Do followers really mean anything?

This idea has been pressing on my mind since I started following hashtags on instagram. Currently I follow #editorialillustration because it has been something I’m getting into. It has lead me to discover so many talented artists. Reading the captions has opened my mind to all the places my art is needed. Scientific journals, newspapers, magazine, the App Store. I’ll love the artwork, read the caption, be mind blown about where the work was shown, then click the profile.



235 followers. So many people I look UP to have so many less followers than me yet they’ve done so much more.

And I start thinking woah.

Maybe social media is not as necessary as we’ve grown accustomed to think.

We were raised in a generation where we’ve seen social media take us so far, but please don’t be tricked into thinking that’s the only way.

I care that my name is in the mouths of those who matter and can take my career where it needs to go but it would be pure ego feeding to want everyone in the world to like me. To wake up and go to sleep obsessing over how to get more followers.

I’ve been doing photography for 8 years. Graphic design for 5, teaching it full time for 3. But up until recently I wasn’t even sharing my work. That’s because I felt it was important to take time with myself and my craft. Figuring out what I liked. In the meantime I watched friends give themselves full time to their crafts. Art shows, excelling, but deep down I knew it wasn’t my time. I had one art show and nearly had a heart attack under all the pressure (I’m exaggerating but at the time I wanted to die) I would feel the urge to just post, to see if I could garner that audience but I wasn’t even sure what I was branding at that time.

Keep things in perspective. Your fan base doesn’t need to be your homies from back home so it is of little importance whether they are liking, supporting, or any of that. You want to be noticed by the people who can excel your career or at the very least, actually support and buy into what you’re selling. That’s one of my pet peeves. Seeing people complain about who is or isn’t supporting. Are you doing it because you love what you’re doing, or is it for the attention? Do you believe in what you’re doing enough to continue even if the world hasn’t caught on? And for how long until you jump on the next fad?

I don’t do it for likes. When I’m creating, I feel in love with my life. IN LOVE. I breath differently. Every exhale is gratefulness, with every inhale I feel new inspiration and hopefully people feel that. It helps attract me to people on that same level and spirituality, more of the kinds of people I want to surround myself with. My written blogs and illustrations get significantly less notice than my selfies or outfits but I don’t care. I could easily build a thriving brand surrounding my hair but I don’t have a passion for my hair. Most days I wish I could cut it off and not deal with it so I understand that I would be extremely unhappy if I were to let that be my life.

Are you creating for passion or popularity? Does that popularity necessarily translate into a monetary value? Not always. This was an interesting point made at a panel discussion I attended last night. Many of the women, successful, black. Expressed a similar sentiment I have, what if no more insta?

I think my sense of self comes from the fact I know what it is I want out of life. I can see me in 5-7. She’s happy, she’s creating, she’s healthy, preferably has a small family of her own, and life is peaceful. That vision isn’t centered on popularity but my inner peace. I hope to retire from selfies like I retired from retail, and have my work speak for itself. I want to disappear more than I want to be consumed into the world of social media.

So focus on yourself and your own game plan and stop centering your life on things you can’t control, watch them come to you effortlessly. This new algorithm, net-neutrality, and the horrendous Snapchat update, should be proof enough. The internet is a tool. It is not your BFF. Certain things will become outdated , others will serve us less over time. It is up to us to stay ahead of the times, not fall subject to it.

I know so many people internally unhappy because they covet lives that aren’t even real, lives fabricated and curated for the internet. BE YOU, BE HAPPY.

Use the internet, build your brand, but solidify connections out side of it. Even with all the apps and technology in the world, print still exists. Embed your brand in places it can’t be erased. If instagram didn’t exist tomorrow where would you and your brand be? I’m trying to live my life everyday as though instagram could disappear and therefore, connecting the dots in more than one space.

Word of mouth is important. Show up for people, watch them show up for you. Speak proudly on what you do and the right people will feel that.

If your currently feeling stressed about your internet growth or lack there of, rest assured in knowing instagram is not the only way.

It’s like when I was dancing. They always tell you, don’t look at the other dancers. Even if you’re nervous and unsure of yourself. You’re bound to mess up way more if you aren’t focusing on YOUR MOVES.

So make moves. You are capable whether you have 500 thousand followers or 500. You can figure out ways to boost your social media reach without thinking negatively about yourself in the process.

Apply that to life. Let’s chase actually cashable checks and not “clout”. The New York Times (yes that’s in the vision, I need an illustration in their ASAP) isn’t searching through the #followforfollow hashtag to coincidently stumble on my work! I need to get out and DO.


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