What goals do you have for Instagram? 1,000 followers, 2,000 followers, 20,000 followers or maybe you aspire to reach the dizzy heights of 1 million followers?! But have you stopped for a moment to think about why you want this many followers, why this number means so much to you, why you are spending countless hours per day scrolling, liking, commenting and engaging to get there?
If the answer is yes, you have thought about this long and hard and you have a clear purpose and goal for wanting a large number of followers – great, you might be able to stop reading this article right now – but to be honest I wouldn’t as even if you have a clear goal for IG, you should also be thinking about your blog.
Perhaps your reason for wanting a large Instagram following is one of these things:
- You want to build awareness for your brand and get in front of potential new customers
- You want customers to see your products and be able to move to purchase from Instagram
- You want to sell affiliate products and market these to your audience on Instagram
- You want to be able to pitch tourism boards and travel for free!
- You want to get paid brand sponsorships to promote products you love
- You think it will make you look cool to have a million followers and you can become friends with Justin Beiber or the Kardashians
Or perhaps you said no to the earlier question, you have not really thought about why you really want a big following. You have just seen other people grow and think you should be doing the same thing.
Whether you answered yes or no to my question, I want you to truly think about the core reasons why you want a big Instagram following. Read on to discover why I think trying to increase your number of website and blog visitors instead of (or maybe as well as) Instagram followers is a better long term strategy for any creative business!
You Don’t Have Control Over Your Instagram
Have you noticed over the last month, six months or year that your engagement on Instagram has fallen, that its harder to get likes, new followers or comments? From what I read in most people’s Instagram captions I am pretty sure you have! These days everyone loves to hate Instagram, saying how their photos don’t show up in people’s feeds, that they have been shadowbanned and that because of this they don’t feel as inspired or creative as they once did using this platform.
So if you have seen this drop in engagement you are not alone! I used to average 3,000 likes on a photo on my personal page @beckyvandijk and now I’m lucky if I get 1,000. On @wearetravelgirls, which I have personally managed since day 1 and still do today, we are just about reaching 5,000 likes on an account with over 400,000 followers. This is crazy! Why did we spend so much time growing organically to now barely reach any of the people who follow us?
And it’s not because we don’t know what we are doing on this platform (I reached 500K all on my own without a looped giveaway or a bought follower!). Instead, it’s because we no longer have control over whether our photos appear in people’s feeds.
More and more users sign up to IG every day and people are following hundreds if not thousands of accounts, so there is no way they can see the content of everyone they follow. Instagram has a deep dark algorithm and there are plenty of theories on how this works, how best to “beat the algorithm” or get back your engagement back, but suffice to say no matter how many hours you put in these days, you probably are not seeing the results you want.
So What Should You Do?
If you don’t have a blog already and you are a creator on Instagram, get online and start setting up your website today! I have a handy set-up guide with absolutely everything from buying your domain, to hosting, to setting up your analytics in my Complete Guide to Starting a Blog in 2019. If you already have a blog take a few of those Instagram hours and redirect them to your blog!
Why? Because a blog is truly yours and you can control its future. Sure, you might get a viral post that helps boost your traffic temporarily, but how many people regularly visit your site will be down to how much time you spend on creating great and consistent content, learning the ins and outs of SEO (search engine optimisation) and getting to grips with Pinterest.
The difference here is that it is less of a black box than Instagram. This is good news for you, because it means you can learn all the techniques to get people to visit your blog and then you can start to monetise that!
What About Earnings?
If your answer to my first question about why you want a large Instagram following was “You want to get paid brand sponsorships to promote products you love”, then, of course, building an engaged and loyal following on Instagram who trusts your opinions and recommendations will help you achieve this goal.
For many creators, on Instagram, this is a core way they earn or want to earn an income from their work. But I like to think of a paid Instagram promotion as a ‘bonus’ and not something you can always predict accurately. I used to work in banking, and everyone lived for the end of year bonus – but like with Instagram, it was not guaranteed and to be honest it was always disappointing.
It might seem like everyone around you is making squillions of dollars from IG, but they probably are not. Sure some people might be, but not everyone is and even if they are getting paid to post, it is a much less predictable earnings stream than from your website.
In my personal experience, I have been able to earn as much as $20,000 in a month from paid collaborations on IG, and then zero the next month. Instagram really is a feast or famine industry!
On my websites, I have created multiple income streams from advertising, affiliate commissions and sponsored articles that are far more predictable and consistent every month. In addition to these sources, I earn an income from course sales, consulting and mentoring services – but I want to focus here on the earnings from the blog not from these other services as this is the area that you can earn an income from too! This is important for me to note because I see a lot of people in this industry who share stories of how much they earn from their blog and how you can do this too – when in fact their earnings are from course sales, not actually from the blog itself.
Once you have reached several thousand page views a month you can start monetising your blog though some of these above methods and start building a passive and predictable revenue stream from your website.
What About Email Subscribers?
You might be thinking “I need email subscribers too, right?” Yes, you are right. Once you have built up your blog readership and have visitors coming back time and again to read your content you want to get them onto your email list.
The number of people on your email list is the number you really should be thinking about over Instagram followers and even blog readers. Why? Because these are people who have expressed a real interest in you, your products and your services – so much so that they are willing to give you space in their already busy inbox!
These people are even better than your blog readers because many blog readers will come to your website when they are looking for one specific piece of information or an answer to a question. For example, someone might be searching for the best gelato in Florence which brings them to your travel blog. Once they have the answer they were looking for, chances are they will move on with their day and may not ever return to your website. So whilst your monthly reader numbers are very important, your email subscribers are even more so.
Your email list represents followers who are primed to become future customers or clients. You just have to get them to love the content you share so much that they remain on your list for the long term!
When Is Instagram Great?
I don’t want to hate on Instagram and it is a great tool for many businesses and bloggers. I know that there are some bloggers out there whose largest referrer of traffic to their blog is Instagram and that’s probably because they split their time between these two things – IG and the blog, and perhaps spend less time on other traffic generating sources.
Instagram is an excellent social channel to connect with your followers on a personal level and build loyalty and trust. You can sell your products to your customers with integrated shopping tools and to build overall brand awareness and share your brand voice and values.
It is a place where you can connect on a more personal level through stories and IGTV and by no means am I saying to ignore Instagram, just have a think about why you are focused on it and whether 30 minutes less scrolling time a day could lead to you getting a 100 new readers to your blog instead!
I hope that this article has helped you to think about why you are using Instagram and how to maximise the time you spend on that platform to support your overall business goals. I would love to hear your thoughts and how you make Instagram work for you – please leave them in the comments!
- Instagram Removing Likes: Why This Change Could Be A Good Thing
- 10 Instagram Features You Aren’t Using – But Should!
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