A Fashion Blog By Gemma Talbot

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Not Your Ordinary 9-5: Working Life Of An Influencer

First off I'd like to say this is most definitely not a rant and apologies in advance if it comes across that way. A common misconception surrounding what I and other influencers do for a living is that we just take pictures of ourselves and upload them to Instagram. If only it were that easy and I was simply doing it for the gram. I've had comments fly around from "You're a lady of leisure" to  "Can taking and posting a picture of yourself onto Instagram really be that difficult" both of which evoke a bull in a china shop sort of reaction inside. On countless occasions I've had to remind myself to breathe to stop my blood from quite literally boiling. On top of this, I often find I am frustrated by the fact I have to justify what I do for a living to others who don't try to understand. 

Typically, my day begins with a 7:30am wake up call unless I have a 9am meeting in central where I'd allow myself a little bit of extra time. As a rule I always try to get an AM Instagram post up because as cynical as it may sound my morning photos on average tend to perform better for me. You may be rolling your eyes at this but if I'm working on a brand collaboration, the more people who see the post, engage, like and interact with it the more likely they are to work with me again. Which in plain terms means I'm more likely to be paid. Whilst I have always been a firm believer in exerting your passion when it comes to blogging (let's not go there with the #ad debate) when you're trying to call it your full time job you have to think that ultimately you have bills to pay. That aside, I try to draft a caption for my Instagram post the night before because as daft as it may sound sometimes it takes me a while to come up with something that's supposed to sound both witty and engaging. It's typical that I always feel most inspired when I am about to switch off and go to bed or on the tube which is why my iPhone notes has become my best friend for jotting down captions and blog ideas when I am on the move. 

Once I've uploaded my morning Instagram post, made breakfast and had my morning coffee which is usually around 8:30am I begin to tackle my email inbox. I like to try and clear any flagged emails or ones that have come in the night before by around 9:30/10am because this is when I am likely to receive an influx of emails all over again. A huge part of what I do as an influencer requires a lot of admin particularly when it comes to brand collaborations. It often involves an extensive email thread, reading over contracts, making outfit selections and negotiating on payment which certainly is way more time consuming than you may think. Every day is different but typically I'd receive around 100+ emails a day all of which require my attention. Whilst trying to juggle all other aspects of being an influencer, which I will try to outline below can sometimes feel never ending. 

If I have a blog post going live which typically is either a Monday, Wednesday or Friday I will schedule this the night before to be published for around 7am the following morning.  Once the blog post is live, I will spend around half an hour scheduling tweets on Hootsuite, which is both tedious and boring but 100% necessary in promoting my post and ensuring that people see them. I mean how many times can you reword check out my latest post in an engaging manner?! At least Twitter now allows me to use 280 characters to get my point across instead of the rather limiting 140 that it was previously. 

Depending on what brand collaborations I have on, I'll usually meet my Instagram wifey Sophie to shoot some outfit photos either for Instagram or a latest blog collaboration. We tend to do this 2-3 times a week depending on how busy we both are but if I can't meet Soph then I will arrange to meet a photographer instead. Once the photos have been taken and edited I often have to send these over to the brand in question for approval (along with a caption) and then it's just a waiting game for when I can post these. Once I've got the heads up it will be a matter of organising my social media calendar of when I will publish these sponsored posts. A lot of my work as of late has been solely for Instagram which means sadly my blog has taken a little bit of a back seat because there simply are not enough hours in the day to do everything and writing a blog post can often take me several hours where I just sit down and write something I think you guys will want to read. Like anyone I suffer from a creative block and sometimes find it hard to construct anything worth reading which in itself can be somewhat frustrating. In comparison to writing a lengthly blog post, an Instagram post is far less time consuming and sometimes more engaging at that. With that said, I will always love writing and find the time to express myself through my blog. 

Once a week I try to have a work from home admin day but sometimes this isn't always possible. I try to have a set day to do this, usually Monday's but I often have to move this around due to last minute deadlines, meetings or collabs that might pop up in the week. On an admin day, I generally work on tasks such as invoicing for completed collaborations or chasing outstanding payments and inputting figures onto excel spreadsheets, all of which I hate doing with a passion. With regards to chasing payments, I hate the thought of feeling as though I am pestering someone but I need to remind myself that I have every right to do so if the payment is late. A company wouldn't pay their employee a month late and expect them not to say anything so why should influencers put up and shut up. We too have bills to pay after all and if anything have to be that little bit better at budgeting because we don't have a set pay day like most. After all it's the principle and it should be applied fairly. 

On admin days, I'll also try my hardest to clear my inbox and respond to any flagged emails which again is a lot easier said than done. If I haven't sent you to sleep already I'm impressed because this sure is what admin day does to me. I am after all a one man band so to speak and don't have a team to delegate tasks to so naturally I can often be left with feeling a little overwhelmed. I can also be a little hard on myself if I don't complete my to-do list for the day but sometimes there simply are not enough hours in the day especially if I want to have a little down time too which as of late has become 30 minutes per night. It's great to be busy and I really am so grateful for all the opportunities that come my way, believe me I am but one thing I will say about being an influencer is it can often be really hard to switch off. No real holidays, no leaving work at the door but with that said I wouldn't have it any other way to be honest. I know I can count myself lucky to actually love what I do. Some people strive to find that their whole working lives and I can hand on heart say I love what I do mainly because no two days are the same. 

