Should we embrace social media? Does it help us in our lives in any way? Or is it more a drain on our brain power? That’s the question I had. Historically, I’ve shied away from my socials. I’ve put app timers on Instagram, Twitter and Reddit to stop me from wasting too much time doom-scrolling.
And yet, that one thought constantly circles around my head. What if I used it for work? What if my blog could go viral on Instagram?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t envy anyone with a blog that has a greater reach than mine. You see those big shot YouTubers and content creators with millions of followers and secretly yearn for that too. You realise that growing is possible. After all, if they did it, why can’t I?
At the same time, I don’t want to be dragged into social media if it’s not something that I enjoy. I love blogging. It’s one of my favourite hobbies. If I forced myself to do thing that I didn’t enjoy, I wouldn’t like the process – that’s one of the reasons I’ve stopped posting on Pinterest; it was eating up time, wasn’t getting me many views, and I didn’t enjoy it.
All the same…imagine going viral. Imagine getting paid to do this.
Just the other week, I decided that it was about time I gave it a go. What did I have to lose?
Here’s what it was like to create my very first Reel on Instagram.
Let’s be real for a second: Instagram Reels are a carbon copy of TikTok. That platform has been incredibly successful, so I can’t blame Zuckerberg wanting a piece of that pie. Let’s start by breaking down why I didn’t migrate over there.
- Work with what you’ve got. My audience on Instagram isn’t huge, but it’s somewhat sizeable. My presence on TikTok, however, is non-existent – I don’t even have an account. I made a decision, a long time ago, to try and stay off social media as much as possible unless it was for blogging reasons. Am I always successful? Absolutely not, but I’d rather not have yet another potential time sink eating away at my day, even if it could mean blowing up in popularity.
- I’ve been on Instagram for nearly ten years. I know how it works. I get it. I don’t want to spend time learning a whole new social media platform when I don’t have to. Remember: being productive isn’t just about doing a lot; it’s about doing things to a high standard, and quickly. Learning how new social media works is neither.
As well as all that, I’ve been sucked into watching the odd Reel in my niche before, and they are genuinely quite entertaining. I really enjoy learning new skills, and video-making has always interested me, so it was the ideal gateway app into the unknown.
What was it all like?
In a word: frustrating.
In three words: frustrating but doable.
Let me explain: learning how to use new tools is always going to come with its teething problems. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was having to spend 1 whole hour on a 15 second clip!
Honestly, the pros make it seem so much easier than it is. First you need to plan out – roughly – what it is you’re going to do in the Reel. Then find the perfect accompanying background music (something popular and trendy ought to get the job done) and, finally, get filming!
Once you’re happy, you’ll need to trim any footage that’s too long and slows down the pace of the clip. Afterwards will come the captions that appear on the video. A lot of time was dedicated to this step because I found making the text appear and disappear quite finicky. Most frustrating of all, once I’d done my final checks and clicked upload, some of the text hadn’t formatted properly. As a result, one of the captions that I’d intended to have disappear after a couple of seconds stayed on throughout the clip!
So, I quickly removed the Reel, reverted to a previous draft, and re-edited the clip, hit upload and—
—it still wasn’t working properly. At this point, an hour in, I called it a day and returned to enjoying my half term.
At the time of writing, my first Reel on Instagram has hit just over 1500 views. Considering the reach of my posts is usually considerably less than that, I was quite pleased with the end result. It’s not yet attracted any more followers to my page or to the blog itself, but at this point I’m not bothered by that.
I’m not bothered for the simple reason that – you know what? – despite the issues I encountered, I still quite enjoyed the whole process. By the time I was ready to produce the second Reel, a week later, I’d finished the whole thing in 20 minutes.
Except, this time, I hit uploaded before creating a catchy thumbnail.
Here’s hoping that the next Reel I choose to film runs a little smoother. And if it boosts blog readers? Even better.
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