The Instagram Struggle is Real

November 15, 2017

 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style
 the ig struggle is real, parisian, margo and me, margo & me, paris style

If you’re in the “industry” and your business is heavily affected by Instagram’s wonderful new algorithm, this article is for you. While I can’t sit here and preach about how to magically get your followers, or even likes up, what I can do is share my experience, because seriously, the Instagram struggle is real and I think it’s time we address the elephant in the room.

After doing my course on Azalea, I realized that not only do a lot of you tune in for my style advice, but you truly value my advice as a creative in this space. My thoughts on certain topics are some of the most read and visited on my site, so as we head into 2018, I’m making a point to address more topics like this. As a leader in the space, I feel it’s important to discuss and share what I see happening in hopes of starting a dialogue with each of you.

Flash back to two, or even one year ago when Instagram was a magical, happy place. Posts were chronologically ordered, likes and comments were authentic and organic – it seems like a lifetime ago now (queue the sappy violin music). We were living in blissful Instagram Neverland. Needless to say, a lot has changed.

First, the algorithm change that shocked a beloved community of creatives. Then, a rampant disease of bots flooded the space because countless contributors voluntarily subjected themselves to buying engagement for lack of confidence that their once loyal following would continue to grow and fear that their social status would change based on their following. Instagram – once a place of innocent sharing – has now become a landscape similar to what Freddie and I talk about as the “Wild Wild West.” All bets are off and it’s every man, woman, child, and brand for themselves. Each of us strategizing to find what works best – or attempting to.

If I’m being completely honest about this, there are times when I get my hopes up and feel like I’m not *stuck* in the dreaded algorithm. It’s *fixed*, I think! I follow my Insights posting recommendations, double check that against Iconosquare and all seems well, a post built for “success”, and I hit publish! Think again. Then comes an off day (or week, or month) where it seems as if Instagram simply chose not to feature my image in any of my followers’ feeds. Likes and followers go silent.

In a time when a lot of value from brands is placed on likes and followers, comments and engagement, it’s hard NOT to get discouraged by this sudden shift. What’s even harder? We can’t control an ounce of what’s happening, and I’ve gotten to a point where I am personally just tired of this conversation about the algorithm. We’re SO much better than this…

So what can we control? It’s first important to gain a grasp on what you should look to Instagram for. While it seems to be vital for our businesses to thrive in the space, how much value is actually being placed on likes and follows? Are we giving power to the thought that followers actually carry a weight and define our social status? I can’t help but observe the shift as people gain followers and loose them. The psychology surrounding our culture’s obsession to have an outward approval by strangers has become more and more fascinating to me by the day. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with it and I’ve been there, but I just feel as if there should be a larger conversation about digital health practices. It’s something that needs to be handled delicately.

Instagram is essentially an alternate reality, where the majority tends to present the best version of themselves. In turn, millions of people are comparing their behind-the-scenes reel to the alternate (and perfected) reality of strangers. Knowing virtually nothing about the truths of these peoples’ lives. You see? This is why it’s important to understand how much value you are truly going to be placing in an app. And to be completely honest, I write this with the love of my two nieces in my heart. As they grow up to be young women, I want them to know that the value of their self worth and self esteem lay within them, and that it’s not built by likes and followers. If Instagram were to disappear tomorrow, would you be OK? Honestly. Think about that for a minute.

So as we create personal space between what your sense of reality is and what the world of Instagram is, we still have to then address how it’s affecting our businesses. With the knowledge being very public about the shifts at Instagram, are brands also beginning to shift in their perception of what influencers to work with based on their work and craft – rather opposed to their likes and comments and sheer numbers?

It’s a question I took with me into a meeting while in Paris for fashion week. I was meeting with someone who is very well respected in the digital campaign space and heads up some of the largest fashion houses in the world. In many of these types of meetings, people ask me; “So where do you think blogging is going in 3 – 5 years?” – to which my response is something I will save for another article. In prepping for the particular meeting in Paris, I was excited to pick the brain of someone who has her finger on the pulse of what some of the largest fashion houses in the world are looking for. I asked the same question; “From a brand’s perspective where do you see the influencer landscape heading and how much value are brands actually placing on likes and followers?” Her response was music to my ears and reassured much of what I hoped would happen for a very long time.

While a lot of brands will undoubtedly choose someone with a larger engagement, you can and will grow your following authentically if you decide to create beautiful, quality content consistently – and therefore more brands will want to work with you. Good work does not go unnoticed, and if you are a truly passionate content creator and the architect of your dreams, the work you desire will come your way.

