Have you thought about quitting Instagram? I’ve decided to become a travel blogger without Instagram. This post explains why, the hurdles I expect to face, and my concerns about quitting Instagram.
Instagram Isn’t Effective for Growing A Business
Before launching my travel blog in May 2019, I used Instagram only for personal reasons. About every month I’d post a curated photo showing off the fun things I’ve done or of an accomplishment I’m proud of.
On average, I spent about 2 hours per day scrolling my feed while waiting in lines or for college classes to start.
When I launched my travel blog, I created a separate business account and made my personal account private in order to add some division between my personal and professional lives.
Quickly, though, I started spending 4+ hours per day on Instagram.
Instagram is an important part of business branding and digital marketing. Large content creators tell newbies they have to be active on Instagram to grow. It’s kind of true too.
When I hear of a new brand, I tend to visit their Instagram page first to see how legit it is and if the feed radiates an aesthetic pleasing to me.
At travel conferences, most people will follow each other on Instagram instead of distributing business cards.
I’ve engaged with my fellow content creators’ on Instagram instead of with their actual content on their blogs or Youtube channels.
After sitting at home for months due to Coronavirus, I realized I was spending upwards of 6 hours on Instagram daily.
The hours of creating informative and beautiful content, and engaging with my audience and fellow creators, did not move my business forward.
I don’t feel more connected with my audience. How could I when the majority of followers aren’t engaging with me?
Instagram users scroll quickly on the hunt for quick wins. Environmentalism is not a quick win. Most conversations around the environment that started on Instagram also ended on Instagram.
Those Instagram posts did not translate into more email subscribers or visits to my blog. Those are the metrics that could actually allow me to leave a lasting impact on the travel industry and earn full-time revenue from my blog.
My Instagram content felt surface-level and I feared the effects of this for nuanced topics, such as environmentalism. If I gave off the facade that environmentalism is easy, would my readers quit when they suddenly realized going zero waste is hard?
I try to make zero waste as accessible for people as possible, but the process still requires individual initiative.
Instagram feels more and more like an echo chamber.
This is evident with Black Lives Matter. Millions of Instagram users posted black squares to show solidarity for BLM and did nothing to push the movement forward after that.
Awareness is important. Instagram does a great job of building awareness. However, if awareness alone stirred people into action, then our entire society would eat healthfully, exercise regularly, be sustainable, and push for more equality in government and business.
This is not our reality.
Personally, I’ve kept swiping when Instagram users have called me to action that required getting off the Instagram app or getting off the couch. Sometimes I”ll do what they ask, but it’s usually after the tenth time. Isn’t there a better way?
Now I wonder if it’s possible to be a blogger without Instagram.
Is Instagram our only hope for entertaining, sharing information, and creating change?
I hope not.
Instagram Is Boring
Many content creators engage on Instagram to stay connected with their audience and show their relatability. They aim to present their authentic selves and show what happens behind-the-scenes.
This relatability and authenticity is scripted to avoid criticism, though.
Some level of authenticity has to be given up for any piece of content to fit the brand’s aesthetic, please everyone, and reduce criticism.
A consistent aesthetic and brand image isn’t a true representation of my life or environmentalism.
Environmentalism can be ugly, challenging, and upsetting. My life is full of ups and downs, struggles, and obstacles. To make either my life or environmentalism appear as always uplifting would be misleading.
Instagram users want to see highly-curated, glamourous, and positivity-infused content. They use the visual platform to mindlessly scroll, escape reality, and throw away brain space on monotonous messaging.
The result of this dull expectation is millions of pieces of content that look or feel the same.
Whenever a new idea appears, it is quickly reproduced and loses its uniqueness.
Food photography looks the same. “Follow Me To” photos are a classic travel pose now. Even Erin Sullivan’s brilliant food photography series is getting old.
To stand out in users’ feeds, brands constantly strive to be more creative and produce more engaging content.
For a one-woman show, such as mine, the constant pursuit of more and better leads to decision fatigue and burnout.
Content creator burnout is a very real concern.
Many creators struggle with mental health because they’re constantly open to the public’s criticism, yet are pressured to always be present for their audience and produce more and better content. Roberto Blake describes this best in the video below.
My mind feels crowded due to Instagram. I consume so much imagery and information from the platform daily that I can’t adequately process that information. How I spend my limited brain energy on Instagram is not effective.
I’ve lost sense of my visual creativity on Instagram as well as my written creativity. Most of my blog posts are over 2,000 words because I have a lot of information, resources, advice, and stories to share.
As I’ve said earlier, environmentalism is nuanced. Since travelers give me their valuable time, they deserve the full story.
It’s boring to scroll through Instagram and see the same highly-curated image and preset a hundred times. It’s boring to read the same messages reworked in twenty different ways.
To be honest, I’m bored of even my Instagram content.
My apathy for Instagram indicates it’s time to quit the app.
I only hope that, as a blogger without Instagram, my whole blog won’t crash.
Boundaries Don’t Exist
Most of my life exists outside of Instagram.
I love horseback riding, learning languages, and adventuring with friends outdoors. Apartment decorating and home renovations are fun ways for me to express my personality and life story.
But as I’ve spent more time on Instagram, more of my life has shifted to Instagram. Sometimes it felt as if my entire life was on Instagram.
Professional and personal boundaries were blurred at a slow rate that it resulted in an explosion of unduly stress and worry.
I hated always feeling present for others and considering if an activity or photo fits my brand’s Instagram aesthetic.
Instead of being present for the people who truly care about me, I was present for a mobile app
The vanity metrics of Instagram followers and ‘likes’ never compensates for the satisfaction time with friends, family, or activism brings me.
I tried setting a screen time limit for Instagram, but it was too easy to ignore it or make an excuse as to why I needed to open the app.
