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My two cents on being dubbed an ‘influencer’

I have to start off by saying this article was inspired by my friend Joanne Larby’s article entitled ‘Why I hate the word influencer’.

Last week I was listed as one of the Top 100 Irish Digital Influencers on Goss.ie. Before this article was published I was aware of the term ‘Digital Influencer’ and to be honest, I liked it. I noticed bloggers had started to update their bios on social media to include the term ‘Digital Influencer’ as their title as oppose to ‘Blogger’. I had even considered changing mine. Now I’m not sure I want to, purely down to the media debacle on the term over the last few days.

From the outside I get it, you see us posting up product after product and wonder if we’re getting paid a fortune when the reality is, we’re really not. I get the odd paid job, but 90% of my content is unpaid for. And yes it’s obviously something I’d like to change because so much of my time, energy and passion goes into it, I’d like to think that it could be my full-time job one day because at the moment, and for the almost three years my blog has existed, I have created content outside of working hours, evenings and weekends, sacrificing my social life and some friends along the way as repercussion.

I hadn’t seen any negative press until I read Joanne’s article which led me to search for it. I read an Irish Times article posted on Thursday and that was all I needed to see.

Before I give my two cents on the content of that article I’m going to explain in depth for you my education, knowledge and expertise in all the areas I blog about. My first ever job was in retail at the age of 15. It was in TK MAXX and shortly after I was sacked because they found out I was under the age of 16. With only a few months to go until I was 16, I then secured a job in another retail unit in Swords Pavilions called D2 (long gone now). I left D2 in 6th year to focus on my leaving cert and when I secured a place in UCD (Arts Degree majoring in English & History of Art) I began working in River Island part-time and stayed working there for 2 years. I left River Island to focus on my finals (with a short part-time stint in Zara that Christmas) and when I graduated from UCD (at the age of 19) I went straight into another degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Law. While I was studying Law I became qualified in gel nails, x3 systems of hair extensions (pre-bonded, micro-bead & extend magic), semi-permanent eyelashes and makeup artistry. When I finished my degree in Law, I had developed such a passion for beauty I went into makeup full-time and secured a position in Make Up For Ever on Clarendon Street. I did makeovers, went out on photo-shoots and became an encyclopaedia of makeup knowledge during my time there. One of my favourite things to do was serve the customers and help them find the right products. After about a year I became antsy and decided to go back to college for the third time, this time to study for a Masters in Journalism in DCU. As much as I loved beauty, I felt like I was getting bored of the continuous application of it and felt that I’d rather share my information and knowledge instead via writing about it. My Online Journalism Lecturer was actually the one who convinced me to set up my blog, in fact he encouraged the whole class to because he wanted us to get into the habit of sharing information online and that’s how Peaches & Cream came about initially. So that brings us up to nearly 3 years ago.  As part of my masters I had to intern at a media organisation and luckily I got the job in Xposé. My 2 month internship turned into a 9 month internship and for those 9 months I interned for free, 40 hours per week, took on clients at home evenings and weekends to make money and blogged simultaneously. I was absolutely jacked to say the least.  But good things come to those who wait and I was offered a paid contract in TV3. That took the pressure off having to commit to so many clients in my free time but I still had to manage the blog, for free. I have been in Xposé ever since which brings us up to the present and here I am, just a normal girl with a job and a successful blog which I worked EXTREMELY hard to maintain over the years.

Now that you’re all up to date on my experience I want to go back to The Irish Times article I came across today which I am going to take some quotes from.

As I said I started my blog to share my knowledge and with a huge background in fashion retail & beauty, it makes total sense that I would be passionate about these as topics to write about. At the start, before I was on any press lists, I used to scourge the internet for information on new product releases and I would blog about them. Now (3 years later) I’m on the press list of nearly every beauty brand you can think of and I am sent samples of their new release products to try. I don’t get paid for it but I still post the information because I know my followers will be grateful of it and I would never deprive them of information just because I’m not being paid.

One of the reasons I have a huge following is because people TRUST ME. They are not INFLUENCED by me to make decisions. These journo’s are treating us like leaders of religious cults trying to influence people to make certain decisions in their life!

Quote from The Irish Times article: “But with marketeers seeing their audiences online, they are struggling to come up with other ways to reach these audiences and sell their goods, and so the power of word of mouth has shifted to putting words in people’s mouths.”

Considering I don’t get paid for a lot of the content I create, I’m not sure how brands are putting words into my mouth. If I didn’t like something, I wouldn’t post it it’s as simple as that. What’s bugging me even more is that these journo’s must think our population hasn’t a brain cell between them, give them a break will you!!! Readers are smart enough to see through the bullshit and know when something is in-genuine. And with the new legal regulations surrounding advertising via blogs, we are now more than clear when content is paid for via hashtags like #sp #spon and #ad.

