3 months - 50 followers. Reality of Instagram.
Let's start by saying that I am not another Andrew Griswold and I am not going to tell you a magic recipe for getting a business through Instagram, or reaching 50k followers.
What I might do however, is to reassure some of you that you are not the only one struggling out there. There is at least two of us!
Who am I then? I am probably one of you. A typical reader of Fstoppers considering photography a passion but always hoping for more. I have a loving family and a decent full time job. I am a happy man.
I started photography as a hobby, then shooting for friends and then occasionally some commercial work. I like all photography, but product photography is what I am passionate about. My problem however was the fact that I am a bit of an introvert. I do things quietly. I don't go out there shouting out loud how great I am and telling everyone I do photography. But just recently, whether it is a realisation of time passing by or my character changing with age (35), I decided that I need to go out there. I need to start talking about what I like to do and what my aspirations are, or it will never happen.
And what are my aspirations? I don't want to be the most famous photographer out there. I don't even aspire to live of photography. I just want to develop a part time, but fully commercially viable photography business.
But how do I do this? I never used social media before, I am not on Facebook or any other service. But hey, everyone else is. Being an introvert the idea of social networks appealed to me, so my plan was to choose one of these platforms, and focus all efforts on it.
I knew three from top of my head and explored few more just by browsing Internet.
- Facebook everyone said. I tried. Not only this thing is beyond me but I do not agree with its policies. Facebook out.
- Twitter must be the thing for me I thought. Everyone tweets now. Again, I tried but I could not understand it.
- The last one was Instagram. It is simple, visual and the whole interface appeals to me. I felt that this is the place I can express myself and "go out there" from the cosines of my living room.
I set up an account and posted my few recent photographs looking at all the people flooding in to follow me. Well, they didn't come. They didn't follow. I thought I need more photographs, so I uploaded few more. Nothing, still nothing. Barely anyone noticed and no one commented.
I went back to drawing board. I read some articles, got some advice and decided I need to interact with other Instagrammers more. I started commenting on other people's images, I was interacting and more often than not I really enjoyed it. Did it help in terms of followers? It did. It was however painfully slow. It still is, but I worked out that I have two options really. And I was more than sure which way I want to go.
Option 1: Forget what you like, post what Instagram likes. Look at the most successful accounts and copy. Follow everyone and like everything.
Option 2: Carry on doing my thing, post more often and better quality, and interact. Follow who I really like, like what I really like (if that makes sense). Give it a time.
I think I don't need to tell you which way I decided to go. I know it will take time, but I will do my best to enjoy it. After 3 months of my presence on Instagram I barely reached 50 followers, which is what some achieve in few hours. But what I like to think, is that these 50 followers are there because they like what I do, not because I followed them back (I did not in many cases), and this is more audience than I have ever had before.