What Does it Mean to be an Influencer?

Photo Credit:  skinnyhipsterblog.com

Photo Credit: skinnyhipsterblog.com

By: Caroline Vazzana

About a year ago, when I first went out on my own and started, Making it in Manhattan, I was deemed a “fashion editor” or “fashion writer.” That was the title I had been given – and honestly, that perfectly described what I did. Fast forward now a year, and my peers and companies I work with now call me an influencer. So, how did this change occur and when did others feel I had earned this term? And do I think I am an influencer? Do I influence people? I honestly have no idea. 

As I started to build my readership and followership on both my personal Instagram and on Making it in Manhattan, that is when the shift started. Slowly, instead of my inbox only being flooded with press releases and product launches, people started reaching out to me and asking if I would consider wearing something from their brand, posting a picture on my account, and, this is the best part, GETTING PAID! This was something I wasn’t necessarily familiar with but I thought, why not? If the product is something I would naturally wear, then there’s no harm in posting it. But that’s what had me really thinking, when and why did people start seeing me as someone they wished to pay for this service? I’m not saying I wasn’t thrilled, because I was and still am, but the journalist in my head had to wonder, why? From there, once a few brands saw that I was doing sponsored content, more and more began coming my way. And soon enough I wasn’t only being asked to do posts, but, I was asked to appear in campaign videos and larger collaborations. 

So, here I am again, facing this elephant in the room, what does it mean to be an influencer? An influencer, to me, is someone who you look to, for advice, leadership, fashion help etc. It’s someone who, whether they know it or not, have impacted or influenced your life. But, with that being said, being an influencer, and wanting to impact someone’s life in a positive way shouldn’t be focused solely about numbers. It should be about having a voice, having a message, and wanting to share it- no matter how big or small your following may be. Yes, someone with a small following, or even no following, can be an influencer if they are impacting our world on a larger scale. But, before you go out, and try to build your platform, below are five things to keep in mind. 

Find Your Voice

Before you can say anything, find your voice. Do you want to be positive and inspirational? Do you want to keep it real and candid? Discover what it is you want to say and how? Also, it’s important to ask yourself, what are you bringing to the conversation that isn’t being said already? Once you find that, you’re good to go. 

Keep it Genuine

Above all, stay genuine and true to yourself. One of my favorite quotes is,” You are you, and that is your superpower.” Everyone else is already taken so make sure to be yourself! 

Who is your Reader/Follower/Viewer?

This can take sometime, but try to learn who your follower is. Is she eighteen and lives in New York? Or is she thirty-five and lives in Texas? Once you figure that out, you will know who to talk to, and who to target, and that will help you grow. 

Research, Research, Research

Since becoming an influencer takes much more than posting a pretty picture, it's important to stay up-to-date on the key social media trends. You should constantly be on the lookout for ways to leave your mark and disrupt the industry with your platform. The term influencer is evolving, so you’ll want to be the one of the people leading the pack, and trying new things on social media- instead of following the crowd.

Know Your Worth

Once you start growing and building your platform, take time to find your worth. No one is going to value you, more than you.

RELATED: HOW I STARTED MY CAREER AS A STYLIST

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