Want to hear about the 10 things I’ve learned as an influencer (in 10 years)? Great! Bear with me. I’m reminded of the saying “no flower blooms year round, so there’s no need to expect yourself to.” Much like the flowers and vegetables I’ve been carefully planting in the yard, I needed some time to go dormant and wait for the sun to germinate me.
I’ve been blogging for 10 years now, and that’s no small feat in an ever changing landscape. I’ve seen the advent of the “influencer,” the emergence of the creator economy, the rise and fall of some social networks, the predicted demise of social influencers (ain’t happened yet!), and the all powerful emergence of short form video. I have been steadily plodding along the entire time, making mistakes, learning, thriving, and sharing my own privileged corner of the world.
want to see one of my first blog posts? it’s a fall wreath diy
I thought I’d share some of the lessons and experiences that have shaped my journey as PMQ for two so far. This post isn’t strictly about home or lifestyle content, but it’s another peak behind the curtain, before I dive back in and start sharing the spaces I’ve revealed, and projects I’ve created over on Instagram since January.
10 things I’ve learned as an influencer
- Know your worth, because literally no one else will value you
- Creating content consistently is hard
- Work smart, not hard
- Creating sustainably is just good business
- You own none of your social media following
- Email isn’t for everyone, but is always worth it
- It’s ok to take a break
- Life happens
- It’s not personal, it’s business
- Someone will always work harder than you, and that’s ok
Know your worth, because literally no one else will value you
When I meet a baby creator who doesn’t think they can charge for their work- or they’re worried about being turned down- I tell them that if they don’t start valuing themselves they’re in trouble.
YES, there will always be a “building phase” where you are working hard around the clock to build your portfolio, your business, and your following. But that period has to end at some point, and you can’t move onto the next phase of development unless you start valuing what you offer.
I mean that in a literal and a figurative sense.
- Put a dollar figure on the work you create/the exposure you provide/ the connections you facilitate, and then increase that figure consistently.
- It’s hard to do that first part if you don’t believe what you’re doing deserves it. So weather you need a hype team, or find validation in the numbers, do what you have to do and fake it till you make it with your ego and self worth. Your future self will thank you.
Creating content consistently is hard
I see it every day. Young creators who burst through the gate with everything to prove, and who believe they will outshine everyone else who has been working this field for a decade. A select few WILL (and I’m cheering them on), but the rest will burn out once they realize that 5 posts a week and all the corresponding social media promotion leaves no room for a life.
If you aren’t already, plan your content, create consistently and at a pace that you can manage. I love the idea of 1 post a week, and then adding another one in when you can.
Work smart, not hard
Unfortunately the days of re-sharing a photo on social media are way behind us. And those of us who have a decade of photos but no videos for our content, are up the creek without a paddle. Right now, creating video is the only option for promoting content. So either you suffer through my photos-to-video reels, or you wait until I have new time to shoot video, and accept that it will be less perfect.
That being said, I’m using those video clips to make a reel, a tik tok, an idea pin, a short, and stories, and then I’ll mix and match everything a few times and re-share.
Creating sustainably is just good business
In the rush to create constantly and keep up with creators who have seemingly unending budgets, and time, and help, and fresh flowers, you may start to notice your standards for content slipping.
Mine did. I started creating for the sake of having something new.
And then one day I hated it all. I hated the flimsy projects that didn’t last because I cheaped-out on materials, or skipped a step to make a deadline. I hated that I bought and then wasted money and resources.
For the record, I have always specified the correct materials and proper steps, but for editorial concerns I may have taken shortcuts to get the final picture
These days, I don’t do a project unless I have an actual or prolonged use for it. I love collections, but I hate clutter, and this means I need to be discerning when I pitch a project.
I look at these criteria when pitching a project:
– do I need it?
– do I want it?
– do I want it enough to still use it next year, or re-sell it when I’m done?
i.e will it be in good enough shape to place it in the re-commerced economy, or donate?
I also love utilizing projects long-term, and being able to include pieces in other projects as decor or styling components. It’s great for backlinking and a nice way to build a living portfolio for your work.
You own none of your social media following
I learned this one a long time ago, but it still holds true. Platforms come and go, and along with them, the time and energy you spent growing the audience. It’s sad and always feels unjust, but that’s how it goes. It’s why I will always have 100% more staying power than someone who only has an instagram or tik tok account.
I have 10 years of SEO, 10 years of backlinks, 10 years of collaborations and presence online to fall back on. While others may have an enormous springboard to move onto “the next one” with, I’ve still got all of this.
Email isn’t for everyone, but is always worth it
This connects strongly with my previous point. You own your website and your email list, so keep in touch with your readers there. They show-up, they click on links and read posts.
In my current day job I have built a well oiled email marketing machine that is generating untold sums for the industry. I’m not humble about it because I have worked really hard and am smashing benchmarks. All I need is the exact same amount of time to do that here on my own channels !
It’s ok to take a break
Like I said, I’ve been at it for a decade. I haven’t taken any substantial breaks, not even after I gave birth. My body and my mind had been screaming for a break for about 3 years, and I finally took it.
This past winter felt like there was a seismic change in the industry, and I took a beat to rest and see where thigs have landed. I don’t like where they landed (ahem, video everywhere) but I decided I want to continue to be here, so here I am! I continue to show up, and learn and try to adapt to the times.
I do want to note that I’m doing this with all the dexterity of someone who works two jobs, lives with no family support around her for childcare, and is fundamentally tired by two years of isolation and parenting in a vacuum. But hey, I’m here!
Life happens, and what pace I can keep is determined by my own life and priorities. So is each individual creator’s, and that means that comparing yourself is a futile activity. You’ve got your own life, and so do they.
It’s not personal, it’s business (or is it?)
I run PMQ for two as a business, and have for the past 6 years. This means I make choices for content, brand alignments, and ultimately business relationships accordingly.
I used to get SO swept up in the personal side of it (hello, ADHD) but I chose to put my energy elsewhere now. Instead I use all my business acumen to optimize results, and grow my brand. The personal relationships are what make blogging fun, and have kept me here this long. But once I divorced the personal from the business I was able to enjoy both a lot more.
Someone will always work harder than you, and that’s ok
This last point really sums it all up, and ties it together with a perfect silk bow. You can play the game perfectly, have the best business/life balance, be creating sustainably and growing your email audience, but at the end of the day there will always be someone who is more successful.
You have to let that be, and move on. Your best is your best, and even when it’s not your best, that’s ok too.
On this note, I’ll hit publish on this blog post, write an email to my newsletter list, and share this post everywhere. I will then close this computer and go outside in the garden.
Watch this space!
Michelle James says
Ariel, thank you so much for writing this. I’m at about 9 years and relate to just about everything you wrote. The burnout, keeping up, finding balance, it is not easy. Thank you for making me realize it’s ok to feel all that & keep going! I look forward to seeing your new home projects! 😀