Like any job it has its ups and downs. Some of the ups include getting to hang out with my Insta wifey Soph which is like the best work colleague you could ask for or better still an actual friend. Then there's the fun events, press trips, meetings and breakfasts I get to attend at some of the coolest spots in London. Without sounded at all braggy, I am lucky enough to receive freebies from absolutely amazing brands some of which often come with a hefty price tag. On the flip side, there are many downs to being an influencer. One of the most frustrating is one that I encounter pretty much on a daily basis and this is with regards to payment. A lot brands want and expect everything for nothing. I often get emails ping into my inbox with regards to a collaboration and the brand in question will quite clearly list a number of deliverables including coverage they want, posting dates etc and then expect not to pay you a penny. Sometimes it really does feel like I am back in the souks of Marrakech bartering to get something for next to nothing. Except it is the PR in question who is trying to take me for a ride. The most insulting offer to date has been a sponsored blog post with instruction of no affiliate links to be used and a total fee of £30!!!! I know I shouldn't take things so personally but I remember feeling so terribly insulted that at times it really can be hard to type out a  professional NON SHOUTY CAPITALS reply to their email. 

Another thing that has caused some frustration as of late is brands coming back to me saying that they don't have any budget for a sponsored Instagram post but rather they will send me an item as form of payment of which I get to choose. Then on an evening Instagram scroll, I notice several influencers posting for that very brand and the reason I know it's sponsored is because by law you are required to declare so with either #ad or #spon. I know I shouldn't let it get to me but in any normal working environment if a colleague acted like this towards you it would make you feel disheartened and also as though your work isn't good enough. What it comes down to is outright lieing and if I can describe the feeling I would compare it so a slap in the face and let's face it no one likes that.

I've also had comments such as "We can't allocate more budget to this campaign because your engagement isn't as high as some other influencers we are working with". A big fat ouch. In my head I'm left thinking well if my engagement isn't good enough for you then why have you outreached to me in the first place. Slightly contradictory no?!. This is often the type of responses I have to deal with on a daily basis, ones lacking in professionalism and ultimately a lack of respect. I know when it comes to the job role of an influencer it is a slightly grey area but ultimately there should always be a mutual respect. Don't you agree? Don't get me started on the flagged emails that pop into my inbox with the subject of "URGENT - PLEASE READ".

More often than not, I will have to negotiate on my fee with regards to a brand collaboration because there simply isn't marketing budget, or at least this is what has been communicated to me. When negotiating on my normal rate it's a fine line between ultimately knowing your worth and not accepting too low an offer but also not risking losing the campaign altogether. I've found myself in situations before where I have regretted taking on a collaboration because ultimately I think that I'm not being paid enough for the amount of work I've put in or is expected of me. What some brands don't realise is that influencers talk, well those who don't mind talking about how much they earn anyways. There have been cases whereby I know I have been paid less for a campaign another influencer is also working on with the exact same social following as me and vice versa. Some of the politics behind being an influencer and also ones that leave you a little disheartened. 

So there you have it, a little insight into what it's like working as an influencer. The ups and the downs and whilst most will know from social media the perks associated with being an influencer you may not know the less glamorous parts. One of the hardest aspects of what I do is relying on someone else to take pictures for me. Whilst Sophie is such an amazing help to me and vice versa when we are not together I still need to think about producing content. I do sometimes feel bad to ask my friends especially as deep down I think they probably hope that I will completely switch off from my job too, at least for the weekend. The second hardest part of being an influencer is the uncertainty of when your next paid job will come in. I've always used the analogy of blogging being like a tumbleweed in the wind, you can have a really good month and then bam it all goes quiet. There's no job security when working for yourself, but then my Dad made a fair point to me recently in saying that to some extent there's no guarantee even if you have an employer.

Like I said, being an influencer (I still can't quite get used to the term) isn't your typical 9-5 job and whilst it does have its negatives I wouldn't change my job at least for now anyways. Who knows what's in store for me over the next few years to come but it's safe to say that I am more than content right now. 

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  1. Loved this post, Gemma.
    I really found it an interesting read and personally love yours and Sophie's posts.

  2. I really love the posts where people share their blogging experience and work schedule. Many people think that blogging is a simple task but only bloggers know that its not all about getting ready, clicking pics and sharing on the blog. Blog means a lot more as you have to handle everything from checking mails to attending events and all.
    I really appreciate your work as a blogger. :)
    Wonderful post dear!
    Beauty and Fashion Freaks

  3. You look awesome Gemma, I absolutely love that jacket! x


  4. Thank you for this post. I find behind the scenes insights endlessly fascinating. I guess in regards to other influencers and their salaries you're all going to have to get together and make some ground rules? It's a new frontier!

  5. Loved this post Gemma. People seem to forget that it is a job at the end of the day. You look amazing xx


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Gemma x

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