Why Instagram guides didn’t stick?

Around six months ago I wrote a post called ‘Could Instagram guides replace blogging?‘. It’s become one of my most popular posts.

At the time I expected guides would become a more popular feature. But looking through some of the accounts I follow, people either made 1 when the feature was introduced or didn’t make any at all.

I think the reason for this is that guides doesn’t actually add much that isn’t already there.

Despite a guide sharing similarities with blog posts, I think that perhaps it was too much like a blog for those that prefer putting out images and videos and not enough like a blog for those that still participate in the more traditional style of blogging.

It’s also worth noting that Instagram has already played it’s contribution in the decline of blogs.

I think guides is an example of a feature that just didn’t take off as much as the others did.

And I don’t think it’s a bad thing, it’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Why Clubhouse is so appealing?

I think I first heard about Clubhouse in November 2020 but as an Android user I knew that it wouldn’t be
something that I would have access to.

I also didn’t personally know anyone that used it.

But over the past 6 months it has grown rapidly.

I initially heard about Clubhouse on Twitter, people with access to the app would be on Twitter commenting on the rooms that they were in. From what I saw it seemed to vary from useful business related discussions to ‘rooms’ full of people venting about those they dislike.

In the months that have followed, I’ve seen more and more people that I follow online joining Clubhouse. I’ve also read a lot of articles sharing what Clubhouse is but also more in-depth ones discussing how it could change in the future and how long it’s popularity will last.

A woman I follow on Instagram that runs a buisness shared that she was hosting a room where they’d be discussing gaining funding for startups and also working in PR.

I’ve also heard someone on a podcast explain that they had the app for a short while but have now deleted it. They found themselves getting sucked into the kinds of rooms that were focused on drama rather than listening to things that were useful.

Another woman I follow on Instagram mentioned that she thought it was a really good app idea. She thought it would be a good place to have conversations within a closed community.

I’ve found seeing how this app has come along, how it’s used and how it’s grown incredibly interesting. I think clubhouse showed up in the right place at the right time and it appealed to people in multiple ways.

It’s an evolution of podcasts

Firstly, Clubhouse is like an evolution of podcasts, a type of content that has really grown over the past few years in terms of people listening to them but also more people creating them.

I think what we like about podcasts is that they’re fairly simple, it’s just people talking. You get to listen in on a conversation or monologue and maybe even learn something new. The fact that Clubhouse is in an audio format means you can listen whilst you go for a walk, do the washing up or make dinner without missing out on any visuals.

Clubhouse is stripped back

Secondly, Clubhouse showed up without bells and whistles, it’s stripped back. From what I know, you have the rooms, the hosts and you can follow people and be followed and the content is live. Whatever happens in the moment happens, there’s no editing it out. Of course those hosting may come with notes of the points they want to make, particularly if they’re there to teach and share knowledge but they could also be in their pajamas.

In contrast, podcast are a little more polished because as much as you might be having a casual conversation you probably don’t just say ‘okay, lets press record’ and see how it goes. And when compared to Instagram live which is also live content, the fact that you can see the person changes things.

I think the simplicity of just being audio focused allowed Clubhouse to stand out as most other popular social media apps have much more variation (Instagram has Lives, IGTV, Reels, feed images and videos, Guides and Stories) although it is worth noting that they didn’t start out that way.

A sense of exclusivity

The third and final appeal that is perhaps the most prominent factor is that you have to be invited. I think it’s interesting to think about how Clubhouse is sometimes paraded online as this exclusive app that you have to be invited into, yet everyone seems to have it.

According to an article dated 22 February 2021, Clubhouse now has 10million users which is around 0.13% of the global population. However, I still don’t think it can be considered exclusive as anyone can be invited (as long as you have an iPhone) and their is no criteria to join.

In relation to the idea of exclusivity, I think for some people knowing celebrities/well known people are on the app is part of the appeal because you get the chance to hear them talk in a more causal setting. I know a little while ago Elon Musk popped up in a room which drove a lot of attention to the room but also just the app in general. Now joining the app means you’re in the same ‘space’ as someone like Elon Musk (A famous Billionaire and Entrepreneur).

The other exclusivity aspect is that the audio is not recorded which means you really had to be there. I think there is a lot of value in that because these days with everything being recorded people end up being reluctant to show up in the moment.

Do you have Clubhouse and if so, what aspect of it appealed to you?

