Ten years ago the idea of making a living out of being an “influencer” didn’t exist. Today I travel the world, get free clothes, take pictures of my outfits, eat at 5 star restaurants, stay in mansions or luxury hotels, attend fashion events, party with celebrities and even call some of them my friends. I am a social media influencer.
Don’t get me wrong none of these amazing perks came easy to me. I am a Latina from the Bronx. I had no connections so I decided to work hard at becoming part of the plus-size fashion community. When I was in college I worked a part-time job, interned at a magazine, went to school full time and blogged. I never had a day off. My days started at 5 am and ended at 1am. The day Hurricane Sandy hit was my first day off that entire year. I had never been so grateful for a natural disaster in my life.
I am now a full-time blogger/ social influencer and I have been doing it for less than 5 months. When I had a 9-5 job, being a blogger almost felt like a fun hobby. It was a great way to bring in a little extra income I could add to my bank account. Being invited on press trips where everything was covered from flight to dinner was a perk for working even on the weekends.
The plan was never to become a full-time social media influencer. It was just my way of getting my name and resume out there. I wanted to work in fashion journalism and talk about plus-size fashion and it worked. I got my first official journalist job as a fashion reporter because of my Instagram and blog. I felt so proud of myself. That feeling didn’t last long though, I always felt like I got there by mistake. It was a fluke and I managed to sneak into a job. I struggled a lot when I first started and even contemplated quitting to avoid embarrassing myself. Because I felt like an imposter at my job, I worked even harder. I would come in at 7am and sometimes wouldn’t leave until 10pm. Meanwhile, our work hours were 9-6. I then began to create viral videos that made the company I worked for become known in the community and in the media in general. We were exceeding our company goals. I spent over two years there and then decided to leave and create the success I had done for them, for myself.
After almost three years at that job, I left to become a full-time blogger. I was beginning to make bigger amounts of money with my side hustle that it convinced me to quit my job and explore other options. In many occasions I was making the same amount I would get in paychecks in one day. But I quickly learned that it wasn’t always going to be so easy.
I never learned how to manage my money. The paychecks I received would run through my fingers like water. The money I was making I would put back into my job. I bought new camera equipment, paid photographers, bought clothes and so many other expenses you don’t realize you have to cover when you don’t have a big company covering those expenses for you.
The money didn’t come as easy or as fast as I expected it to be. I am lucky to live with my parents and have them cover the rent but I still pay for a lot of bills in my home. People don’t realize that a lot of the times the work you get, you won’t get paid until 2-3 months later. A lot of the times I have to invest the little money I would have left in my bank account to be able to work. That means that on many occasions when I was partying with celebrities or staying in a mansion I had less than $100 in my bank account.
I thought that the days of working before 5am and until 1am were over. I was very wrong. My days still start really early though not always at 5am. I work every day of the week. I don’t have days off and I don’t have office hours. Even on my “down” time I am working. When my family gets together to watch a movie I am sitting there with my laptop fighting for a campaign or chasing my money—literally!
I have learned that I can’t just depend on one source of income. I produce 2-3 videos for Youtube, have a weekly podcast, post almost regularly on my social media, create sponsored post and reach out to companies to pitch myself for new campaigns. To have any type of income I also write for various sites and produce videos for different companies. I do all of this and still look cute while doing it. At the end of the day my body and presence is my business.
You really have to be a hustler and I have learned ways to be able to work that doesn’t involve me dropping up to $500 for a photographer every week. I depend a lot on my siblings, friends and other bloggers to help me create my content. I meet up with a lot of my blogger friends who work as my photographers and creative directors for my photoshoots and videos. We take turns being the designated camera woman.
I didn’t realize how much I work until I wrote it down. My paychecks depend on me and how much work I put in. I still struggle trying to find a consisting income that helps me sleep at night. Constantly working and feeling like I don’t do enough really affect my mental and physical health. There are also days were I can’t even get up from bed from the mental or physical exhaustion.
I wish I could tell you that I now have millions in my bank account and that I can go to sleep before midnight but it’s not true. I don’t have influential parents that can get me in contact with agencies that would hire me or that can afford to pay for everything while I work for free on most days. I have to work twice as hard to get the bare minimum other bloggers are receiving. Being an influencer isn’t all glitz and glamour but a lot of influencers aren’t necessarily honest about that. I’m here to tell you that it’s hard work but in the end I believe it will all pay off.