How a Month without Instagram Changed my Business
I’ve been quite open about why I left Instagram and social media in general and regularly talk about how much better I feel in myself and the knock on effect that it is having on my work. Indeed, a month without Instagram altogether led to a desire never to go back at all!
But, I get it that it takes courage and a little planning to leave Instagram, because they don’t make it easy – which should be a warning sign in itself, right! But when you do break free, as I did, there are joys to behold!
I’m going to share how a month without Instagram changed my business and my personal life, the two are intertwined, after all. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be here if the changes were not positive, but read on for more specifics.
I saved eleven hours in the first week
Before I left Instagram, I knew it was doing me no good, I could sense the toxicity, yet I stayed there because that’s what you do, right as a business owner – you have to be on Instagram? But, it wasn’t until I left and started to focus on the things that really matter, that I realized just how much of I trap I’d been in.
In that very first week without Instagram I saved eleven hours, that’s a whole day! And in those eleven hours, among other things, I……
- Walked 6932 steps more than previous weeks
- Made banana bread
- Didn’t have headache
- Wrote a blog post
- Had two fabulous podcast interviews
- Booked a new client
- Made a tweak to one of my products and immediately made sales
I had planned to take a week off Instagram and I told everyone when it was happening. I didn’t schedule posts or anything and made a commitment to not think about or look at social media at all. As you can see, when you are not glued to the phone or being sucked into scrolling, so much time and energy becomes available.
I found feedom from negative self talk
After the initial discomfort, I started to feel so much better in myself than I had done for ages. and the effects that feeling good had on my business were quite significant. There is a lot of performance and fakery on Instagram. I know this and I was guilty as the next person for sharing things about my business that were sometimes not full truths. If I was doing it then of course, others were too, but it still made me feel a little bit manipulated and crap about myself.
It was so nice not to see what other business owners were doing and not to compare myself to them. To be free from those awful feelings of envy and negative self talk is worth leaving Instagram just for that.
It is liberating not to share!
Now, a month without Instagram passes surprisingly quickly and you’re not going to see all the benefits of that freedom, but in those first 30 days I learned to stay in my own lane where business is concerned. A friend said recently, ‘keep your side of the street clean’ and honestly I was so worried about what other people were doing and comparing myself to them, that my side of the street was looking a bit messy and not altogether a true reflection of myself.
I am a white haired, makeup free person who is happiest when barefoot and making cups of tea in the woods. I did share some of that side of my life. I also overshared, didn’t share enough, shared for the sake of sharing and sometimes wished I hadn’t shared at all.
So, the biggest thing that a month without Instagram taught me was that it was okay not to actually share anything at all and just fucking enjoy my cup of tea in peace without worrying about the caption or the angle of image!
Less FOMO, more productivity
Because I wasn’t looking at all of this ‘forced authenticity’ which may or may not have been truthfully authentic, I had far less FOMO as a result, and my side of the street started to look better (figuratively speaking) I am messy and leaving social media will never fix that unfortunately!
From a practical point of view this looked like, more time and energy to write the blog posts and record the podcasts and look at my copy in more detail. But what it really meant was I began to worry less about what other people were doing and focus on what I was doing, what I wanted to do and what I was good at. I became far more productive.
All of a sudden my newsletters were deeper and more meaningful, I spent proper time answering emails. I returned to creating content because I was called to or because it felt like the right moment, as opposed to posting a motivational quote because it was in my social media schedule or sharing some other random image or part of my life because I had seen someone else post something similar with good results, results that I wanted too.
It felt good to be me again
I understand addiction and I knew that those likes I was chasing just served to give me a little dopamine hit so I would keep coming back, and of course I kept coming back, even though I hated how it made me feel. And the ironic thing is that here I was helping women put down the bottle and break free from alcohol addiction so they could be the best, truest version of themselves, yet at the same time allowing an addictive platform to get in the way of me, being the best version of myself.
The freedom from all of that, the self doubt, the negative inner talk, the second guessing and comparing was so liberating and a relief actually. It felt good to be me again and to go back to how my business was in the beginning, to be passionate about writing and serving, helping and supporting in a genuine way that was a true reflection of me.
I was bored and it was good!
