I still haven’t worked out what to do when I grow up! I’m mainly a writer, an artist, and a fairytale dressmaker with various crafty hobbies! Here (and on YouTube) I share bits of my life, thoughts, and what I’m learning along the way. Let’s find magic and inspiration; join me for this creative living adventure!



New Year, New Instagram!

photos of a fairytale

As part of my goal to change things up a bit in 2020, one of the things I looked at was my Instagram accounts…

autumn outfit

I’ve had two accounts for a long time – one of them is HelenHobden, and is the one I’ve use to share photos I’ve taken, but it has also often related to content on this blog. A while ago I started a system where every other photo was a photo taken by me, and every other photo was one taken of me. I really liked this, it seemed like a good way to promote my fashion blog posts, and I was proud of the way my grid looked. However my follower growth has been stagnant for two years, and engagement has dropped away.


custom blue wedding dress

My second account is for my clothing business ThreadsOfAFairytale and although follower numbers aren’t fantastic there either, at least I notice more engagement when I put the effort in. Followers are gradually growing. You won’t notice much change there really; except that I’m making it my priority account and plan to post there more often – it is my job after all. It’s also one of my goals for 2020 to make it possible to click through and be able to buy from my website. But I’ll tell you more about that when it’s sorted!


fairytale photography

So, that brings me to my new, third Instagram account, which I’ve called PhotosOfAFairytale. It’s kind-of a joint account because all the photos are taken by my husband, Chris, but they’re all of me! Some we will have taken as part of the fashion shoots for this blog; some we will have taken as part of the photo-shoots for Threads of a Fairytale. And now we have this new account, we have the perfect reason to take more of the creative photos that we enjoy. I really like photos of big landscapes with a small figure as part of it, but before, that type of thing didn’t really belong anywhere else. Also recently, we’ve been playing around with distorted perspective with my hands (usually holding some flowers) closer to the camera; or Chris has been lying on the floor taking photos from different angles. It’s the sort-of thing we both enjoy trying out, so now we have a place to share them.

As I’m writing this, we are back in America for his work, which means we have weekends to go exploring and take photos in different settings. I’m really excited to kick-start this new account with the photos we take. Of course, we’ll also be doing our usual outfit photos for the blog as well, so you’ll see those here. Although @PhotosOfAFairytale is intended to be for our enjoyment, I am hoping the audience will grow. I’m hoping that people will like the photos enough to want to see more, and therefore go and find my blog. I’m also hoping that people might be interested in the outfits I’m wearing, and again, go and find my blog to see more, or potentially become a customer at Threads of a Fairytale. With an account that is less eclectic, and people know what to expect (rather than one picture of some flowers and the next picture of me in a nice dress), I’m hoping it will be a bit easier to find an audience that will stay.

Creative portrait photography

Instagram as a hobby

So what does that mean for my original Instagram account, @HelenHobden? Well I have to admit, it has left me feeling a bit unsure, and a bit daunted. The main point of it has been to drive traffic to When I Grow Up, so I’ve treated it like work and have often been stressed if I haven’t managed to post a photo every single day. However, realistically, the amount of visitors I get here who have come from Instagram have been so minimal, it really hasn’t been worth that stress! So that turns my account into a hobby!

With my new rule of no photos taken by Chris, that means if I want to include anything of myself into the grid, I will have to get good at self-portraits. It means I will finally have to make time to do the ideas I talked about when reading Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker. And that’s daunting!

That also isn’t helped by the fact that, like I said, we’re away at the moment, and I don’t have my nice new tripod with the extending arm. I don’t have my photography props or the familiar British countryside. All I have is my little gorilla pod and a typical new England air bnb! I know from trying in the past, that self-portraits are time consuming to get right, so it’s unlikely that I’ll be doing much of it when Chris has to hang around waiting for me at the weekends. So for the next few weeks my account will mostly consist of my back-catalogue of photography, which is quite annoying because I’m starting to accumulate a list of photos I want to try at home! You never know, maybe this will be the change my account needs to grow!

Giving up on Instagram

Do you know what the best thing about giving up on my Instagram as a work thing is? It’s not having to worry about captions! I HATE trying to type on my phone. I don’t much like typing at my computer either for that matter – I’m very much a long-hand person, and when faced with the phone keypad, I can’t seem to think of a single good thing to write. And it’s not writing is it? It’s tapping a screen with one finger. I’ve given it a bloody good go, but I can’t do it. It’s not the flow of ink on a page. I think maybe I’m coming to accept that I’m too old for this – or at least, my brain doesn’t work in the right way to write like that. So instead of spending twenty minutes every day trying to come up with a good caption, I’m simply going to give my photo a title, and leave it at that! And that is so liberating for me! I hate trying to come up with a question in the hope of engagement when all I get is crickets anyway; it always sounds so false. (I can’t ask me sister to reply to my question every single day!) Giving myself the permission that I don’t have to struggle with captions is great, but I also accept that if a good caption is what it takes to be successful at Instagram, then maybe it isn’t the platform for me. That’s equally disappointing as it is freeing. But there is happiness in acceptance. I’m happy for it to be a hobby for me, whilst working on it for my business.

So that’s it really – I’d really appreciate a follow on my new account, PhotosOfAFairytale (and on the other two if you haven’t already!) And please tell me your Instagram handles in the comments, I’d love to find some new people to follow. Do you enjoy Instagram as a hobby? Is it work for you? Do you find it stressful? Has it been a success for you and led to work or sales? I’d love to know 🙂


Linking with Not Dressed as Lamb for #sharealllinkup


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Jane Mucklow

Sounds good Helen – and how lovely not to have to worry about captions, that bit really frustrates me and slows me down too! Good luck with self portraits!
http://www.instagram.com/pictureyourbrandwithjane for my branding photos and http://www.instagram.com/janemucklowphoto for landscapes 🙂



Thank you Jane! It is nice. On the other two accounts I write a very mini fairytale, which is fun to do, but I would like to get more engagement there so I might have to try and think of some relevant questions!


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