Dirty tricks will not make you Instagram famous

Let’s start by setting things straight here. Yes, I want to grow my following on Instagram as a way of furthering my career as a storyteller. And since you are reading this article chances are you have a similar purpose with being on Instagram.

Maybe it’s just to validate your ego, and that’s totally fine too. We all need validation. Let me know in the comments, by the way, if I am completely wrong here. As far as I am concerned, though, you and I both need to quit the bullshit if we want to get some real value out of being on Instagram.

I just recently joined Instagram and quickly saw a pattern in most people’s behavior there. People would follow me only to unfollow me shortly after. I also received a lot of comments on the photos I posted. Some people would like five or more of my photos, but for some reason none of those people wanted to follow me, even if they apparently liked my work so much. I was perplexed to say the least.

So I went to google to check out what this thing about follow/unfollow and mass liking photos was all about and got a whole lot smarter on the inner workings of Instagram. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, right?

Consider this for a second though. The net result of how people are using Instagram is millions of people spending valuable time they could spend doing or creating something worthwhile on this never-ending game of following and unfollowing each other. How silly is that?

My question for the interwebs is this: how many people do you think stop to consider whether the followers they get really matter in any significant way?

I want followers. But I want followers who gives a real damn about my art, and I couldn’t care less about everyone else. I also don’t want people to like my photos for just any reason whatsoever. I want people to only like my pictures if they genuinely think that what I am producing is worthwhile spending time looking at. My sole hope with displaying my art publicly is that it can brighten someone’s day or that it moves someone in one way or another. I view art as a way of making what is otherwise for many a grim world just a little brighter.

You’d think that Instagram, or I guess Facebook really, would care about all of this? It can’t possibly be good for business if your whole business model is based off of people who really don’t care about other users and only about themselves?

I don’t think they care at all. What Facebook and Instagram cares about is how much time people spend on their platform. Because the more time you spend on Instagram the more advertisement they can sell. As users we are the product.

Of course this is not the whole truth. I know there are many genuine people on Instagram, but I can’t help but feel that they are hard to find sometimes.

I didn’t want to write this article to bash all the following/unfollowing going on. I just wanted to address why I think it is a bad strategy and for the most part a waste of time to do so. Don’t get me wrong. I think follow/unfollow will get you thousands of followers! It works! But wherein lies the real value of THOSE followers?

I think there are really only two ways to be successful while at the same time being happy and proud of what you have accomplished. And that is a) working hard on a core set of skills, and b) networking. “Network, network, network!” as Steve Balmer (formerly of Microsoft) used to say.

Working on building a core skillset

My goal is to be a good writer and photographer, maybe even earn some money from either or both eventually. I strongly believe that the best way to get there is to get out there the trenches and get mud on your hands. I.e. get busy with taking photos and learning about Photoshop and Lightroom.

Don’t get me wrong, I am upping the time I spend on social media management, but I believe that I should be spending at least 5 times the time I spend on Instagram etc. on working on my core skills. The bonus is the more I work on my skills the more great content i’ll have to share on Instagram and elsewhere.

I think that if what you produce is of a consistently high value, and by that I mean much higher than most, followers will come without having to hesitate to these follow unfollow methods.

Networking

I don’t think you’ll be successful from skill alone though. You have to get out there and sell yourself. I learned that the hard way through maybe 50 + tinder dates. In the beginning I was horrible at the whole first date thing; now I don’t have a problem with it at all and have had much more success because of my experience with promoting myself, so to speak.

But wait a minute, didn’t I just tell you not to promote yourself? No, I told you not to follow and unfollow people mindlessly. Yeah, they are also real people just like you and me.  Not just numbers to make your ratio right.

I think that if you want people to care about you, you have to show them that you care about them first. So while I will continue to build relationships on Instagram, I am dead certain I will have more success with actually going out in the real world and connecting with people face to face.

Next week I am going to go shoot a badminton tournament for free. This allows me to a) work on my skills, and b) connect with people. Maybe I’ll be lucky to take some great photos of a player, who will then recommend me to his or her friends and family. Maybe I won’t. It’s a chance to take, but I am sure that it’s a lot better strategy than to follow someone and the unfollow them again once they begin following me.

When you go out there and take an actual photo of someone you connect with them for life. When you follow someone and then unfollow them again you are showing them that you don’t care about them, only about how many followers you have.

Conclusion

So to conclude, I think that time spent on tactics to get more followers is wasted time you could have spent building your business by creating actual content that’ll give people a genuine reason not only to follow you, but to like and enjoy the stuff you post.

What do you think? Am I completely out in the woods here? Is there a grain of truth to what I am saying? Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

Caol Ila on a Lazy Sunday

Just opened a new bottle of scotch and am sitting here enjoying the lovely aftertaste of smoked oak. A Caol Ila Moch to be precise that I bought earlier today at my local supermarket. What a treat!

