'It makes me want to cry.' Why influencers are going back to their 9-5s.

An unexpected shift is occurring in the influencer world. Full-time influencers are returning to their 9 to 5 jobs.

There are two main camps of influencers. One lot claim the decision was all theirs, while the others cite financial pressure for going back to regular work.

Watch: Here's how to work with influencers. Post continues below.

Video via Lady Start Up Academy/Mamamia.

OG Australian influencer Cartia Mallan says the influencer industry is at a crossroads where long-time influencers are being forced to decide whether they should return to traditional employment.

The 26-year-old shared on her podcast Common Chaos that her influencer friends are feeling anxious and depressed about their future because the industry is so saturated.

"It makes me want to cry because I guess back in the day like there was not as many people. Like when we started we were kind of like you get that special feeling. You're like, 'Ok I'm doing something different, not many people are doing it,' and now it's like boom, everyone's doing it," she said.

Mallan began her influencing career at 15 when she attracted a following for sharing her festival looks. These days, she has over half a million followers but complains she can no longer rely on her usual posting formula thanks to the social media algorithm.


"I posted the f**king hottest selfies last night. Flop. I was like, no, no I'm saving this for a moment and then it was like, flop. Then I was like, 'Ok, go f**k yourself, Instagram,'" she said.

Mallan admitted she now feels irrelevant as she fights with the masses for influencer jobs.


Johnathon Sauer is an Australian influencer who has taken the plunge and returned to his corporate job. Known as the 'OG Boyfriend of Instagram', he famously dated YouTuber Shani Grimmond in her heyday in the mid-2010s.

Sauer worked as an accountant before leaving his job to become the beauty influencer's manager. After the couple split in 2017, he became a full-time influencer and model and began dating another influencer, Madison Woolley.

Woolley recently revealed on her podcast Girl Code that her boyfriend had returned to his 9 to 5 as an accountant.

While she didn't cite a reason, according to social media analytics tracker Social Blade, Sauer has lost over 66,000 followers in the last five years and is now sitting on 99k followers on Instagram.


The issue is audiences now expect a lot more from influencers. No longer is it enough to post a 'hot selfie'.

The once coveted job held by the lucky elite in the 2010s is now experiencing oversaturation.

In 2024, nearly anyone can be an influencer and it's becoming more difficult to stand out from the pack.

The term influencer has also taken a battering. The pandemic marked a turning point where people began pushing back on influencers.

As a society we started to question why these people held such an influence, and rather than blindly following them, we began holding their behaviour to account.

We're now at a point where we no longer respect the title of 'influencer', so much so that those who hold it don't even like using it themselves. Most prefer the name content creator.

With TikTok citing Netflix as their biggest competitor over other social media apps, influencers must inspire, educate or entertain to capture the elusive eyeballs.


The app is now favouring high-quality, long-form content that doesn't necessarily suit the influencers of old. 

It now means influencers either have to upskill to stay relevant or return to traditional work

Despite the upsurge in skills required from influencers, some claim they are leaving the industry because the job is unfulfilling and boring.

US TikToker Maddison Lynn is one of those people. The LA-based influencer, who boasts over 500k followers on the platform, recently quit her full-time influencing job after two years in the industry. 

"I just got bored. Every single day I would do the same thing," she said. "Of course, you're working on different projects. Some days a video concept, a video idea, filming a video, editing a video but it does not take me that long. It does not take me all day."

Lynn said she felt unfulfilled, purposeless, and that the work was meaningless.

"I heard another creator saying this, like I feel like I'm losing brain cells. I feel like I'm not smart anymore. I feel like I haven't taught myself anything," she said. 


For those local influencers ready to throw in the towel, a lifeline could be on the horizon for the Australian influencing industry.

Currently, TikTok has a monetisation system available to influencers in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain. The Creativity Program pays eligible content creators a fee per 1,000 video views. 

The program is predicted to be rolled out in Australia in the future and would allow influencers to be paid without the need to rely on brand deals.

The move would certainly shake up the saturated industry and put content creation at the heart of the evolving role of an influencer.

Feature Image: Tiktok @cartia.mallan/@JOHNOSAUER.

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