Even Faster Fashion: Is Instagram Killing Blogging?

Ahh no, not another blog post about Instagram, I hear you scream! Alas, it’s true. I’m joining the hordes of other young men and women decrying the once majestic beast that is Instagram, and putting in my shiny two pence piece as to how its effecting an industry I became a part of over four years ago.

So let’s start with the obvious stuff. We all hate the new Instagram algorithm. We now also hate people that moan about the Instagram algorithm, and people who moan about moaning about the Instagram algorithm. Nobody really understands it, everybody has some hair-brained theory about how you can beat it, and for some reason, the only person you end up seeing consistently on your feed is your friend’s Mum who you’d love to unfollow, but who you know would be so mortally offended that you’d become the target for a lifetime of thinly-veiled Facebook quote repostings.

Personally, it’s been very up and down for me. Some of my posts receive decent engagement, and others don’t. Some have been fantastic, some have been tragically, tragically bad. Up until now I’ve just ridden the wave of the shit show that is 2017 Instagram, coasting the peaks and the troughs with a “well, life goes on, doesn’t it?”.

As much as we may hate the way that the platform has changed - and how it now seems to be more of a game of strategy rather than a means of expression - we have to work with it. We have no other choice. Instagram has our metaphorical balls in a vice and unless a lot of us want to sacrifice one of our biggest sources of income, we just have to suck it up and plough on. (Side note: *this* is why it’s important to have a back-up platform or source of income; if one day Instagram decided to shut up shop and delete everybody’s accounts - which they would be well within their rights to do - a lot of people might find themselves in a tricky situation).

I have noticed, however, a few trends starting to develop in this new photo-sharing landscape which are making me a little sombre.

 

Jacket - Suncoo*
Shirt - Paloma Wool
Jeans - ASOS* (distressed myself)
Boots - Zara
Bag - X Nihilo*
Belt - Saint Laurent* (sold out, similar here)
Necklace - Mi Moneda* (use the code chloexmimoneda for free engraving)
Sunglasses - Ray-Ban*

Images shot on an iPhone perform miles better than those shot on a camera. The swipe up function on stories means people no longer have to visit your blog to find a link to the jumper you’re wearing. Quick pics in a changing room mirror will skyrocket above your curated busy-gal-in-London shot. Fuck fast fashion, this is even faster fashion, and it’s getting faster yet.

And that’s all well and good - we all love a quick iPhone snap to show off our latest chunky knit or winter loafers, and this approach to sharing style can often feel more accessible. The trouble is, it that it has seemingly dire implications for good old fashion blogging. The hunger for generating commission over generating views means that so many of my favourite bloggers are moving away from the written word, instead opting for a stream of Insta snaps with one word captions.

And you know what? If you want to make money, if you want to grow your online presence, if you want to push to be successful, this is probably the wisest way to go. Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted a number of images I’m really proud of. They’re the kind of images I’ve always aspired to capture - high quality, a little bit sassy, a little bit fashurn - but they’ve absolutely tanked. As in, two years ago, when I had half the followers I do now, I received more engagement than I have over the past week - that level of tankage.

In the fast-paced digital world that so many of us have utilised to build our careers, you have to keep up with the times or you’ll be left behind. I myself, feel I’m now coming to a sort of crossroads.

I either sacrifice the content I truly love - the editorial, walking-in-the-street-with-a-magazine-and-cup-of-coffee type stuff - and start uploading purely phone content, or if I refuse, I have to accept that my career may suffer as a result.

WHAT I'M WEARING

If that’s the way that the industry is going, then honestly, I’m not sure I want to go with it. And I don’t mean that in a ‘if it’s going downhill then I’m not being dragged with it’ kind of way, rather that that’s just not what I enjoy from a solely personal perspective. It’s never been my aspiration to reach Zoella levels of super-blogger fame; if I can pay my bills, buy myself a nice bag every now and then and still afford to top up my savings, then I’m happy. If I have to sacrifice the imagery that I personally enjoy in order to continue topping 1k likes per upload, then I’m not 100% sure that I’m willing to do that.

Blogging, is of course, a business, and for those of us who either aspire to do it full-time or for those of us that do it already, you have to be able to make some business-savvy decisions. Let’s look at it objectively: an iPhone shot takes minutes to capture, can be edited on your phone with free software, can be uploaded instantly and accompanied by a short, 2 minute caption. This will very likely receive more engagement, thus more conversions in terms of affiliate links and more growth in terms of followers, consequently making you more attractive to brands.

If all of this can be done to positive effect much quicker, easier and more affordably than traditional blogging, then it makes business sense to pursue Instagram. You’re saving time and money, and you’re setting yourself up to be more attractive to brands who are looking for high levels of engagement as evidence of return on investment. It just makes sense.

And I’m not saying that there’s no creativity or passion in an Instagram shot - one glance at my feed will show you that I’m extremely partial to an iPhone shot or too, but I would be remiss to not mention that I’ve been actively pushing these for the sake of better engagement, not because I’m genuinely excited to share them.

