In my latest interview I caught up with British menswear & grooming blogger Adam Walker of The Male Stylist. We spoke about the set backs bloggers can face when social media platforms decide to change the rules.

I remember reading a thread of tweets on your twitter profile that caught my attention. You were sharing your honest thoughts on the state of instagram which started a conversation with other bloggers who also had their opinions. A lot of people, myself included, have a lot to say about instagram these days. What are your thoughts on the social platform right now?

I started on Instagram back in 2014, so relatively late to the game, but willing to put in the effort to grow it. I’ll be the first to admit, IG has never been my strong suit and Twitter has been where I’ve found my strength in social media, however I knew it was important for fashion bloggers to be a part of it. Over the years, I’ve seen it change from a creator’s platform to a marketer’s platform and the shift hasn’t been subtle. Engagement fell for a lot of people, followings were harder to grow and the “unfollow” culture became a much more significant part of everyday life. I think, like a lot of good ideas, it started with the best intentions. However, corporate interest took over and turned it into a money printing machine, rather than an area to share content.

Instagram became a lot more serious when people started earning money from promoting brands to their followers and since the algorithm I’m hearing complaints about the drop in engagement. Has this put you off using instagram as an extension of your blog?

I’ll be the first to admit that I was never very successful at Instagram as I’m a writer, not a photographer so Twitter was much more engaging and successful for me. I think the shift in attitudes towards a more commerce-focused platform made the stress associated with managing it as a platform difficult, especially when the returns have gotten smaller and smaller over recent months. Around 4 months ago, I gave it up entirely and (if I’m honest) I’ve been much happier since. There’s a point at which you have to stop doing something when it’s not rewarding to you and, for me, that passed a long time ago with Instagram.

I can hear content creators across the the globe gasping at the thought of walking away from instagram. I guess it helps that you weren’t so heavily invested as others to begin with but it’s a brave decision all the same. For many people who rely on instagram to earn their living I imagine the stress of a drop in engagement, that’s out of their control, must be a real problem. You mentioned that you are happier since letting go so I’m wondering if the pressure to constantly deliver engaging content made you unhappy?

I think it’s the fact the platform feels “needy” in terms of what it requires from content creators. For example, tips that I see online in guides include:
Post 2-3 times a day
Make sure it’s new content
Make sure each picture is perfect (touch ups, photoshop-ing and edits all advised)
Have a theme and DON’T stray from it
Do research on hashtags
Respond to all comments in a timely fashion
For me, that’s a lot to ask as I also have a full time job (which I’m also very passionate about) and don’t really have the time to be taking, editing, scheduling and responding to posts throughout the day. Other platforms are much easier to engage with and are considerably more flexible for content creators to grow a following. For me, the platform is trying to make everyone into a brand with singular messaging and no chance of diversification, and neither my followers nor I want that.
You are smart to focus your blogging time in areas that work for you and letting the other stuff go. I think a lot of bloggers feel a pressure to have success on instagram because it’s still a popular platform to be on. What advice would you give to any aspiring bloggers out there?
My advice to anyone who has asked me about starting a blog is to, first of all, go for it and be honest about what you do to yourself and your followers. It’s easy to start comparing yourself to others, trying to find shortcuts or overworking yourself. Find a routine that works for you and write about what you love. People love content produced with passion and you’ll find your site growing quicker than you ever thought. Ultimately, if it’s making you sad or stressing you out, don’t be afraid to take a break or let it go. Your welfare and happiness is more important than your follower count.
You can follow Adam on twitter @malestylist
Photography: Rebecca Spencer