Instagram Vs. Blogging: Which is better for building a community?

Instagram Vs. Blogging- Which is better for building a community-

Through the process of bringing the Sewcialists back to life, it’s been interesting to see the pros and cons of Instagram vs. blogging. I thought it would be neat to start a discussion about it here – and I’d love to know your perspectives in the comments!

Let’s go behind the veil, shall we? I think stats and data are fascinating. Sewcialists is a small-to-maybe-mid sized community, so I’m definitely not boasting or showing off about these numbers!

First, let me state the obvious: BUILDING A FOLLOWING IS NOT THE POINT OF SHARING ONLINE. Your worth is not determined by your stats! But in the case of the Sewcialists, our goal  is to build a diverse and engaged community. We want a community that represents all corners of the sewing world, and that means we want more followers, more participants, and more authors! 

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First, how did our blog community develop?

So, at the start of June, before our relaunch, the Sewcialist blog had about 600 followers on Bloglovin’ left from two years ago when we were last active. It’s pretty amazing to be able to access those readers, even after such a long hiatus! (Although no doubt many of those people are no longer active, so the numbers are always misleading.) Two months later, at the end of our first challenge, we have 775 followers on Bloglovin’, so we gained about 175 people. I wish I’d checked the stats for our WordPress followers before the relaunch, but I didn’t think of it! Right now we’ve got 350 WordPress followers and 200 email subscribers.

In terms of content, we’ve posted 3 days a week for most of July and all of August, and generally when guest authors write a post for us, they send traffic our way by linking to their post on social media. We got about 3000 visitors per month in June and July, and 4000 in August. Tribute Month was a perfect theme for growing our community, because it’s all about celebrating and connecting with other sewists!

As far as the blog goes, I’d say we made good but moderate growth. My real measure of a successful blog community is always how many people take the time to comment – that’s when we get to know each other, and it’s not just one person shouting into an abyss! In my experience, group blogs (like the Curvy Sewing Collective, the Cali Fabric blog that I’m part of, and the Sewcialists) always receive less comments per view than individual blogs this one. I think it’s because they feel a bit less personal, and maybe more like a website/online magazine where there is plentiful content to consume without that reciprocal relationship of being friends with the author.  I’m grateful to all the people who do comment on the Sewcialists because the guest authors put so much work into their posts!

So, what can you take from our experience? Growing a strong blog community takes time. Even with hundreds of followers to begin with, and lots of people linking to us elsewhere, growth was slow. For new bloggers just starting out out, I bet it’s a long climb until you start to gain momentum. It was definitely easier “back in the day” in 2011 when I started this blog, and the sewing community was much smaller!

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Now, what about Instagram? 

We started with a pre-existing Instagram account, that had about 100 followers and had only ever posted two pictures. “#Sewcialist” is a really common tag on Instagram, but it has grown up without @Sewcialists being an active account. For a whole bunch of new sewists, I felt like a jack-in-the-box jumping out and saying, “Surprise! That word actually came from somewhere, and we started it!” Of course, it’s totally awesome that “sewcialist” has entered the vocabulary and taken on a life of it’s own.

So, we started with a small following but a recognisable name. The beautiful thing about Instagram is that it’s so easy to tag or mention other sewists, and word travels quickly! Thanks to all the people who mentioned us in their posts, we gained followers a lot faster than on the blog. We hit 1000 in mid August, and we’re currently at 1300 followers.

In terms of content, I posted on Instagram pretty much every day, either showing what was new on the blog or sharing projects by people participating in #tributemonthsewing! We regularly got between 75 and 150 likes per pictures, but from our blog stats, I can tell that only about 15-40 people clicked through to our blog from Instagram every day. As on the blog, comments were sometimes sparse. I haven’t got the knack yet of writing an Instagram post that invites discussion! (Any ideas?)

Instagram did make it easier for me to follow people back, and comment or link their photos. Some days I’d make it a point to engage with as many IG followers as a I could, or look in the “suggestions for you” section to follow more people. Pretty often they’d follow us back, and so the community grows.

