An influencer. The new 'celebrity' of my generation. An entire new industry has been born with social media. The question it, do I want to be a part of it?
The appeal of this lifestyle is easy to understand. It promises a life of relatively 'easy money' and endless gifted products. It provides a freedom away from the traditional 9-5, where you can make your own hours, answer to no one and work from anywhere. All the while, looking completely fabulous. There's also that all too addictive dopamine hit that come with being 'popular'.
Why am I questioning this?
Now, I should prefix this with the statement that I currently have no where near the following required to be an influencer. Although I adore my community, its size will not attract the big brands as of yet. However, as a blogger that uses social media for business, I am certainly on that trajectory.
I really started questioning this when a brand popped up in my inbox, asking whether I wanted to collaborate and promote their new bamboo toothbrush. I suddenly realised that the answer really was no.
This wasn't the brand's fault. I'm all for bamboo toothbrushes as a wonderful sustainable alternative to plastic. I've been using them myself for years now. But, this just didn't sit right. This was the moment that I really started to revaluate my life's trajectory. Did this influencer lifestyle fit with my life values?
The influencer upsides
There are some parts of this lifestyle I really enjoy. My blog has fully unlocked my creativity. I just adore writing. Beyond this, I enjoy all the promotion that goes with this. I've had great fun playing around on Canva and filming reels (even if the latter makes me to want to pull my hair out at times!). I've particularly relished learning more about photography. This has made me appreciate the beauty of my surroundings so much more.
This year, I've started collaborating in earnest, and found this process really exciting. I launched my 'eco entrepreneurs' series, with the intention to collaborate with more like-minded sustainable businesses, in order to raise their profile and provide my readers with some inspiration to follow their own passions. A highly rewarding process.
I've even started to make a little bit of money with my writing, which was part of the reason I made the big decision to change my lifestyle and drop down to part time (you can read more about this decision here).
The influencer downsides
By this point, I feel like I've watched endless YouTube videos on the Instagram algorithm. Spent hours tinkering with my accounts, to ensure that my content stays 'on trend'.
And its worked. Although I may have not gone 'viral', I've watched my following consistently increase. Why change now?
For me, there are two issues with this approach. The first was, somewhere along the line, my content started to get swayed by what would do well, and get the most clicks, rather than focusing on the content I was most passionate about sharing. I worried that I would start to lose my authenticity.
The second was that this approach meant that I was spending hours glued to my screens. I've felt the pressure to be constantly present on social media, as in this competitive world, its all too easy to become forgotten.
Even though I value interacting with my community, I've started to find this pressure increasingly draining. Since my digital detox at the start of this year, I've noticed how much screen time negatively impacts my health and drains my time. I want to switch off far more than I do and really embrace digital minimalism.
Then, there's the ethics. Do I really want my content to 'influence' peoples behaviours, if it means that this encourages more consumerism?
What's really important
Going forwards, I want my content to reflect my life mission statement and 'speak up for those that have no voices'.
Nature is of course a key component here, as I have dedicated my life to the protection of animals and our natural world, with my career as a wildlife conservationist.
But I left this deliberately broad. I want to support and elevate those members of society that find if difficult to make their voices heard. Those small businesses that are striving to make a difference, but sometimes get drowned out by more 'shouty' brands.
As I've progressed with my blog, I've noticed how much I value empowering others to live the authentic life they, and our earth, deserve. This is a valuable aspect of my writing that I intend to take forwards.
I won't lie, there have been moments when I've genuinely considered stopping my blog and coming off social media entirely. But the ache in my heart whispered that this was not the right choice.
Instead, I'm going to continue, but do this my way. This may reject a lot of the aspects of a traditional influencer life. It will likely mean that my audience will remain relatively small. But the result will be that I can really pour my heart and soul into my work again, whilst maintaining a balanced and authentic life. Truly living the life I write about. What more can I ask for?