A Break From Instagram: It’s Not Me; It’s You

PSA: I'm taking a break from Instagram. 

Say, what?

Yes, hear me out..

I'm taking a break from the 'gram.

As ironic as it may sound, I have always had a love/hate relationship with "social." I love how it can connect people and like-minded professionals. I have met and exchanged ideas with some fantastic designers, bloggers, and influencers with whom I wouldn't otherwise have connected with. I've found incredible connections through it and even all of my clients.

But then there's the negative side. The constant need to see what everyone else is up to and getting lost and worked up about the algorithm, stats, analytics, engagement rate... Let me keep it real; it's mostly the algorithm and drop in engagement that has been driving me crazy as each day I see my follower number drop, my engagement drop... basically as volatile as watching my cryptocurrency plummet by the second. But that is the thing... engagement and analytics... it's taken the fun out of this social platform.

These last 6 months have been chaos in the 'gram world for me, to the point where I need to take a break from my own social account to help me regroup, recharge and refocus. I've lost sight of what my blog and feed are about. I need to find my focus and stay true to it. But hold up -- clients and work -- don't worry... I'll still be here for your accounts. I merely need to take a step back from mine. It's almost even made me wonder if my account has gotten hacked again? Is there some crazy bot associated with my account that IG has flagged me? Not sure. My engagement rate has dropped drastically. A photo that used to get over 1k likes and plenty of comments is now 1/4 of that. Drastic and frustrating!

You Might Also Like: The Ultimate Mind-Detox 

There are the insta-famous, the insta-influencers, the insta-models, the insta-travelers, the-insta photographers, the insta-fit, the insta-foodies, the insta-writers and on and on and on. I'll agree, it's a great platform especially if you have something to share with the world.

When I first joined Instagram back in April of 2011 it was simply a visual diary. The first photo I believe was a photo of coconut water or Coachella or possibly coconut water at Coachella. Instagram was fun, but I didn’t think much about it. I occasionally posted pictures of myself and my friends out at night, food photos with a filter, where I was off traveling to, or my dog. Maybe a landscape or a pretty sunset with a short blurb, no hashtags. It wasn’t a particularly mind-blowing feed. (Obvi.) But it was fun. 

I'll be the first to admit, using Instagram to leverage my blog was the best tool for reaching a greater audience and working with brands. Somewhere along the way, I fell completely and madly in love with photography as well, improving my skills more and more when it came to snapping a photo with my camera and using post production to clean up photos. Early on, I was savvy enough to never capture photos with my phone, but instead with my camera, text or email them to myself and post on Instagram. It took my heart whole and refused to let go. But the tide slowly started to shift, and the fun of it all was no more.

The day that Facebook bought Instagram is the day that part of my Instagram soul died. New changes happened after Facebook bought them; the algorithm began to change... constantly. This rad, scrappy start-up would soon face what every acquisition faces, the bureaucracy of change, monetization, and ads. 

Instagram became very saturated with micro-influencers, bots, and those trying to cut corners to gain a substantial "following" for brands to recognize them. The idea of working with brands was very appealing and making money off of my posts that I shared with my audience was more appealing than getting sponsored posts for my blog. Plus, one instagram photo was less work and highly more valuable that writing 500 words and 5 photos about a product. It was much more organic and more native than a direct ad. This slowly started to take a toll on me. It made me lose sight of why it is that I post on Instagram and my blog. Every time I'd post, it had to be super strategic to the time of day. Then I waited to see how many people would like my posts as if that was a reflection of my worthiness of a creative.

However, as time rolled on, I found myself getting sucked into a world that I was not always so enamored about. I found myself comparing my work to that of others, and left with a gnawing sense of my inadequacy. I found myself doubting images I wanted to post, as perhaps they were slightly dark or different, strange; doubting myself and comparing myself with my peers. They wouldn’t “fit-in” with the rest of my “feed.” I wasn’t sure how people would respond to them. I felt the constant "need" to double my follower numbers and engagement rate to get noticed by brands. It wasn't until I reached 10k followers that brands started to reach out. Getting to 20k then 30K then 40K and almost 50K was impressive. The engagement and sharing of brands but also getting paid up to $500 per post was mind-blowing and something that I quickly had my eye on. And rightfully so, since my efforts to build my audience was of value to brands. Like other influencers and bloggers, I had an audience that they wanted. My audience was one that listen to me and my opinion. They trusted what I had to say. Brands and advertisers want that. This is why I always tell people to never post for free for a brand. Whether you have 1,000 followers of 1,000,000 followers -- if they are very engaging, they are valuable assets to you, and brands want a piece of that. Never work for free. I'll talk about this another time.

