Oh boy, it's 1:40 A.M. and I should be sleeping, because I have to be up for work in the morning! Writing used to be something I enjoy, but I feel like I have so many thoughts inside of me now that all want to come out like a fire hydrant, and my bandwidth for effective is just too small, so it's getting backed up! I am tired! Not just because it's late, but I just feel exhausted. Work has me tired, but it's a net neutral thing. The pay is pretty decent, I get to mow lawns all day, I don't need to talk to many people so the social anxiety aspect isn't wreaking havoc on my nervous system, but boy did my body need adjusting during the first few months, especially during the really hot days.
I think what's really exhausting me is this idea that I have to make it as an artist, as a photographer. I have been reinvesting my income into my work and tools, and I've made some new pieces that I'm happy with! However, the whole Instagram game is burning me out. Instagram works for some people, but it doesn't work for me, or for a lot of other artists.
Back in the day I could post a new image that displayed my best effort once every week or two, and that was enough to cultivate my audience. I amassed a humble following of around 7,500 followers by 2018 and then I took a break. At that time, the ratio of followers to interactions per post was pretty good! I'd be hitting between 750 and 1500 likes per artwork, which helped spread my work to new accounts, and get in front of the eyes of clients and people who would like to purchase prints. Things were looking up!
But when I took a break after 2019.. a long one. I posted once at the end of 2020 and that's it. I came back this year after a series of events reassured me to keep working on my portfolio, and the whole Instagram game had changed. Now you needed to be making 1 - 3 reels a week to stay relevant and really grow your account. On top of that, my follower account is now working against me. Because I was gone for so long, a large portion of my followers either went inactive or had followed so many other accounts that my work got drowned out on their feed. That, and the platform has got have grown and become more saturated in those years. The result is that far fewer followers see my new work, and therefore less engagement rate. Instead of 750 - 1500 likes, I'm getting 75-150. Because of that far lower ratio of interactions to followers, the algorithm now punishes me. I'm guessing that it senses the low interaction rate, assumes that it's not good content (it's no worse, if not better, than what I was posting 4 years ago,) and therefore decides not to push it into the explore page or suggest it to non-followers, so my presence has no chance to grow.
It's not about the likes, it's about trying to cultivate an audience that benefits and connects with my work, and creating a platform that will financially support my work. Instagram just isn't working out for me anymore, it's fighting an uphill battle, and if I'm being forced into a corner where I need to create video content as an artist who has been trained to create still, static artworks, I'd rather do it on a platform like YouTube where I can grow at my own pace and not be forced to hijack dopamine receptors and follow silly trends! I've discovered that many other artists feel the same way.
It's just all very exhausting. That, and with everything that's going on in my personal life.. I just feel very demotivated. But I'm going to keep on trying.