Social Media is Not the Boss of Me
These days it seems that more and more photographers are spending endless amounts of time on social media. And recently I felt like I had fallen into that trap! There is too much emphasis put on likes and followers these days? And I think there is an underlying pressure, stemming from the quest to collect likes, to post vast quantities of work. The result is that quality is being sacrificed for quantity.
I Shalt Not Miss a Post
At the end of April, we took a week of holidays and headed down to Houston to visit friends. Before we left, I spent way too much time queuing up posts on Facebook and Instagram. My thought was that this would make it easier to maintain my social media presence while I was away. I even did some writing on the plane during our flight. I didn’t want to miss posting my weekly blog to my website during the week. Luckily, two days into the trip, I gave my head a shake! What was I thinking? I had crossed way over the line. Social media had taken control of my life. Time to hit the pause button!
The Double-Edged Sword
Social media is a double-edged sword. In January I gave up my day job and threw myself into photography full time. I love teaching and inspiring others, and this is where I want to focus my energy. My social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the marketing tools for my new photography education business. I rely on social media to drive traffic to my website. Which in turn brings me photography students, allowing me to fund my photography habits and pay a few bills. How can I afford not to spend time on social media if I want to be successful?
Off the Rails
One of the goals I set for myself when I started my business was to share one blog post a week to my website. And from January 15th through to April 18th, I succeeded in doing this. But the week of April 23rd, while we were away, I failed. Four months in and I was already off track.
Time for a reality check. Would my search engine rating in Google suffer because I missed a post? Would I lose subscribers to my website because I failed to deliver? Would the world end? The answer to all these questions was a resounding no! I took a deep breath and luckily sanity prevailed. According to the Oxford dictionary, a holiday is, “An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.” So I gave myself permission to ignore my website and my social media accounts for the rest of the week. It was wonderful visiting with old friends and seeing the sites. The break was a great reboot for me.
What did I learn from this? I realized that social media should not run my life. So what if I don’t have 10k followers, or if my images don’t get liked and shared by thousands of people. When likes and followers start to drive your motivation for sharing your work, then you are losing sight of what is meaningful. You are not being true to yourself, or your art. I am not going to follow someone just for the sake of getting them to follow me back. I want others to appreciate my photography and my writings because they are genuinely interested in them.
Now don’t get me wrong, of course, I love it when I see the likes and comments building on my images. I think that is part of human nature. But I try not to dwell on them. I do not want to waste all my energy on social media when I could be channelling that energy into my photography and teaching. I’m doing what I do because I love it, not for the likes and followers.
My primary focus moving forward will be creating content for my website and writing more articles for Photography Life. I am still aiming to write a blog once a week. However, I have set some new rules for myself. Firstly, I won’t be posting when I’m on holidays, either to my website or any social media channels! I’ll continue to post an image a day on Instagram, but never on the weekends! And lastly, I’ve removed myself from several Facebook groups.
We all suffer from the lure of popularity. Likes and followers are the adult equivalent of playground friends, we all want more. But remember, more is not equivalent to better. With that in mind, I am taking control. I am going to show social media who is actually the boss!
Thanks to all of you who follow my work. Here are a few of my recent images, some taken on my way to Houston a couple of weeks ago. Hope you will come back and visit next week. Cheers until then.