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Being a full-time Influencer isn’t what you think. It isn’t all puppies and rainbows 24/7. (Maybe puppies if your dog has an Instagram.)
There are definitely some things that I wish someone warned me about before I got to where I am today so I knew how to deal with them.
I would like to preface this post that none of what I’m writing about comes from a place of ingratitude or complaining. My #1 goal is to learn from the experiences I’ve come across and guide you along the way so you know what to expect.
While I’m absolutely, 100% grateful for what I have the blessing of doing, there are still some not-so-fun aspects that come with the territory. Just like with anything. That’s what we’re talking about today: the aspects I wasn’t prepared for that I can now prepare you for.
People Will Copy and Steal From You
The first thing that comes to mind that isn’t widely talked about is that you will regularly deal with people copying you. Even larger creators and Influencers.
This one was a HUGE reality check for me. My growth happened very suddenly thanks to the success of Reels. So, to me, I went from a little ol’ nobody, to literally having my content stolen left and right.
In January of 2021, I had two larger creators (one over 100k followers and one over a million followers) steal my content.
One was someone who stole my entire rebranding. Down to my colors, graphics, Instagram quote posts, etc. The other was someone who took one of my pieces of long-form content and taught it word for word, as their own.
I also noticed being on ClubHouse, I would teach one of my methods in a room, then when the room was over, I’d hop to another room and BAM someone is teaching my methods and everything I just taught…as their own…with no credit…pretending to be the expert.
There’s a difference between stealing content and being inspired by content. These two examples fall into the former category.
How to Learn From Content Theft and Avoid Stealing From Others
This was hard for me to understand. On one side, my growth meant I was now looked up to as an “Industry leader”. On the other side, I wasn’t given proper credit for what I was uniquely providing to the space.
Initially, it felt like betrayal. This is such a funky thing to navigate that, unfortunately, happens A LOT. Especially on social media.
I understand that this is probably a learning curve for a lot of people. Everyone has to learn somewhere right?
The difference is, I openly talk about the courses I’ve taken, which I happily link to. I publicly thank my coaches because, without those resources, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I believe it’s important to give credit where it’s due.
On top of that, I take in everything that I learn on courses, YouTube videos and Instagram. Instead of copying and pasting someone else’s work, I sit on it, thoroughly test it for myself, and try to find a better or more efficient way to do something that is uniquely mine to teach to all of you.
That’s an example of inspiration.
Please do NOT copy other creators and their hard work. This includes re-posting their content to your feed without their permission, copying their captions or reels word for word, and not crediting ideas.
I could write an entire post on this topic. For now, check out my post on how you can copyright your work as an Influencer. Whether it’s a YouTube video, a picture you took, or a design you created on Canva, you can protect your work.
That’s a great step to avoid your content from being stolen.
Multiple Streams of Income are Key
Another truth about being a full-time Influencer? The ONLY way I was able to leave my 9-5, afford rent, pay my bills and live comfortably was by having multiple streams of income.
As someone who might be seen as an “Influencer”, I do not consider Instagram to be my business. I consider Instagram to be a huge asset and tool that generates leads for my business.
But I do not rely on Instagram to make me money. Neither should you.
A misconception some may have about full-time Influencers is that once they’ve reached “Influencer” status, brand collaborations become their sole income. All they need is to land brand deals every day. That’s just not how it works, at least in any sustainable way.
If you’re an avid YouTube user, you probably hear a lot of people say that. I remember hearing it in videos when I was in corporate daydreaming about quitting my job. Every time I’d think to myself, “How the heck am I supposed to get 5 streams of income when I can barely do one!?”
And honestly, the key here is to master one stream of income at a time.
Currently, my streams of income are:
- Brand Collaborations
- 1:1 Coaching
- Affiliate Marketing
- Digital and Physical Products
- My online course, The Modern Influencer
The only way I got these all set up in 1 year’s time was by focusing on them one at a time! I made sure I had a system in place before moving on to the next stream.
How to Start Opening Multiple Streams of Income
If you don’t have any streams of income right now with your business, I recommend two things:
- Read my ‘5 Ways to Monetize Instagram‘ post after you finish this one
- Start today. The first stream of income you can set up today is selling physical products.
Yes, you can set up an entire shop for free today and start selling your own merch using Spreadshop.
I have a video on my channel that shows you a step-by-step walkthrough of how you can set up your shop in 10 minutes.
If you’ve been thinking about creating and selling your own merch and starting to open up your streams of income, now is a perfect time.
You Need to Set Boundaries
This next topic that no one told me about might stir the pot a bit.
I know a lot of people have strong opinions about it. But I think it’s important for anyone who wants to be a full-time Influencer to TRULY KNOW what it will be like.
I will do my best to be unbiased first and share both perspectives so that you can create your own opinion on this. Then I will share with you how I apply this to my brand.
You need to set boundaries so that your personal brand doesn’t become too personal.
As you grow, you will notice that more and more people will start expecting you to use your platform to voice an opinion, take a stance, bring attention to certain situations, choose a side, etc.
Some people firmly believe that since Influencers have a platform, they should use that platform for good…or I should say what they perceive good to be.
On the other hand, there are people who believe you should completely avoid “hot” or controversial topics, events, etc. They feel it’s not right to use your platform to force your thoughts onto your followers and persuade them any certain way.
Personally, I am someone that see’s both sides of the coin here and feel that both views are valid.
That’s exactly why it’s so important for you to set those boundaries with yourself now before you grow. Before you, unfortunately and inevitably, have to feel that pressure.
Learning to Set Boundaries the Hard Way
This is honestly something that I wished someone warned me about before my Instagram or YouTube took off. I can still vividly remember the first time I felt pressure from this.
John and I were on vacation, driving an 8-hour road trip, without being on our phones all day. We got to our cabin late in the evening and when my phone finally connected to wifi, I opened up Instagram to a lot of heat.
Apparently, something had happened that day and Influencers were calling each other out for not speaking up about the situation.
I opened my phone to people saying how ignorant I was and how it’s disgusting to not use my platform.
In reality, I had no idea what was going on because we were on vacation! We hadn’t looked at our phones all day.
While on one side, I felt so blessed that my Instagram grew 50,000 followers in a very short amount of time thanks to a Reel that had blown up. On the other side, I had a lot of new followers who probably assumed I was always this “big influencer” and they expected great things or big actions from me.
To me, I was still me. But this social media version of Millie now got hate for not speaking about certain topics. Then when I did try to speak about some things, I got hate for that too.
How to Set Your Boundaries
That experience was a huge, unexpected reality check. If you haven’t experienced that yet, my advice to you is to know what you’re comfortable posting/talking about NOW.
You don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations.
Understand that everyone is going to have different boundaries to this and that’s okay.
It’s not up to us to decide how someone else chooses to run their personal brand because after all…it’s their brand. It’s their face. It’s their personal reputation and character.
That’s the case for you. How do you want to represent you?
Growing a personal brand is using your face. You can’t hide behind a brand name. As an Influencer, you absolutely have every right to choose what your brand represents.
Start Growing Your Brand, Your Way
I don’t “cuss” but there was a quote that I think I made up during that vacation that got me through it. (And it’s very Dr. Seuss if I may say so.)
“You’re damned if you don’t, you’re damned if you do.
If you’re going to be damned, be damned for being YOU.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this “controversial” topic of what it’s really like to be a full-time Influencer. What are some of your experiences, whether good or bad?
What have you learned along your journey of becoming a full-time Influencer? The thing I love about the Influencer community is we all learn from each other.
Follow your joy!