Who is the real owner?

Build Your Own Instagram!

About a year ago I deleted my Instagram; and it has been the best thing for my focus, my creative power, and happiness!


Let me try to give you some #realtalk

First of all, the truth is that Instagram is the most powerful platform right now for photographers, visual artists, creatives, etc. Facebook is essentially dead. Snapchat isn’t an effective place to share artwork. YouTube is still very good– but not the ‘ideal’ place to share photos. Flickr is essentially dead (recently got bought out by Smugmug). Tumblr is essentially dead. Twitter is kind of dead, and has never really been used by photographers.

So the sad reality:

If you’re a photographer, your only real ‘option’ to get followers, likes, comments, etc — is to use Instagram.


Trust me, after deleting my Instagram about a year ago, I have been SO MUCH HAPPIER, productive, and I’ve been so much more inspired in my photography! I realized that the algorithms behind Facebook/Instagram (Instagram is owned by Facebook, and oh yeah, Facebook also owns What’s app btw) was controlling too much of my thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.


I started to get suckered by the algorithm: I knew that if I wanted to maximize my own likes/follower count — I needed to post optimally only once a day, exactly at noon pacific time.


And even though when I deleted my Instagram I had around 50,000+ followers — I averaged between 1,000 to 2,000 likes per photo. But this was the funny thing:

When my baseline of a photo was 2,000 likes per photo, whenever I got anything less than 2,000 likes — I felt depressed!

Anchoring effects with social media/like/follower numbers


Why did this happen? Well, the psychological problem of ‘anchoring’. The idea is that once we get ‘anchored’ to a certain number (whether monetary, whether follower or like numbers, salary number, etc) — whenever we see that number go down, we get sad/anxious/depressed!

For example, as a thought experiment, let’s ask ourselves– who is ‘happier’?

Photographer Adam who starts off with 50 followers, and gets 1,000 followers in a month.


Photographer Betty who starts off with 100,000 followers, then a month later drops to 80,000 followers.

I would argue that photographer A (Adam) would be happier! Even though he has fewer followers than Betty! Why? The increase is what psychologically makes us happy — not the maximum sum of followers we have!

Anchoring in money/salary


Now this is super funny, because the same happens in money.

For example let’s use the same analogy — who is happier?

Adam who started off making $30,000 a year after graduating college, then gets a raise after one year and now earns $40,000 a year.


Betty who started off making $100,000 a year and doesn’t get a raise for 2 years straight.

Of course Adam would be happier! Why? He sees progress in his salary going up! Whereas Betty feels depressed, because she feels stuck (even though she makes way more money than Adam!!!)

eric kim red ricoh selfie bape store reflection .jpeg

Now taking it back to photography and social media/Instagram — we are happiest when we are getting more likes, more followers, etc.

But the thing is this — Instagram might end up being the next Xanga, LiveJournal, MySpace, the next Facebook, the next Flickr, or the next Tumblr (will eventually die/lose relevance). To be honest; I think Instagram will be around for at least another decade– but who knows whether Instagram will be around 20 years from now?

Then consider, you have 100,000 followers on Instagram 10 years from now (in year 2028). But, you must pay Facebook (who owns Instagram) $50 to “boost” your post, to access more of your followers! Imagine a world where you have 100,000 followers on Instagram, but whenever you post something, only 100 of your followers see your post (engagement levels are already that low on my Facebook fan page). What will you do? You’ll be screwed!

How does the Facebook/Instagram news feed algorithm work?

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Buffer did a good blog post about the Facebook news feed algorithm (as of 2018) — which is essentially this:

If you want to maximize your views/likes on your content, you need to do the following:

  1. Don’t post too often (ideally once a day is best)
  2. Focus on posting photos/videos
  3. Comment a lot, or try to publish your material which encourages people to comment
  4. Single images get more engagement than albums

Essentially the algorithm is a game. You need to tweak the different variables to maximize your reach and “engagement”, which include:

  1. How often you post
  2. What time you post
  3. What kind of content you post
  4. What kind of caption you put in the post

The reason why I think this is bad for photographers/content creators/entrepreneurs, or humans:

We focus on maximizing our social reach and engagement numbers, rather than making personally-meaningful artwork, and it prevents us from innovating (because we become slaves to the Facebook algorithm).

Once again to remind you — Facebook bought Instagram a few years ago for $1 billion dollars. Facebook is starting to roll out more of their news feed algorithm to Instagram — which means over time, you’re going to get less engagement on your Instagram, and you’re going to have to pay lots of $$$ to access your followers.

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To learn more about Facebook and their news feed algorithm, google: “Facebook F8“, which is their developer conference. Here’s a recap of Facebook F8 in 2017 or the Facebook F8 Wikipedia page.

Kind of a creepy innovation they’re working on:

Building 8 project aiming to allow people to type straight from their brain and hear through their skin – Learn More

Anyways, this is the trend:

Facebook wants to control all aspects of your social, online, and digital creativity life.

Which means less creative control for you!

The solution: Build your own website, blog!

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The solution: make your own website, blog, and platform! Don’t build your own empire in quicksand, and certainly don’t become a digital ‘share-cropper’ (building your following and platform solely on Facebook/Instagram/YouTube/etc).

digital share cropping eric kim delano

Essentially what you wanna do is this:

  1. Pay for your own website hosting: This can be via bluehost.com, 1and1.com, or any other online ‘hosting’ provider.
  2. Install ‘wordpress.org’ framework onto your provider. WordPress is the ‘backend’ or the ‘content management system’ — which allows you to post and upload your content.
  3. WordPress.org is the best, because it is ‘open source’, the dominant open source blogging/website platform, and has tons of free plugins, themes, documentation, etc.
  4. For theme, I recommend Genesis Theme: Best theme/frame, with lots of beautiful themes that work very well (this is what I currently use).
  5. As an experiment: spend an entire month NOT posting anything directly to Facebook or Instagram. Instead, post it to your own website/blog! Then you can share the link TO YOUR BLOG POST to Facebook, or share it with your friends via email.

