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Why You Shouldn’t try to Make a Living off Instagram (& What You Should do Instead)

living on instagram fashion blog
Even though we all deep down know the “Instagram influencer” life isn’t all it appears to be, somehow we still find ourselves (secretly) wanting it. Why? If it’s your goal to work for yourself, be creative, and do what you love, is an Instagram life really the best path to take? Most people that have Instagram for business/creative endeavors have a blog as well. So which one are you focusing on and why?

I haven’t been blogging seriously for very long so take my thoughts as what they are: thoughts. But I will say I needed to have a fresh perspective and be reminded of this. And maybe you do too.

So this is why I don’t think you should try to make a living off Instagram.

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Why You Should Focus on Your Blog and Not Instagram

1. You don’t own Instagram, Instagram owns you
There’s been enough Instagram algorithm talk and how it’s ruining everyone’s life so I’m not going to dive too deep into that, but with the recent changes and everyone finding it harder to grow and get engagement got me thinking.

Why spend so much time of our lives on an app?

We don’t even own our Instagram account. They can shut down or decide to delete your account or switch up the algorithm all willy-nilly and we’re at the whim of whatever they decide to do. If you are self-hosted you OWN your blog (though some bloggers will go a step further and say the only thing you truly “own” is your email list). You’re in control of what happens. No algorithm is deciding your growth.

Blogging is hard. Instagram is hard. You don’t blow up overnight with any of them. Some bloggers I admire say they were doing this for 5 years before they saw any results. So switching your focus from Instagram to blogging does not mean instant success, but it will make more sense in the long run.

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2. Your blog posts are constantly being found
Have you ever spent tons of time crafting the perfect picture to post on Instagram? You post it, you get tons of great feedback, and all seems right in the world. But then what? Then eventually it gets buried in your feed and buried in the hashtags and people probably won’t ever see it again.

Almost seems wasted, doesn’t it?

The great thing about blogging is that your posts can always be found and searched by Google. There’s no shelf life. What if something you wrote kinda flopped and didn’t take off like you would have hoped?

No worries. It could potentially still “take off” years later.

3. You can recycle content
Ever think about posting the same photo twice on Instagram? You just can’t do it. Especially with every growth tip screaming “amazing and new content all the time” from the rooftops. Sometimes it’s exhausting to always have to be creating new photos.

With blogging, you can recycle content. Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t put your best content out there for your readers and you just post the same thing over and over again. But one fabulous post can be used in many different ways.

Let’s say you wrote a post about blogging tips and it got great feedback and is consistently getting good traffic. Maybe next you could edit this post, add even more stellar tips, and send it out again. The goal isn’t to recycle bad traffic, but to continually bring those awesome posts back to life.

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My old posts are still getting found. Now I’ve had a blog for a while, but haven’t done much with it. I’ve been very inconsistent. Just typing up posts here and there and sending them out to the wide, wide web. I haven’t even (until just recently) looked into all the depth of blogging such as SEO, promotion, analytics, and everything that makes my head hurt.

1 year and 1/2 ago I wrote this Ultimate Fall Fashion Outfit Guide, posted it on FB, sent it to a couple friends, and that was it. Nothing much happened to it.

Later on, I read somewhere that you should make images for your posts and pin them to Pinterest so other people can find them too. I decided to try that last fall and I was pretty surprised at the results of this last-minute thing I decided to do!

A year after I originally wrote the post I was able to drive 4.1k clicks to my website from that one post alone.

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Even though it was a year later, they weren’t bad results for something I had already written and put a lot of work into. Now this shows me that people really love fall fashion so I can do more big outfit guides in the future, link them throughout the original, and create new cover images to send out. You can’t capitalize on content like this on Instagram.

4. You have more reach with a blog
The only people that will see your Instagram content are those that have Instagram. While that number is a hefty amount, there are still billions of people out there that don’t use Instagram.

