Why I Don’t Use Instagram for Myself or My Business

Apr 24, 2019 | Travel & Lifestyle | 14 comments

This is going to be a controversial topic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth talking about! I’ve been practicing facing controversy head-on lately, so in the spirit of being honest and speaking my truth I wanted to talk today about what is for most people either a pain point, an inspiration and at times, an addiction: Instagram.

People ask me all the time for my Instagram handle and are completely shocked to learn that I don’t use Instagram. Until recently, I was barely even using Facebook. The majority of my traffic comes from Pinterest, and I love it that way!

When I first got started several years ago, I felt this huge pressure to be doing everything. A well-populated Facebook page, a content-rich blog, and more than anything, a picture-perfect Instagram feed. So I started an account and 

At the time, I was living in Florianópolis which didn’t make it that hard to create content because I felt like I was living in a postcard 24/7. There were tons of beaches and tropical waterfalls and fresh seafood restaurants (albeit I was living in a literal shack, but more on that in my upcoming Florianópolis post).

But creating content for Instagram was exhausting. Like, mind, body and soul-sucking exhausting.

I started questioning whether it was worth it. Not just for my business, but even for personal use. And then after several months, I decided to cut it out completely. Here’s why!

Reason One: Appearances

I’m an introvert, and in general I’m not a fan of appearing in photos. I’d much rather be curating mood boards and choosing styling for other people than appearing in pictures myself. It’s not even about being self-conscious, but rather I know there are so many other ways I could be giving back or creating rather than posing for 30 minutes trying to get the perfect photo. Not to mention my poor husband who used to take the pictures! We had some laughs doing it, but it was just not me at all.

I feel (and mind you, this is my perspective) that our culture has become so ME ME ME centered that you go on any social media and it’s a constant stream of selfies, portraits, or a highlight reel of everyone’s life. Which is totally fine and works for a lot of people, so I’m not going to generalize or say “this is good” or “this is bad”. Every case is unique.

But on the flip side, there’s so much pressure to put your whole life out there for the world to see, and for it to be perfect. Nobody’s posting photos of them getting off their redeye flight at 6am with bloodshot eyes and gravity-defying hair static (literally me, every time). That one “perfect” moment that you see on your feed is taken to mean that every moment of your life has to be that way. Hence, the negative impact on mental health (see Reason Three below).

Personally, I wasn’t sure I wanted my life out there for the world to see! I know my life isn’t perfect, and I didn’t want to try to pretend otherwise. I didn’t want to make it about ME and my face. I wanted it to be about the story.

That’s why this Wild Side rebrand was so important to me and why I consciously steered away from ME-focused imagery. I wanted the illustrations to be a nice refresher, to take people away from the comparisonitis that is so rampant when it comes to brand and social media photos, and into a space that they can feel free to dream. Illustrations are about essence, and leave you free to interpret and imagine as you like.

And so I stopped creating content that was focused on myself and my life, and started creating more content geared towards helping my audience. The verdict: it was time to let Instagram go.

Reason Two: Return on Time

When you see a picture on your feed, you’re actually seeing the result of MANY hours of work, the tip of the iceberg. It actually takes forever to get a picture that you like. And then there’s editing. And scheduling, caption writing, staying up to date on comments, connecting with others, and on and on. Even just for sharing a virtual “portfolio” of design work was just as time consuming to plan out the grid and keep creating those IG-worthy designs sneaks.

Before I knew it, Instagram alone was consuming 10+ hours of my week. And guess what? In 4 months, I only got 1 client specifically from Instagram. ONE. Meanwhile, Pinterest was taking up less than 1 hour per week and I was getting 1-2 leads per WEEK from Pinterest, not to mention nearly 100 email signups a DAY. So the time math just didn’t add up.

Even Instagram powerhouse (and let’s be honest – Girl Crush) Jenna Kutcher says: “Pinterest is the #1 referral source for my business, above google, above Instagram, above everything”. So even with 800k followers on Instagram, Pinterest still drives more results for her business. Just some food for thought.

It wasn’t just the production side either. Each little “scroll session” started to take its toll.

I was never a big social media user, and to be honest I only started using Instagram because I felt I “had to” for my business. Every time I caught myself scrolling I couldn’t help but feel guilty that there were so many better things I could be doing with my time.

