The Reality of Being an Influencer

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Hello and welcome to my blog post! My name is Oli O’Toole and I wanted to tell you the truth about being an influencer, the good, the bad and everything in between… But first a little about me.

I am 21 years old; I live in a little village in Manchester called Cheshire and I LOVE creating content. In lockdown I started creating random videos on Tiktok with no intention of it turning into anything. However, about a month later and I had gained around 10 thousand followers and so many of them were asking for a Youtube channel, and I had grown up watching Youtubers and always thought it looked like a lot of fun, so I gave it a go.  Fast forward to now and I have around 80 thousand followers on my main three platforms (Tiktok, Instagram and Youtube), I’m constantly working with brands and even ended up on the front page of every main news outlet in the UK and even some in New Zealand,

Just 1 of the many headlines from The Sun paper

but we’ll get to that. For now, Id like to focus on the positives.

Being an influencer DEFINATLEY comes with a lot of perks, and this isn’t to brag or show off but to give you an honest look into what it’s like. One of the best perks I think everyone would agree with is being sent products for free! I’ve been sent things from food, clothes, shoes, skin care products, water bottles, tickets to events and so much more, and I honestly don’t have to do anything. If I love the product then I always share it onto my story or feature the freebie in a video (and you do have to declare if its gifted so you will always know) to help promote the brand but if it isn’t a paid ad, then it’s completely my choice, on top of that, the freebies only get bigger as you do; If you’re mainstream huge, you get gifted things like holidays and cars! Another perk which is classed as ‘work’ is paid ads, now these I do have to do something with. Usually when a brand approaches you wanting to work with you, they will send you a brief of what they want from you which will explain what the product is, how they want it shown, what platform they want it on and what they want (which can be, a story, a grid post or feature in a video etc). Once you have read the brief if you don’t want to promote the brand/product then you can just say no, however if you do want to work with the brand you say yes and agree a price and then create the content. Usually, you must send the content back to the brand and they will okay it or come back with feedback and then you must make those amendments. If I’m being honest, a lot of people think that paid ads are super easy and easy money, which they are, but they do take time but its not like a 9-5 office job which is mentally straining or a labouring job which is physically tiring but honestly its emotionally draining. (https://www.instagram.com/oli.otoole/?hl=en check out the Instagram if you want to see said ads). But let’s focus on the positives for now. A huge positive is if you become a mainstream influencer, you basically become your own boss and you can work from anywhere around the world because all you really need is your phone and yourself. But honestly, my favourite part of all, which sounds cheesy but it’s the messages you receive from people who tell you you’ve made their day or because of you, the thing that was bothering them, now isn’t. That’s the best perk of all for me, its making people feel better in themselves.

But with everything in life, there’s another side and being an influencer is no different. I don’t want to sit here and write a load of ‘poor me, life’s so hard’ non-sense because honestly, I do love what I do but there are bits which can get you down. So, the reality of content creation is a lot more work than people think, I have to plan my videos a month in advance because I post 2 videos a week on YouTube and that’s A LOT of content as well as Tiktok and Instagram content. One thing people don’t see is how long it actually takes to come up with video ideas that are original and enjoyable because at this point, everything has been done somewhere online. Once you’ve finalised and drafted the plan of each video, its time to film and edit which I think people would honestly be surprised at how long that takes to finish 1 video. Everyone says it’s an easy job and effortless but when you feel rubbish inside or you’ve got something going on, you have to pretend you’re fine and be on top form otherwise the content won’t be at its best. But the emotional impact doesn’t stop there because part of what people love about influencers is a real person, that’s the ups and the downs so to maintain a loyal viewer relationship, you have to let people into your life and let them know everything like your relationships, family and strangely, most people want to know your exact bank account too! People begin to think they almost own you and entitled to say whatever they like about you, which in a way is fine because I put myself out there so people are going to have an opinion, but it gets to a point where some people forget that you’re actually a human as well and have feelings. But thankfully, I’ve never been someone to listen to someone saying nonsense about me if they don’t personally know me. One thing however which was hard to ignore was when the Daily Mail made up a story about me and every single news paper took it up and it was front page everywhere, that’s the thing I dis-like the most because when the mainstream media make something up, you don’t really get a chance to say your side because the whole nation sees the papers but the whole nation doesn’t follow my social media so its difficult but, like anything you just learn to ignore it. On the whole other side of that, there’s the most toxic thing of all, cancel culture… Cancel culture is honestly just vile, thankfully I have never been cancelled, but if you do get ‘cancelled’ by a modern-day mob group sat behind their keyboard, then it can honestly destroy everything you’ve worked for and its very hard to come back from it. That’s what is very hard about being an influencer, if it doesn’t work out one day, what then? But let’s hope we never have to answer that question.

So, that’s the good and bad really, the ups and downs and the things that people don’t realise. However even after hearing the negatives I bet there’s still some of you sat reading who want to be an influencer. Which I can’t blame you because me too, so I thought I would quickly share some tips that I have learnt along the way…

  1. Learn to not care what people think of you, because trust me, everyone will think they know you and have something to say.
  2. You don’t need to respond to everything and everyone who does say something.
  3. Be real, don’t act a certain way because you think people will like it, be yourself and real because authenticity is obvious through the screen.
  4. Don’t do it just to be ‘famous’ or get freebies, there’s so much work that goes into it and if you don’t honestly love creating content, it won’t work.
  5. Finally, just have fun.

In conclusion, being an influencer, is it worth it? Absolutely – I love creating content, I love interacting with viewers and hearing how my content has made them feel happier or got them through a hard patch and that is what matters for me. There are very hard moments and things you have to over come like being judged on a large scale and people thinking they know you more than you know yourself, but the highs like bringing happiness to people or being sent your favourite hoodie from a brand, that outweighs any rubbish someone has to say about me in my opinion.

  My question for you after hearing all of that is, could you handle being an influencer?

PS: if you do get interested and Google my name, read the nice articles…