Quote from The Irish Times article: “But when people are being paid to hawk products, that “influence” is meaningless. The transaction automatically makes such endorsements inauthentic.”

I got paid to review Oral-B 3D Whitestrips. Simply because I had to use them every day for 2 weeks, create at least 3 posts across all social media platforms and create an 8 minute YouTube video. Why on earth would I have done that for free and sacrificed all that time for nothing? You’re talking about using something 1 hour every day for 2 weeks (14 hours), spend an hour 3 times per week posting on 3 social media channels (3 hours), film a video and spend a couple of hours editing (est 2-3 hours), it all adds up. You’re talking nearly a full weeks work. My posts were genuine and luckily I had a good experience with the whitening strips but by no means was I trying to INFLUENCE people to go and buy them. I was being paid for my time, NOT to say what I think Oral-B wanted me to say.

I also got paid to review Bbold Smart Mousse. Not much mind you (only €150) and as a result the post reached 1.3 million people and sold out all over the country.

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Can you imagine the amount of money stockists made off the back of me? I charged for this because again, I had to use it, apply it, wash it off, monitor its wear over a period of time, take photographs of its transition and then write about it. Because my review was TRUTHFUL and ACCURATE, people were “influenced” to buy it. Not because they’re brainwashed by me, heck most people wouldn’t even recognise me walking down the street because I look like a pig with no makeup on!

Quote from The Irish Times article: “To have tens of thousands of followers on Instagram, to receive constant but trivial affirmation from followers, to get likes, to get views, to be seen to be getting paid, along with a curious sort of internet fame are not just things that appear to be desirable now, but are aspirations and inspirations, goals of those who have found niche for talking about themselves as oppose to talking about something, anything.”

Found a niche for talking about themselves as oppose to talking about something, anything??????? Can I have the list of bloggers that ONLY post information about themselves please??????? I don’t know any blogger in this country who doesn’t share valuable information to their followers. Maybe we have a different opinion on the word valuable, but maybe you’re not into fashion and beauty??? I guess your feelings on what the Fashion & Beauty editors of national newspapers and media organisations share are the same then? Because I’m pretty sure they’re on the same press lists I am, they get the same post as me and I see them at the same events I attend.

Quote from The Irish Times article: “But I wonder at what point are some people mistaking self-obsession and narcissism for empowerment? It is something of a delusion to see oneself as influential if one has merely been targeted to make people buy things.”

I think it’s pretty empowering to know that people value my opinion and truthfulness so much I can reach 1.3million of them via 1 post and sell out a product overnight. That’s what’s empowering, knowing people value my opinion and knowing they would buy something I like because they trust me and they know I wouldn’t bullshit them! Trust me when I say, I am not mistaking self-obession for empowerment.

Quote from The Irish Times article: That’s not being influential. That’s just being an ad. True influence should surely be about contributing something positive to the world beyond the self-important and trivial branding of one’s own identity. And if you monetise the self, if you are happy to sell yourself, then what part of you is left to be enjoyed privately without a story to sell or a life to project online.”

As I said, just because you’re obviously not into fashion or beauty, or any type of blog content for that matter, doesn’t mean we’re not contributing something positive to the world beyond the self-important. People mail me every day to tell me they haven’t had a spot in months because of an acne product I recommended, or they  finally got rid of their blackheads once and for all after using a clay mask I recommended, or they’re inspired to exercise after watching my snapchats at the gym. At least we’re not like you, creating content to bring people down. Pretty sure if you’re a journo you have the same qualification as me? But the difference is, YOU actually get paid to produce ALL your content and hide behind the name of the big media organisation that employs you. People who are passionate about something and who want to work their asses off to create something that people might benefit from is now deemed as self-obsession!! Is that a whiff of jealousy I’m getting?? Classic case of Irish begrudegery at its finest. This is the ONLY country it happens in as well which is the sad thing about it. I was recently in New York at the New York Blogger Bash and after meeting with lots of PR’s, agents and other bloggers I learned that NO blogger does ANYTHING for free over there. In fact, a PR wouldn’t even have the audacity to ask you to post anything for free in America. And I’m pretty sure that’s the case in the UK too. Bloggers are valued as they should be, as information providers, with large followings who trust and respect them. Don’t you think all 247,000 of my Facebook followers would unfollow me if they thought I was in any way self-obsessed??? Or in anyway trying to “influence” them for my own personal gain. Get a grip!

The media over here have been backing us into a corner for years now, jealous that we’re reaching figures they could never even dream of, and worried of where their own future lies. Do us a favour, work on being a better you and where your audience will be in a few years time because honestly, we’re doing just fine and trying to turn the public against us by literally INFLUENCING them to think badly of us, isn’t doing you any favours.

#RantOver

Supporting bloggers everywhere, Peaches x