Instagram – love it or hate it?

Sewing-Instagram

Social media.


Reading those words, did you start to sweat? Feel a little stressed maybe? Most people have a gut response to the subject. It can feel incredibly personal and also extremely disconnected. I have been actively using Instagram for about a year and a half, and although I am by no means an expert, I have learned a few lessons that have made the experience jump from frustrating to enjoyable and now, exciting.


When speaking with other creative entrepreneurs about their business goals, inevitably social media comes up. How much do we need to engage? How much does it matter? I hate it. I love it. It feeds my insecurities. It validates me.


These are things I have said myself and have heard from many others. I have made a list of 7 ideas about social media, and Instagram specifically. I’d also love to hear your take on how social media affects you. Do you feel uplifted after swiping through Instagram? Or does it feed deep-rooted insecurities and bring up the comparison game?


Instagram-Phone

I hope by reading these 7 points, you can join me in winnowing through the negative so IG can be a fun place to hang. Which brings me to my first point…

1. Treat It Like A Party.

What kind of a party are you throwing? If it’s a personal, small group thing, talk about the kids, what’s for dinner and maybe certain events that have recently been impactful. If this party is meant just for good friends, most anything goes – these people know you and accept you. What a beautiful thing!

Trending patterns!

If it’s a business account, keep it true to your brand. It may not be the best forum for pictures of last night's dinner, but it’s a great place to show off your design process, what’s inspiring you and to connect with other like-minded people. Keep it light. Keep it fun. Sometimes things get serious, but try not to stay there. People come in and out and sometimes they say “hi” and sometimes they say nothing at all.

Visitors like seeing the “behind the scenes” sometimes, just as long as it doesn’t get too intimate. Remember, most people swooping in and out of this party do not know you personally.​

2. If It's Not A Fun Party – Leave.

In my opinion, this is very important. If a social media outlet does not bring you joy, don’t put yourself through it. It’s not going to make you a better person if it only brings you down. It’s not going to help your business if it becomes a chore. People can tell when you’re not having fun at the party, and they won’t want to be there either.​

For me, I don’t find Facebook enjoyable. My newsfeed is a slideshow of people I no longer keep in touch with and babies I will never meet. Because of this, I rarely update my Suzy Quilts Facebook page, and when I do, it’s usually just a regurgitation of whatever I put on Instagram.

IG, on the other hand, is a TON-O-FUN! I am constantly inspired, love finding new accounts and although geographically I don’t have a quilting community, virtually I feel rich with creative, encouraging, like-minded people.

3. There's Enough Room.

quilting-instagram

This is something I tell myself a lot. As much as I love Instagram for its unique ability to connect me with thousands of other artists, it can also be overwhelming.

How many times has this thought gone through your head, “Wow…they are so good. I really suck compared to them.”?

AHHHH! What a terribly destructive, yet human response. WE ALL THINK THAT SOMETIMES. But. It’s not true. It’s 100% completely and absolutely false, and the less we allow ourselves to negatively spiral, the better.

So try this. Next time you see something that is really amazing, maybe it’s something that you do yourself and this other person is doing it very, very well, tell yourself this, “There’s enough room. There’s enough room for them and there’s enough room for me. Their awesomeness does NOT EQUAL my lack of awesomeness!”

And, maybe the things they are creating will inspire you to be a better artist yourself. I am not saying they will inspire you to copy them or BE like them, just be a better version of you.

Am I getting too cheesy? Sometimes I can’t help it because these simple words have saved me from numerous downward spirals. So, if you ever hear that mean little voice in your head telling you that someone else’s success equals your failure, please just try whispering back, “there’s enough room.” Maybe it will quiet the voice for a little bit.

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4. Likes Are Free.

Don’t be stingy! There’s no need. Likes are free and they make people feel encouraged. How many times have you posted something and then spent the next hour spastically checking its status? Hmmm? Now be honest. I think it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t post stuff to IG if we didn’t want people to “like” it. Right? So pay it forward and share the like ;)​

5. Keep It Positive.

Creative-Blog

You could say that “keep it positive” is my social media mantra, but specifically I wanted to say that an encouraging comment can really go a long way. It’s definitely not reasonable to think that you can comment on every picture that pops up in your feed. But, if there is something you see that makes you think, “daaaaamn!” Comment! Tell them!

