Let’s be real, we’ve all been there. 

We spend more time than we’d like to admit creating the “perfect” Instagram Reel. We close our eyes, press share, and a rush of nerves sends our stomachs into somersaults. 

For 45 minutes straight, we refresh the screen incessantly, hoping the Instagram gods will smile upon us and boost us to the explore page.

After an hour, we’ve only received two likes, one of which is from Grandma. We’re left feeling discouraged, rejected, and miserable. We begin to question ourselves, “Should I hide the likes? Or should I delete this post altogether? This is downright embarrassing.

Have you ever experienced this? I know I have.

The Content Creation Validation Cycle

Perhaps you’ve had a Reel that went viral. Suddenly your comments section is flooded with everyone telling you how great you are. As 72 laugh emojis roll in, people are losing their minds, and you are feeling pretty damn good about yourself.

That attention triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward in the brain. It leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction, which motivates you to seek out more likes and positive feedback. 

And so the cycle repeats itself. You scour Instagram for the next piece of content you can create to give us that rush of validation.

As you scroll, you wonder, “Is this audio trending? Wait, that was popular months ago. Should I create original audio instead? Is my hook strong enough? Is this video too long to capture attention? How do I put a real estate spin on this? Is this funny or cringe-worthy? How should I position my captions? Are my captions obstructing my left eyebrow? Wait, why does my left eyebrow look weird? Does my left eyebrow actually look like this in real life? Why has no one ever told me I have the WORST eyebrows known to mankind?” 

Insert: spiral.

I imagine all of us as hamsters on an Instagram algorithm wheel, spinning out of control and screaming, “LIKE ME! VALIDATE ME!”

Avoid Content Burnount

Take a moment to pause and consider this: Content creation should not feel like work

If it does, I can assure you that content burnout is just around the corner. If you’re solely focused on the number of likes and shares you receive, it’s not sustainable. Success is in the long game, friends!

For a moment, I tried creating educational videos. I rented the best camera equipment, bought a portable green screen, and spent three days learning editing software. I posted those videos, and guess what? They sucked, and no one watched them. Every day, I woke up feeling burdened. It felt like a job, and it was exhausting.

Let me share a little secret with you: People are perceptive; they can tell when your heart isn’t fully invested in something, and that applies to every aspect of your job. 

If I show up to my open house hungover, with no sign-in sheet, a Pedialyte, and a breakfast burrito, I have no chance of converting anyone, right? I wouldn’t have the tools to follow up with them, and more importantly, people can sense that I don’t want to be there. 

The same goes for content creation – if you’re not truly passionate, your audience will pick up on it. 

Content is not one size fits all. It should reflect your unique self and resonate with your audience. It’s crucial you tap into your authenticity and build from there. Don’t just try to be funny because you watched a few videos of Dan Oneil eating crabgrass.

From External Validation to Internal Fulfillment

I want you to dig deep and ask yourself, “What do I really want to achieve through content creation? Am I just seeking the ever-so-fleeting external validation from others?”

It has to be more than that. Begin with the end in mind and determine what you truly want to accomplish. 

Then, create a mission statement for yourself surrounding your content creation. My mission statement is below:

I am committed to encouraging others to embrace their creativity and inject personality into their content. I want to continue to challenge outdated stereotypes of what is acceptable to post on social media and show that female realtors can be both professional and personable. This is not just a career for me, but a mission to empower and elevate women in real estate.

Start with two or three sentences that articulate your purpose and motivation surrounding creating content. Once you have identified your “why,” write it down and display it somewhere visible to keep it at the forefront of your mind. 

Whenever burnout starts to creep in, or you get hung up on the like count, refer back to your mission statement and remind yourself that leading with authenticity is key. Focus on creating the content that you truly want, not just what generates the most likes. 

Strive for vulnerability over virality and understand that the Instagram algorithm cannot accurately judge your work. Let go of the need to be liked and, as always, remember that you are a badass.