I joke a lot about balance. How I won’t eat all day because I’m too busy, then come home and devour a packet of grated mature cheddar – BALANCE! How I’ll go to the gym for a huge session, then end up topping it off with an equally huge session in the bar with my friends – BALANCE! So to a degree, I feel like I’m totally nailing this balance thing. But the one thing I’m finding insanely hard to balance is work/ life as an influencer – and I use that term reluctantly, because although technically that’s what I am, as it’s a multi-platform, all-encompassing term which definitely applies to what I do – there’s something about it that I feel undermines exactly the hard work that goes into it all. Which leads me neatly on to this very topic – the hard work that goes into ‘influencing’. Ugh that sounds so creepy when you use it as a verb – like, let me brainwash you! Join my cult! When your life is technically your work, it can be a very very difficult issue to navigate and create a separation.
This multi-platform thing is challenging. This very blog was the start of everything for me, and it’s developed into an Instagram profile, complete with Instagram stories (which is basically a whole additional platform in itself these days) and YouTube – where I post weekly videos. I was texting Chloe last week about managing it all, saying how as soon as I channel a little more energy into one social platform, the others fall behind. And she put it quite perfectly “it feels like you’ve got five helium balloons and every time you pull one to stop it flying away another floats up” – and it’s true. If my life was a photograph right now it would be me holding up four oh-so-instagrammable foil helium alphabet balloons that spell out H-E-L-P.
Obviously we only put out online the best bits of our lives – I know I know I’ve written time and time again about social media only being edited highlights and realness vs fakeness in the blogging world. It’s a little bit dumb, and we’re our own worse enemies really, because we put out this glossy perfected image – or at least a nice balance of relatable and aspirational – of what life is like as a blogger or full-time influencer, rather than the less-than-perfect truth about all of the boring, dull, exhausting aspects of the career. Then, we get pissed off that people don’t understand us and think our life is simply a glamorous doss, rather than seeing the hard work behind it all – but it’s our own doing, as we never share the brutal yet boring truth behind the filter.
But then, if we shared these things, our audiences wouldn’t really care for it. They don’t want to see the 20 minutes spent choosing a photo to post on Instagram, or the hours editing a haul video (and the epic tidy-up that comes after filming the try-on part – oh god it’s AWFUL) or the changing your outfit in a public toilet/ coffee shop loo when out shooting content – or at least, not as frequently as it actually happens IRL. The occasional snapshot of blogging in your pj’s with no makeup on? #relatable! Show that you do it every day? Totally unglamorous. Unfollow.
People always ask what an average day or week looks like for me, but here’s an example of the capacity I’m running at right now.
Day 1. 6:30am Edit sponsored video project, 9am doctors appointment,12:30 afternoon coffee with PR agency, 3pm PT session, home at 5pm, edit additional video freelance projects until 10pm.
Day 2. Wake at 6:30am. Schedule Instagram post. 9:30am Hair appointment (2.5 hours travel to get there and back from it), 1pm 30 mins gym, 3pm go to film a freelance video project, 5pm edit freelance video work until 8pm (work still isn’t done yet) when I crash out and fall asleep bc I’m so tired.
Day 3. 6:30am – invoices sent off, calendar updated, other admin completed. 8am – organize for filming YT video. 9am get distracted/inspired to write a blog post. 11am film YT video. 1pm meet Gemma to shoot content for Instagram. 4/5pm get home & die a little bit. 6pm edit YT video and do all additional info + linking + thumbnail photo creation. 9pm edit photographs for Instagram + send any #ads for sign off with brands. 10pm free time!
And repeat x 4 more and you basically have my week covered.
Any meetings or events you have in the day cut into your creative time that would usually be spent at your desk. So those 3 hours out of your office in the day mean an extra 3 hours at your desk completing the tasks you should have been completing earlier tasks. So when people ask what I do with my time, well, it’s that!
