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First things first: thank you to Jackie Aina for inspiring me to write today’s blog post. She dropped an incredible Youtube video a few weeks ago that resonated with me! Inspiring me to write about why I don’t quite fit in with the influencer industry.
I’ve been blogging for 8.5 years now, and the blogging/influencer industry has changed so much over the years. While I’ve been able to build an audience and successfully and consistently partner with brands over the years, I can safely say that I don’t really have the same mindset as most influencers either, which isn’t a bad thing, either way!
I know that most of you who read this blog aren’t bloggers/influencers. However, I think a lot of people can relate to this post, whether you blog or have a career in another field. Even when I had my 9-5, I never felt like I fit those positions ever. Did I think I rocked at my job? Yes. Did I fit in with my other coworkers? Absolutely not. And you know what? It’s ok if you don’t necessarily fit in. Just keep on shining!
A little backstory: I started my blog in June of 2011 before Instagram was even a thing or before the term “influencer” was even coined. I didn’t start it for money, and I never thought I’d gain thousands of followers. I just launched my website because I wanted an outlet to write about budget-friendly fashion. Simple as that.
Over the years, things have changed — a lot. The industry transitioned to Instagram. Brands started paying bloggers/influencers for their work and began to host swanky events and activations for them. My little hobby turned into my full-time gig. And honestly? I wasn’t expecting any of that.
Don’t get me wrong: I love doing what I do, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. However, after 8+ years of blogging events, conferences, and networking, I know one thing for sure: I definitely don’t fit in the industry, for a number of reasons.
Why I Don’t Fit In the Influencer Industry
I’m not an “Instagrammer”
I’ve said this time and time before: but I cringe when someone calls me an “Instagrammer.”
I create content for seven different platforms, my blog is my priority, and I have a background in communications. Instagram isn’t my top priority, nor has it ever been. To be honest, posting on IG feels has felt like a chore for the past few years, and the change in algorithm and the significant drop in engagement has made me enjoy it far less.
I will say that IG is a great way to connect with your audience in a more laid-back way, and I’ll always appreciate that. People DM me to ask for suggestions, reply to stories, or even to share their thoughts on a topic, which is amazing, and I’m thankful for a platform that allows for the interaction. However, sometimes, I’m just sick of the BS that’s associated with Instagram.
Buying followers. Buying likes. Bot comments and responses to photos and IG Stories. Guys, I am over it! I’ve even had situations where I’ve followed other influencers for years and really admired their work, only to find out that they’re buying likes and engagement. It’s a huge disappointment, and it makes me realize that a lot of people are “cheating” their way to the top in this industry.
Long story short: I often feel frustrated in this whole space because a lot of people purchase their engagement and following, and I’m not about that life. I miss the days when you just had a blog and Google Analytics and could call it a day. No visible follow or like counts. Just following someone for the quality of content they’re putting out there.
It’s not my goal to be “seen” at events
If you were to ask me to speak on this topic four years ago, I would have answered differently: since the influencer industry was starting to boom in 2015, I felt that I needed to be at every event and to be seen everywhere to grow my brand.
Fast forward to 2019: if it doesn’t serve a networking purpose or value for my readers, I’m not going.
I’m not going to lie: influencer events and activations are cool, and a perk of the job. Great swag bags, free food, and drink, great opportunities to create content? You can’t even complain, right?
Honestly, as time went on, I enjoyed these types of events less and less. After a while, when I was hanging out with other influencers, it turned into “did you get invited to XYZ event,” and if I wasn’t on the list, I’d immediately second-guess myself.
And then, I finally learned: if you’re not invited to something, or don’t attend an event, it’s not that serious.
I used to be so focused on being “seen” in D.C., it prevented me from actually creating content that added value to my reader’s lives. So I decided to skip town and leave D.C. for a bit, and it was the best decision I’ve made. I don’t pass on every single event that I’m invited to, but I also don’t attend a ton of them nowadays. If it’s a preview of something I think you guys will be interested in, I’m there. If it’s hosted by a brand that I love, count me in. If it doesn’t meet those criteria? I am fine with staying at home! It’s not my goal to be a D-List “Socialite” of Washington D.C. with this blog.
I’m Not In It to “Model”
Do you know what I think is funny? When I tell older people that I “blog,” a lot of them say “oh wow, I like to write, I would love to start a blog.”
Little do they know that writing has become almost obsolete in this industry (thanks, Instagram). And it makes me incredibly sad.
Don’t get me wrong: I love creating visual content and expressing my creativity in new ways. Heck, because of this blog, I’ve even landed a couple of gigs where I’ve done photo styling for brands. But “modeling” in photos was never the primary goal of this blog.
I can’t complain — posing for a photo isn’t the worst gig in the world. And some bloggers have gone on to model in major brand campaigns. Heck, I’ve even modeled for a local shopping center. I’ve been in front of a camera for years and know basic poses/angles at this point, but I definitely would not call myself an expert. I enjoy producing a photo a lot more than posing in one.
Sometimes I look at girls like Paige, Lauryn, and Lauren, and I really admire their creativity. They’re pushing the envelope, always trying something new, and they look fierce as hell while doing it. It’s incredible to see real women directing and modeling in editorial concepts. Trust, I wish I could crush it like that, but it’s just not in the cards for me. I’m still pretty awkward at posing, and if I don’t smile when I’m photographed, I look like a serial killer, so that’s why you see my pearly whites in every photo.
I don’t love being in front of the camera at all times. And it’s ok. As I mentioned before, I’m diving into some new ventures this year, where I can be more behind the scenes in the industry and utilize my strengths a bit more.
It’s OK to have your blogger “tribe.”
As much as I feel like I don’t fit into the industry, I’ve still found my people along the way. I might not be one to fit into a clique, but I’ve never been that type of person. I find my people that I vibe with and build meaningful relationships with them. Case in point: my girl Greta, who’s pictured in the first image here!
You can find your people without having to be a part of a clique. I’ll always advocate for inclusion on my platform, and with that, I also want to be inclusive with my blog/influencer friendships as well. I’ve been a part of some “cliques” or “squads” in the past, and not every person in the said group has been one of my people, but you know what? It’s ok. Just do you, friend!
At the end of the day, I think it’s ok to have your own brand and do your own thing in this industry. I might not look like an influencer or go with the grain at all times, but at the end of the day, I still enjoy what I’m doing and wouldn’t change it for the world!
What are your thoughts on the influencer industry? Let me know in a comment below!
Photos by Tom McGovern