I thought I would share what the past five months have looked like since I last logged into our Instagram account. It seems to be the question I get asked most often these days, and I can honestly say that not much has changed (and yet so much has changed, for me personally).
When I first mentioned the idea to Justin it felt pretty radical, but now looking back months on, I can see that it really wasn’t. I had placed far too much importance on one very small aspect of my business, and once I had figured out why I had done this it was easier for me to see instagram as a tool, rather than the lifeline of our business.
I have realized in the past few months that Instagram had been fueling my need for outside validation. It was a place I could go to get a quick hit of approval and love from others when I was feeling low, or needing to feel that I was doing the “right thing” and “on the right track”. Like most addictive things, it started out as fun, a way to share what we were making, reach out to others and just to feel creatively inspired. But then it took a darker twist, and soon became a way to compare myself to others, get a short-lived buzz from having a post and get lots of likes & lovely comments. Or a game of trying to “beat” or crack the algorithm (which can easily become an obsession – something keeping me away from the real work I needed to be doing).
One thing I have loved about being an entrepreneur for the past 10 years, is how much I have learnt about myself. Stepping away from Instagram has changed very little in our business, apart from having to get creative on how we market ourselves. But I have had to do a lot of things that have stretched me out of my comfort zone, and had to face some uncomfortable truths. What it has shown me, or taught me is that this pattern shows up a lot for me in the work I do and in my personal life. The need for outside validation.
Perhaps it’s because of the capitalist system we live in, or the way I grew up, but I want to get to a place in my business where things just have to be good enough for me. I want to work & create because I feel that I have something valuable to share, not because I am trying to be the best or crack the code to success.
Here are some questions that have helped me over the past five months
Is instagram the only way for me to connect with my perfect fit clients?
For me, the answer was no! There were so many other ways that I could connect with my perfect fit clients. Half of which I haven’t needed to explore yet. At the moment my newsletter and sharing my personal stories has been enough. Creating an opportunity to connect with others who feel the same way as me about business through my tea break sessions has been so nourishing. I do these sessions as a way to give back to the people who read my newsletter, and while I hope that the people I have spoken to have found value in these sessions, I also feel content with the fact that I am able to give a bit of myself, without expecting anything in return.
Something has changed in me since stepping away from Instagram, I have become less obsessed with finding ways to impress or convince people of something, and instead I find myself rooting into what I believe to be true and of value. I have trust within myself that the people who need my service will find me, and when they do it will be the right thing for both of us.
Why am I placing so much importance & pressure on myself to use Instagram?
As I mentioned, I realized that my obsession with Instagram had very little to do with a tool I used to market our business and more about a way to seek outside validation.
If Instagram is causing you to feel bad, or is affecting your mental health, I would encourage you to analyze what role it plays within your business? Is it really that vital?
How do I feel when using this tool to market myself?
If something is making you feel completely terrible, how could this be a good way to market yourself? I believe when you shine & feel great people will naturally be drawn to you. Think about how you love to connect with people – as an introvert being on social media has always been hard. I feel exposed, I don’t always know who I am speaking to, and so I would rather hide. Whereas I love talking to people 1:1, and building relationships slowly. Yes, maybe things take a little longer that way, but those relationships are a lot stronger and have better foundations than relying on an app where I have no control of who sees my content, and dictates that I should be dancing around, spending my precious moments with a camera glued to my hand so I can always be churning out content. I feel that being off Instagram is an act of rebellion, and that makes me feel GREAT!
Have you taken the time to truly find out where your clients are coming from?
One thing I love about Dubsado is that you can track where your leads are coming from. When I tracked to see where our leads were coming from, more than half were “from a friend”. THAT FELT EXCITING!
What could feel better, and still have the same impact?
I thought about how I love to consume content – personally I love Podcasts, Pinterest & a few beloved email newsletters.
I have been wanting to reach out to Podcasts in my niche, but honestly I am a little too shy and not quite ready for this. But I think it could be amazing to try and get my ideas & services out to a new audience. This could work well for you if you are a little more extraverted. For example, if you are a newborn photographer, are there any parenting Podcasts whose values are strongly aligned with yours? You could try reaching out to them.
My Newsletter brings me so much JOY – I get excited every time it’s time to write one. I love that I can write, be creative with the graphics, but I don’t have to get overly obsessed with the metrics. It’s a slower form of connecting & marketing, which is perfect for me.
Can I create a list of alternatives? But most importantly, can I commit to giving them a chance to work?
Once I realized that Instagram wasn’t the tool for me, I wrote down a list of alternatives I could try. This included Pinterest (LOVE), My Newsletter, word of mouth, and building referral partners.
We are also in a very different situation as we have closed our online store to new clients & have completely pivoted our business, not everyone will be in that situation which could leave you with more time to experiment with alternatives.
Now that we have had time to work on our new offerings, I feel very excited about our new services and how they can benefit our current clients. I have every confidence that in time the word of how I have helped clients will spread and then I can rely on more regular referrals. But I still need to build a new client base, and the benefit of word of mouth is going to take some time. I need to do a bit more active marketing of our new services to get the word out there faster. I would be lying if I said I haven’t gotten stressed and wanted to fall back into old instagram habits (the promise of instant/overnight success lures you in). But once I removed the fear, and started to get creative I came up with another plan.
I have chosen to rely on good old fashioned relationship building.
For example : finding referral partners. This is something that I am currently working on, and getting really excited about! Is there someone who would have a similar perfect fit client to you, but not in your industry? For me, this would be a VA or Graphic Designer (on a side note : if you follow my newsletter and think we could work together, please get in touch😊 ). They would have a very similar client to mine, but they are in a completely different industry. I like to find a way that our services could compliment one another.
How do you build this relationship? First learn about their business, do their values align with yours, think of how you could help them first, and then try to find how this relationship could benefit both of you. It’s about building a sense of reciprocity.
Next, I would encourage you to reach out to them. This is the part that terrifies me a little, so I have made a little presentation that I am going to personalize for each person I get in touch with. I will introduce myself, show that I have researched their business and then I am going to tell them why I think we would make a great referral partnership. How I could help them, and if they like what we do, how we could help their clients (in a way that makes their service even better).
And that is where I find myself a few months into this experiment. I can honestly say that the overall joy I experience in my life and business has improved. My general anxiety has lessened, and most importantly to me is I have more hours in my day to spend with the ones I love. Because I am not distracted by notifications, stressed that I haven’t posted or feeling guilty that I haven’t replied to DMs. I have also become really clear on my own goals for Molly & Tom, and no longer get distracted by other people’s ideas or success ( I can just be happy for them, and know my turn will come when the time is right). I am following my own road map now – actually I have completely thrown the map out the window and now I’m just enjoying the ride.
Instagram is just a tool to use in your business, and it’s not the only tool available to me or to you. The biggest lesson that I have learnt by stepping away is that I am not a content creator – I create content to connect with people who would find my services helpful, but that is definitely not my sole purpose as a business owner. And I choose to make myself happy
If algorithms and dancing awkwardly in front of the camera are not your thing, I’m here to tell you that there are other ways to grow your business. With the right strategy and processes in place your client experience has the potential to build your reputation as the best at what you do – allowing you to be less reliant on social media. If you are interested in improving your Client Experience, take a look at the services we offer.