Hi, yes, I do care about my Instagram followers thanks

I know I’ve written a similar post to this in the past, but in light of the recent Instagram ‘glitch’, and that my opinion on this now comes from a slightly different standpoint, I thought I would come out and say this again.

Yes, I know that social media is just that – a website or an app – and followers ‘shouldn’t matter’, but I’m gonna be straight with y’all here: they do to me.

You see, in the last 9 months or so, my social media pages have become less about me personally, and more about my small business. I took my Etsy shop full time back in July after leaving my accounting job to relocate, and it’s been absolutely wonderful. It’s always been my dream to be self-employed, and being able to do something creative and to my own rules to boot, I’ve loved every second*

*Except, ironically, the accounting.

It’s also no secret that the way that people are swayed by trends and products now is mainly through social media. Brands now focus a lot more on social media marketing, full-time bloggers and influencers have become a legitimate thing and I’m honestly just so grateful that I had a blogging background when I decided to start my shop as it meant I knew all of this from the start, and so my Instagram page has become less about my blog and life, and more about my business, which I am totally cool with.

BUT this does change the pressures on it. Yes I am still very much me on Instagram, and I still use it as a social outlet, but probably 80% of what I consciously do on Instagram now is promote my business. The more I grow, the more people see my creations, the more people become potential customers, and as a small business this is SUPER important.

During the Instagram glitch, I lost almost 200 followers. No big deal, some might say, right? So I’ll just have to wait a bit longer until I hit my next follower milestone, that’s not the end of the world? You might think that and honestly I’m not offended if you do, but from my perspective, that’s 200 potential customers lost. That’s 200 people who may not have seen that I released a new product yesterday. That could be the difference between me being able to pay my mortgage this month or not.

My business aside, there are so many full-time bloggers and influencers out there who could lose out on work if they lost their followers. I may have only lost 200 followers but I know of others who lost thousands. That could be the difference between working with a particular brand or not.

I know this might all be sounding a little dramatic, but I just want to reduce the stigma around people being upset about losing followers, or even just not being able to gain them. We all know how hard it can be to gain followers on Instagram these days, so even if you’re not reliant on your follower count for your income, you’ve probably still worked pretty hard to get to where you are with it, right? Just be mindful about slamming people for something that might be important to them, even if it’s not important to you.

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Things I’m Doing to Love Instagram Right Now

You know, it’s really starting to feel super cliche when I complain about Instagram; it’s just not what it used to be.

On the flip side though, I do have to think that back when our feeds were chronological and the dreaded algorithm didn’t really exist, I didn’t have the following that I do now, so truthfully I can never really compare engagement, and maybe even I wouldn’t have my 5000+ followers now if not for the changes. Who knows, right?

Despite all this, I honestly do still love Instagram. It’s my favourite social media platform because I feel it’s where I can be the most creative, and it’s gone from a place where I post occasional life and holiday photos and promote my blog, to all of this plus being the primary place where I promote my business and a place where I’ve made a lot of really good friends.

Over the last few weeks I’ve made a couple of changes in how I approach Instagram, and honestly they’ve all really boosted my positivity around the platform, and have also possibly contributed to an increase in engagement for me as well!

Getting chatty

I see so many rumours and theories flying around about what helps boost posts and I really don’t know where they come from or if they’re true, but supposedly comments really help. Whether this is urban legend or not, I’m actively making sure that if I scroll past a photo and have a thought about it eg ‘ooh I’d love to go to this place’ or ‘wow I need those shorts’, I put that thought into writing. If nothing else, I know how much I love getting comments so if all I’ve really done is given someone a little internal ‘yay’ then it’s a success in my eyes.

Now I don’t know if this is coincidental, or possibly that other people are having the same thoughts as me, but I have noticed since doing this that I am getting more comments and generally more likes, especially within the first few hours of posting, so I might be on to a winner. If nothing else though, I feel pretty good about it.

New editing software

I went from ‘what is this Lightroom thing that everyone’s banging on about?’ to ‘wow this is fantastic’ in approximately 2.5 seconds. Sure I still don’t fully understand it but I’m having fun winging my way through it! And yes, I guess it is just another additional step I’ve created for myself before being able to post to Instagram, but I really enjoy editing photos and I really love the results.

Planning ahead a little

I really take pride in my Instagram, so it does stress me out sometimes when I can’t find the perfect photo to post and sometimes that means I don’t post for days which makes me sad. I know this might sound ridiculous to a lot of people, but like I said earlier it’s one of my biggest creative outlets so while it may just be Instagram, it’s kinda like an artistic wanting to paint but not having any brushes. You get me?