Being free from the constant bombardment of ‘stuff’ meant that I had time to be a little bit bored! I noticed that I had been using Instagram as a way of procrastination, filling in the idle moments or as a distraction when I was struggling to write or hit a wall in my creativity.
Now because I wasn’t picking up my phone and consuming mind numbing content for 5 minutes (or was it 35?) that I never remembered anyway, I had to work through writers block, or stare out of the window. This return to boredom and working through challenges, allowed my creativity to bubble up again, and as well as producing more content, I would say that what I produced was better.
Less anxiety & distraction
Another personal benefit which of course had a positive impact on my business and how I showed up, was that my anxiety decreased. I felt calmer and my sleep started to improve again. No more doom scrolling just before bed, or worse in the middle of the night when I would go to the loo, and because I was using my phone as a torch, I couldn’t resist a sneak peek and immediately regretted it!
Similarly, during my month without Insagram, I wasn’t distracted from my practice of morning pages and I was no longer rushing around at the last minute to get my son ready for school because I was lost down a rabbit hole of doom scrolling which made me late.
Being free of that meant that my day was not influenced by other people. It was so nice to not let how other people were feeling, what they were doing and how their lives made me feel and affect my day. So, my own shitty mood or my desire to dance to Leo Sayer in the kitchen while making omelette came from me, and not what showed up on my feed first thing!
“Social Media is a giant machine for getting you to spend your time caring about the wrong things” – Oliver Burkeman. Four Thousand Weeks
To summarise, my month without Instagram helped me focus on the important things in life and business. Little did I know that two months into my social media free life, something would happen that really would shine a light on just how pointless it was to waste time caring about what was on Instagram.
My time away has proven that, for me, social media for marketing is not the thing that brings me clients and revenue. I always, kind of knew that, but still was scared to leave and worried about how people would find me.
My website analytics, reassured me that leaving Instagram really wouldn’t make that much difference to traffic and it didn’t, it really didn’t. The following is a snapshot of my January 2022 analytics, so before I quit social media. 20% of my total traffic came from social media and only 0.75% of that came from Instagram.
I realised, it wasn’t worth it
So I would say do look at that closely at where your customers are coming from before making any decision and decide if the time you are spending on Instagram, is worth it for the return you get in the way of clients, customers and revenue?
We’re business owners so revenue is kind of important. And just like Leonie Dawson says, you can’t take your likes to the bank, so unless they translate into actual cash in your business, are they really that important?
And, it’s worth remembering that Instagram is not free, nor is Facebook. Sure, you might not be paying for ads but you are paying in other ways – your time, effort, clarity, focus, concentration, metal health and joy.
“The true cost of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it”
The above is a paraphrase of a well-known quote by Henry David Thoreau. I was exchanging far too much of my life for Instagram and it was only my month without Instagram that gave me the space and the clarity to realise just how much. And perhaps more importantly, to realise I didn’t want to go back.
Let me ask you, just how much life are you exchanging for instagram and is it actually worth it?
Spending time with my family, enjoying the walks, the meal out, the cup of tea in the woods, or the silent moments journaling without the need to share have been so liberating. No more pointless distractions and being taken away from what really matters to me has meant that I get more work done, what I do produce is far more valuable for my clients and I am able to focus on more powerful marketing activities that always have and always will reach more people than Instagram.
I feel more confident
I am seeing my confidence return. I am able to stick with what I know and love and not get pulled away by the latest fad or trend and become a performing money that I see so much of.
Honestly we can’t be everywhere and being on social media makes us feel like we should be everywhere and then crap when we realise it is not sustainable. It takes courage to step away from the masses and focus on the thing you enjoy, the thing you’re good at, the thing that brings genuine connection and that doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed in the process.
All of this I discovered in the first month without Instagram. It has been just over three months now with a life-changing event thrown in for good measure which has made me more grateful than ever not to be wasting my precious time and life on Instagram.
You can stop using Instagram and still have a successful business that allows you to enjoy the important bits of life.
If you’re curious about how to take a break from Instagram or social media as a whole, then sign up to the Life Not Likes Newsletter and grab your FREE guide on 7 ways to market your business without social media.
How do you feel about Instagram and Social Media for business? I’d love to know in the comments below.