/ 4 min read

Don't build your house on rented land

Don't build your house on rented land
Galah's editor-in-chief Annabelle Hickson. Photograph by Anson Smart.
Annabelle Hickson
Annabelle Hickson Tenterfield, NSW
Share this post

On falling out of love with Instagram. This is a fortnightly newsletter from Galah's editor Annabelle Hickson, made for our Galah paid subscribers. Although this week, we're sending it out to all Galahs, free and paid. Why not fling open the doors every once and a while?

For years now, Instagram has been both a place where I like to hang out and an important business tool. I’ve made friends there and Galah has found readers there. It’s been a vital pipe, connecting me and my business on a pecan farm in a quiet valley to a much larger world.

It never bothered me that I didn’t own this pipe because I just assumed the pipe would always be there. In hindsight, this was naive. Instagram built the pipe, it owns the pipe and it has every right to redirect it or cut it off completely if it wants to.

And now it looks like it wants to.

Meta (Instagram and Facebook) has decided not to renew the deals it made with media companies as part of Australia's media bargaining code. We don't know for sure what will happen next, but a not unlikely outcome is that Meta will pull out of news in Australia entirely, severing lots of pipes on the way.

It’s hard to believe – especially because Galah didn’t receive any money from Meta as part of the code deals – but there’s a good chance that we could get swept up in the ban. If we do, our Instagram account will vanish overnight. We’ve been advised to prepare for the worst. From a business point of view, this is terrifying.

The other day Galah reached 30k followers on Instagram and I did a little fist pump in the air. “What progress!” I thought. But all this while, I’ve been building the Galah house on land owned by Instagram. It's always been true for media that whoever controls distribution has the power. These days, so much of that power is in the hands of Meta and Google.

I keep thinking about the saying “don’t build a house on rented land”. This is exactly what I've been doing. 

Although, maybe this house isn’t fixed. Maybe it has wheels. Maybe it’s a caravan that I can move.

After all, it’s not actually Instagram that I care about. What matters to me are the connections I've made there. The human stuff. Not the algorithm or suggested reels or view counts.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with Meta; if it will pull out of news in Australia or if Galah gets swept up in it. But what I do know for sure is that I’m going to focus on moving the Galah caravan to greener pastures; to places where we can control how we connect with other people.

To me these places are, in order of importance:

  • Real life, via events and lunches and talks.
  • In print, via your letterboxes.
  • Digitally, via email inboxes and podcast feeds. Both emails and podcasts are on open platforms that allow us users much more control over who we connect with.

If you value Galah, I ask you to help me future-proof Galah in a way that does not depend on Instagram.

Nothing beats word of mouth. Please tell your friends about Galah. Suggest they sign up to our newsletters (they are free and fabulous). If you can afford to, subscribe to our print magazine (it’s $90 a year).

Meanwhile, we’ll shift our focus away from nebulous, short-term goals – like growing followers on rented land – to the stuff that matters: making really good things for our real Galah readers.


A different type of marketing campaign

Galah could spend its marketing budget on Instagram and Facebook ads, but we’d much rather direct our money into something that positively impacts regional Australia instead.

So, this month, we’re giving you a challenge:

  • For every new free-newsletter subscriber from now until 31 May, we’ll donate $1 to Full Stop Australia, a national sexual, domestic and family violence response and recovery service.
  • And for every new print magazine subscriber, we'll donate $5 to Full Stop Australia.

How can you help?

Subscribe to our glorious print magazine. It's $90 a year for three issues. And we'll send $5 from each new subscription to Full Stop Australia.

Share this email with your friends who you think might enjoy the Galah newsletters. Three of our four different newsletters are free. All are fabulous. Just forward this email to them and they can sign up by clicking the button below.

Thank you for helping us spread the word.

Bits and bobs

Gen Z on Insta

Despite the anti-Insta vibes in this newsletter thus far, it really is my favourite social-media platform. I'm too young for Facebook, but too old for TikTok. Although I've been paying a bit more attention to TikTok now that it has hit the headlines with a potential ban in the US. Apparently Gen Z is not excited about the idea of having to jump off TikTok back onto Instagram, which is "cringe" or, if you're a Tiktoker named tabithamae, "an insanely stressful, nerve-racking process". "Like, why is my heart pounding out of my chest because I posted a latte onto my story?"

Gen Z, I think I love you.

Is there anyone out there who could teach me how to take Galah into the TikTok world?

A Tree in the House wedding

Megan Trousdale, owner of the terrific Odgers & McClelland Exchange Stores, decided to take matters into her own hands when her daughter Isabelle was married in the village of Nundle this month. Not only did she grow hundreds of dahlias for the occasion, she also dug out an old copy of my flower book A Tree in the House, determining to do most of the flowers for the wedding herself.

"‘You can do it’ and ‘start early’ are two phrases from Annabelle Hickson’s A Tree in the House DIY flower book that replayed in my mind as my daughter Isabelle, her groom Ben, family, friends, and I arranged their wedding flowers," wrote Megan.

"Not only did we attempt DIY wedding flowers, but we supplied 30kg of lamb, 10kg of desiree potatoes, honey, tomatoes, eggplant, herbs and pears for the wedding feast ... The groom brewed three beers and made a keezer - a keg refrigerator."

Read the full story here.