When I first started posting content on Instagram, I honestly didn’t know who my audience was because I didn’t know who I was.
The thing about social media is that we see other people going viral, or getting on the explore page and as creatives, and that’s literally as high as you can go on the platform. I don’t want to speak on behalf of everyone, but as a creative, nothing feels better than getting the recognition you deserve for your work.
I made a big mistake when I first started creating, but I know I’m not the only one who went down this road. If you create for others, you’ll never be happy, same goes for if you create with the intentions or making money or going viral, you’ll never be happy. Yeah sure, when that photo or video gets millions of views and you did it by copying something someone else did, or not being true to yourself, does it really mean anything if it isn’t you?
In my early Instagram days, I was literally at my knees trying to get an ambassadorship with some of the local swimwear companies around Vancouver. I thought that I’d have absolutely no problem getting in and that I’d get reposted by a big account in no time, but I was so unfortunately wrong and looking back now, I’m glad that never happened. Although I was ambitious and believed in myself far too much, I’m glad that over the years I’ve slowly grown into a brand and that my audience has grown with me organically. Although my audience doesn’t classify as what Kelly (2018) calls “true fans,” by building a direct relationship with my audience through engagement has allowed my account to continue to progressively grow.
After a lot of self growth, and learning from the mistakes of others, I’ve found who I am as a creative. Last summer, I hit my absolute rock bottom with myself and that’s when I decided I needed to make a change in my life. I would spend up to five hours a day scrolling through my Instagram feed wishing that I was living some glamorous life, but if I had just put the phone down and walked outside I could’ve been doing the same. At that point, I had nothing to lose and only then did I fully feel creative. Since then, I’ve been working on stripping down past the point of being naked with people, because only at that point is when you let people in.
In a world that is so masked by numbers and analytics, I’m glad that my account has stayed true to my own values, and it’s been rapidly paying off ever since. When you start on social media, you start at ground zero like everyone else (Wilkinson, 2019). It’s an even playing field, and just a few years ago I thought I had what it took to be the next biggest thing, but in doing that I tried to be like every other creative which didn’t help me brand myself. By trying to be like others, I actually lost myself because I was never happy with the content I was producing because it wasn’t true to me.
When my audience started growing, I started to actually ask myself why they wanted to see what I produced. I’m just a person who posts photos of themselves. How does that make me unique? I realized that because I stayed true to my passion, and stopped trying to be like other big influencers, that I was unique in my own way because I was being myself. I didn’t want to be recognized for something someone did, but for what I myself did and that is why my audience continues to watch what I do.
Kelly, K. (2008, March 4). The Technium: 1,000 True Fans. Retrieved from https://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/
Wilkinson, A. (2019, June 20). Slack’s $25 Billion Dollar Secret Sauce. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@awilkinson/slack-s-2-8-billion-dollar-secret-sauce-5c5ec7117908#.2pzdc0z38