Maja Wilbrink: “Go The Extra Mile — It’s Never Crowded”

Maja on the Importance of Creating Your Own Path.

Maja Wilbrink is a 17 years old from Brisbane and currently in her last year of high school. On the side, Maja runs Instagram pages, including her biggest which has 1.5million followers. Using this audience, she has experimented a bit with ecommerce (and is working on establishing a brand in the near future), including a campaign that made $5k in one day. She also works part-time on the Influencer Relations Team for the social media platform Flipmass, where she helps manage users and also introduce advertising clients.

Maja’s main passions are entrepreneurship, branding, marketing and social enterprise.

Being inspired by Maja’s amazing work, I reached out to her and I’m humbled to have her give us an authentic insight into her story.

1. Humble Beginnings

Q: How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?

I actually completely fell into the whole world of Instagram and influencer marketing by accident, as I think a lot of other people in the social media world did too. I was really lucky to have been in the right place at the right time when Instagram was first getting started back in 2012, so it was a bit easier to grow pages. I was in grade 7 at the time and decided to make an Instagram page with my friends. It’s actually pretty embarrassing, because it was a fan page for the band One Direction and we loved them at the time. Since they were so popular , we gained followers organically, so that was my first experience with building an audience . We also used hashtags and exchanged shoutouts with similar sized pages to grow.

Once you have at least somewhat of a base audience on Instagram, it becomes a lot easier to leverage that to continue building more, so I started making more pages just because I found it really fun to run them. Eventually, my friends got bored of Instagram, so it was just me running the pages. I actually had no idea about the whole business side of things for about 2 years after I started, and was purely doing it because I got genuine enjoyment from it . I think being genuinely passionate is incredibly important when pursuing something, because it makes it much easier to put time into, so that’s helped me a lot.

Along the way, I’ve been able to meet so many incredible people who are also involved in social media. I always say that the relationships I’ve been able to form are, without a doubt, my favourite thing about social media. Hearing stories about what they’ve been able to achieve is always so inspiring. They’ve inspired me to dream bigger, and shown me what’s possible out there. I’m really grateful for being exposed to this whole new world, because I have no idea what I’d be doing without it.

2. Mindset

Q: What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?

I was really, really persistent with growing my first audiences. I used to spend hours and hours every day after school exchanging shoutouts to grow, so much so that I started forgetting to do my homework (definitely not advocating that, of course). I think it was a bit easier to grow social media audiences a few years ago, but it’s still possible if you put in the time and research. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but if you’re passionate about it and want it bad enough, it can still definitely be done. Like I said, my friends eventually got bored, but I stuck with it. 5 years later, Instagram has allowed me to make so many incredible connections with some amazing people and become financially secure .

3. What is your definition of success?

I define success as being able to work on something that gives you that burning feeling of passion in your heart, and being surrounded by people who inspire you to be better. Being able to help people in some way is very important to me as well. I read a quote the other day by Kara Goldin that said, “if you’re not helping up the mountain, you aren’t doing your job as a human being”. I think if I can look back at my life in 70 years and know that I was able to impact at least one person’s life (the goal is as many people as possible) in a significant way, I think I’ll be content.

4. Failure

Q: What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?

I think the answer is actually in the question — it’s the fact that they don’t have a clear enough vision, because that’s not an easy thing to come up with. Coming up with a clear vision is a process, and it takes time. It can be uncomfortable sometimes, because you have to ask yourself a lot of really difficult questions, and you need to be self-aware about what you want in life. I’ve been spending a lot of time doing this recently, as I try to make my decision about what I want to do after I leave high school. I think a lot of people make the mistake of chasing another person’s vision, or just following a certain path because they feel like they’re obliged to for some reason, or they’re just unaware of the other paths that are out there. That’s part of why I’m really passionate about entrepreneurship, because you get to create your own path.

5. What is the best piece of advice you have received or came across and would like to share with everyone?

There are three pieces of advice I’ve read recently that have stayed with me in the back of my mind since reading them. The first was “go the extra mile - it’s never crowded”. I remind myself of this whenever I’m feeling demotivated and am not putting in my 100% effort into something. So many people want success, but aren’t prepared to work for it. You attach yourself in some way to every piece of work you do, every conversation you have, every person you meet.

Also, not every conversation you have has to be comfortable — in fact, sometimes the best ones are the ones that are uncomfortable. I think we, as humans, often shy away from any sort of deep conversation that delve into anything of actual substance and allows us to connect with one another, because it often leads to us feeling vulnerable or uncomfortable. But those are the conversations that build your heart and your character. Not everything is going to be easy.

Lastly, “if something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life.”

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