It’s seemingly easy to be an influencer. You look at some of those who get paid as an influencer and think “hell yeah, I could do that”, but all is not what it seems. The apparent success was just that, apparent. But why is this and can it be avoided?
Summary: 4 Minutes read, Level: Beginner
Think about your dream job. Everyone will come up with the same thing here, although they might have different ways of wanting to go about it. No matter what you dream of doing, it always boils down to wanting to get paid for doing something you love doing. Some people are already doing this, so kudos to them, but for many the dream will forever remain just a dream. Influencers are a group of people who live the dream. They get paid to influence people. Who wouldn’t like that? Being popular enough so that people hang on your every word and listen to what you have to say would be great, but getting paid in addition? Pinch me, because I must be dreaming.
Social media opened the world up in ways we could never have dreamed possible and there are people getting paid to do all sorts of jobs that didn’t exist 30, 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. The internet is a powerful tool and brands and companies have tried to capitalise with it as best they can, often by using brand new methods that have never been tested before. At the same time there were a number of people, regular people like you or I, who were running social media accounts and watching their follower numbers grow far faster than a lot of their friends. Why was this? It was most likely because they’d tapped into that much sought after internet Nirvana of good , regular content that people actually wanted to read. Whether this was planned or just a happy accident is open to debate, but they were nevertheless doing it all the same. Bloggers with linked social media accounts were attracting a lot of readers and businesses became aware of this. They wanted a piece of the action or to take advantage of a situation that could work for them. The bloggers just wanted to get paid.
Take for instance a girl who blogged and posted about different makeup application techniques. It might not be something that interests you, but for the purposes of explaining influencers it works quite well. She has lots of regular readers to her blog and interacts with thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram every week, all of them relating to queries and comments about makeup. The girl is something of an armchair expert and Big Makeup have noticed this. Major companies and corporations have people trawling the internet almost 24/7 looking for these kind of opportunities. So Big Makeup see this girl knows a thing or two and, wow, 20,000 people or more are paying attention to her. Big Makeup contact her: “Hi, would you like to promote our products on your blog?” The girl can’t believe it. She’s going to get paid for doing what she loves. The payment might be free products, vouchers or even a small amount of cash, but she’s going to get paid one way or another. This is how it starts. Other companies recognise her as an influencer and want their products promoting too. Now the girl will get paid even more and if it all goes really well, someone might eventually step in and want exclusivity. That’s when the real payday comes.
If it all sounds too good to be true, it’s because it probably is. The girl has realised her dream and gets paid for doing what she loves, but does she get paid enough? At first certainly not, but after a while it could be enough to consider blogging and posting as an influencer a full time job and she can jack in that job at the coffee place she doesn’t like. This is the dangerous part and why so many influencers have failed.
Sure, there are some influencers who get paid a small fortune and can more than survive on the money they earn. Others though fall into a trap of running before they can walk or not realising the true value of what they are doing. Big Makeup will have acted like they were doing the girl a favour, but they aren’t worth millions on the stock market because they give handouts to people. They have effectively paid next to nothing for free advertising and the girl didn’t realise it. It’s sad, but true. Business is a competitive operation and so many people who became influencers don’t know how to play with the big boys, something the big boys are more than happy to turn to their advantage. The dream job can become a nightmare.
Companies aren’t exactly preying on vulnerable people, but they are certainly taking advantage. They know that while some people are undoubtedly experts within certain fields they are interested in, it’s unlikely they are marketing experts. The lack of knowledge of what advertising is worth, coupled with the murky and unknown waters of being an influencer, have resulted in a lot of people who don’t get paid what they are worth for the services provided. And there’s always the risk of the bubble bursting. Suddenly there’s an influencer within your niche who knows more than you do and the money dries up from the big companies – you aren’t getting paid at all anymore. For the makeup girl it might take a while to sink in and she’ll continue without the same income before realising that the safest way to get paid is to go back to the coffee shop job she hated. Read this guide to find out how to increase your social media influence.
Our advice to you if you want to be an influencer: learn your true value, work hard and get paid what you deserve to get paid for what you do!