Anyone else feel like Social media, specifically Instagram, is like a massive popularity contest? Strutting your stuff, flicking your hair (I am thinking Alicia Silverstone in Clueless here), playing the game to get as many likes and follows as possible. Hoping to be noticed enough that someone will find you interesting enough to follow you or like a picture. Maybe even visit your page or website. If you are a ‘seller of things’, then maybe, just maybe, someone will buy the thing you are selling. Posting content (like reels for example) which are awkward and annoying to make and don’t come naturally but get more attention seems ridiculous. It takes me back to being a teenager in school, doing things to try to find my place and fit in. I wouldn’t have seen it like that back then, more the opposite, but it’s the truth. As much as I hated ‘the popular girls’ and did things like dye my hair black so I wasn’t like them, everyone wants to be liked and so did I.
Constantly feeding the social media beast more and more content takes valuable time and effort so feels rubbishy when not seen or liked by anyone. It can feel personal. But the answer to being seen is to be present. To like and comment on other peoples content, to watch their videos and participate in the community, to sound genuine when commenting on hundreds of posts a day so people see your name but don’t think you are ‘attention seeking’. Then to post your own content at a meticulously thought out time, considering when most of your followers are online and how active you can be before and after publishing a post.
My life is busy and my time is precious to me so I feel reluctant to spend it all on social media. But as a result my posts don’t get seen which then often feels like my efforts to create things (such as my knitting patterns) are lost and no-one buys them… ok this is a bit dramatic as I do sell patterns, occasionally, and these sales aren’t usually as a result of my Instagram presence, but I do think it helps. In the knitting world anyway as the knitty Insta community is very large and very active. Knitting is a pretty visual activity so the platform works, to an extent. People don’t generally buy and knit patterns because of an expertly drafted description of the thing, but on how it looks.
To be seen in such a largely over populated and competitive space requires feeding the beast. A lot. Damn it’s a hungry one! Another thing I have found to somewhat work is to knit and post about a trending pattern. Knitting something else that everyone else is, using the popular hashtags and talking about the popular pattern tends to get you noticed. A great example is taking part in the Westknits MKAL (mystery knit-along). 2021’s MKAL was the second I participated in. I haven’t finished it yet, I am probably about half way through and haven’t picked it up for months.
I am, for the most part, a monogamous knitter, meaning that I usually immerse myself in one project at the time… Though don’t get me wrong, I usually have more than one project on the needles at one time, I am only human, I absolutely get tempted my a new cast on from time to time but I usually only concentrate on one at a time. This means that because I enjoy designing, It’s only so long that I can focus on something else until my brain starts working again and I can’t resist starting a design. If I were to give as much time to Instagram as Instagram would like, I wouldn’t have written and published a pattern yet. I would have been even less productive if I then tried to knit ‘popular’ patterns alongside designing. Also, as much as there are many many popular patterns on my ‘to-knit-list’, I sort of feel like this feeds the industries ‘big people’ and thus ‘the little people’ stay little. Similar to the concept of the bourgeoise controlling the means of production and the proletariat struggling under the weight of capitalism. The big get bigger and the small, well, do not and the Insta algorithm supports this.
My ramblings so far have been an incredibly long winded way of expressing that I have pretty much lost the love for Instagram. I think this is because of the need/want to grow my account but not dedicating enough time to do so. It’s taken the fun out of it. This makes me a bit sad as I used to (and sometimes still do) enjoy scrolling through a plethora of knitting content, getting inspiration from those little squares on my phone, leaning about new fibres, dyers, designers and techniques. Getting to know more likeminded crafters. It feels different now though. I think largely because of the way Instagram is geared now. Every other post is either an ad, a hashtag post, or a reel which is usually about a subject which has absolutely nothing to do with my interests nor has it been posted by anyone I follow. It feels more overwhelming now and less inspirational.
After the release of my last knitting pattern, the Flutterbye Cardigan (and a couple commissioned patterns which haven’t been published yet), I took a short break from designing and did the thing and knit a pattern from a famous designer. It was nice to follow instructions rather than write them. It was nice to just, knit. Designing is incredibly time consuming and the knitting bit is actually a very small portion of the work involved. I told myself briefly that designing isn’t worth it as I don’t really get anything back in comparison to what I put into the process. Which is true. But what I love about it is all the technical stuff; playing with techniques and finding new/different ways to do things. Making things from my brain rather than from someone else’s. I even (can’t quite believe I am saying this) sort of enjoy the math and grading side of it! Designing adds a cool dimension to my knitting experience and I kinda think I am okay at it. It doesn’t matter if I am not the next big Insta-knitting sensation or a successful knitting entrepreneur running my own pattern design company. It is my hobby and I enjoy it. Its not a popularity contest and my success isn’t defined the number of followers my account has or the number of likes my most recent post gets. Or even my the amount of patterns I sell. Though, if you want to help a girl out, feel free! ha
Nearly a year into my design journey and it still, and always will, blow my mind that anyone likes a design I have created enough to buy the pattern, let alone spend their precious time knitting it. That’s awesome. It really is.