Updated: Sep 30
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If you've clicked on this post, I'm going to guess that you're also a creative who feels tied to using social media but don't know how to show off your creative work or small business without it?
This is the start of my path to discovering how to advertise my art work and share ideas without relying on social media and to reach a more productive way of creating and engaging with online content. Perhaps you'd like to see how it unfolds for me first before you make any decisions - perhaps you'd like to take my hand and jump in with me!
A Different Relationship
Over the last few years, my priorities changed and I crept towards making an income from my creativity. I began to use Instagram differently and over time, it used me differently too. When I was posting to the app, I felt a lot of pressure to create perfect content to serve up to the algorithm, I also felt a sense of panic to join the fast flowing river of the newsfeed. I was posting with a desperate energy and not one that came from a place of idea-hoarding and sharing as I had done previously.
I noticed that over time my attention span had been shrinking and when I was at my desk, I found it really difficult to concentrate on a drawing for longer than 10 minutes at a time. I didn't make the link at first that it could be a result of consuming quick content online. I was also spending more than an hour a day developing the perfect Instagram post for it to appear in people's newsfeeds for about 10 minutes, that's not a good business move when you look at it that way... At one point, Instagram became a priority over my drawing and that sounds really silly saying that out loud. I'd spend a few hours scrolling through the feed whilst telling myself 'I'm working' - does that sound familiar?
I'm not shy to admit that in the past I have been addicted to social media. If you've seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix, you'll know that these sites are built to be addictive. Keeping you online and holding your attention makes more money for the platforms as they sell your attention to advertisers. As you are posting your content onto Instagram, they have the right to share it without seeking your permission and in some cases can even sell your content to other parties without giving you any of that money - or even informing you about the transaction.
A Catalyst For Change
In October 2021 the Facebook owned apps crashed (I've written more about my experience of that HERE). This was a real turning point for me to wonder what if they never come back? what if all that hard work, time and energy is lost? Of course it was going to come back, there's too much money being made to cancel it all. But it did make me wonder about the security of something I'd put a lot of time and effort into... It was also quite a strange feeling knowing that everyone was disconnected from those platforms for a few hours.
Last year I decided to take a two week break from Instagram whilst I was off work sick, I quickly found something else to do with my time. My relationship with the platform changed over this period and with more free time on my hands, I felt more connected to the world around me. I logged on to check messages every now and then but I stayed far away from the Newsfeed. The two weeks turned into months and eventually I didn't miss it. Until I did.. and then I became addicted again..
If social media wasn't available 24/7 would we use it differently? What if we couldn't access it beyond 6pm on weekdays, for example.
I thought about sharing posts online and running away from the app again but actually, I didn't feel happy that I was contributing to that noise and keeping the attention span of my audience short too didn't sit well with me either.
By taking in all of this information, I had the chance to stop and think about what I was doing, to make some changes and to find a solution that works best for me. By looking at content as information to share and not just as Instagram posts, I could see that by creating content with more longevity that visitors can refer back to is a much better use of my time i.e. blog posts, podcasts, videos etc.
Of course, Instagram does have some positives and can be great way to advertise for free but for me personally, I am either all on instagram or all off it, I can't seem to find a middle ground where I can go on it and then leave for a few days.
I'm not saying that I'm off Instagram forever, nor am I saying that you should log off and run for the hills. I wanted to share these points because they made a huge shift in my thinking towards social media addiction, the quality of our content, our connections to each other and how we manage our time. Also being aware of who owns your images and how they can use them to make a profit is always handy to know too.
I'm not sure what the impact of being distant with Instagram is having on my creative business just yet. Surely if I'm creating better content elsewhere on the internet and feeling better mentally then I'll show up at my best for my business and that can only be a good thing!
Take a break, it'll all still be there when you go back to it.
How's your relationship with Instagram? Have you found a more productive way to promote your work than using these 'free' sites?
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments
More interesting bits:
Online Habits Killing The Planet An interesting documentary on Channel 4 about the environmental impact of our online habits.
How Instagram Changed Our World The Guardian article
Anti-Social Media policy by Lush
If you'd like to know more about who owns your images, this is an interesting article by Which?
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