I think we all may have gotten a little lost along the way, listening to what we thought the algorithm wanted and basing our every Instagram move on that. But what I’m here to share is my personal approach, and at this point, it’s like good genes. Either you have them or you don’t  – you’re either the algorithm’s friend or you’re not. So let’s all stop stressing and start focusing on what really matters: perfecting your craft, sharing with your community no matter what the size, and being proud regardless the likes or comments. And lastly, knowing that your self worth, and your brand’s self worth is far, far away beyond the land of Instagram.

Shop the post

| Valentino CoatBRIXTON Hat | Chloe Bag | Boots | Lele Sadoughi Earrings |


You are such an inspiration…I have only discovered you three days ago and am in awe of your creativity. You are truly a leader in the industry…I found this post very encouraging.

Maria Teresa Morano

Thank you for this post Jenny. It reassured me I am not the only one struggling with the algorithm and all the unfortunate consequences. It is more and more common to find people with poorly creative content making their way through the industry because of fake followers and likes. Sometimes it became frustrating to keep doing your work with the same passion and this reality can makes you feel like you failed. I strongly believe passionate and hard work is more valuable than numbers. Kisses from Italy https://terrycallsherlit.com

Thanks for adressing the elephant in the room jenny! this is something we that need it to hear, thanks for giving all of us a voice!

Jazmín Pedroarena-Leal

Thanks for sharing this post!

I find this a very interesting and dynamic discussion point and agree that keeping your point of view and personal style front and foremost is key to keeping true to yourself and creating and growing a unique persona, rather than commercializing yourself.

I respect the work you put into the content you create. I find that it is more on the editorial side yet relatable at the same time and keeps me inspired! v. thinking “just another blog…”

I am looking forward to keeping your tips in mind as I continue to develop my personal brand and style and travel content. It has taken time for me to get the courage to develop my blog styledespresso.com however, slowly but surely, it is starting! and I am excited to see it grow.

xo- Jazmín

Thank you for this! I really appreciate this! It’s like God sent you to me. I was beginning to go crazy, thanks these words.

Incredible post. Thank you so much for your insight ❤️ I can’t wait to read your blog post about where the blogging industry will be in the next 3-5 years!

So glad you loved it, it’s always scary being vulnerable online and it makes me so happy to see others being able to relate.

Thank you for this perspective. I’ve been so burn out on trying to keep up that I’ve lost myself a bit.

I don’t blame you, many people feel the same with all the Instagram changes lately. Just be yourself, create amazing content and build honest relationships and it’ll pay off in the long run. <3

p.s. don't forget to take a break, recharge babe 🙂

Thanks for sharing an ensuring me that even as a top blogger, you’re not “beating the algorithm.” I appreciate your honesty and happy to know that I’m not alone, that even the top gals are feeling it, too! I’m trying to not be so dependent on Instagram and drive traffic to my site in other ways. Would love to see a post on this topic and other avenues you pursue when Instagram decides to let you down.


Everyones feeling it right now, there’s a shift in instagram. I’ll be releasing tips soon, stay tuned! For now I highly recommend you focus on Pinterest and growing a email newsletter.

Jenny. Wow. Wow. Wow. You amaze me. Not only are you gorgeous. Not only are you resilient. Not only are you smart. But you are so wise to share the true worth of a person. Thank you so much for this amazing post. I feel you on so many levels. 3 months ago, I deleted my Instagram. It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. I was having anxiety over what picture to post and I just had it. I am now feeling at peace and learning that the content I create on my blog is my own and a number doesn’t define me. Thank you for your encouragement and your truth. I honor you and your commitment to being a leader who leads by example. Praying for you to reach more of your goals and dreams. – with deep love and respect, Libier

I don’t blame you, so much of the instagram community has changed over the last year. Happy to hear you are feeling more inspired now with your blog! Thank you for your sweet compliments, they mean the world <3

Really enjoyed your writing and agree with everything you said 100%! Plus your outfit and these photos are super beautiful <3

x Kristjaana

So glad to see others agree as well! And thank you for your sweet compliment!

Brilliant! I am SO happy to share the same sentiment with you. You have always been one of my absolute favourite creators and influencers because of your authenticity, high quality content and inspiration. As a creator I am quick to turn to your work, always!! I am choosing to be excited for the shift in Instagram because it’s an opportunity to grow and expand beyond the comfort zones we’ve become accustomed to in these tiny squares. I’m a follower and fan for life, Jenny!

Grace xx

Absolutely! Thank you so much for your feedback and honesty, means a lot to me!

I feel the same exact way! To be honest, if Instagram charged business accounts $20 a month and let us be seen to our own followers I would totally do it. I hate when I am so proud of a certain post and it seems to fall flat. Luckily, I have 4 kids and another business that keeps my attention.