Anyway, I’m tackling this head on with my handy sidekick, the app UNUM, which I’ve had for about a year now. I don’t religiously plan my posts, but I do like to know what I’m doing for the next day or two, with maybe a couple of blank spaces for ‘of the moment’ inspiration, just like I do with my blog posts, and it means I’ve always got something to fall back on if inspiration is lacking a little.

Staggering photos

I came back from my recent Disney trip with, no joke, THOUSANDS of photos. I posted maybe 2-3 photos a day while I was out there, but especially being on the cruise for a few days with no WiFi, I still have so many photos that haven’t seen the light of Instagram yet. Sure, I could post them all back to back, but I sometimes worry people will get sick of them and I also like to keep some content back to fill the gaps between trips (not that I’ve really got many gaps this year if all goes to plan!), so I spread them out between current photos for variety.

Not getting too hung up on numbers

No one likes not being liked, I get that, but Instagram is a weird and wonderful place full of bitchy politics and bots, and I’m just learning to accept that. Fact is, if you’ve seen your follower count drop overnight, it’s more likely to be courtesy of bots dropping out or accounts being deleted or deactivated that it is that many people making the conscious decision to take you off their feed. Hakuna matata.

As for people playing the follow/unfollow game, I just think that they must be having a really miserable time on Instagram if they feel the need to do that all the time, so they can do them and I’ll just be over here having a fabulous time because it’s so much easier than stressing over it.

At the end of the day, I know its just an app, but its also an app that is very important to me for a lot of reasons, so its so much easier to enjoy what I’m doing on there, don’t you think?

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My 2019 Resolutions and Goals

The clock struck midnight, and just like that all the pumpkins in the world turned into carriages as we all become shiny new versions of ourselves in some weird reverse Cinderella story.

Ok, so that sounds a little weird, but honestly I do love a new year. It always brings so much hope and excitement for a bright new future, a new page to our life stories. And while the world is often divided between those who make resolutions and those who make fun of those who make resolutions, I am firmly the former. Even if they don’t stick for the whole of the year, the intentions are always good and I always love believing that I can do it.

So here they are, a bunch of things I hope to achieve in the coming 365 days, and even if they don’t, I’m gonna have a blast trying to make them happen:

Personal Resolutions

  • Choose happiness always – In the last few weeks I’ve been working on my happiness, and I think I’m going to get the hang of it this year, so stay tuned
  • Get my body confidence back – as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I left my body confidence back in 2017 which made 2018 a little bit sucky. I’m not about sucky in 2019, so I’m just gonna skip past the last year and work on getting it back.
  • Wake up earlier – I had this one last year as well, and it worked for the most part, but with the addition of a puppy to our household, mornings have become slightly more about cuddles in bed with Finn..
  • Enjoy cooking and baking again – I’ve always loved making food, but recently its become more of a necessary chore than something I’ve enjoyed doing, so I’m gonna get back on Pinterest and find some amazing food I’m excited to make again
  • Watch more movies and read more books – y’know, all the ones I keep saying I’ll watch/read and then never get round to or end up going back to ones I’ve seen/read before..

Fitness Goals

  • Complete the marathon – its the only one that I’ll be doing in my lifetime (I can already say that with some certainty) and by the end of next week it will be done, and then I can focus on the rest of my goals..
  • Get my 5K back below 30 minutes consistently – its been a little while since I’ve run a 5K in under 30 minutes as I’ve been fighting injuries and working towards other things, but once the marathon is done and dusted my focus will be back on shorter distances!
  • Reach 50 ParkRuns – considering I’ve been taking part in ParkRun for several years now, you’d think I would have hit this already, but I’m going into 2019 with a solid 30 runs under my belt, so let’s do this!
  • Set a new half marathon PB – nope, I’m not going to set myself a definitive target for this one, I just want to beat my current PB and even if that’s only by 10 seconds then its still a win for me.

Business Goals

  • Keep pushing my limits – this time last year I wrote in my 2018 resolutions that I wanted to learn to sew more things. Well, I did, and that’s exactly what turned my little side business into my full-time job, so let’s keep pushing.
  • Keep loving what I’m doing – being a full-time small business boss makes me so happy and I just can’t believe I get to do what I love every day, so I want to keep it that way!

Blog Goals

  • Make 2019 my best blogging year yet – last year I let my blog slip, and that was ok for my life at the time. I’m going to try and stay away from specific blog hope and targets, because I know that so many things can get in the way, but I just want to feel better about my blog and make it the fun outlet that I’ve always loved so much.
  • Reach 8K on Instagram – for 2018, I set myself the seemingly modest target of reaching 2500 from 1900, but with the algorithm as it is, that could have been impossible. I did, however, smash that, and I finished up 2018 just over 5000. This year, I’ve got my sights set a little higher but we’ll see how it goes..
  • More travel writing – Matthew wants to visit a new city every month in 2019, and I want to do more travel writing, so it was a match made in heaven, right?