On the down side though, once an Instagram post moves further down the feed, it basically gets lost. That’s why we’ve put hours (and hours) into end-of-the-month wrap-ups on the blog, so that in years to come it’s easy for people to see all the Tribute Month projects and posts in one place!

So, what did I learn about building a community on Instagram? It’s easy to gain followers quickly, and great for engaging reciprocally. The connection sometimes felt a bit superficial though, because it’s all fast-paced and then posts disappear into the feed. If I was a new sewist starting out, I would definitely start building my community on Instagram… but I’d always be aiming to bring those readers over to my blog for deeper, more enduring conversations!

I would love to hear your experiences in blogging and social media, and which is a more natural fit for you! When you were starting out, did you begin with blogging or social media? If you started again now, what would you chose? I admit I’m biased because I love blogging so much, but I’ve also built enduring friendships on Instagram. For the purposes of the Sewcialists, the two worked together perfectly with different strengths!


28 thoughts on “Instagram Vs. Blogging: Which is better for building a community?

  1. I think blogging builds community better. There’s more space for sewists/writers to get their thoughts out, plus readers can see photos and descriptions all at once. Blog posts are more static than Instagram posts, to me. However, Instagram does feel “instant,” and like the viewer is getting a snapshot of someone else’s life. I am more likely to make a substantive comment on a blog post than an Instagram post, though.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I know I already commented on IG, but that is a great point about disappearing into the feed. Especially during big events like Me Made May or the current sewphotohop. I try to check in with those hashtags when I can, but it is a lot and I know I miss things. Of course, I also have to limit my blog reading sometimes too, or I’d never read books or get anything done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. I think the engagement on blogs is much deeper. There’s so many bloggers that I feel like I “know” because I read their hard crafted words and step into their projects on their blogs and we have meaningful conversations about those things. Instagram is fun and by far my favorite social media. I like the micro-blogging aspect of it. Maybe you don’t have a full post ready or you have something in process–what a great IG post that could be. And I like how I’m constantly coming across people I’d never find on blogs or who aren’t on blogs at all. It’s tough to put a well-thought out comment on IG too…there’s so little space! 🙂 If there’s a project that I see in my feed that I really want to talk about with someone, I’ll go find them on their blog.

