If you believe the contents of your Instagram feed, the life of an influencer looks so much better than yours.
Everything is just glossier, from the perfectly captured Buddha bowls to the seemingly endless holidays accompanied by the obligatory #blessed.
To be a social media influencer, your life needs to be a little extra.
And unless you’re fast-tracking your road to Insta-success through Married at First Sight (What? People go on reality shows for Instagram followers?) or buying followers, it often takes a “real” job to make extra happen.
Yes, they’re just like you, folks – working hard to make a buck. For those who aren’t celebrities, it’s a constant juggle of the day job and the side hustle, which is often a passion project that develops into a commercial entity.
According to Taryn Williams, CEO of influencer and creative talent agency theright.fit, brands are increasingly looking past high-follower “celebrity” influencers for people who are “genuine brand advocates”.
“We see a large number of talented folk adding ‘influencer’ as another string in their bow, to create highly engaging authentic content,” Williams tells Mamamia.
So how do influencers pay the bills to do that? Mamamia spoke to six influencers whose day-to-day careers may surprise you, from the fashionista who helps people on Centrelink benefits find jobs, to the YouTuber who works four jobs including the Macca’s night shift.
Name: Laura Albertin
Day job: Recruitment specialist
Insta niche: Fashion, beauty, lifestyle and travel
How do you pay the bills? I work for a job network that is connected to Centrelink. I deal with the employers and negotiate jobs that Centrelink candidates can apply for in order to get them off the benefits and get back into work. I was raised with old-school parents who have always told me that you need a job that is secure, so I have never been able to let go of the full-time job I currently do unless I know I will be able to make a stable income as being an influencer.
How many hours a week does your influencer work take? It is fair to say I spend every spare minute I have working as an influencer. I often go straight to events from work (I get changed in the car). I spend every night and weekends working on my account as well as managing other brands’ accounts (I am freelance social media manager and I currently manage three accounts). I would say I put in just as many hours as I do in my full-time role as I do as an influencer.
The biggest misconception people have about my influencer life is… A lot of people think I live this extravagant lifestyle, post pictures, attending events, etc. This is not the case – I work a full-time job to provide myself a stable income while I chase my dreams of working full time in the social media/marketing world. I am no better than everyone else and being an influencer is not as easy as just posting a photo. It takes time and thought to create content, build relationships with PR companies, brands and photographers.
Most importantly, once your content is live, you are constantly engaging with other users and your audience in order for your content to be seen. A lot of people forget that social media is about being social and if you are not actively engaging with your audience and new followers, than they won’t engage with you.
Name: Joe Menezes
Day job: In-house lawyer
Insta niche: Wine
Why OnceUponaWine? I started OnceUponAWine because I enjoyed travelling around to wine regions in Australia through personal travel and trying different wines. There were a lot of food blogs so I thought having a wine blog would be something a little different. At the time there was only one other Australian wine account, today I’m the second largest wine account in Australia and one of the top in the world.
How do you make it work? It takes a lot of dedication and balance to keep up with a large account outside of work, but I like it as it keeps things interesting! I spend around four to five hours a day working on @OnceUponaWine.
The biggest misconception people have about me is… That I get everything for free! It’s not the case. Yes I may get a lot of wine sent which is great and I’m not complaining. But in the case of holidays for example, I do take personal trips. I try to incorporate wine into it where I can. But this takes effort, hard work and of course it costs money! But I think it’s worth it. You only live once right? And if it gives great content opportunities, wine not I say?
Author Elizabeth Gilbert has some brilliant career advice for anyone struggling with what they want to do with their life. Post continues after snippet.
Name: Paige Craswell
Day job: Theatre-registered nurse
Insta niche: Lifestyle, beauty and fashion
How many hours a week do you spend working on your Instagram? I probably spend about 1-2 hours every day doing Instagram type work whether it be editing photos, emailing with clients and influencer agents or finding inspo from other influencers.
How does it fit in with your day job? I think the best part is that because I do shift work I can often take time out during the day to shoot. But I think as a nurse, you can start to view the world definitely, at times, in quite a dark and sad way. And although looking after others is definitely a passion of mine, sometimes you can become fixed on giving to others and forget to take time for yourself, and Instagram and blogging has I guess become my guilty pleasure – something that I can do and indulge in myself. I think with shift work and a very demanding job, you can forget to take time out for yourself and your life can become very much eat, sleep, work, repeat.
The biggest misconception people have about being an influencer is… That it’s a bit of a walk in the park sort of job. I think the creativity and design behind some of my favourite influencers’ posts is just incredible and such an art! A lot of thought goes into it, I think sometimes we forget that as viewers. But it’s a really incredible opportunity that I feel very fortunate to be able to work within and am so inspired by this industry. I guess this is my little creative outlet in life!
Name: Lilian Dikmans
Day job: Muay Thai boxer and model
Insta niche: Health, food and fitness
What does your average day look like? My ‘day job’ at present is a combination of modelling work, freelance recipe development, writing for FIGHTMAG and training if I have a fight coming up. This takes up most of my time some weeks and other weeks I’ll be working more on influencer collaborations. The main requirement with all of my jobs is that they are flexible. My schedule needs to be able to fit around opportunities as they arise.
When did it become a side hustle? When I first started my account I was still working full time as a lawyer [in 2013]. As the account started to become more popular and companies started contacting me to develop recipes and collaborate, I quit my job to invest more time into it.
I decided to launch my healthy living website Real Food Healthy Body as an extension of the account. It is largely a platform for me to share all of my recipes. More recently, I created a second Instagram account @realfoodhealthybody solely for my recipes and continue to share my daily life, fitness and beauty on @liliandikmans.
What would it take for you to become a full-time influencer? I don’t think I would ever want to be full-time influencer. I want to have the time to work on my own projects and the financial freedom to say no when something doesn’t fit for me.
Name: Jac Cabrita
Insta followers: 57k
YouTube subscribers: 8871
Day job: Concreter/McDonald’s night shift/presenting and promotional work.
What is @IamJacCabrita about? My social media is a creative outlet creating all types of content. I enjoy making vlogs, comedy sketches, memes and reviews.
How do you make it work? I actually work four jobs, so anytime I am not working you’ll find me working on my social media. With everything I post I ask myself the following question, “Would I show my grandmother or want my eight-year-old brother seeing this?” If the answers are positive I’ll post it.
The biggest misconception about my life is… [That] my life is always rainbows and sunshine, when it’s really not. The thing people never realise to see a rainbow you must first experience rain.
Name: Lea Fox
Day job: Health and safety consultant
Insta niche: Food, drink and travel
How long do you spend on your social account versus your day job? 20 to 25 hours a week on the blog at least. It is not only the attending events or restaurants, eating and drinking, but it is also the arranging to visit places, emailing, taking photos, photo edits as well as posting. I work a full-time job as a health and safety consultant, which has me travelling all over the country, on and off planes. This is at least 45 hours per week.
What would it take for you to quite your day job? Money! Seriously, it is challenging to monetise a food blog. It’s amazing fun and it means great opportunities but that doesn’t pay the rent.
The biggest misconception people have about me is… The biggest misconception is that it is so easy to be an influencer. You just swan around and then get lots of free stuff. For a while, my work colleagues thought I had a serious retail addiction as I was always getting products, especially wine, delivered to my work.
Are you an influencer with an interesting story to tell? Let us know in the comments section below.