Wow. What. A. Year.
If you told me this time last year that by the end of 2017 I would have more than 15,000 Instagram followers I would have laughed in your face. I mean, 15,000 that’s unachievable isn’t!? Well, apparently not. Because, somehow, little old me managed to do it and I am completely beside myself.
A year ago, I had 800 followers on Instagram and was still struggling to find my way in the Instagram universe. (How do you use this Instagram thing anyway!? What is Bookstagram and what on Earth is a flatlay!?) My mum did courses with Sara Tasker and All that is She and shared everything she learnt with me. By March of 2017, I kind of got it. I had found my own little community in the Bookstagram universe and had started meeting some really cool people. I began to theme my feed with a different colour every month (it got VERY pink for a while!)
April is where it begins to get interesting. I had managed to grow my followers up to 2,000 at this point and was really starting to have some fun with my account. It was the middle of blue book month, and I had started doing work experience with Michael Joseph at Penguin Random House. About half way through, my Bookstagram came up in conversation. That’s when everything changed. I walked away with a freelance job taking marketing photos of books, and to this day I have worked with several different publishing houses, including Headline Publishing, Hodder and Stoughton, Quercus, and various different branches of Penguin Random House.
In the months that followed, everything pretty much stayed the same. I was still theming the different months (my favourite was fairytale) and experimenting with different feed layouts. I saw my photos beginning to improve and day by day, I was becoming more and more obsessed with this little account I had. My followers were growing at a steady rate and overall, I was pretty content.
But one thing I’ve learnt is that you sometimes have to lose your way before you find yourself again.
I am all about experimenting with my feed, so in June I took my account in a completely new direction and decided to have an outdoors theme. I now completely detest these photos. So much so that I decided to archive them. However, I do not regret them. Finding your way isn’t all about getting it right every time, sometimes you miss the mark and get it wrong and that’s completely okay. It taught me a very valuable lesson about what I want my account to be and that’s all that mattered.
In July, I set off on a six week American adventure of a life time. It was the best time of my life, but not the best time for my account. I hadn’t taken any photos in advance, so it was kind of a ‘make it up as I go along’ kind of thing. My followers stayed at 3,500 and I found myself battling against the unfollows. I have to admit, there were a few times that I considered giving up at this point. I wasn’t loving the photos I was taking, therefore I wasn’t loving my account anymore. But again, this was a learning opportunity. PLAN IN ADVANCE.
Let’s flash forward to September. I had just got back from America with no photos that I could post and no plan. That’s where my amazing mother comes in. She let me use a photo that was originally meant for her account, and boy, was that the best decision I ever made. That photo got me to 4,000 followers overnight and gained me over 1,500 likes. For me, that was unheard of! Before this photo I was getting, on average, 400 likes. For me, this photo blew up and completely changed the game.
I had found who I was and who I wanted to be as an account. I’m not going to say it was plain sailing from there, but it certainly became a lot easier. My followers began to grow much more quickly and my photos were getting a lot more attention. I began to be noticed by some of my Instagram idols and was so proud of the content I was posting. I think this was the moment where I really began to get Instagram and really develop a passion for it.
Now, December is when it gets really interesting. At the beginning of December, I had 7,300ish followers. On 31st December, I had 15,200. How on Earth did that happen!? Well, the obvious factor was that one of my photos got featured by Instagram (I will tell you all about it in another post!). Amazingly, that feature got me up to 11,000 followers and I began to walk around in a bit of a daze. It didn’t feel real. It didn’t happen to people like me! After this, I really began to feel the pressure of 11,000 people following my photos. I knew I couldn’t be posting the same things I was before, some of those photos simply weren’t good enough anymore. The few days after my feature really pushed my creativity, and thankfully, everything was so well received. One post in particular, went absolutely insane. It went viral. My very first stop motion has over 181,000 views and counting (!!!) and I’m still trying to find the words to describe how that feels. It’s weird, it’s crazy, it’s amazing all rolled into one. The very next day, I posted my puppet photo and I find a message from the one and only Dominique (@allthatisshe) in my inbox. She was also posting a puppet photo that day, and unbelievably, I found myself being mentioned in her description. WHAT!!!!! All of these factors got me to where I am today. I have over taken accounts that I looked up to just months before, I am having conversations with accounts that I admired and I still feel like that I’m in a dream. In all honesty, it still doesn’t feel real.
So that has been my year on Instagram. It was been tough, challenging, frustrating, annoying, fun, creative and rewarding all at the same time. Of course, me getting to where I am today is largely down to the help of other accounts. But I think that if my feed didn’t look the way that it did, I wouldn’t have gained as many followers as I did.
I get inspired every day by a passion that I didn’t have a year ago, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for me.
What are your plans for 2018?