Looking back on creating the account and where things are going
September 8, 2020 – The world was still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economy suffering because of it. Many peoples’ lives were unpredictably effected by it; with lots of jobs lost and in search of. Yours truly was one of them looking for employment. It was several months since the last few interviews that I was called for, and optimism was running on fumes at that point. I needed something that would give me hope, something that I could watch progress, and something that would help advance my goals. During much of last year, besides my intern experience, I was still active on my blog (formerly known as Tripseekers) writing posts. As someone who is not into social media, at all personally, I knew that if I wanted the blog to grow even more then I had to market it in other ways.
Keeping it solely on WordPress was doing okay, but searching for it on Google only showed it if you searched specifically for the blog’s name. I wanted to expand the ways people can discover it. So I made the choice to create a social media account – the question was which platform to choose. Facebook I felt was slowly losing it’s touch; it wasn’t the same as it once was ten years ago. Snapchat and Tik Tok, I just couldn’t get into and didn’t think it would suit my intentions. Twitter, while useful in sending out announcements of new posts, just felt like the audience wasn’t the one I wanted to reach. So it came down to Instagram, and encouraging me to dive deeper into photography; like I thought about before. It is at, or near, the top of users when it comes to social media platforms. And the opportunities for collaborations and partnerships were higher there than, say, Twitter or Facebook. A place where people post photos and videos of travel – it sounded just right for me to jump into that community. So @trip.seekers was born!
The First Two Months – I knew a few friends from grad school, who already had IG accounts, however they hardly posted photos and mainly just followed big name accounts. Another was on IG, growing their own foodie business, but we hardly spoke in so long I felt like I’d be a bother to ask them for tips and tricks to grow the account. So while it seemed like I was alone on this journey, another dear friend of mine had also decided to start their own IG account to grow and network in the art history realm. We started around the same time and, together, we shared any information we could find about growing our IG’s. From using proper hashtags, where to place them, to creating stories and how to engage with others, it was very much needed to get off the ground and build our little community. At times, it was rough, because of the slow start and wondering if this was going to work out. I made the mistake of doing daily content when I really didn’t have much content to share. I had to learn to space things out, and to take my time. I certainly took my time here on my blog, but I had to appreciate slowing down on IG. I wanted to grow fast just like everyone else, but had to realize that it will come eventually as long as I kept grinding.
The Next Three Months – As I slowed things down, and started to niche my photos to be more travel/outdoor-centric, I was also going through a sudden identity change here on my blog. The sudden long, short journey led to going from Tripseekers to Novatourist. With that, my IG identity changed as well. Once again, there was no account name available that did not include a period in it, which was frustrating. But the journey rolled on, and I continued looking for ways to create interesting content. It was during this time I wanted to develop more engaging stories, and began adding more music and polls to do so. Oddly, my music choices changed and all the popular music selections went away. Side note: if that happens to you, try switching your account. I was on business, and switched to creator account; problem solved. Around this time, I crossed over 100 and 200 followers. It felt, and still feels, surreal every time 100 folks come by and follow you. You go in unsure if your ideas and vision will click with the rest of the world, and then this happens and you suddenly feel relieved that others relate and connect with your goals. I began dabbling in IG ads around here, as well. Not throwing crazy money, but maybe $15 dollars over the course of a few days. 5 dollars here and there. While organically growing the IG page was working fairly well, for any new account, my main goal has been to drive more traffic here to this blog. And that’s the selection I made on those ads – not to visit my profile, but link it to my blog. It worked a little bit, but eventually the ads reverted to visiting my IG profile since my blog link was in my bio. Approaching January, and heading into February, not only was my creative juices flowing but my time and content was beginning to run short.
