FALLING BEHIND IN THE BLOGGING WORLD: THE IMPACT OF NOT BEING PART OF THE CLIQUE
An observation on instagram growth & reasons for my lack thereof
I’m not quite sure where the words for this post came from, I think it’s partly a result of me recently missing a few events I had been super excited to attend (and on reflection would have been great platforms for my blog & instagram), and partly a reflection on what drives blogging or instagram success today, or at least what seems to be the trend.
I’ve always known networking was critical for success. In every aspect of life really. I’ve also always been a really sociable person who’s never consciously thought about networking when meeting people, I’m fortunate in that I’m generally really comfortable talking to anyone and seem to always have something to discuss. I have a strong network of friends and colleagues built authentically over time, and it’s not something in my career I ever really think about. It’s just something that’s formed naturally over the years and something I most definitely haven’t and don’t like the idea of ‘working on’. But when it comes to blogging I’ve always been slightly on the left foot when it comes to my ‘network’.
I have a career and a blog, and I chose 6 years ago to put my career first (and in turn not to make my blog my full time work). I’ve been blogging nearly 8 years and whilst I have met some wonderful people over the course of that time, and have friends I speak to on social media and love to see when I do actually attend events, the number of those people can be counted on one hand near enough.
And here’s the issue (for me that is). Today, blog success but mostly Instagram success (and when I say success, I kind of mean growth in followers and engagement) seems to come down to how ‘popular’ you are. And whilst I for one would love to believe good content gets you success, it doesn’t. Truly it doesn’t.
Growth (which i’m short cutting as success, because ultimately your follower base, engagement rates and ability to ‘influence’ is ultimately what enables you to earn a living from instagram, and in turn have success commercially on the platform) takes so much more than just good content. There was an early wave of ‘growth’ for those that committed to instagram at launch, I stupidly did not give it my all in the early days and definitely kick myself now for that (too dedicated to the blog), but beyond that there are still tons of people growing exponentially on the platform today. I often look at them wishing I knew the magic formula, as comparatively I am a failure on instagram. But truthfully, if i’m really honest, I can see the magic formula in action: engagement with other people, constant use of the platform, and not just aimlessly scrolling – I mean talking to people non stop, leaving comments, DM’ing and building ‘friendships’ with other influencers, tagging brands, hash-tagging, visiting popular locations, featuring ‘popular’ things, regularity in posting, fitting an ‘aesthetic’ (of which there are multiple cliques you could choose to be apart of) and generally gaining ‘exposure’ off the back of the aforementioned.
Growth seems to me at least, to derive from exposure through other people, whether that’s a super kind person sharing your content because they love what you do (such a genuinely wonderful thing for someone to do and always something I and other bloggers truly appreciate), or your blogging friends featuring you and supporting your content and business either consciously when it matters or simply as a result of your friendship and therefore spending time together as pals in real life (e.g. tagging you or mentioning you in their content / stories / blogs) and finally of course, exposure from event networking.
Being seen at events, covering events, meeting people at events, building friendships at events, hanging with your blogging friends at events, and being featured at events is one absolutely huge driver of success (exposure = growth = success). I see groups of bloggers time and time again at events with each other, the more they attend, the more they get invited to, the better friends they become the more i’m sure the invites spread … and of course so does the exposure.
I’ll just pause to say this is absolutely no bad thing, it’s also in many and most instances, not contrived. It’s authentic friendships, just like yours and my work friends. But i’m sharing it today as it’s an observation I’ve made lately and one I’ve come to identify as my major barrier to Instagram success (or lack thereof).
I’m simply not part of the / a clique, and to truly flourish I think you need to be ….
I don’t think I’m the only one to feel this way either. I’ve read two posts in the last year from fantastic bloggers who have both mentioned a separation from the blogging community / event attendance, one driven by location and the second just a simple lack of interest in being part of that clique. What I would say is both are really successful and fantastic at what they do, so ‘not being part of the gang’ so to speak hasn’t impacted them in the same way I would argue it’s impacted me, but both are full time and therefore probably have slightly more time to engage and understand the platform (perhaps?).