When a channel or all of your socials are going so well, the problem is, you really don’t want to take the foot off the pedal because you’re enjoying the success and growth and everything it brings with it (ok, bar the stress). You tell yourself that when you hit a certain goal post, you’ll relax a little bit, but when you hit it, it inspires you to work harder because you know exactly what you can achieve when you put so much into it. If anything, it becomes harder to take your foot off the pedal, and you find yourself putting the pedal to the floor instead – coincidentally driving yourself at lightning speed to Burnoutsville.
Taking on too much work is a problem too. I feel damn well #blessed for every opportunity I get, but I need to learn to be more selective. But part of the self-employed culture is that you don’t know if or when you’re going to have a bad month, so it’s very hard to ever say no to work. Plus, blogging hasn’t been around for long, so it’s a career where the longevity is somewhat uncertain, so you definitely feel the need to work and bank the coins whilst you can, just in case.
A holiday is never just a holiday when you’re a blogger/ influencer, because it’s always a chance to capture content you wouldn’t get elsewhere and share your stories. Even if you tell yourself to shut off and enjoy it, you find yourself stressing and feeling guilty that you’re missing great photographic opportunities. What was totally liberating however, was turning my Out Of Office on whilst on my 2 week trip to Cambodia, so anyone chasing me up on things would know I wouldn’t always be able to reply within 24 hours.
But in a normal 9-5, when you go on holiday, you put your OOO on and you set someone else as your contact. You literally offload your responsibility onto Sharon, or something. I still had to deal with PR’s chasing me relentlessly when I was travelling between cities, taking journeys on sleeper buses, and going 24 hours or more without wifi or phone signal. I wanted to clap back and say I AM ON HOLIDAY GIVE ME THE BREAK I’M SO DESPERATELY TRYING TO HAVE! But you have to maintain professional, so breakdowns via email are probs not your best bet if you want to keep your jobs,
In a normal 9-5, when you’re sick, you call up and take the day off. Your emails don’t get answered and when people come looking for you your team mates just say “oh she’s not in today she’s sick”. Oh, and you still get paid, in most jobs. But as an influencer, if you have a job on and you’re sick and can’t do it – you don’t get paid. You still have people sending several emails demanding things from you that you end up feeling more exhausted and run down.
For my YouTube Q&A, someone asked if it’s hard to start or maintain relationships in this profession and yes, it is. It takes someone more chill and understanding than Jesus to *get* what being a blogger/influencer really takes as a career. Or even as a side hustle/ hobby. If you settled down in the early days of your blogging career with a guy, and he’s stuck by you, that’s great because he’ll totally get it. My ex sure didn’t. In the end, he said he hated watching my Instagram stories because I’d be all happy and full of energy, then he’d see the ‘real life Sophie’ who’d be all stressed and exhausted. In the end he said couldn’t ‘deal with’ my career for a whole host of reasons – but that’s another story. When someone doesn’t *get* your job, or take it seriously, it can really take it’s toll.
I’m aware that this may come across like a great big moan, and in fairness, it totally is. It’s an absolute brain dump of everything I’ve been feeling over the past few months, and weeks especially. Right now there’s 1 million other things I should be doing but I felt inspired to get this all down on screen so here we are! I’m physically exhausted, having jumped straight back into work at full speed after allowing myself a little break on holiday and it’s made my head a little frazzled, and when talking to my friends, they remind me I have this awful habit of piling so much pressure on myself – more so than most people.
The truth is, the benefits of this job far outweigh all this crap above – it doesn’t make any of it less valid, but it does make it all worth it. I’m earning money doing a creative role that I’ve made for myself. I get to work alongside so many incredible inspiring women. The influencer world, especially in fashion, is one dominated by incredible bloggers-turned-businesswomen that have helped carve out a career path that didn’t exist not too long ago. And knowing that I get the opportunity to connect, relate, and even inspire so many other people through these platforms makes me feel all gooey inside.
So I’ll be sticking around here a lot longer, I hope.