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  4. Such a timely post, as I am in the process of beefing up my blog presence. Instagram is great for the quick instantaneous (!) hit of inspiration, but I find it more than a little disappointing in the long run. Between the speed with which posts go by (depending, I guess, on how many people you follow) and the annoying algorithms they employ, I find most people’s attention span to be short on that platform. These days you have to go look to find posts by people you follow, they won’t necessarily show up in your feed. And that takes more time…. It is a great visual experience, but it’s a hard place to make real connections. I do occasionally see deeper conversations, around say Slow Fashion October, but for meatier interaction, you really do better in a blog format. That said, finding the time to sit and read full blog posts (and I know mine get pretty long), and convincing readers that what you write is worth their time, is tricky. I don’t know that there is one answer to this, and I do believe that that two platforms work very well together. Instagram is a great introduction, and I am working to have some more on the blog end for the folks I can entice over there….. Thanks for making me think about this more!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Thanks for this really interesting post! I am new to this wonderful online sewing community, having just joined instagram and started my own blog in June (which is indeed an uphill climb, when starting from zero, but it’s rewarding too – when you start from 0, every single new reader or follower or visitor is an achievement!). I agree that blogging is about a deeper connection and I totally agree with the comment above that you can feel like you “know” someone through a blog. But still, without IG, no-one would ever see my blog posts and I feel like IG has given me a chance to get to meet other sewists online much faster than the slower process of blogging the items I sew. After all, we can only sew so fast!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t have anything to do with Instagram until yesterday when while listing to Caroline and Helen on their Love to Sew podcast, it dawned on me I might actually be missing something 🙂 I don’t use a cell phone (I know that’s unbelievable but I work from home and when I’m out, the last thing I want anywhere near me is a phone!) and Instagram is very cell-centric. In fact it’s so cell-centric, until recently you couldn’t sign on for an Instagram account unless you entered a cell #. I don’t know when they changed that but I know years ago when I tried I was stymied without a cell number. Yesterday however I did manage to sign on. In truth I don’t know how much I’d really use it. Instant pic loading and skipping through loads of quick shots isn’t what the internet is for me (keeping in mind I’ve had web sites since 1997) my relationship to the ‘net is somewhat unique. I love blogging, podcasts but what I love the very most is vlogging! I love the deeper connection – knowing a bit about the person behind the makes but then I’ve been a people geek much longer than I’ve been a sewing geek 🙂 I like to know what sewing means to the maker – why they make the choices they did, what they learned and would advise to others going down the same road etc. That’s all a bit much I think for the Instagram feed however I think you’re right Gillian that it can be a stream TO your blogs and other venues which are deeper. Like fb. I laughed listening to Caroline and Helen referring to fb as the sort of “older generation” social media 🙂 rather passe it seems? (not to be punny but maybe…)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I started dabbling in blogging way back in 2010, but insecurity over photos and quality of my work, and being tremendously busy kept me from really going anywhere. It’s hard to build a following when you’re constantly switching your blog back to private! Then we moved home and life became more stable, and I started up again for real. Then work took over my life, and instagram came into the picture and became my social place. Now, finally, I use both in combination, casually. I love instagram because it fills in the gaps, both with posting my work (and pet pictures!) and engaging with others. There’s a reason I open bloglovin in the morning with my coffee, though, blogs show so much more of an individual’s personality! It feels like you can kind of get to know someone through their blog in a way that would be impossible on instagram alone.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Here’s a comment for you: I don’t “get” Instagram. Period. I want the juicy tid bits, not a flash in the pan. What’s the draw? If I want pretty pictures (and often no backup info) I can look at Pinterest. For real content I look to blogs.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I agree with what you say about instagram being fast paced. I definitely encourage people to read my blog and chat to me here but I don’t think I would have much of a following at all without instagram. My sister advised it and I’m glad she did. It’s great for quick help and support as someone will always help and offer advice. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ah….I’m in my happy place. I just love blogs over Instagram. I may be a poor judge though…I’ve only recently set up an IG account and I don’t use it much beyond posting a photo of my most recent blog. On IG I’ve been getting more gray haired men followers than people who sew….? I’ve read that they are scammers and I always block them.

    I’ve stated my preference and I really do believe that blogging is community building. That being said….sigh…I sometimes wonder about the whole thing….who, if anybody, reads my blog. Yes I love documenting my makes…it really does help me to look back on things {plus it make me happy most of the time.}, but I could certainly keep my blog private if that were the only reason.

    Gillian, you always have dialogue that pulls readers in and encourages commenting. I’m finding that by the time I chat about what I’ve made, I’m kind of worded out. Or…I feel like I’ve written so much that readers are ready to tune out.

    Love Lodi’s perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I started out blogging and then integrated my sewing into my instagram a little while later. I think blogging builds a better community because people get deeper into their thoughts and ideas whereas people are only going to read an instagram caption that is SO long. I know a lot of people don’t read the captions, they just scroll and like.

    Even though I’ve slacked a lot on my blogging, I do think it’s a better for building relationships.
    As for building a following, I’ve noticed that having tons of instagram followers does not a large blog following make. Even though I link to my blog and tell people to go read about the details, I get maybe a 1/6th of the number of views to my blog than followers I have on IG and no increase in comments.

    I agree with Sue, in that, I wonder if anybody is really reading my blog lol. At least on IG I know people at least SAW what I made. idk. I wouldn’t give up one or the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Blogs over Instagram all the time! Also: from what I can see my followers on the blog are all genuinely interested in sewing. On Instagram weird things are happening. People buying followers and adding randomly, companies following for commercial purposes only. I block around 30 dubious accounts per week while in the meantime IG’s algorithm is keeping the posts from true friends hidden!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. In many cases, it’s easier for me to comment and get engaged in Instagram. When I have to sign in to leave a comment, I pause to decide if I shave time. On IG, it’s easy.

