Over the course of the last two weeks, I’ve had an influx of messages in my inbox all with the same common topic: can I have some tips on how to build a following, and what do you think I should post more/less of?
I love it when my followers reach out to me and I’m always, always, happy to help, happy to give advice, happy to give my two cents and happy to just talk. Instead of an Instagram post, I wanted to jump on the blog and dedicate a short but sweet entry to this matter. That way, I can refer ya’ll back to this page should the conversation arise once again.
I tell all of you who have messaged me the same thing, which is post what brings you joy. I’ve been blogging and running my Instagram for almost four years and there is no “secret to success.” When you approach social media with that mentality, for metaphorical fame so to say, you’re doing it all wrong. When I first started The Blonde & The Bay, I wanted a place to post all my Leah-obsessed photos because I knew my fellow friends were probably getting slightly annoyed of their social feed being filled with horses. And let’s be honest, they most likely didn’t care about what I was doing with my horse anyhow. I figured that if I started my own platform for Leah, someone would catch on and enjoy seeing her pretty blaze on a daily basis. This foundation turned into documenting our progress. The rest is history.
From the beginning, I’ve never catered my social media posts to what I think my audience wanted to see. That’s why you follow people – YOU make the decision if you want to view their photos, their ideals, and their stories. Sure, I’ll ask ya’ll questions such as “what’s something you want to see on my IG story,” because there are certain aspects of my life that specifically interest you, like my experiences at horse shows or what I keep in my show trunk. That’s different. I don’t base my decision on what to post that afternoon upon someone messaging me and telling me “I want to see more of dot dot dot," or a poll percentage answer.
You shouldn’t either.
Letting other people dictate what you post and how you post results in a loss of authenticity. You’re not being true to yourself or your horse or your journey. Hence the title of this blog post: post what makes you happy. Sharing photos about Leah and team roping and Barrett and our dogs and what I ate for breakfast in the morning because it gave me fuel to ride are things that make me happy, and guess what? I’m posting about them. Do I care if it doesn’t interest people?
Nope, because it brings me happiness.
This, ya’ll, is how I built my following. I stayed true to myself. I posted high quality photos, I posted low quality photos, and I posted grainy screenshots and short video clips. No one cares what kind of filter you use or what kind of Lightroom Preset you’ve downloaded… even though I shamelessly admit I do use Lightroom because I’m OCD and like my Instagram to have a certain look. Guess what?! That too brings me happiness!
I follow a few different fashion bloggers on my personal Instagram and while I love seeing how they style outfits for my “non-stable clothing” inspiration, I can’t help but realize that their feed is certainly unattainable and unrealistic for most people. I’ve noticed the trend seeping into the equestrian world, and like one of my followers said: I’d rather ride than have someone follow me around with a professional camera everyday snapping photos of my outfits; even though I am blessed with Barrett who loves to takes photos of Leah and myself while we ride. Major props to you, babe.
But let me interject this – yes, I totally post pictures of my #ROOTD’s occasionally, and I’m neither sorry about it nor ashamed about it. I’m not shopping for new riding clothes every chance I get nor do I have companies sending me pieces for promotion. My income goes towards my horse, and groceries, and gas, and car payments, and maybe sporadically a new sweater for my closet, not that I have to justify any of this, I’m just saying! Posting outfits I’ve put together with items that have been hanging in my dresser for a long time is something that makes me happy.
ANYWAY. I told ya’ll this post would be short and sweet and I don’t want to stand on my soapbox for too much longer.
Please, please, please do me a favor. Before you look at your camera roll trying to decide which photo to upload, if you catch yourself thinking “I wonder how many likes this will get,” (or something of the sort) stop yourself there. Don’t even bother posting. The number of likes or your follower count does not define you as a person. It certainly doesn’t categorize your riding abilities or your horse’s capabilities. Also, don’t compare yourself or your social media feed to someone with tens of thousands of followers and a cameraman documenting their every stride. Again, that’s unrealistic for most adult amateurs.
I know it is for me.
I love The Blonde & The Bay because it has allowed me to create so many friendships with so many of you. I do this because I genuinely enjoy sharing my life with Leah, not because of how many followers I can get or what opportunities come out my Instagram name. My social media doesn’t make me who I am; I make my social media a reflection of myself. Strive to make your feed something you’re authentically proud of, not something you stress about making “perfect” for reaching a certain crowd-pleasing aesthetic. I’ll tell you right now: you’re fighting an uphill battle. Stand behind your journey and be yourself.
I’ll conclude this post with a solid quote from none other than Dr. Seuss. Personally, I think it’s the best reminder for anyone posting about his or her life on social media.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”