The Truth About Being An Influencer

There’s a handful of common questions I get asked on a daily basis from followers and people I meet in real life, but none more popular than these two:

How did you become a product tester?

and

How do you make money as an “Influencer?”

Both GREAT questions and ones I haven’t really known how to answer. I’ve been in your shoes!

How do bloggers make money? Are people just giving them free clothes and trips? I still wonder these things! But I’m hoping by sharing today that I can help demystify this whole “Influencer” thing for you, dispell some myths, and maybe inspire one of you to follow your passion and do something you love!

SHARING IS SECOND NATURE

Honestly? I have always been a sharer. Some would even say an over-sharer, haha. Like that one time I told 80,000 of you that I accidentally drank my husband’s pee. Oh man.

But truly, I love to share. I have been a steady journaler and have documented my family’s life in almost every form since I can remember. Long before #taramademedoit became a thing, I was blogging about my small family and sharing it with close friends and family.

We are total babies here!

I shared my pregnancies, our travels each summer as a Vivint family, and one of my favorite topics: saving money and couponing! Yes! I was (and still am) one of those crazy coupon ladies looking for the best deal on the stuff I love!

So you could say that becoming an “Influencer” was a natural evolution for me.

What Does Being An “Influencer” Even Mean?

I don’t know about you but I cringe a little bit every time I hear that term. But the truth is, we’re all influencers, right? We find stuff we love and we share.

How many times have you found a great deal on something and dragged your husband, mom, BFF, or anyone who will listen to get the deal with you? How many people do you know go to your hairdresser because you have talked about her so much and your hair is a walking billboard? And how many people have tried a new restaurant or activity because of you?

Remember this Lulu dupe clothes haul? What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t share something that is just as good but can save you a ton of money? Stuff like this seriously gets me pumped!

It’s because of your “influence” that those people who trust your opinion have taken your advice and taken action!

“Influencers” just do it on a much larger scale! It’s not a negative thing at all! I love hearing about things my friends use and love and I love when you share your fun finds with me too.

Why Companies Love “Influencers”

Companies spend millions of dollars to advertise their products, sometimes spending that much on 1 commercial (we’ve all heard those crazy Superbowl stories). Advertising is big business and companies pay to get their products in front of our eyeballs.

But with the rise of ad blockers and the ability to pay to filter out commercials and ads from our television shows and movies, we don’t see as many as we used to. This behavior is what has made influencer marketing one of the most effective forms of advertising!

When I turn my phone on and start filming, I feel like I’m talking to my friends! I seriously love interacting with each of you. Many times your DMs totally make my day and it’s the sharing aspect of social media that has me hooked!

I am a total people person – the more, the merrier.

And I’m not alone! Companies seek out individuals who are authentic, trustworthy and have loyal followings. Chances are if I love something, and you follow me, you’ll love it too!

And instead of dumping their marketing budgets on big agencies, companies pay influencers a % of sales that they generate. From a consumer standpoint, nothing changes. At the end of the day, influencers are a better investment for a company’s marketing dollars!

I didn’t become an influencer on purpose

Full disclosure – I never planned to be an “Influencer” and when people refer to me as one, it still feels weird. In fact, my account was private up until about 2 years ago. It wasn’t until we were in a meeting at Poppy & Dot one day that I even thought about going public. But once I did, I was hooked!

Going public with my account opened me up to so many incredible people and accounts. I was now a part of a community of sharers that could engage back and forth with me! It allowed my account to be discovered by like-minded individuals who share my passion for great deals, cute clothes, all things tech, family and golden doodles!

And I kept doing my thing, I continued to share. (I’m convinced my parents never gave me enough attention as a child 😂)

Like I said above, I get asked all the time “How did you become a product-tester?” The truth is, I’ve always been one (I just didn’t always get paid for it – haha!)  There’s almost nothing I love more than getting a new gadget in the mail to try and to see if it makes my life easier. I love a good #lifehack. Every time I find a product or company I love, I share.

The Real Truth

As I grew my platform, restarting my blog was the next logical step. And it has been so fun to have a permanent place to share what I love with all of you.

But I didn’t realize how much work it would be. I think one of the biggest myths about influencers is that they get free vacations, free clothing, stuff mailed to them all the time and all they have to do is take a pretty picture…

that’s not entirely true.

As Gary V says when people ask him how they become an influencer he says:

Asking “how do I become an influencer” is really no different from asking “how do I become a star?”

The really funny first answer is that you have to have talent.

The next funny answer is that you have to put in a ton of work.

While I agree with him, I think the latter is much more important than the former. When people say things like “being an influencer isn’t a real job” it just shows how little people really know about it!