    Like

  14. I still like blogs. I love the immediacy of insta – I like checking it in my lunch break or before school, but I love to sew and learn and the detail I need can only be delivered through blogs. I’m not on any other network like Burda or that other one starting with K, but I do look at them if I need for a review. I hope blogs survive, because you can’t learn from Insta – only get inspired.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I was ompletely turned off Instagram a few years ago when I found I couldn’t have an account because I don’t use a cell phone. I hate phones and the last thing I want is to carry around a device that keeps interrupting my life. I’ll have to investigate what was said above by PsychicSewerKathleen that having a cell is no longer a requirement with IG. But photos with little written context don’t engage me for long. Blogs can have a lot of depth (as can discussion boards and I hang out on a number of them) and that’s what I’m after.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is a fabulous idea for a discussion – thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic. I really enjoyed reading through your post and pondering the different rates of growth for blogs vs. instagram. Personally, I do enjoy instagram but I find I’m rarely doing more than doing that double-tap to like someone’s photo because I’m usually browsing through during a quiet or lazy moment. I’d love to take more time to comment, but it’s so easy to be distracted by the next fabulous photo of someone’s new dress or gorgeous fabric purchase!

    On the other hand, I make time for blogs. I love to sit down in the evenings to catch up on my reading and because this is a dedicated time, as opposed to stolen moments during the day, I have the luxury of being able to leave comments and engage in discussions. I try to leave comments on blogs as often as I can because I know how much i love receiving comments on my blog.

    Instagram is fabulous for researching patterns before you buy them – I love scrolling through and seeing how many people have made a pattern and looking for people who have a similar body shape to mine so I can envisage how it would look on me. But for me, nothing beats sitting down and reading through someone’s blog post about constructing a particular garment!

    Recently, I’ve discovered the amazingness that it YouTube. I’ve been blogging for ages, but I can’t even remember the last time I received as many lovely comments on a blog post as I do on each video I upload. It’s wonderful! My favourite part of blogging is always the conversations you can start and the friendships you can form, so I’m loving this aspect of YouTube.

    And to finish this epically long comment: I think we need to find our tribe and hang out where they’re hanging out if we want to be able to start and join in with conversations. Luckily, the sewing community likes to hang out in a lot of places, so we have a range of choices: you can blog if you love writing, embrace instagram if you love photography, or head to YouTube if you like to chat and educate. I’ve been part of a few communities of different types since I first set sail on the internet and I think the sewing community is one of my top two favourite ever communities (unfortunately, my other favourite has faded away, but it was pretty amazing while it lasted). It’s a great place to be!

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Reading and writing are my twin passions, my first loves long before I picked up a needle. I prefer writing to speaking, and I learn best by taking notes. For those reasons, Instagram (and Pinterest) hold no allure for me. I don’t go to blogs for beautiful photography or a pleasing interface, much as I appreciate and enjoy them—I go to blogs to hear people tell their stories in their own voices. For someone like me, there is nothing in an Instagram post to connect with. For someone like me, the idea of participating in Instagram or Pinterest, even if it *would* drive traffic to my blog, doesn’t sound like fun to me. So I continue to write my blog because I love to write, and I continue to read blogs because I love to read. I lament the voices that go silent on blogs in favor of Instagram, and I cherish those who stay all the more. In the end, I hope that everyone is acting in pursuit of their own enjoyment and not out of a sense of obligation.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. As usual, you have started a great, thought provoking discussion! Personally, I love blogs and the community of people I’ve met through mine. I’ve been blogging for about three years and have found so many ‘kindred spirits’ through my posts, and honestly, I feel like they’re my friends. Instagram is fun, but flashy, and everything goes by so quickly, that I find I’m put off by it sometimes. It’s hard to get a meaningful discussion going, and you can’t always find the posts you want. However, I do love the shot in the arm Instagram gives me when I’m looking for inspiration, and have found other blogs and friends through it, so I wouldn’t to be without Instagram either.

    But when it comes to detail, there’s nothing like a blog post! I love hearing the stories behind the makes, and I learn so much from other blog friends. My concern is that Instagram will make the slower, more leisurely pace of the blog world seem archaic and that many bloggers will bail, preferring the shortened format of Instagram. It’s so fast and easy! But that would be such a loss to our community.

