Today we enter a new year, and there’s A LOT of talk about social media influencers, content creators and bloggers. In fact, there’s a lot of concern about the overall impact of social media on your health because of unrealistic standards set by social media. Whether it’s from your real-life friends, celebrities, high-traffic influencers or content creators like myself, online content is extremely influential. (Hence, the name influencers.) I wanted to take some time to reflect on the reality of blogging for a living and my personal take on influencers today. Of course, this is only my opinion and based solely on my own experience. My goal with this post is simply to share what it’s “really” like behind the scenes of this type of work. I’d love to hear your feedback at the end of this post, so please chime in with your comments!
What to Know about the Reality of Blogging and Influencer Marketing
“Authenticity” isn’t that authentic: This is not to say that there are no authentic people out there. I’m happy to say they DO exist…just not as often as you’d like. More often than not, the people you follow on Instagram do not have the beautiful, extravagant lifestyles you admire. Behind the scenes, they’re stressed out, applying heavy filters and moving piles of clutter out of the way for a photo. Despite a trend in “authenticity” among influencers and content creators, it’s a heavily curated form. Content creators, influencers and celebrities are just like anyone else. No one wants to show the whole world their daily struggles…that was never the point of Instagram. Kudos to the few that actually do!
You’re always “ON:” Trying to protect an image you create online is daunting. Every video, physical event, etc. you try to remember who you’re supposed to be for your brand. My brand is happy, colorful and whimsical, but some days I just don’t feel like that. Nonetheless, this is a fake-it-til-you-make-it game, and it’s much harder for individuals whose brand is all about their lifestyle/personality.
Nothing is truly candid: You know those seemingly candid laughs caught on camera at just the right moment? Yeah, that probably took 10 takes to get just right. Today, all content is highly curated. Despite making everything look “real” and authentic, every photo takes a lot of work. Reality is deceiving.
It IS a job: I have been told to “get a real job” or have had people look down on me for my career. Not always – I have also experienced tremendous support. The truth is, blogging, content creation and influencer marketing IS a real job. Every perfectly candid photo takes planning, professional photography, editing and marketing. Organizing partnerships, brainstorming new content ideas, gathering supplies, planning photoshoots and general business organization are just a taste of the daily work that goes into this job. I can’t speak for other content creation industries, but I do know that even “influencers who just post pretty photos” do work hard. We all have different paths to this career but you have to work hard to KEEP it.
Editing is expected: I’m sorry to say that every photo is edited. No matter the app, almost every individual on Instagram removes blemishes, blurs complexion, brighten photos and applies additional filters to fit their brand. I do worry about the impact that apps like FaceTune – apps that can change body shape, adjust facial features and more – have on self-esteem and body image. Nonetheless, you can’t expect this to change until cyberbullying does. Everyone will continue to edit their photos as long as they feel insecure or are bullied online for their appearance. After all, it can feel like you’re never skinny enough, curvy enough, pretty enough…
Comparison effects everyone: Even the largest celebrities or influencers feel insecure sometimes. Despite constantly hearing “don’t compare yourself to others,” everyone does it. There is always someone bigger and better to make people feel inferior.
Not everyone follows the rules: In the content creation world, we are required to follow FTC guidelines for sponsored content. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the rules and there are rarely repercussions. I try my best to disclose things clearly, place my disclosures at the forefront of my posts and make ethical partnership decisions. Not everyone does. In fact, news reports have revealed multiple instances of some influences promoting products that they had never tried or may potentially be harmful to their followers. Like any industry, you’ll have good and bad people. Mostly you’ll hear about the bad ones, but not everyone is like that.
My Opinion on the Term “Influencer”
Personally, I don’t like the term “influencer.” I think “content creator” is a better umbrella term for those we call influencers. When I introduce myself to someone new, I never want to call myself an influencer because I believe the term sounds like I should be making a difference in the world. Yes, some influencers can use their reach for a good purpose that helps people. Most of us are just trying to make a living doing something we enjoy, but “influencer” has a bad connotation these days. I don’t think anyone expected this phenomenon to turn into a career for so many people, but here we are. There are a lot of things I dislike about the industry and sometimes I don’t want to be associated with it.
My Goals as a Content Creator
I’m here to create content that makes people happy and feel inspired to create. In order to do this, I partner with brands with a shared vision. The best I can do is try to focus on brand partnerships that I believe in and my followers will appreciate. Being picky about partnerships is important in order to keep the trust of followers, and it’s terrible to see people abuse that relationship, especially with diet and health products. My goal will always be to inspire creativity and enjoyment of different hobbies.
I hope this post was informative. Everyone’s experience in this industry is different, and I’ve met some amazing, ethical people who I’m proud to follow online. The moral of the story: don’t believe everything you see on Instagram. The reality of blogging for a living means dealing with the good and the bad.