It’s an understatement to say that Instagram has changed. Many of us who have been users for several years have watched it evolve into this monstrous social media platform, saturated with content, influencers, ads and sponsored posts. My relationship with Instagram has changed, and I struggle to use it in a way that brings me joy the way it once did. Yet for some reason, I’m still on it!
It has taken me a year or so to remember why I started Tripping Over Travel on Instagram. Since 2015, I posted photos the way I always did. One photo per weekday, either at 7:30am or 2pm, because those were the times I seemed to get most likes. I’d write my caption, leave 5 dots vertically, followed by exactly 29 hashtags. From the day I started, up until early 2019, this system worked. And then it stopped.
This must be how it feels like to be the popular kid in school, and then your reign in popularity suddenly ends.
I make it sound like I had a million followers and hundreds of thousands of likes. I don’t. I have less than 1k followers, and at it’s peak, I was averaging 120 likes per photo. I was happy with that.
Then Instagram got competitive. The standard of content grew. I’m not a photographer so I started to feel like a fraud. I never intended on becoming an “influencer”. I thought about making money as a blogger, but it never occurred to me to monetise Tripping Over Travel through Instagram. The bar was raised. I couldn’t keep up.
I do recall a random incident where Instagram locked me out of my account and would not let me back in unless I submitted my phone number. I was furious! But I also love Tripping Over Travel. It’s mine – I created it, and I don’t care how big or small it is. I wasn’t going to let it go because Instagram was being annoying. So I submitted a phone number and posted my photo. I got 12 likes…. I continued to post but I was not reaching the same number of likes that I once was.
I became obsessed with getting my account to where it used to be. This was the beginning of my downward spiral with Instagram. I was fixated on the numbers, I’d compare myself to other accounts, I tried learning new editing skills and explored different cameras and lenses, and I’d research “how to gain likes and followers” – none of it really worked. Or it only worked for a short time. Cameras and camera accessories are bloody expensive! I had conflicting priorities and limited resources. I then came to the conclusion that my content was shit and boring and no one on this entire planet gave a crap about my travel memories anymore.
The reality was, I could have spent the money and committed the hours to improving my content. But I chose not to. My time and money were being spent elsewhere. Instead, I started posting old photos on Stories, mainly for its temporariness, and because Stories didn’t exist when I first started travelling.
But still, Instagram isn’t fun anymore. I’m just going through the motions, because I don’t want to let go of Tripping Over Travel. It might only be a hobby. But it’s also my baby.
I had to really ask myself why I started Tripping Over Travel in the first place. I pay for the domain, I spend time sifting and scrolling through content. What am I getting in return? Then I remembered.
I started Tripping Over Travel because travel saved me. I owe a lot of my happiness and confidence to my solo travel experiences. When I was down in the dumps in my quarter life crisis, travel is what got me out. And when I started this, all I wanted was for people to feel happy and confident too. I wanted people to know that you can one day be crying yourself to sleep, hating your day job, criticising everything about your life, but you can also be standing on top of a mountain in Machu Picchu like a badass bitch!
Perhaps I haven’t been personal or vulnerable enough for my audience to really understand my motivation. But if I could inspire at least one person to take a chance, budget and plan, and travel independently – especially a female, then I felt successful. Likes and followers are nice, but if someone actually reached out to me directly for travel advice, and not only for the practical stuff, but to also find the courage to do it, that was always the better feeling.
It’s nice knowing that people believe that I have something to offer to their own personal journey.
So Tripping Over Travel lives on! Maybe less on Instagram and more on the blog (until I can travel again and snap fresh photos). It’ll continue to have it’s humble little corner in the internet world. And it’ll turn 5 in November this year! 🙂