Thinking about quitting your job to become an influencer? Here’s our reality check.

One in five British children aspire to be a social media influencer when they grow up, according to a recent poll*. So what is it about being an online creative who sets their own hours, earns a living from ‘chatting on social media’ and gets sent loads of free stuff that appeals to our impressionable youths of today? Tough call…

Humour aside, turning ‘social media’ into a viable career whether you’re a Gen Z, Millennial or ‘Parent Blogger’ is not an overnight ‘easy win’. It takes commitment (both time and money), as well as connections and some digital skills. Here is our quick-fire checklist of five questions to ask yourself, or your teens if they’re considering a career, as an online influencer.

1. Do you have a financial safety net?

Whilst it may look like influencers live off free clothes, travel and meals out, that doesn’t pay the bills. Are you able to financially support yourself in-between actual paid work? Talking of which, until you have a ‘macro’ following (considered over 10k), paid posts can command as little as £50 a pop. It can take years to organically grow your following into five figures where the big fees lie. Are you able to supplement your income until that point? Also remember that not all your feed’s content will be paid for by brands – it’s often as little as 20-30% - how will you fill the rest of the squares? If you are going to ‘live an influencer lifestyle’, it takes some capital to eat in the ‘Instagram hotspots’, keep up with the latest fashion hauls, or travel to beautiful locations. Audiences want ever changing, exciting content on their feeds, can you afford to deliver that?

2. Do you have the resilience?

So you’ve hit the ‘big time’ but that bigger audience is not all going to be friends from uni or work colleagues giving you the thumbs up emoji. Are you prepared to be trolled for your appearance or opinion? Are you happy to put your personal life ‘out there’ for people to judge? Not only will you have to have a thick enough skin to put up with nasty comments, you will also have to have the resilience of character not to fall down the rabbit hole of ‘comparisonitis’. The world of influencers is a crowded one and there are guaranteed to be moments when you get knocked back for a job or not invited to a press event and end up comparing what you are doing with others, then doubting your abilities. Do you have the resilience to pick yourself up? Working for yourself, in any industry can be a lonely office for one. Make sure you are tough enough to give yourself a pep talk when you need one.

3. Do you have the skills?

The idea of an influencer (a good one at least), is to make content look easy, breezy and genuine. In truth, behind the scenes you are required to be a photographer, videographer, editor, writer and content strategist, not to mention accountant and PR agent. Until you’re ‘big enough’ to outsource these roles, are your skills up to scratch enough to ‘fake it till you make it’?

4. What will you do next?

Always think beyond the next #sponsoredpost. If Instagram closed tomorrow (imagine), what would you do next? How could you convert your skills into another field? Perhaps consider developing your interests in videographer or content writing for brands. This would allow you to build a robust career outside social media platforms.

5. What do you want to get out of it, besides money?

Finally, if you are going to build up a substantial audience as an influencer, what do you want to say to them? What could you gain out of your influencer role, besides money? Could you go on to become an ambassador for a charity or work on a campaign that throws light on an issue you are passionate about? If you can find a purpose to your voice, then ignore numbers 1-4 and go for it.

* global affiliate network

Like this? You’ll also like these:

What’s the worst thing you can do on Instagram?
Who to follow on Instagram
Five social video trends you mustn’t ignore

Lydia Mansi

May 2019