Writer’s note: This is advice based on my own experiences growing on social media and in my career. This does not reflect the work of anyone else.
I hear the question all the time, “How much do you get paid to post to your blog?! I want to get paid to do that!”
Plot twist: I don’t get paid to post 90% of the time. In fact, money is usually never a topic of conversation when talking with restaurants or people that want to work with me. Unless it’s something that will greatly deter me from the actual job I make an income from, the food I post, events I attend, and products I endorse are in no way paid sponsorships in any way.
With that being said, I say no to and (mostly accidentally) ignore over half of the inquiries that I receive. At this point in my brand’s growth and career in general, there are some things that just don’t sell me, and products that I do not stand behind 100%. I will never post something that I wouldn’t purchase myself, or dine at a restaurant I don’t think deserves your attention. I take into consideration my influence that I have on my followers and want to provide only the food, products, and experiences I think you’ll love as much as I do. I also want to show my followers that in no way is blogging and being an influencer a “perfect life.” I have had my ups and downs in my careers, brand growth, and overall commitment to growing what I’ve made so far. However, I am a firm believer that you need some rain to see the rainbow; sometimes, you need to have life not go the way you had wanted it to, or have a job you don’t love, in order to discover what it really is you want to be doing.
Now the main event: how do I make a living? I’ve spent most of this year figuring out the best way to do what I love and get paid for it. My answer so far: freelancing. Working on behalf of my own entity, Hungry Grl Big City LLC, as well as pushing my degree in journalism and published work, has allowed me to do two things:
Pitch myself as someone that can grow and manage social media pages, which is why I work at a marketing firm as a recognized social media specialist and knowledgeable influencer in the community.
Pitch myself to publications and freelance pieces for different companies, whether digital or print. This can be writing, content creation, video shooting, and other aspects of production.
It’s taken me a little while to know the worth of my work and what type of freelance environment I need to be in. When on your own, it’s important to align yourself with like-minded individuals who want to see and help you grow as you help them grow, and pay you fairly in the process. And to answer your question, I didn’t get paid to travel the world. Instead, I worked hard and put in late hours at a demanding freelancing job in order to make that happen for myself. However, you already know I saved my receipts to deduct that from my taxes (yes HGBC will be paying taxes for 2018).
This all brings me to end on the note of authenticity. I get messages all the time asking for follow for follow, comment for comment, or to be part of “commenting groups” where multiple influencers are in a direct message group and it’s expected that every time someone posts, you like and comment. However, this is the absolute wrong way to grow a brand and the wrong way to make friends through social media. To pay for followers or likes or go about anything you do just to gain more followers isn’t the answer. Accounts will grow in engagement and followers when you are authentic, and yourself. Being authentic has led me to so many partnerships, networking opportunities, real life friends, and even jobs. My brand is recognized by others because I am myself on and off of Instagram. What I put out onto my page is who I am, what I do, and sometimes what I need to hear and be reminded of. I will never compromise the influence I know I have for a few dollars because at the end of the day, Hungry Grl is also a representation of myself.
If you ever have questions about growing your brand, being authentic, or freelancing, my inbox is always open. Feel free to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.