Anyway, I suppose the point isn’t about others, it’s just an observation about my own journey. I often feel ‘left behind’ and slightly on my own in this space, part of it’s my own fault. Having a career means I often don’t have the time and / or the energy to make the events or trips I am invited on, and in turn, I now often don’t get some of those invites that I see others taking advantage of. The implication is then of course that lack of exposure that could be linked to ‘growth’ – through building friendships, being at those events, and generally being featured in more than simply my own feed. I mean I for one constantly discover new instagammers or bloggers to follow through them being linked on other peoples accounts (either through them being featured on their blogging friends stories / feeds or through events or trips they are on) or brands featuring influencers they may be working with, in reality how else are you meant to discover new people to follow (or really the crux of this, be discovered yourself), because one things for sure the instagram algorithm and ‘discover’ feed certainly isn’t geared up to help most of us these days. Least, it’s not ever helped me (but perhaps i’m not ‘active’ enough to warrant support … I guess that debate is a whole other conversation).
There’s no conclusion per c’est to this post, this is simply a musing, an observation, a stream of consciousness, just my thoughts. But as always I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts. As an influencer, whether you relate or if not whether you have at least observed the same thing? Or as simply a reader or lover of the platform, how you discover new instagram accounts or blogs to follow? Which ones you love, even how you found them.
Regardless, i’d just love to know what you think on the topic?
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog says
Awww, I totally feel ya! Sometimes I think the best bloggers aren’t the ones with the most exposure. Hang in there! ❤️✨
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
Thanks Charmaine, and couldn’t agree more with your take. I actually follow tons of accounts with fewer followers and often the passion and craft is so much more!
Also, I just wanted to say thank you so much for always reading and following along, I appreciate it so much and always read your lovely comments :)
Sue Burpee says
The clique thing just seems so high school to me. All those shots of grinning bloggers in groups, purporting to be best friends, kind of makes me shudder. I still think that quality content is appealing over glitz and gush. I have a few blogger friends forged over the years of reading each other’s blogs. And I think there are successful bloggers who don’t feel the need to be part of the “gang.” Just my opinion, though…:)
P.S. Love your blog. I’ve been reading it for years.
Firstly, thank you so much for your comment, I’m SO glad you’ve stuck by and been reading for so many years :)
Secondly, I’m so relieved you feel that way too. I absolutely don’t fit into any of the gangs (if you will) so its so refreshing to know i’m not alone in a) feeling that way, b) being a lone wolf so to speak! I’m still focusing on the quality piece in the hope that it helps my account get exposure / grow … here’s hoping :)
Petite Paulina says
I couldn’t agree more & you’ve summed up exactly how I’ve been feeling. I’m still an avid blog reader, I seek out new blog content and the reality is there is not anywhere near the same volume or quality of content of recent years. Instagram has taken over & everything is instant or in the moment. If you’re not on the scene or in all of the right places at exactly the right time then it’s very difficult to receive a strong level of engagement and subsequent growth.
I totally feel you on this. I’ve been blogging for almost 6 years now and have never really focussed on instagram or the event side. It can definitely feel frustrating when. It all just feels like a popularity contest BUT it’s what we love doing hey? Whether we see growth or not..
Thank you for this post, it’s refreshing to know someone feels the same! I’ve only just started blogging, and sometimes (especially on Instagram) it can feel like I’m a total loser trying to join a club of popular kids. I’ve been looking for a way to find new bloggers like myself, but everything is uncharted waters for me and I find it hard to know where to start!
Firstly, let me start by saying, I truly admire your tenacity and drive for success and your success both in your chosen profession and on the blog (& Instagram – I know you feel differently) is a true testament of your drive and passion.
I started blogging in 2006 when I first arrived in the UK, then I stopped but I missed it so I restarted blogging again in 2015. I also dabbled with Instagram when it first came out but never took it seriously. Suffice to say, I missed the wave so totally feel your pain and understand where you’re coming from.
