I Strived to Be an Instagram Influencer, Now I Write

Cal Axe
Cal Axe
Oct 16, 2020 · 3 min read

A story about self-awareness

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Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash

More content, more brand.

I once hosted an Instagram Live morning show for my commercial real estate business. Each Friday, while the rest of the office enjoyed a jeans day, I showed up to work in a blue suit and tie, reserved a conference room, and recorded myself regurgitating real estate news.

“Nationwide Insurance moved into their new 400,000 square foot headquarters, and office rent prices rose to all-time highs”

Optimistically, I wanted to be the Jimmy Fallon of commercial real estate, but sounded more like a professor addressing students cramming for a final.

I posted ten episodes, grew a small audience, then decided, I hate this.

Why do it at all?

I was looking for something to spark sales and stumbled upon the world of content marketing and the influencers who champion such a strategy, notably Gary Vaynerchuk.

If you don’t know him, his message goes like this: Unless you want to sit Shiva while your business peels, you better post daily on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

Gary says people don’t post because they’re worried mean girls from high school will DM poop emojis. A pleasant way of saying, insecure.

Of course he’s right. I’m no Jimmy Fallon, but I wasn’t about to give up. I ditched the morning show and started documenting my work life. I filmed myself cold calling, took pictures of clients on building tours, and even created a “day in the life” TikTok.

I posted about twenty behind-the-scenes clips, grew a small audience, and decided, I hate this.

After twenty pieces of content, things became repetitive. Plus, just because I approached work like Hearts of Darkness didn’t mean my coworkers or clients felt as much. I received many stink eyes and several “what do you think you’re doing?”

Clearly, I’m not Jimmy Fallon or Francis Ford Coppola.

I still believed in Gary’s philosophy. My next venture was bookstagramming — or the practice of influencing people to read via Instagram. I loved business books and had a wealth of knowledge to share with young professionals who might find the contents of popular business titles valuable.

I ordered a ring light on Amazon, took quality photos of books, and talked about the book’s key tactics and strategies.

I got forty post in, grew a small audience, and decided, I hate this.

Bookstagrammers treat books like Eva Green at a Cartier shoot, taking thousands of portrait style photos reaching for the right lighting with a fuzzy coffee mug behind the title. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve read the book or not!

“Bookstagrammers treat books like Eva Green at a Cartier Shoot.”

I watched one guy unwrap a Malcolm Gladwell book, and instead of talking about its profound ideas, started describing the sensation of tearing open a box and the heavenly smell of fresh print.

And so, I’m not Jimmy Fallon, Francis For Coppola, or #5minutebookreview.

None of this is the fault of Gary Vaynerchuk. The fact of the matter is, we have access to free tools with the potential to carry your brand further than ever before. And if you don’t do it, someone else will.

Some people know their strengths and how best to spread their brand. Others, like me, require tinkering and testing. I didn’t know I was shabby on camera; I learned the hard way.

About six months ago, I picked up a pen and started writing. I’m a writer at heart, but because the social engagement of words falls short compared to video and images, I never considered it a smart business move.

But there’s more to writing than that.

Maybe you feel the same way, but when I write, I’m unabashedly me — I never found that while creating videos and images. I’m not reading a script, or regurgitating news stories, or asking coworkers to learn a silly TikTok dance for a few likes. It’s my well researched, critically analyzed, organic voice.

That’s what content should be, right?

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Cal Axe

Written by

Cal Axe

Commercial real estate broker, blogger, and researcher. 27 years old. And here’s my newsletter https://yoprolibrary.substack.com/

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +755K people. Follow to join our community.

Cal Axe

Written by

Cal Axe

Commercial real estate broker, blogger, and researcher. 27 years old. And here’s my newsletter https://yoprolibrary.substack.com/

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +755K people. Follow to join our community.

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