Quitting Instagram to grow my online business girl with a mamiya camera marina cosic photography soulful business educator

Why I decided to quit Instagram to grow my creative online business

It seems crazy, right? Quitting Instagram when it seems that is impossible to run a business without it. Especially an online business. Everybody is using Instagram for their business, aren’t they? In 2021 this title may sound a bit crazy, but if you do a little research, you’d find out it’s not strange at all.

Things are changing in many dimensions, including social media. What I’m sensing is that there are many new communities and networks being formed right now as an alternative way to connect and share. It’s real and it’s due to over saturation of existing social media channels. From this perspective quitting Instagram to grow a business gets a whole new dimension. 

But let me give you a little bit of context and clarity about why I decided to quit social media, Instagram to be more precise.

Quitting Instagram to grow my online business girl with a mamiya camera marina cosic photography soulful business educator

I joined Instagram back in 2014 or 2015, not having a clue what it was. Until then I used only Facebook, and had some experience in using some online photo galleries, such as Deviantart and a few others. So I started posting random phone images on Instagram, than switched to sharing high quality photos that I was creating, non work related. I don’t know why I was doing it. I had no plan, no idea what I wanted to create, and mostly I was spending time on Instagram, consuming other people’s content, and not actively using Instagram for any higher purpose.

My relationship with Instagram over the years

Throughout the years I saw many people grow to multiple tens of thousands of followers. I was drawn to those numbers, still not knowing why. I wanted to grow my following, but I didn’t know why I wanted it. It was trendy. And it seemed like it was successful. So I thought that I had to want to grow if I was already using the platform. 

I thought that growth itself was the purpose. From what I saw, people were making money thanks to Instagram, and I wanted to do the same, but still, I had now idea how or even what was it that I had to give. I wanted to form a community, but I didn’t know how and around what. More than anything else, I started nurturing frustration

However, when I wasn’t getting inspiration or jealousy, I was observing and learning. Slowly, I started connecting the dots and understanding not only how Instagram works, but what’s happening with social media in general, about life span of social media and moreover about how new digital era impacts society, for better and for worse. 

Instagram as a personal growth journey

I’ve had my ups and downs on Instagram, changing thoughts, styles and figuring things out. I was trying different things and different approaches, and nothing ever really clicked with me. I was diving deep, learning and understanding the psychology behind people’s behaviour, which got me to a conclusion I didn’t even need Instagram for. Nothing ever changes with people, only the circumstances do. 

And honestly, I didn’t like it. I loved the fact that I met so many beautiful people from around the globe, connected deeper with some of them, and learned so much that I don’t know if it would be possible to learn otherwise. From the very depths of my heart, I am grateful for this. 

Around the time I launched this blog, in 2019, I started asking myself some big questions. Why I wanted to grow my Instagram in the first place? What was it that I wanted and had to offer? And what was the difference between wants and needs? What role was the ego playing in this game? Who was I truly and what was it that I wanted to do in this life? And mostly, how I wanted to spend my life, how I wanted to do my work, and what was it that I wanted to leave behind. Not only for my clients, but for my family as well.

At this point, things started to shift. 

Quitting Instagram to grow my online business girl with a mamiya camera marina cosic photography soulful business educator

Instagram is growing insanely

The thing with social media in general is that they are growing at incredible speed. Not only by the amount of people who are joining, but by software development as well. This means that new features are being added on monthly basis. And if you want to have the full experience, you naturally become subject to their influence and adopt new features, no matter if you are the early adopter or the middle mass. Because, of course, you don’t want to miss out, do you?

And I’m not talking about private profiles here, but about creatives, businesses and strategic approach with a goal in mind. 

