So, you have been growing your brand as a professional on social media, and you managed to get a decent following. The job and client offers are coming in, that’s great! But some brands are starting to come up to you with brand deals.
You feel very much grateful and pleased that they think that you have influence. But, should you use that influence and be an influencer, or should you just stick to what you know? Being a professional in your industry?
Let’s find out.
Being an influencer or YouTuber is one of the most lucrative career paths of the 21st century. Kids used to want to be doctors and vets when they grow up, but now they want to be YouTubers and influencers.
All of us, growing our personal brands online sometimes wonder, whether we count as influencers or not, and whether we should be one or not.
Before we answer this question tho, we need to find out what the difference is and take a look at a few examples to understand everything better.
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What is an influencer?
If we look up the meaning of the word influencer in the dictionary, influencer means a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media or a person or thing that influences another.
Many people believe that anyone who has 10 followers on Instagram or Youtuber is and can be an influencer, but it’s not as simple as that. But about that a little bit later, first, let’s take a look at the history and the origins of influencers.
History of influence
While influencer is a pretty new official career path, the concept has been around for quite some time. Some people say that the first case of influencer marketing was in 1760 in England. When a potter Wedgwood made a tea set for Queen Charlotte, he was able to market his products as the royal family had a strong influence on people.
Another case of influencer marketing dates back to the early 20th century when companies started using fictional characters to sell their products like Coca-cola and Santa Claus. Yes, Santa is the OG influencer. Of course, we can’t forget Coco Chanel as she was considered one of the most influential women in fashion.
Later in the century, when celebrity culture flourished, brands turned to them to sell their products. Coca-cola, Pepsi, Nike, all those brands used all the hottest names at the time to sell to the masses. While now we don’t consider celebrities influencers and two are entirely different things business-wise, they were the original influencers also.
And of course, the rise of the internet culture, blogs, and youtube in the 2000s were where the modern influencer career was born. Anyone had the power to become an influencer by blogging or posting on Instagram. Some of the most notorious influencers were Chiara from The Blonde Salad, Aime Song from Song of Style, and many more.
Different types of influencers
While modern influencers started blogging or vlogging from their bedrooms, as a side hustle or a hobby, it’s not considered a hobby or a side hustle anymore. It’s part of growing your personal brand with online tools, and there are different ways to be an influencer.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of people who are considered to be influencers:
Claudia is a Youtuber and an actress. She started making Youtube videos almost 10 years ago, from her bedroom in her parents’ house in Chicago when she was still a teenager. She has been a very successful influencer, not only because she worked with many brands on sponsorships, but also had a clothing line collaboration. Also, she leveraged her influence and audience online to start building her career as an actress. Claudia is an excellent example of a successful influencer.
Claire is another Youtuber that built her personal brand as a makeup guru on social media. She was a makeup artist before becoming a full-time influencer, and she also had a long and successful career. Claire had many collaborations with brands on jewelry collections and is working with Hourglass a lot. She doesn’t have her own brand as of yet or any other ventures, except her influencer career.
Now, let’s take a look at people who are both professionals and influencers:
Jenna is a marketing professional who has a fantastic business, teaching other people how to build their businesses and market them. She is very well known as an entrepreneur as well as an influencer, and she works with brands like Aerie and other clean beauty brands. Jenna built her personal brand on being a wedding photographer and then a marketing teacher. Still, she doesn’t shy away from using her influence not only to profit her business but other brands as well.
Amy is an OG social media professional, speaker, and vlogging specialist. She built her career and personal brand as a marketing professional, yet she is taking advantage of her influence and is working with brands fairly often on her youtube channel. She’s also a great example of a professional entrepreneur who sells their influence not only for their own brand but other brands as well.
So, should you be an influencer/professional?
Now that we discussed all the details about influencers and took a look at a few different examples let’s finally talk about whether you should take the influencer route or not.
The short answer to that is yes, and no, it depends on your personal brand.
If you’re a freelancer or a professional in a particular industry, it might not look great to take up a role of an influencer, or opposite, it might be very tempting to supplement your income with some brand deals and get more exposure. But working with brands is a very complicated thing.
You have to know where you want to take your personal brand in the future. If you’re planning on turning from a professional charging by hour into a household name, where you don’t work with clients yourself, it might be a good idea to start working with brands. This way, you’ll get more exposure and income, and it will help you grow your brand towards that household name direction.
If, on the other hand, you’re not as concerned about blowing up and making your name into a brand, it might not be worth working with brands as it might confuse your clients and compromise your integrity in your industry. It’s very easy to become bias and lose people’s trust.
So, as you can see, there is no right and wrong answer.
Now, I know there will be people saying that if you’re growing your personal brand on social, it already means that you’re an influencer. I’ve mentioned previously at the beginning of the blog post that I don’t agree with the opinion that everyone that has 10 followers is an influencer. It’s not that simple.
Just because you have a following on social, it doesn’t mean that you’re an influencer. A great example of it is the story of an influencer who has over 2 million subscribers yet failed to sell 36 t-shirts of her clothing collection. She had 2 million followers, yet no influence.
And that’s the thing about influencers. It takes a lot of work and strategy to be a successful influencer, so only because you build your personal brand on social media, it doesn’t mean that people are influenced by you in that sense. Yes, they might trust your expert opinion, but it doesn’t mean they will want to buy what you offer.
FOXY TIPS if you decide to be an influencer:
Now, if you’ve decided to take the influencer route, I have a few FOXY TIPS for you how to do it right. I’ve been watching influencers for many years and analyzing how their audiences react to sponsorships and other parts of their jobs.
#1: Always be true to your brand, don’t be tempted with easy money
It’s always important to know what your personal brand stands for and what your aesthetic is. When you’re choosing brands to work with, don’t just go with easy money. Think if those brands and products are right for your brand. There has been many influencers who failed to do so, and their reputation is ruined. It’s tough to build the influence and trust, and it’s even harder to rebuild it.
#2: Be your authentic self
There are many influencers on the internet right now. Everyone can find someone for their taste, but if you look at those, the most successful ones, you can see that one thing they have in common is being real to themselves. That’s the secret to being successful and influential. Your personality builds a connection with your audience, and that ensures that you’re influential.
An influencer is the new lucrative career path. As a professional, you have to dig deep into your brand and really think whether it would be appropriate for you to take that path. There are many benefits, either way, so don’t punish yourself if you’re not feeling like going the influencer route in your personal brand journey.