Are social networks worth it as an artist?

Are social networks worth it as an artist?

In early February, I embarked on a journey across DeviantArt, various threads, and Instagram with a simple goal in mind: reaching 100 followers by the month's end. To me, this objective seemed almost fantastical, as I had never actively sought out followers before.

It was more of an experiment, really. If it didn't pan out, I wouldn't dwell on it further. But as I immersed myself in these platforms, something unexpected happened. What began as a personal challenge soon evolved into a thrilling adventure.

Could I, within the span of a month, amass a hundred followers? Looking back, a hundred may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things. However, for someone who had never prioritized follower growth, it felt like aiming for the stars. By the end of the month, the outcome far exceeded my expectations. With nearly 9600 followers under my belt, I made the decision to close those accounts, feeling both accomplished and grateful for the journey.


Some might wonder why I took such a rigorous step, why dive into this whirlwind of activity? But let's rewind to the beginning. It all started like a euphoric rush - scarcely had I gained the first 50 followers, when the next wave arrived. Particularly on DeviantArt, the surge in watchers was staggering. Waking up to 200 notifications became routine, each one prompting heartfelt thanks to the 50 new watchers. Instagram mirrored this initial rapid growth. As for threads, I initially questioned whether the platform was worth the effort, as growth seemed minimal. Yet, suddenly, even that began to accelerate.

At first, every like was a cause for celebration, as was persuading one of the larger accounts to follow me. But it wasn't long before I started counting in tens, then hundreds. The individual was gradually lost amidst the numbers. Everything became a part of the daily statistics.

Thus, images began to lose their essence, reduced to mere material churned out to keep the machine running. That alone wouldn't be so tragic, but what ultimately mattered was quantity. I found myself uploading 10-20 images per day, all to stay afloat. Every new image landed at the top of the timeline, only to slip down soon after. If a follower happened to check their feed at the moment of upload, they'd see my image. But if they took longer, they'd have to scroll down. Initially, I toyed with the idea of posting only one image per day - spoiler alert: you won't get noticed. Yet, my volume of uploads was still modest compared to some. Some contenders were uploading new images every 10 minutes, whenever their computers finished rendering.

Now, I empathize with the frustration experienced by typical artists; they can't keep up with this pace. It's the same frustration I, and many other photographers, felt as more and more people flooded the networks with smartphone photos. Keeping up becomes impossible, standards drop, and it all boils down to content - whoever posts the most, wins.

Whats more important

As time passed, I found myself losing more and more of the joy that once fueled my creative endeavors. Mornings began with a routine check across three networks - likes, comments, follow-ups. Engaging with followers, perusing their posts, reciprocating likes - it all consumed hours. Then came the sorting of images, preparing them for export, filling schedulers. Another one to two hours slipped away. And before I knew it, I was experimenting again, trying to churn out the next batch of images.

There was no time to develop new workflows, to refine any creative concepts. After all, I had a full-time job; these images were merely a hobby. As frustration mounted, it only intensified as I observed what garnered likes. Some images, riddled with technical flaws, were celebrated nonetheless. It seemed like a mutual exchange - I like your content, you like mine. Yet, even that proved largely one-sided. On threads, I noticed that 98% of likes came from people I didn't follow, while only 2% came from those whose content I engaged with.

In the end, I made the decision to pull the plug, to close those accounts. It was time to reclaim the joy of creation, to rediscover the essence of my craft, away from the overwhelming demands of social validation.

It makes more fun

What can I say? I feel liberated. Now, if I don't feel like it or lack inspiration, I'm not obliged to create. When I do decide to create, I can take my time, fully immerse myself in the process without the pressure of fulfilling social network obligations.

And you know what? It's just so much more enjoyable this way.