A Day in the Life of a Social Media Influencer: what an “Influencer” Actually Does All Day

A Day in the Life of an Influencer by popular Washington D.C. influencer, Alicia Tenise: image of a woman sitting on a hotel room couch and reading a magazine.

I had someone DM me last week, and she kindly ask what a day in the life of an influencer looked like. 

For those of you who follow me, you know that I blog full-time. And I use the term “blog” very loosely because I do a lot of other things other than write. It’s a very new industry, and a lot of people probably don’t understand what I do exactly, or how you can even make a living off of it.

Today’ I’m going to break down what it is that I actually do all day. No two days are the same for me, but in general, this is what I do weekly!

A Day in the Life of an Influencer

What You Do See: Photoshoots

Starting with the obvious: I usually team up with a photographer to create visual content, or I’ll shoot things on my own. This is why calling myself a “blogger” confuses a lot of people because people who aren’t familiar with the industry assume that I sit behind a computer and write all day. That’s only a small percentage of what I do!

Sometimes, a photoshoot is effortless. Tom and I happen to walk by a cool backdrop, I’m wearing a great outfit, and boom, we get the pic. However, there’s usually a lot more planning that goes into shoots!

For starters, I’ll usually start by scouting a location. I have a lengthy note on my phone of places in and around town that I want to shoot at. If I’m ever in an Uber riding around D.C. or NOVA, I usually look up and see if there are any great spots to shoot at. Sometimes, I have to just walk around and figure something out, or hop in my car to find a new location to shoot at. Other times, I’ll ask PR people if I have permission to shoot at an apartment complex/hotel/etc. If I’m traveling, I’ll Google places to shoot at before my trip and make plans accordingly. Location scouting might take hours or even days!

Second, I’ll plan my outfit and props accordingly. I like my outfits to compliment my location, so sometimes I’ll either wear an ensemble with a contrasting color that will pop, or dress to match the color scheme of a location to a T. Sometimes if I’m shooting lifestyle content at home, I need flowers/coffee/trays/etc — a few props that will really set the scene. 

After we’ve wrapped a shoot, I then cull through the photos, make my selects, and pick my favorites to post on the blog/social media! Tom does most of my editing, but when I’m traveling solo sometimes I have to edit my own images in Lightroom.

What You Don’t See: Accounting & Bookkeeping

Ah, my least favorite part of this whole gig: the accounting and bookkeeping.

Instead of getting a paycheck every two weeks like a normal person, I get paid pretty sporadically and have to keep track of it. Plus, I’m responsible for paying quarterly taxes on that income. And I’m responsible for estimating how much to pay quarterly. Cool.

I also have to keep track of business expenses. Anytime I buy a prop for a shoot? Expense. A ticket to a blog conference? Expense. A new camera/lens/computer? Expense. My Adobe Creative Cloud monthly subscription? Expense. I think you get it by this point!

It’s essential for me to keep a record of all of my expenses and income for taxes during the year, and I have to dedicate a little bit of time each week to do some bookkeeping. It’s not glamorous, but it’s 100% necessary!

Oh, the worst part about bookkeeping? Tracking down payments when brands don’t pay you on time. Usually, I have to wait 30 or 60 days after a project has wrapped to receive payment. And unfortunately, some people still don’t pay on time after that period. It’s never fun to have to chase down your money, but it happens quite often!

What You See: Blog & Social Media Posts

Now that my photographer and I have produced gorgeous photos, it’s time to write either a blog or social media post and pair it with our visual content!

I have an blog/social media editorial calendar to help me plan out my content. I usually plan out my blog and social media posts in advance, however, sometimes I’ll post spur of the moment content if I get a great, last-minute idea, or if there’s something happening in the national news that I want to speak on.

It usually takes me 1-2 hours to write a regular blog post, and 3+ hours to write a travel guide. To start, I usually cull through photos and pick which ones I want to feature in a post. Then, I’ll make an outline of the post and list out my subheadings. Afterward, I’ll write the content and add in any appropriate links. I’ll either add affiliate links for specific products if it’s a shopping/outfit/home decor post, or I’ll link relevant articles if its a lifestyle/blogging tips/travel post. Travel guides take me a bit longer since I usually double-check and make sure all of my info is correct with various PR reps.

Next, I’ll fix any spelling/grammar errors with Grammarly, and then re-read the post one last time (and preview it to make sure there aren’t any coding issues!) Lastly, I’ll go through and update my alt tags for images and my meta description, which all help my SEO. Then I’ll either schedule the post to go live at a later date or publish it on the spot!

What You Don’t See: Negotiating Brand Deals

You might see sponsored posts on my feed from time to time. In this case, a brand will pay me a flat fee to create content on either my blog, my social media channels or both. I’ll always indicate this with a disclaimer on my blog posts, and with #ad or #sponsored on social media. 

I get a lot of collaboration offers sent directly to me, and the truth is that I usually decline about 80% of the opportunities that hit my inbox. I only want to partner with brands that have products that I actually use and love, and I’m picky about who I want to work with. Trust me, it’s not easy to walk away from a huge payday, but you’ve gotta stay authentic in this industry and keep your audience’s trust.

The first thing I do each morning? I’ll sort through my emails, look at the collaboration offers that have come in, and see if it’s a project that I want to pursue. I’ll politely decline if I’m offered something that is not a fit, and forward projects that seem to be a fit over to my manager. I used to do this on my own, but this sucked up so much of my time — so I decided to outsource it and focus on creating content!

