Instagram and TikTok are the undisputed throne-bearers of all social media channels today. Whether you want to be an “influencer,” earn pots of money, or simply document your life to the envy of friends and strangers, these channels are where you need to be.
And consequently, there are a ton of articles written about how to become an influencer. How do you get more followers and likes, take the perfect photo, choose the correct filter, and the right time to post.
BUT what these articles and interviews (and steeply-priced courses!) don’t tell you is the inside story. The real story.
Call it the side effects of being an influencer… not that it’s meant to put you off in any way. It’s just a road map of the things you really need to become Instagram famous. Or TikTok famous.
The person you need to be, the life skills you need to acquire, the not-so-sweet pills you may need to swallow. Because filters and captions don’t make an IG feed… the person behind them does!
So, how to be an influencer? Here’s the real deal.
You will need to be shameless
To put it mildly, no one ever made it to the Instagram Hall of Fame by being easily embarrassed. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned in my Instagram journey about how to be an influencer.
Whether it’s blatantly climbing onto a chair to get the money shot of your food, walking through a shop seemingly talking to yourself while shooting a video, shoving your phone in a stranger’s face, looking half demented while twirling approximately 3,000 times in front of that gorgeous wall to get the flare of the skirt just right, #sheetmasking on a plane, making funny faces in public, or shamelessly swatching and snapping lipsticks at a Charlotte Tilbury counter even though you have no intention of buying, Instagram and TikTok mean you will essentially be embarrassing yourself all around.
You must learn to barge in and take the shots you need… no inhibitions can intrude. Ever!
Your food will never taste the same again
Food looks gorgeous on Instagram. It doesn’t taste so gorgeous when you’ve spent 20 minutes arranging the perfect shot. During this time, the pie is cooling, and the pasta is congealing. Kitchen fresh food? Say your goodbyes.
Your friends/spouse/parents/siblings will hate you
Have you ever left someone standing around, getting hot and sweaty and tired, while you compose the perfect frame?
Slapped away hungry hands as they aim to take a forkful of pastry?
Banned someone from even breathing near a coffee with the perfect foam art until it’s captured on the camera?
Spent a whole holiday looking for “details” and ignoring the larger picture in a quest for Instagram gold?
Constantly destroying clothes with makeup swatches? (Me!)
Welcome to my life. And the essential #3 in how to become an influencer.
You will get tech neck
Yes, it’s a real thing. It is endorsed by orthopedic and dermatologists alike. And it’s PAINFUL.
It happens to your neck when constantly bending to look at a screen. The unnatural angle leads to sagging skin, creases, dropping jowls, and a constant ache at the back of your neck (me!), which is basically the body crying for mercy.
A massage may help, neck exercises may keep you going, and you will have to invest in a slew of creams to take care of the skin part.
You will never be able to visit Amsterdam
No, Amsterdam does not have a ban on Instagram. Or any other form of social media, for that matter.
Do you know what Amsterdam does have? Narrow streets. And bikes.
Lots and lots of bikes. 881,000 at last count.
And you know what it means when you’re standing in the middle of a bridge, snapping the perfect canal photo?
Or walking with your head down, looking at the screen?
You will get run over by at least one of those 881,000 bikes.
It happened to me four times in the one week I spent in the city. Cyclists in Amsterdam don’t care. Your lack of attention = your fault.
Apparently, it gets much worse in Copenhagen. There goes a spot on my travel bucket list.
You will shop — a lot
If you’ve never bought something just because it’s Instagram gold, you are a much better person than me.
And when you’re spending most of your time hunting down pretty stuff, it’s hard to avoid their siren call all too often.
Also, there’s the pressure about having the perfect life… because who likes to see otherwise on IG? #TripleJeopardy
Your social life will go to hell
Position the table setting.
Slap away people who thought food is to be eaten (plebs!).
Or a friend who dares to apply a lipstick before you’ve taken the perfect photo? (Me!)
Or rushed into peak traffic at Champs-Élysées to photograph the Arc de Triumph at sunset? (Me!)
Stand up on a chair to take the shot. Spend 20 minutes doing VSCO-Snapseed tweaks.
Another 20 minutes composing the perfect caption and adding the hashtags.
Making a reel? Add on another half hour. At least.
And then keep going back to the screen every five minutes to see how many people “liked” the result.
And if you’re truly serious about ‘the feed’? There’s all the real-time interaction that’s needed to get the maximum engagement.
If you still have friends / spouse / parents / siblings patiently sitting silently waiting for you to finish, I WANT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE.
Mine will have finished the meal, had a blast with each other, and shall be halfway out the door by the time I am done. And would have left me the cheque to pay as punishment.
How to become an influencer? That, right there, is part of the cost.
You will have to be comfortable talking to strangers
Unless you have a professional photographer following you around 24×7, an Instagram spouse, or equally social-media-obsessed friends, you will need the help of utter strangers to take your photo ever so often.
And not just take a quick snap like normal people. Nope! They must follow your rigorous frame and the instructions you bestow. And keep doing it on repeat till you are happy with the shot.
This is Instagram, peeps! It’s not your average click-and-shoot.
Why would perfect strangers not willingly spend half an hour of their sunset-watching time on your IG feed? After all, don’t they know how to be an influencer?
You will be getting constant manicures
In case you have yet to notice, life on Instagram is perfect.
I know people who put on their makeup and get their hair blow-dried all the time with the IG feed in mind. Even if you haven’t yet reached that level of obsessiveness, I assure you that having well-dressed nails will subconsciously become your priority.
Because who can prettily wrap their fingers around a perfume bottle, hold a fork, or point to the mountains in the distance without that most important of shoot accessories: Manicured nails? Right?