Karli Eilis started on Instagram with two separate accounts, one for family and friends and one for fashion and lifestyle.
“It was after I had a lot of people ask me where I got my teacher clothes from and when I told them and they didn’t know the shops that I thought it’d be fun to create an account to share my teacher outfits,” Ellis said in an email.
Ellis then decided to merge both accounts and started blogging about her teacher finds.
In Karen Freberg’s article “Who are the social media influencers? A study of public perceptions of personality,”she explains that a social media influencer is a third party endorser who shapes audience attitudes through blogs, tweets and social media.
“Although some scholars appear to view SMIs (social media influencers) as competing, possibly hostile voices (Gorry & Westbrook, 2009), others recognize the possibilities of forging alliances with SMIs to promote a brand or organization,” Freberg said.
Ellis now has 25,600 followers on Instagram and though she does get some money from her blog, she is also music teacher.
“I do own Notes Music Studio where I teach piano, voice, and music classes. I also own the studio so I am in charge of four other teachers who work under me in the studio,” Ellis said in an email.
Even after work, Ellis puts 25 to 30 hours into her blog.
“I don’t feel like that is enough time for everything that I want and need to do for the blog,” Ellis said.
Jennifer Hadfield of @tatertotsandjello has turned her blog into her business and says she spends 80 hours a week planning, creating, publishing, and promoting content.
“Blogging is so much harder than people think. I get literally dozens of emails a week from people wanting to start a blog to make money. This is my full-time job.” Hadfield said. “And honestly, I can’t believe the opportunities I am given doing this. But the bottom line is I love creating new ideas and working with brands to create new and different takes on ideas. It’s such a challenge and such a rush if it gets noticed.”
Chelsie Carr, a 12-year pediatric cancer survivor, started blogging as a hobby and creative outlet in helping her cope with her illness turned side business, but still works full-time at a recruiting company while also spending 30 to 40 hours a week on her blog.
Sadie Banks, who has been blogging for the last eight years about her infertility journey, currently works full time at a marketing agency doing SEO for small businesses. She also has a photography business on the side. Banks says she spends around 10 hours on her blog because she’s been focusing on her Instagram, but she is hoping to pick it back up soon.
Olivia and Will Gochnour, the owners of Utah Grubs, an Instagram account with Olivia and Will try restaurants in Utah and post reviews, both have full time jobs outside of doing Utah Grubs.
“Utah Grubs isn’t a full-time job, it’s more of a hobby or “side-hustle”, if you will. We dedicate as much time to it as we can but can’t please everyone’s requests” Will Gochnour said.
Natashia McLean, of Canary Jane, started her blog after branching out from a community blog. Her blog has lead her to her own Etsy shop, coloring deals, and event partnerships. Through these successes, it hasn’t always been easy.
“When my husband and I decided for him to quit his job and pursue another career, I had to take up more work because what I had wasn’t constant enough. I started taking on social media marketing clients and social media marketing freelance, and got hired as an employee at Rod Works Home Decor and did their social media,” McLean said.
Social Media and Critics
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, 60 percent of Instagram users say they have learned about a product or service from Instagram.
“Instagram clearly works for those at the early stages of the sales funnel. Businesses and influencers use it to educate the public about products and services.”
Despite users’ new knowledge about different products and services influencers post about, criticism to those delivering the messages is still happening all the time.
“It’s crazy to me that so many people want more honesty and authenticity online, and when influencers share the hard, honest stuff, they get shamed for how they are handling it or what situation they are in. I am pretty transparent and open about the physical disabilities I struggle with because I want other women to see that it’s possible to live a vibrant, full life, despite their scars. However, I’ve been shamed and bullied and told that I’m faking my disabilities for attention,” Carr said in an email.
Opening one’s self up to the public creates a lot of room for criticism, which many bloggers have had to deal with.
Shannon Bird of Birdalamode, has 100,000 followers, explains that people don’t understand how much reach influencers get from social media and that it’s more than seeing billboards on the highway. This lack of knowledge causes others to be more critical of influencers. NEED TO CUT AT 22 SECONDS
Bird says that there is a lot of work that goes behind the content she creates, but that people shouldn’t be as critical especially about kids. She’s even had criticism from complete strangers about how she parents her children.
Though some influencers feel attacked by followers, many followers don’t feel influencers are authentic when they are on social media.
“I don’t follow influencers on social media because I feel like a majority of them are not very real and show a ‘perfect’ version of themselves. I’d rather not be comparing myself to unrealistic expectations,” Katie Menasco said.
Menasco isn’t the only one who isn’t a fan of influencers. A recent Facebook poll of users belonging to the Wive’s Club, a Facebook group for wives where they talk about marriage, parenting and more, provided some surprising results. Specifically, 41 people polled said they only believe influencers take pictures of their perfect moments while 21 people said they have been critical of an influencer.
In a Forbes article by Alice Walton, “6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health,” she says that comparing our lives with others is mentally unhealthy.
“We fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others as we scroll through our feed, and make judgments about how we measure up,” Walton said.
Walton talks about a study that found that Facebook was linked to less moment-to-moment happiness and less satisfaction. That the more people used Facebook in a day the more these two variables dropped off.
“On the surface,” the authors write, “Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling such needs by allowing people to instantly connect. Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive ‘offline’ social networks powerfully do, the current findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.”
A study done by Nazir S. Hawi and Maya Samaha about the satisfaction in university students, looked at the relationships between social media addiction, self-esteem and satisfaction of life.
