Since I began sharing my artwork in 2016, my follower count on Instagram has grown steadily and consistently. It was also completely organic, genuine growth that I did not purchase ads to obtain or plan out the success of. I was lucky. I am still very lucky and I know that, I have always known that. I had taken the leap, shared my art with the world and it had gone viral without having to try. I was shook.
However, sometime in 2020- I am unsure when exactly- I noticed it beginning to move in the opposite direction. I had seen, heard and noticed the dreaded algorithm change over the years, but so far, it affected me very slightly, if at all. And yet, it found me. It was happening. I was losing followers. The platform that started my entire brand, art career, community, etc. was starting to turn on me.
The followers aren\’t dropping like flies, it is very gradual- maybe a hundred lost every 4 weeks or so… but I still see the decline. If I tried to say that losing followers wasn\’t bothering me, I would be lying through my keyboard.
However, I try to be realistic in spite of my anxiety, rational in spite of my rapid fire and often cynical mind and I remind myself of a few key things when I start to get down on myself about a number in an app on a screen in my hand.
Here are 3 main things I tell myself
when analytics get me down.
Followers do not equal customersThis is a big one, especially if you are a small business owner. People talk a lot about conversion, aka, how to turn your followers into customers and that is very important stuff to try to figure out. However, some people are not and never will be customers. Some people just like the content you provide, the images you post or to be able to follow along with you and your work. While I recognize that money isn\’t everything and its a very capitalistic idea to make success all about money, when you are running a small business, the follower count does not pay your bills… which is important if you want to enjoy lights and you know, food. Like Ambivalently Yours once said, we don\’t do it for the money, but we can\’t create without it.\” In this aspect, followers do not equal customers, they do not pay your bills.
Followers do not equal successPiggybacking off of that sentiment, it is vital to remember this one. Even more so than the first one! Have you ever looked up a brand or a business, gone to their Instagram and seen a low follower count and been confused? Don\’t be! Followers do not equal success. As an artist, at any point in time I am making wholesale orders, collaborating with other brands that feature my art on their websites, cultivating my patreon page, doing freelance work, etc. Aside from my creative pursuits, I am a mom to two amazing kids, I have some of the greatest friends, I laugh every day, I am healthy, I am taken care of, I am loved and happy in my marriage… and followers have very little to do with any of that. If I lost all of my followers tomorrow, it would be jarring and an adjustment, yes, but I have met and formed relationships with people that are invaluable and I would still be an artist. Followers are not a measurement of your success.
It was never about the followersAnd rounding out the list with a smoothness I did not anticipate: it was never about followers. When I began sharing my artwork in 2015, I was SHOCKED and FLOORED any time anyone responded well to it. Anytime someone asked me to make them something, anytime someone followed me, basically, anytime anything happened at all, I was excited and just happy to be a part of it. I did not sit down one day and plot out my goal of having thousands of followers… because that was never my goal (plus im not much of a planner) I did sit down and figure out how to organize and produce my first products. I sat down and figured out how to share the spotlight with others and help them get their art seen by people. I sat down and boxed up several thank you packages for the people who believed in me and my art. Not once did I discuss how to get more followers. I celebrated the milestones as they came; 100, 1000, 3000, 10,000 of course I did, but followers were always a bonus to the work I was putting all of my energy into.