Jack of All Trades, Master of None: My Personal Instagram Journey

I’ll let you in on a little secret, envy is my sin. I’ve always wanted to be that kid that who excelled at EVERYTHING, had EVERYTHING, and preened under the spotlight of her adoring fans. (Or, you know, just made her parents proud.)

Truth be told, it really bothers me when a stranger is better than me at some random thing I’ve never even tried before in my life. Logically, I know years of practice will beat out the odds of me suddenly becoming a prodigy on my first try. But I have this overwhelming need to be the best. Except, I bounce from craft to hobby to sport -well, no, never sports- so frequently that I’ve never excelled at any of them.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None My Personal Instagram Journey

2018 Will Be My Year.

  • I am going to make it.
  • I am going to strive to be the best.
  • I am going to work my butt off and give everything I do my best.

But to do that successfully, I need to take an honest look at where I am now.

A Trip Down Memory Lane.

Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, we’re starting at the beginning of my Instagram Journey. (@rattleddreams)

Load up the Instagram app, or open up my Instagram page in a new tab, and Scroll Along with Me. (I am sharing a few images from every year below, but if you want to see more look for the Scroll Along with Me sections for time frame.)


When I joined Instagram in September 2014, I hadn’t taken a planned photograph in many years. If you look back at my creations, it really shows. (I’m calling this “the year of ever changing comforters,” aka photo backdrops of doom, and “the time I used to win giveaways.”)

Scroll Along with Me:
Photographs are from the start until Florida trip/Christmas cookies photo near Minions candy bar.

I was:

  • Quick to play with filters.
  • Forgetting about the rule of thirds.
  • Completely ignoring composition and never really planned any shot.
  • Primarily using house/lamp lighting instead of natural lighting.
  • Using the same handful of borders on nearly all of my photographs.
  • Hoping I’d magically improve and gain enough followers to take over the net. (Actually, I’m still hoping for this one.)
I had:
  • 3 favorites on my first photograph and one comment. (The comment and one of the favorites was someone I knew prior to joining, so does it even count?)
  • Posted a whole lot of photos online that today, forget about sharing them, I’d print them out just to burn them.
  • Posted 5 photos and received 8 favorites within my first week.
  • Started my own personal photo-a-day challenge because I couldn’t find a current one I liked. (Did I look hard enough? Probably not. I was clueless then.) I also failed to grasp the whole social interaction with challenges.
  • Shared photos that were mainly shots of spines. Very boring to see over and over.
  • Posted only one photograph that tied into my blog.
  • 4 followers as of the start of October 2014. Sadly, I did not write down what my stats were by the end of the year.

Photographs I Still Like:

View this post on Instagram

Lavender testing

A post shared by Carrie (@rattleddreams) on

This was the first photograph I shared that I actually liked.

Back in the early days, I think my greatest photographs were outdoors and had nothing to do with books.

How do your earliest photographs look? Cringe-worthy? Or are you proud of them? Or like me, a bit of both?


Photographs of 2015 started out as a continuation of 2014: same style, same type of subjects, and no real direction.

Scroll Along with Me: Photographs pick up from Christmas cookies near Minions candy bar and continue until the Christmas goodies wrap up picture.

I was:

  • Still using filters/borders like crazy at the start of the year.
  • Still photographing like a vampire without the sun at the start of the year.
  • Still not planning my shots at the start of the year.
  • Letting lower quality photographs sneak though because I was sadly focused on quantity, not quality. Somehow, I imagined that would help me improve.
  • Rather depressed over my photograph quality and Instagram numbers.

I had: 

  • 11 likes and one comment on my first photograph of the year. Cookies will lure people in I guess.
  • Tried out this app that was supposed to help you make good collages AND I think those are my worst/tackiest photographs to date. Needless to say, I don’t use that app anymore.
  • Started the year off with a few images that tied in to my blog and my blogging life.
  • Finally stopped over using filters, started trying to plan my shots, and opened my windows to let in natural lighting by about April.
  • Started sharing videos.
  • Started watermarking my photographs towards the end of the year. If I did not want to mark it with my username and claim it as my own, then I should not post it. Simple as that.
  • Started using a foam board, and later poster board, to get white (whiter, at least) backgrounds. After a bit I decided that a straight white background was hard for me to work with because of the lighting/space I had available to me. Plus, plain white backgrounds lacked something, and I had to figure out what I wanted out of it.
  • 169 followers when 2015 drew to an end.