Addiction to social networks

Social platforms are made to be addictive. In fact, only a few people know that big companies such as Instagram or Facebook (it’s now the same) hire the same psychologists who work on making casino machines and games addictive. Why is this so? A casino owner wants their customer as long as possible inside, for as long as they are inside they are bringing in the money. The exactly same things goes for Instagram, and of course, other social platforms. They want you as long as possible on their app, because you being online means cash coming in for them. Cha ching. Money and power still rule the world; as I said previously, nothing ever changes, only the trends do.

I too haven’t been immune to this. I’d spend so much time scrolling and scrolling, not aware of what I was looking for, or what I wanted to get from it. Taking my phone, opening the app, checking in to see what’s up there became a habit, a normative. A quick dose of rest, time in between, a shot of not missing out

Endless scrolling, a lot of inspiration and ideas – true that – if I didn’t see Beth Kirby’s work I don’t know if I would have ever started my creative business and come to a place to teach other creatives how to do the same through my course and content… But, most of the time, I would feel less then. Not as good. There were so many others better than me – in anything.

No matter how good I was, spending a lot of time on the app made me feel inadequate. Now I know that these were my internal beliefs that led long to the past and luckily I have found a way to work and grow through them. But in reality, this is how it was for a long time. This is how I felt. 

Consuming more than creating 

When I started my brand photography business and my online business as a creative and a lighthouse, I started learning about business, branding and marketing at a light speed. What I realised soon enough was that if I wanted to grow my business, I needed to create more than I consume. And for so long it seemed that I was consuming way more than I was creating. Was Instagram hurting my business? It wasn’t. It was me. I realised things would need to change.

At one point earlier this year a thought appeared. Do I really need Instagram for my business? Do I really need Instagram to be successful in what I do? You know, to follow my dream. Go towards my vision. To follow the beats of my heart. To make impact. Do I really need to be in a constant rush, producing short form content with a short life span, absorbing way to much content that is keeping me away from what is really important – my message, my truth, my time, my soul, my Self? 

Growing an online business without Instagram?

Because, here’s the thing. For a long time I wasn’t ready to openly share my world views, thinking it would be too much for some reason. I didn’t know that I first needed to speak out loud and speak my truth to attract similar people, and not the other way around. Something about Instagram didn’t make me feel safe. It didn’t feel like home

Soon enough another thought came up. Could I somehow reach people, let them know about my work, make them remember me for good content, make them want to come back for more, make them know, like and trust me – without Instagram? Scary, I know. But this was when I decided: I want to put focus on my content outside of social media – my blog, newsletter, digital products and other types of content. It was early spring of 2021, and even though my mind was running in circles screaming at me, there was this feeling of ease and trust that came simultaneously, and I decided to leave it there.

Quitting Instagram to grow my online business girl with a mamiya camera marina cosic photography soulful business educator

A silent revelation and a little enlightenment 

Since I was busy at the time with creating digital products and my course, I left these thoughts to deal with them later on. And later on came soon enough. Just a little before summer, I had this unusual series of events. 

I am sharing this only because I’m a ‘trust your gut’ advocate, and I hope my experience may help someone to follow their intuition, for this invisible intelligence that is all around and inside of us makes no mistakes when it comes to our path. I know that all the answers we need are already inside, and we just need to be silent enough to hear them. 

Anyhow, at first it came as something looking like a panic or anxiety attack one night, that wouldn’t let me sleep, although I had no single reason to be upset. I was in a really good mood, good vibes, good days and weeks and just everything was great. It took me a while to understand that my body was sensing something energetically and instead of leaving the sleep to take care of it and waiting for a sunny morning, I decided to sit and meditate with the feeling. 

I asked my dear friend Stephanie (whom I have met on Instagram) from the other side of the world to help me out. What she did was an energy reading, and even though she didn’t know where I was in life or business, the vision she shared with me was a confirmation of what I was sensing but wasn’t sure how to explain. I’m following, and I wasn’t supposed to follow. I’m in the crowd, and I’m supposed to go the other way. I was fitting in and I was supposed to be free.