Equally, I am also grateful that I have a successful career in the City and it’s that career that pays all the bills (and all my designer handbags :P, holidays etc). I’ve resorted that my social media presence will never grow as big as it’s something I do on the side and at the rate, Instagram is designed, I don’t think I want to have a life where I am on it 24-7 either. I could be wrong but this is how I feel right now.
Oh I will always be a blog person as I think the curation is more meaninful and well-thought – it’s like the good old days of reading a magazine, and yours is one that I read! x
JENNY KAKOUDAKIS says
Hey Azura, (and Mel), same here. Blogging interiors on Seasonsincolour.com has been a fun journey but ever since Instagram exploded, I often felt down because on the basis of the photos I shared I should be getting the likes, right? Well, no. I am a very private person and I totally struggle having to engage with everyone. So to go out of my way to DM, comments and like is not really my thing, neither could I do it as I also work in a very senior role in the City.
Which kind of brings me to my next question: if we don’t do the whole influencer thing full time, should we really be expecting to be a true success in every platform we use, and what is our expectation if we were? We may not be doing great on Insta, but hey, we have great blogs, which is not something that can happen overnight. And what if we were to become super successful on insta? Would we leave our job?
For me the answer is simple: No. I make a six figure salary at work, I love my day job and I went into blogging as a challenge a few years back; I have made MANY acquaintances but wouldn’t call them friendships as we do not seek out each other outside social media. Blogging or ‘influencing’ will never provide financially what I earn at work and I have invested myself professionally at such a level that not only I cannot but do not want to give up those years of work to go and do something different.
And on the basis of that I have made peace with myself to keep my sanity. It is so very easy to go into the ‘why them and not me’ mentality. So easy. But don’t give in or you will be selling yourself short. You do have a job outside social media, therefore a more stable future, one that PAYS TAXES, AND ONE THAT PAYS YOUR PENSION TOO (I work in financial crime, am totally transparent with whatever I made/make from blogging but I do often wonder how many ‘self employed’ influencers submit tax returns; or even set aside for a pension).
I have been reading/ catching up on your social for years now, I love the content you produce and yes it does deserve more engagement but don’t let the lack thereof define you or your future content. Sending lots of virtual high fives (because hugs would be awkward, you know, being strangers and all…. :S)
Denyse Whillier says
Your comments really resonated with me too. I’ve been blogging for the past four years. It’s been an up and down relationship. I also missed the wave with Instagram and never really caught up, not least because my photographic and editing skills are limited. And they’re not something I’m particularly keen to learn.
A few weeks I stumbled across a couple of blogs – I can’t remember how – and these led me to yours and several other blogs that I’ve really enjoyed reading. (You wrote a guest article I believe). Some writers (The Frugality, Online Stylist and you) put me in mind of Red magazine when I used to really love its content and buy it regularly. This makes me very happy because I miss the old Red magazine.
Reading yours and other blogs has helped me to recommit to my blog so I thank you for that. To use it as a personal exploration of what it means to be a purpose-led entrepreneur and other issues of importance to me like leadership, building an ethical brand and supporting other women. If others enjoy what I write and want to follow along, so much the better, but I’ve made a conscious decision not to get hung up on followers and subscription rates etc. It’s too toxic and demoralising.
Re Instagram, I love looking at what people are sharing and hearing their stories. Catching up on the news in between blog articles. The list of things you describe to build a platform there – talking to people non stop, leaving comments, DM’ing etc. etc. – is quite frankly exhausting and overwhelming. So when I do get round to posting again, I can’t imagine doing this.
I think perhaps the message is to plough your own furrow.
I absolutely loved reading this post because it is so relatable! I am an influencer on Instagram and also find that I’m not really in a “clique”. The feeling of missing out on networking/events because of my full-time job and location is so real, and it does help with the whole exposure and popularity thing. As much as we’d like to think that content wins, it’s also a popularity contest, which I’ve never been good at. As a result, Instagram and blogging can get a bit overwhelming at times because you’re trying so hard to get the “magic formula” right.
Thank you for sharing!
Carissa | http://carissalam.com/