Instagram vs Artist
Updated: Jan 25, 2022
"This post might include affiliate links, cause I need to pay my bills."
Why are smaller artists leaving Instagram and where are they going to?
Instagram used to be this platform where you could share your photos with people and see what others were up to. You could grow your account fairly easily and quickly. But in recent years it has become more and more business-oriented. Every new business saw it as a free advertising opportunity and eventually, even Instagram itself started to saw it as such. Thus far every other post you see on Instagram feed is an AD, and every other post is trying to sell you something.
The feed is constantly changing, new content is pushing the old one down very quickly. It has become the never-ending game of chasing likes, comments, and shares. In the end, you are also chasing followers and keeping them engaged with your content so that they don’t go elsewhere.
Smaller artists are slowly starting to leave Instagram because it has become toxic for their art growth. And it presents a toxic trap for beginner artists as well. The app does nothing to help them grow and show their posts to people. It keeps changing and moving more and more to a "selling platform" where every other post is a sales pitch and if you don’t join in on the bandwagon you’re out of the game. Lost in the abyss of other similar posts.
Instagram demands you to post daily and stay engaged on the app for longer time periods. Never the last, it will not ensure that your posts will get more exposure in return. They might but they also might not. The problem occurs when you post inconsistently, and you spend hardly any time on the app then your account just becomes ghosted. There is also this thing when you get high engagement on one post but flat out on the next 3 ones. You can never predict when a post is going to get shown to enough people organically and even if it does if your content isn’t clickable and searchable your posts won’t get the clicks and shares that you need in order to show the algorithm that your content is good.
As a beginner and a small artist, you should be focusing more on your art, on your journey as an artist and on the learning curve of it. Most artists tell you to post your art online if you’re intending on possibly selling it. The sooner you start sharing your art online and creating a name for yourself the better. But when you’re a teenager or student you have more time to do so. When you’re doing it in your 30’s or later it gets harder to follow the constant demand because you probably have a family to take care of and a job and art is just your hobby. All fun and games aside, while trying to figure out the app and its algorithm your art skill starts to deteriorate. Because you’re more focused on constant production of art to satisfy the app than on the quality of your art.
Instagram wants you to be on its platform as a consumer more than as a creator and in return gain more exposure, “allegedly”. The problem occurs because there are too many posts, and you just keep scrolling through them not paying attention to a single post, seldomly clicking the heart button, or rarely commenting on a post. The majority of the time you just sweep through the content hoping you’ll get to the bottom of it. Slowly you start to realize there is no bottom. The feed just keeps going and going and you can get pulled in so easily. If you are not paying attention to the posts on the feed it can be safe to say that other people aren’t either and a lot of great content (art) is being overlooked this way.
The thing about Instagram is also that you can never see the old posts from someone unless you scroll down on their feed until you find it, or unless you save it on your list. This means you can’t get any engagement or views from your old posts they just get forgotten in the flood of other posts. Not just posts from a month ago but just a day ago. Only your newest posts get to be shown and even that is not guaranteed. This is why they encourage you to post daily and multiple times a week just so your content is pushed to the top and you get more exposure, but you are also spending more time on the app and not focusing on your actual art.
Beginner artists spend lots of time creating content for Instagram, for posts, stories, reals, just so they can grow their accounts. Not taking into consideration that most of these artists have full-time jobs, are college students, have families, social lives as well. They don’t have the luxury to be spending so much time on an app just to grow their accounts in the hopes of possibly getting noticed and selling their art. As a beginner artist, you need to spend time on your art and learn about it, perfecting it. Not on how to please the algorithm.
Talking about the algorithm. The never-ending chase of mouse and cat becomes even more toxic mostly because the platform keeps changing the darn thing every 6 months. One strategy was working at the beginning of the year, but by the middle of the year it doesn’t work anymore, you need to constantly keep up to date with the changes or your growth starts to deteriorate. This constant chase gets tiring and stressful and after a while artists start to burn out, not from actual work that earns them money to pay the bills but more so from chasing the everchanging algorithm which may give them the chance of more exposure and down the line possible paying customers.
Once you start posting your content you need to make sure what your style will be because after that you are basically locked into posting the same content. Deviation from that is punished. When you start your account and post seemingly similar content such as watercolor birds you need to keep posting just watercolor birds if you switch to other mediums or other animals or landscapes you start to lose the audience and the algorithm stops pushing your content to people. The thing is, no artist wants to be bound by just one art medium and just one art style. Jet alone be punished for trying new things and learning new things. It’s insane.
I post from time to time, but I’ve had the account for over a year and granted that I didn’t take it seriously that is why it never grew more than 100 followers. This is also because I don’t post every day, my content is not just one thing. I do art. I’m not bound by style or the medium I use. I don’t do stories (very rarely), I don’t do reals or IGTV. I just draw what I like. And the algorithm doesn’t like that apparently, even if I use the right hashtags. Since I’m not a full-time artist jet, I have other obligations, and spending a lot of time on Instagram is not my priority. I focus most of my energy on the things that bring me more views and money to pay my expenses.
This includes my website, POD sites, KDP publishing, personal commission works, Pinterest, sometimes even YouTube. The things that actually make me money and actually push my art to be seen even posts from a year or two ago, and not hide it because I haven’t posted or logged in in two days.
I do go on Instagram from time to time and swipe through recent posts. Mostly when I’m trying to find inspiration and I can’t find it on Pinterest or Art Station or DeviantArt. But maybe it’s just the old millennium in me, I get bored of all the ads.
Am I going to shut down my Instagram account or never post again?
No. But I’m not going to focus my energy on something that does absolutely nothing for my art.
That is why it is best to focus on the platforms that will help you grow and are more art-oriented or content creation oriented, such as:
Pinterest, and so on.