Last week, on my 33rd birthday, I reached 5000 followers on Instagram and kept on going! It sounds silly, but it had been a goal of mine for the last year and after a very up-and-down year in terms of feeling good about working for myself, blogging and juggling kids, it was what I needed. Here’s why…
5000 followers on Instagram – big deal?
In the long run, no it’s not a big deal, but right now for me, it is. I’d been feeling quite stagnant with my blog and content for a little while – not in what I was putting out there, but in my growth and the amount of people who were actually seeing it (or not!).
There’s no denying, Instagram is one frustrating place at the moment – it’s changed from the platform I joined all those years ago, to share pretty photos and creative moments. It’s now largely commercial, a shopping platform and a place for macro-influencers to reach their mammoth audiences and businesses to advertise to the max.
What about micro-influence?
I’ve always deemed myself a blogger and content-creator first. But as the years have gone by, I’ve grown a small but perfectly formed influence amongst my amazing audience. This, I think, is because I’m honest, genuine and like sharing experiences and things I come across. My audience are largely pretty similar to me, and/or in a similar stage of life, so guess what? they’re also interested in the same things as me, or are likely to be.
Somewhere along the line, I became a “micro-influencer”, which in a nutshell means I have a reasonably small amount of followers (in the grand scheme of things), but they are highly engaged and like finding out about the stuff I do, places I go and things I buy. I equate it to being at the school gates and seeing another mum in a dress I like. Because I’ve seen it on a real person and I like it, I’m way more likely to go out and buy it than if I were to see it in a magazine/ad. Instagram is no different really.
Being a micro-influencer on Instagram means that I have a mix of sponsored content, gifted content and non-sponsored/gifted content. The mix is probably about 30% sponsored/gifted, which for me, sits about right. Although I wouldn’t work with a brand I didn’t genuinely love and wouldn’t accept a product I didn’t actually think was cool, I don’t like to feel like my Instagram feed is just #ad and #gifted all over it. I like to be spontaneous and just chat-away to my lovely audience about day to day sh*t too. This is what makes the platform special for me.
So why 5000 followers on Instagram?
As someone who has written nearly 500 blog-posts, do you know how amazing it would be for me to have the swipe-up function?
At the beginning of this year, I was feeling particularly disillusioned with the platform that everyone was becoming obsessed with. In my industry, bloggers and Youtubers had been around for years, working hard and taking A LOT of time to create interesting, new and entertaining content. Then taking even more time to share their content, engage with their audience and try to get their sh*t seen.
Then Instagram blew-up and influencers sprung-up who were solely using Instagram as their platform and boy were they growing quickly (and earning a lot of money too!). I’m not going to lie, there was a big part of me that found this utterly frustrating – that people’s success was measured in the number of followers they had, yet their content could be pretty average or meaningless. It was (and still is) an epic frustration of mine that Instagram seems to favour these “macro-influencers” (ie those with 50-100k+ followers), giving them additional tools to help create content and share, eg. swipe-up. As someone who has written nearly 500 blog-posts, do you know how amazing it would be for me to have the swipe-up function? But no, as I don’t have 10,000 followers, somehow, I don’t deserve it. This didn’t sit right for me.
If I’m being honest, I was getting more and more frustrated with Instagram and more and more resentful of those seemingly successful on the platform. Yet I was spending more time on it then ever. Needless to say, it was doing my head any good, or my mood. I had almost forgotten about this blog! This blog that has been alive for 8 years, that has nearly 500 posts, thousands of photos, videos and a great traffic coming to it every month. I’d forgotten about the whole reason I fell into this world and why I love it.
Falling back in love with blogging
I’ll write a bigger post on this down the line, but in a nutshell, I decided to refocus my attention on creating content in the only way that I knew how – with hard work, time and as much creativity as I could muster. I started writing again, I got my DSLR out of the cupboard and started to be inspired. And I’m loving it.
With my attentions focussed elsewhere, I inadvertently started to love Instagram again – for what I needed it to be: community, support and inspiration. I stopped worrying about followers and comparing myself to others. I stopped measuring my own success against others on this platform and I stopped doing my head in trying to come up with the next best caption! (FML!).
And guess what? My engagement was doing well and followers were starting to stop by and say hi!
Reaching 5000 followers
So after telling you I no longer care about followers, I’m now going to explain why I did care about reaching 5000 followers on Instagram.
For me, it was just about feeling lifted out of a rut. It was about the next measurable milestone, on this platform solely. It wasn’t about my measure of success for my career or about how good I felt as a content creator.
I’d been floating around the same number of followers for most of the year and I just wanted a little lift to feel like there were a new bunch of people coming along for the ride. A new set of insta-friends to engage with, DM and get to know. Something that would keep me motivated with the platform and spur me keep on going with it.
So on my birthday, after a few days of amazing support from existing followers and insta-friends, I reached the 5000 followers milestone. And you know what, it felt super lovely. Not because all of a sudden the phone rang off the hook with all the top brands wanting to work with me (in fact, I’ve had 3 “no’s” this week to brand approaches), but because of all the love, support, DMs and encouraging words. Because of the love and community I felt from a whole bunch of people, most of whom I’ve never met in the flesh. It gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside and that’s why gaining 5000 followers was such an awesome milestone.
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Where do I go from here?
I won’t lie to you, for the sole purpose of gaining the swipe-up function, I’d love to hit 10,000 so I can actually share blog-posts like this with my insta-audience. I’d also love to share other people’s content more easily. BUT, this is a way off and is certainly not a fixation. Instead, I’m going to keep on writing, keep on photographing and working on my podcast – all the stuff that makes me do what I do!
So thank you to each and every person who has followed me on my journey, whether it’s on here, on Twitter, or instagram. Your support and interest keeps me going and I am eternally grateful. And thanks to every one of you that shouted me out to your audiences and friends last week, helping me tip over that 5000 followers milestone. You’re all ace!
Like this? You might also like a post I wrote about social media comparison.