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!
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.”
- Thou shalt not place other social media accounts before me
- Thou shalt not leave thumbs up emojis as comments
- Thou shall not post grainy, low quality images in various filters
- Thou shalt not ignore comments thou receives on posts
- Thou shall not post a pic of a hamburger…then a mountain…then a lipstick …then thou’s cat
- Thou shalt not follow/unfollow and complain when thou loses followers
- Thou shalt not buy followers
- Thou shalt not participate in #followforfollow
- Thou shalt not build their entire following on Loop giveaways
- 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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
- Through big influencer accounts
- 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.”
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.
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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