Phew that title was harsh, but was the first thing I thought of to get your attention. I’m sorry, boo. But I wanted to make sure this message got out and spoiler alert, this post isn’t meant to drag you. But if you wind up dragging yourself, then that’s on you…lol.
I typically get similar questions about how to get started with a digital platform in today’s world and typically the people who ask have the same fears and sentiments. So I figured I’d make this blog post so I can just direct you here for my answer.
Also related: Ask Danielle: How to Start and Maintain a Beauty Blog (tips work for any industry)
These are the reasons why you won’t be a Blogger/YouTuber/Influencer…
You’re a perfectionist
One of the most common quips I get from people who want to start a digital platform is that they’re perfectionists who want to get things right first. PERFECTIONISM is a form of PROCRASTINATION, y’all. Waiting for things to be “perfect” before you start keeps you from learning from your mistakes. I started this blog in 2007, and I cringe when I look back at some of my older posts. I can’t believe I was outchea with such crappy photos and posting about certain topics…lol. But had I not started there, I wouldn’t have learned what works and what doesn’t work with content.
People often tell me things like they’re an aspiring blogger or aspiring YouTuber and I kinda scratch my head. Not because I’m being shady, but because part of the process is jumping in and getting your feet wet. Yes, there are things you need to know about things like SEO, taking good photos, learning to edit photos and video, etc, etc. But I’m saying just jump in and start posting. You’ll figure out the other things along the way. And a tip on this, you can learn to do just about anything about the internet ON the internet. There are hundreds of thousands of resources out there on everything you need to know about improving your platform. No need to DM your favorite influencers asking for advice and then wondering why they didn’t respond. You have the answers right at your fingertips.
I think what scares a lot of the perfectionists is that they see influencers with gorgeous photos and videos and think they have to start there. What the perfectionists don’t realize is that those influencers didn’t start with flawless content. If you look at the beginnings of any influencer, even the biggest ones, there is a stark difference between their content now and when they first started. But had they not started where they were, they wouldn’t be where they are today.
Seriously, google your favorite large influencer and see if you can find what their content used to look like when they first started. I bet you it’ll be a HUGE difference.
Just take a look at what my photos looked like in my beginnings vs what they looked like last year…
You can check out the original comparison post here if you want to see the full caption.
Perfectionists also tend to think they need fancy equipment and a team to create content. NOPE. Start with what you have available. It’s more important to be consistent than it is to run out and get all the newest and latest gear. Want to shoot videos—great, you can do them right from your phone. There are thousands of videos on YouTube to show you how. Want to be a fashion blogger? Great, start putting together outfits with what you have in your closet. You can get a bluetooth remote and a tripod for your phone for little money on Amazon so you can capture your own photos. No need to have a bae-tographer or a fancy camera when you’re starting out. Fashion videos where the influencer styles outfit options are popular now and are very easy to produce with little resources.
You do not need to have brands sending you free product from jump to be an influencer. And truth be told, sometimes the “free” product can get overwhelming.
You want “influencer money”
You also want to get into this field for the right reasons. I am often ambiguous about what I do for a living because I often don’t have the time (nor desire) to explain the intricacies of what I do. But now that influencers are more mainstream, more people understand. There are also more people who understand that there is a lot of money to be had in this industry and they want in. But if making money is your primary reason for getting into this world, your platform will fall flat very quickly. Being an influencer is about the relationship you have with your audience. Often times your audience will see themselves in you and they come to you for a certain type of connection. Now while I am obviously not saying influencers shouldn’t be making money—I’d be a hypocrite if I did. There is a lot of work behind what influencers do and we deserve to be compensated. But if you are starting your platform with money as your primary objective, people will see right through you.
There are a number of ways to earn an income from being an influencer: ad revenue, brand collaborations, speaking engagements, affiliate links, selling a product or service, etc. If you come at people from a sales approach, you will make them tune you out quickly. And without people, you cannot make money.
You don’t like what you look like
Honey, you have to get over this. While I am obviously not ignorant to the fact that more attractive people will get noticed more, this is also not a reason to hide behind your computer screen. As I mentioned earlier in this post, your audience often times sees themselves in you. That’s how people tend to connect with you and your content. Representation is so important.