Imagine if instead of those 30 minutes a day on Instagram, I spent them reading or listening to audiobooks? Or what if I dedicated myself to learning something new, like painting? Or even just invested them back into building a more scalable part of my business?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much time I was throwing away doing literally *nothing*. I wanted to spend my time elsewhere, improving myself and my business, and just couldn’t justify how much work went into it. Instagram is like a full-time job (and props to those social media managers out there – I see you, and you’re rockstars!)

So I made the conscious decision to focus on ONE social media (Pinterest) that was giving me the best return on my time.

Reason Three: Mental Health

And finally (this one is the kicker), I firmly believe that Instagram is the #1 (or if not, in the top 3) main contributors to the decline of our generation’s mental health, and there’s data to back that up.

The Catch-22 with Instagram is that you feel this pressure to be perfect, to live this perfect life. And all you see is people posting images of their “perfect lives”, which in turn makes you feel sh*tty because your life really isn’t perfect, and then the downward spiral goes from there.

Even when we know the photo is staged, we can’t help but feel that emotional kickback. This is especially true for young women, who suffer the biggest blowback of negative self-image, anxiety, sleep deprivation and Fear of Missing Out.

For me, spending time on Instagram made me focus more on what OTHER people were doing with their lives and less on what I needed to do in MY OWN life. That was probably the biggest factor in wanting to give it up completely.

By cutting out Instagram, my anxiety levels went down and I felt more self-confident in my decisions. Overall, I found I was more creative, better able to deal with stress and happier about myself and my personal journey.

I no longer felt the need to measure myself by what someone else was doing, but could turn inwards and say, hey this is what I want to do or this is what’s best for me, or I could improve in this area without the pressure of feeling I needed to do it just because that’s what I saw on Social Media. It’s helped me to be more authentic and explore myself and my vision for Wild Side.

In Conclusion

There’s a lot of merit in Instagram and it’s done so much for a lot of businesses. However for me, it wasn’t a good fit for myself, or my business and that’s ok.

The takeaway here is finding out what works for YOU, your business, and most importantly, your audience. Don’t be fooled into thinking you *have to* have an Instagram account just because everyone else does. It’s much better to pick ONE social media to focus on and do it really well than to spread yourself too thin trying to do it all at once.

Do I still occasionally browse Instagram? Absolutely, but from my desktop computer, and 90% of the time it’s from following the link from a Pin on Pinterest. Will I try Instagram again in the future? Who knows! Maybe someday; I’m a never say never kind of person.

But for now, I’ll keep focusing on Pinterest. So far, I’ve built a 23k+ mailing list on Pinterest alone. How? Well, I have an online course in the works right now that will show you exactly how. But in the meantime, you can find out how I gained 1.3 million monthly views on Pinterest in 45 days or sign up below to get our Trailblazer’s Guide to Pinterest.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Instagram and want some tips on how to make Pinterest work for you, check out our new freebie: The Trailblazer’s Guide to Pinterest. Sign up below and we’ll send it to you!

14 Comments

  1. This is so refreshing to hear! I have a serious love hate relationship with Instagram put I so nervous to let it go because I feel like that’s one of the places that my ideal client is so that’s where I should be and since I’m newer to the industry I should probably be there too. But…………sometimes I really can’t stand it! lol I’ve had much better luck with Google and Pinterest.

    It’s nice to hear that someone else feels the same!

    Reply
    • Hey Ashleigh, thanks for sharing! I totally get that – there’s this huge pressure to do it because that’s what everyone is doing, but it really comes down to how well it’s working for YOU. Numbers don’t lie, so tracking analytics and how much time you spend on it is a good place to start calculating ROI, ROT (return on time) and deciding objectively if you should use it or not 🙂 It might be worth investing that extra time into SEO and Pinterest instead! xx

      Reply
  2. I totally get this!!! I really like instagram, I’m a very visual person. But I have been very cautious about my time and what I want to do with it. And… I have no problem unfollowing people that make me question my self worth. I know it is me and the way that I view myself -and not them and what they are posting- but if I find that jealously or lack of self worth starts to creep in, I just unfollow for a bit.

    Reply
    • That’s a great outlook to have! Good for you for putting up boundaries. It always comes from within, but I feel like the constant bombardment of other peoples’ lives can get in the way of our own self development that needs to happen in a comparison-free environment. I’m also a visual person which is why I love Pinterest so much! xx

      Reply
      • Instagram has been breaking me, heart, lately and to be honest I cried two days in a row because of it!!! (Well, I blame hormones!)

        Instagram keeps changing algorithm which has affected my business a lot!

        I get jealous, frustrated doubtful and so many evil emotions about it! And anxiety! Now, because of it, i keep checking counts everywhere which i never used to do!

