If you’re on social media these days, it’s hard not to envy the curated depiction you see of other people’s lives. Social media influencers – people who make money off of their social media presence – share highlight reels of their seemingly picture-perfect lives.
I’m one of these influencers and I am constantly bombarded with messages like “must be nice to be able to do what you do”…”you’re so lucky”…”I wish I had your life!” Hm. Do you though?? Most people don’t realize that I work a demanding full time job as a lawyer in addition to blogging and social media posting. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. But it’s not easy. I spend a lot of time behind a desk and being an influencer isn’t always as easy as it seems. Here are five things I wish I had known before I started.
- Building and maintains a following takes work. Caveat: it “just happens” for a select few people. I’m not one of them. And most people aren’t. Most people who it did “just happen” for were in very unique circumstances at the time that they grew. For me, it was completely intentional. At the time, I was working at a law firm for $25 an hour while I was in law school. I had a few other part time jobs as well. Unfortunately for me, these jobs didn’t allow me to keep up with my mortgage the lifestyle I had gotten used to as a consultant. I was seriously struggling financially. One day as I was going through my newsfeed on Instagram, I saw someone include #ad in the caption of their post. I was immediately curious. I perused the Internet and quickly learned that people were in fact getting paid money to post branded photos on Instagram. I loved to travel and thought this would be the perfect way to supplement my income. I did my research. I changed my Instagram account from private to public. I changed my name. I studied what the big accounts were doing and I mimicked that. It worked. But it didn’t happen overnight. It took about a year of hard work for me to gain a substantial following. Even now, I notice when I neglect social media for awhile because I’m busy with life, I start to lose followers and my engagement goes down. Was it worth it? Yes. But was it easy? No.
- Traveling for a client isn’t a vacation. Stay in a nice resort. For free. Take beautiful photos depicting an extravagant life on the property. Go on tours for free wearing the cute free outfit that you got. Sound easy? Probably. Well let me tell you that it’s not. Trust me. I have a college degree and two graduate degrees. I’m a CPA and I passed the bar exam. I work as a lawyer at a law firm. I say all of this so that when I tell you working as an influencer isn’t a joke, you understand my credibility. There is a lot of pressure to get “epic” photographs, often in a short amount of time. Clients have high expectations and and if you don’t deliver, your reputation will be affected. But guess what. You can’t control the weather. If it’s rainy every day of your trip and you promised your client 10 high quality photographs, you better deliver. So you need to be able to improvise and be creative. You need to be comfortable with minimal sleep. And you need to get used to your vacations not really being vacations anymore.
- People won’t take you seriously. This is probably the most frustrating for me. I have worked damn hard to get to where I am in life and when someone calls me “lucky” it minimizes the effort I have put it to get to this point and is downright insulting. I know that for the most part people don’t realize this, so I try to be understanding. To a certain extent, yes, I am lucky. I was born in a country that allows me to travel the world with relative ease. I realize that not everyone has this privilege. I was raised by loving parents who gave me everything I needed to succeed on my own. But those 2,000 hours a year that I bill to clients at the law firm I work at – those aren’t luck. They hard work. So are all the hours I put into negotiating with clients, creating social media content, and writing blog posts.
- Daily life won’t look like your Instagram feed. I am baffled by how many people think that social media influencers entire lives look like their Instagram feeds. Instagram is a highlight reel. It is a collection of someone’s most picturesque, curated moments. It is not everyday life.
- Jealousy will be hard to resist. Many influencers are friends with each other. It’s easy to compare yourself to your friends. Who has more followers? Who gets the better sponsored trips? Who has better engagement? Don’t fall into that trap. It’s ugly. I’ve seen friendships end over it. I’ve even had a friendship of my own end because someone was jealous of me. And it hurt. Focus on yourself and be the best that you can. It will serve you better in the long run.