Wow, when I sat down to write this I thought I’d only do a few for this year yet here we are 700 words later! I guess all I can say to that is that, cliche as it sounds, I’m so ready to make this year the best one ever. All the ingredients are there, I’ve just got to make something with them, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.

Happy 2019 everybody!

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2018: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It would seem that this end of December break from blogging has become somewhat of a regular occurrence, but honestly it does me a whole lot of good, and here I am, back and ready to take 2019 blogging by the metaphorical horns.

I’ve probably said this a hundred times this year, but 2018 has been a total whirlwind. Its been full of major highs and also some pretty sucky lows, and while I’m not normally one for looking back at the end of the year, there’s a lot to be said about the past 364 days.

The Good

Well, its been a year of BIG things. Matthew finally finished his pilot training and started flying, we bought a frickin’ HOUSE and we got the most beautiful puppy in the world. We visited San Francisco and spent a week living it up in the beautiful Aulani Resort in Hawaii, as well as becoming Disneyland Paris annual pass holders.

This year I also took the leap into self-employment, turning my small business into a full-time job which has been an absolute dream come true, I’ve managed to grow my Instagram more than I imagined would be possible and I’ve spent some of the best times with my closest friends.

The Bad

As I’ve mentioned several times throughout the year, blogging has taken a major back seat for the majority of 2018. I started of the year stronger than I ever have before, but life and many other things got in the way and although it wasn’t easy for me to admit, it was easier for me to let blogging go a little while I focused on the new things that had become more important.

There’s also been a whole lotta change that will take me a little bit of time to adjust to. I’ve moved so far away from my hometown and my family, and that’s still something that I need to work on getting used to, and there has been so much going on that we’ve hardly had time to stop and breathe, so there’s been a lot of feeling constantly overwhelmed.

The Ugly

2018 has also had some pretty sucky times. I’ve struggled a lot with body image, which after such a positive 2017 felt even harder than it could have. I haven’t always talked about it as much as I could have done, but its done a real number on my mental health, and breaking my ankle back in April only made things worse. Honestly, I’m fed up of feeling the way that I do, and I’m determined that 2019 will be the end of it.

I’ve also spent far too much time in 2018 comparing myself to others, so much so that I let an incredible achievement – being nominated for the 2018 UK Blog Awards – go practically unnoticed because I was so sure that compared to the other nominees, I stood so little a chance that I didn’t even think I should ask for people to vote for me.

The Future

I’ve decided that 2019 will be the good, the better and the best; no bad, no ugly, just happiness. I already know that its going to be so full of magic and love and friendship, so I just have to keep filling it with only good things and positive energy. Tomorrow I’m going to be sharing my New Years Resolutions and goals and these are just going to be the stepping stones that make 2019 the best year yet.

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Rebuilding

You ever see those funny triangle diagrams floating around on the Internet, where each side is labelled with something we aspire for in life, like ‘good job’ or ‘social life’ or something similarly cliche, and then it’s captioned something like ‘you can only have two, what do you choose’?

These viral posts tend to have their comment sections full of people saying how much they relate to the ideas suggested by it, that we can’t ever seem to really have it all, but I never subscribed to that belief myself.

I always thought that I could have it all. I was *that* person who prided herself on working full time AND maintaining a blog AND being able to go to the gym every morning and while I’ve never really had much of a social life, that was mainly down to the fact that I never lived near to any of my friends, but I still found the time to go and see them and we still talked every day, but I also lived with my boyfriend and I saw my family every weekend.

Reading that, you’d think that I did have it all; it sure as hell sounds like it. But behind all that, there are some shortcomings: I still lived with my parents (not that I ever really minded that), and I worked in a job that didn’t truly make me happy, and that wasn’t a career for me.

Fast forward to today. I now own a home with said boyfriend, we have a puppy and I am living my self-employed dream. The social life aspect hasn’t really changed, although I am a little bit closer to some friends now so I do get to see them more often. This is all wonderful, and I am truly happy for all of this, but some of the walls of that triangle (or more like a hexagon) are crumbling. It would only take you a few minutes of scrolling back through my blog to see that I’ve gone from posting 5-6 times a week to going over 3 weeks without writing anything. I now live 250 miles away from the family that I adore, and as for going to the gym every morning, I can’t actually remember the last time I got in a workout.

