I’ve been posting regularly on our restaurant’s instagram account for about a year now, and at this point I’ve been seeing the slow but real life changes and benefits of having a social media presence as a local food business, even through the COVID-19 pandemic.
What I found to be most important in the past 365 days is this:
I shouldn’t listen to my mom.
And of course, I can’t leave without an explanation so here goes. My mom believes in something along the lines of, “If it’s not picture perfect, we shouldn’t share it.”
On the other hand, I want to post the rough, the real, and the action because I believe that’s where the charm of our restaurant really is. We don’t pride ourselves in food aesthetic, or specialty cultures, or a nicely curated feed. Instead our food is for the everyday human being who come from humble immigrant roots. It’s not fancy, nor is it supposed to be.
Had I asked for her permission every time we had to make a post, we would not be on anybody’s radars at all.
Since then, we’ve 10x’ed our following count (numbers beware, 10x is fun to say when you start with really low numbers), and have around 3-4 new customers on average every day who order in person via our Instagram feed.
I think it took a lot of inner effort and reflection, but how I feel about my work 5 years ago versus how I feel about my work today is—I can safely say—different.
Off the bat, I would describe my current work as rough yet thoughtful, almost like every bit is a WIP posting (because it is).
Why I would consider it different from some time 5 years ago is because I used to want everything up to my own personal standard of “perfect”, or “ready” before ever sharing it with anybody. That process caused a lot of stalling, stopping, and professional hardship because I never felt it was good enough to let other people see.
With my current writing bits, I don’t edit my way into perfection because I simply don’t give myself the time (and I think that’s for the better). There’s a due date I have, 12AM, which pushes me to get to the point of it all before going to bed. Doing this over and over and over again has broken down my creative process into tiny, doable bits rather than one behemoth of a project to finish overnight.
I would say my relationship with creativity has become more relaxed, simply knowing that I’m not looking for my best work all the time, but instead looking for practice overtime.
I believe that continuing this ritual of delivering daily work, whatever it may be, will change my outlook on my own work and my thoughts on creativity.
When I first started working at our Chinese restaurant, I barely knew how to speak or write Chinese. I didn’t even know most names of common takeout dishes. Completely unfamiliar and uncomfortable, it took me 4 months to make friends with the menu and to be able to write them down when items got ordered (not to mention that hungry, impatient people don’t want to be dealing with workers who don’t know their craft).
Day by day, what I learned through that process was that we can make a lot of progress through simply trying.
Just by giving things a shot, we make much more progress than had we done nothing at all.
People who want to put out perfect are slow because they won’t budge for anything experimental, not willing to test, and are more interested in preserving their own vision rather than helping others find theirs.
If the goal is to build a community on a social platform, or to help a small business gain a following, maybe it’s better to share things to test the waters rather than leave it empty in search for the perfect post.
A consistent momentum helps when we’re trying to learn a new language, sharpen our Illustrator skills, get into shape, clean up our diets, apply to portfolio-based jobs, or just be more comfortable out loud.
The hardest part is to build up enough movement to keep the rhythm going.
It’s hard because it’s often the first thing to get pushed out when the day gets over-scheduled (and there’s never enough time to go around).
But there’s always 10 minutes of our day we can put to use to build momentum.
P.S. Momentum is the critical factor, not quality of output.