They found that students who score high on social media addiction had much lower self-esteem which lowers ones satisfaction of life.
“Our results confirm that, independently from the culture where the study is conducted, it appears that people with lower self-esteem tend to depend on social media more. Furthermore, students who use social media with the intention of enhancing their self-image are at risk of not only lowering their self-esteem but also their satisfaction with life as well,” Hawi and Samaha wrote.
In the poll from Wive’s Club, 14 women said they have become self-critical since following certain influencers, three women said that when they see an influencer’s picture of their kids, they have become self-critical in how the influencers dress their children, and three women felt they have needed to change who they are since following certain influencers.
Not all followers feel this way about the influencers they follow. Megan Dalton, from Gilbert, Arizona, commented on the Facebook poll in Wive’s Club saying she appreciates when influencers show their “real life”.
“I’m looking to be uplifted by other moms who say, “it ain’t perfect, but we can do this!” When someone makes me feel like I’m not measuring up in beauty, clean home, more than enough money, perfectly dressed children, fake nails and lashes, etc. I unfollow them, and look for those who I can look up to, while still feeling proud of what I’m doing,” Megan Dalton said.
Kadi Call, from Arizona, feels inspired by the influencers she follows.
“I would say it is because they are living their dreams and they inspire me to live mine,” Call said.
Amber Goeckeritz studying experience design and management at BYU likes the awareness influencers bring when they post on social media.
“They are uplifting and give awareness to social issues I care about,” Goeckeritz said.
Taking a Break
A recently growing trend has been individuals taking social media breaks. These breaks vary in length, but they allow the person to “reset” and get away from the digital world for a couple of days.
Will and Olivia Gochnour have taken a few social media breaks and say they have felt refreshed after them.
“I take them frequently actually and they help a ton! I have a pretty healthy relationship with social media and know how awful I feel if I’m online so much. So, I really try to manage my time and only get on if I need to post or check something,” Olivia Gochnour said.
Chelsie Carr has taken a few media breaks, and she sees it as really helpful since growing her business.
“I often get over whelmed by all the other content out there, and while I love seeing others succeed, it can be frustrating to feel like my work isn’t being seen or cared about. I usually take some time to unplug and not worry about numbers or contracts or how the Instagram Algorithm is affecting my numbers and it always helps me put things into perspective,” Carr said.
Other influencers haven’t taken this type of break in feeling they don’t need to or worry that it might affect their business.
Emily Nelson of HIGH fitness says she hasn’t taken a social media break, but has had times where she didn’t post as often.
“When I was sick pregnant I definitely posted way less. Because I run a full-time business my page is more work to me than just about the followers,” Nelson said.
Banks hasn’t felt the need to take a week-long social media break in worry how it would affect her business, but she does space out her posts throughout the week.
“I try to focus on quality content over quantity. I’ve been able to connect with so many people through my bog and Instagram that it has never felt right for me to take a complete break. I also use social media as a way of marketing for my businesses, so taking a break from social media for long periods of time can be detrimental to my businesses,” Banks said.
Some followers have felt benefits from taking social media breaks too, allowing them to reset and remember to those posting are just people too.
Taylor Fortunato from Queen Creek, Arizona, likes following influencers on social media but has felt the need to take a break once in a while.
“I try to be realistic about the things I see and tell myself that they aren’t always perfect but sometimes you just get sucked into the perfectly curated feeds and then start comparing. That’s when I know I need a break,” Fortunato said.
Pros vs Cons
While creating content and managing social media is hard work and criticism happens, many influencers say what they’re doing is fun and rewarding.
Banks says she’s felt rewarded in the work and connections she’s made with women going through similar trials.
“I have learned so much from blogging. I’ve learned that I can help people I’ve never even met, I’ve met some of my very best friends through blogging, I’ve started two businesses, created a journal for people enduring infertility and honestly, been able to heal from my own experiences with infertility.” Banks said. “Yes, the criticism and judgment still hurts, and unfortunately, I remember it all very well. But the connections and friendships and community that I’ve gained because of my blog, makes it all worth it.”
Bird says she loves the work she is doing, but one thing society can work on is being better at complementing others.
“It is fun, but there is work that goes on behind it. And if you like something of the influencers you follow, tell them. Even in my own head, I love when people comment on my stuff. So, my personal goal is to send out twenty compliments a day because this is a job and if I want to get comments and likes I need to give compliments and likes,” Bird said.
Hadfield spends about half of her day attending to her blog, answering emails and working on her social channels, but says that the work is all worth it.
“I spend about 12 hours a day working on my blog, social channels and doing emails. But I am incredibly grateful to be able to do this.” Hadfield said in an email. “To share my ideas and creativity and work with amazing brands. I have worked with Microsoft, HP, Canon, HomeDepot, Lowes, Michaels, Hoover, pretty much any brand you can think of. And it’s been so amazing! I hope to do it for another 20 years!”
Through her successes, McLean has definitely seen the struggles throughout her career.
“That year was super hard and the hardest I’ve worked my entire life. It was all self driven, I had to create these relationships with these brands and keep them hiring me because our lively hood depended on it.
McLean says she feels very rewarded with what she’s been able to do trough blogging and social media.
“It’s been an incredible blessing because up until that point, if I hadn’t started this blogging journey and gone on this creative path that I did I don’t know if I could’ve done that and my husband might’ve still been stuck at this toxic work place,” McLean said.