A 67 second podcast

Thats how long it took me to read through one of last weeks blog posts.

For quite some time now I’ve been thinking of creating audio versions of my blog posts. There are various reasons I have resisted, from not having any equipment to wondering whether I’m taking on too much (I’ve written over 800 blog posts). However, one of the biggest reasons is that I think they would be too short.

We’re in the season of audio content and even though there are people that listen to short podcasts, I can’t help but wonder if under 5 minutes would put people off. Of course, one may argue that my work isn’t for the people that would be put off. However, when you’re just starting out you want to know that there is a market for what you have to offer.

A solution I’d considered was to have a weeks worth of posts per episode almost like a sort of story but I wasn’t sold on the idea enough to proceed with it.

I’m still in limbo with whether or not this podcast idea will come to life and even what the format will be. But I do think that now is the perfect time to be experimenting with audio content, even if it ends up being temporary.

Why podcasts have become so popular?

Now we all know that podcasts are nothing new but if you’ve payed attention over the past few years you’ll have seen that there’s been an insurgence in podcasts.

They’ve become the cool thing.

Not only are more people listening to them but more people are creating them too.

I think the rise of podasts is down to their simplicty of being a recorded conversation discussing various topics.

A podcast could be one person talking about something for 20 minutes, it could be 3 people discussing dating, relationships and popular topics from social media or it could be one person interviewing different guests each week to talk about the work they do.

Even though many podcasts are now have visual content or perhaps the podcasters have their photos in the logo, the essence of a podcast means there’s no focus on what you look like, instead it’s all about what you say.

Podcasts also require much less effort from the consumer when compared to blog posts or YouTube videos. You can listen on your journey to work, whilst cleaning or cooking dinner, whilst you go for a walk infact you can listen whilst doing almost anything.

In contrast, visual forms of media require more attention. You can’t watch a youtube video whilst driving or going for a walk, you can’t read a blog post whilst doing these things either.

Podcasts can be entertaining and educational. They allow the listener to connect in a way that can’t quite be compared to a blog post or video content.

Hearing someones voice feels personal yet not having visuals allows you to create some distance between the creator and the consumer.

You don’t get swept up in what the person looks like, if you like they’re outfit, if their nails look good etc. These things can end up playing a large role in how content is received e.g. you’re more interested in content because of how the person looks.

But also before we had phones, computers, YouTube, blogs, tv, radio, newspapers, magazines and even letters, we just had our voices. And of course at that point in time they weren’t being recorded and edited but talking is one of the first forms of communications, podcasts tap into that.

Podcasts have been around since the 80s but there was a lot of time when they weren’t popular and definitely weren’t at the forefront of media like they are today.

I believe the popularity of podcasts to be down to the evolution of media, things change. For example, we’re not buying magazines or reading blogs like we used to. I also think celebrities and well known people have also helped the podcasting world grow because they have fans all over the globe that are more than eager to hear what they have to say in a casual setting rather than a formal interview.

Lastly, people building their own small communities from their podcasts. As much as you can have a celebrity podcast with 10,000 listens per episode you can also have hundreds or thousands of podcasts with 5-500 listens per episode. The numbers might not be high but they add up.

The final point is that people have started making money from podcasts, enough to live off of. This draws the attention and curiosity of many people because podcasting is no longer just a fun thing people do but instead a way to earn a living.

4 ideas for daily blogging

Prior to starting a daily blog my biggest worry was figuring out what to write about.

Daily blogging might seem daunting but once you figure out the kinds of things you want to share it suddenly becomes much easier. Below are 4 ideas for daily blogging that are wide enough that you won’t get bored and narrow enough that you can explain it in a short sentence.

A photo a day

Each day take a photo and share it, that’s it. You don’t need to explain the context behind it, you don’t even have to edit it. The title of each post could be a name for the image or a title that says something about your day in 10 words or less.

Lesson learnt

Share something that you’ve learnt, each day. It could be a few sentences on how smiling at other people increases your happiness or maybe sumarrise a few key points from an interesting article you read.

Comment on the news

Make each post about something you’ve seen in the news and share your opinion. You don’t need to be an expert in the area you choose to write about but you do need to share something thoughtful that is worth reading.

Ideas

Each day share an idea. It could be related to one specific or just life overall and it doesn’t have to be new. Some examples are ideas on how to better care for the environment, fictional characters or improving your life.

