The Cost Of Being A Social Media Influencer

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At the time of this post I have 580 followers on Instagram but I’m an influencer. Gasps I know that may seem like a shockingly low number but “micro-influencers” are on the rise.

A little background for those of you all who are new here (Hey!) I’ve been an entertainment journalist for nearly 10 years. I launched this site from my dorm room at Howard University and when I moved to Los Angeles, having my own platform was the catalyst for me to become a contributing writer for the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper, CocoaFab, EUR Web, HelloBeautiful and xoNecole. In working with those sites, I’ve also been apart of campaigns sponsored by Chevrolet and Toyota.

I mention that because I was recently accepted into the Runway Curls Blogger Program *throws confetti*. Runway Curls is a line of natural hair wigs, weft hair, closures and clip-ins for women who want curly, textured hair that resembles their own. The brand was founded by hair stylist Mushiya Tshikuka, star of the WeTV reality series, “Cutting It In The ATL”. She’s also the owner of The Damn Salon in Atlanta.

As an entertainment journalist that does a lot of on-camera work with a big blonde afro, I’ve been wanting to find a protective style that resembles my own hair so when I received an email that Runway Curls was looking for Brand Ambassadors, I was excited to apply. The application process required me to include my humble social media numbers. I wanted to be selected for this opportunity so I made sure to send my receipts because you shouldn’t just rely on the numbers of one platform.

Don’t ask for something that you’re not qualified to receive! Pitch only if you can produce. Click To Tweet

If you don’t feel like you have enough followers for a branding/marketing network, you can always find an email to pitch a brand but WHAT is it about you that aligns with the company you’re pitching? A major aspect of my personal brand is my blonde hair. So much so I designed my business cards with a photo of “The Puff”. The bigger the hair, the better for me. Two of my most viral on camera interviews with my natural blonde afro is with Saturday Night Live stars Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon which has 70,000 views on YouTube as well as an interview with Bishop TD Jakes which has an engagement of 126,000 on Facebook (Read: Receipts on two different platforms.)

Recently had an #AhaMoment about making #Progress… My close friends know that I NEVER feel like I'm working hard enough, I'm very hard on myself because I'm always looking for the tangible results of my work. But I've realized in order to "level up" there's some spiritual & mental work you have to do. This is one of my favorite pics from my shoot bc I see confidence, I see beauty, I see a woman that discerns better. If you love yourself more and you believe in your power to manifest your dreams, that's progress. Here are some other things that I've done that may seem small but have helped me to become a better woman personally & professionally: •I've lost 5lbs by drinking at least a gallon of water a day and I eat as little bread as possible •I just started using moisturizer! I know #BlackDontCrack but the way the lines in my forehead were set up 😕 so I made the $38 😩investment in @belifusa & it's amazing •I left my job because the season was over & there was no room for growth (that testimony is on DirectedByDAmour.com) •I started attending weekly bible study & paying my tithes. Even when it's my last, when I sow into my faith, the next opportunity is always right around the corner. Let's talk, what personal progress have you made this year?

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I’m passionate about empowering women with natural hair who want to work in broadcast journalism. Which is what I like about Runway Curls Founder, Mushiya who also works to dispel the myth that women can’t wear natural hair in corporate America. This is a seamless collaboration for me because the brand represents who I authentically am. I love that my current style which uses 2 bundles of City Afro Bulk Hair in “Honey” & 3 bundles of “Caramilk” is a simply more voluminous version of my natural hair so this is perfect for my lifestyle.

You may have 10,000 Instagram followers but do you have 10,000 emails and/or 10,000 monthly viewers to your blog? If you have less than 1,000 followers for example (*raises hand*) do people organically comment, share and repost your work? (*raises hand*) Micro-Influencers are redefining what it means to be “influential” because there are multiple ways to reach people outside of collecting followers, this isn’t Pokemon Go! Lol

You have to figure out which platform(s) you excel in and when there’s an opportunity to pitch yourself for ambassadorships and collaborations, promote what has worked best for you.

Oftentimes when we see people’s social media photos, particularly those beauty bloggers who are getting “free” hair and makeup, the way your checking account is set up, you don’t want to spend money for your favorite product either! Why can’t it just be sent to you, damn it? As I’ve learned, it’s not just a pretty photo (or video) there’s usually a cost associated with it and there’s a lot of BTS (behind the scenes) work to remain affiliated with the brand.