The real pleasure, for me, comes in sharing images that I’ve spent hours shooting, editing and perfecting - those aspirational, street style type shots that are always offset with a ‘okay this may look glamorous but really I I’ve eaten toast for every meal of the day’ type caption. The truth is, however, fashion is simply getting faster, and our digital landscape is changing with it. We, as consumers, now want same day delivery, instant links and a constant stream of new, new, new. Everything is available to us as the click of a button, and so the blogging world is adapting alongside it by picking up the pace in how we share and react to content. Whereas we once had the traditional press, then online websites and then blogs, we now have Instagram becoming somewhat of a shorter, sharper and snappier micro-blog, continuing the pattern of information becoming more instant and quickly attainable.

It’s true that I feel a little deflated at the moment. Like I said, I feel like I’ve come to a crossroads wherein I have to decide whether I want to satisfy engagement by pushing iPhone shots and sacrifice the photographic side that I love, or accept that if that really is the nature of the Instagram beast and I don’t want to comply, that potentially, my career will suffer.

It goes without saying that all of the above is my personal opinion/preference/experience. Plenty of lads and ladies that I know prefer iPhone content as they’re jaded by how glossy and editorial certain corners of blogging have become, so it really comes down to what you’re looking for in the people that you follow and why. For me, I’m just going to plod on as normal, post the photos that I want to and take the shite engagement on the chin. Fuck it (for now, anyway).

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this much-discussed topic, so please do pop you comments down below or come and find me over on Twitter and Instagram (lol) @chloeplumstead.

Until next time lovelies x

  • I love these kind of discussion pieces on the industry and where it’s headed. I agree with you entirely, Instagram is certainly prioritising the ‘instant’ content – whether that’s shoppable outfirs, slide-up links or captions made up of emojis. I’ve got a very small following on Instagram but even I have noticed a shift lately in people turning away from engaging with carefully curated content in favour of a trusty iPhone shot – particularly when it comes to photos with me in them. I guess people are getting back to basics in that respect but much like you, I enjoy creating the street style-esque images. It’s creative and fun and something I would never have thought about getting into had it not been for my blog. I’m going to stick to the old pearl of wisdom ‘if you enjoy it, stick to it’ it might not be making my Insta profitable but I sure does make me happy! Great post Chloe X

  • Tracey

    This is so interesting. I do love that whole ‘take a photo and upload it in the moment’ part of instagram. But I also like looking at nice photos of clothes and interiors which aren’t ‘of the moment posts’. I love instagram and although I don’t use it for a business, I can understand the frustrations of this. Something I wouldn’t have thought about so a very interesting read and I think going with your gut and posting what you want to is definitely the way forward!
    Tracey
    Girlabouthome.com

  • Latisha Marcum

    I have no idea what I would do if you stopped sharing those editorial photos that you pour your heart and soul into! I’m always looking to you for Inspo!
    I wrote up an article pretty similar to this a few weeks ago & it’s been sitting in my drafts for a while now. I was scared to hit publish because I didn’t want to one of those “complainers” but I just wanted to share my message! It’s a struggle figuring out if you should sacrifice the hard days you do to get the perfect shots, or if you should just continue like everyone else & post the good ol iPhone selfie. I’m glad you decided to share your thoughts with us! It was a good read!!
    XO-L
    http://www.agirlnamedlatisha.com

  • I LOVE your feed and your blog. I love Insta-stories for quick snaps but I love photos that have been captured in a really beautiful way. It is sad to see some blogging (what I think is) going backwards in terms of quality and effort just to make a quick buck but I guess we’ve all just got to keep moving along and doing our best…. What WE are comfy with!

    Sarah | More Than Adored

  • LOVED this article. I feel the same way as you do, even though my photos aren’t the best, I prefer my camera shots over my iphone shots, yet I get little to no engagement unless it’s an iPhone mirror selfie!

    -Georgia | http://www.georgiaanne.co.uk

  • This is so true, a massive catch 22! This article and the other think pieces you’ve created are amazing though – please continue to write these as I definitely visit your blog for these as well as your fashion content.

    I love editorial style content but I guess the iPhone photos thing boils down to the instant nature of sharing and also the relatability, people love aspirational content but they also want to believe it’s achievable. I still think you should post the content you really love, but maybe just provide a mix with iPhone shots to somehow balance the two.

    Great post!

