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Raising an Instagram Infant: A Survival Guide for New Accounthood

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Last Updated on April 9, 2019 by epapp

Over the past nine months, I don’t recall gaining weight, I was never showered with burpee blankets, and I definitely didn’t endure any labor pains.

Yet one day, in the midst of hashtags, double taps, and overwhelming notifications, I was sworn into a life of motherhood. That was the day my Instagram infant was born.

She didn’t exactly come into this world kicking and screaming, but she’s been a champ at keeping me up late, waking me up early, and essentially controlling my every waking move.

Don’t get me wrong. Having her wasn’t all bad. In fact, it’s been one of the greatest joys of my life. But if you think that raising a baby account is all birthday parties, bubble baths, and balloons, you’re headed for a miserable first year of accounthood.

Yes, I’ve learned quite a bit in our first year together. While I couldn’t possibly have known what was in store, I sometimes wish I had…

What I can do is impart my 365 days of Insta wisdom in the hopes that it will help some other new confused/flustered/terrified Insta parents.

Here’s everything I wish I knew when I started this journey, including how to prepare, what to avoid, and how to maintain a life that in some way resembles normalcy when your Insta infant is born. So buckle up those car seats, new parents. It’s going to be a wild ride!

Preparing for the Birth

Preparing for the Birth

Before the arrival of your new Insta infant, there will be much to think about:

  • What will it look like?
  • What type of personality will it have?
  • Will you be able to afford everything it needs?
  • Will anyone help you raise it?
  • How will it impact your daily schedule?
  • Will it play well with others?
  • Will it get the love it deserves?

Keep in mind that it’s completely natural (and totally normal) not to have all the answers right away. You’re going to learn a lot as you go.

But a great place to start is with what I like to call: “The 10 Commandments of Instagram.”

10 Commandments of Instagram

  1.   Thou shalt not place other social media accounts before me
  2.   Thou shalt not leave thumbs up emojis as comments
  3.   Thou shall not post grainy, low quality images in various filters
  4.   Thou shalt not ignore comments thou receives on posts
  5.   Thou shall not post a pic of a hamburger…then a mountain…then a lipstick …then thou’s cat
  6.   Thou shalt not follow/unfollow and complain when thou loses followers
  7.   Thou shalt not buy followers
  8.   Thou shalt not participate in #followforfollow
  9.   Thou shalt not build their entire following on Loop giveaways
  10.   Thou shalt not pay to promote someone else’s product (no matter how nicely they ask)

Follow these commandments (as closely as possible) and it’s hard to go wrong.

Managing Growing Pains

Remember your first day of middle school? When all the upper classmen seemed so much cooler and more put together than you?

Releasing your fresh, new account into the wild can be just as scary. In fact, it can be downright terrifying. It may seem impossible to find your crowd, know who to trust, and gain any significant traction.

But the reality is, even the most beautiful full-grown influencer accounts went through the awkward “braces phrase” at some point. Keep in mind: we all have to start somewhere.

Here are some things I wish I knew before releasing my baby into the virtual world:

  • People will try to take advantage of you

    Whether it’s mega influencers playing the follow/unfollow game or fashion recruiters messaging you with collaboration scams disguised as “great exposure,” baby accounts are constantly being taken advantage of. Why? They’re easy targets. Accounts who have been around already know the schemes, so they don’t fall prey to the traps. If something seems too good to be true, it almost always is.
  • Not everyone will like your baby

    It may be tough to hear, but most accounts won’t care about your baby as much as you do (or at all). The reasons for this are near endless: they’re not that interested in your niche, your pictures aren’t their style, they don’t want to follow too many people, etc. Don’t take any of this personally, view it as a good thing. Ultimately, you only want people who truly love your baby to follow and engage with it – that’s how you build a community. Everyone else won’t be around for the long haul.
  • Community trumps competition

