I had a thought the other evening as I was standing in the shower waiting for my hair mask to sink in. In all my blogging research I’ve never run across this one simple thought. For every blogging and marketing course that I’ve virtually attended, every podcast I’ve listened to, every interview I’ve watched never have I ever heard a blogger or influencer talk about this important tip in growing your social media following.

In fact, it didn’t even occur to me until I was waiting impatiently for my hair to soak up all the moisture. It was in that watery moment of foot-tapping impatience that I realized the tip to growing a brand or gaining followers is patience.

Sorry, friends no fancy algorithmic insights here. Just plain old boring patience.

 In many ways, our blogs (or social media accounts) are a lot like my reaction to a hair conditioning mask. We want all the benefits of the platform/product but don’t want to wait the recommended amount of time in order to reap those benefits. We want the front row invites to NYFW and brand deals and full-time gigs, and cruises, and recognition but we often don’t want it to happen naturally.

And I get it, I’ve been there. In many ways, I’m still there. Instead of a natural, beautiful growth that happens when people find and connect with our unique point of view, we experience growing pains, FOMO, and discontentment when we’re passed over by a brand for the account that already has the swipe up feature.

We – bloggers, influencers – feel the pressure to keep up with our peers because if we’re not setting the standards we’re falling behind. And that impatience leads to cutting corners. We buy followers to inflate numbers and then manipulate likes to match standard engagement metrics. We apply to every paid campaign in the marketplace, even if it doesn’t meet our brand standards, to make a Q2 income goal.

We become carbon copies of those who are “making it.” Because if it’s working for them surely it should work for us, right?

This is a problem. I know this industry is vastly different than it was 7 or 8 years ago when the rockstars of the industry started their platforms but if you could walk up and ask Blair and Arielle and Julia and Jenny what helped them grow their brand I bet they would tell you that time, patience, and authenticity were key.

So here’s what I’m saying: don’t neglect best industry practices. You should be posting and engaging and comment and gathering audience insights, expending your content, improving your skills, and updating your technology. All those things DO take you to the next level.

However, you should also have patience. Patience when you’re agonizing through the first 3,000 followers on Instagram. Patience when you’re creating blog posts and sorting through spammy brand collaborations. Take the time to understand your goals and enjoy the process.

Don’t rush your dreams, friends.

If they truly matter to you, they won’t have an expiration date.