I love Instagram! And it’s so weird. Since becoming a mama, figuring out social media has been weird. I love having my little blog that nobody reads but my friends, friends of friends and family. I love having my little private Instagram feed of babygrams, what I’m eating for lunch and random expressions of love and gratitude. But, becoming a mom made it weird. There was suddenly all these questions. Am I posting too much? (I still often wonder this, as almost everyone I see ever starts our conversations with “I love all the pictures you post of Lincoln!) Should I even post it at all? Is it safe to put these pictures on the internet? My account is private, but what does that really mean? If people don’t like baby pictures will they unfollow me? Maybe I should be posting prettier pictures? I like the continuity of people that have consistent feeds. Consistency of color, filter, black and white, etc., maybe I should do that? And then I felt like a total weirdo for caring and overanalyzing so much then I read Nancy Ray’s post about social media and I was like, I’m not alone!! What is my mission statement? What is my objective? What is my purpose on Instagram?
Well, at my heart of hearts, Instagram is for me. I love, I mean LOVE, checking Timehop everyday and seeing what I posted last year, the year before, the year before that. I love seeing bits and pieces of our previous newlywed life before we had Lincoln, when Luna was a puppy. It’s actually, functional to me, because it reminds me of how far we have come and how much we really have to be grateful to God for (and it’s a whole lot). I like to share little pieces of my sunshine with my followers, as they are a hodge podge group of friends from high school, college, previous workplaces, former students, former co-workers, it’s just random and I love it. I love that I can stay connected with them and they can stay connected with me and see our little boy grow. I’m grateful for our life, proud of my son and value relationships with people that I’ve built through the years. I want to share our life with them!
There’s also the functionality of what I am going to refer to as the Hashtag Community. Eating paleo, fighting eczema, being a new mom, working at home as a mom all have corresponding hashtags which seems kinda silly, but is actually quite useful. I get a ton of ideas for meals, meal planning and lifestyle things from using random hashtags. It’s also a fun way to find and connect with other moms who also work from home, have kids the same age (seriously, I found two moms who had babies the same week I had Lincoln and it’s so fun to keep up with them!).
So there are a few things at play in my heart for Instagram. One, it’s easy for me to spend too much time getting lost in the web of mommy bloggers, entrepreneurs and photographers and start comparing my life and accomplishments to their’s. So, it’s good for me to take breaks, set some boundaries and unfollow when I feel myself getting sucked in and feeling inadequate. There’s another in that I want it to have a purpose. I don’t want to just post pictures out there in the great nowhere for no reason. I don’t want my reason to be “likes” or comments, I want to have a deeper reason for it.
My purpose on Instagram is to enjoy it! Document our life, the “everyday” and things that happen fast! Be honest, share openly (but not overly) about our life, the struggles, the reality of parenthood, marriage and what we are eating, paleo or not. Share how God is blessing us openly (again, not overly), and the ways we are seeing him work in our lives.
This leads me to my ‘favorite’ for today: Chatbooks! They offer two products which are amazing: custom photo books for and Instagram series books $8 a piece. I post far too much on Instagram to do the series, but the custom books are my favorite! I made one for our pre-baby life, all the way back to New York for our engagement, up to our pregnancy announcement and newborn hospital pictures. I did what I hoped to be one book, but ended up being 3 volumes of “Lincoln Grows” of my pregnancy through his first birthday party. For 2016, I am using the hashtag #chaney366 to make a Chatbook of our year, one photo a day. Not necessarily all Lincoln pictures, but tends to be that way as most of my days are all Lincoln, all day.
When creating the books you can do it from your phone, or the website on your computer, and you can literally create the book from a hashtag in your account or you can manually go in and select pictures from your feed or from your computer. For example, if you were to go on a family vacation and had a tag for the week, you could add your family as contributors and everyone could add their pictures using that hashtag and it would automatically put them in chronological order. So, it’s super easy and takes minimal amount of time.
I’m not a scrapbooker, and I’ve made a few photo/blog books here and there, but I really don’t enjoy spending a lot of time doing that. I really just want the pictures to appear in a book. I love how easy it is to put them all in the book, chronologically with the location tag and with the caption. Makes it so easy to document our day-to-day, and the pictures don’t just end up in outer space! I love how efficient, simple looking and meaningful they are. A win, win, win!
Chatbooks is still a relatively small company and turnaround time isn’t super quick for books. Their customer service is incredible, though. On my last installment of Lincoln Grows, they inadvertently sent me someone else’s book. I contacted them via the app and within a week, they had provided me with a shipping label to send the book back, and had re-printed mine and sent it in the mail. I’m unusually understanding in this type of situation (I honestly felt bad for them, especially if they had made a mail merge error and sent a whole list of people the wrong books!) and just asked to be reimbursed for shipping, as I had selected and paid for the fastest shipping option. They were so kind and insisted on reimbursing me for the cost of shipping and the book! Totally incredible. I hope they stick around for a long time, so I can make many books for years to come!
If you’re interested in subscribing to an Instagram series get your first book FREE by using the code below!