My Week as an Instagram Star

What is your why? Is it just me, or is this question everywhere these days?

I am hearing it on the regular at the moment. TedTalks, Instagram stories, Husband.

At a staff meeting about 10 years ago, our new principal was introducing herself. Along with some general details about her life and career, she also projected this slide:

bradleycooper
Sorry, sorry…wrong pic! But…you’re welcome…
why
This is the one. We’re back on track now, friends!

Author Simon Sinek seems to have made the question part of mainstream culture. In his book  – Start with Why – Simon explains how some of the world’s greatest leaders inspire themselves as well as other people to take action, buy their products, or champion their cause:

They do it by clarifying and communicating their purpose—their WHY—before anything else.

My principal applied this idea to our work teaching children.  She encouraged us to really think about the why behind our decision to teach, and to let that knowledge drive our lessons and methodologies.

But I’m not talking about the why behind my teaching today.

Today, friends, I am talking about the why behind this blog and how losing sight of it resulted in me becoming an overnight Instagram sensation.

exagerate

I joined the legion of mommy bloggers 5 years ago, just before my son was born.  This Lovely Chaos was created because I knew I was going to need something just for me as I embarked on my first stint as a mother…something that would ensure I didn’t lose myself in the (lovely) chaos of being so fully and completely needed by another person.

My initial why for this blog was that I find peace and comfort in the outlet of writing. I live so deep in my head; it feels good to express my thoughts on things – random and rambling as they often are.

Then why not just keep a journal? Said an annoying voice in my head. Or maybe that was Husband.

It was a valid question, though, and it made it clear there was more to my why than just the enjoyment I get from writing.

Much thought ensued.

thinking

Eventually I came up with this:

“To write some words about some things so that I become ridiculously rich and loved by the world, much like Glennon Doyle.”

In all seriousness, it would be this:

“To share my stories as earnestly as possible in the pursuit of genuine connections with others, whilst being steadfast in my efforts to keep growing and understanding myself.”

excellent

Up until last month In the early days of blogging, I used to send links to my latest posts to friends and family via email and text messages.  It occurred to me, though, that this self-promotion tactic was quite arrogant, a tad aggressive, and very presumptuous; it implied that I expected them to read it.

I don’t do that anymore. (Er, parents don’t count, Dad.)

My writing here has been…sporadic. Some months I have written several posts in quick succession, other months I have written absolutely nothing.

And because I have been inconsistent with producing content, I do not have 12 million people following my blog. (There may be other reasons too, but I strongly feel it all comes down to lack of consistency.)

mkay

Lately I’ve been writing more, and in-so-doing, picked up some new followers.

Can I just tell you how good it feels when someone new subscribes to my blog? It means that my stories and ideas have resonated with someone enough that they want to read more.

I do not know if there exists higher praise for a writer.

proud

So there I am, watching my follower count tick upwards.

Friends, I’m ashamed to admit it but I got a bit drunk on my burgeoning fame.

more

Enter Instagram.

Creating an Instagram account for my blog started off as a means to grow my blog’s readership, to put its existence on more people’s radars in hopes that they would pay it a visit.

I used the explore feature and a few relevant hashtags (#coolmoms was one of them, obvi), and started to follow some women who seemed – uh, cool. Then I reached out to a couple of them who had been successful in attracting over 1000 followers to their Instagram accounts, and I asked them how they did it.

Thus began my education in growing my Instagram following.

I learned that you can buy followers.

mind blown

I learned about follow loops, or follow trains. ‘Gain trains’, as those of us in the know like to call them.

Since I wasn’t about to pay someone to follow me on Instagram, I decided to jump on a follow train and see where it lead.

A follow train is a free strategy used by Instagrammers who are looking to grow their following and increase engagement.  If you want to learn more, I found a great article about it here. The basic idea behind a follow train is that everyone who joins it is expected to follow everyone else who joined it.

It’s called ‘follow for follow’.

You follow me and I follow you.

It’s not exactly organic growth.

I went from 60 followers to 165 overnight.

wow

So I joined another follow train.

(Incidentally, there are follow trains for every group you can think of: entrepreneurs, fitness junkies, book lovers.  The first train I joined was for moms.  The next one was for Canadians.)

My follower count rose to 273.

conga

I was on my way, friends.

Husband was vaguely intrigued by it all.  He was also massively annoyed by how much time I was spending on my phone.