If you are putting all your best into one photo on Instagram you are really missing out on sharing your content with the rest of the world. There are so many ways to do that which do not involve Instagram. Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. Oh and apparently there’s this thing called StumbleUpon which I didn’t know existed (like I said, not an experienced blogger). I didn’t know this was a thing until I saw a spike in my traffic of almost 300 views coming from StumbleUpon in just a matter of hours.

Because I have these analytics I can research more into Stumbleupon and how I can use it to my advantage which brings me to my next point…

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5. Instagram can only tell you so much
Full disclosure: I do not have an Instagram business account and don’t know if I’ll switch over, so what I’m writing now is what I’ve been told/read. As far as I know, Instagram for business does have analytics and can tell you the best time to post, the location of your followers, and other demographics. But I think it stops at that (correct me if I’m wrong).

Blogging stats can tell you all that and additionally what links are bringing people to your site, your most viewed posts, what people are viewing in a day, how people are finding you, and more.

I am the least techy person out there and stats/numbers definitely do not fire me up and frankly, don’t make sense to me. But even I’m able to take a glance at stats and see what posts people are viewing (this can tell me what to stop doing or dive deeper into), where people are finding me (this can show me what platforms to focus on), and where they’re coming from (this can show me that maybe I could tailor some fashion articles to specific places, like European fashion for example).

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Did these 5 reasons get you thinking about why you shouldn’t try to make a living off of Instagram?

I’m not trying to convince anyone to give up Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, etc. Your choice. I myself just needed this new perspective and I hope it will help you too. I’m all for spending my time wisely and if I’m going to put a lot of work and time into something, I’d rather see long-term steady results instead of  fleeting “instafame”.

If you’re like me and have been treating Instagram like #1 and your blog as the afterthought, let me know what changes you see in your mood, blog, and life. Maybe not everyone will admit it, but Instagram can be kinda soul-sucking at times. There isn’t any less of a hustle with blogging, but there is less time comparing and scrolling through one beautiful and exciting life after another.

Your head may explode from trying to understand tech terms beyond your capability and your eyes may start to bleed from staring at words for so long, but focusing on blogging can be a refreshing break that still allows you to create without having to spend so much time scrolling through other people’s lives.

So what do you do? Just give up social media? Well, if you want. But you’ll need these platforms to help you grow. The point of this post is to help you understand that Instagram shouldn’t be where you’re placing all your eggs. Your blog shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Use Instagram to point people to your blog, not the other way around.

Conclusion: I was typing up some oh so wise thoughts when I came across this excerpt from Blogging Means Business that I thought summed it up pretty well.

“At the end of the day, there are going to be VERY few people who are able to achieve an “organic” following and engagement with minimal effort.

If you’re not one of those people, you can try to “beat” the algorithm, and claw your way to the top, but that’s a complete waste of your time. You can do better than that.

I’m guessing that you are creating amazing content, and the people that see your content really enjoy it. The problem is…you’re just concentrating on the wrong platform.

You need to OWN your business. I don’t care if you make millions a year on Instagram…you don’t own a business, and your income is NOT sustainable or predictable.

Instagram owns your username. They own your traffic. They control your only source of income…and one tweak of an algorithm could collapse your entire “business.”

Those hours you are spending engaging on Pods and with other users?

Those are hours you could be spending building a website that is YOURShours you could be spending monetizing your website and building an email subscriber list that you OWN.

Those are hours you could be spending creating content that will provide you with a consistent stream of passive income for YEARS (putting in as much time creating that ONE post as you spend on Engagement Pods in ONE day).

Don’t get me wrong–Instagram should be part of your business, but it shouldn’t be the entire thing….”

Your time is worth something.

Especially when you throw in all your other obligations. You have to prioritize and decide what’s going to get your attention. If creating is your passion and what you love to do, it’d be a shame to see all that talent and creativity go to waste.

What do you think about making a living on Instagram versus having a blog?

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Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.