be bothered to do. This might sound harsh but for us it is so important we have something that feels like our own after having most of her work copied instantly, the harder it is to copy the more likely it is to stay unique.
But innovation is not easy
The answers to these questions often have us confused and in a daze for weeks and sometimes there may be tears, I guess we must suffer for our art!
And then we always come back to why we are here and why we are doing this. We are not here for mass followers although we do want that, we are not here to be influencers although she does love doing that work. She is here to build up a platform for a publishing deal, to build a business for herself and work with some amazing brands. When we remember that the answer always comes clear about what the next step is, we forget about what everyone else is doing and do our own thing.
Just do your own thing.
I see a lot of people asking whether we create for our followers or for ourselves and I think that they miss the point. I would ask the question, what are we creating for? What is it we want, what is the end result? If you want to be Instagram famous then you will surely always create for your audience. If Instagram is a form of self-expression you create for yourself I would think. For most of us I would suggest it’s somewhere in the middle and we do a bit of both. With Bronte’s account we create for publishers, for the brands she wants to work with, for herself and for her audience but they don’t all have equal weight and this may change depending on where she is at the moment. What we have learnt though is that if you create solely for your audience it can be exhausting, soul destroying and you can be left wondering where the hell you went. Bronte has of late wanted less book-related posts, more posts of beautiful areas and buildings and really wants to attract a clothes brand. We seeded in these photos slowly and carefully and while they don’t get as much engagement as her more creative bookish photos, we love them.
Create something you love
I think that is what it is all about; a feed you love, one that feels coherent to you and doesn’t limit you. I think that sometimes we forget that this is our feed, our home that we can decorate as ever we wish and sure, people may unfollow us or not engage if we don’t do our usual stuff, but for us that lack of engagement is worth it for not feeling boxed in, and like we are running our feed and it isn’t running us. What we post in the feed are photos that we love to take. The moment you start thinking that perhaps you need another Instagram for the pictures you really want to take is perhaps the time that you need to shift your thinking. For me it’s all about coherence and compromise. What are you willing to compromise for feeling that your feed is coherent? If you are willing to compromise a little on engagement then go ahead and do what you want to do; if you are not, then don’t.
But I do know from over 17 years of self employment, the more coherent we are with our work, the more we love what we do and the more we show up as all of us, the more we are rewarded.