Even though my manager takes care of all of my paid brand deals, I’ll negotiate any unpaid trade/travel projects on my own. I still have to sign off on things/review contracts/go back and forth even though I have my manager so that usually takes up a few hours of my day. I also sometimes have to jump on conference calls for upcoming projects if a campaign is more involved. 

A Day in the Life of an Influencer by popular Washington D.C. influencer, Alicia Tenise: image of a woman sitting at a conference room desk and working on her laptop.

What You Do See: Attend Influencer/Media Events

Ah…events. I have a love/hate relationship with them.

Brands host influencer/media events regularly in order to showcase a new restaurant/hotel/venue, or introduce a new product, menu or renovation in hopes of media coverage. Heck, some brands even invite me to local events in the area that are open to the public as well, in hopes of coverage. 

At this stage in the game, I’ve been blogging for over 8 years and I get invited to a lot of things. I wrote a full blog post on this, but not all events are worth it. Sometimes, an event is the opportunity to preview something really cool. Other times, it’s a really great networking experience. And then on occasion, an event is just a meaningless open bar that’s not really worth it, IMO (not trying to be that influencer!) 

What You Don’t See: Creating Content for Brands

Sometimes I like to call myself a “content creator,” because often times I’m asked to create content for a brand’s channel. Meaning, I either write an article or stage a photoshoot (or both!), and that content never appears on my own channels — it is content that is specifically created for the brand to use. Ex: when I created a DIY coffee cart blog post for Dunkin Donuts, or when Tom and I created images & IG Story content for Nespresso’s social media channel

What You Do See: Hosting Events & Speaking Engagements

Pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll also host events and speak on panels/at conferences on occasion. Hosting events is always tricky because folks can be fickle and you never know what the turn out will be. I usually say no if someone wants me to host something unless I’m offered a pretty exceptional deal. They’re fun, but they’re also a hassle!

I’ve also spoken on several panels throughout the years, which has been pretty amazing. Blogging is such a new industry, and after almost ten years in the game, you might say that I’m an industry “veteran.” It’s a great opportunity to be able to share some tips and tricks with aspiring bloggers. 

What You Don’t See: Analytics Reporting

What I love about blogging is that it’s both creative and technical at the same time. I frequently check my analytics on both Google and Instagram to figure out monthly views and my audience demographics. Based off of these analytics, I can determine what type of content to produce, and what kinds of posts that my followers engage with. This is crucial because, at the end of the day, I’m creating content for YOU — and I need to get a sense of what resonates with my followers!

Most brands also ask for analytics reports after sponsored projects. I usually have to screenshot any Instagram stats from a post, Google Analytics for my website, Facebook analytics, etc. This is probably one of my least favorite part of this gig. Especially since it’s a bit tedious, but it needs to get done. Brands want to measure ROI from sponsored posts and use the analytics to determine how successful a campaign was.

What You Do See: Press Trips

I love press trips. But trust me: while they’re a lot of fun, but also a lot of work at the same time!

A press trip is where either a group of influencers or bloggers/traditional media writers are invited to travel and cover an experience. Sometimes it’s a tourism board inviting folks to experience a city/region/etc. (like when I went on the Celebrity Edge or partnered with Experience Columbus), other times it’s a brand inviting folks to travel and experience something (ex. I was invited by a clothing brand to visit their headquarters, meet with their team, preview new designs, etc). 

I’m not gonna lie: press trips are awesome. I’m humbled every time I get to experience a new place or learn more about my favorite brands on the road. But press trips ≠ a vacation. I spend every second I can creating content. When we were on both of our Celebrity Cruises press trips, we averaged about 4 hours of sleep a night. The best time to shoot is sunrise. So we’d get up to shoot at the crack of dawn.  Then had to be “on” for the rest of the day attending (and covering!) various events and activities on board. Between shooting content, taking notes, and mingling with PR executives…you’re not going to have a lot of time to relax on these trips. Don’t expect to lounge by the pool all day and end up with a great article at the end of the experience. 

What You Don’t See: Meetings, Networking, & Following Up

Sure, you can create top-notch content, but if you don’t put yourself out there and network your butt off, brands aren’t going to notice you. When I moved back to D.C. after graduating college in 2013, I hustled. I went to every event I could, met every blogger and PR rep that I could, and I followed up.

To this day, I still go on as many coffee dates/happy hours I can with PR folks.  So I can try to stay top of mind. If I can’t meet them IRL (usually because most of my favorite brands are based in NYC or LA). I’ll send them emails periodically just to say hi. People especially love snail mail. So every holiday season, I will mail a card out to every brand I’ve worked with and thank them for their partnership. It’s easier to snag a repeat client than a new client.  Which is why it’s so crucial to maintain a relationship with any brand you’ve collaborated with in the past. 

What You Do (and Don’t!) See: Engaging with Other Bloggers & Responding to Reader Comments/DMs/Inquiries

You guys see this to a certain extent: but it takes a while to reply to reader comments/DMs/misc inquiries daily. Interacting with my followers is hands down my favorite part of this whole “job”. Yet it doesn’t feel like work at all. I love getting the chance to know you guys, hearing your feedback, and connecting! Sometimes I get behind when I travel, but I always try to send a response back when I can.

Being a blogger/influencer isn’t rocket science, but you do have to put in the work. I was shocked after I went full time that I still had over 40 hours of work to do during the week. How I did this as a hobby when I had a 9-5, I’m not quite sure! But hopefully, this gives you some insight into what I do all day.

Are you a blogger/influencer as well? What other hats do you wear?

Photos by Tom McGovern

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