    Paige | pagetwentyfour.co.uk

  • Katherine

    Such an insightful post! I completely agree that it’s not the kind of posts but rather the engagement that is problematic. The community aspect is suffering because of these quick picks. I guess the only solution is for everyone to continue posting work that they are proud of in the hopes that it will be enough X

  • Selina Moses

    I had this conversation a few days ago. I’ve stopped following a lot of bloggers because their blogs are just a post of a million pics with 1 line of caption. I’ve switched over to following their IG and that is a platform that works better for them. Meanwhile the genuine bloggers actually bother to write stuff with less pic spam and those are the ones who actually bother to make the effort with blogging. I’ll follow them on IG too but some bloggers just suit IG best

    https://retrocasual.wordpress.com

  • I wrote a post v similar but no where near as eloquent as this last month and I could NOT agree with you more. I too have started using iphone snaps more as they sky rocket in comparison to my blog style snaps. It’s frustrating af but it is a platform I love (not as much as my blog mind) and a platform I’m proud of. My audience mean a lot so I want to give them what they want, but with a little bit of time for me as I’m SO proud of what I shoot for my blog that I’d be silly not to share them on my Instagram too (despite them tanking LOL great term babe)

    It’s a bloody weird world rn for us but we just gotta keep doing us, being ourselves and keep riding that rollercoaster…

    Great piece as ALWAYS boo!
    x

  • You are so right – every man and his dog has their opinions on the algorithm right now, I’ve even seen some say they think it doesn’t exist and it just that the majority of people are using it wrong. Recently I’ve changed up my content a little and started to post content that I like and can create more of with little doses of content that I love.

    Hopefully one day I’ll find a nice balance of the two!

    Emma | HarmonyBlaze.co.uk

  • Holly White

    I feel the same way as you Chlo.

    I try and just upload what I like, when I like to these days. I don’t want things like the algorithm or what other people are posting/doing to influence how I choose to blog and post!

    I do think it’s mad how posting an IPhone photo can change your engagement too – crazy bloody iPhones!

    I’ve started to notice a lot of people who just seem to use Instagram as a way to ‘blog’, without even having a blog post to go along with their content, which is kind of frustrating, but I think we’ve all just got to keep doing our own thing and works for us and not take on what everyone else is doing as much! Xxx

  • Really enjoyed reading this. I’ve been blogging for the same amount of time and it truly has evolved at a scary pace over the past 2 years especially. A lot of bloggers have worked hard to improve their content visually, achieving the street style look that you mentioned – yet it’s ironic that Instagram is now heading towards where blogging started, quick iphone snaps that require little effort compared to ‘blog shots’. My Instagram hasn’t improved or gone downhill since the algorithm, it has just stayed the same which is very frustrating. I’ve noticed that like many others our blog doesn’t get as many pageviews as it use to, which is very disheartening. Luckily I’ve never had it as a source of income, so I haven’t had to make that tricky decision you are faced with. I absolutely *looove* your content on your blog and insta, whether it’s an iphone photo or not. I would say continue creating what you love and try to find a balance between the two, which I know doesn’t help, but we need to stick to what we love doing x (& hopefully IG will go back to the way it was someday)

    Summer, http://www.thetwinswardrobe.com

  • Great post Chloe and brilliantly written as always.
    I’m so on the fence about this, as I’ve always had a dislike on Instagram for all the perfect shots. Perfect flatlay. All white everythang. Etc. Loving more the ‘real’ life of people, which is why I love Instastories, as it offers this. However – Instagram is a picture sharing platform. The filters allow you to ‘change’ that picture. To modify it however you so desire. It’s a create outlet. And that is what I like and love.
    Creativity.
    Instagram wise and blogging.
    Be it pictures. Be it words.

    Caroline.x
    http://www.carolineelgeywhite.com

  • Wow I couldn’t agree more. Over the past few months I seem to have had less and less time to blog, and although i’ve not really taken on anything new in my life, it seems my passion has almost halved due to the fact that it’s not as successful. I don’t get as much joy from it for some reason. I’ve been struggling trying to get photographers,no motivation to take Instagram snaps and it seems like every photo I see on Instagram will be 100x better than what I can produce. More and more brands work with pure Instagrammers or bigger bloggers rather than the small ones. It now seems like you have to try 10 times as hard to get half as far. I know I started it for the fun, but somehow blogging has changed over the last 6 months or so.

    Emma at http://www.collagemepretty.com

  • this post is LITERALLY my mind written out online … instagram has been the bain of my six year blogging life.

    I blogged daily for five years, cutting down to three times a week a year ago was a SERIOUS mind fuck. but the reality is people are going to instagram for the fast news and blogs for the indulgence and my approach was working for me, but not really anyone else. But as for instagram … i just never indulged. I stood back and poured EVERYTHING into my blog, my content, my photography, thinking instagram was a bit like youtube – you didn’t need it, it was just there if you wanted it. Turned out instagram changed the whole game, and youtube has become an essential these days too. I got left behind.

    So i’ve trudged along, trying to do my best on the gram, but my love for photography means I won’t post iphone shots, i want to post the pictures i’m proud of and adore (usually DSLR) … and just as you said they TANK EVERY TIME. Most bloggers i started with are now on 200k followers because they’ve embraced the platform & got big before the 2017 disasters started happening. My insta is just stuck in it’s own vortex and never growing.

    All i can hope is that the blog revival comes around soon, i for one cannot wait for a return to proper content (i really miss daily blog posts to read). nice to know i’m not alone in these thoughts, loved the post, couldn’t agree more.

    Mel x mediamarmalade.com


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