My inability to create boundaries between Instagram and my life forced me to make the drastic move of becoming a travel blogger with Instagram.
In the past year, I’ve decided to participate in local politics. I also want to host clean-ups and be more active in my community.
There isn’t enough time for me to do these things because of how much time I spent on Instagram. In fact, I gave up time in the outdoors and studying foreign languages for Instagram.
After a conversation with a friend, I realized I could have more impact on the travel industry by taking action in my community rather than talking about action online.
That conversation forced me to reconsider if I affected the travel industry with my blog and even considered quitting blogging.
I will continue blogging because travelers are making more sustainable decisions due to my blog content. That’s the effect I want to continue chasing with my blog!
Instagram doesn’t seem to be an important part of that equation, though. It shouldn’t have to be.
It’s time to enjoy life simply for enjoyment again, and not for someone else’s entertainment.
Maybe one day I can learn to set boundaries for my Instagram usage and stick to them better, but as of now that’s not possible for me.
A Blogger Without Instagram Means Less Screen Time
My full-time job requires a lot of time on a computer.
At the end of a long day of staring at a screen, I return home to spend a few more hours in front of a screen for the blog.
So much of my day is spent sitting in front of a screen. I crave time away, but then I feel lost without the constant stimulation.
Every hour I spent on Instagram for “business” could have been another hour writing blog content or spending time away from the screen.
And I need more time to write. I want more time dedicated to my friends and hobbies.
Instagram is so addictive that it tends to be the first and last thing I do every day.
I want my first moments in the morning to be with my cat and feeling gratitude for my life.
Those first moments of every day are prime creativity time and some of the only moments we have absolutely for ourselves every day. By starting my day with Instagram, I’m abandoning that time.
On a similar note, the last moments of my day should consist of journaling or reading.
My last thoughts for the day, as I drift into sleep, should not be “X person posted something better than me” or “X person thinks I should do this.”
The app is designed for you to spend as much time on it as possible, so it’s no wonder that I still spent 2-3 hours on Instagram a day, even after turning off Instagram notifications and setting a time limit for Instagram.
I don’t feel rewarded by the time I spend on Instagram. Yet, despite blogging’s potential for income and my enjoyment for writing, I chose the app over blogging.
I’m grateful for the people I’ve met through the app and how I can visually experience my friends’ lives. Many of these relationships haven’t moved off Instagram, though. Can they really be a friendship then?
‘Following’ someone is not a true way to get to know someone or say you’re friends with someone.
I want to actually communicate with my friends, whether that’s in-person, over a video call or text, via email, or even snail mail.
The people I actually care about I’d reach out to instead of relying on Instagram as a crutch for friendship, and vice versa.
I love the people in my life and I love my life. That’s why I want to be a travel blogger without Instagram.
Concerns About Being A Blogger Without Instagram
Although I’m committed to skipping Instagram for three months, I have concerns about being a travel blogger without Instagram.
How will I stay engaged with my readers, like you?
Most readers don’t comment on blogs anymore, which makes me sad.
Part of me thinks getting rid of other ways to stay in touch will bring back blog comments, so I’m excited to see if that happens or not!
I’ll encourage more emails and post more regularly on Facebook, which is a platform I don’t struggle to control my time on.
How will readers know when I publish new blog posts unless they consciously choose to come back and check daily?
In a recent Instagram post, I asked my readers how they stay informed about new blog posts from content creators. Most of them had said Instagram.
Yet, Instagram has never been an efficient way for me to drive readers to my blog. It brings a few readers to my website a day and, according to Google Analytics, they don’t stay on my website for long.
I was shocked when a lot of my audience said they stay informed through Instagram! After talking to many of them, though, they agreed they’re tired of Instagram and miss a lot of updates from their favorite creators.
I’m excited to do more with these platforms!
How will being a travel blogger without Instagram affect my brand image?
Instagram is the preferred method by brands (and even readers) to check how legit a creator is.
Brands realized they could save time by checking a creators’ Instagram statistics instead of asking for a media kit.
Paige Brunton said it best…”Because we can’t see how much money most businesses make, how busy their bookings calendar really is, how big their email list is or how much traffic they get to their site, doing a quick check on Instagram tends to be the way we determine from the outside how successful a business is.”
Instagram is a flawed form of measurement, though.
I know creators on Instagram with a few thousand followers who make a full-time living off their content and have built an incredibly trusting audience. When that creator tells their audience they need something to improve their life, they pull out their wallet and buy.
There are also creators with tens of thousands of followers who don’t make any income! Their Instagram usage hasn’t built trust with their audience.
Undoubtedly, Instagram’s visual platform is important for the travel industry, which offers visual experiences.
I will certainly encounter challenges in building a travel brand without Instagram, but I’m excited to explore new ways to share travel’s visual and sensory experience as a blogger without Instagram.
There was a time of travel influence before Instagram.
In fact, many of my first international travels were done before I made an Instagram account.
I believe an Instagram-less travel influence can still exist today.
How will I replace my digital scrapbook?
This is a personal issue. I enjoy scrolling through my feed and rewatching Instagram stories to reminisce memories.
Will I create a physical photo book to still reminisce?
Should I start creating Youtube videos of my travels?
Will I frame more of my travel photos?
There are still many unknowns about life as a blogger without Instagram.
When will I be gone from Instagram?
From July 20th to October 20th, 2020, I won’t be active on Instagram. My account will remain live.
How can you follow and engage with me?
Comment on blog posts!
Get on my email list here.
Join my Zero Waste Travel Facebook group here.
Follow my Facebook page here.
I hope this three-month break from Instagram will allow me to return to the visual platform with a strategy to maintain boundaries and creativity.
Have you ever considered ditching Instagram? Let me know in the comments below!