Talking At Cameras – What I’ve Learned From Using Instagram Wrong For A Month

A month ago I decided I wasn’t going to share my photography on Instagram. It was a “Why Bother?” moment. Just looking at any page under the “photography” hashtag yielded a trend that I wasn’t keen on following:

  • The same landscapes of places I wasn’t going to visit.
  • Models all looking kinda the same way in front of lush foliage.
  • Something to do with waterfalls.

If you like something enough, that only encourages the photographer to make more of it. I wasn’t interested in making that kind of stuff so why bother competing with it?

I did what I usually do: something dumb and without structure and just see what happens.

Sure, I still post a picture sometimes. The nice photos are in the email that I ship every week to the people who are interested in what I’m doing.

All I’m saying is, years of chasing “likes” yielded zero sales.

The talking thing, about that. Where I talk to the camera in any one of numerous posts at this point. I picked that up from Ryan Orrico, who I found after I attended the absolute worst yoga class of my life. His story consoled me: most yoga teachers nowadays have no idea what the hell they are doing. Beyond that, I was hooked. His format, the vibe, everything. It made 1000% more sense than anything I had considered before.

And, as a freelancer, I have a lot to consider and I need most of it to work.

I resolved to do much of the same. Steal the playbook and see what happens.


Are there, like, RESULTS?

For the most part, I think data is bullshit – a way for people who are good at Excel to preserve their paycheck.

How about some observational results?

  • I set my instagram to “business” and I lost some folks. So I had to establish a private, personal one because some folks were legitimately concerned about my dog and the beers I was drinking (both are usually fine). I lost a lot of followers, but new folks followed me.
  • “Engagement” or whatever is down. Fewer likes, but more “views.” Loads of conversation. Comments, messages, people finding my email address.
  • Exactly one month ago I came back from a vacation in Atlanta not entirely sure what I had in store for the next month. Clients were there, but they weren’t the right kind and there wasn’t quite enough of them. As of this morning I had to hang the “No Vacancy” sign in my storefront. Folks, I’m at capacity with the good stuff. Maybe this is just coincidence. Maybe it is a direct result of the talking videos. Maybe it is something else entirely. Whatever the case, I have never once doubled by client load so quickly.
  • I still send out an email every week of what I’m working on. The creative ambition is off the charts. The readership is through the roof. And thats only going to get better.

A year ago I started hosting a quiz night once a week at a miserable BBQ joint for Geeks Who Drink. I quickly learned the power behind being able to speak into a microphone, to improvise, and to put on a show. Learning to hold the attention of strangers is the fastest way to learn anything. In that, I learned there is a HUGE difference between absolute narcissism and learning to embrace your ego. I’ve lived a lot of my life pretty much hiding out from the stuff I wanted to do and say and be. Stories that I wanted the world to see because they defined who I was were frequently hidden away because someone told me to not be the loudest voice.

While you do not need to be the loudest voice, you do have to speak up to get what you want. As a freelancer, I have to. Blogging and tweeting will only get you so far. By putting the face and the voice out there, the hurdle to the next opportunity drops.

It is so much easier to work with someone when you know what makes them tick.

David Pennington
David Pennington

Writing would be great if it weren't the only thing I knew how to do. I publish as much as I can, you'll just have to wait for the rest.  

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