    BTW, I’ve used the Sewcialist tag on Instagram frequently, and didn’t realize your Sewcialist blog was where the term began. How cool that you’ve created such a fabulous tag that everyone uses now! Kudos and thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This is a really great question! I’d say that blogs are better for building community. A bog is so much better for discussion, looking for advice or learning from each other.

    The problem is: I have difficulty keeping up with many blogs. Instagram lets me see what many more people are up to. Also, I love being able to search a hashtag and see many visual examples on different people in different fabrics and hacks. I tend to go to the blogs of my favourite Instagram examples to learn more.

    I understand why some would just do Instagram though. Keeping a blog takes a LOT more time than a quick Instagram post, for me anyhow. I’m very slow at blog post writing and agonize, read and re-read perhaps too much. So, I feel the Instagram allure despite later finding it lacking. I’ve been missing having a blog post of each of my projects, allowing me to look back on my details/past thoughts and possibly feedback and input from others in the comments. Which makes me think I should blog more again…if I could just get quicker at it!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I am addicted to Instagram. I love it as something I can look at on breaks between projects at work or when I’m stuck waiting in line somewhere. It is a little bit of sewing/knitting/friend catch up I can do in small spurts of time. I follow and have more followers on IG by a lot. However, I love blogging and reading blogs for more in-depth discussion. I fine there is too much gushing over patterns and fabric on IG and like some people are just constantly selling me something. Blogging usually gives into the nitty gritty I want to know before I embark on my own sewing projects. I learn a lot more from blogs, but they take more time to digest.

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  21. As many others said, I also believe Instagram is too fast and somewhat shallow. I always get sad when I find a person in IG who doesn’t blog about their makes. But then, blogging requires another level of compromise and dedication, right? As far as comments go, I rarely interact on IG, blogs are much more inviting, personal and concrete.
    It was interesting to face these numbers, as I have been studying ways to participate and contribute with the sewing community… my mind is made up for blogging, but all this is showing me also the utility for an associated IG account.
    Thanks for starting this conversation 🌷

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Without having time to read the other comments, I think I’d agree with you—instagram is quick, easy, and superficial. Blogging takes more effort, but you can get a deeper connection because of it. (Not to mention convey a lot more info.)

    I actually think the switch to smartphones is what shifted the balance away from blogs—it’s still harder to type comments on a phone, at least for me. But basically all my leisure screen time these days is on my phone—I almost never sit down at the computer just for fun.

    Good luck with the growing!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank you for starting a great conversation! I think I like both, though I couldn’t say which one is better for engagement. I love reading blogs and getting all the details about who makes what and how. And bigger pictures.
    I read blogs via Bloglovin’ usually, but will also go from IG to blogs, like an appetiser, then the main course…
    But I do find it easier to comment on IG, as I mostly interact with social media via my phone. I know it’s lazy, but I so wish everyone was on WordPress so I didn’t have to log in to Disqus or any other platform.
    Well done with revitalisng the Sewcialist and thank you for giving me the opprtunity to contribute!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. This is a great post. I love Instagram but don’t have a related one to my blog and don’t really follow many sewing peeps there. It is mostly photos of the cat. Whilst it is great to catch up on lovely fabrics and new garments I want to hear what people are saying and that means reading blogs. I love that blogging gives people a voice and this is what makes a community for me. It feels more like a real interaction and much more personal. I don’t have a huge amount of followers but I really feel a connection to the ones that I have and appreciate comments so much. I have made some great friends and met some fab people through blogging. So glad that you have brought back the Sewcialists. It feels like a real community of people interested in what everyone is up to, not just to post up fairly anonymous reviews or sell patterns. Definitely room for both though. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Well, I’m late getting on this thread, but I agree with blogs been a bit different and like Katie shared, it is a time to sit down and read the posts of others. I enjoy both to be honest. I enjoy IG for the eye candy it offers, but blogging continues to be my favorite choice for sharing my thoughts.
    I don’t care about followers so much, but I truly enjoy when others leave a comment. It opens up the conversation 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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