Before I begin let me say that I really hate the term – Influencer. Every time I sign a contract that says I am one, I cringe. Why?
Well, “influencer” as a term says nothing about the job of being a writer/a photographer/ sometimes a videographer/a stylist/an editor/ a social media coordinator. It only indicates that anyone who is active on Instagram is there only to influence other people choices – to make other people buy things.
Well, I am not an Influencer. I do not wish to make my work about manipulating you into buying things. Nor are many other big Canadian bloggers that have grown to be my friends. What are we then and why do we “expose our lives” on instagram?
- We know Instagram is a tool– and we all use this tool differently. You can’t assume it’s the same tool for everyone. For some people it is a way to propagate their work – whether it’s their blog content, the photography work, the creative work, the small shop they might have, or a full on business – Instagram is a great place to show to others what we are doing on our blogs or websites, what we create, sell and make. It can be used to gain money and sell products. It can also be a tool to connect with people and feel less alone. To share our story. Or to jurnal the everyday life. And many of us will be using it for all of the above all at once.
- We are not our Instagram profile. We share only what we want to and you can’t assume you know everything only because we share 5 stories a day. Nobody has a perfectly clean house all the time – nor perfectly behaving kids. Nobody does yoga all day or drinks coffee in bed 24/7. What you see is a moment of someones day. Sometimes a styled moment. Our profiles are a representation of how we want to be seen- or how we would like to see our lives. Or what we like seeing. And there’s no right or wrong here. Some of us will want to be seen as imperfect and messy: blurry-photos-and-no-makeup, and some will choose to show the put-together-and-nicely-dressed version. But we are all human with large spectrum of behaviors and we chose which side we want to show you.
- We have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. We love it for the opportunity to use it as a tool for whatever reason ( see point 1) but we hate it for it lack of transparency within how it works. The algorithms are always changing, and the longer we’re on it, the more it feels like Instagram wants us to pay more and more it in order to show our content to our own followers.
- We use different tools to manage our Instagram. From giveways to help us grow, to group pods, to comment pods to help each other with the algorithm, most of us use different tools. We don’t like talking about it, as it’s seen as somehow shameful, but the unpredictable ways algorithms work mixed with the lack of transparency on algorithm changes make us want to try everything just to be able to show our own content to our own followers. We make mistakes and we try new things. Some people have assistants to help them engage, some of us have agents to help with the sponsored content, and some use paid apps. It’s always changing and everyone has a different opinion on what’s good and what’s bad, what works and what doesn’t.
- We compare each other a lot. It’s a public space so we are very aware of what others are doing, how many likes they are getting and who they work with. And we constantly compare ourselves. It’s a mental exercise not to do so, and it requires a lot of effort to just do your own thing without comparison, remembering the mission and values we have put on ourselves.
- We suffer from anxieties. Almost every Instagrammer I talked to admits they live with anxieties -some only from time to time (me) , others all the time. Why? Well, I think the point 3, 4 and 5 are to blame.
- We work much more than you think. You might think it’s only snapping photos with a phone, and getting things for free, but a typical “Influencer” creates content for 4-5 posts a week ( if not more), which means: planning photos ( some photos will be very spontaneous but for most part they are planned- so where what, how and with who) executing photoshoots ( styling, setting things up,) editing ( most of us use digital cameras and then we spend hours editing in lightroom or photoshop), writing captions ( this may include researching topics, editing text) posting ( a lot of times it means working in the evening every day), responding to comments, engaging with other people content ( this alone can take 2 hours a day), planning the editorial calendar, responding to emails, reporting statistics after sponsored content. And if like me an “Influencer” has a blog, then there’s also; writing articles ( often this includes more prep work, and many more photos) managing a website, managing more social media channels ( Pinterest, Facebook) and more emails.
- We make money through sponsored content. Yes we do promote products- some of us only the products that we used for years, some of us promote things that we wanted to try, some of us make pretty photos of things and see the sponsored collaborations as an exercise in creativity (me). Some of us use our private lives as an inspiration, and some of us will style and pretend for the photo. And yes, we are paid for posting photos and stories with products to our Instagram. Now, you may think we are payed for nothing, but let me just say that we do a job of a photographer, model, stylist, editor, and copy writer. And in between sponsored content we usually create all the content for free for our followers to use- since most of us do have a mission- which means that in our free from sponsored content time we will either develop recipes for free for your use, or DIY projects, or styling ideas, or write inspiring text, or share pretty inspirations for life with kids, travel, beauty etc.
- We question ourselves a lot. Everyone I ever talked to questions their worth – from the content we create, to the positive impact we may or not have, to the role of our kids in our posts, to our mission. Even after years online we still ask ourselves questions about what and why are we doing. And we know everyone will judge us for whatever we do.
- We are on Instagram because we love creating and connecting with others, and it has nothing to do with being an exhibisonist. Most of us are “Influencers’ because we truly love the creative aspect of it – making photos, creating things and images, writing and connecting with others. Yes, our instagrams are rooted in our lives, but remember point 1 & 2 – we all have different motives and we are not our profiles- so if we share things with you it’s not because we are exhibitionists, It’s simply our way of creating and connecting.
Now, of course there are plenty of Influencers that are not my cup of tea- and my instagram may not be your cup of tea either.
And if ever I find a better way to share my blog content, connect with other moms and be payed for my creativity- while I raise my kids – I may abandon it all together – but for now, it’s a big part of my life- with all the fun, the difficult and the ugly..