        Time to ditch it or deactivate. Idk.. But I’ve been deleting apps that don’t help me. Time to ditch some more!

        On Pinterest, i get a lot of impressions and visitors but few clicks. Has potential which I want to explore.

        Thanks for this! Starting today, good bye IG!

      • Thanks so much for sharing Brendah, that sounds so frustrating! I’ve been hearing a lot lately about engagement going down on Instagram lately and I think it will be a great catalyst for Pinterest! You’re definitely not alone!

        Pinterest works better for clicks when you have actionable pins, something that makes the person want to click through to read more. We’ll be going over all of this in our upcoming Pinterest course!

        Wishing you the best with your marketing journey 😉 thanks for reading and for sharing xx

  3. This post was exactly what I needed to hear and do liberating!!! I’m struggling with IG and it’s zapping my creative vibes for my business. Thank you so much!!! I’ve also been looking around your website and you have such great content. Signing up for your email list now! Keep on creating!

    Reply
    • Aww thanks Stephanie! I’m glad I’m not the only one! We’re so happy to have you – feel free to join our free Facebook group, Passport to Profit 🙂

      Reply
  4. Wow, I could’ve written every word of this post. I feel the same. Someone told me just yesterday that I should get in front of the camera. «we don’t see you, nobody know about you! stop worrying what people think»

    Well, I thought about it… and, actually, I really don’t give a sh*t about what people think. It has NOTHING to do with self-consciousness! It’s kind of the opposite almost. Like I don’t feel the NEED to show you my life or my face. I’m good 🙂

    I’m a web designer, so I love to show my work. That’s the only reason why I keep insta. And as for Pinterest, I’m french Canadian and only work with francophones. Do you think Pinterest is even worth it for me? I’ll definitely work on an email list though. That’s one thing I’m missing.

    Thank you for this. I’m saving this article to read it again and again. <3

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for sharing, Joe! I see you and totally resonate with everything you said! Honestly, Pinterest is a huge market, and with keywords you can target specific locations (i.e. web designer Quebec, for example). If you run paid ads, which can also bring in big-time results, you can target specific locations to show your ads. So honestly, Pinterest is worth it for pretty much everyone! The best is you only need about 10-15 minutes per day to run an effective Pinterest strategy. Hope this helps, glad to hear I’m not the only one feeling this way! xx

      Reply
  5. Thank you thank you thank you Kelsey! This is everything I needed to hear right now. I’m a shy introvert so social media has never ever ever been it. Like what is this “Fasebuuk” and how do I use it? My life is messy and I just can’t fake it for the camera or the likes or the hopes of gaining followers. I’d rather enjoy BEING and EXPERIENCING life’s moments and working on growing as a designer and business owner than writing long-winded captions and scouring for engagement.

    Seriously, the push to be on Instagram has caused so much unnecessary stress in the creation of my business that I haven’t launched yet…after a year of totally being ready…because I feel the need for everything to look #instaworth. Ohmygosh, I’m a dweeb. Really, I just want to take photos of my cat and precious moments and call it a day. I’ll still be on IG for my business, but I have to put less emphasis on it. Go about it more intuitively and with lower expectations or else I’m going to burn out before I even officially launch.

    This was such a refreshing post and not controversial at all in my opinion. You’re just saying what I’m sure soooo many creative business owners think but are afraid to say or act upon. There’s a major case of FOMOitus going around, and Instagram is definitely a breeding ground for it.

    Much respect – Nicole

    Reply
    • Hey Nicole, thanks for sharing! I totally feel you! There’s no need to stress over what you “should” be doing and focus on what actually works and brings *results* for your efforts. I also totally understand the urge to just take pics of pets because, let’s be honest more than half of my photo reel is my dogs doing cute/stupid stuff around my apartment haha

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the post and wish you the best with your marketing and business xx

      Reply
  6. I’ve followed you on Pinterest for some time but I finally jumped over here to the blog. I was so happy to find this article! I recently cut my activity and presence on Instagram and I love all the time it has afforded me. I’m currently thinking about launching a new blog and I was torn over the idea of getting an Instagram for it. I’ve blogged more personally before and found that my images seemed more unified on a blog than on Instagram. It was always a hassle and a time-waster. I’m really glad I’m not the only one who has considered this route!

    Reply
    • So great to hear from you Mary! I’m glad you found the article useful – honestly I think there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way 🙂 best of luck on your new blog! xx

      Reply

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