Then 2017 happened and the algorithm changed drastically, effecting everyone. Since then, it's been a constant battle of keeping up with the latest changes and staying true. This in return caused a domino effect and started to effect brand work, brands not renewing their contracts, decrease in traffic to my blog, decrease in email subscribers, a decrease in affiliate link purchases, and so on.

It's pretty easy to get all caught up in this vicious Instagram circle. As a blogger and influencer, these things matter if you want to work with brands. With that said, I've noticed that the last 6 months I've lost my focus on my feed, my blog, and the type of blogger I am. A few months ago I made it a point to decline every single brand opportunity that presented itself -- paid or not paid. (Sorry, I do not work for free.)

In recent months I've stayed true and have only worked with brands that I absolutely LOVE and use in my daily life, brands that I believe in and enjoy and happy to recommend and shout them out on stories. They are the constant brands that you see within my feed, stories, and blog. I realized I need to stay true to myself and my audience. I think this is something many bloggers and influencers disconnect from. It's funny... in the 90's this is what people would refer to as a "sell out." It makes me wonder, are we all "sell outs" and how does this play into transparency of what people are endorsing and what they actually like and love?

With that said, I really believe that taking a break from it will help me regroup and find my focus again.

Have you taken a break from Instagram? How did you feel after? Share here!


 

Valerie Fidan

Valerie is a San Francisco native who gave up the comforts of home to travel the world continuously. Now based in Portland, OR, Valerie is a Social Media Marketing Consultant, helping solo entrepreneurs and small business owners DIY their social media by teaching them the in’s and out’s of SMM. She enjoys health hacking recipes, a good cocktail, yoga, hikes, live shows, puns & dad jokes.

The Best Tools To Use To Take Insta-Worthy Food & Travel Pics

The Best Tools For Insta-Worthy Food & Travel Pics  - best travel gardgets, travel accessories, 2019 best travel photography gear - www.letsregale.com

Let's talk about Instagram for a sec. Would you believe me if I told you that I've been on Instagram since the beginning of Instagram time? Ya, true story! (User #110,431!)

This app was interesting when I first came across it in late 2010, but it was so boring because none of my friends were on it and there were very little users. I posted my first photo in 2011 at Coachella but then deleted it (and later reposted months later (view here). My second photo was posted a few months later, and now is my "first photo" on my feed. I'm happy it's grown in popularity and now is the "go-to" social app for many of us.

I often get asked what kind of camera I used, what apps are my go-to's, and if I plan my posts ahead. I'm going to share with you some of my recommendations and tips.

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What kind of camera do I use?

I use a Canon 80D, and Olympus PEN E-PL7...and most recent, my Sony Alpha a6500 where I can change lenses - my current fav is the 12–50mm (for depth and blur) and the pancake lens (for ever day, pocket use). I use the Canon with various lenses and filters for food photography. It's amazing and the 50mm is still my favorite for Canon as well. I use the Olympus as my everyday use camera because it's similar to a point-n-shoot but has all the functions of a DSLR. The Fuji camera I use a lot for photos. I guess it's really which one I'm in the mood to use!

Cameras

Canon 80D

  • Lens - best for close-ups & people Canon 50mm f1.2

  • Alternative to f1.2, and a great starter lens - 50mm f1.8 50mm f1.8

Olympus Pen E-PL7

Sony Alpha a6500 with the Sony 50mm lens

Favorite Tripods


Do I use my phone to take photos?

I'd say that 99% of my Instagram photos are taken through my cameras and 1% on my iPhone7. Both the FujiE-X1 and Olympus Pen E-PL7 are mirrorless cameras., which make them less bulky, less heavy, and they can produce images like a DSLR. Size and weight is everything to me; the smaller and lighter, the better. I also use lens filters to help make images a bit more crisp or block out UV light.

Do you need a fancy camera?

In short, no! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a fancy-shamncy camera to snap great photos. All you need is a camera that you're comfortable with, the right lighting, the right composition, and a great edit. (Seriously, it's all about post production!) All of my photos are edited using Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and/or VSCO app.

Tools To Use To Take Badass Instagram #FoodPics

Tools To Use To Take Badass Instagram #FoodPics

What are my favorite apps?

Ok, so, none of this is groundbreaking stuff, although, here are the apps I use on a regular basis to keep my Insta snaps looking cohesive. On my iMac i do use Lightroom and Photoshop. When it comes to photo editing on my iPhone I use these apps:

VSCOCAM

This one is an obvi! I know, you all use VSCO, it’s the best, right? It’s the only app I use to edit my pictures at the moment. It just does everything I need it to do and has the best filters. I use the A5 or HB1 filters, brighten up the exposure, clarify, sharpen, and decrease the warmth to get rid of the “yellowish” color.

