I Love Being a Creator, But I Hate Social Media
My last Instagram feed post is from 38 days ago.
I still post stories most days, but it’s usually just reposting other people’s stuff I saw on the Explore page. Or photos of my lunch or cool buildings I saw while driving around my city. I don’t even remember the last time I posted a selfie because I know I’d probably need to put on makeup and take at least 10 in order to get a good one and that’s too much work.
AKA, I mostly just do the lazy shit that takes minimal effort, but still makes it look like I’m being consistent.
And don’t even get me started on TikTok. I’ve posted a total of four videos and they’re all from Christmas and New Year’s last year.
I tell people that this is because I want to focus on finishing my first screenplay and working more hours at my job to pay off debt, but I realized after having a conversation with my last Tinder date that there might be some deeper issues going on here.
Because not that long ago, I used to really love social media.
I’ve always been a very creative person. I went to college for journalism and art and then moved to Los Angeles from Minnesota in 2017 to pursue my dream of being a model and Hollywood actress. Last fall, I started teaching myself screenwriting and I began writing my first movie script in January. Which of course, I plan to act in too.
I even live in Hollywood right now. Like the Walk of Fame is literally three blocks from my apartment.
As a kid, I used to love theater and playing dress-up and when I was in middle school, I got super into filmmaking. I wrote and produced a bunch of full-length films on my dad’s video camera using my toys as the actors, songs from my CDs as the soundtrack, and the camera’s text feature to create the beginning and end credits.
I feel like modeling, acting, and screenwriting are the grown-up versions of those childhood hobbies and that’s why I enjoy them so much.
But nowadays, it’s not enough to just work hard and have talent in order to achieve creative success. Or even to know the right people.
You also have to have a strong social media presence. And that’s what stresses me the fuck out.
A Love-Hate Relationship
Let’s start with the positive side of using social media as a creator.
10 years ago, if you wanted to make it in the entertainment industry, you needed to live in LA or New York City and get signed with an agency. And while those things can still be beneficial, they’re no longer required thanks to social media.
This is very much a good thing because it lowers the barriers to entry.
You no longer have to move out of your hometown or alter your physical appearance to fit an agency’s standards in order to become a successful creator. All you need to do is own a smartphone.
That’s the main reason why I used to love social media so much.
The whole concept of creating my own personal online brand that’s authentic to me felt so exciting a few years ago.
But it’s not as simple anymore as just posting quality content and using the right hashtags. You really have to master the business side of things and brand yourself properly to see any sort of success. That’s where the downsides come in.
And if you decide you’d rather go the old school way and get signed with an agency in LA or NYC, you’re not off the hook because they’re still gonna ask how many followers you have.
This is where it really gets frustrating and what leads me to the two main factors that ruined social media for me:
The Expectation of Consistency
Being a social media content creator is not like working a normal job.
You don’t get to just clock out and stop working after you leave the office or film set. You’re expected to be posting fresh new content all the time and stay consistently active on multiple platforms. And even if you schedule posts in advance, you still gotta post stories live as you go about your day. So you’re never really “off work.”
You can’t just take a break from it like a normal person can and expect to pick up where you left off with no consequences.
So eventually, it stops being fun anymore. You just feel like you’re going through the motions, posting for the sake of being consistent rather than posting because you have something meaningful to share.
It becomes as boring and repetitive as working 9–5 in an office cubicle.
But you have to force yourself to keep going so people don’t forget about you. So you don’t lose followers and engagement.
Which brings me to my next point…
Numbers Are Everything
I have 13.6K followers on Instagram, which my old high school classmates might say is a huge number.
But in the world of content creation, anything less than 100K pretty much makes you a nobody. Or at least that’s how it feels sometimes.
This is especially true if you’re a conventionally attractive woman who posts bikini photos-because of the widespread assumption that hot girls can easily gain followers quickly just by being hot.
I actually lose at least 2–3 followers per day on average. Sometimes more.
In 2017, I started paying for a follow/unfollow bot to grow my Instagram and within about a year, I went from around 700 followers to more than 10K. I had more than 15K at my peak.
Using IG bots was supposedly common at the time. A bunch of other creators and influencers I knew were doing the same.
But by early 2019, Instagram started heavily cracking down on bots, so I stopped using them because I didn’t want to risk getting my account banned. That was when I began the gradual downward trend I’m still dealing with today.
Plus it was right around this time that your engagement rate became more important than your follower count, due to people being pissed off about some influencers having fake followers.
And because most of the followers the bot gave me were junk, mine was at an embarrassing one percent. They may as well have all been fake.
So now I needed to find other methods to grow my account, none of which got me results anywhere close to what the bot gave me.
I tried hashtag research, paid ads, manual engagement, and posting every day at peak times. I even invested in professional camera equipment and editing software, all to no avail.
Most of my photos still got barely over 100 likes. 200 if I was lucky.
The longer this went on, the more I felt like I was putting in all this work and not seeing growth, the more and more disheartened I became.
So eventually I just gave up and decided Instagram was a lost cause.
While I could’ve always switched to TikTok which is supposedly much easier to grow on, I was so burnt out from IG that I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
At least not yet.
Just like with posting frequency, you can get away with having a low follower count and a terrible engagement rate if you’re a normal person. But if you’re a creator, it can really hold you back, regardless of how amazing your content is.
Making Social Media Great Again
I realize that the tone of this article sounds very negative.
But I needed to write it so I could get all this shit off my chest, heal, and move forward with a better mindset toward social media.
And while I hate to reference Trump, I know there’s gotta be a way to put the fun back into content creation. To make social media great again.
I’ve been able to improve many other areas of my life by changing my mindset, so I’m sure I can do the same with this.
One thing that’s really helped me has been batching my content. This means shooting a bunch of photos all in one day and then holding onto them to post later. That makes the consistency part easier at least. Although I still tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to look perfect.
But my biggest challenge is not stressing out about numbers. It can feel so hard though when it seems like your worth as a creator is directly correlated to your amount of followers and likes.
I keep telling myself I’m gonna be more authentic and post what I want instead of what I think will get me the most likes, and yet I keep finding myself feeling scared to actually go for it because then what if my feed no longer looks “perfect?” What if it comes across as too “off-brand” and I lose a bunch of followers overnight?
It sounds silly, but it legit freaks me out.
Posting this article feels like an important step in getting out of my comfort zone though. I know that as I continue to work on my mindset and learn to fully trust that I’ll succeed no matter what, my numbers at the moment are irrelevant.