I used to read blogs religiously, setting aside time each day to catch up with my favourite bloggers. Every evening there would be new content to mull over on my laptop when I settled on the sofa following a long day at work. Fast forward to 2017 and I’m lucky if I get the chance to do this once a week – but that’s ok because I can catch up with the antics of my favourite bloggers by picking up my phone and quickly scrolling through Instagram. I don’t even have to read their captions; I can spend less than a minute double-tapping pictures and flicking through Stories.
The rise of influencers may have begun with blogs but it intensified with Instagram.
The photo app now has over 800 million users who are glued to their screens following the lives of others. There are tens of thousands of influencers posting daily photos; some of them also blog but many have carved out a career simply based around Instagram.
Yes, you can click through to read blogs through links in Stories and on profiles, but you can see an edited selection of someone’s best photos simply by glancing at their feed. If you like what they have to say, you can quickly read their captions.
There’s no denying that it’s more convenient to follow someone on Instagram than to invest your time in reading their blog.
Many blogs are, of course still thriving and successful bloggers are still popping up each day. It can be difficult to be noticed in such a saturated environment though and many influencers are using Instagram to build up their audience prior to launching their own website, such as style blogger, Alice Catherine who has over 179,000 followers on the photo-sharing app but has only been blogging for a year.
Although Alice’s blog attracts large numbers, it is dwarfed by her six figure Instagram following. She understands this though, saying
“I definitely find Instagram a more digestible way of keeping up with my favourite bloggers. I do read blogs when I can, particularly if it’s a more personal post or one discussing an interesting topic. I think there’s definitely still an audience for blogs, but modern life often doesn’t allow us the time to read them.”
There are, of course, benefits to influencers solely using Instagram. If you’re more focused on photography and don’t like to write, it is obviously a more visually orientated platform. Or even if you are a writer, it’s much less work to put together a caption for Instagram that to create an entire blog post, particularly if you focus on travel content and you’re busy jetting off around the world. Some of the most successful travel influencers including @helloemilie and @doyoutravel concentrate solely on their Instagram accounts.
However, the digital environment is constantly changing.
Instagram is a great tool for growing your audience but however many followers you may have, you don't own your Instagram account. If you are adaptable and flexible to new digital trends, you are not only ahead of the curve but you could gain new revenue streams. Ultimately, if you’re looking to forge a long-term career as an influencer, having a successful Instagram account is essential, but owning your own platform such as a blog will propel you further.
You can continue to grow your Instagram with the mind-set that it is a tool to convert followers over to an owned platform. Don’t share all of your content on the app; keep your audience wanting more by teasing one or two images with the promise of more if they click a link and head over to your blog. Promise them something of value in return for leaving the convenience of numbly scrolling Instagram, whether that’s a free download, a travel guide or links to what you are wearing. It is these influencers, such as Alice Catherine, who are converting their Instagram following over to their own platforms who will ultimately forge long-term careers.
Consider this: if Instagram disappeared overnight, would your work vanish with it?
Emma Lavelle is a freelance writer, travel blogger and content creator. You can find out more about her and read her work at FieldandNest.com.
Image: @allthatisshe for Unicef proudly produced via Whalar