SNAPSEED

Snapseed is a great all-round for sorting out the basics. The sliders for brightness, contrast, etc. give you far more control than VSCO. Snapseed is perfect for people that want to do a little editing but maintain that no-filter look.

BEFUNKY

You’re going to love this app. BeFunky is FREE and has all the amazing capabilities that you need to edit photos on the go.

FACETUNE

Ok, so Facetune is great if you want to smooth out your skin or patch up a photo. I don't use this one often, but when I do it's very handy for that purpose.

AFTERLIGHT

Afterlight is also pretty darn amazing. It has a ton of filters, with lots of fun extras, like putting your picture in a circle or adding a patterned background. It also has some great light leaks and vintage camera grain. Everything you need in one app!

PLANOLY

I kind of let out of a sigh of relief when I downloaded Planoly. And, if you're like me and take Instagram far too seriously and meticulously plan how our feeds look, you're going to love this one. It’s as easy as adding images, adding captions and hashtags, and hitting post. It's drag-n-drop feature is intuitive, and it also has functions for scheduling and hashtagging your posts. This was all I need, a simple way of checking how my images fit together on my computer or phone, and a way to schedule them. They do offer a free version, but if you are posting a lot or manage multiple accounts, Planoly has different paid options. Another one I recommend is Mosaico. Although, they don't have a website, the mobile app is great!

Where do I save all of my photos?

I save all of my photos on DropBox, Google Photos, and an external hard drive. That's three places! DropBox and Google Photos are great because you can automatically sync your photos to their apps. The external hard drive is a great 3rd source because you never know what can happen to these companies!

So there you have it! You now know my little Instagram secrets! What type of apps and tools do you use? (Post your answers here!) Follow along on Instagram - @valeriefidan!

Updated 3/2019

Wildlife, Wallabies and Wine Instagrammed in Hunter Valley

IMG_2462Gregg and I opt not to celebrate the commercialized Valentine's Day, because, well, if I must say it...I love my husband 365 days out of the year, not on just one day out of the year; I know he feels the same. I think it is ridiculous to pay a premium price for flowers, chocolate, gifts, and the stress of not being able to secure a table at the trendiest restaurant where one will pay a prix fixe menu cost. Unless it is your first year of dating, there really isn't a need to celebrate. This year was no different. Except, we were in Australia!

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We decided to take a wine tour of Hunter Valley. Surprisingly, the only date that was available for the week and that coordinated will with our plans was February 14th with Kangarrific Hunter Valley Wine Tour.

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The tour looked and sounded fun. The tour started off with a special morning tea with friendly wildlife and wallabies at a wildlife sanctuary outside of Sydney. From there we made our way to Hunter Valley, the oldest and prettiest wine country in Australia. We got a chance to taste wonderful wines, indulgence in locally made chocolate, fudge, wine, cheese, gelato, olive oil and beer!

It's not only a wine tour, but a wildlife, chocolate, cheese, wine and beer tour! Try not only some amazing wines at small picturesque boutique wineries, but visit a chocolate factory, taste some local cheeses and visit a brewery. Our morning tea with kangaroos, koalas and other native animals is a very special experience too.

Here is a taste of Hunter Valley, instagrammed:

gluten-free travel, gluten-free, gluten-free sudney, gluten-free australia, travel, sydney, australia, ramblist, instagram, instagram sydney

gluten-free travel, gluten-free, gluten-free sudney, gluten-free australia, travel, sydney, australia, ramblist, instagram, instagram sydney

gluten-free travel, gluten-free, gluten-free sudney, gluten-free australia, travel, sydney, australia, ramblist, instagram, instagram sydney

gluten-free travel, gluten-free, gluten-free sudney, gluten-free australia, travel, sydney, australia, ramblist, instagram, instagram sydney

gluten-free travel, gluten-free, gluten-free sudney, gluten-free australia, travel, sydney, australia, ramblist, instagram, instagram sydney

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gluten-free travel, gluten-free, gluten-free sudney, gluten-free australia, travel, sydney, australia, ramblist, instagram, instagram sydney

 

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IMG_2461 IMG_2489

gluten-free travel, gluten-free, gluten-free sudney, gluten-free australia, travel, sydney, australia, ramblist, instagram, instagram sydney

gluten-free travel, gluten-free, gluten-free sudney, gluten-free australia, travel, sydney, australia, ramblist, instagram, instagram sydney

xxo, valerie

Are you on instagram? Follow @valeriefidan and tag your awesome travel photos with #ramblist!