Each of these daily blogging ideas are great starting points. Each one will force you to pay more attention to life as the moment you have to take a photo or comment on something, the more you start paying attention.

What’s the use in blogging?

Over the past few years with the way that the online world is changing, people are regularly asking whether there is any use in still blogging.

There is no set answer, it just depends on what works for you.

If your blog is used to advertise and sell you might find other platforms more advantageous. But if you used your blog to simply just write, I don’t think any other social media platform can quite compete.

It also depends on what you prefer. Some people see a blog as the main focus whilst everything else is supplementary. For others the focus is what is most popular and right now that is Instagram.

It doesn’t matter where you share your work

When it comes to being someone who is creative, puts stuff out there and has ideas to share there is one piece of advice I’ve heard from two people that will never grow old.

It is something worth remembering as things change and develop over time.

The advice is to not become attached to the platforms where you share your work but to use them to your advantage in a way that works for you. Instead your focus should be on the work, the idea or the message.

When you do this, it doesn’t matter where you share your work. It could be on IGTV, pictures and captions on your Instagram feed, Insta stories, IG reels, a podcast, YouTube videos, blog posts, a newsletter, Facebook, or even snapchat.

And when a platform changes or becomes obsolete you can seamlessly shift to something else.

11 Ways to make your work more visible and find your audience

They’re out there maybe you just haven’t found them yet.

When putting your work out there it is important to put it in the line of the people you’re creating for. If they right people never see it, how will they find it?

These days it can be easy to fall into thinking that simply having an Instagram account is enough. Of course we can’t deny that Instagram is an incredible useful platform but there are plenty of other things worth doing to find and grow your audience.

I think there are 2 main ways: creating content on more platforms and making yourself visible.

It’s about giving people the opportunity to find you. This is something I’m working on and so this post is as much for myself as it is for you.

Here are some ideas to help increase your visibility and find your audience:

  • Write articles for other sites
  • Create YouTube videos
  • Twitter
  • Start a podcast
  • Attend events relevant to your work
  • Speak at events relevant to your work
  • Create sharable content
  • Talk about what you do
  • Pinterest
  • Host an online event
  • Start a mailing list

7 Reasons to quit daily blogging

I’ve been daily blogging on this site for 22 months now, almost 2 years.

It’s something that I enjoy doing and I love that I’ve created a space to share my thoughts on various aspects of life and my experiences.

However, I’ve recently started thinking about what changes I could make to this site and how I can make it better.

One of the first things that came to mind was posting less. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself not enjoying posting so often. I began thinking about how much I could improve the site if I was no longer sharing a new piece every day and I relaised that maybe it’s time for me to quit daily blogging.

Perhaps you’re in a similar position to me or maybe you are just curious. Either way, here are a few reasons to quit daily blogging:

  • You’re no longer enjoying it
  • Your audience is overwhelmed
  • The quality of your content is decreasing
  • You’re posting out of habit rather than because you have something worth sharing
  • You want more time to work on other projects
  • You’re not happy with your content
  • Posting daily no longer feels beneficial

The beauty of a blog is that you can create your own schedule. You might quit posting daily and realise that all you needed was a break and so maybe after a month you’ll go back to it. However, you might also realise that you’re much happier posting less.

Putting more thought into branding

As much as you might want to focus on other stuff, it will always be worth putting some time into branding. It’s important to think about how things look to an outside eye and understand if you’re able to deliver your intended message.

I’ve always wanted The Daily Gemm (TDG) to be a space with writing and simplicity at the forefront and that’s what I focused on when I started posting to the Instagram account a few months ago.  However, I’ve realised that although the simplicity element works well on the blog, it doesn’t translate the same way on Instagram. I realised that I might need to do start doing things differently.

After giving it things more thought and thinking about the grand scheme and my future plans and aspirations, I came to the conclusion that I wanted the TDG Instagram account to represent my long-term plans as a brand, rather than just to represent this blog.

And so over the past week or so I’ve been coming up with ideas for how I could do things differently in a way that works for me.

One the first things that came to mind was more visual content and more colour. Currently the TDG feed is full of quotes from my blog posts in black and white. But it turns out the ‘just words, no pictures’ philosophy that I have for this site doesn’t fit for Instagram.

On one hand my grand plans for Instagram have come crashing down but on the other hand it taught me a lot. I’ve now gone back to the drawing board and spent time planning and creating things that I’m looking forward to sharing.