    If you’re on Insta to compete with other accounts in your niche, you’re doing it wrong. View similar accounts as allies, not enemies. These accounts could end up being your best friends and biggest supporters. And you never know when you’re going to want to collaborate with someone so that you can both grow.
  • Features aren’t the Holy Grail

    A few months in, I became obsessed with the idea of getting featured, thinking that was my ticket to stardom. News flash: features don’t really matter. Can they gain you some followers? Sure. Can you use them as social proof? Perhaps. But they shouldn’t be your main focus and they definitely don’t replace hard, consistent work.
  • Loop giveaways aren’t (always) the answer

    After participating in my first loop giveaway, I was hooked. Watching my followers skyrocket was a rush and I wanted more. It was like my version of gambling. But after having three under my belt, I still have mixed feelings. Can loop giveaways help you grow a following? Yes. But also, no. They can if you already have great content that people will want to continue following once the giveaway is over. And they can be a good boost to get to your next goal. But they’re not a guarantee. Even if you do have great content, people will still unfollow.
    Remember, people aren’t following you because they genuinely like your account – they’re following because they want to win something. Once the winner is announced and dreams are dashed, that’s often where the follow ends. The hope, of course, is to retain as many as you can by winning them over with great content. But you definitely can’t rely on it.
    Bigger follower numbers also don’t equate to better engagement. In fact, inflated numbers may actually throw off the engagement ratio you worked so hard to build. Just because someone doesn’t unfollow you after a giveaway, doesn’t mean they’re going to interact with your content. (They might not even remember they’re still following.)
    Plus, with all the fluctuating numbers, it can be hard to know where you stand on any given day. After almost three months, I finally finished recovering from the last giveaway I did and I’m not planning on doing another one anytime soon (if ever).

Accepting that it Ain’t About You Anymore

Did you ever hear a new parent bemoan the fact that they haven’t slept in days/weeks/months, let alone get ten minutes to themselves just to shower? Well, raising an Insta infant isn’t far off.

Pretty soon, your little bundle of joy will be attached to your hip, dinging, buzzing, and crying out for attention at every turn.

And if you’re eventually looking to monetize your bouncing new baby, then you need to understand something right now:

It ain’t about you anymore.

Instagram is a serious commitment that will require major sacrifices of your time and energy. While it might look simple on the surface, the BTS of raising your Insta infant can also be stressful, overwhelming, and downright exhausting. In the formative weeks/months/years, it’s a pretty thankless job with little to show for your efforts.

You may find yourself making decisions based on what your followers want to see, doing things to gain their approval, and giving up a great deal of your private life and personal time in the name of your baby.

While you certainly never want to lose your identity in the process, the more your baby grows, the less it will be about you and the more it will be about serving your audience.

This might mean cutting back on time you spend with friends, working late (after your 9 to 5), and doing unusual or questionable things to get killer photos (#doitforthegram).

Like a human child, your Insta account is almost always hungry, and you need to feed it with consistently good and unique content.

Socializing Your Account

One of the most important (yet overlooked) aspects of creating a new account is the social aspect. They don’t call it social media for nothing!

Ask yourself: Does your Insta infant play well with others? If the answer is no, it’s going to be awfully lonely in the playpen.

The earlier you can get your new account to engage with other accounts of a similar size, the better.

Preparing for the Birth

Similar size is an important point to emphasize.

Think about it. Would you put a fifteen-month-old baby in a classroom with a fifteen-year-old and expect them to develop together? Certainly not.

While there are exceptions, finding accounts of a similar size when you’re super new is a great place to start.

When you don’t have a big following just yet, the best ways to find new accounts to socialize with are:

  1. Through big influencer accounts
  2. Through hashtags

These ways hold true at pretty much any size, but when you don’t have a lot of followers to look at and forge new connections from, these areas are where you should focus your attention.

Once you find some big influencer accounts in your niche, start going through the comments on their latest posts. Check out the commenters and engage with the photos of those who have about the same number of followers as you. You know these accounts will be interested in your subject matter because they’re already engaging with this type of content. Followers are never a guarantee, but until you start up conversations, you’ll never know.

