You’re an artist, illustrator or designer and you need to use Instagram and other social platforms to share your work. You know, so you’ll get paying gigs that enable you to keep doing this thing you love every day.
Unfortunately, social media has a variety of ways to sap your creative energy.
Fun stuff like:
Trapping you in the comparison cycle.
Helping you procrastinate.
Wasting hours of your valuable time.
Making you feel like crap about your art.
Leading you to judge your art solely on likes and comments.
Leaving you feeling exhausted and not creative.
Making you feel overwhelmed.
How are you going to show up as your happiest creative self if you’re feeling all those not wonderful things because of social media?
What you can do is work on consuming Instagram and other social media platforms in a mindful way, in a way that lets you share your work and walk away feeling creative and inspired.
Your first step is to pay attention to how you’re using social media right now.
What platforms are you using on a daily basis?
How much time are spending on social media each day? (I was shocked the first time my iPhone told me I’d spent 3 hours on social media in one day! Three entire hours of my day!!!)
Are there certain times of the day or certain situations when you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your social media feeds? I’m looking at you, Instagram.
How do you feel when using social media platforms, especially Instagram?
Overall do you feel like using social media helps or hinders your creativity?
Seriously, grab a piece of paper and a pen/pencil and write out your answers to those questions. And if you’re rolling your eyes about this exercise, do it anyway. I’m constantly rolling my eyes about journaling and writing exercises and then every single time I do one, I actually learn something about myself. How annoying ?
By doing the writing bit, you probably learned a few things about how social media usage makes you feel. Or you confirmed what you already knew.
Or maybe you’re totally fine with the constant barrage of imagery that makes the rest of us feel like we’re not good enough. If it doesn’t bother you a bit, then cool, this next bit probably isn’t for you.
But if you’re like me, and social media gives you the not great feelings, then read on, friend!
As creatives, social media (especially Instagram) is an easy way that we can share our work, grow our audience, and attract clients or customers.
Even if it’s not our favorite thing ever, it should still be part of our regular marketing routine.
Here are a few ways to do that without feeling absolutely awful about our work or completely losing our creative spirit:
• Set time limits and stick with them. Decide what feels like a healthy amount of social media time for you. Do what feels right for you and your creative happiness. For me, that means 45 minutes a day and honestly, I could probably bump that down to 30 minutes. Instagram is my main time suck and I’ve found that 45 minutes is more than enough time to post on my feed or stories, respond to comments and DMs, and then do a bit of scrolling. No more spending 3 hours a day on Instagram because there are so many fulfilling things I can do with the time.
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, I recommend using the Screen Time app to set your limits. You’ll get a message when you’re time for the day is almost up. If you’re using social media on another device, I recommend finding a similar app or using a time tracking app like Toggl (although the downfall is that you need to remember to start the timer when you start scrolling.)
• Avoid checking your social media accounts first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. Nothing like a good dose of the comparison cycle to really start your day off poorly! Avoid it.
I used to roll over first thing, grab my phone and open Instagram “for a little inspiration.” What I’d really get is a little feeling bad about my work and a day that already felt exhausting at by 7am.
Now my rule is: go through my morning routine(shower/dress/breakfast), sketch for 30 minutes, deal with my emails, and only then open Instagram. It’s what works best for me. Would what be a healthy version of this rule for you?
• Get on a posting schedule. There’s so much guilt around ‘I should be posting more often’ or ‘I wish I shared every day on Instagram like everyone else.’ It’s always this story about how what we’re doing isn’t good enough. Let’s do away with that.
Social media in general, and Instagram specifically, reward consistency. The apps don’t care if you’re only posting once a week, as long as you’re posting in the same day every single week.
Will you see more growth and engagement if you’re posting every single day? Sure. But that isn’t manageable for everyone and you have to build a posting schedule that feels comfortable for you.
I don’t post daily on Instagram anymore although I do pin daily on Pinterest. For Instagram, I post to my feed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and I post to my stories a couple of times each day. That’s what works for me these days. I’m comfortable changing that if I have different circumstances in the future. As long as it’s consistent, it’s ok.