Love hearing about things like this from someone who has a large influencer in the industry. Also can’t wait to hear about your thoughts on where blogging is heading in 3-5 years xx

Frances Kayleigh | Fashion & Lifestyle

Adding it to my list of topics to write about 🙂

I love your essay! Another reason why I enjoy following your blog and social media. You’re so inspiring 🙂 You asked “If Instagram were to disappear tomorrow, would you be OK?” I really thought about it and I think at this point in my life the answer is “yes” in fact, it would feel like a weight lifted off my shoulders lol Instagram has become so much work over the last year trying to get my feed noticed since the changes were made. Joining comment and like pods with other bloggers to boost my chances of Instagram showing my photos on its Discover page – it’s so exhausting and I think I’m going to stop doing those and use my time elsewhere.
– JaMeka 🙂 https://www.gotthetravelbugtoo.com/

I love that you thought about it! Life before Instagram was certainly different, wasn’t it? To be honest, I was apart of those also a few months ago. I tried it for a few weeks and it wasnt my thing. I was spending so much time in those pods and it was truly taking away from my creativity which is why I stopped. I am on the same page with you on that one. Thanks for your feedback and for reading, JaMeka!

This coming from you is surely motivating.
For a budding blogger like me, it does tend to get extremely frustrating at times, and I’m glad that being at the level you are right now, you can relate to the struggle.
Putting in my best work forward and will let the audience decide!


Really great post Jenny!! Love your outlook. Xo

Very well said. This is a topic I often consider for artistic creatives, as well. When a person puts their art, their, craft and creation, often times the baring of their soul “out there” for others to either “like” or ignore, what is the creative impersonalizing from that? It can be devastating if one allows “likes” and “follows” to define them. We must first be centered on who we are, why we create, and the passion for our craft that keeps us creating even if social media did not exist. But, this is not so easily done. No matter our craft, we must remember why we create. It must first be because there is a fire within us, a passion. Beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder. Just because one person doesn’t see the beauty in your creation, does not mean it isn’t beautiful. Believe in yourself and what you create, then your creation begins to exude self-efficacy, a reflection of self. That alone, breeds attraction. Thank you for touching on this topic that so many of us need to reflect upon. Ꭿℕℕ ᎶℰℰЅ @adwood_art on IG.

Exactly my point! You completely get it. Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful response Ann!

Enjoyed reading this on my train ride into work and understanding your point of view about this algorithm ‘issue’ from someone who I view as a major influencer. I’ve been following you for ages and if I realize I haven’t seen a insta post from you in a while I’ll seek out your profile. It should be that way with all quality content. Thank you for creating beautiful images, inspiring outfits and quality content.

You’re the best, thank you for being such a loyal Margo & Me reader, means the world to me 🙂

thanks for sharing this! keep inspiring no matter the “likes” on ig 😉

following ur blog now <3

Jenny, we so appreciate your candidness! This has been a frustrating issue for many, especially for those who want to authentically engage their audience. Sometimes Instagram just seems like a Lord of the Flies space of bots and accounts who just follow and unfollow. However, I fully agree with your main point, that if you are passionate and produce quality, consistent work, you will still stand out. And you truly do! Your content is a breath of fresh air and I always love your creativity. Keep pushing and doing what you’re doing and even more! I wish you the best.


Thank you so much for your thoughtful words, Carolyn! Completely agree!

Thank you for talking about this Jenny! Loved the article- you are so right. Keep creating the most beautiful content possible in an authentic way, and the right opportunities will come to you. Your brand and content is always the first to come up in any conversation when I’m referencing who is really leading in the digital space! Margo & Me is my fave! Xx, Ellie @oh_eleanora

Awe! Thank you Elenora! Really appreciate the sweet words 🙂

I completely agree with you on this subject. I am at the beginning and while I do get frustrated and discouraged by this whole Instagram nonsense, I choose to do what I love. My value is not in the likes and comments I get and I simply have days when I don’t care that I lose 10-15 followers (which to my small following means a lot), because, if those people followed me for the right reasons, they wouldn’t have unfollowed me. Thanks for sharing this post and for speaking up, we will make a change eventually!

– Em (bloomingmagnoliasblog.com)

Yes, important to speak about for sure. Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful response.

Very reassuring post! Sometimes it feels so tough to make headway on Instagram or with blogging in general. But I think it makes me work harder to be better at what I do, which is what is important.

Blush & Pearls by Angela

Yes! Exactly! Love that point of view 🙂

You are so right!!! All of the thoughts going through my mind are in this post. Thank you!!


Ugh, so well said. Such a class act. Love you!

Jenny, I love that you are one of the few bloggers who touches on such honest topics! This entry was such an interesting and eloquent read – I love that about you! Thank you for keeping Instagram “real;” I’ve been following along with your blog for years because of the incredible amount of integrity and sincerity you put into each post. So inspiring!


This was so encouraging to read. I’ve struggled with Instagram since I started blogging, especially since I’ve wanted to grow it organically and meaningfully. This is definitely an encouragement to keep going.