Photographs I Still Like:

I think this is my favorite photograph I’ve taken during 2014 & 2015.

I started trying to take pictures outside.

I started getting back into tags and challenges and I think that’s helped me improve from what I started out with.

How long has it taken you to improve your skills in an area once you have decided to put the work into it?


2016 brought a lot of changes to my life.

#Bookstagram became more and more of a daily/weekly habit for me. I got better at taking a bunch of photos at once and sharing them over the course of the week.

I had three guest posts featuring 3 of my favorite bookstagramers on my previous blog in January. I loved those posts so much that I revamped them and brought them on over to Rattled Dreams. (Bookstagram with Stacee / Bookstagram with Brittany / Bookstagram with Crini) Those posts have done nothing but fuel my drive to take better quality photographs, and develop my own brand on Instagram.

I started off 2016 with some bad photograph habits, but I have seen improvement from when I first joined. Plus, and more importantly, I had the drive to improve even more.

Scroll Along with Me:  Photographs are from the Christmas wrap up photo to the black and white Black Souls photograph.

I was:

  • Determined to improve.
  • Getting better at not posting just to post something.
  • Trying to focus more on the design elements that make up the photographs.
  • Still chasing trends. (My one and only #SockSunday photograph got 39 likes.)
  • Seeing favorites more consistently in the double digits for (nearly, I believe) all my photographs.

I had: 

  • 29 likes and two comments on my first photo of the year.
  • Really started going after challenges, looking for themes for photographs.
  • Started focusing on using hashtags more often and being more mindful of the ones I chose.
  • Started adding a few different design elements into my photos. (B&W, B&W with select color.)
  • My highest liked photo to date. (80 likes and two comments for my shelfie collage.)
  • Reached 221 followers and posted nearly 600 photographs as of the end of April.

Favorite Photographs:

View this post on Instagram

New additions to the Wall of Shame.

A post shared by Carrie (@rattleddreams) on

I really love the angle and how bright this photo is.

This was an idea that came to me as I was randomly (and failing) to capture my steampunk idea for these books. Once I saw the image in my mind, I stopped at nothing (several hundred photos later) to get the shot as I envisioned it. (Which was harder than it looks because I kept losing feeling in my hand the way I propped it up to take the shot.)

This is my favorite inside cover from any book I’ve ever read to date.

Then about midyear it all changed for me.

I found a style that seemed to work for me. A “standard” white background I could use that was also solid enough that it would not sink on my bed where the light was best. I used my scarves, bought some props, and had a blast coming up with designs.

How many photographs on your Instagram page are you truly proud of? Have you found your style, or are you like me and are still experimenting?


I fell off the bandwagon end of 2016, and pretty much stayed off until recently. There were things going on in the Twittersphere that I wanted no part of, and ceased all blogging activity to get away from all the drama.

Because of that my Instagram account became more of a personal account for a bit, until I decided I wanted to get back into the game and started taking photos again. However, they were by no means my greatest book photos because I had not pulled out any of my photography tools.

For a while, I even had a separate craft account. When I started this blog, I made the decision to merge the accounts and shared the few photographs I wanted to keep a record of from the craft account and deleted the rest.

Scroll Along with Me: Photographs are from Momma Gator and babies up to the present.



  • Focus more on the subjects and setting up a great shot.
  • Get some cooler (and free-cheap) props I can use over and over again. Plus, I want to get some new backdrops.
  • Take a wider array of photos/angles to get the best shot overall for the setup.
  • Plan more prior to photo shoots ahead of time to spend less time figuring out what to do and wasting sunlight during the shoot.
  • Take some outdoor shots, including nature only images.


  • Improve.
  • Take and share images I am proud of.
  • Save up for a digital/manual camera.
  • Lure in 100 people to the dark side with cookies to like one photograph so I can finally cross that off my Instagram Bucket List.


How about you guys? How have your personal Instagram journeys gone over the years? 

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