I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, because my life is incredible in so many ways, but each one of these things is an aspect of who I am, and I feel like by losing these things I am losing sight of who I am, and I’m now becoming one of those people retweeting that triangle diagrams saying ‘I feel attacked’. I don’t want to believe that these silly little sketches are true, I want to go back to feeling that little bit smug thinking that really I do have it all.

My life has changed a lot in the past 6 months, and I guess if anything I was naive to think that it would all be easy, because nothing about it has been, but what’s the fun in things being easy, right? There’s no shame in being vulnerable, but I’m ready to start rebuilding these aspects of my life, and rediscovering the person that I used to, and want to be.

She’s in here somewhere, just under a nice little layer of comfort podge, y’know, from avoiding going to the gym for too long, but she’ll be back, just you wait.

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Its Okay That My Blog Has Taken A Back Seat

I’ve talked a lot lately (or at least it feels like it) about how I’ve been struggling a little with blogging; not finding the time for it, perpetual writers block and general lack of focus and motivation. I’ve blamed so many factors, then promised myself I won’t let it happen again, and then it does, and the cycle continues.

I’ve been thinking a lot of about it, and I think I’ve finally come up with an explanation that I’m happy with.

For so long, my blog has been my life. Its been the constant source of pride and happiness in my life when my life hasn’t always been perfect. I worked for so long in dead end jobs that didn’t make me happy, so I loved having something that gave me a sense of purpose, and so I dedicated myself to it; if I wasn’t working, I was working on my blog, and that made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile.

But things have changed now. My life feels fulfilled in so many ways. I have a house, I have a job doing what I love, and there are so many things in my life that make me happy now, so the happiness and sense of fulfilment that my blog used to give me is already there. I don’t feel like I NEED to blog to be happy.

Of course, I still love my blog. I love writing and it makes me happy, so its not something that I think I’ll ever really give up, but I think I can finally let go of the need to publish 5-6 new posts every week like I used to. I can let go of the pressure to create content and go back to just loving creating the content when I do.

Now that I have realised this, I have found a sense of peace with my blog that I think I really needed. I was starting to think that because I couldn’t keep up with my old posting schedule that I should just give up altogether, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, its whatever I want it to be, and I want it to be the thing that makes me happy again.

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Would You Change Your Online Self?

Image from Channel 4 website

I don’t know about you, but I have been glued to The Circle on Channel 4!

If you don’t watch it or know what it is, The Circle is a reality TV show where a group of people are living in the same building, but are only allowed to communicate through a specially created social media platform, and because they never see each other, they can choose to be whoever they want to be, with the aim of the game being to be popular. Some people are being themselves, some are hiding or changing certain aspects of their lives/personalities, and some are being completely different people altogether. Every few days, players rate each other, and the most popular players get to choose who out of the least popular players get ‘blocked’ and have to leave the show.

As well as obviously being entertaining, I’m finding it fascinating. We, the viewers, obviously get to see exactly who these people really are, and see what they actually do, say, think and act like when they know the other players can’t see, and it is really interesting to see what goes on behind the screen.

Being a person who does put so much of myself online, I know of course that I don’t share everything, and I would hope that most people know that. I don’t share all the bad stuff, and I often don’t share all the good but mundane stuff that happens in my day to day life, but personality wise, I am completely myself. But this show got me thinking: would I ever change myself in order to be more liked?

Well, without wanting to sound big-headed, I like to think that I’m not disliked online, or at least if I am its by people who aren’t vocal about it, or who are mature enough to just unfollow me and be done with it. Equally, I could probably be more popular. I could have tens of thousands of followers who all think I’m amazing, but I can’t help but think what or who would I have to become to do that? I like who I am (for the most part), and I don’t actually know what I would need to do to become more popular. Would I be more liked if I was the same person, but prettier? Do I need to change my personality to be more liked? Its so hard to say, but when I think about it, if I was anyone but myself, they wouldn’t be liking me for who I really am, and I don’t want that.

Comparing myself to players in The Circle, I definitely think I’m most like Kate. I try to be nice to everyone, and I do prefer to keep some opinions to myself rather than stirring the pot, choosing instead to confide to my close friends rather than openly bashing the beliefs or opinions of others that I don’t agree with. I personally don’t think any of these things make me a bad person, and these traits are what made Kate so popular for the first few ratings, but now a lot of players are finding her niceness annoying, which makes me worry a little bit whether everyone thinks I’m annoying. Its interesting and terrifying at the same time!

So I put this to you, people of the internet, would you ever portray yourself differently online, just so people liked you more?

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