The Influencer’s Dilemma

An influencer’s life is an investment, just like any other startup

Karishma Donde “Selfie” taken by my photographer Cynthia

I got into the influencer game last year with no real rhyme or reason besides having the ability sell anything at the drop of a dime, and being a wanna be entrepreneur, this really appealed to me. Could this really be an avenue to finally be the SHE-O I always dreamed of?

Maybe.

Two years prior, I watched detox teas and waist trainers being sold in mass quantities creating a cultural revolution and thought, “I could do that.”

It’s the same reason I also started my fashion blog in 2012 — because I worked in fashion and thought why not? I was watching bloggers my age making a killing via their blogs.

I watched all the sad documentaries like American Meme focused on the dark side of influencing. Primarily following those who are looking for validation in the outside world because they are missing something in their realities.

But there are also those who look at it as business value: a way to inspire and impact next generations and a way to build a business from scratch with the ability to quickly test business ideas and gain feedback — being an influencer is an entrepreneur's dream come true.

The advice that is often given from already made influencers is“just start, it’ll evolve into something greater and then you can pivot into anything you want.”

But what did I want?

I thought I wanted to just sell products and make cash, enough cash so I could just roam the world and be where I want to be, whenever I wanted. But I was just a smidge too late to both games where I wouldn’t get the luxury to “just start and then pivot” by posting low quality pictures and corny captions, because the game had vastly changed and that advice was outdated.

The truth is that an influencer who started in 2013 and now has a mass following is getting quantities of free stuff EVERY DAY. Whether it’s free or a paid campaign, they have CONTENT. Something new to photograph, video or talk about — but if you’re just starting out like me, getting/making/finding content is just like any other business hustle & investment.

Here’s a secret: being a successful influencer has very little to do with the algorithms or how the feeds no longer chronologically order things.

It’s an emotional investment in actually sitting down with yourself and saying “why do I even want to influence in the first place?” Fundamentally exploring and understanding your core beliefs.

An investment in taking the right type of (high quality) pictures/videos, curating and planning the content your’re putting out (could you talk about variations of the same topic for 365 days?), taking a long hard look at what you want to brand yourself as & what kind of long term impact you really want to make.

Moreover, brands got smarter.

What I mean by that is brands of all sizes will come to you almost daily and ask you to be a part of their affiliate program. This way they can really test the waters with you and see how much you are actually selling for them before they offer you any kind of major/minor deal.

They tell you how much they love your style and how you should be a part of their “team” — most of these guys don’t give you free product, but they give you a major discount, offer you a discount code for your followers and then pay you a commission for sales.

Long story short: they don’t really believe in you.

But do you believe in yourself? It’s only after a long reflection do you finally come to this conclusion: I can get brand representation anywhere now, but what DO I REALLY want to represent? Does it fall in line with the brand that I am trying to build for myself? Will I even like their products?

Branding has become broad because anyone with a digital footprint can have one, but what it really means is: does everything you say, post, write, take photos of align with your CORE person? Is it in alignment for what you stand for? Do the colors of your feed speak to your soul?

We are truly in the era of abundance so you, like me, will find that once you are in the realm of influencing have many easy business opportunities — but not all of them will align with your soul. Honestly, most of them probably won’t make you happy in anyway — which is the life lesson: there are no easy shortcuts to maintaining contentment and leading with joy is attainable only through trials and error until we truly align to our highest selves.

Abraham Hicks once said, “If you don’t enjoy the journey, why do you think you will enjoy the destination? Often, we chase things because we think we’ll be happy when we get there, but when we get there we aren’t the joyous happy souls we thought we would be.”

And that’s the exact dilemma — what we think will be fun, easy, light-hearted, money making and joyous doesn’t always end up that way. When we finally get that success and retained fans, followers, buyers etc. we learn that it’s not what we really wanted at all. It becomes hard to create content for brands that we don’t believe in, for example, and tiring creating/editing/perfecting videos & pictures in mass quantities for things that we don’t find fulfilling any longer.

Pivoting becomes hard because your fan base is all in one niche, in one area and this is what they want from you. This is how you now pay your bills.

However, I have found that if we are able to get deep, REALLY sit down and figure out the message we want to share with the world, have the vulnerability to share our journeys (our whys), the patience and understanding with ourselves that everything comes in due time not only will the journey be happy (and pivot-able), but the complications will be less and we will be able to embrace our success with warm arms, attract our perfect tribes and know the direction of what our brand truly means — solving our own dilemmas before they show up on our path to success.