Quitting Instagram to grow my online business girl with a mamiya camera marina cosic photography soulful business educator

Path to authenticity, Instagram is not the way

I felt this very deeply, and as soon as she shared what she saw with me, my body went into an instant state of relaxation. Panic, anxiety and fear were immediately gone. However, this wasn’t the first time I ever approached my senses like this, but it was the first time I asked for assistance. 

A few days later we had a visit and this relative gave me a link to an article by Swen Lorenz, My top 10 rules for building a blog, which led me to another blog post of his, 6 lesser – known reasons for deleting your social media accounts. And at that moment as if the sky opened above me. 

It all made perfect sense – my intuition, my thoughts, my feelings – it all guided me towards a new path. A path to authenticity and freedom. This is what I felt and and have been thinking for some time, but it was still somehow hard to say ‘no’ to what everyone else was saying ‘yes’ to. Is Instagram the only way to grow your creative online business? It sure can be helpful, but hell it is not.

Also, I started to feel that I need to get away from outer distractions so I can fine tune to my inner world melodies. And this is what is truly the most important to me. That is My truth. An mMy feelings. My insights. My way. Inside of me are the answers I no longer need to seek outside, and although I knew this for a long time, now it started to sink in genuinely. And you know what, my authenticity is not where everyone else’s is, and to create best possible work, to do what I was meant to do I need to move away from what is keeping me away from it. Instagram is at this time one of those things. 

Quitting Instagram to grow my online business girl with a mamiya camera marina cosic photography soulful business educator

Can you grow a creative business without Instagram?

These insights and revelations and everything that led to them felt so good, truthful and familiar to me, that it made no sense to me to neglect them. And if this is your confirmation that business and life decisions don’t always have to be rational and logical, then let it be.

At this point I decided to go on a new journey to see how one can grow an online business in a different way, away from social media and pressure and addiction it’s wrapped with, and I will be sharing my ways here and in my newsletter. I don’t know where it’s taking me, but that exactly is the beauty of it. Thinking about a life without having to share so much all the time and to be available as much as possible to feed the algorithm makes my heart skip a beat. In a good kind of way.

Will I still be using Instagram for my business?

So, what about Instagram? Well, I’m definitely not going to delete my accounts, and I will stay on the platform for connections and information, as well as discovery of new people and businesses and occasionally share some of my work, but I will no longer use Instagram consistently for sharing as I used to. Being off for the most of July has brought not only relief, but a new strength, creativity, perspective – and a new joy. In a way, I will use it as a social platform, as it was intended to be.

I learned a ton on Instagram, and I’m leaving with my heart full of joy and grace. I just realised that Instagram is not for everyone, nor it should be. Am I going to replace it with another platform? Who knows. Maybe. But apparently, doing what everybody else was doing didn’t bring me much satisfaction. Didn’t bring me joy. And this is exactly what my purpose is. 

Quitting Instagram to grow my online business girl with a mamiya camera marina cosic photography soulful business educator

Should you still be using Instagram to grow your business?

If my experience made you think whether you should be still using Instagram for your business, here’s my thoughts on that. Instagram is a great platform and it can return the bet if you use it strategically instead of just spending time on it. Instagram is a great tool and it can be used in many different ways. Hey, if you are interested in this topic, let me know in the comments and I will write more about it. Instagram can be grown only by connections and great work, or with a strategy. No matter what way you choose, or what chooses you, you still need to invest time in it.

It is only up to you. Be honest with yourself and see if it is bringing you joy and return of investment. If it is not – maybe it is time for a new strategy.

And when it comes to my strategy, I will be sharing more about it in my newsletter next week, so if you are interested in a more personal connection with me and my work click here to join my inner circle for weekly conversations on all things business, life and growth.

And yes, to all of you who read and reply to my emails – a huge thank you. You know who you are, and your support is immense. 

Until next time, 

Sending good vibes your way. 

Marina,

oil on paper blog

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