Blogger, social influencer, content creator. No matter what you call it, it falls under the category of influencer marketing. This form of marketing has been around for quite some time, just think of all the brands you know who have utilized celebrities to promote for them. However, around 2008 bloggers started to emerge. Anyone with a social media presence, some sense of creativity, and a halfway decent ability to write had the power to be an influencer at their fingertips.
Since that time, it seems that everyone has decided they can be a social influencer. "I have a phone and can take mirror selfies at Nordstrom so obviously I'm an influencer," seems to be a common theme. I am writing this post tonight because I want to share some of the realities of my experience as an influencer. Please note before reading on, these realities are somewhat specific to me personally and may not be universal truths for all influencers.
Being a Blogger - Shopping daily is not real life.
Unfortunately, my budget does not allow me to shop on a daily basis. I am allotted a certain amount per month to spend on clothing and beauty maintenance. Budgeting has never been a strong suite for me so this is something I am working on. All of that being said, I rely on my partnerships with various brands and companies to show you new trends, my favorite pieces, and so much more.
You'll notice in all of my try on sessions that I give you honest feedback on what I like and don't like. I've realized less is more and have found creative ways to make new outfits with staple wardrobe items, hence my Pinterest Challenge. You will also see me choosing to shop local before hitting up the bigger brands. I will shop Nordstrom, Target, and Express, but always visit the local boutiques first.
Being a Blogger - Most influencers do their content creation as a side gig.
What you don't see is me waking up at 7am, making sure I have content for the day, heading to my full time job, coming home, remembering to eat, and spending my nights bouncing back and forth between my "real job" and blogging until at least 10pm. All of that, plus I have an intern that helps me. Collin and I have a new rule that I need to shut my phone and computer off at 9:30pm so I can decompress, but lately that has been a challenge. I am fortunate in the way that marketing actually is my full time position which is what I love. I'm passionate about branding, sharing a message, and showing you why you should choose to shop here or there, pick this product or that, and so on. Believe it or not, not everyone can (or should) make $200K from being an influencer. This market is just too saturated and sometimes it needs to be about quality, not quantity.
Being a Blogger - Life is not perfect.
We as bloggers have this ability to create picture perfect moments to share with our audiences. Contracts exist between the influencer and the brand to determine exactly what content will be created with certain specifications. We spend hours creating a photoshoot to show you how to host the perfect party, make a delicious meal, coordinate the kids in matching outfits, and so forth. Now, there are a select few that show you their "real life" also and I pride myself on being one of those.
I don't have all white bed sheets because they would be ruined from my red hair and spray tans. I like to host parties where we eat off themed paper plates and drink until we are drunk playing Cards Against Humanity. Collin does basically all of our cooking because my meal planning consists of rice and buttered noodles. I do my best to share what I love with you in the most realistic way possible. I have a passion for small business which is why you will always see those highlighted on my blog. In my opinion, too many influencers have saturated the market with picture perfect lifestyles that aren't realistic for the majority of the world. Don't get me wrong, I'd love a Louis bag, to shop with no budget, and to travel every other week but that just isn't in the cards for me. I stick to keeping it real with you and showing the good, the bad, and the ugly because that's life. Here's my tip: if you are following someone that you can't stand, even if it's me, why follow? Move forward and find influencers you believe in.
Being a Blogger - Engagement is not always what it appears to be.
This is probably the most frustrating part of a) being an influencer and b) working with influencers in my full time job. You know the loop giveaways you see where you have to follow everyone, tag 5 friends, run up and down a football field 5 times, do a standing back tuck, and dive in a pool to enter? Although that's an exaggeration, the fact that bloggers have to pay to be a part of these is very real. A buy-in almost always exists and there are different levels that will help you gain X amount of followers. I've seen giveaways range from $25-$250 just to be a part of because yes, at one time I did think about doing these to increase my numbers. However, in my opinion, this is very much like buying followers.
Although it does work for some, this is just not the route I've selected. I do believe it hurts engagement in the long run and besides that, the image required to post is never cohesive with my feed. Again, it works for some and if you're a blogger reading this, please don't be offended because that's your strategy and rock on with what works for you. I will participate in loops with the local influencers in Indy because the majority of us here really are just trying to showcase how awesome this city is. It's not usually about gaining followers.
I'll be honest in saying that my engagement is not always where I want it to be, but I work on being consistent and posting what's true to my brand. It's frustrating to watch the Instagram algorithm change and it takes a toll on all influencers, but especially the smaller ones. This leads me to my next reality...
Being a Blogger - Rejection is a real thing.
Over and over and over again. "I'm sorry, but you don't have 10K followers so we aren't interested." I haven't decided which frustrates me more: the fact that some brands don't even respond to me or that some just reject me because I don't have X amount of followers. However, I've been on both sides as I've worked with influencers to promote RaeLynn's and Sweet Olive and I certainly reject people. It's all about what the brand is looking for at that specific moment in time and maybe my vibe doesn't always fit.
My other favorite is when I know a brand has paid influencers before me and then they try to tell me they don't have a budget. Don't lie, just be honest and say that you don't have a budget for microinfluencers (although you should because our tactics are powerful too).
I've learned the word no and I've had to tell brands no which is always hard. You have to do what's best for you and so do the brands.
Being a Blogger -Constant Comparison
In this world, we are always comparing ourselves to other bloggers. "Why can't I do that?" "Why is she partnering with them?" "Why do they get to do that and I don't?" "Why do they have that and I don't?"
It's honestly exhausting. I've learned to just do me, look up to my idols, and forget the rest. All that matters, is that I'm being loyal to myself, my followers, and the brands that have given me the opportunity to represent them.
To close, my reality of being an influencer is that I'm having a great time on this journey as Trendy in Indy. It's fun to go out in public and have people come up to me to ask, "are you Trendy in Indy?" It's exciting when I receive messages that followers are checking out local businesses because they've found them through me. It's reassuring when the businesses I've worked with tell me my coupon code has been used 15 times in the last 60 days and that's just online sales.
I am Trendy in Indy because I believe it's making a difference. I'm sharing my love for shopping local, showing you outfit inspiration, engaging with new people, sharing a beauty tip here and there, and now I'm starting to share travel adventures. I'm growing and trying to keep it real. Sometimes that can be a challenge, but no matter what, I'll always stick to who I am and what I believe in.
Thanks for reading and for following along.