Let’s be honest, the term ‘influencer’ is a bit cringey. I’d go so far as to say it’s a wanky term. I have enough trouble saying that I am a blogger. Preferring to dance around the ‘what do you do for a living’ question using words like ‘website’ and ‘writing’. I am small fry in comparison to the big influencers out there, and don’t really think I am one. But I do feel the need to defend influencers.
Because let’s face it, influencers, and bloggers too have been at the brunt of some pretty harsh and negative online commentary. And the vast majority of it is born from either ignorance or jealousy.
In defence of influencers…
“It’s Not a real job”
By the very dictionary definition earning money by doing something is a job. Ergo.
When I was 16 I used to go to my Mum’s friends house watch a movie she rented me, use the money she left me to order a pizza, eat the ice cream she had bought for me, and have a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Earning money in the process because I was looking after her children who were sleeping beautifully upstairs. It hardly felt like a job, but it was.
We live in a world where Mattress Jumper, Baby Name Consultant, and Professional Apologiser are all real jobs. Why is it so hard to conceive the idea of people making money online. I mean, hello, Mark Zuckerberg.
The gender pay gap exists because employees have not been prepared to offer flexible working. I know many women who have completely changed careers since having kids, simply because their old career and children were not compatible in offering a balance.
Therefore it’s no surprise that smart and talented women are starting up their own business and making money through online content. And that for me is full on girl power. That is something to be celebrated.
“You just get loads of free stuff”
More and more kids are growing up wanting to be You Tubers because, News Flash: IT IS A REAL JOB.
But the perception that a lot of people have, is that being an influencer, a You Tuber, or a blogger is an easy job where you just get loads of free stuff.
I take personal offence to this one because I work really hard running my blog and with my freelance work. There is no sick pay or holiday pay. I work long hours and there is no Christmas party! But I am proud of my little business. I’m proud of the hard work I have put in to make it a success.
There’s a lot of things that need to happen before you work with brands. You need to build up followers. It’s a numbers game. You need to write good content that gets engagement from your followers. And you need to keep writing good content to keep those followers.
Brands want to work with the people that have done all this leg work, and have an audience they want to reach. But people have to be authentic and likeable, because followers are not going to stick around when you are just pushing out paid content all the time.
And as for getting given stuff for free. It’s not free. It’s an exchange. A product in exchange for a thorough product testing, product research, product photography, product write up on a website that has built trust and domain authority, and promotion of that product.
It’s a lot of work. Ok, it’s not brain surgery. But it’s no different to a journalist recommending products in a magazine. Actually it is different, you have to pay for that magazine where as influencers are giving you the content for free.
“If you live your life online you should expect abuse”
I call bullshit on this one.
Being a small fish in a very big pond means I have not had to deal with online abuse. Things once got a bit heated in a post I had published about not doing Elf on the Shelf (people feel really strongly about that elf). One commenter said that they “felt sorry for my children because they had no joy in their life”. I don’t think the entire happiness of their childhood is hinged on an elf!
However a lot of other bloggers and influencers, including those I aspire to and those that are my friends, have been on the receiving end of abuse. Entire hate threads created in their honour.
I am all for celebrating people’s differences, and that includes opinion. Healthy debate is always welcome. But saying that someone doesn’t deserve to have their children, or that they should have their children taken away, is not healthy debate. It’s a personal attack. Telling personal stories about someone whether true or not, is not ok, because it’s not your story to tell.
Going online to simply talk about how much you don’t like someone is just a really cruel and nasty thing to do. I can’t comprehend any situation where this is an ok thing to do.
We try and teach our children about being kind and about bullying. Yet online bullying is rife in the influencer world and just like in the playground it is never justified.
And the answer is so simple. If you don’t like someone, don’t follow them.
Supporting each other….
Now I’ve had that rant I feel bad, because my followers are lovely, and have helped and supported me so much in building my business.
Just do me a favour and keep supporting small businesses. Liking someones post on their facebook business page or commenting on their instagram feed, costs you nothing, yet will mean so much to them.
Whether that someone is writing a blog, selling you their wares, or recommending a product that they love as an influencer. The person behind that business is someone working really hard to make their dreams come true.
Whether that dream is a trip to Disney, a house in the country, paying for a cleaner, or just paying the bills.
Isn’t that what we all try to do? Make our dreams come true.
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