In this day and age, a connection is often the start to more opportunities. If people have no idea what you look like, they can’t really connect with you.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am still very much in belief that most people are full of you know what. They only see beauty in having lighter skin, longer hair with a looser texture, slimmer bodies, hourglass shapes, etc. I can be praised by my audience, but let me get reposted on another platform and there are people who will roast me. One time I had to turn the comments off on a video I did for a flat iron brand campaign. The brand had boosted it so it showed up in other people’s IG feeds and folks couldn’t wait to tell me how nappy and dry they thought my hair was. Some even did the most when they realized they couldn’t comment on the ad. They scrolled ALL THE WAY back on my feed to find the original video to leave their hate comments. And these were other Black women. White supremacy has done a number on how we see ourselves and project onto each other and that is a BIG topic for another day, chile.
If you are a woman, particularly a Black woman, on the internet, you are going to get comments about your appearance. People think just because you post on the internet means you deserve maltreatment (I wonder if these same people would be okay if we harassed them in person with the reasoning being “well, you left the house and are out in public—I have the right to say what I want to you”). But you CANNOT let that deter you from having a platform. You have a bigger purpose to achieve than to be worried about what some random person on the internet thinks. The psychology of projecting and “hurt people hurt people” and how that is manifested on the internet is another BIG topic for another day, chile. Phew.
But basically, you have to get used to seeing yourself in pictures and videos. The only way to do that is to constantly be taking pictures and videos. Practice. This is helpful even if you’re not interested in being an influencer. A lot of entrepreneurs are out here winning at business because of their social media presence as well.
You care too much about what other people think
There is this weird delegation of people on the internet who feel it is their job to give “constructive criticism” all the time—even to people they do not even know. The psychology behind that mess is another BIG topic for another day…lol. Now while you don’t want to ignore feedback that can help you grow, you also have to be mindful that you cannot please everybody. I like to regularly poll my audience to find out what sort of content they like to see. I’m always asking questions to get conversation going. It’s not even about anything extremely thought provoking or deep—sometimes I just want to know what lip color someone is wearing that day.
One thing I was lead to believe by listening to some people is that people HATE vlogs. But I personally like watching them as they are a way to show a different side of the content creator. I started to do some vlogs here and there and you know what—the views on them are higher than some of my usual content. You really have to take everything, including praise, with a grain of salt and figure out what works for you. Because I could take the higher views on my vlogs as a cue to ONLY create vlogs and then have my whole operation shut down IMMEDIATELY…lol.
Another example, I did a styling video with mostly just me prancing around in outfits set to music. Wasn’t really sure if that would be something my audience could connect to because a majority of my videos are ones where I talk directly to camera. A few people commented saying it would nice if I did more voice over in styling videos describing why I put certain things together. Made sense! So next video I did way more talking like they suggested. Someone left a comment saying that I could have cut off the voice over and just let them vibe to the music…lol.. I commented back that people said they wanted me to talk and we both laughed. But, SEE—this is why you have to ultimately stand your ground when it comes to your content. Yes, take what people have to say into consideration, but you will never get anything done if you’re trying to please everybody. As a matter of fact, I find that content that pisses people off in one way or another is the type that REALLY gets engagement and views. It’s weird, but when my videos get a number of thumb downs, in a way I’m like “YASSSSSSS” because for one it’s still engagement and if I struck a nerve that still means people consumed my content.
You cannot be living your internet life based on anticipated comments from people who more than likely have a private account or only post memes on their public page…lol. I am convinced that there are some people who only have “talking trash about other people” going for themselves. I do not know any happy people who spend their time gossiping about others.
You let comparison steal your joy
You know the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy?” THAT MESS IS SO TRUE!
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others because everyone’s triumphs are out here in the open to see. You can find yourself envious that influencer X has ten times the followers as you or that influencer Y got a campaign with the brand you were trying to snag a deal with. I can’t even lie, I’ve found myself comparing myself to other influencers. But ultimately, there is something out there for everyone. Our paths won’t be the same. We all don’t have the same goals. Constantly looking at everyone else’s successes means less time spent on growing your own.
Welp. That’s all I have for today, y’all. I’ve been writing this post all morning and now I’m hungry…lol. But I will leave you with this last part:
Influencers come from many different backgrounds and represent hundreds of industries, but one thing that is common amongst us all is we weren’t afraid to put ourselves out there. Most of us didn’t spend years thinking about starting a platform, we just did it. Many of us didn’t think we needed a bunch of fancy equipment to get started. We just jumped right in! Many of us who started back when I did didn’t even think the industry could get to where it is now.