Hashtags are also an essential part of getting discovered when you’re new. I’ll get more into the nitty gritty details of how to use these in a future post, but start by looking at other accounts in your niche, see which hashtags they’re using, and branch out from there. If you ever want to search a hashtag, use the search bar function and look under “Tags.”

Stop Comparing Your Baby to Other Children

Just like human babies, Insta infants will all grow at their own pace. Some accounts will grow faster than yours and there’s nothing you can do about it. While you always want to encourage and support your little one’s growth, you can’t control everything.

You may start to notice that other baby accounts have started walking, whereas your little peanut has barely begun to crawl. These accounts may even be uglier and less clever than yours, but for some reason, they’re growing and yours isn’t.

Let it go.

The worst thing you can do is spend your time obsessing over why other accounts are “winning” and yours is not. The reality is, you’ll never really know. Maybe they’re buying followers. Maybe they’re participating in a secret giveaway. Or maybe they’re simply providing something unique.

Instead of wasting valuable energy trying to figure out why they’re ahead and you aren’t, use that energy to learn some new photography skills, practice writing killer captions and perfect your video capabilities to make compelling Insta stories.

Baby’s First Words

Although Instagram is a highly-visual platform, photos are just one piece of the puzzle. The other (often overlooked) part is caption writing.

Do you want your baby to be witty? Inspiring? Educational? Reflective? Maybe a combination thereof? What’s his or her unique take on the world?

As you’re starting to establish your unique voice, you may find that baby’s “first words” can be hard to find.

So to help get your baby babbling and interacting with new accounts, I’ve compiled nine go-to writing prompts to inspire great captions. You can download them here for free.

Here’s to growing your baby account into a strong, independent adult!

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Raising an Instagram Infant: A Survival Guide for New Accounthood
Raising an Instagram Infant: A Survival Guide for New Accounthood

10 thoughts on “Raising an Instagram Infant: A Survival Guide for New Accounthood

  1. Wow, girl! This post is everything. I have a feeling it will go viral or I hope it will because it’s not only 100% true, but so helpful for all of us i😁Instagrammers trying to figure out how to handle their infants or toddlers. Love the photoshoot. It’s perfect.

  2. This post is brilliant and I love the pictures. I think it epitomises a lot of social media in the fact many people do not care – The right idea is to be engaging. I wouldn’t follow someone who posts beautiful pictures all the time because it isn’t what I want to see – I want to see happy things, relatable things and also posts I enjoy and can engage with.

    1. Hi Gemma, thank you for your kind message. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! I love beautiful pictures myself, but for me, there has to be something more behind those pictures like compelling captions or great Stories.

    1. Hi Lauren, thanks so much for taking the time to write this thoughtful comment! I’m so glad you found it valuable and I wish you the best on your new journey! 🙂

  3. I love this post SO much! You had me in stitches!!!

    I also thought I commented on it to rave to you about how hilarious and talented you are. Fail on my end. I’ve been all over the dang country this month. I must have written that comment in my head or sleep…or something lol!!

    First of all, thank you for the shout out and deep link to TUL scammy IG post. Much appreciated. You know I had so much fun with that one, hehe.

    Second, Kathy (above) and I always joke too how IG is like a small child. You are 200% right: constant attention and nurturing. I’ve been starving mine lately, and it is NOT a happy camper. Hashtags are becoming the bane of my existence and time.

    I love your captions and beautifully posed pictures. Your filter game is spot on–and I’ve enjoyed watching how much you’ve grown and progressed on IG. I can tell that you really love it and will make a great career at it. You go, girl!

    1. Hi Chris! First off, this comment brought me sooo much joy today, thank you!! So glad we connected in this crazy virtual world and you are CRUSHING your Pinterest baby, lol! We will def need to meet IRL one day 🙂

  4. This post is fantastic and I love your anology with a baby! It is way more work than everyone thinks yet it looks so simple! Thank you for all your tips!
    X, Bettina

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