Next time I am to introduce someone to peated whisky I’ll offer them a Moch. It has a sweet, well-rounded, slightly lemony and fairly lightly peated character. The aftertaste lingers on in your mouth for about 10-15 minutes. Of course, waiting that long before taking another sip is unlikely going to happen here at my household.

On the inter-webs it said that Caol Ila has historically mostly been used in the Johnny Walker blended whiskies which makes me somewhat skeptical about the brand, but it seems that Caol Ila is now growing in its own right as a single malt.

By the way, how do people manage to pronounce Scottish whisky properly? I always get whiskies like Lagavulin completely wrong and I am sure its no difference with Caol Ila which is supposed to be pronounced “cull Ee-la”. Ehm, Carol what?

“Please say that again” I’ll ask the barman and they’ll raise a brow at me as I try to get it right for the 15th time. I’ve got this test that when I am able to pronounce Lagavulin right I know it’s about time I go home.

Of course its not easier when it comes to wine. I’ll call Côtes du Rhône “court ruin” and I won’t even attempt at pronouncing the Mourvedre  grape let alone the Nebbiolo or the Gewürztraminer.

In other news, I went with my roommate Karen for a huge bowl  of mussels, fries and white wine Friday evening. Yesterday I went for a couple of Indian Pale Ales with another good friend of mine followed by a big juicy burger. Today my roommate and I am cooking up some pork with veggies and having a chill evening at home.

Anyway, there really isn’t a point of me telling you these trivial things other than to add an assurance to all of you that I am in fact still alive and well. Considering that my last two posts were a now two year old tribute to a man who had just died at the time (how depressing) and a incoherent babble about not being able to write anything worth reading anymore (even MORE depressing) you’d imagine as far that I might not be coming back here ever again.

(I wouldn’t have bet on me being back either).

Reflections on my Writer’s Block

Every day I wake up with the feeling that I want to write something. And every day I don’t even try to sit down at the computer and open a word document to do so. It’s a weird thing, isn’t it, wanting to do something, but not wanting it enough to actually do it?

Don’t get me wrong, I write a bunch at work, but that’s not the same at all. I guess you could call the writing I do at work “creative writing”, but it doesn’t satisfy me on the same level as it did when I used to write stuff for the blog on a more full-time scale.

I have been at my job for about two years now and overall I have worked in project management for four years. So I know I must have built up some skills and confidence in what I do over those years even if I don’t think much about that on a daily basis.

I think that’s what I lack with the blog: confidence in my skills as a creative writer. I was never good at grammar; not in my native language (which is danish) and especially not in english. I feel even more naked when I write in english than when I do so in danish. I never really overcame this fear even tough I have been doing this for more than half of my life.

Somewhere deep down I hold a belief that I have talent, if not in putting together coherent sentencesses, then in  conveying a personal and meaningful message to the reader. I think that was what kept me going for the two years that The Measured Life was an active site.

What also kept me going was the wonderful and mostly positive reactions I got from people who had stumpled upon my writings one way or another. I was scared shitless every time I received a comment, mind you! But I also though of it as a very powerful way to connect with like-minded people. I am forever in awe of the people who decided to spend their time with me here on The Measured Life! I can’t thank them enough for being there with me along the way.

I suppose I am now looking to recreate some of that magic that came in to my life back then by getting back into the writing game…

For now I am not gonna spend a lot of time editing or in deep reflection over the output I produce (or at least that is what I tell myself). I am just going to be doing spur of the moment writing and I am going to be frantically clicking publish whenever I don’t feel like working more on a post.

I other news, I hope you guys (if there is still anyone out there) had a lovely Christmas with all of your families and a fantastic new years with whomever you happened to celebrate that with! I had a very eventful holiday break myself (too eventful even) but that is for another post.

RIP, Seth Roberts

I am very saddened to learn of Seth Roberts untimely death on April 26th 2014. Unlike many of the people listed below, I did not know Seth personally, that is, I never met him in real life.

Online, however, Seth actually took the time to contact me a couple of months ago when I had cited him in a post recommending honey before bedtime on this blog. He was very interested in knowing more about my experiments, and I found it a great honor that someone as accomplished as him would take the time to contact random strangers with few proven credentials for advice.

Back then, and to this day, this says a lot to me about what kind of person Seth must have been to the people who really knew him.  It is not every day that you meet someone who treats everyone, from every walk of life, equally. I don’t, if I must be completely honest, and I don’t think I have ever met anyone who truly does yet.

But Seth absolutely seemed to me like someone interested in getting to know everyone on equal terms. At least the few email correspondences I had with him leads me to think so.  He was also someone with unconventional ideas about how to hack life. I have experimented with many of his ideas myself, and will continue to live my life in the same vein that I imagine Seth did.

I don’t have a category on my site that matches news like these, so I am putting the post under spirituality. I do this because Seth was, although unknowingly,  a spiritual teacher  of sorts of mine – understood in the sense that to me being spiritual means being able to look outside the box of conventionality. Seth obviously did, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to do so too.

