Why I Quit Being an Influencer
As I’m writing the title of this post, I acknowledge how different SEO-centric writing is from writing as a contemplative practice. I can’t deny the appeal of being discovered through Google and yet strategizing my whole output around a targeted keyword feels limiting and opportunistic. The second I try to cram “pink flamingo” 5 times in a post inconspicuously, I’m not having fun anymore. Pink flamingo.
Allow me to indulge my romantic side for a second: my favorite part of the writing process is starting a piece and not knowing where it’ll take me. I started this new journal as an antithesis to the influencer content I was producing that steadily became more and more vacuous as the industry shifted. This is my happy place to explore, distill and record spontaneous thoughts.
Being an influencer stopped feeding me artistically or mentally because the type of content that was considered successful was superficial to the point of preventing me from building genuine relationships with my followers.
Only a decade ago, the prototype for influencer marketing was fashion blogging.
When fashion blogging started becoming a legitimate career, it felt like a revelation to get an insider glimpse at fashion week through the eyes of a someone relatable. Bloggers came on the scene with a fresh perspective and no advertising ties. The initial hype around style bloggers created a sense of authenticity in an industry where mainstream approval is often mistaken for quality and profundity.
The proliferation of fashion blogging as a career choice eventually gave way to being an influencer. It’s a slightly vague term, meaning you make a living through affecting other people’s (consumer) decisions. By occupation, influencers are mostly models, bloggers, musicians, and a whole category of people whose real job you can’t quite pinpoint by looking at their feed.
The premise of the influencer lifestyle is that you have a loyal audience that trusts your expertise enough to follow your life advice (often vague aspirational mantras) and buy into whatever you are making a commission off. When we see someone with many followers advertising a service, we feel validated by the numbers next to their name.
It becomes exploitative once the influencer takes advantage of their followers and flashes their own experience as universal advice. Just like you don’t know anyone else’s story, you can’t give valuable advice about their metabolism, personal growth, or style without having another frame of reference besides your own. It’s important to remember that just because you’re doing something on social media and there are a few eyeballs on you, that doesn’t make you an expert.
This frustration and the pressure and boredom of always creating a single type of posts, aspirational to my followers (beautiful location, cute outfit, living grand), left me feeling jaded and disappointed with an industry that I joined because I wanted to do something creative, connected and novel with my spare time.
When I decided to quit being an influencer, I rediscovered a passion for writing that didn’t aim to impress or promote. Hopefully, here we can have a more honest conversation. Not aiming to be more substantial or important, but juicier, more thoughtful, and interactive. It’s lovely to have you along for the ride. Feel free to say hi on my contact page!