Present Day & the Future – After New Year’s, things began getting slow on my blog and on IG. I was beginning to get more preoccupied with work and family coming over more often. I couldn’t focus as much as I wanted to, but I was making time to curate items that would help with my goal. Camera and camera gear, travel items like plug adapters, microphones and more I gathered. The desire to create a travel series got more intense, but time dedicated to planning it out was minimal. Time management was not my strength at this point. But over 5 months into IG, we crossed into 300 followers which was exciting. I began seeing my friends more outdoors, instead of at their houses, so I could provide more new content. It definitely was well-received by followers; almost too well-received. I began getting DM’s, which anyone knows can go all sorts of ways. In my mind, I imagined diving into collaborations here with fellow travelers, and I was mostly right. Except, it wasn’t the collaborations that I was thinking of.
One thing that I knew, but didn’t think of, was how some travelers make their income. Some do sponsorships, others freelance and write, while a select group work as independent travel agents. It’s the last group that caught me by surprise. What began as general friendly conversation, soon turned into subtle sales pitches to check out companies. I never signed on to any of those companies, nor do I intend to. While I completely understand the hustle to try and make a living, another part of me was frustrated because I was really hoping to do some actual collabs with fellow travelers. That’s one of my goals for the future, is connect and work together – whether it’s live chats, account takeovers, giveaways, etc.. I want to work side-by-side with IG friends, instead of being guided to some company (hardly anyone heard of) along with the other newbies to deposit cash to become commissioned sales agents. It just didn’t feel right to me, and it made me wonder how many other hopeful new folks were talked into this. If you’re new to, or even veterans, of IG just be careful when engaging with others through DMs. What you may hope for, may turn out to be entirely different from their intentions.
Work was getting busier, and the infamous snow storm in Texas did not make things easier. What I thought would be a fun time working from home, turned into a nightmare that left the power off. I couldn’t even work on my blog with no electricity. However, it allowed me time to get new snowy content and think about what I want to do with this and IG. By the time things got better, I downloaded a IG Story creation app, which helps me create more appealing stories. As mentioned, I resolved the music issue so now I can use more effective music for my stories. I have been incorporating more videos, as well, to familiarize people with how I sound. In the future, face reveals will be more common. With work easing up, and the state saying businesses can open to full, it allows my friends and I a better opportunity to explore within the city. But we’ve also been talking about exploring outside of it as well. In the near future, we are planning a weekend trip, and if it happens then it’ll be a great first test of my camera and microphone as I attempt to create a mini-travel series. We’ve also had talks of doing weekly outdoor activities, such as hiking, which also provide photo and video content. As of tonight, we just crossed 400 followers that caught me by surprise since it felt like a week ago we passed 300. Someday soon, we’ll pass 500 and then 1000. I won’t know how to react when we get there, but I’m not giving up.
Besides the travel series updates, I’ll be paying attention to international travel and continue hoping I can fly soon. If not, there is still my city, state and country to explore and show everyone. Recommitted, I will do better at writing more consistently on this blog. I noticed the newest feature on WordPress and linked my account to Anchor (not tied with my Lone Wrangler account), so in the future you can expect some of your favorite written posts to come to life with sound. I’ll have to look into that and see how it actually will look, but I might start with the poems first. Overall, things look promising and I’m glad to have taken the leap during a time when things were so uncertain. While things still are unsure, I have more clarity and a vision for where I want to go. It’s all a matter of acting on it, and I know I need to get much more stern on that. I’m eager for the continued growth as I build more familiarity with my fellow travel influencers on IG, as well as my friends already on IG as we stay in touch and support one another. For those who are thinking of creating an IG, or just getting started, try to keep what I said in mind:
- You don’t have to post every day – don’t post all of your content so fast, especially if you don’t have a lot to share
- Be consistent though – try at least once a week, around the same time
- Be engaging – like and comment on others’ content, get their attention!
- Share your personality – whether in your writing or videos, let folks now a bit about the person behind the photos
- Don’t use ads initially – you’re still growing and finding your identity, save your money when you’re more established
- Be wary of DMs – as much as we want to collaborate, some may have other intentions
- Research – see what creative tips would work well with your content
- Have fun – enjoy the journey, learn from others in the community, and don’t let numbers or fame get to you
If you found this post useful, be sure to share it with others! Comment if you have other tips from your personal journey, and share some goals that you may have for your IG for the rest of this year!