A few years back, when I had extra time on my hands, I started up a blog and Instagram for fun. I really started out with no true goals or dreams for this venture other than to enjoy it and let loose my creative juices as an “Instagram influencer.”
A few months in, I began to form my social circle within Instagram, all fellow moms who were turning towards Instagram as both a creative outlet and a source of extra income. When I first started out it was not my intention to make money on the platform, but more so just to post pretty pictures.
Well once you enter the cycle, and are surrounded by people that you truly like and trust, things can spin out of control quickly.
All of the sudden I was posting 1-2 times per day. I was accepting ad propositions from companies and promoting various products, and spending all of my free time “promoting” said posts.
It was exhausting being an Instagram influencer.
At first it was fun. Who wouldn’t want to say they worked with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Yoplait, Lipton, Dove, and more? It was a kind of rush each time a brand said yes to working with me!
But with each opportunity came work. Work that was – to be honest – not well compensated.
First there is the staging of the products and taking photos. Next you enter the editing cycle, making the photo Instagram perfect while also crafting an accompanying caption that matches all the guidelines set forth by the company. Then you enter the submission (and likely revision) stage until you have a photo and caption that the company approves for posting.
Oh but that is not all my friends.
Then you post the photo to Instagram and need to “promote” it by engaging with other accounts so that they will in turn engage with yours. Many companies like to see a certain number of likes and comments or certain percentage of engagement before they are satisfied. Then the cycle begins again…. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.
A move across the country left me depleted of the free time I once had and my Instagram Influencer journey began to come to a screeching halt.
By this point, the initial rush had subsided and I was more than happy to give it up. I switched my account from public to private and now I continue posting only when I want to and have the time to.
I was reflecting back on that journey as an Instagram influencer this past summer and I realized something that was not apparent to me right away.
When I was in the thick of it, in that never ending cycle, I had many friends on the platform. Many moms that I talked with on a daily basis. After making the decision to step away, guess how many of those same people continue to keep in touch with me or reach out and ask how I am doing since I have been MIA for a while? Just a handful.
You would think maybe this is sad, and for a fraction of a second I did as well.
But guess what? Ultimately Instagram, and this journey, has given me a few true, real life best friends. I met a few people that not only live near me, but that share life’s ups and downs with me both on and off Instagram. I moved from Kansas City to California two years ago not knowing anyone my age, but thanks to Instagram, I was not without friends for long.
In the end I will be forever grateful for my journey as an Instagram influencer. It was fun (until it wasn’t), and ultimately it led me to some life long friends. Those true kinds of friends that stick around and care about YOU as a person, not as an image portrayed on social media.
And that is the best gift of all.