I'm an Influencer, and No, I'm Not Embarrassed.
Disclaimer: Social media influencing and blogging are two different professions, although they are often fallaciously lumped into the same category. I am both a full-time social influencer and a blogger.
Before landing on this article title, I marinated on several others: How to Tell Your Relatives You’re an Influencer During Thanksgiving Dinner, How to Impress Doubters with Your Influencer Career, How to Describe Blogging to Those Unfamiliar with the Industry, and the list went on.
None of those titles sat right with me. The root of why I wanted to speak out about this wasn’t only to shed light on the importance of my profession, but to also convince other bloggers like myself that our work has meaning and is just as respectable as any other rising occupation in the digital realm—even if the greater majority doesn’t yet recognize its value or importance to society.
Demonized by the Godly and the Secular
The tricky part of navigating any digital marketing industry is that you will most likely face pushback from all groups. This includes those might who feel threatened or jealous by the rising popularity of millennials, thinking that these young, shallow post-teens don’t deserve the viral influence they’re receiving. However, I’ve personally witnessed that most people just seem to be afraid of what they don’t know about the potential of these ever-evolving platforms.
While the internet floods with news articles about the dangers of social media (SM), preachers at the pulpit echo these fear-based articles by concluding that SM is addicting, distracting and unholy. To be more explicit, I’ve heard firsthand from spiritual leaders describe SM as being “of the devil.”
Any job, person or platform can be “of the devil” if it controls you and not the other way around.
And it doesn’t get any better with the mainstream mindset. We are often told that social influencers are “basic” and that our work is frivolous and shallow in nature. This tired trope is clichéd to the point where even bloggers and influencers downplay the importance of their own roles and the extent of their cultural influence.
It also doesn’t help that this new industry is difficult to explain to our older family members and friends, so conversations about our occupations often turn awkward as we try to explain what exactly it is that we do to people who have never touched SEO or collaborated with a brand in their lives.
I mean, the most we can honestly expect from our peers is a sense of genuine interest at best, and at worst, a cunning smirk as they realize we’re the “typical millennial bloggers” that don’t have enough experience or expertise to teach anybody anything, yet have the platform to do it anyway.
Either way, folks won’t truly understand our career choice if they are simply too far removed from the digital marketing industry altogether.
Reject the “Bimbo Blogger” Stereotype
If you are a blogger or influencer reading this article, change in perspective starts with you. You have social influence after all. Don’t use it to further downplay your career by acting embarrassed of the content you’ve painstakingly outlined and executed. Don’t call it “basic” or perpetuate the “bimbo blogger” stereotype.
How we carry ourselves and talk about our own work will influence how people will come to view us.
As a full time blogger and SM influencer myself, I know that it takes a considerable amount of time, talent and effort to create high engaging content. That’s why companies pay us to promote their products on our page and then use our photos as their own marketing creatives. We add a personal touch to visual advertisements that photographers can’t often replicate in-house. We are often the sole art directors, models, photo editors, videographers, copywriters, and promoters of our projects. As a friend of mine stated, “Influencers are their own mini production houses.” She’s absolutely right.
The same work ethic, skills and talents can be applied to bloggers, who often design their own websites, optimize it for different search engines, write quality, evergreen content, and plan the entire digital marketing strategy by themselves. Being successful in such a saturated sphere is no easy feat.
People may downplay our jobs because they don’t understand it in the moment, but nearly all industries are diving headfirst into digital marketing. These learned skills that we’ve acquired have already placed us ahead of the game.
Whether people like our digital presence or not, many of them will need to speak our language in order to keep their jobs in the future.
That’s just where we’re heading as a society. So, don’t take your work lightly. Even if no one seems to understand or respect what you do, you see the hard work, meaning, creativity, and talent that go into your work. You owe it to yourself to truly respect your career, and further, your ability to make a living pursuing your creative passions.
To Our Friends, Family, Spiritual Leaders and Society at Large
SM advertising, blogging, and digital marketing in general are all fairly new, but there is no need to demonize it. Like money, it is not evil, trivial, or corrupting in and of itself. It is a neutral tool that can be used to do tremendous good or bad, depending on the intent and maturity of its users.
Remember that it takes skill, talent, work ethic, intelligence, and all the other traditional factors of success to build an online presence, and those who have used their skills for good have created powerful campaigns that helped thousands of people.
But an occupation doesn’t necessarily need to help thousands of people or donate tons of money to charity in order to be meaningful or deserving of respect.
If it’s someone’s creative passion and vocational calling, why not learn to appreciate it for what it is rather than passing judgment out of fear, jealousy, anxiety, or confusion?
And to our spiritual leaders, C.S. Lewis said it best: “[O]ur model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions.” As followers of Christ, we should desire as much influence as the Lord is willing to gift us because it blesses us with more opportunities to glorify His name. That’s what the church is trying so desperately to do, and it’s also why so many pastors have struggled with reconciling their organization’s need to advertise on SM with their personal demonization of it.
Here’s a tip: Ya probably shouldn’t tell people to stop blogging or going on SM if you’re going to need help marketing your church on those platforms later on.
It is short-sighted to undermine digital marketers and even more reckless to write us off as foolish or misguided. I hope that we can all do our best to understand this new industry and give it the credit it deserves—and I’m speaking most loudly to those who are already in it.