We are all starving for affirmation, even the people you think get enough of it. I’m definitely not at a loss when it comes to verbalizing feeeeelings, I could write a whole post about this, but I’ll spare you and leave with this one thought – every time you hop on Instagram, see if you can leave it a better place than when you arrived. Keep it positive.

6. Open Yourself Up To Making Friends.

QuiltFriends

This may come more naturally to some than others. For me, the idea of making friends on the Internet was extremely weird, slightly desperate and beyond my comprehension. I chalk it off to a generational thing. I was born in ’85 and clearly remember a time before the Internet.

In Jr. High I dabbled in chat rooms…which very quickly got creepy. At 14 I concluded that the World Wide Web was a place for pervs, old men posing as young girls and kids my age over-sharing about things I did NOT want to hear about. Real life, therefore, was the only place to meet genuine friends. In college Facebook made its debut and I saw the Internet as another venue for connecting with my real-life friends.

I lived in this state of mind until, well, honestly, until about 6 months ago when the IG quilting community started reaching out to me in kind, unobtrusive ways. “Beautiful quilt, Suzy!” “Who designed that fabric? I love it!” or “You’re in Chicago? Have you checked out this fabric store?” There was nothing creepy or strange about any of it, and slowly my assumptions of the Internet began to crumble.

I started trying to give back some of the encouragement that I was receiving and the most beautiful thing occurred – by golly I made friends! No, not braid each other’s hair and share deep dark secrets friends, but like-minded people who are passionately creative, giving me support and building me up when I'm feeling vulnerable. Some people are so good at this and I hope to keep getting better and better.​

7. Hashtags....

Hashtags are a great way to connect with like-minded people. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to how many hashtags to use or not use. I once read that any more than 3 looks cluttered…but then I said screw that and now I use at least 9 on every post.​

If you want to connect with quilters try these hashtags: #quilt #quilts #quilting #modernquilts #modernquilting #patchwork #modernpatchwork #sewing #modernsewing

Change up your hashtags based on who you want to connect with. I have started adding #textiles #textiledesign because the other artists using those hashtags are so inspiring and I reap so much creative juice from them.​


I’d love to hear about your experiences with social media, the online quilting community or any thoughts and tips you’d like to share!

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40 thoughts on “Instagram – love it or hate it?

  1. Charlie says:

    Its so hard to wrap my head around my love/hate relationship with social meadi – but treating it like a party is great advice!! -@wobblybobbin

  2. Lisa Burger says:

    Thank you for this! I was just talking about this last night on our drive home from quiltcon. I was saying how we want connection with others, but not always intimacy. And I ALWAYS freely like/comment… and am realizing not everyone does. I had a few people say yesterday, I love your lanyard, I saw it on IG, and I thought: you didn’t “like” it!?! I think people don’t want others to know how much theyre on it, that tab that shows what others are liking in real time- they don’t want to be “seen” there… it’s all rather silly. Just like/comment when you like it, and encourage others- be a light!

  3. Angela O'Rourke says:

    Hi Suzy! I really enjoyed your post. I Love Instagram. It inspires me so much. I get such a kick out of people from all over the world commenting following or liking any of my posts. It just makes me happy! I like and comment on other posts all the time. It feels good to spread the love. Nothing like positivity with like minded people. If there is any negativity I just scroll on and let’s face it no one has a perfect life!

  4. Katie says:

    I love IG, usually my only problem is spending too much time there! When I need to get things done, I have a strict no social media policy. I even keep my iPad and phone out of my studio during those times. I like that it easily allows me to connect and keep up with people when it is convenient for me. Sometimes, real life relationships don’t work that way.

