I have been trying to help and give advice to all the creative chums out there for over a year now. It is not anyhow impressive length of time, but combined with my never ending curiosity and inner researcher, I made a couple of almost shocking observations when it comes to “making it” out there. And I am not only talking about Instagram, but about starting something and showing up and doing your thing in general, if you are an artist, maker or influencer, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day we are all showing up and making an effort to make a difference for ourselves. And what I found out is that although you follow all the tips, strategies and “10 easy steps” and other “foolproof method to success”, sometimes, although you do everything totally right, it doesn’t work. Familiar? But what if I tell you that one of the main reason I see people failing is exactly that? What if following all the rules and what everyone says is stopping you from growing? Let me explain.
When I started to work with people trying to help them grow their Instagram, I got to the client I had nothing to say. Photography was great, feed inspiringly curated, hashtags right, captions interesting and engaging, great consistency and all. Book example of perfect Instagrammer, innit? I got really anxious as I felt like I had nothing to say. And then, it got to me (insert tiny lightbulb), thats the problem! Because full score on the checklist doesn’t guarantee follower growth and everlasting happiness, it doesn’t really guarantee anything at all. It just means that you are playing by the rules of the game, the game which is ever changing and the only thing you can be certain about is that the rules will change again and again, and again. And if you only play by the rules, following what is written and said by someone else, you will always be one step behind. You need to be the one making and bending the rules, for yourself.
Following the rules doesn’t guarantee you anything
I was watching video the other day about the main photography mistakes/tips you can avoid/do to see higher engagement and more success. Those things that are statistically proven work better then others. Nope, couldn’t check even one for myself. And don’t understand me wrong, I don’t consider myself anyhow incredibly successful yet my growth was quite intense over the last year. But, I got where I am by not giving a shit about the rules what so ever (almost, but I will come to that). I should not be successful, my photos should be failing based on colour psychology and photography knowledge. I also often post irregularly, I don’t wear make up and look like a twat on Stories. I share too much and then even more. Still, it worked out for me and I love my community, you are the best bunch of creative people I could wish for being surrounded by.
Am I the golden exception? I don’t think so, I don’t really believe in those. What I do believe in is finding your own rules within those you should play by. There is no point in just saying fuck it. It always depends on your goals and intentions with your creativity and your journey. If you, however, want to get the best out of the experience and opportunity you got, you need to know the rules by heart first in order to be able to effectively break and bed it. So if you decide, well, I can see that photos with a cold temperature are doing better BUT it is not my style so I don’t care, that is the best way to go. Or you see that pink is trendy but you just despise pink, don’t do it! You should never bend your back, you values or creative mind over other peoples rules of idea of success. Because it might not work for you. Or worse, it will work and some more years down the line you will discover you build yourself successful following or business based on things you don’t even want to do, you were just following what you were told.
Having knowledge about how things works is the best base for being able to develop and evolve within the ecosystem. You must understand the game first though. So don’t you all go crazy now, doing your own thing. Try to learn how the field you are being creative in works and then try to find your own place in it because following the rules on point will leave you always one or ten steps behind of those who make them. Do your research and see where could your unique authentic place be within all that mess and structure. When you read an article with “10 steps for Instagram success”, those have already been proven working, meaning, everyone else is already doing it before you. It can be good to check, always, and then make up your own mind and move on. They are also a great way how to learn at the beginning because once you start with a totally new craft, it can be so overwhelming that following rules is the easiest way to start.
Don’t get carried away too far
I will let you on a little secret now. I don’t really like to photograph flowers. I did because it felt like something you should do to make your photos more alive and cute. Well, hell no, not my thing. So I found a way how to go around it, made my own paper flower as I love the shapes, but wanted them to be more me or more creative. I don’t really find selfies interesting either but I like to show you that it is a real person behind the photos. So I started to do creative self-portraits, fun, quirky, with different props reflecting my ideas or mood or season. You can always stay true to yourself but still fit in, do you know what I mean?
The best way to check with yourself and see if you went way too far in following too many rules is to ask yourself: is this what I do why I started? Would I enjoy doing it if nobody was watching? Will this product/photo make me happy regardless the reaction of my audience? If the answers are yes, yes and yes, you are on a right way. And sure, put those great hashtags and trendy colours in it, why not? Be curious, be different, try whatever because, honestly, what is the worst thing that can happen? Less likes, less sales? You tried, you learn, you failed and next time you will try something better. Don’t let the comfortability and certainty stop you from doing something amazing, be curious, I dare you!
As the community and accountability is what I love the most about social media, let’s share our dares! If you decide to break the rules, try something new and different, tag your picture with #idaretobecurious and I will love to come and give you all the support!
Such a great post Barbs! I loved the that bit about one thing we can guarantee is that the rules will always change!