In exchange for the product you’re promising the company that you can get “x” amount of likes, shares, clicks, follows, views, etc. So y’all don’t ask for something that you’re not qualified to receive! Pitch only if you can produce.

So Back To “The Work” Of Being An Influencer:

Some folks don’t need a middle man, they can just style their own hair, beat their face, take a great selfie and keep it moving. Makeupshayla with her 2.4 million followers has mastered that but she definitely invested in a DSLR camera and a ring light to help to create those flawless viral selfies.

But I’m talking to my fellow micro-influencer, the girl (or guy) who needs more than a selfie and has to get creative to stay on the team!

Working with brands is a time commitment. You may have as little as two weeks to turn around your photos, video, product reviews, etc. which may seem like ample time but what if you want to shoot during the day but you have a full time job? What if you don’t have the money for a photographer, videographer, makeup artist etc. Sometimes the product is “free” but you have to come out of pocket to cover tax and shipping. If you have to involve other people and locations in the creation of your content, you have to strategically think about how and when you can make time to get it done.

Upon receiving my Runway Curls I had to find a stylist to do my hair. From washing my hair to having the crochet braids installed, cut and styled—that took about eight hours (read: a day of work). And then my old photographer was being petty so I had to find a friend and show him how to work my Canon in order to take my photos. Driving to the location, fixing my hair, doing my own makeup and two outfit changes was about four hours of time.

Then I’m very meticulous when it comes to editing. It took me about 2 hours to sift through the images and Photoshop five pics for social media and my blog posts. So in total, about 14 hours of work for one hair shoot. It’s not “hard” but it is work and it oftentimes takes a team effort on the part of the blogger to curate something of quality.

How To Work Your “Influence”:

Similar to being a player on a team, you might have the skills to get drafted but then you have to score points. There’s a grossly overwhelming number of “sponsored”, “ad” posts on the gram. Many bloggers with bigger numbers start to lack creativity because they already know that anything they post is guaranteed to get hundreds if not thousands of “likes”. When you’re a “micro-influencer” you have to be more intentional about your posts because brands are still expecting you to hit certain numbers.

This past week is probably the most I’ve ever been on Instagram because the brand has certain requirements to quantify that I’m actually “influencing” people to engage with their product. In order to reach that goal with my Instagram photos, I’m all about compelling captions. Oftentimes we’re quick to think someone’s photo is our life, travel or relationship #goals. And we have no back story behind what’s happening in their life. I strive to write engaging captions that will implore people to not just “like” the photo but also take a moment to comment that they relate to whatever I’m talking about. That transparency has led to new friendships! So I would suggest spending at least an hour a day engaging with the people that have liked and commented on your post. There are 6 million active users on the gram, so you have work to do!

In conclusion, I’m grateful to finally be able to step from behind the camera as a videographer for the Chevrolet and Toyota campaigns to in front of the camera as a Runway Curls Blogger. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’ve honestly always admired other bloggers that work with brands and now that I’ve been “drafted” lol I understand that it’s not as easy as it looks but it’s worth it.

Note: Your Personality is for your purpose. It's easy to look at someone's life and covet their blessings but you have to step back and think, were you equipped with the personality traits to handle what they have? In my first job after #Howard, the feedback from my supervisor was that I was "too assertive" I remember calling my friend and saying, "girl, can you believe he called me assertive?" She said, 'yea, because you are.' (bloop) I've since learned to embrace that aspect of my personality because it's necessary especially for working in the entertainment industry. I used to pray to be "less" of who I am but the way God equipped me is required for my purpose of being a director and leading a team to bring a vision to fruition. Everyone has their role and their lane. God can't bless who you pretend to be (that's a read) so embrace whatever traits have been assigned to you. Let's talk, has it always been easy for you to accept who God made you to be? 📸@babyfacenemo

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Let’s chat, please comment below or on my Facebook page and let me know your experience working with brands as an Influencer.

(Special shout out to @___JJoness for beautifully installing and styling my hair!)

p.s. If you want to achieve a similar level of slay with some Runway Curls, click here and your cart will be blessed & highly favored when you check out!

Last modified: Jun 5, 2017