THE DOWNSIDE TO BEING AN ONLINE INFLUENCER
I don’t usually like to stir up negative vibes, but something I’ve wanted to address for quite some time is the downside to being an "online influencer” - or blogger or YouTuber or Instagrammer or content creator or whatever you want to call it. Don’t get me wrong - I absolutely love that I am able to make a living off of creating content and sharing my life with others! This blog post is not about complaining. This blog post is meant to shed light on the not-so-great things about a career that has come to be highly idolized - especially in the last few years. If you’re a content creator, then I hope you can relate with what I’m about to say. If you’re someone who wants to become a content creator, then I hope this will open your eyes to what you may or may not be prepared for, should you gain a following. If you’re neither of these, I hope I can at least make you laugh a little. Let’s begin.
1. It is stressful AS FUCK.
I cannot even begin to explain how stressful being a whatever-it-is-you-want-to-call-me. And I'm not even that big of an influencer (compared to others with followings in the hundred thousands and millions)! Of course it didn’t start out that way when I didn’t have any type of following. But once it picked up, it hit me HARD. When I first started sharing my life online, I worked a regular 9-5 desk job, spent time with my then-boyfriend-now-husband, and took pictures/filmed videos on the weekend for me to post throughout the week. Once I started to get reach outs from brands that wanted to collaborate with me and a larger following on YouTube and Instagram - I felt an immense pressure to constantly be sharing content multiple times a day to my audience, coming up with new and creative ideas for projects every hour, and answering all the questions, comments, and e-mails flooding in every second. It left very little for any kind of free time and I increasingly felt myself being spread very thin - trying to live up to this standard that I had set for myself, while still attempting to grow in a very competitive industry. To be perfectly honest, the stress has only gotten worse over time - I’ve just managed to use that stress to push myself harder rather than kick and scream my head off like I used to (well, sometimes I still do that, but whatever).
2. You are constantly being compared to others.
It’s almost comical, because something that my blogger bestie Karen and I talk about all the time is how we need to not compare ourselves to other influencers - because it can be really discouraging when you see others surpassing you, doing bigger projects than you, killing it when you can barely get out of bed in the morning - all that jazz. I think cutting out comparison is a great mentality to have in order to stay motivated as a creative. HOWEVER, just because you might decide not to compare yourself to other influencers, doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to do the same. As an influencer, you are being compared to every other influencer (especially if you categorize yourself into a common aesthetic) by your audience and by brands. So yes, I would advise that you not compare yourself to others in your own mind - but unfortunately, there are only so many brand campaigns and collaborations for so many of us - and there seems to be an increasing amount of bloggers and content creators these days.
3. A lot of people are cheating to get ahead.
I’m not really going to go into this too much because it just makes me angry, but yes, there are a lot of cheaters. I have personally never cheated (though a lot of people thought I bought my followers when I became a suggested user on Instagram a couple of years ago), but yes, a lot of people buy their followers, their likes, their views, etc. And because some cheaters get ahead, it makes everyone else panic. Other people feel pressured to cheat. So they do. And then it ruins the industry for those trying not to cheat, because they feel like they need to cheat to get ahead or risk getting left behind. It’s a slippery slope, my friends.
4. The pay is not easy to get or stable - if you want to make money, you have to work for it.
I feel like there is a misconception about the way influencers make money. Contrary to popular belief, a large amount of followers does not mean a large amount of money. Sure, it CAN be easier to make money when you have a large following because you're seen as a having a larger ROI than someone who has a smaller following, but as I said before, you're constantly being compared to other people. What makes you special? Why should you get paid this much over this person? Why should you get paid at all? Know your worth as a creator. If you have something to offer, YOU need to monetize YOURSELF. People aren't just forking over cash because you hit 100K on Instagram. Payments come through only if you're able to give brands and clients something that makes them money as well.
5. Non-social media savvy individuals think you’re an idiot.
OK, maybe that’s a harsh way to put it, but think about it - it’s difficult for people to respect what they don’t understand. Too many times I’ve had others ask me what I do for a living, laugh in my face, and tell me that what I do is not "real work”. Sure, it may look fun from the outside, but every successful content creator I know that takes this seriously is constantly working on brand campaigns, reading contracts, pitching projects, producing/styling/shooting/editing content to post and share (but not too much sponsored content or else you’re seen as a sell-out) - while trying to keep up with a normal social or family life. It IS a real job. You work to get paid just like any other job. It's just not a conventional one. I’ve learned to let the derogatory comments go at this point, but it really used to bother me in the beginning.
6. People are constantly trying to take advantage of you.
Whether it’s a brand, a family friend, another influencer or someone you used to go to high school with who’s trying to do the same thing you’re doing and just happens to reach out to you out of the blue - unfortunately, there are a lot of people (not all, but quite a few) who just want to get as much as they can out of you in order to get ahead themselves. With a lot of influence (believe it or not) comes a lot of power over others (as an influencer, you are meant to influence). That being said, a lot of people are willing to do whatever it takes to get some power - including screwing you over to get there.
7. It can be very scary sometimes.
I’m not sure how other influencers feel about this because I never really see people talk about it that much, but sometimes my followers scare me. For the most part, everyone is super sweet and supportive - and I love chatting with everyone whenever I have some free time! BUT, sometimes I get messages that kind of ruin the experience for me. If you’ve DM’ed me at all this year, more often than not, I haven’t answered. That’s because while I see your supportive notes and cute questions coming in - there are also a handful of sexual advances, overly aggressive messages, or just plain rude comments about how disgustingly skinny, ugly, boring, basic, stupid, mean or fat I am (true story, bro). I’ve never really understood it, but I’ve always felt that because influencers choose to put their life online, their audience detaches them from being a real, living person that makes mistakes, has insecurities, goes to Target on the weekends. And because of this, their audience also thinks they have the right to say whatever it is they want to these “online famous people” even if they would never say anything of the sort in real life. Their audience also seems to think that because someone is sharing pieces of their life online, that they know everything about the person. I'm not going to lie - it can be very frightening and also very upsetting to deal with hate and having people make assumptions about you because you're choosing to put pieces of your life in the public eye.
I'm sure there are a bunch of other things that other influencers see as a downside to this career, but these points are the several that I personally struggle with. This wasn't meant to be a rant, but more of a demonstration that the #bloggerlife is not as glamorous as everyone may think.