What does it take to be an influencer? Is it as "easy” as it looks?

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An insider’s perspective

by Yara Hendriks

By Yara Hendriks, Influencer Manager

In the last 10 years, we’ve seen what we define as an Influencer change entirely. Influencers began as regular people that shared their ideas about outfits on blogs, getting large amounts of traffic to their individual sites. Suddenly in 2010, Instagram changed the way they could reach their audience. It has now turned into a place where influencers are scouted by big brands to represent them and subsequently has turned the industry into a very serious business.

From the outside it appears to be the dream, where influencers travel all around the world, shooting the most amazing content, collaborating with the coolest brands and getting paid good money to do it. Of course it can be ‘the dream’, but the level of work and effort behind it is not often spoken about. It’s time to reveal just how much work it actually is.

To clarify: influencers are social media personalities with a large number of followers. Their followers are very engaged with their content, which can have a more positive impact than celebrities in reaching the right audiences for brands. Influencers are role models to their followers and therefore have a huge impact on them in regards to selling products/conversion.
In fact, 70% of Millennials claim to be more influenced by influencers than celebrities, showing the huge impact they have on their audience.

With this rise of the influencer, there is now a growing trend from teenagers and Millennials to want to become one. It now seems to be a viable career option and life choice for many young people. The big influencers out there like; Chiara Ferragni, Negin Mirsalehi, Songofstyle began over 10 years ago, working full time on their personal brand. This is now paying off. However, what is becoming clear is that it is much more than a full time job to create your own personal brand online, and takes significant time until you start making significant money.

What’s good to remember is that it's a competition. You have to be outstanding in the influencer sphere nowadays, ordinary is no longer good enough. You have to be online all the time, posting the ins and outs of your regular life in a way that is interesting and engaging. You have to be always “on”, thinking about new concepts and always on the look-out for the greatest spots to create content. For most of the larger influencers, they often have a full team behind them to brainstorm around the concept, create/produce the content and often a personal photographer to shoot them. The level of anxiety that can be created with becoming obsessed with likes and follower growth has led to some reports on influencers having burnouts. A very heavy price to pay for an engagement.

But how do you become an influencer?

Firstly you need to start to think of yourself as a brand which reflects you and your personal values, but which will also be accessible to your audience. Make sure that you’re working to your own brand guidelines daily.

Another important thing is networking. It’s a way to broaden your reach for new audiences. Often, influencers are invited to events alone and are encouraged to talk to each other. Nowadays, you can see a close community between influencers due to meeting at shoots or brand events. It is also a way to gain new followers/access a new audience if another influencer chooses to post about you or tag you in their post.

Claartje Rose for example, while she was studying in Fashion, decided that she wanted to start sharing her style daily on Instagram to inspire others. She always knew that she wanted to work for herself and it seemed to be the natural route when more and more people started to follow and like her posts, resulting in brands scouting her as well. Claartje really has her own style and ensures that she posts regularly to keep her audience engaged.

What Claartje has done and is important is to stay true to yourself and only collaborate with brands if it really suits your profile and feed. It is important to protect the integrity of your feed and reputation towards your followers. If you wouldn’t normally wear or use the product or service, then don’t put your name against it.

Claartje collaborated with a large variety of brands that can also amplify your account, remember that getting featured is definitely a plus when starting out. As an Influencer you pitch your ideas to brands you want to work with, you can create a collaborative collection together with a brand or start modeling for them. It pays to get connected. Start tagging brands in your posts (even if you bought the item in the first place) and try to get reposted by a larger brand’s account.

It is also really interesting to see that influencers have started moving more into media. Kaj Gorgels for example started on YouTube and is now presenting “Expeditie Robinson”, a popular Dutch TV programme. Same for Anna Nooshin, who now presents ‘Holland’s Next Top Model’. Monica Geuze will also present ‘Love Island NL’. This will both gain them new followers and introduce the programmes to their already existing large following. It is advantageous for both sides.

But, what is really important to the influencer’s following, is that the influencer keeps it real and their content remains authentic. Followers are going to react negatively, complain or unfollow when an influencer does something out of character. Hence when a brand works with an influencer, they need to be aware that it always works best to let the influencer interpret the brief in a way that they see fit for their audience.

Conclusion: Don’t be quick to judge, influencers work hard for their audience. They always have to be online and create engaging, relevant content for their followers, and are the ultimate in networkers and multitaskers.