If you do not know who Seth was, take a look at his blog. Although he won’t be able to contribute to our collective knowledge further, his blog as well as his book are still very valuable resources for those interested in self-experimentation and in lifehacking.  I will leave you with links to posts by people who actually knew Seth well. (Borrowed from Tucker Max).

Tucker Max

John Durant

Richard Nikoley

Ryan Holiday

Ben Casnocha

Nassim Taleb

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Goodbye WordPress, Hello Freedom

home-sweet-home

Before making the decision to move The Measured Life from WordPress.com to Bluehost I worried a lot if getting traffic would be a thing of the past for me now.

I was thinking, that since most of my traffic came internally from WordPress, it would be a ghost-town around here after a move. Boy was I wrong about that (luckily).

It has been less than 24 hours since I indexed the new sitemap and since Google has begun crawling the site, but I am already getting some traffic from Google searches to some of my older posts. This leaves me with a very positive outlook on the future of The Measured Life.

The searches are already telling me a little bit about where I should maybe focus my efforts topic-wise. Without saying too much: People seem to like the somewhat more science-oriented posts I have done a great deal.

Which is great, because I have really wanted to boost my credibility for a long while exactly by writing about things that are maybe a bit less philosophical than usual and a bit more grounded in scientific theory and practice.

It has been maybe three or four months since I have written in English on a consistent basis, though, and that shows in the quality of what I write. At least that is how I am feeling about it right now.

Exactly because I am out of shape in terms of writing in the English language, this is just going to be yet another short post. This time around I don’t want to push myself too hard so I am taking it easy for now. Slow and steady wins the race, right.

Anyway, thanks to those of my old readers who might have stayed throughout the move. I am working on improving my SEO skills as well as a short eBook to be published on the site for free soon. So things should be back on track here in my little neck of the internet woods soon.

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Moving and relaunching! Stay tuned for announcements…

For quite a while now I have felt the need to do a change up around here in order to regain the desire to share my thoughts with you!

Long story short, I am moving the blog away from WordPress.com to be hosted over at Bluehost instead.

My hope being that gaining full control over the blog will inspire me to work more on putting quality content out there.

I am just going to do this, without having done a lot of research into the specifics of moving a blog. It shouldn’t be rocket science.

Now, I might loose all of my subscribers. I might loose my search engine rankings. I am not sure what will happen. If nothing else I know that I will keep my URL and all of my content.

The answers are out there, of course. I just have to do a quick Google search, yet I haven’t been inspired to do even THAT yet.

So I am just going to focus on getting the move done soon and take it from there.

So guys, anyone interested in following and connecting with me here in the future should stay tuned and check out the site from time to time over the next couple of weeks. Whenever I implement a new change I will make a short announcement.

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Finding Yourself is a Dialogue

Join me on G+

I am at wit’s end about the future of this blog. On one hand, its been far more of a success so far than I could ever imagine; on the other, the lack of effort I put into it is growing more and more unacceptable by the day.

There has never been a coherent pattern to my posts. A a friend recently pointed out, I am “all over the place”.

In the back of my head I am always thinking, that because people sign up for the blog after reading one specific kind of post, they expect my overall output to resemble that type of post. That would be the “sensible” way of looking at it.

This thought pattern scares me. It keeps me from publishing my innermost thoughts because I gather that doing so will turn someone off. Of course, everything you do will always turn someone off. It is silly to try to please everyone, because you can’t.

Anyway, I realized that I am having all of these troubles because I am still in the process of finding out who I really am as a person – what my core values are, and what I believe in.

You don’t find that out through only having a monologue with yourself. You need to engage other people in dialogue in order to really understand your place in the world.

This blog here, this is “only” a monologue, more or less. Indeed, people do comment, and that adds a whole deal to my self-reflections, as a human being, and as a writer. But it is still not as much of a two-way street as I would like it to be.

I have therefore taken to making an effort to be more active in the Google plus community, with the goal of getting to know a lot more like-minded people than I do now.

My efforts over there are not about gaining exposure of myself, they are about getting to know other people more intimately. I want to know their story. I want to share mine with them. I want to see how this world wide web connects people firsthand by being an active participant on social media myself.

So if you ever feel like getting to know me as much as I want to get to know you, then add me on Google Plus.  I’ll add you back and get the conversation started. Looking forward to that.

See you there!

Jakob

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Absence

Salar_de_Uyuni

I have been gone for a while and that deserves an explanation. I was going to say that there are many reasons, but truly there are only three:

1. I got a new job

2. I met a girl

3. I am a perfectionist

I spend a whole lot of my time on the new job. I like what I am doing there very much, and I have also got a bunch of great colleagues, but nevertheless it has left me with little mental surplus to do any writing here.

I have also been very active in my dating life and am currently seeing someone who might turn into something serious. I am a little scared of the prospects of this, but am trying to stay in the now and not think so much about it.

And lastly, I want what I write to be great, and that feeling usually prevents me from getting started writing. Of course, that is counterproductive behavior, and I know that. The only way to be good – at anything – is to be bad at it first.

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