If you’re a creative person, you need to be on Instagram. Not to seek out a huge tribe of followers, though that would be nice. You need to be on Instagram because it’s a simply great place to fuel your creativity. Here’s why you should be there, why you should be wasting time trying to build a huge following and how it’s a great place to fill your eyes with some great creative work.
It’s Not All About Selfie Pouts and Holiday Hot Dog Legs
For sure, there are many millions of those out there. Caricature botox people, plump lips that look like a bee sting and many more millions of picture of hot dog legs by the pool. And that’s fine, nothing wrong with that. However, in amongst that, there are some pretty amazing photographers, shooting some stunning images and sharing them with the world. It’s also a showcase for some of the brilliant new camera tech that’s constantly moving forwards.
And you don’t have to be a photographer to enjoy the creativity. Several people I know who’s primary income is writing really enjoy scrolling through an Instagram feed full of great images. Whatever your creative outlet, Instagram, is a great way to fill up your creative tank and inspire you to more great work.
However, it will only do that if you let it.
Here’s how you need to arrange your Instagram to make it a creative tool, not a slave to follower numbers.
Have an Instagram cull. If you’ve been in Instagram a while, then you probably have a fair old follower count, numbering hundreds, maybe thousands. Time for a clear out. Be rid of the following: People you followed for the sole reason that they had a huge follower number and you were fascinated – “perhaps a little bit of the halo effect may rub off on me?” Not happening, if that was the only reason, ditch them. You’re forever going to be jealous of that figure, you’re probably never going to replicate it – Instagram has moved on – and so it’s potentially a source of resentment. Bye bye. Feel better? Told you.
People who you follow because you’re Facebook friends – not everyone you may have as a friend of Facebook will be a great Instagramer. It doesn’t make them a bad person, they’re simply not of the same creative spirit as you.
Consider a second Instagram account just for you and your creativity. If you have friends and family who share pictures, often from afar, you don’t want to alienate them by ditching them. After all, one of the joys of Instagram from a family viewpoint is the love of sharing great memories.
So how can you keep that and still enjoy your creativity boost? Start a second feed. The Instagram app lets you have as many as five accounts on any one device and it’s easy to swap between accounts. So if you have lots of friends and family sharing birthdays, and other great memories and experiences across the globe, then start a second channel and seed that with your favourite creative Instagram people.
When you feel the need for a little creative boost, swap feeds.
This film by photographer Sean Tucker is a great watch.
He talks about how most of his significant Instagram follower base didn’t come from Instagram alone, in fact it came via his other channels. He also talks about how to use Instagram as a creative feed and why you not should worry – even though we all have at some time – about the number of likes you get from your work, compared to others. It’s simply the way that Instagram is.
Get over it.
My own Instagram has pivoted in recent weeks and I explore new images and share new things I’m finding to shoot pictures of, very often on my iPhone.
Here’s a link to my feed, if you’d like to see who is inspiring me at the moment, check out who I’m following and see if you enjoy some of the great work from of may favourite creative Instagram feeds. You’re sure to have some of your own. Feel free to share them in the comments below.
So what about that follower count and the vanity metrics?
I’ve had some really interesting, fascinating contacts through Instagram. And I have a very, very low follower count. My low figure is partly my fault – I don’t always post frequently enough – and also partly because I refuse to jump down the rabbit hole of chasing a metric. How can it be that someone with less that 100 photographs, some not that great, has generated tens of thousands of followers? Well, it’s been manufactured. There are a great many resources out there that have been written about bogus Instagram influencers and I have written before about my own views on the whole ‘influencer’ subject.
Simply be on Instagram for the joy of sharing your own creativity and absorbing the work of others in your feed. You will find the Instagram world a much nicer place to be and over time, the great contacts, collaborations, the FUN stuff will come to you anyway.
So go share some Instagram love, unfollow the endless selfies and enjoy some of the wonderful creativity you can find there if you dig around a little.