January 18, 2017

My Attempt at An Instagram Theme: What Happened + What I Learned

Ah, Instagram. We have a love-hate relationship, you and I. Since creating my blog 'gram account (follow me here!), I've kept a general aesthetic by editing my photos the same way in VSCO, but I never tried keeping a true theme. So, I attempted one and thought I'd write up a post on how it went down and what I learned from it.

http://www.lifeshuffled.com/2017/01/my-attempt-at-instagram-theme-what.html

+I discovered that "theming" is not fun... and that I don't know how to do it.

I thought it would be so fun to curate a theme. I hate to admit this, but trying to theme legitimately stressed me out. I love scrolling through Instagram, but for a couple of weeks, I dreaded opening the app because I knew that I'd see my photos that just would not theme. I found myself taking photos that could not be edited to fit the theme without looking, well, absolutely terrible. In turn, I wouldn't post a fun, well-snapped photo that I normally would share without hesitation. Even though I was taking fewer photos, I was having to constantly search for the perfect, "hidden" photo.

+ I found myself playing into the social media comparison trap.

I wanted to try out a theme because I thought it would benefit my brand and because I'm envious of those Instagrammers with perfect accounts. There— I said it. Turns out, I'm just not that trendy or cool, sorry. I don't work from my laptop at a chic coffee shop every afternoon, I'm typically not wandering through a city of stunning, brick buildings, and I'm more likely tutoring or in class than on some fun, 'grammable adventure. My everyday life is not that photographically inspiring, and I'm not gifted enough to make it appear that way.

+ I took fewer photos.

This was both a good thing and a bad thing. It was a good thing because I don't have personal social media, so getting a break from my blogging socials was nice. It was a bad thing because I make it a point to post daily on Instagram and having a theme made finding photo opps more difficult. A theme is not just posting photos that are consistent in their editing; the photos have to be similar in content, too. So, before I went through the motions of applying the A4 VSCO filter (and then the G3 filter, when I decided I hated the A4), I had to make sure that the pictures themselves were similar.

What did I learn? 

Above all, this (some wise words for ya, here): know the difference between envy and inspiration. When you find yourself wanting what someone else has built online— an Instagram feed, a business, a blog following— ask yourself what you can do to have that effect on people. Totally not saying that your goal should be to create envy-inducing content— I'm saying that you should be evaluating how your content/accounts are, or can become, unique to the point that people will come back to you for the same reasons you return to your favorite blogs and accounts. Also remember that there are probably people who admire your work and what you've accomplished, even if you don't think that there are. My moment of wisdom aside: ultimately, I decided that keeping a theme is a lot of effort for something that should be enjoyable.

How do you feel about "theming?"

6 comments

  1. Themeing on Instagram requires a lot more hardwork than people expect. Like you, I also found that out the hard way. I went through the similar motions of being excited to have a feed that flowed nicely, but experiencing the stress of over-editing my photos to match a style, not finding enough photo-ops, and doubts posting a pic that I normally would post without hesitation wasn't worth it for me. I give major props to anyone who can keep a consistent theme going on. But I learned that it's not my style and I'm more happier editing my photos with the same filter and calling it my theme & a day on Instagram.
    Really enjoyed how honest your were in this post. Loved it!

    -Kim :)
    www.simplybeingkim.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks, Kim! I love the way themes look, too, but I've decided, like you, that I'm happy without a theme :)

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  2. This is a great perspective! I love your concluding points.

    I've been experimenting with "theming" for a while now, and I've run into similar problems. I don't post photos I LOVE because they don't look good when edited according to my theme. I'm thinking about dropping a theme altogether. Do you think you'll do the same?

    P.S. I love your IG feed. It's one of my favorites!

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    1. Thanks so much, Emily! I actually tried "theming" twice. The second attempt wasn't as bad (I didn't delete the photos I'd posted this time around haha), but I still didn't love it. On a whim, I decided I'd switch back to how I'd been editing all my photos in VSCO. If you want to drop it altogether, just do it! In my view, something as simple as a photo-sharing app shouldn't be so problematic— it should be fun :)

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  3. I totally agree with this, Alexa! It definitely makes taking pictures a bit of a challenge. For me, I started to realize the theme didn't quite fit my life. It took me a while to realize that it was okay to just post the things that were important to me!
    Caitlin

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    1. Yes! At the end of the day, Instagram is just an app that should be fun to use :)

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