It’s crazy to think that I have been working as an Influencer of sorts for over five years. It’s funny how something that started as a bit of a joke with my students, has grown into something that I am quite proud of! I love sharing my passion for fashion and body acceptance with others. It has given me the opportunity to form some great relationships and help people, like myself, see themselves in a new light.
Lately, though, I’ve been a little discouraged. I have been stuck at a plateau for a while. My growth and readership on the blog have been a little stagnant. My Instagram followers have been sitting at just under 2K for months. And, for a variety of reasons, I haven’t felt like I have much to share on the blog that would be helpful to anyone. I mean, I want to keep doing this whole “sort-of Influencer” game… but, I’ve hit a wall.
I’ve been searching for a spark of inspiration to keep me going… combing through Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube… trying to find what I need to share with my own readers. That’s why I picked up the book, Insta Style by Tezza. (I found it while shopping as a brand rep at Arula.) The book is a how-to guide for creating an interesting and engaging Instagram page, filled with useful tips and beautiful, inspiring photos. I thought, “Maybe this is the jump start I need,” and picked it up.
After just 25 pages or so, I realized… this is NOT the spark I was looking for. Honestly, I found the book to be a bit condescending and unrealistic, rather than inspirational. Let’s just be real for a second… these tips are definitely not for your average person trying to gain an organic following on Instagram. Instead, the book left me feeling deflated, as I know the author’s advice is not possible with my connections and skill set.
First, the book shows that becoming an Instagrammer of any magnitude is quite expensive. It’s important to have lots of lovely clothes and accessories, live in an interesting place, and take grand adventures. All of that comes with a price, not really attainable for the suburban, middle class. It’s also important to hire a good photographer (unless you are married to one, like the author is.) I have a photographer that I love and trust, but taking photos with a professional is NOT cheap.
When you are building yourself into a brand, you seem to need to give off the vibe that you are flawless. You lose the ability to just be REAL with people. While the author tries to emphasize the need for authenticity and speaking in your own voice, that is not what I see through her page, or the thousands of other major Influencers like her.
It helps to be well-connected when growing a large following. Are you married to someone well known? Do your parents have a lot of money? Do you live in a fabulous locale? Trust me, connections are power and significant growth is not usually organic.
Most importantly, being a notable Instagrammer is a full-time job, not a side hustle. Creating good content requires a lot of time, skill, and energy. You must know how to write well, understand photo editing, connect with brands and makers, speak up for yourself, and be a consummate professional. You also need to understand logistics and stats that will give you insight into your brand’s reach. And, if we’re being realistic, most Instagrammers of note have a whole team of people working with them! That’s not something that an average person can do.
However, there was one nugget of wisdom the author discusses that I think I do well. She says it’s important to fill a void with a unique voice. My hope all along has been to be a person that inspires average, middle-aged fat people to live out loud, love themselves, and be who they want without shame. I want to help people know that they can wear what makes them happy, no matter what the “rules” say.
So… this book wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I’m not equipped with a bunch of tools that are going to help me bump over 2K and get the brands I love to notice me. Maybe I never will reach that point. What I did gain was a commitment to keep being who I am… someone who is genuine and honest, sometimes to a fault, who just wants to help people feel safe to be themselves. If that’s all that this ever is, that has to be ok… and I’m grateful that YOU are here, listening to my voice.