If you’re curious, a website/blog is essentially the same thing (you can customize this on wordpress admin, to either make it more blog-centric, or more website-centric).

How to get discovered/get more views/followers/etc


As a practical tip, for your own sanity — DISABLE statistics! Ignore your view counts. Disable comments. This will be bad for your self-esteem. Just make stuff that you’re interested in, and share it on your blog!

Basic blogging principles:

  1. Don’t treat blogging too seriously: Make something 80% good enough and hit ‘publish’.
  2. There’s no such thing as a perfect blog post: Embrace this! I’ve written over 4,000+ blog posts from 2010-2018 on this blog, and I’m still learning!
  3. Make content you would like to consume: You cannot create content that will please everyone. Solution: Make stuff you would like to read!
  4. Pave your own path: There’s no right or wrong way to blog — just follow your own gut, and have fun with it!

Why not Squarespace or other website builders?


Squarespace is a good platform to make a website easily, but I’m a bit skeptical of it– because there is too much power and control centralized in their service. I also see theres gonna be less flexibility in their platform later on.

Censorship on Instagram/Facebook


When I had an Instagram, I uploaded the above picture, and got it removed because it didn’t fit the ‘community guidelines’ of Instagram/Facebook.


Well — I get it. They saw a NAZI Swatstika photoshopped onto the KKK costume — and someone perhaps reported ERIC KIM as being some pro-nazi white supremacist.

Yet, I later uploaded this photo, and it was OK:


But the question is — why did I even upload that image?

I was trying to make a cultural critique/commentary in a POSITIVE WAY. I wanted to say:

Hey guys, let’s be careful to NOT allow another Nazi genocide from happening, especially in America! #antihitler

Which made me realize– there is no ‘freedom of speech’ on Facebook, Instagram, or pretty much any social media platform. Which is technically okay — because these companies are NOT benevolent governments which allow freedom of speech.

For example in America, you can say anything you want in the streets and NOT get imprisoned. However, you cannot say anything you want on Facebook or Instagram– because Facebook is a privately-held company.

Which makes me concerned with What’s App (was bought by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion dollars!!!) Don’t you think that one day, Facebook might start spying on your What’s App messages, or perhaps monitor/censor it (maybe one day)?

And isn’t it a bit concerning that Brian Acton (co-founder of Whats App) told us to #DeleteFacebook?

brian acton delete facebook tweet .png

Solution: join SIGNAL (encrypted messaging system):


Signal App: For Android, iPhone, and Desktop

Other concerning news about Facebook/Instagram

Sean Parker (the guy who started Napster, and was also one of the initial investors in Facebook) spoke at an AXIOS event and said why Facebook was so addictive, and why they built it the way they did:

“We needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever… It’s a social validation feedback loop… You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology … [The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway.”

Dopamine is the little hormone that makes you feel good every time you ‘accomplish’ something which your brain perceives as positive — like leveling up in a video game, getting a business deal, getting a ‘like’ on your Facebook/Instagram post, etc. Social media has been wired to hack your brain– to make you more and more addicted to social media.

Also Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya admitted personal guilt on hacking human biases:

“I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew in the back of our minds—even though we feigned this whole line of, like, there probably aren’t any bad unintended consequences.”

He said that the “short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops” that Facebook enforces are “destroying how society works” — “no civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem—this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

The biggest problem: we are getting socially programmed in a negative way:

Personally, Chamath says he avoids social media because he “innately didn’t want to get programmed” and his kids are “not allowed to use this shit.”

Furthermore, he suggested that it is often smart folks who get more easily programmed– because they think they’re too smart:

“Don’t think, ‘Oh yeah, not me, I’m fucking genius, I’m at Stanford. You’re probably the most likely to fucking fall for it. Cause you are fucking check-boxing your whole goddamn life.”

Chamath is now founder and CEO of ‘Social Capital‘ — seeking to use money to make a positive social change.

How to build your own website/blog

eric kim laptop blog.jpg

Okay, I’m getting off topic as always. Some resources for you:

  1. Start Your Own Photography Website/Blog
  3. 50 Blogging Tips for Beginners
  4. Why You Should Make Your Own Photography Blog

Empower Yourself: Photography Entrepreneurship 101 >

Never stop innovating: “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography Entrepreneurship“.

Tools to Invest In


Life and Productivity Hacks

How to Make a Living from Your Passion

Put a Dent in the Universe.

How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur

entrepreneurship overview eric kim course

The Modern Photographer: Tips, Strategies, and Tactics to Thrive as a Visual Artist in the Digital Age


Marketing, Branding, Entrepreneurship Principles For Success

MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER is your new philosophical and practical primer to succeed as a modern photographer in today’s digital world.

Business Mental Models


How to Monetize Your Photography


Why Become a Photography Entrepreneur?

Take control of your own photographic destiny:

  1. Photography Startup Manual
  3. On Risk Taking and Entrepreneurship


Photography Entrepreneurship Articles

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Table of Contents

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

Photography Business 101

How to Make Money with Photography


Photography Marketing 101


How to Hustle.

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

Social Media

How to Save Money