If you’d have told me five years ago that I wouldn’t want to be a full-time influencer I’d have told you that you’re mad and of course I would still want to one day be a full-time influencer!
I’d put my influencer lifestyle on a pedestal and in the words of Miranda Priestly…
‘Everybody wants to be us?’
I’m writing this on a train back to London on a Sunday evening – my regular Sunday commute and probably one of my most productive times outside of my working day. Back in August 2018, I was offered a job that required a lot of thought on whether to accept or not. It meant uprooting my life and making tough choices about my careers including giving up elements of the ‘influencer’ career I had begun to carve out for myself.
Sidenote: I HATE the word influencer but for the purpose of this blog post, it’s just much easier to use rather than YouTuber/Blogger/Content Creator etc.
Why I don’t want to be a full-time Influencer.
To give some back story, I started blogging back in 2012 when nobody was doing it full time. I remember finding this whole online world of young women who held up their favourite products and told us all about them – both this written form and via YouTube. I remember finding The Anna Edit (formally ViviannaDoesMakeup) and FleurDeForce and being completely fascinated. I also remember feeling like that was something I could do and would find pleasure in. I was looking for an outlet for my creativity as my job at the time offered zero (I was a recruitment consultant – an experience!). In 2013 I received my first PR parcel and remember feeling a mixture of excitement and being grateful. Still, nobody was doing this as a job (that I knew of) but the increase of PR parcels was noticeable. By 2014, people I followed were actively doing blogging/vlogging as their main source of income and this was the first time I’d ever thought ‘what if I could do this too’. I continued blogging as a hobby up until 2017 where I was offered a new role and given the opportunity to go to a four day week. I decided that I was at the point with my blog and YouTube where I could supplement my main income with YouTube money and could work on something that I was really passionate about. Maybe, I thought, just maybe – I could work hard enough to take my blog full time.
I use to have Mondays for my own work and I remember getting ready for the first one ‘working for myself’. I moved my desk from the bedroom to the living room as I was concious of not spending all day in my bedroom. The night before, I laid clothes out as I didn’t want to spend all day in my pyjamas and wanted to treat it like any other working day. I sat down for my first day and got to work, editing, writing blog posts and doing some business admin aka updating my tax returns. At lunchtime I remember looking up and thinking ‘ I wish I had somebody to talk to’ – and that right there is the crux of the issue.
Maintaining my energy
I’m the type of extrovert who really feeds off other people – not a la Bet Midler, Hocus Pocus style – but in the way that a lot of my energy and motivation come from my interaction with others. Having the odd bit of human contact allows me to focus for my next task as much as a can of Coke can (if I drink the right amount not only does it feel like my brain is vibrating in my skull but I can fire off social copy like there’s no tomorrow). As it was only one day a week, I muddled through but use to find any excuse to pick up the phone as talk to somebody at lunchtime.
Back in early 2018 I was put at risk of redundancy and was in a position where I needed to make the decision on what I wanted to do – did I want to wait out my current position, see if I would actually be made redundant and in the meantime try and push my blog/YouTube to the point where I could (with the help of redundancy money) take it full time? I looked at all my options and realistically it was possible.
I was all ready to commit but there was something holding me back. It wasn’t the fear of failing or the fear of not being able to sustain it – but the reality of what working from home would mean. I know for some people, working from home is THE DREAM and don’t get me wrong, in another stage of my life, it might be perfect (I’m thinking if I ever have kids for example and how much working from home would save you on childcare). I watched so many YouTubers and just realised how lonely I would probably be.
I realised that my mental health probably couldn’t take it. I know of so many people who work from home and manage it well – they take themselves out to coffee shops and co-working spaces but that’s just not me (mainly cause I don’t want to spend the money there – I’d need to do it every day and I’d be SO poor!) I need clear working parameters – a space for work and a space for pleasure
It was the day after that I decided to leave my current company regardless of the outcome of my redundancy that I came across a job on LinkedIn that I thought would be the dream role. I’d get to talk about my favourite topic all day, work on social media AND get paid a salary for it. So I applied, and the rest they say is history…
Food for thought
Now I cringe at my own arrogance that I thought everybody wanted to be an influencer and that people would look at my life with a level of jealousy I couldn’t fathom.
I realise now that I was sucked into the whole influencing game… Hook, line and sinker! And it is a DARK place at times!
Because being a full-time influencer can be hard on you mentally. Yes, you choose to put yourself out there and there is a fair expectation that influencers should realise there is an element of rough to take with the smooth. Those press trips are incredible opportunities but you also have to deal with the comments on everything from your looks to your relationships – both of which don’t fall into the rough category by the way – they shouldn’t be on the table – period! But topics such as the quality of your work is, in my opinion, fair game from the people who continue to support your work and allow you to earn that dollar – a bit like your boss giving critique when the work at your 9 to 5 isn’t good enough!
The reason I can tell my current role is the right one for me, is because it’s allowing me the creative freedom to just be myself and take stock of all the things going on around me. In my current world, even though work comes with pressures, I’m putting no pressure on myself and for the first time in a long time, I can breathe but more importantly, I can think clearly.
I use to think people would be jealous of ‘all the free stuff I got’ but I’ve come to learn that they’re not very jealous at all. Some people would rather live their current life and just buy that stuff with their own money. It was eye-opening! I could also delve off here into another topic of how not all haters are jealous but I’ll leave that one for another time. The fact of the matter is, is that you couldn’t pay some people to be an ‘Influencer’. They have zero interest in that lifestyle.
I see friends of mine who I’ve known through blogging for years build solid careers outside of their blogs and they are HAPPY. They’re focusing on themselves and living their dreams in their own way and KILLING it as they go. I also see full-time influencers who I admire and watch on the regular, SLAYING the game. I admire them from afar but for now, I’m happy to be doing other things myself.
So I just wanted to say that if you’re a hobby blogger/YouTuber/Content Creator – sigh, ok – ‘Influencer’ I just wanted to say that it’s OK to not want to do it full time. It’s ok to stand in a room of your full-time influencer peers and admit you’re happy with your current lot and know that the reasons they love their career would be your idea of work hell. If anybody thinks you’re just saying it because you ‘failed to make it’, let them. Whatever helps them sleep at night. The point is, ‘you do you honey boo’ – you have to find out what makes you happy. I still love creating content as my hobby but the difference between Charlotte now and Charlotte 2,3,4 years ago is that I’m totally satisfied with this end goal now. You can bet your ass I’m still gonna give it those poses for the gram, but the pressure on myself is significantly less if the post doesn’t ‘perform’
Because if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Whether that’s a full-time influencer, painting and decorating, nursing, teaching or running social strategy for one of the biggest companies in the world and absolutely living your dream – not much of failure huh?