Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Life File: Keeping Strong and Inspired Amidst Instagram Changes and Dishonest Practices


Hey everyone! Today I want to address a movement Erin (thank you Krystin for sharing!) has started that is important to all of us business owners who heavily rely on Instagram as a marketing and revenue tool. While you might not be a business owner and use Instagram as part of your business, I do feel that this topic affects us all, and by all I mean, bloggers or "influencers", brands, and personal/recreational users.

For those of you who don't know, I started blogging as a hobby and as a way to put into use skills I had acquired after completing a fashion marketing diploma, and as a way to keep me feeling useful and inspired after knowing that I'd be spending my time in a foreign country without the possibility to have a regular job. It's been some very interesting 6 years where both my life and industry have changed enormously. Today I want to chat about those industry changes (we will get into those personal changes on another post!) and how they have affected the way we bloggers do business now.

I've been incredibly lucky to have this space of mine where I get to create and share what I love, and where I've been blessed to connect with like-minded people who have made a positive impact in my life. It's hard work, as everyone who does this knows, but aren't all jobs hard work? Some jobs have more perks than others, but in the end, they all require efforts. To some, blogging seems to be this easy job where you receive lots of free stuff and you just have to talk about it. If that's what you think blogging as a business is, then you're wrong. I mean, yes we do receive gifts, some more than others, some better than others; and yes, in some cases we decide to talk about them (whether under contract or not, ultimately is your decision to partner in the first place and promote a product), but this whole thing is not as easy peasy as it seems. Apart from styling, graphic, and photographing skills; fashion sense, and consistency, (just to name a few), it requires, in my opinion, honesty, integrity and loyalty to your own self and brand. I don't want to speak for others, because we are all different and live under diverse circumstances, but I'll tell you that for me, running a business as a freelancer and blogger while being a single mom with no support team is hard work. It takes lots of prepping, organizing, balancing, scheduling, multi-tasking, sleepless nights, and self-motivation. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I do, and I assume every job has things you enjoy more than others, so it is what it is and there's nothing to complain about. This platform has allowed me to meet amazing people (some of whom have become my closest friends!), take on incredible work opportunities, travel, work with brands I never even remotely imagined I would, and ultimately, grow as a human being and push myself to be better in this creative field.

Why am I mentioning all this? I started blogging when there was no Instagram, when blog banners were a thing and people would buy space to promote their blogs and etsy shops, and when affiliate networks such as Reward Style and Shop Style didn't even exist. Today, Instagram has become one of the most important social platforms for brands and bloggers alike and the changes it has implemented over the past few months has affected us all.

For those of you who don't know, (that's probably the personal/recreational users), content is not displayed in a chronological order anymore and when that change was implemented the whole community went bananas (it was chaotic!). Today, not only are we dealing with that, but with some shady practices of some who want to jump to the front and take on opportunities based on their fake following and engagement.

I'm not here to call out names and I don't want the tone of this post to be negative, the purpose of this post is to bring awareness and hopefully leave you with three important takeaways: 1. Brands need to start doing their homework regarding partnerships, 2. You as a blogger and business owner are not alone, 3. There's an amazing group of honest and hard working people here to support you and hopefully inspire you to keep going.

I had been feeling stuck for a long time and in the beginning I thought I had just taken too much of a work load and that it was affecting some areas of my work, but as someone who needs the work and is happy to take it all (I can't say no to great opportunities that allow me to grow, travel, experience and push myself outside of my comfort zone, plus, there's one thing called bills), I thought that that was going to be the compromise of this multitasking job (jobs) of mine. Fast forward some weeks, and I start hearing from my peers that they have been feeling the same. Then Erin brings this up on her Insta stories this past weekend, and all of sudden I understand that while yes, I could be doing better to balance my time and schedule my roles so that I get 7 hours of sleep at night and don't have to work on weekends, the reason why I'm stuck is not necessarily and exclusively my fault. Turns out that some accounts are not growing organically and instead they have been buying followers, buying likes, relying on automated apps that follow and unfollow accounts, I mean, we are talking about some dishonest practices; and I've been comparing my growth to unreal standards. I guess somewhat similar to seeing a photoshopped ad and then looking at yourself in the mirror you know?

For those of you who are also feeling stuck and frustrated and uninspired I want you to try to ignore the discouraging impact and keep going. Continue to be you, continue to give your best, continue to create the amazing work you share on a daily basis, I know it takes work and patience, and it's hard to get up and continue when you feel defeated by an algorithm and by some people who are getting ahead of the game with dishonest practices, but you decide if you're going to let it get you or not. It is in you to continue and push harder and just keep doing you. One way or the other it will shine and will stand out, and you know what? There's nothing like knowing that you have made it to a certain point because you deserve it, because you worked for it, because it's 100% you and nothing else. Paying to get ahead of the line is not was rewarding as having to run the whole race and finishing first, second, third, or in any position for that matter. I couldn't be more proud of myself of what I have accomplished with hard, honest work and you should be too. Don't let this whole thing defeat you, think about it, you have two choices, keep doing you and better yourself or diminish the hard working content that has allowed you to be where you are, meet who you have met, connect with whom you have connected and partner with whom you have worked with. Stop comparing yourself to unreal standards, and remember that there's nothing more motivating and encouraging than knowing that you're 100% real and that you are where you are because you earned it with hard work. Hopefully brands will start paying more attention to the accounts they decide to partner with and dig a bit more about that "number" that seems to be the defining factor for some opportunities.

If you want to educate yourself more on this topic and learn how to differentiate real versus unreal people, I highly suggest reading this post from Erin. She definitely inspired me to write this and I hope it has opened your eyes a bit, but most importantly, I hope that you continue to BE YOU no matter what.

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