Dear IG,

We had a good run. Things were good for a while, then less good. Now not good. So it goes.

There are a lot of articles out there about "How to Outsmart IG's Algorithm," etc. This is not one of them. I can't tell you how to outsmart IG because I have no idea what that means. I can tell you that I conducted my own experiment and followed all the typical guidelines for growing your brand: cleaned out my followers, removed inactive accounts, posted daily, used all the proper hashtags, engaged and engaged and engaged, and you know what? Nothing happened.

There was no increase in any metric and zero growth. Like every other artist trying to run a small (micro!) side business, I realized it was going to take money to grow anything on IG. This idea that you can grow your brand organically is, in my experience, a myth.

Now, I know what you're thinking: maybe my posts just sucked? Maybe my art is blah. Well, that may be the case. But I'd like to think there are real people in the world (not little IG bots) who actually enjoy art like mine, who dig low brow guajiras and callejeras and the girls I draw. I imagine there are other folks just as frustrated with the number of random kitty litter ads they have to sift through before stumbling onto a single art post.

To be clear, I still think IG is a great platform for bigger brands and folks with the financial backing to grow a following. But the idea that any little (read: POOR) artist can successfully grow an audience simply by posting their work and adhering to a few guidelines is no longer the case. Back when Instagram was new (and in the pre-algorithm days), when what you saw in your feed was organized chronologically and there were no ads, it was possible! Maybe not easy, but possible. I loved sharing my art and discovering new artists. I loved making connections with artists all over the globe. Fast forward to April 2021 and every third post is an ad for pajamas or some celebrity promoting a new face cream. And kitty litter kitty litter kitty litter. I swear, friends--I have never ordered kitty litter online! Not once.

In short, IG has evolved into a major advertising hub where agencies across the globe spend millions of dollars to ensure their products are seen. What chance does your average micro business have?

Of course, I still keep an account for my house and my cat (which I guess might explain all the kitty litter ads BUT DANG! Talk about overkill). I also still post occasional pictures of home improvement projects and what books my cat is reading (bc he's so smart). But I rarely spend time scrolling because IG in 2021 is like watching a channel with 45 minutes of commercials for every hour of programming. I mean, there's only so much litter a gal can handle.