My Pixelfed instance is a bigger success than I could ever have predicted

My Pixelfed instance is a bigger success than I could ever have predicted
Photo by Andrew Weibert / Unsplash

When I started, the intent was to test out the efficacy of a brand new Fediverse that's not based on Mastodon. It also helps that I generally agreed with dansup's central purpose with Pixelfed, so that's the platform I chose.

I should mention my general expectations:

  • Maybe I'd be able federate
  • Maybe someone would follow my account
  • Maybe someone would interact with a post

But pretty much I just expected that my would end up like so much other stuff I make online: a place where I upload stuff, with no one being all the wiser.

So now I'm going to open the hood and offer insight to what's going on, two weeks after starting my instance.

Almost immediately after posting that photo, somebody liked it and then followed me. How they discovered me, I don't know – but consider all expectations met.

Of course, that's not why I'm excited.

Chart for Daily Posts on

Within two weeks, here's what happened:

  1. 175 instances federated with mine
  2. 515 photos were uploaded
  3. 2.7K total posts were made

This has had a big impact on my personal profile.

I have managed to attract 35 followers. This is for a fresh new instance barely two weeks old. The network effect is low. There's no social algorithm pushing my posts because the Fediverse has no algorithms like that.

Likewise, I am nobody particularly notable – just a guy having fun on social media. All anyone sees is pictures of computer games, cassette tapes, food, and stuff from nature walks. In effect, just stuff a typical person would share.


Engagement has also been pretty brisk. I'm getting likes, comments, and follows multiple times per hour. Having a new instance is by no means any barrier to people interacting with my posts.

So how are people discovering me? I've been sharing my posts through Twitter and Mastodon.

That's where things get especially surprising. I expected that Twitter users would be prejudiced against photos not hosted natively on the service. I also expected that Mastodon users would be suspicious about an instance that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

Yet, my still managed to attract the same level of interaction I received when I used to have an active Instagram account.

Here I must pause and explain why I think my instance managed to succeed where other new instances might fail.

First, I'm active on where I've had an account since 2018. I've expressed an interest in starting an instance for awhile, so it's not as though came out of left field.

But also, congruent with my Pixelfed instance starting out, I started up this blog. People therefore understand my intentions. They see what I'm aiming to do, and where the direction is going. As my Pixelfed instance has grown, so has my blog – and a few folk come to this domain just to read my posts.

It also helps that FediDB lists as an active instance, one that's in good standing too.

So where to now?

First, I must thank everyone who's interacted with me through this instance. You've proven that no one needs a centralized service to quickly build a social media presence. If anyone's debating whether a Fediverse instance is worth it, my case study here should be encouraging.

I have a lot of work to do. Admittedly, I'm no pro web dev, but I need to find a way to customize the CSS. I also need to think about other ways to distinguish my intance from others.

Growth of a userbase is a low priority. That's because I have no ambition to monetize. I'm more than happy to be the lone active user on the instance.

Yet, should I wish for growth, there's options. Perhaps the destiny for is for it to be subscription-based co-op for users that want to own their social media data.

I'll need to chew the cud more on that.