In any given collaboration with a major brand, there are many things that are required:

  • creative direction and concept of a campaign
  • investment towards clothing, accessories, etc (yep, we don’t get it all for free)
  • $$$ to hire a photographer, website, graphics, and depending on how big of an influencer – this can include the employment of an entire team of people – full time!
  • time spent away from family
  • $$$ for videographer, editing, music
  • 3-4 edits back and forth with the brand which requires additional photos/people/time/money
  • lawyers to review contracts
  • we’re even required to pay taxes on “free” product

On top of this, I spend anywhere from 1-4 hours writing a blog post and spend triple that researching my topics. I care deeply about what I put out there in there in the world and this is standard for someone who is creating content daily that has value.

Don’t get me wrong – there are a ton of perks to doing what I do. But that isn’t the full story. As Social Media Today said, being a good influencer means constantly analyzing, adjusting, learning, re-configuring and more. Then you throw in creating content, working out when to post, what to post, if it makes sense and if it’s working. The workload is huge and no amount of free makeup makes it easy.

But again, the perks are good. Think of it as having an awesome bonus structure at your 9-5! I do get first-access to some incredible brands, gadgets, tech, and so much more.

I do get asked sometimes if it feels like selling-out. And I gotta say, for me, sharing what I love is such a labor of love. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t absolutely get joy out of sharing the things I love. And more so than that, having you guys love them in turn. It’s my job, along with every influencer out there, to maintain a level of integrity in what we share. I only share about stuff that I either personally use, or that I’ve had a period to try out (like any product I try or test) and decide I like before sharing. And ultimately, this is better for the brand as well. They want genuine people, saying genuine things about the product.

The day I start shilling liquor, you’ll know I’ve gone to the dark side haha!

everybody is an influencer

What? Everybody?

Yes! We’re just all at different levels. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 follower or 1 million followers – you have influence over those people who follow your account.

If this is something you’re seriously considering as a full-time job, part-time hustle, or you’re curious, stick around.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to go into the specific things that influencers do to grow their accounts, partner with brands they love, how to get noticed, how to get paid, the different between collaborations and affiliate payments, choosing what platforms you’re on, and a ton more.

But You’re Still The Boss

And remember, an influencer only has as much influence as you allow them. I love that this job has allowed me to partner with brands like Nordstrom, Nike, Sephora, Freshly Picked, and so many more that I truly believe in. And I take collaborations VERY seriously and only ever partner with brands I already know and love. If I’m not fully on board with the company, the people, the item… I will not promote it. If I can score you a discount for my favorite makeup? Even better. Collaborations with brands have allowed me to share more of what I love and to share experiences with you.

So stay tuned – next week I’m going to tell you about the 10 things you need to be doing now if you are thinking of becoming an influencer!

And thank you. I probably don’t say this enough but thank you for tuning in, laughing with me, not judging, and allowing me to share my life with you! Man, I seriously love you guys and wish I knew you all IRL.

When Braun asks who I’m watching on Instagram I often tell him my friend so-and-so, and it’s usually someone I’ve never met, haha!

I freaking love this social world of ours and I’m so grateful that you’re a part of mine!

Xx Tara

P.S. Did this help dispell some of the myths? Have more questions? Tell me below!

 

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. LOVE this! Can’t wait for this series of posts. I have a pretty consistent following, but it’s not the size that I’d like so I’m excited to learn. I appreciate your “over sharing”. Especially about great lube 😉

    1. Thank you for your support! I’m hoping that talking about influencers will help those that want to do it and demystify it for those that look down on it!

  2. You are amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve thought about it so much but am so nervous to hit the “go public” button!!! You are by far one of my favorite people to follow! Thank you for being so real!

    1. Just do it! Here’s the thing – you are the one who determines what you put out there. But I promise there are so many rewards waiting for putting yourself out there!

  3. I love that you are so open and honest in this post. I have looked and researched and it is so hard for people to say it straight forward like you just did. I travel a lot and people are always asking me travel questions so I figured why not write it down. It is hard for me to know if what I am doing is worth it? I enjoy writing about it so I am going to stick with it for a while and see what happens. Thanks again for being open and I am looking forward to your future posts!

    1. Your kind words mean so much! And I say, “go for it!” If you’re going to spend the time to put all of your knowledge down and share it, it’s worth trying to monetize!

  4. Thanks so much for this ! I constantly have moms tell me to at least start a local blog with mom hacks and fashion tips …if I do start , I want to do it right …so thank you thank you! How do you deal with so many spam accounts following on Instagram if you are a public account ?

    1. Honestly? I don’t ever even think about it. I always ask myself a series of questions like: What can I do about it? Why should it matter to me? Is it worth my energy? And that usually points me in the right direction. I can’t do anything about spam accounts. I don’t have any idea what they could possibly do to harm me. I can spend my energy on better things…like coming up with awesome content! Good luck with your new endeavor!

  5. Oh my gosh, I died when I read your comment about accidentally drinking your husband’s pee because I totally did that a few weeks ago but it was my sons. Gag! We were on a road trip and he had peed in a water bottle and it ended up on the floor by my feet. I had a mostly empty water bottle that I had been drinking out of and I thought I grabbed that but I didn’t…I about died.

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