  5. Isabel says:

    I LOVE instagram. I have recently set up a personal account next to my own “business” account so people don’t have to see my family photos if they don’t want to. I like your views, sharing the likes, making “friends” , getting inspiration and feeling the lack of awesomeness sometimes.. ( you are one of those people who I get that feeling with :p – love your feed!! )
    I still have to learn to use more hashtags ! I like searching with them and am surprised sometimes what you see, some of them are so not what I had in mind when I clicked a “sewing” related tag (:
    Anyways, good job on your blog and instagram. Love your work and love a bit of scrappy in my feed!
    Cheers
    Isabel
    Lamb and Wolfie

  6. Elaine @ Beech Tree Lane Handmade says:

    I’m kind of addicted to my Instagram feed, but that’s just because I love to see what everyone is working on! Instagram is fun for me and a great way to make sewing “friends” and share all kinds of interesting tidbits. Plus it’s just a great source of inspiration.

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  9. Annabel - Belloquacity says:

    Oh Suzy! I came for the curves tutorial and the gorgeous watermelon quilt, and I stayed to read more because I loved what I was reading. And this article. Wow. “spastically checking my likes” made me snort my coffee and nod in agreement. I’ve had a really love hate relationship with IG lately, but it’s so true, if you don’t like the party, leave and maybe find a new party to attend. Thankyou. Just thankyou!

    • Suzy says:

      Yeah! This makes me so happy! The love hate relationship may always be there, but sometimes it’s helpful to know that everyone else is in the same boat 🙂

  10. Kate says:

    I’m taking a break from Instagram, at least from posting. I love seeing what others are making but I find replying to comments and liking in response to likes gets exhausting after a while! There are a few people I’ve ‘met’ on Instagram I’d love to meet in real life but Instagram makes for a superficial experience of friendship in my experience. It doesn’t compare to a proper conversation, it is ultimately disappointing. I haven’t posted my last few finishes which kind of feels weird, like I’ve missed a few steps in the process, but I like not having to think of polite, enthusiastic replies to comments. It’s not that I’m not a polite person, it’s that I take it too seriously and it becomes stressful! I’m also restraining from commenting on others’ quilts because I figure it saves them having to respond to me.

    • Suzy says:

      Kate, I love hearing your perspective. Sometimes social media can feel trite and insincere – making it a pretty unfun party. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. However ( 😉 ) I think the world is probably missing out when you don’t post your finished quilts. And, speaking for myself, I only give compliments I truly mean, so if you ever decide to give IG another go, I hope some of the sincerity can come through and encourage your creativity. And definitely don’t feel pressured to respond to comments – you do you! It’s for your enjoyment and inspiration so feel noooooo pressure.

      Thanks so much for such a thoughtful comment! xo

  11. Genevieve says:

    So much has resonated with this post Suzy. Thanks for putting all these thoughts together. It’s just the hints and reminders I need right now. I ‘LOL’d’ at the ‘spastically checking’ for likes comment! And feel similarly about facebook (except for sew-alongs 😉 and interest groups). I get so much inspiration from IG, especially on the days when I’m not exactly feeling productive or creative. Yay for shared interests! I ✂️

  12. Dawn Chenault says:

    I am from the generation that is super awkward about social media- I was graduating high school about the time you were born! I have the feeling that no one really cares about my stuff. I am a wife, mother of two boys (who do incredibly funny stuff), stamper and now quilter. What I do, I do well, but who really cares? THEN I found your blog, (where I have learned how to quilt), and when I joined the #modernfanssa, I posted my first hashtag, and the first time I put anything I had made on social media! I have really enjoyed IG and have seen so many creative post. I am inspired everyday by what I see on IG and it is so positive and encouraging. I still feel a little funny about putting my stuff out there, but I really appreciate the good that is coming from being a little vulnerable.
    Your tips are spot on, and I appreciate your IG and blog post.

    • Kate says:

      This is me! I feel too self conscious and from another era to post but the sew along has forced me to post a picture of my progress. (My daughter helped!) I appreciate the positivity I feel on IG and am amazed at the kindness and support I see there in the quilting community! Thank you Suzy!

  13. jeanie turnbow says:

    I love the # because it opens up places of delight. I love that you seem to respect oldies but newbies like me. I came to you and the modern fans quilt looking for ways to quilt for the young people in my life. IN NO WAY HAVE I BEEN DISAPPOINTED.