Such a great post! It’s music to my ears. I am in the same boat. Blogging for over 3 years full time but haven’t managed to build a huge followers profile. Thanks for making me feel alright with this post. You know how much I adore you through my comments on your Insta stories. Stay the way you’re.
Love from London.

Such a great post! It’s music to my ears. I am in the same boat. Blogging for over 3 years full time but haven’t managed to build a huge followers profile. Thanks for making me feel alright with this post. You know how much I adore you through my comments on your Insta stories. Stay the way you’re.
Love from London.

I really needed to read this, thank you for an amazing post! I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated with Instagram lately because no matter what I try, I feel like I’m not seeing significant growth. It really had me feeling like I couldn’t move forward in taking the next step with my blog. It’s a relief to see that I’m not alone, and that from big influencers like yourself to micro influencers like myself, we are all sharing the same frustrations! This was a great reminder to focus the things we can control, like our content. Thanks again Jenny!


Beautiful post, Jenny. As someone who started a blog a couple months ago for fun, and has slowly but surely gotten sucked into the self doubt and anxiety that comes with posting to instagram and watching a post flounder, I so appreciate hearing that you go through the same thing (albeit on a much larger scale) and that what’s really important is the passion and hard work we put into creating content. You’ve just re-inspired me to stop wasting my mental energy on worrying about IG and start investing it crafting high quality and creative posts. Merci beaucup!


LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!! I’m at a point right now where I’m like “you know what? Screw if! I’m making whatever I want”. So thank you for confirming my beliefs! So well written.


The algorithm really has been frustrating! I have a very small following but excellent engagement (about 30% = engagement/followers). I just can’t seem to grow my follower count very much. Although Instagram is not at all tied to my business, it’s still frustrating as a goal-oriented person with a passion for photography to not see that follower growth.

It’s all very weird!

Briana | youngsophisticate.com

Thank you so much for addressing this topic. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who feels this way and you’re right – we can try everything but the likes and comments sometimes come and sometimes don’t and it’s SO frustrating but the words you have left us with have left me with feelings of encouragement. I had a bad day with my Instagram today and was just feeling really low but this has inspired me. Thank you!


Oh my God! This article came to me at the right moment, when I need it the most! Thank you for this genuinely and motivational words!

Jenny, this was everything. Thank you for sharing not only the frustration, but also laying out the fact that it is something we can’t control. You’re right – all we can do is continue to create quality and innovative content. xoxo Kelsey | http://www.maybe-tomorrow-blog.com

Jenny! Thank you so much for sharing this. It is so reassuring to hear someone such as yourself- not only a top blogger and large Insta account, but an exquisitely talented and thoughtful creator- express the same concerns that we are feeling as micro accounts. It means so much to know we aren’t in this alone. I agree fully and gave up on “working” the algorithm long ago in favor of my sanity. It still is very frustrating and disheartening at times to see the numbers- or struggle to grow- but articles like this help so much. THANK YOU

What an authentic wekl thought out piece. As someone who is new to gram-ahem!-the article is timely and speaks to my conscience.
Definitely agree that the fleeting euphoria for likes and comments and the opposite doomsday feeling when the likes and comments are absent are shallow placement on ones self worth.
Thanks and thanks for this piece.

Diana | Tiny Dapper Fox

This post is so wonderful, Jenny! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I couldn’t agree more. I really wish Instagram would stay personal and authentic. Even though I also have a blog and would love to have a million readers thanks to Instagram’s help, I’m more okay with that not happening so that I can keep my Instagram and site real and in the moment. The algorithm drives me crazy but just so you know, I search for you all the time to see what’s new on your grid because you inspire me so much! Have a wonderful rest of your week, love!

I loved the perspective on this! Thanks so much. I have been struggling with my IG game for the past couple of months (algorithm, shadowban and whatnot) and it was awesome to get some support for my thoughts. Hopefully they are going to do some changes for the better, but in the meanwhile let’s focus on creating beautiful content and supporting others. ❤️



Thanks for sharing, Jenny! I’ve been waiting to hear the thoughts on this from someone as successful as yourself in the space. It is frustrating how much harder it seems to have gotten to get noticed, especially for someone like myself, who is just getting started but it is reassuring to know that my portfolio of work can speak for itself and not the number of likes or followers.

The Emerald Girl


Thank you so much for this post Jenny! I totally agree with your thoughts and it is time people start talking about it. I am not so long in this business but I already could see what you are talking about. Thanks again! It is a very interesting post!

Absolutely loved reading this! This topic has been on my mind a lot recently, seeing so many people’s frustration that mirrors my own. I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t beat the algorithm and decided instead to make a more conscious effort to just use Instagram as a place to be inspired and connect with people. It helps take the pressure out of everything! Thanks for sharing Jenny! xo Bryn http://www.waketonroad.com

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