My family is annoyed with me, friends like me despite my compulsion to over share (as long as I am giving them a chance to indulge in the good life) and my acquaintances think I am a fake
It started quite innocently, I wanted to emulate an envious lifestyle and decided to start taking pictures that aligned with my idea of perfection. I then started harassing my friends, colleagues, family members, neighbours (basically everyone I knew and their friends) for likes, comments and shares. It was a lot of hard work before the numbers started to roll in.
I spent hours blogging, finding out the perfect hashtags, reading about the right way to reach people, working on my Instagram posts for days, sometimes it takes me three days and hundreds of pictures to come up with the perfect post. For a while it felt like I was just talking to a handful of people, but then my overzealousness started to pay and I started to get the numbers I wanted, I will also admit that for a time, I did hire an agency to help me grow organically. I also started to become less and less present in the moment. In my two years as a social media influencer, I have been without my phone, zero seconds a day. My whole life revolves around it. Even when you think I am talking to you, I am probably just mentally checking out the background or planning a shot. My family is annoyed with me, friends like me despite my compulsion to over share (as long as I am giving them a chance to indulge in the good life) and my acquaintances think I am a fake.
Yes, I do get a lot of free stuff and most of you think I do it for the free stuff and that is absolutely correct—a hot pair of earrings, the latest shoes, ridiculously expensive face creams, the best tickets to everything, I have it all. All I have to do is mention it on my Page and I can keep stuff for free. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It is, well kind of. But let me tell you, I am still poor. If you think the fancy shoes buy me dinner, they don’t. Once in a while I might get invited to an exciting restaurant for a review, but free things don’t pay your bills. You have to have a day job.
Thankfully we have reached a time where social media influencers are such an integral part of a marketing and PR strategy plan that money is no longer out of the question, but you have to be able to crunch numbers in order to demand a big price. Sometimes they pay us as little as Rs. 1 per word and Rs.500 per post. It’s humiliating. Real money takes time and I am focused on getting there. Clients often ask for google analytics before they decide to spend money on you and very few of us have the real numbers. Since we live in a day and age where everyone, from your dog to your next-door neighbour is an ‘influencer’, it is common sense to note that the bubble is soon going to burst. I am bracing myself for it. I find myself mentally prepping for that day, I feel that I must add more value to me and focus on building myself as a brand rather than pushing products all day. Something like the Kardashians & Jenners, who are the perfect examples of how personal branding can take you really far in life.
I know this might seem shallow, but I like the free things, I like feeling special, feeling like I am somebody. And if all of us are going to live most of our lives virtually, why not stand out and make it count. To all the people calling me fake, all of us are fake online, I am just a bit better at it and honest about my quest to get somewhere. This involves a plan and the first step is investment, so I spend exorbitant amounts of cash from my day job to buy things that I don’t really need, to emulate a lifestyle that I don’t really have. I have also started to cultivate hobbies beyond the cliché and overused wanderlust. After research, I have found out that people see value in those who create things, since writing, art and photography have also become overexposed mediums on the social media, I am choosing a niche segment, I am taking pottery classes. My next step is to integrate my lifestyle with my ‘hobby’ and make a brand out of it. Of-course, I will also spend some time writing thoughtful captions because I will want to come across as well rounded and perhaps get hefty brand endorsements out of it. The trick is to not look desperate and sell your person-hood. This new plan will be ready to roll out thoroughly by October. Although I have already started to integrate it into my page one step at a time as I don’t want to lose my old audience, I want to add new ones to it. This will help me in my plan of getting brand endorsements and collaborations that trickle down into the real world.
My psychologist may say that I add too much value to the superficial and that I should let go and keep a few moments to myself. But we live in a superficial world and my followers make me happy and my goal of being somebody keeps me happy. I will not lie and say that I feel 100 per cent all the time. Like all jobs, it does get frustrating at times but I have no illusions about the fact that I am who I am for the content that I create and share. You may call me superficial but I’m ambitious and doing exactly what you’re doing, I just happen to be a little better at it.