What feels like a good, consistent posting schedule for you?
• Plan out content in advance. Like making a posting schedule, planning out your content takes much of the pressure off. If today is your Instagram posting day, you don’t have to freak out wondering what you’re going to share, because you’ve already planned that! You know what you’re going to share. Maybe you’ve even already written your captions and planned out your hashtags too.
A little advance planning makes the whole process less stressful.
You can try scheduling apps like Later as well, but I prefer to post manually.
Instagram wants to see interaction directly after you’ve made a post, like responding to comments, so to me it makes more sense to post manually because I know I’m paying attention to any comments that come in. If Later is posting for me, I may not remember to watch out for new comments.
For other apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, scheduling apps are fine.
I use Tailwind to schedule my daily pins on Pinterest.
No matter how you’re pinning or posting, try to embrace a less-is-more approach by reusing your art in several ways. Can you share sketches, a process video, and then the final art? That’s three days of Instagram posting, from one piece of art! And you can share snippets of your process in IG Stories or Reels as well.
Make the most of your existing art and of each new piece that you create. How many posts or pins can you get from each thing you create?
• Sit with your art before sharing it. That means if you make a piece of art today, you don’t share it on social media right away. You wait a few days before sharing. Why?
Because you want to let the art settle, let your feelings about the art settle, before you bring likes, saves, and comments into the situation. Social media engagement is not an indicator of your art’s worthiness. Don’t let it act as one by sharing your new work right away and then feeling bad when it doesn’t get the most likes ever.
If you get caught in the cycle of only making art that is going to get the most likes, you’re going to feel disappointed and creatively stifled. You’re going to feel like the art comes from your heart anymore. Trust me. I’ve been there and don’t recommend it.
If you see me posting new art on Instagram, you can guaranteed that it was created at least 3 days ago, if not longer. And I feel more connected with the art I’m making because I’m not letting it be connected with social media success.
• Be mindful when you’re scrolling. Even when you’re within your daily social media time limit, scroll thoughtfully. Is your scrolling a form of procrastination? Are you benefitting from scrolling right now? Name the benefits, if there are any. Is the scrolling leading you to positive feelings or negative ones?
When scrolling is giving me negative vibes, I move my phone into another room and leave it there. Out of sight, out of scrolling hands.
• Turn notifications off. Social media apps want your eyeballs glued to the screen. And one way they drag you back in is with notifications. Ding. Your post has a comment. Ding. You’ve got a new DM. Ding. You’ve got a new follower.
So much nope, y’all. Turn. Those. Notifications. Off.
Check on your social media accounts when it’s convenient for you. Not when the app tells you to.
Before I turned my IG notifications off, my phone would run through a full charge within half a day. Just from nonstop notifications. It was distracting. And I put a stop to it.
Now, I only turn my notifications on if I’m launching a new class and need to be available to answer comments and DMs. And I plan that availability in my schedule, so it’s not an interference but something I make space for out of necessity.
• Take a break! Sometimes the only good way to deal with social media overwhelm is to take a sabbatical from it. Delete the app. Don’t visit the site. Don’t worry about it for a few days, week, or even months. When it comes down to it, a happy artist is a more creative, fulfilled artist.
Remember, there is an ebb and flow to your creativity and everything else too. Don’t expect yourself to be a social media master every single day for the rest of your life. Do you best to cultivate a healthy social media presence, but when it feels too overwhelming, it’s time for a reset.
The world won’t implode if you take a week off Instagram. I promise. Nor will your followers all disappear if they don’t see your art for two weeks. You worry about that, right? I used to worry about that. And then I took two weeks off from posting on Instagram and when I came back everything was pretty much the same, except I felt refreshed.
Side note: no need to announce your departure or your return. You don’t have to make a thing of taking care of yourself, unless you want to share as a way to encourage other people to set their own boundaries. But really, whether you post on social media or not is no one’s business except your own.
Take care of yourself, friend.
Social media is such a simple way to both share your work and get bogged down by gross feelings that leave you not wanting to any new work. Work towards finding a balance, a way to share your work without being swallowed by the ick.
I did it. You can do it too.