It was nearly one year ago that I decided to quit Instagram as an artist and as of August 2021 I deleted my Instagram account entirely.
In this post I will share a few personal insights from being off of social media (benefits of quitting, how the year went). I will also share where my online traffic comes from now that I am off of the main social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
*Hint: my online traffic has actually increased this year.
One day in the future once I’ve figured this all out I will make a post about marketing as an artist without social media, but for now if you want to see a snapshot of a year as an artist without social media read on...
I had many fears about quitting social media and as a small artist just starting out 2 years ago, I did not have much of an audience to take with me on this journey. It felt like such a big deal to step away, but honestly I was surprised that quitting social media really did not have the giant impact on my art and my business that I thought it would.
And here's the thing...
I still made sales.
People are still found me online through my website.
I still got accepted into art galleries.
I still kept up with friends/family.
I can still keep up with artists that I admire through their websites, blogs and email newsletters.
How The Year Went
Quitting social media has been hugely beneficial for me personally and for my mental health:
My anxiety levels went down.
I could focus for longer periods of time.
There was not the constant pressure to post something or check my profiles.
I gained a sense of calm and quiet within my mind again.
I had more time to dive into new projects and get out of my comfort zone.
I was also able to focus more on my personal relationships and being more present with the people that I care for the most.
The value of a few quality relationships, customers and admirers greatly outweighs the need to see large numbers next to my name, in my opinion.
It is so much more meaningful to have a handful of people who will really support you, either through purchasing your artwork, or signing up for a service that you offer or leaving you a really nice review. Anyone can leave you a like on social media, or hit "follow", but that does not necessarily mean that they truly support you and your work.
Achievements/Projects Since Quitting Social Media
I was still very busy this year creating art and figuring out how to cultivate my art business outside of social media.
Here are a few key achievements of the year:
I got into my first art gallery!
I learned a new Art medium
I picked up a set of gouache paints this last year.
Gouache paintings from the year.
Now also marks 1 year since I started this blog.
I read a lot of books this year, something I stopped entirely while on social media.
There was an awkward transitional period right after I quit social media where I felt a little lost and unsure of which direction to go. I even questioned what the point of it all was.
Not having a place to show off my paintings immediately after finishing them felt a little strange at first. It’s kind of like; “I finished a painting, now what?”
I will be honest, quitting social media in this day and age is not easy.
If you have struggled with it too, you are not alone.
There is a lot of pressure on creatives to be on social media. It seems like all the advice out there for artists is to hop on social media and to start building your audience.
I’ve even had multiple times throughout the year where I have debated going back to Instagram. Every time I think about the work that went into each post for minimal return, the time wasted scrolling, researching trends, and the disappointment of a post not "doing as well as it should", I just have no desire to go back.
How People Find Me Online These Days
One of my major fears with quitting social media was that nobody would be able to find me online anymore and that I would lose business. I was pleasantly surprised to figure out that this was not the case.
In fact, overall traffic to my website has increased since I quit social media.
Most of the visits to my website come from search engine traffic, which in turn also increases visits to my Etsy shop.
My Etsy store was virtually unaffected by my departure from social media.
Direct visits to my Etsy shop (meaning clicking on a link to my shop from another website/source) have also increased 7% this year with the visits mainly coming from my website.
Meanwhile, last year when I was most active on social media (I was on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest) my total shop visits from social media were only around 8%. This year since deleting Instagram/Facebook that number went down to 2% (from Pinterest), but since my direct traffic from my website went up, deleting Instagram did not result in any loss of traffic to my Etsy store.
These days, writing on my blog is my preferred way of connecting with people.
It allows me to say so much more than a 100 character social media post, and I can provide something of more value than a curated photo. I can share tips, teach people how to do things, or maybe help someone solve a problem.
The best part is that I get to share all of this on my own platform.
I do not need to conform to the rules of an outside platform and there is no algorithm on my website. Nobody is removing my content or hiding it for violating their platform's rules.
Think of it this way, if Instagram were to go away tomorrow where would you lead your followers/fans to find you? This is why I think it is so important to invest in building up your own platform.
I do still have some online accounts that are considered "social media" on Pinterest and Deviantart that I post to occasionally. However, I do not find these platforms addicting or detrimental to my life so I am okay with using them for now, unless something changes.
I did try out Artfol this year, which is a newer social media app for artists.
Posts on Artfol show up in chronological order and do not use an algorithm. Likes and followers are also hidden, so you can't immediately see how many likes a post has or how many followers somebody has without clicking through a few pages, which makes the app feel friendlier and less competitive.
I found the platform much more community minded with fun art challenges, and more recently they added a "commissions" feature. To be honest though, I don't use the app a whole lot as I am more busy with making art and writing these days.
Conclusion/ Ending Thoughts
I have enjoyed this year of not being on Instagram. Overall my life is better without it and it is so freeing not to feel like an app is controlling my life anymore!
Quitting social media has not had a huge impact on my art sales. It does feel very different not posting paintings online immediately after finishing them, but overall I would say that I made the right decision for me. Without quitting, I don’t think I would’ve tried to apply to an art gallery and I definitely wouldn’t have considered blogging.
There are still a few things that I miss about Instagram, such as the ability to connect with and follow art galleries, other artists, and see what some of my friends are up to, but the cons far out-weigh any benefits for me.