How to Stand Out on Instagram in a Sea of Sameness
Over the last six months, I’ve started to notice that Instagram has started to become a platform of ‘sameness’. And by that I mean nothing is new anymore. Last year, I used to always see photos that would surprise me and think ‘wow, that’s clever!’ but it’s very rare that I think that anymore, as we all get inspired by each other. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that at all. Heck, I’m constantly inspired by other Instagrammers and I will always say when another Instagrammer has inspired me! But when I start to see the same type of photo over and over and over again, that’s when I start to feel like my feed is getting pretty dull.
Oh and let me tell you there is nothing like getting called out for copying someone when the photo they are accusing you of copying is a copy of one of your old ones !!!!!
Again, I’m not shading anybody at all. I am fully aware that no idea is completely unique, and we’re all bound to do photos that are similar at some point. But it can get a little frustrating, as I think we’re all aware. At some point, we have all taken inspiration from someone else on the platform and it’s possible that someone has taken inspiration from us. It’s a nice feeling to know you have inspired someone, but it can also be a little frustrating too.
I’ll take a few of my photos for example.
Last year, I did a lot of shadow character photos as well as creating things out of book pages, such as wings. Now, I’m not saying that I invented doing these at all, and neither am I saying that I was the reason why people did these types of photos, but as soon as I started to see that this was becoming a trend, I stopped doing them. Because they were no longer unique, no one would be surprised when you saw them on your feed and, quite frankly, the photo could belong to anyone.
The only way to stand out on this platform now is to do something that no one else is doing. Don’t jump on a trend, because you’re just going to get lost in the sea of sameness and just become another person who has recreated that exact photo.
You have got to find a thing that you are known for, and I’m still working on finding that thing and implementing it. Some good examples of people who have their thing are @james_trevino and @elizabeth_sagan . They are both iconic in the book world for creating amazing art out of books, sometimes really elaborate scenes that take a lot of time and effort. They are known for doing that. Subsequently, anyone else who does any of these photos are just a copy of James and Elizabeth. To me, anyway. Because that’s the thing that they are known for. It’s the same with @allthatisshe, I know her for her #allthatisthree series and her brilliant overhead stop motions that take hours and hours to do. You can try and copy her stop motions and #allthatisthree, but that is still Dominique’s thing and you just become a copy of them. @inthefrow is another great example of someone who knows who she is and her style and lets not forget the amazing and unique work of @donna_adi or @florencegiven
I know that I’m guilty of doing this too. I’m guilty of taking inspiration from other Instagrammers, which I’ve decided that I’m not going to do anymore.
You’re not going to stand out by doing what someone else is doing on the platform.
And how can you do that you ask? Well, by looking beyond the platform!
Pinterest is a great place to look for inspiration. Have a particular idea you want to do in mind but don’t know how to implement it? Search your idea on Pinterest and see how other people have done it in their own unique way. Is there a particular decade you love? Search for photos around that! Look beyond photos.
It’s also good to have a running series on your Instagram so people know what to look for when they’re on your page (again, still working on this myself) but if you look as successful accounts, most of them have a photo style that they repeat often. My advice would be to not copy their series, that series is THEIRS. To put it bluntly, find your own.
I’m not saying that finding your thing is easy. It takes a lot of trial and error and failing to find it. It’s not going to happen overnight. You just have to keep experimenting and not be afraid of the consequences.
Take me for example, I’ve changed my mind on what I do so much, changed my username and changed my style of photos endlessly. I’ve lost followers, engagement has gone up and down and I’ve at times found it hard to grow. I’ve struggled a lot over the last few months trying to find what makes me different, what is so me that it really can’t be copied.
Surly we are all more unique than my Instagram feed gives credit to.
Standing out involves not following the crowd, which can be hard, but in order to succeed nowadays, that’s what you have to do.
And if you really don’t know where to start, start with yourself. What makes you, you, what is quirky about you? Whatever it is you can guarantee people want to know and hear about it and there will be a way to get that across visually. For some that is dancing in their stories, for others it’s their style, for some it might be their vintage comic collection. But you do have a thing. But what I see is if something does well on Instagram then a wave of people just copy it , surly we should aim to be our best selves rather than a version of some other successful person.
This journey for me has been a painful one, I’m not going to lie, I struggle most days with the platform and who I am within it and what makes me unique. I finally think I have it but you will have to wait a while to see that. I’m so happy with where I’m going and what I’m producing that the numbers really don’t matter so much for me anymore.
And if you are doing something just for the numbers then please know there is more to you than that, you are more than that, and please I urge you find something that you want to do for the love of it and let that lead you.
From Bee with Love x