Two more nuggets of advice I was given by an Instagrammer with a big following were to post at least once a day and to engage regularly with my followers. This meant taking selfies or finding funny memes or motivational quotes that were somehow connected to a recent blog post or the overall vibe I was aiming to project.

On top of sharing the perfect pic or quote, it became apparent that I also needed to write what is essentially a mini blog post to accompany it.  You need to engage your followers (and potential followers) with relatable stories, questions for discussion, and inspiration for their day.

What started out as a quest to attract more readers to my blog had quickly become a side hustle.

And here’s the kicker: More people weren’t reading my blog. Not really. According to the analytics, my blog wasn’t getting any more views than before I was an Instagram star.

273 followers on Instagram did not equate to 273 visits to my blog, let alone 273 new subscribers.

Most had only followed me so that I would follow them back.

hell no

Now, I’m not trying to diminish or judge the intentions of others here.

I can understand committing to the Instagram hustle if you run a business.  The more followers you can pick up, the more exposure your product or service will get.

Likewise, if you’re someone looking to collaborate with brands and earn some extra cash by posting pics of yourself using their products, a large number of followers will probably help you get the partnership gig.

But I’m not selling anything. My blog isn’t monetized. I don’t use affiliate links.

No ads. Just my words.

Reading Playing on our phones in bed one night, Husband turned to me and said,”Babe, why are you doing all this Instagram stuff?”

Me: I told you already – to see if I can increase traffic to my blog.
Husband: Yeah, but…why?
Me: [scowling] I don’t understand the question.
Husband: Why does it matter if more people read your blog?
Me: …because I want to be like Glennon Doyle.
Husband: Uh…I’m not sure that’s your path, Babe. You never cared before about how many people visited your blog. You just enjoyed writing. Don’t forget your why.

UGHhhhhh, I hate it when he gets all wise on me.

But it was kinda sweet the way he told me I was never going to be like Glennon Doyle, wasn’t it? Very gentle.

Friends? I don’t wanna hustle.

“To share my stories as earnestly as possible in the pursuit of genuine connections with others, whilst being steadfast in my efforts to keep growing and understanding myself.”

Many connections does not equate genuine connections.

amen

My Instagram experiment hasn’t been a total waste of time, though.

I have ‘met’ some great folks through it; women who I will continue to follow because I admire their energy or relate to their situation or because I learn from them. Or because they are spit-coffee-out-of-my-mouth funny.

I fell down the rabbit hole when I joined that first follow train; excited by the sense of ‘what if…’ as my number of followers grew.

Glennon Doyle’s now insanely famous blog, Momastery, attracts millions of readers every day.

If I get 10 in a month, I’m doing my happy dance.

carlton

And you know what? I’m A-OK with my 10 readers.

Hell, I’m ok with two readers. (Hi Mom. Hi Dad.)

I climbed out of the Instagram rabbit hole. No more gain trains for this mamacita. I’ll still share a cheesy selfie from time to time and let my followers know when I have posted to the blog – #shameless #selfpromotion – but I’m done with the hustle.

Friends, I won’t be losing sight of my why again. Especially since I have now had it tattooed on my forearm.

(Not really.)

Writing for the love of writing and genuine connection and personal growth.

My blog why is my life why. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

To the people who do follow my blog, especially the 10 of you who actually read it, thank you.

I genuinely appreciate you.

loveyou

So, friends…over to you. What’s your why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “My Week as an Instagram Star

    1. the happily anchored nomad

      Thanks for checking out my little corner of the blogosphere, Stuart! And maybe you’re right – maybe knowing why isn’t always necessary. Overthinking is exhausting 😉

      Like

  1. I think this must be why I followed you in the first place, and why I still enjoy your posts. You have a fun, genuine voice. When so many bloggers are trying to make it big and following all the silly rules to blogging to make a million dollars, their voices get lost and they lose my interest. So I’m glad you have your why and are sticking to it.

    Haha, my why is so I can say what I want to say without having the nervous breakdown saying it to someone’s face usually brings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. the happily anchored nomad

      That is a nice bonus of blogging, isn’t it?!
      Thank you for being such a steadfast reader of my blog, Kat. It has not gone unnoticed and I can’t thank you enough for your kind words and support!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always happy to read you! There are many blogs I follow just in case they post something I might find interesting, and then there are blogs like yours that I always find interesting, so I appreciate all the fun, laughs, and thoughtfulness you bring.

        Liked by 1 person

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