  14. Gigi Voegeli says:

    Thanks Suzy, your comments were very interesting. I am new to IG and am really liking it. I don’t have a local quilt community and I love finding like-minded quilters from all over the world and getting inspired by them. And I think that you have just the right amount of the personal touch in your posts and I love what a stand-up comedian you are!
    Like you said, I try not to get to hung-up about the “likes”. And what a great policy to be generous with the likes. What does it cost you? I loved your comment about there being room for all of us too. I heard that studies are showing that the rates of teen depression and feelings of inadequacy correlate with the use of social media– that’s a scary thing. Thank you for all of your positive thoughts.

  15. Karen says:

    I love this Suzy! You were one of my very first ”quilty friends”. As a matter of fact my very first online quilt order! I’ve always appreciated your artistic way of being different in the quilting world! Rock on❤️

  16. Leslie says:

    I really liked reading this article. Put it into words that which was only thoughts and feelings floating around in my head. It is hard for me not to take things personally and very often IG brings me down. I like the idea of it being a party and to keep it light. IG fills a need for a type quilting community that I can’t find locally. A platform to share my makes to people who understand my passion and a place to be inspired, cuz oh man it does that! I often remind myself that that’s why I’m on it. Not everyone is going to like every single thing I do and they don’t have to. I have to like what I do. And I can share as much or as little as I want. So, so glad you posted this! You continue to inspire:)

  17. selina says:

    I started as a blogger, still do that and have many friends in that world. I have skipped over the facebook phase, originally because I was working and blogging was already taking up way to much of my free time. I thought I’d get into facebook after I retired but then there seemed to be too many issues regarding security for me to bother. So now I have an IG account and love it. I see my blogger buddies and my guild buddies and strangers from around the world work and stuff. Love it all. When I don’t love it I just skip over it that day. Mostly I like everything creative on peoples posts. I do admire the work of great quilters/artists as much as I admire the newbies. I’m in the middle and am fortunate that I have no issues if someone says something snarky about my work. I feel badly for their sense of self worth and move on. I was raised in the era of if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. Summing up this ramble, I have met wonderful people and been exposed to so much meaning full information and ideas. Won’t be giving up IG anytime soon. I do need to find an IG for dummies cause i still don’t use IG fully.

  18. Mumsie says:

    I’m a newbie and such a timid IG user. Your tips are fab and very encouraging.
    Let’s Party!
    Hang on how did I do that last post?
    Wheres the button for adding those zany bits?
    What I’ve lost that pic?
    ……. party planning is soooooo much fun!

  19. Emily says:

    I am an IG fan I love to see all the beautiful things people are making and doing. I like and save stuff all the time. I should comment more because that really does mean something to those who are putting themselves out there. I worry about annoying people and I try not to think about it too much because if they don’t like it they can just move on to what makes them happy. It’s hard knowing there probably be people who don’t “like” me.

  20. Meg Moe says:

    Hi! I loved this post! Such a good reminder and a beautiful way to look at things. I have had a hard time deciding what type of party I’m throwing on IG and it has led to me posting less and less. I’ve always been pretty free with my “likes” but a bit stingy with comments. I’m trying to rectify that!

  21. Rachel says:

    Love this!!! Instagram has actually made me more secure with myself in part because of this supportive quilting community. I love hearing people say there’s room enough and seeing people’s awesome stuff that I can learn to do too. It’s great, you’re great, now tell me how to share this article to my Instagram account 😉

  22. Lori Matsui says:

    My favorite part of blog posts is the pictures, the text is interesting too but I’m very visual (I suspect a lot of quilters are) so photos ‘speak’ to me louder than words, so Instagram is a good fit for me. The other thing I like about Instagram is I can find a pattern or color combo and hash tag multiple images at once and do a quick survey when I’m trying something new or making design decisions, so much faster than looking up multiple blog posts ( or trying to remember who posted what). I can find pattern info (like who offers what pattern) a lot faster too. I totally agree that a person needs to make Instagram work for them and keeping a ‘party’ frame of mind helps quite a bit with that.

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